Marathon Mom “When you’re 41 and can still snag the win, it’s something to...

“When you’re 41 and can still snag the win, it’s something to cherish.” Krista DuChene on her Boston build and the Chilly Half


What do I like most about this marathon build? Well, I’m not crossing every t and dotting every i. I’m not doing busy work, feeling the need to supplement my training with excess pool running. I’m not counting every minute of core, stretching and rolling nor am I even doing it every day. I’m skiing with my family, enjoying a few more bites of sweets, and having one complete day off each week. I’m taking risks, enjoying the juggling act with our three active kids, and I’m living my life.

Years ago I worked in a kitchen at a nursing home with a woman named Denise, a cook who was very deliberate about every step she made. She didn’t scurry around the kitchen, going back to one drawer then the next, retracing her steps to pick up the items she missed the first time. She had wisdom that came with experience and age. She rarely made mistakes and knew how she needed to do her job effectively without tiring herself out at the end of her shift. She had a lot of responsibility and she was very good at what she did.

One of the best things I’ve learned with Coach Dave Scott-Thomas (aka “DST”) is understanding my own, “As You Feel, aka AYF.” At first, I wondered what he meant by it. I thought I needed at least a range of specific numbers when given my workouts for the week. But by “rolling” with it (another common DST term) and in speaking with Trevor Hofbauer who also started with Speed River around the time I did, it was reinforced that I (we) just had to keep figuring it out. It ignited a new interest and learning in the sport that wasn’t there before, even after 14 years of marathoning. Around the same time Reid Coolsaet told me that it might take a year to fully fall into the swing of Dave’s coaching. At first I doubted it would take that long. I was a seasoned athlete after all. An Olympian. How much different could it be? But he was right and here I am—rolling with it like Denise.

Because there are so many factors that fall into the performance of one marathon, and because it’s been 13 years since I ran my first Boston Marathon, I won’t be able to or feel the need to compare my 2018 to my 2005 experience. But I do know that I’m enjoying this build more than I can ever remember for any other race. It’s fun to work hard, but not have to be so serious when qualifying times, fitness standards, and placements are not on the line. I don’t have a performance time for Boston. My goal is to make it to the start line fit and ready for the hills in order to cross that finish line in a decent position, and earn a bit of an income. It’s a deep field with several fast women, American in particular. I’m not sure I can even say that Deena Kastor is my main masters competition, with her 2:19 American record (oh, and she’s a 3-time Olympian with a bronze from 2004), but I’ll be on that line ready to race just like everyone else.

This past Sunday was the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario. It was a crazy busy weekend with our kids’ sports schedules, but my husband and I divided and conquered. On Saturday night I spoke at the pre-race cocktail party. It was quite enjoyable to be in a room with a mix of sponsors, athletes and VIP’s, sharing my journey of a hockey background with a few broken bones and babies along the way while making it to the 2016 Olympics at the age of 39. My husband and kids joined me at Wendell Clark’s Classic Grill and Bar later while they had a late dinner and I continued to visit with those lingering after the event. My son stayed with me at the hotel since I would be taking him back to his swim meet the next afternoon after my race. Sunday morning was a perfect temperature around 0 C with sunny skies and some wind. I knew what pace I believed I was capable of holding so didn’t plan to go out with the leaders. The first few kilometres felt pretty good so I settled in with a 3:35/km pace. I had the top two women in sight and around 8K made my way to them. Leslie Sexton was one of them, our rising marathon star who had an epic race at the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t her day.

When I passed her I did so with confidence and didn’t look back, knowing that she passed me nearer to the end of this exact race for the win in 2016. I ran solo for most of the race, which is something that I am quite used to doing, and just checked off the kilometres like I knew how. I must say that the support from the crowd and other runners is amazing in this race with the out-and-back course. I can’t even count the number of “Go, Krista!” shouts of encouragement I heard. Thank you, everyone!

In the final stretch of the race there’s a slight incline but I didn’t really notice it. I sure hope it’s because of the hill training I’ve been doing! After crossing the line I soaked in the atmosphere. When you’re 41 and can still snag the win, it’s something to cherish! My son joined me for some pictures and the awards before we went back to the pool for his competition. I finally made it home around 8 p.m., dumped my belongings in the laundry room, got into my pyjamas and crashed on the couch before transferring myself into bed shortly after 9 p.m. This morning I enjoyed a bit of easy pool running and some strength work in the gym then headed out for another crisp and sunny run on the trails. Upon my return I soaked in an epsom salt bath while consuming my oatmeals after my green smoothie, had a power nap, completed an on-line nutrition session with a client, baked a birthday cake and threw together a lasagna for my daughter’s 7th birthday, and attended my son’s basketball game. The sink is full of dishes, the floor could be mopped, and the laundry isn’t yet done, but I finished this blog in time for our dinner since my son is now on his way home from practice.

I’m living my life.

Photograph by Edison Yao, courtesy of VR Pro and the Chilly Half Marathon