I’m sure y’all have read running blogs from everyday, average runners who often state their goals, and a few of them list qualifying for the Olympic trials as one of them. And you really want to root for them and you hope that they eventually do qualify, but then they train six months for a marathon and they finish in four and a half hours.
But they press on because they really want to qualify, really, really badly. It’s all they want in life and yada, yada, yada. And now you know in the back of your mind your thinking…
I’ll admit it, I’ve thought that and I’m not really proud of it, but I have.
But then I started following Andrea Duke.
Andrea Duke never ran competitively in high school and she never ran in college. She graduated high school, went to college and then got her masters degree. After that she got a Ph.D. in Communication Studies and Sports Management. She also got married and managed to have a few kids along the way, but she wasn’t ever really focused on running and with all that going on, who would be?
Andrea Duke started running as a way to ease the stress of her job after American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the western side of the Pentagon, her workplace. Her first marathon was the inaugural D.C. Marathon in 2002. Up until that point her longest training run had been 10 miles.
She didn’t kill it. She finished it in 4:35:21 and she cried when it was over. She said she hated it, and she swore she’d never run another one.
Andrea did run again and just four months after giving birth to her son Noah in 2008 she qualified for her first Boston Marathon and in October of 2013 she won her first marathon with a time of 3:07:08. In February of 2014 she ran the Rock N Roll Marathon in New Orleans and she won the race in 2:58:55. She credits her kids for making her a faster runner. (If I were her, I’d have more kids!)
Only after winning in New Orleans did Andrea decide to get a running coach, her first ever, at age 34. She ran another marathon in San Diego, but finished in about the same time as she did in New Orleans so she kept going.
It was in October of 2014 in Chicago, 1 year later, when Andrea Duke would improve again. She ran the Chicago Marathon with the hopes of finishing in under 2:50. She finished as the 19th woman overall in 2:41:05.
Andrea Duke, at age 35, qualified for the Olympic Trials.
On February 13th, she’ll line up with all of the other qualifiers and run for a spot on the Olympic team, just two weeks before she turns 37.
So the next time you see that goal of qualifying for the Olympic trials on a 4 hour plus marathoner’s blog, root for them dammit. You never know, they might just be the next Andrea Duke.
Who’s your favorite person running in the Olympic trials this year?
Do you think it’s possible for Andrea to improve yet again?