For most first-time marathon runners, the goal is simple, finish.
Brooke Rasmussen, who is going to be a senior at Monticello High School next school year, had that goal.
She had another goal as well, finishing in 3:35, so as to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year.
Both goals proved to be well within reach for the fledgling distance runner.
Rasmussen isn’t new to running, she’s been a varsity cross country runner for the Magic since seventh grade. Nor is she new to the idea of marathons, as she has grown up watching her mom participate and has wanted to join her for years.
But she was new to competing in those distance runs.
She didn’t look it.
Fresh off a third place finish at a 30K warm-up event a month prior in White Bear Lake, Rasmussen attacked the marathon course in Duluth from start to finish.
“I kept picking up my pace throughout the race,” said Rasmussen.
Indeed, she ran the first 10K portion at a 7:43 clip, before cutting her pace down to 7:25 and then all the way down to seven minutes during the middle splits of the race. Things slowed down a little down the stretch, but Rasmussen was able to dig deep again toward the end, pulling out 7:20 splits leading up to the last three miles, when she finally started to feel the exhaustion set in.
“At mile 23, I hit the wall,” said Rasmussen. “It was just three more miles, but, it seemed like forever.”
The 17-year-old still managed to keep her pace under eight minutes on the way in, finishing the race in a remarkable 3 hours, 14 minutes and 59 seconds.
That time placed her 513 overall, out of 5,618 runners. It also earned her a 63 place finish among all women and an impressive second-place finish in her age group of women 12 to 18 years old.
“I was amazed,” admitted Rasmussen. “I thought I would just be lucky to finish.”
Her mom, her training partner for months and running mate for the first five to ten miles of the marathon, was equally amazed.
“She almost started crying,” said Rasmussen. “She was just shocked.”
Heather Rasmussen finished in 3:36:57.
With her first marathon under her belt, Rasmussen would like to turn her attention to the Boston Marathon, which she is automatically qualified to run during either of the next two years. But first, she’ll focus on her senior season of cross country, something she expects her marathon training to help with.
During cross country, runners peak around 45 miles ran per week. For her marathon training, Rasmussen was pushing 65 miles during some of the more difficult training weeks.
Because of those distances, marathon training requires endurance. But Rasmussen said that marathon training also requires a lot more patience, since some of training runs require over two hours of your time. Cross country on the other hand, will make her work pace back into the mix.
“I’m going to throw a lot more speed in,” said Rasmussen, before adding that she wouldn’t get too far from her impressive new distances. “I’ll still do some 15 or 16-mile runs here and there.”
There are a lot of ways Rasmussen hopes the marathon training translates to cross country success, including some increased endurance and stronger legs. But as much as she can take away physically from all the training, Rasmussen has gained some mental toughness as well, as she prepares for her senior season.
“I feel like it’s going to help me a lot,” said Rasmussen. “I know what really harsh pain feels like now.”
She also knows the taste of success, something that can be equally valuable.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org