Anna Corrgian opened a puzzling email from the U.S.A. Track and Field Association in mid-January.
“It congratulated me and then had about eight paragraphs about water bottles for the Olympic Trials,” she said. “I was confused.”
What had happened was that the USATF had changed the Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time to match the international standard, adding two minutes to the women’s marathon time in December and retroactively qualifed Corrigan’s 2:44:27 winning time from 2014’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. She had three-and-a-half weeks to get ready.
She was one of several runners with ties to the D.C. area whose appearances at the trials were hastily arranged, for various reasons. Katie Sheedy, Sarah Bard and Hiruni Wikayaratne also benefited from the new trials standard.
[button-red url=”http://www.usatf.org/Events—Calendar/2016/U-S–Olympic-Team-Trials—Marathon/Results.aspx” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Corrigan, 25, a Lake Braddock alumna, was clueless until that letter arrived at her Phoenix home. She had been running, doing a few long runs to get ready for the Phoenix Marathon at the end of February, but thoughts of competing had faded into the background.
“I haven’t done any speed work, I got in a pair of workouts as soon as I found out I would be racing,” she said. “I had just done the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon the week before (finishing 12th in 2:55:26) but was glad I didn’t go all out. Running in the Olympic Trials was too amazing to pass up.”
On race day, like everyone else in the field, faced hot conditions that she never encountered running in the dark before work in Phoenix.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t go out too hard,” she said. “It was a great first half until my calf cramped at mile 14, but in the end, that was a blessing in disguise because I slowed down and now that’s the only thing that hurts.”
She finished 96th in a field of 149, running 2:54:22, 16 seconds ahead of University of Virginia teammate Emily Harrison, the 2013 JFK 50 Mile champion. Almost a minute ahead of her was 2002 Robinson alumna Bonnie Axman Keating, whom Corrigan had beaten at the San Diego race 19 months prior.
“It was an amazing experience, getting to run the race, see my college teammates, be a part of it,” she said. “I never expected it, but I’m so glad it happened.”
Citizenship on the way
Julia Roman-Duval made the most of a chance she almost didn’t get.
Her citizenship not yet finalized, the Columbia, Md. astophysicist was the last to make it onto the start list for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, but when the race went off and the results came out, only 49 people beat her to the finish line.
“My time (2:46:47) was six minutes off my PR, but I think a lot of people were farther off than I was,” she said.
Because she had a qualifying time from the full marathon–from last year’s California International Marathon, she was ranked ahead of many athletes with much faster half marathon times, so although the bib on her back said 85, she felt she was actually north of 100.
“I gauged the race by looking at the bib numbers on people’s backs,” she said. “When I felt better, I moved up.”
Roman-Duval, 33, felt thrown for a loop by the 50+ degree temperature swing from Mid-Atlantic.
“I’ve been training in 20 degrees, so this was really hot for me,” she said. “I could see the wall coming closer and closer but I stayed on the right side of it.”
Some treadmill workouts during Snowzilla gave her some opportunities to acclimate to running in warmer temperatures, but it also strengthened her mentally, which paid off.”
“I never had any hardship at CIM, so this was a much different race,” she said. “I saw people walking, lying on the ground and I couldn’t help wondering when that was going to happen to me. Given how bad it was, and how much people were really really suffering, I’m happy with how it turned out for me.”
She’ll continue a lower-mileage approach while she works to break 2:40 (her best time is 2:40:56) and lower her best time to beat the Olympic A standard. She plans to race the Chicago Marathon in October.
“I make all of my mileage high quality and spend two hours swimming each week and a half hour a day doing core work,” she said. “Being flexible with my training has been important to me.”
She dealt with Iliotibial Band Syndrome and a soleus strain leading up to the race, but kept those injuries at bay.
Step two in a grand plan
‘Twasn’t ‘til the week before Christmas that Christine Ramsey was finally able to do serious training for the trials. The former Baltimore resident and frequent D.C. racer had been on the shelf since July with a hip flexor injury.
“I couldn’t even cross train, I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I just tried to watch my diet and make sure I was getting the right foods to help my body heal. It was pretty frustrating.”
She fit in six workouts and five long runs and let’er rip. The longest she ran at one time in the last six months was 20 miles.
“I was going to have to bank a lot on my experience,” she said. “I was still feeling good in lap two and passed about 30 people in lap three, but they mostly got me back.”
And she was hell-bent on finishing. She was still recovering from being hit by a car when she started, but didn’t finish, the 2012 trials.
“I’ve had to develop a long-term plan with this race,” she said. “Make one trials, finish the next, race the third.
“Honestly, I was lucky just to be here.”
Though she lives in New Haven, Conn., she travels frequently to New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore to train on the weekends.
“I miss the Baltimore-D.C. racing scene,” she said. “I try to get back down there as much as possible.”
Now that she’s healthy, she aiming to win the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
New Year’s resolutions: make the trials
American University alumnus Mark Leininger and George Mason University alumnus Everett Hackett both hit their qualifying times late in the game at the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon Jan. 3. Despite having not run marathons before, they fared well, finishing 60th (2:28:17) and 87th (2:35:08), respectively.