Laura Hagley (Millennium Running) ran the California International Marathon back on December 7th and finished in 2:39:51. That earned her a spot at the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon. Laura was 107th overall, the 11th woman and 3rd in her age group. Not too shabby! And did we mention she got the OTQ?! One spot (and a measly 3 seconds) behind her was Laura Paulsen (GBTC), so it was a great day for New England runners at the CIM.
Here is an interview with Laura, courtesy of her Millennium Running teammates Jennifer Mortimer and Denise Sandahl (very speedy runners themselves):
1. What was your previous PR at the marathon distance? What changes have you made to your training to have such a dramatic improvement? Who has helped you achieve this goal?
My previous PR was Chicago 2013, 2:47:15. Since Chicago, I have maintained my weight but improved my lean body composition, I suspect because of my strict diet of veggies and protein - really, no sugar, no simple carbs; lots of spinach, kale, cabbage, berries, eggs, chicken, fish, avocado, and homemade almond butter. I have also been able to achieve high mileage peaking at 90miles/week with two quality days each week for the first time. In the past I have had to sacrifice mileage for quality or sacrifice quality for mileage.
To say who helped me achieve this goal is like asking who are my friends, family, and co-workers. Everyone around me has in some way enabled me to stick to my training and nutrition goals. My husband has been very understanding of the time it takes to train and prepare healthy meals. I am also so fortunate to live with a physical therapist and competitive endurance athlete. As a physical therapist and a triathlete who has competed in age-group World Championships, my husband, Greg, understands my goals. When I wake him up at 4:30 in the morning in a panic because there’s snow on the track and my workout isn’t possible, he is used to redirecting patiently, and also experienced and knowledgeable about training. I can trust him to guide me when my own mind gets carried away.
As far as training plans, I make my own workouts using my physical therapy and exercise physiology background. I run my training schedule by people I trust in the running community - my husband, Kim Sheffield (UVRC coach), Doug Miller (PhD exercise physiology professor at Messiah College), and of course Millennium Running’s John and Jennifer Mortimer.
2. When did you feel that an OTQ was a possibility?
I analyze the heck out of data. I think some people call it “Logitis”. After analyzing my negative splits and heart rate data from Chicago, I thought OTQ was a long shot but worth a try. Once it was a thought, it was a goal. Once it was a goal… there was no turning back.
3. What was your racing plan at CIM? How did the race play out that day?
Based on my training data, I was fairly confident I could achieve a 2:43 if there were no surprises. My plan at CIM was to go out at 6:12 pace with the OTQ B standard pacer for at least 13 miles. I could only stand to run with such a large group for about 4 miles (I’m a runner who is out at 5am alone with me, my headlamp, and the animals), and then I broke off the front a bit. I don’t let myself get into “race” mode for any marathon until mile 15. So, at mile 15 I let myself go down to about 6:05 pace. At mile 20 I realized it was safe to push as hard as I wanted. My last 10k was 5:54 pace, about the same as the pace from my favorite Jack Daniels workout: 20 miles with 4 miles at threshold in the beginning and 4 miles at the end. That’s where my mind was at at the end of the marathon - it was on Rt 14 headed back from Sharon VT toward White River Junction, doing that Daniels workout. It ended up that my pace followed suit.
4. What did you do to celebrate your OTQ?
My husband and his brother’s family were there to cheer me on. We all went out for gluten free pizza (my favorite food), which I hadn’t had in more months than I could count. My husband and I then enjoyed a week-long “honeymoon” of sorts in San Francisco with no schedule to follow and almost no nutritional restrictions - a much needed physical and mental break!
5. What are some of your plans and goals for 2015 now that you have your qualifying time for February 13, 2016 Olympic Trials?
I thought of running Houston to try for OTQ A standard, but with guidance from others, have decided that my overall training for LA 2016 will be best if I maximize speed. So, my current plan is to goof off until January, maybe write a cookbook, and then focus on the 10k until late 2015.
**UPDATE (got a another Q&A after it went live)
6. It was great to see two NE women nail down the OTQ in the same big race. Were you aware that Laura Paulsen was near you? Did you two work together at all or did you pass her late in the race?
I introduced myself to Laura before the race. I saw her with her Boston uniform on in line for the porta-potties in the elite area.
I passed her at the end. It was her first marathon. She was gutsy, I was conservative. Made for a more pleasant race for me even though we ran the same time. The girl ahead of me has run for my Messiah Alumn team, SWIFT in the past so I had been aquainted with her too!