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October 27, 2010

Christine Kennedy : A Successful Hunt

Written by Christine Kennedy

ed note:  Christine ran the October 2nd St. George Marathon in 2:51:36, a time that would have earned her the US best for 50+ female athletes if the course in Utah did not have quite so much elevation loss.  Buoyed by her fantastic performance, Christine plans to run the Boston Marathon in April in the quest for the official recognition of that 50+ record. Now recovering and making plans for her future fall races, Christine took some time to recount her experience on race day.


I arrived in St George on Thursday, two days before the marathon.  On Friday day before the race, I went for a 4 mile run; "4x1 mi @7:30 pace" is what my training schedule said.   I had a horrific run, and could hardly breathe after 2 miles, so I decided to walk the last two miles back to the hotel.


With the race coming the next day, I had to use my psychological strengths.  Going back into my memory, I pictured myself doing my absolute best training run:  3x1 mile @5:58 pace followed with 45 mins @ 7:20 pace followed by 3x 1 mile @ 6 mins just 4 weeks before the marathon.  I had not done a session like this in years!  I pictured myself how I would feel coming in to the finish line and seeing the finish line 2 hrs 52 mins.  I just kept thinking of the finish line and knowing if I was not ready to race, Coach would have advised me not run.  This reinforced my confidence.  The work was done and Tom believed I was ready. That was all that mattered.  I was ready.


On the morning of the race, I got the first bus to the start so that I could get to the bathroom and find a spot to stay warm.  It was dark-  only the heat of the fire pits kept us warm.  I kept reminding myself how I was going to feel at the finish.


The gun goes off, and it is still dark.  I have to run my pace slower than I have ever run a marathon. "Negative split," Tom had repeated over and over again.  This race was for him - he believed I could do it.  The 1st mile 7:50 pace , 2nd mile 7:45, and I gradually took it down so at the half way point I could just bring it home to a sub 2:52. I kept telling myself, "Just wait until you get to the halfway point, then you can race."


The sun came up at 8 miles, at the start of the 4 mile climb.  I caught 2 girls and was now running 6:35 pace.  I pulled away and it brought me back my strengths years ago.  I felt really good.  I passed another girl. Then I ran oblivious of others runners, only half hearing a bike rider shouting "Stay with her!"  I was still looking of course for water and gels.  I remember seeing the children outstretching their hands, but in my world I was only occupied with my thoughts of the finish.


When I reached mile 20 I thought, "This is phenomenal!  This is the greatest day of my life!"  I loved the downhill- the views were spectacular.  At mile 25, I re-caught my friend from Ohio and passed him (he ran  2:52 at Boston).  The last mile I felt I was full of running.  Three blocks to go, the crowds were building up to several hundred with towels waving.  I could not stop!  I turned the corner, crossing the finish line 2 hrs 51:36 mins 5th overall 1st master and winning a trip to Ibigawa, Japan [the first over 40 athlete won a trip to Japan to compete in a half marathon in November].


Thanks Tom!  You made it happen! It has taken me 10 years to run this time.


Last modified on March 31, 2011