Any woman would have been ecstatic to finish as the 11th-fastest American, 18th overall, in the Boston Marathon.
That isn't the case if you're Turena Johnson Lane.
The Brainerd High School graduate and long-distance running star holds herself to a much higher standard. Even though it was raining and windy she finished with a time of 2:44.23 while Boston was in the midst of a Nor'easter.
"The day before the marathon, actually, was much worse than the day of," Lane said from her home in Miami. "The night before the race we were sitting in our hotel room waiting for the windows to come crashing in. There were 50-60 mph winds. It was amazing."
This year's Boston event served as a qualifier for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Fortunately, Lane had already qualified for the Trials, which are scheduled April 20, 2008, in Boston, by running 2:36.15 at the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon.
Turena Johnson Lane finished 18th overall among women in the Boston Marathon
Lane who is sponsored by Brooks, was among about 60 elite female foreign and American runners who started before the rest of the field at Boston, which features about 20,000 participants. She was running with about 15 others when the pack began to break up at the halfway point.
Her goal was to be among the top five American finishers, the top 10 to 15 overall.
"When you put all your eggs into one basket you hope it works out well," Lane said. "You can't come back next week and do it again. There's a long recovery process, then you get back into it. That makes the marathon unlike any other running event because you can't get out there and have a go at it again any time soon. That's the beauty and the beast of the marathon. Those two things are wrapped into one.
"I haven't had many performances like this where I've been so disappointed. Certainly, you're bound to have bad days at the office. That's how it goes. If I could accomplish what I've always wanted to accomplish, when I wanted to accomplish it, I probably wouldn't be doing this very long. The things you haven't accomplished is what keeps you going.
"I have lots of fuel for the fire over the next 48 weeks or so until the Olympic Trials."
Lane will likely run shorter races, possibly another marathon, before the Trials and train for a course that will differ from the Boston Marathon. The Trials' course starts in downtown Boston and has multiple loops around the city.
"It's like one big track," Lane said.
More than 100 females already have qualified for the Trials. From that field only three females will become members of the Olympic team. Lane has the 11th-fastest time so far.
"It really is a lifetime of work and accomplishment to be on that world stage," Lane said. "Only the people who are striving to make that team know what work goes into it. It's not like signing up for Little League. I wish there was a sign-up list. I would be the first one in line.
"It's very competitive, very selective. Only a very elite group of people have this opportunity. To have your best race when it counts ... you could be the world record holder and not make your country's Olympic team. It's not given to anybody. Everybody has to show up that day."
Brainerd High School graduate Turena Johnson Lane finished 26th overall in the 2005 World Track and Field Championships at Helsinki, Finland. Her time of 2:34:43, a personal best, placed her 26th overall and was the fastest run by an American female.
Lane qualified for the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials at St. Louis and finished 19th with a time of 2:40.58. An injury limited her training.
"I was probably 14th until mile 24, then I got passed," Lane said. "I just didn't have the training to carry me. My goal was top 10, but in the marathon anything can happen."
Lane became a marathoner following a standout career at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she was a nine-time All-American in cross country and track and the Honda Division III Female Athlete of the Year in 1997. She was a member of Team Minnesota in 2001 and 2002.
"I was running 5 and 10Ks, but I knew the marathon eventually would be my better distance," Lane said. "You have to get there gradually. The best female marathoners are not 22-year-old college graduates. They're in their late 20s, early 30s, mid-30s. One woman made the Olympic team when she was 39.
"Coming out of college my highest mileage a week was probably 60. Now I'm doubling the amount of miles I did in college, only at a much higher level. It takes consistency and being able to train injury free is huge.
"You have to have that progression over years and years. It's an accumulation of training. It takes a long time to accumulate all that training to be ready to take on the marathon."
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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