Friend’s wedding doesn’t deter half marathon winner

Hilary Dionne shortly after moving into the lead at the Rock 'n' Roll USA Half Marathon. Photo: Charlie Ban
Hilary Dionne shortly after moving into the lead at the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon. Photo: Charlie Ban

Hilary Dionne was glad to attend her friend’s wedding in Alexandria, but it meant a sacrifice.

She wouldn’t be able to defend her title at the New Bedford Half Marathon in Massachusetts, a fast and deep race upon which her Boston Athletic Association teammates were descending. She’s training for the Boston Marathon, where she finished 15th, and as the third American, last year, and wanted to test how her training was going.

“I started looking for another half that was in March, and came across Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, and it just ended up working out well,” she said.

She started out hoping to run under 1:16, which would have been nearly a one-minute PR, but the uphill in mile seven muted those hopes. She trailed second-place finisher Lauren Philbrook until mile 10, when she took over and finished in 1:16:12, with Philbrook in 1:16:42.

“(The hill) broke up my momentum a bit,” she said. “For most of the race I was behind Lauren, she was always in sight but with a slight lead.  I caught her on the hills, but then she pulled ahead again a few times.”

Dionne, who lives in Charlestown, Mass., ran at Darthmouth but has asserted herself over longer races recently, with wins at the Cape Cod Marathon in 2011 and the ING Hartford Marathon in 2012, where she ran her 2:40:34.

In Boston, Dionne will match up, among others, with Philbrook, a Williams College alumna and Penn State graduate student.

The hills got her a bit, too.

“I think that I went out a little fast at the beginning, and had some trouble recovering and keeping up the same pace after the hills in the middle of the race,” she said. “Overall, I think it was a good race and a great workout and practice for the Boston Marathon.”

In the marathon, Philadelphia’s Ashley Olsen was apprehensive she took another step toward targeting the Olympic Trials qualfying standard.

“In the past few weeks a few old injuries seemed to be creeping back up,” she said.

Fortunately, she felt few of them when she started the race and nothing held her up as she won in 2:53:28 over Bethesda ultrarunner Justine Morrison’s 2:59:11.

“The course had a lot of turns and technical aspects but it always helps by keeping your mind sharp and you focused,” she said.

After taking a break from running after graduating from the University of Delaware, she took up triathlons and eventually gave marathons a shot. After finishing fourth in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, she won the 2012 Run for the Red Poconos Marathon in 2:51:35. She may return to defend her title in May.

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