Photo Credit: Tae Photography

© Copyright – 2015 – Athletics Illustrated

April 27, 2014 Krista DuChene of Brantford, Ontario raced the Scotiabank Montreal Half Marathon in the hopes of defending her Canadian Half Marathon title. She was in the lead late in the race when her leg started to act up. She ended up breaking her femur before finishing and was carried by race director, Alan Brookes out of the finish area. She finished in third position clocking in at 1:16:37. In contrast her 2013 victory was completed four minutes and 10 seconds faster in 1:12:27.3. Her personal best is 1:10:52.

It was a careful road back to redemption.

DuChene shared, “When I was allowed to resume running, it started with a limpy shuffle. It was very slow and ugly but not painful or uncomfortable and I was excited and willing to be patient. I was never frustrated nor was it ever difficult. It was a slow and steady return that I was willing to invest in, similar to that of another pregnancy comeback.”

Pregnancy comebacks are something that DuChene is familiar with, as she is a mother of three.

She slowly progressed from a shuffle to a jog to a run with no walking breaks between. This process took about two months. DuChene took to cross-training to aid her comeback, “I focussed more on the bike and pool to regain my fitness, and weights for strength. As the miles increased, the cross training decreased. I decreased the strength training as I approached my taper,” she said.

“Going into the race, training was text book and nearly identical to my training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013, peaking at two weeks of 170K,” she said and added, “It was great to escape the Canadian winter and train for 10 days with fellow marathon Mom Mary Davies in Houston, Texas and for seven days then vacationing in Disney with my family. I could handle the cold temps, but not the poor footing. It was a necessary step.”

“I felt no pressure, going into this race, which was great.”

DuChene, at 38 years of age is Canada’s second fastest all-time marathon runner behind Lanni Marchant of London, Ontario (who now resides in Chattanooga, TN). DuChene’s personal best time is 2:28:32 earned during the 2013 edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon just 32-seconds behind Marchant’s national record run of 2:28:00 during the same race.

DuChene’s return to form was guided by patience; it is fairly remarkable that it was completed in less than one full year. Sunday, April 12th, two weeks less than a full year after breaking her leg, she ran her second fastest marathon in Rotterdam by finishing in the time of 2:29:38 to finish third female overall. “I was very blessed to have recovered so well after fracturing my femur last year. My local support team was amazing. My Coach and I were wise and patient,” shared DuChene.

DuChene focussed on marathon pace for each race during her return, leading up to her first attempt at the 2016 Rio Olympic standard (in Rotterdam). DuChene told Athletics Illustrated, “My first race back was in November 2014, an 8K at marathon pace. My last and most recent race was March 1st, a half-marathon at marathon pace.”

That race was the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario living up to its name as the temperature was just -6C. She finished in 1:14:08, nearly the same pace as the national marathon record. She was the first female and 13th finisher overall.

Reid Coolsaet of Guelph, Ontario also took in both the Chilly Half Marathon and the Rotterdam Marathon. He finished the two races in 63:36 and 2:11:24, respectively. He won the Chilly half and finished 7th overall in Rotterdam. Although qualification times are not yet published for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, it is assumed that they should be 2:11:29 for the men and 2:29:55 for the women. Coolsaet, who owns the second-fastest active Canadian marathon result with his best of 2:10:55, which is also third all-time behind Dylan Wykes with his 2:10:47 and Jerome Drayton with his 2:10:08, from 1975 and DuChene may have both qualified for Rio.

Both athletes have qualified for the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships marathon as the qualifying times are set at 2:35:00 and 2:15:00, respectively. The Worlds will take place in Beijing, China, from August 22nd to August 30th.

“I knew Miranda Boonstra, from the Netherlands wanted to hit her Olympic standard (it was already announced, unlike our standard as they are waiting for the IAAF to announce it first) of 2:28:00. She had two pacers and the four of us stuck together, on pace until 30K. Unfortunately, Boonstra started to suffer from bad leg cramps and I was forced to go ahead on my own. At that point, the headwind was nasty and I had to make a decision: to either aim to continue on my own at that pace, to break 2:28:00, also the Canadian record, and possibly suffer, risking my chance at the CDN Olympic standard or play it safe, stay strong and consistent, adjusting my effort based on the wind and guarantee myself the standard, said DuChene.”

With the wind and solo running for the remaining 12K, she chose the safer option. It was the right choice.

“Although it wasn’t a personal best, it was the best race I ever ran, mentally. I was very calm and relaxed. Every time I felt a physical struggle, I just kept the rhythm and waited for it to pass. When I crossed the line I knew I had the (2012) standard and was informed I was third woman, well first I vomited, then along came the happy tears and smiles.”

Photo Credit: Tae Photography