This is a hot streak: Jenny Hitchings of Sacramento, California, has set four American age-group annal in four months. And in so doing, she’s asleep a mark captivated by one of the sport’s giants.
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For the 55-year-old Hitchings, the record-fest started in August, aback she ran a women’s-only 5K in a baking 18:05. (That’s 5:49 pace.)
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In September, she ran a 10-miler, the Buffalo Stampede, in 1:01:20 (6:08 pace).
In October, the best time for a half-marathon went down: The antecedent mark was 1:23:09, set by Shirley Matson, 22 years ago. Hitchings took about two account off that time aback she ran 1:21:17 at the Urban Cow Half Chase (6:12 pace).
Finally in November, the weekend afterwards Thanksgiving, Hitchings ran a 10K in Sacramento and accomplished in 37:27 (6:01 pace). In so doing, she agape 53 abnormal off the almanac that Joan Benoit Samuelson set bristles years ago.
The four performances aren’t alone age-group records. For Hitchings, who came to the action in her backward 30s, they’re lifetime bests. She’s the fastest she’s anytime been at age 55.
“I’m cool excited,” Hitchings, a active coach, said. “I feel appreciative for what I’m accomplishing, for accomplishing these goals, and arch the backpack for earlier women runners.”
Hitching was accustomed as one of Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in October, and aftermost anniversary was called USA Clue & Field’s Athlete of the Week.
She credits actuality able to run her best in 2018 by blockage advantageous all year, which has enabled her to alternation consistently. Hitchings is accomplished accidentally by Jenny Spangler (also 55). Spangler was the abruptness champ of the 1996 Olympic Chase Trials.
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“She works actual hard,” Spangler said. “We’ve been able to acquisition a acceptable aggregate of training, rest, and workouts for her that accept kept her almost injury-free. So she’s been able to get constant active in this year, which is huge for any runner, at any level.”
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Hitchings runs about 55 to 60 afar per week, and she’ll get up above 70 aback she’s training for a marathon. “That’s a lot of running,” Spangler said. “She’s acceptable about alert to her body.”
Instead of accomplishing two adamantine workouts and a connected run anniversary week, Hitchings does one adamantine accomplishment on Wednesdays, with a connected run on the weekend that incorporates some faster miles. She avoids the track. She additionally takes one abounding day off every week—usually Monday—without any array of exercise.
“I aloof appetite to get out of bed, get dressed, and alarm it a day,” she said. “I like my blow day.”
Her alone acknowledgment to actuality in her mid-50s, she said, is that she knows it takes her best to ameliorate from workouts. “I feel like I can still do everything, but the recovery, it’s aloof not as accessible to animation back,” she said. “When I get out of bed in the morning, it feels creaky.” She’ll see a beating therapist and a concrete therapist every brace of weeks to assignment on her aches and pains.
Hitchings capped off her antagonism division with her hometown marathon—California International—on December 2. She accomplished in 2:51:50, averaging 6:34 per mile for the distance. It would accept been addition record, but the point-to-point advance is not record-eligible.
So the women’s 55-59 chase almanac looms as a ambition for 2019. Rae Baymiller ran the accepted mark, 2:52:14, in Chicago in 1998. Samuelson ran 2:50:33 in Boston as a 55-year-old, but Boston, like CIM, is not a record-eligible course. If Hitchings goes for it, she’d achievement to breach 2:50.
Hitchings is not the alone one transforming the 55–59 almanac book. In August, Doreen McCoubrie of West Chester, Pennsylvania, clocked 5:30.4 for a mile on the track—at age 57. The abutting anniversary she ran 5:34 at the USATF masters alley mile championships in Flint, Michigan.
“I am not beneath any pretenses that any almanac I’ve fabricated won’t be burst aural one, two, bristles years,” Hitchings said. “Right now addition like Doreen or myself, we’re array of beat the chief women’s active stuff. Yes, you accept Joan Benoit Samuelson. Yes, you accept Colleen DeReuck. But overall, there aren’t abounding women accomplishing what we’re doing. We’re array of the alpha of this bearing of runners. The actuality that I’m breaking a almanac that’s 20 years old shows that we weren’t accomplishing that that much.
“But they’re advancing up on us,” she continued. “The women who are axis 50 and again axis 55, there are some powerhouses.”
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