Just weeks after setting her marathon personal best, Sara Hall will be taking on the 26.2 mile distance again at the USATF Marathon Championships on December 3.
“I love championship style racing and feel it really brings out the best in me,” Hall told CITIUS MAG. “The California International Marathon is a race I’ve wanted to run for a while now, and the fact that it’s a national championship essentially in my backyard made it even more meaningful.”
Hall finished fifth at the Frankfurt Marathon on October 29, setting a personal best of 2:27:21. She has recovered exceptionally well since then, providing her the confidence to give the marathon another go just five weeks after Frankfurt.
“It’s probably my best recovery after a marathon yet,” Hall said. “I think recovery is my strength as an athlete. I don’t think I’m the most talented, but since I started in the sport I’ve always been able to train really aggressively and race often with my body absorbing it well.”
This won’t be the first time Hall has attempted a quick turnaround after a marathon. After her debut marathon in 2015, Hall finished 20th at the World Cross Country Championships just 13 days later.
“I listen to my body and trust my instincts,” Hall said. “Having trained a lot in Africa where they don’t overthink things, I’ve adopted a bit of that mentality where I don’t necessarily buy into some of the things we believe in American running culture, like you can only run two marathons a year spaced out by six months.”
Hall confided in her husband and coach, legendary American marathoner Ryan Hall, in her decision-making.
“At first, Ryan wasn’t sold on the idea,” Hall said. “But after Frankfurt when I didn’t execute some things well and had some challenges that weren’t in my control, he was like, ‘You can do better than that. Let’s see how you recover, and if you do as usual, let’s go for it.'”
A longtime contender for U.S. national teams on the track, Hall made her marathon debut in 2015 and has completed the distance six times. She dipped under the 2:30 barrier for the first time earlier this year in Tokyo with a personal best 2:28:26 before improving upon that time in Frankfurt.
“I really want to continue to improve in the marathon, and since I only plan to do two a year, any time I get a chance to race one is another chance to tweak things and fine-tune my approach,” Hall said. “There’s such a learning curve with the event, which is partly why it’s so addicting.”
Hall joins a USATF Marathon Championships field that features 2012 U.S. Olympian Janet Bawcom, 2:27 marathoner Renee Metivier and 2016 CIM third place finisher Lauren Totten.
Against that caliber of a field, Hall knows that her competitive instincts will need to be at tip-top shape.
“In a championship race, you don’t have the help of knowing there are pacemakers running designated paces,” Hall said. “I have to be prepared to run a lot of it alone to run the pace that’s right for me.”
Ultimately, the prospect of walking away with a U.S. title was one that was too good for Hall to pass up, particularly with the marathon championships in Sacramento, just a few hours from her hometown of Santa Rosa and current residence in Redding.
“You have the motivation of thinking, ‘I want to be the one holding the American flag at the finish,'” Hall said. “That feeling never gets old, and to experience it close to home with friends and family would be really special.”
Race footage of the USATF Marathon Championships will be archived by USATF.TV here.