Name: Madeline Duhon
Marathon Personal Best: 2:40:07 (Cal International Marathon, 2015)
What are you most looking forward to regarding the Olympic Trials?
I’m looking forward to the whole experience! I’m hoping to enjoy every moment this week leading up to the race: getting in final runs as I taper this week, resting up, flying out to L.A. on Thursday, meeting friends and family there, then lining up with some of the best marathoners in the country on Saturday. Running a marathon is one of my favorite things to do. It’s not every day that I get to run one, and having this weekend’s marathon also be the Trials race sweetens the deal that much more. Probably the thing I’m most looking forward to is having the chance to see what I can do on that day. That thought before always gets me excited.
What has been the best part of your Marathon build-up?
The reminder that marathons are a team sport! It’s been unbelievable all the support I’ve received throughout this journey. My friends and family have been so supportive every step of the way, from the first marathon where it was a pleasant surprise that I not only survived in one piece, but that the distance came naturally to me, to training more deliberately over the past year with the specific goal of racing my way to the Trials in mind. There have been countless times over the past year where my boyfriend (also a source of motivation, coaching strategies, and training buddy) and I have sat down and planned out race schedules, race goals, and workouts, all building to the race at the Cal International Marathon and now the chance to run at the Trials in February. From the outside, I imagine that marathon running can look to be a very solo effort, but that has absolutely not been my experience. I’m not being disingenuous when I say that I wouldn’t be lining up in February if I’d been pursuing this goal on my own.
What has been the toughest part of your Marathon build-up?
I was in India for a little over a month in the summer for work. It was a great experience, but one tradeoff was that training took a backseat for some time. I was able to get on the treadmill some, but didn’t get in much mileage or any workouts, and I caught some kind of illness towards the end of my trip. When I came home it was pretty clear that I was more than a few steps behind where I needed to be. There were definitely some days during that trip where I caught myself thinking: “any women that’ll be lining up in February have either qualified already, or are working their tails off to get there, and what am I doing?” That wasn’t a helpful way of thinking, so I had to really change my attitude and stay positive once I was back to training in earnest.
Does it give extra meaning to the Trials knowing that you will be competing along with many other B.A.A. members?
Definitely! I’m a recent addition to the B.A.A. crew, and so grateful to have joined the team. It’s pretty incredible that there are so many B.A.A. qualifiers, and I’m honored to be among them. Amanda Nurse and I both qualified for the trials at CIM in December. We actually met just before the start. During the race we ran a few miles together, and there’s a great picture of her hugging her husband while I hugged my boyfriend moments after the finish and being draped in American flags. Being teammates gives you that sense of togetherness. Yeah, I’ll be be proud to wear the B.A.A. uniform on Saturday!
What are your thoughts on the Olympic Trials course?
Spectator-friendly, flat, and also happens to be in California! I think it’s going to be a great course.
Going into the race, what is your race strategy?
Despite the excitement and emotions I’m sure I’ll feel going into the race, the best thing I can do is take advantage of some fast competition, but make sure to run my own race from start to finish. It’ll be tempting to get a bit whipped up and caught up in a fast pace, but I want to make sure I stay true to myself and run the race I’ve been training to run. My specific goal is to run smart for the first 20 miles, and see if I can stay strong through the final miles. At CIM, I felt stronger through about 20-22 miles than I ever have in a marathon. It’d be good to extend that to where I feel strong and steady through to the end.
What was your favorite workout leading up to the Trials?
It’s hard to pick just one, but the long runs always stand out. I’ve been fortunate to get in long runs in some pretty great places: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, a few in Virginia at my parent’s place, a bunch along the Charles River, and a couple one-ways along the Boston Marathon course finishing at one of my favorite brunch spots. The Virginia runs particularly stand out: the turnaround point is right along the border of the Shenandoah National Park, there are some great hills and great views in the middle, and it finishes with a couple of gentle downhill miles.
What are your goals heading into the race – do you have a time or place you are aiming for?
To get experience running with a competitive field, ideally to run faster than I have before.
Three things I couldn’t leave for LA without are:
A bunch of bluegrass playlists on Spotify
A good book and a blank notebook
The normal runner essentials: Snacks, gear, shoes