It could be said that Lanni Marchant epitomises the ‘loneliness of the long distance runner’ training alone on the roads near her home in Chattanooga, Tennessee using programs emailed from her coach in London, Ontario.
The 30 year old national marathon record holder is also the sole Canadian entry in the Commonwealth Games marathon set for next month. But it’s a lifestyle that she relishes – for now.
Since claiming that record with her 2:28:00 in Toronto last October Marchant was able to relieve a little financial stress using the $28,000 record bonus to pay down the loan she had taken out to finish law school. And she also experienced racing in the Boston Marathon, a World Marathon Major event, where she finished a credible 14th.
Marchant says she is grateful that the law firm for whom she does work is flexible allowing her to travel to races and to what has become an annual high altitude training camp in Iten, Kenya each winter. Preparing case work from home or, when she feels particularly isolated, from a local coffee shop, she is committed to practicing law in addition to her athletics career.
As she pounds out the miles her next important test will come in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon June 22nd the fifth of eight races that make up the 2014 Canada Running Series.
“That course is really tricky,” she says. “Last year I think I ran just over 1:11 (1:11:38) so I am hoping for) something similar to that, maybe a bit quicker. I want to feel stronger the second half of the course because the first half is all downhill, so I wouldn’t even mind to be a bit slow if I really hammer it the last half of the race.
“(SVHM) will work well because most of the rest of the Commonwealth team have to go to Moncton, New Brunswick for the track nationals to prove fitness. It actually times pretty well being the week before track nationals so I can put in a solid effort and show that I am still fit and ready to go, and I can test the legs a little bit and see what I have in the tank without going too, too deep and using a race effort. It’s about a month before I will do the marathon.”
Last month she tested herself at the Ottawa 10km. She was the top Canadian finisher in the women’s race finishing 7th overall (33:15). Most encouraging for her was that she ran the second half much faster than the first passing 5km in 16:26.
“Ottawa was just a rust buster,” she says laughing. “I knew I wasn’t ready to go with the lead Kenyan runners so I wanted to run and finish strong. I am really trying to focus on the second half of my race I tend to be a runner that pushes hard the first half and sometimes gets into trouble the second half.
“I am doing a lot of work in the gym and I am trying to use these races to get some finishing speed and keep my speed and hip strength and everything going over the second half of every race.”
The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon will be of much higher importance since the distance is more attuned to the high mileage training she has been doing to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. Twice she has run here with mixed results. In 2012 she broke her foot during the race. A year ago her friend and Canadian rival Krista DuChene got the better of her and she wound up second.
Marchant says she plans to arrive in Vancouver a couple of days earlier and stay a few days after the race in order to visit her elder sister as well as other family members. Though the occasion will be relaxing there is no doubt she will be all business when she lines up for the race.
Yes, it’s a lonely existence but a victory in Vancouver followed by a strong performance wearing the Canadian vest in Glasgow will make it all worthwhile. Indeed, Marchant has lofty goals.
“The Commonwealth Games is something I always wanted,” she explains. “I remember the last time around I was looking to do the 10,000m but the standard was way too fast for me. I didn’t think I would ever actually make a team and I always thought it would be a fun team to make and it’s a good chance for Canadians to do well at an international event.
“And if Rio (Olympic Games) is the end goal I want as much experience putting on that Team Canada singlet and lining up against some big names before I hope to do it in Rio.”