Last Saturday, after four years of training for the specific event, Rachel Hyland, Instructor in Spanish and Coach for Andover Girls Cross Country, competed against 45,000 professional and amateur runners in the Chicago Marathon, which is one of the biggest marathons in the country. In front of 800,000 spectators, Hyland finished with a blazing time of 2:41:26 to average 6:11 per mile, placing 17th among women and 201st overall, and qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
Hyland said, “Qualifying for the Olympic Trials was my biggest goal. I’ve had this goal for several years now, and a few years back I didn’t even think that it was possible.”
The Chicago Marathon was Hyland’s seventh race in her running career and is also her favorite. It was also her first event that conflicted with the Girls Cross Country season, forcing Hyland to juggle coaching, teaching and training this fall.
One of the highlights of the marathon for Hyland was being able to return to her hometown and spend time with family and friends, who cheered her on throughout the event.
“It was really special for me to run and to visit so many old friends from high school and from my hometown, and to see so much family out there as well. Of course, running in the marathon was also amazing,” she said.
Hyland said she is especially proud to see how far she has come since she ran her first full marathon.
“In my first marathon, I ran a 3:15:00, and I positive split by 10 minutes, meaning I ran the second half slower than the first half,” said Hyland. “It was a pretty long and miserable second half of the marathon because I wasn’t quite in shape for it.”
Since then, Hyland has improved her marathon personal record (PR) by a whopping 35 minutes.
Though incredibly excited and honored to have qualified for the Olympic Trials, Hyland does not see herself competing in the Olympic Games in the future.
Hyland said, “I’ve had some kids come up to me and ask me if it’s true that I’m going to the Olympics. For the Olympics, they only take three American marathoners, and those will most likely be full-time professionally paid athletes. So, for someone like me who has a full-time job at Andover, it’s a little unrealistic. However, I’m just excited that I ran the time that means I’ll be able to line up with them as they decide who of the Americans is going to go to the Olympics.”
When asked about her goals for the future, Hyland said, “Going forward, I would love to break 2:40:00 because I was pretty close to doing so in the Chicago Marathon. I think that in some ways, I trained to run faster in the marathon, but I didn’t want to take any chances during the race because I just wanted to run under 2:43:00, which was the qualifying time.”
As she anticipates her next marathon and prepares for her goal of a two minute improvement, Hyland will in the meantime continue to balance her personal training, cross country coaching and work as a teacher here at Andover.