Lyndsay Tessier’s race at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last weekend is proof that we never really know when that breakthrough performance is going to come.
Heading into last Sunday’s race, which also served as the Canadian Marathon Championships, the 39-year-old teacher had a marathon personal best of 2:45:39, set in 2014. As she moved along the streets of Toronto Sunday morning ,she took nine minutes off that time on her way to a second place finish in 2:36:55. She came in just behind
London’s Leslie Sexton (2:35:47).
Taking nine minutes off a personal best in the marathon is remarkable feat – and Tessier did it approaching her fortieth birthday. Her ability to be among the best runners in the country while approaching this age isn’t something we should be too surprised about. Over the past several years we’ve seen runners racing at the elite level well into their late thirties and into their forties. We need only to look at 2016 Olympian Krista Duchene (who was commentating for the championship race on Sunday) to see another fine example this. Duchene was 40 years old when she race in Rio.
“She’s going to be 40, so she’s a bit of threat for me when it comes to those masters records,” said Duchene in a playful manner while commentating on Sunday. “I’m going to have keep my eye on her.”
It’s going to be fun to watch what Tessier does in the years to come. Prior to the championship race, she wasn’t on my radar, so to me, it seemed like she came out of nowhere on Sunday. I definitely wouldn’t have had her pegged to challenge for the championship this year, but that just goes to show you never know when that big race will come. It’s not one performance, or one training run: it’s the culmination of years and years of hard work, dedication and never giving up that builds an elite runner.
In a post-race interview, Tessier seemed excited, but not overly surprised about her performance. This makes sense given that she’s the one who best understands both her training and her setbacks experienced over the years, and she’s the one who’s been pushing her body and mind to get the best out of herself.
“I knew that the training was there. I didn’t know what to expect at all, but I just went with how I felt,” said Tessier. “I found myself beside Leslie and was really terrified about that – and thought was a big mistake. But we were chatting and she was keeping me calm – and figured at about the halfway mark, she would surge and I’d keep going with my single speed . . . which is what I kind of do – and just ran it in that way.”
It was a joy to watch the 39-year-old teacher remind us all that age is not a make-or-break factor in the marathon. I know I’ll be thinking about this lesson in the months to come as I work towards my own running goals at the age of 38.