TORONTO. July 9. Krista DuChene has set an ambitious target of beating the two and a half hour barrier at the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon October 14th.
Canada’s second ranked woman marathoner has made it a habit of tearing large chunks off her personal bests so it is not unreasonable to believe that the Canadian women’s record of 2:28:36 – held by Syliva Ruegger since 1985 – could also be in jeopardy.
This past April the now 35 year old Brantford, Ontario resident stunned the running community by running 2:32:06 and finishing a creditable 7th place at the Rotterdam Marathon.
“I knew if the conditions were perfect I could get the Olympic standard of 2:29:55,” she declares. “I had a really good race at the Around the Bay (30km) race in March with the hills my time was quite great. Unfortunately the conditions in Rotterdam weren’t ideal.
“We had a bit of wind and we were actually leading a pack for some of it. We didn’t have any pacers and didn’t have anyone to draft off. When you are cutting it that close you can’t afford to be off one second per kilometre. So I think I was realistic in thinking I could do it.”
DuChene remembers attending the pre-race technical meeting, where athletes requested pacemakers to take them through at their prescribed pace, and hearing chuckles when she said she wanted to run under 2:30. But she had good reason to believe she was capable of such a time.
A victory at the hilly ‘Around The Bay’ road race in 1:47:03, after a period where her weekly training volume was consistently at 160 kilometres, was a good indicator.
At the Rotterdam finish she was of two minds as she came to grips with what she had achieved.
“I must say it was one of the first races where I crossed the line with very little emotion just because I was two minutes from the standard but had a seven minute personal best,” she remembers. “So it was bittersweet. I don’t think I realised until later I took seven minutes off my time and was close to making [the standard]. That was pretty phenomenal.”
In the aftermath she and colleague Lanni Marchant appealed to Athletics Canada for a place on the 2012 Olympic team on the basis they had achieved the IAAF Olympic qualifying standard. But their application was denied.
“There was a great amount of media attention around it. Some of that was people understanding, for the first time, that Canada sets its own standards,” DuChene explains. “Some countries just use the international standard. We had a lot of support to first look into it and investigate what was involved in the process. The first stage was asking to be named to the team. We were denied. Then we appealed that and were denied. Then we took it to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada and were denied again.”
There was some consolation in learning that their performances in Rotterdam have qualified them to represent Canada at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
DuChene has taken an unusual path from high school cross country to international class marathoning. For four years she played hockey for the University of Guelph but kept fit by running. Then after graduation her hockey career came to an end.
“I basically took a four year break from running,” she says. “When I got married, and thought I would take up running again, I knew what it meant to hurt in track workouts and tempo runs and that was all familiar to me, in terms of playing hockey and running track and cross country in high school.
“Although, for most people in the running world I came out of nowhere, probably my high school track buddies are going ‘hey she’s back running. I am not surprised’. I am passionate about both hockey and running but when I graduated from university I knew my hockey career was over. I was alright with that. I had four good years of playing hockey. I knew there was still something in running for me.”
Now, as a mother of three young children – one of them a budding hockey player – she has become the epitome of time management practitioners.
An early riser she is often up at 5:00 a.m. to get her training in before joining her family for breakfast or for early morning hockey or soccer games. Much of her training is done on a treadmill at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where childcare is provided. Parents aren’t allowed to leave the facility while their kids are there. So she spends an hour in the pool swimming laps and running in the water prior to running.
“I have been blessed to be fairly injury free,” she admits. “I have a few aches and pains. I don’t wait until I am injured to get into the cross training. It’s just something that I think is beneficial to maintain the cross training consistently throughout my whole training.
“That’s why I bike two or three times a week and I swim two or three times a week. It keeps everything strong and in check. A few years ago I was supposed to run Boston, I got injured I deferred to the next year. So I swam. It’s probably the best thing I ever did. I know swimming has helped strengthen my core.”
Remarkably she still runs 160km a week on top of the cross training.
On June 24th DuChene won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon in 1:14:02 a personal best time for the distance and a very quick time on that course. Again, she is encouraged by the performance as she heads toward the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Despite her ‘mature’ age she sees herself as a newcomer to this level.
“My running is a gift from God,” she declares. “God has a plan for me so I am not disappointed [to miss London 2012]. I am still looking forward to 2016 and hopefully His plan is for me to make the Olympic team then.”