Beating the marathon time of three hours is every amateur runners dream – especially for a woman. Well Cayman’s fastest female road runner has done just that.
Take a bow Beth Schreader for achieving that Herculean feat at the recent Chicago Marathon.
Schreader, 29, had been edging closer to it for a couple of years and all the elements came perfectly together a couple of weeks ago.
‘So far, 2009 has been a great year of running for me,’ she said.
‘I set a 9.5 minute PR in Boston in April with a 3:03:12. After I surprised myself at that race, I knew I was capable of running a sub-three hour marathon. I set my fall goal race as Chicago, which would be my ninth marathon. My goal was to run under three hours and to place in the top 50 women (out of approximately 15,000).
‘Training during the Cayman summer was challenging because no matter how early you get out to run, it’s incredibly hot and humid. I am very lucky to have great training friends like Scott Brittain, Russ Coleman, Jasper Mikkelsen, Mike McDonald, Marius Acker and Dave Walker, to run with sometimes.
‘I did a few easy runs and long runs with them but skipped the regular Tuesday interval sessions we usually do because of the weather. I did most of my hard workouts indoors on the treadmills at World Gym twice a week.
‘I am less busy at work during the summer so I was able to increase my mileage. I trained for 12 weeks leading up to Chicago and seven of those weeks were over 100 miles each.
‘This meant training twice a day three-four days a week. The Wednesday Night Running Club was great in motivating me to get out for my second run of the day on Wednesday evenings.
‘I really enjoy my runs with that group and would encourage runners of any level to come out and run with us.
‘We meet at World Gym every Wednesday at 6pm and usually do a five mile run at various paces. It’s very social and not competitive at all so there is no need to feel intimidated. New joiners are always welcome.
‘Leading up to the race I felt great. My training had gone well and I was injury free thanks to some amazing people. Dr. Eddie Fernandes, at Island Chiropractic & Wellness Center, is trained and certified in Active Release Therapy, which is a soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.
‘My sessions with him helped my overused muscles recover and immediately got rid of any tweaks and twinges I was feeling. The regular deep tissue massages I got from Tina Nilsson and Philippe Deslandes at BodyWorks helped release tension and loosened up my tight areas.
‘I also attend the Sunday morning rooftop Yoga for Runners class taught by Janelle Kroon, which has helped me improve flexibility and openness.
‘Scott Brittain and Mike McDonald also ran Chicago. We went out for a pre-race meal Saturday night and met up before the race the next morning to walk over to the start area.
‘The weather was pretty much ideal for racing. The temperature was between 30-40F, there was no rain, it was partly cloudy and the humidity was very low. A pleasant change from Cayman running.
‘We had a great cheering section of significant others that made the trip up and would be waiting for us along the course.
‘Based on previous race times, Scott and I were assigned to the Top 100 start area. It was definitely a nice perk. Especially with 40,000 people running the race.
‘We got to sit in a nice heated tent before the start that had tables and chairs, we had our own gear check area and our own porta potties with no line ups.
‘We were escorted to the start line about 25 minutes before the race. It was amazing to be standing right at the start line. I turned around to look behind me and all I could see were thousands and thousands of runners.
‘We gave the wheelchair athletes a good send-off -they started five minutes ahead of us – and got ready to go. There was a median on the road where the start line was. We were on the left and on the right were the elite runners. Very cool to see them up close.
‘When the horn went off I stuck to my plan of not going out too fast and let a ton of people pass me. I felt good and got into a groove almost immediately.
‘Unfortunately, Scott had some injuries this training cycle and was only running for fun and not for a goal time. This was good news for me because it meant I had a running buddy for the race.
‘Scott ended up running with me for the entire marathon and it was great to have some company along the way. He even shared his gel with me when I dropped mine and stuck with me when I told him he could run ahead if he wanted to.
‘The first half of the marathon went by really quickly and I felt like the mile markers were coming right after another sooner than they should have been.
‘I crossed the halfway mat at 1:28:05 and knew I was running ahead of goal pace but it felt easy and comfortable so I went with it. This was either going to be the best idea ever or the worst. I knew I’d find out around mile 20 when reality would set in.
‘From mile 14-18 I just put my head down and ran. This is the boring part of the race when the initial excitement is over but you still have a long way to go before you know you are going to make it to the finish.
‘I ran these miles at a faster pace without even realizing it. At mile 20 I still felt strong but I could sense the wall was approaching. At mile 22 my legs started to really tighten up and cramp a little.
‘There were only four miles to go and I just had to gut it out. At mile 24 Scott told me that all we had left was a loop of Safehaven. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and tried to loosen up.
‘Finally I turned off Michigan Avenue and went up the small hill to the 26 mile marker. My legs pretty much seized up and wouldn’t really bend.
‘I did a wacky straight legged hopping stride up the hill and made the turn and could see the finish line. My legs loosened up and I ran as fast I could to the finish. I crossed in 2:57:17, which is a 6 minute personal record!
‘I just squeaked into the Top 50 with a 47th place. Mike had an incredible race too. He ran a 3:00:29 in only his second marathon. Scott really helped me during the last few miles. Had I not been running with him, I probably would have settled for a finishing time a minute or two slower.
‘I’m recovering pretty well from the race and after taking it easy last week, I’ll start slowly getting back into training. There are eight weeks between Chicago and the Cayman Marathon on 6 December, which should be a good amount of time to recover.
‘My Cayman training is basically going to be my Chicago build-up and race and then a few more weeks of easy running. I am not setting any goals for the Cayman Marathon and just want to enjoy the experience.’