Maguire Nails Debut on the Big Stage

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Keely Maguire ran a 2:43:06 and finished 24th overall at the Trials, her debut marathon. To put things in perspective, she finished right in between a couple of local (and more experienced marathoners): Katie DiCamillo (21st, 2:42:01) and Laura Hagley (25th, 2:43:11).

Keely qualified with a 1:13:49 half just over a month ago (at the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon). Hagley qualified with a 2:39, DiCamillo with a 2:37. They both ran very well in the heat, coming remarkably close to their qualifying times (under conditions that saw a huge portion of the field drop out), and Keely was right there with them in her first stab at the distance.

As many people were saying in the days leading up to the race…it’s the Super Bowl of running! For many elite runners, it’s the highest level they’ll attain. So where do they go from there? I was really curious about what direction Keely was headed in after this since she’s a young elite with no prior experience in that distance. Is she going to change her race focus? Another run at the Trials in 4 years? Maybe aim even higher?

Here it is, in Keely’s own words.

To say I feel blessed isn’t even doing it justice. As I’ve said to a lot of people, a little over 5 months ago I was just starting to run once again after yet another injury set back. Qualifying for the Trials was a goal to keep me motivated and trying to train correctly this time around. I’d decided if I couldn’t get it together I was walking away from competitive running. Fast forward a few quick months and there I was on the line at the Olympic trials debuting in the marathon with women I could only hope to be half as good as. I felt a little bit like a fan girl the entire time.

Here’s Keely about 200m from the finish in LA, courtesy of Ed Duhamel.

It was a hot, sunny, and less than ideal day for the marathon. Knowing this going in I had made a deal with myself that no matter what I was finishing my first marathon. Therefore, right at the start I took a very conservative approach and went out in 160th. This put me in an interesting position for the race because I feel like I saw some of the worst of the suffering. It wasn’t as motivating as I thought it would be picking people off and I was doing it at an alarming rate the last 13.1 miles. Instead I saw people I knew, and looked up to and admired, in pain. It made me question why I was feeling alright. The best example of this was my former Wildcat teammate, Erica Jesseman. When I came up to her at the end of the third loop with a little over 7 miles to go she looked nothing like the Erica I was used to. Having gone out in the top 30 she was now obviously suffering. I wanted to be able to take her through the next 6 miles as I passed her. Impressively, showing her grit and determination, she finished the race despite how much she was hurting from the heat 7 miles out. I’m not going to say I wasn’t hurting (I was), but compared to most I was doing fine and it was a very manageable pain.

The worst thing for me during the race was the blisters I was getting on my feet because my socks were wet from dumping water on my head. On the third lap I literally felt the skin peel back on the pad of my foot when I stepped off the curb. But that was okay; we’ve all ran with blisters and bleeding feet.

I was generally comfortable through the first 13.1. I started feeling the heat more the second half. At about 16 miles I started not being able to absorb my water bottle mixture. I didn’t panic and just switched over to the plain water. Not being used to fueling much I took one gel at 13.1 miles and tried taking another around 18 miles. I wasn’t able to get it down and again instead of panicking just spit it out and threw it away. I figured since I wasn’t used to fueling anyways that one gel should be sufficient. (For those curious the only one I was able to stomach was the Honey Stinger gel.)

Coming into about two miles to go is when I really lost my legs. They were very heavy at this point. In order to keep my form I told myself that I had run a great race and now it was time to cool down. My usual cool down is about 2-3 miles. This worked really well as I stopped focusing on racing and turned my focus to getting to the finish line. I finished and my place was much higher than I realized or even imagined ever being. I was on such a high right after that I didn’t even feel that bad. People were collapsing as they finished and here I was wanting to jump around when my mom said she thought I was 27th (it ended up being 24th). It was incredible to even be able to make it and debut in the marathon trials so also placing relatively well was a better scenario than I could’ve asked for. Looking back on it after finishing, I can say that there are some gutsy, hardworking women out there that really put themselves on the line that day in trying, tough conditions.

Where do I go from here? I have no clue. As of 5½ months ago I was potentially going to walk away from this sport. Well I can say I officially am not planning on doing that now along with not admitting yet that I’m probably more of a half marathoner/marathoner. I can say before I do another marathon I will be doing a true full cycle of marathon training. Not running 70 miles a week and having only ever done two runs 20 miles or over in my life, I can say I’d like a little bit of a better build up with more long runs around 20 miles. I’ll probably never be able to be a 100 mile week person and that’s fine but I’d like to be doing 80 miles if I can foreseeably handle it. (I’ve had two compartment surgeries on my lower legs for activity induced compartment syndrome so I still have to be careful).

I’m recovering well right now and will be going down for Gate River Run. I have to sit down with my coach and kind of figure out what is next. Most likely I will be trying to get a good training cycle in and maybe show up for some more local races during it. One thing I can say for certain is that I’ll be running and trying to figure out how to make this work in my life. It’s what I love doing plus its provided me with some of the best experiences and friendships. Runners are some amazing people from the first one in to the last one finishing.

Amazing effort by Keely by the Trials. Also, it was a heck of a 6 week stretch for her to get there too. As inspiring as her story is, this might be my favorite part…

Can we mention though how there was a Hooters on the course? I found it hilariously ironic as a runner and it made me laugh all four times I passed it. That’s how I feel about the course: it was loops in the hot sun, with hair pin turns, and a Hooters for scenery.

So Keely went to Hooters four times and still ran a 2:43?! That’s gotta be some type of record.

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