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Paula James runs solo marathon debut in 2:47:50

The runner says at age 46, she's in the best shape of her life

On Sunday Paula James, 46, of Windsor, Nova Scotia, ran her marathon debut. On the warmest day they’ve seen all spring, James ran a 2:47:50 solo marathon. The runner says she’s in the best shape of her life and wasn’t going to wait for a real race to test it–she knew she wanted to run a time trial. Her time was only seven minutes off Catherine Watkins’ W45 Canadian record from the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

Paula James

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James is a lifelong runner, getting her competitive start at Dalhousie University, where she ran long sprints (400m through 800m). She was a post-collegiate for one year after university before taking a break from the sport. She got back into running about seven years ago, starting a learn-to-run clinic with some friends. James explains, “I’d never been a distance runner. But I wanted to get back into serious running to see what I could do. I started by focusing on the shorter stuff, 5K and 10K, before giving the half-marathon a shot just over two years ago.”

While James has technically run two marathons before, she considers Sunday’s solo run to be her official debut, since it’s the first one that she properly trained for. The runner was originally scheduled to run the Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine this weekend, but when it got cancelled, she knew she wanted to time trial instead. She jokes, “When you’re 46 years old and in the best shape of your life, you take advantage. Also, with the world today, we have no idea when and where the next real start line will be.”

Starting Sunday’s run

Sunday’s run was a big victory for James, but she believes there’s more in the tank. “I’m so much faster than I was when I was 20 years old. I ran a 5,000m indoor race on the track this winter, and it was one of my best 5K times ever. I wore my old Dalhousie singlet. I still have lots of ties to the track, but the road is so great. Right now I’ll take some downtime, but then I want to keep pushing for personal bests, especially in the 5K and 10K.”

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James’s advice for running a good time trial

The runner recommends treating time trial day just like race day. “I even called it a race leading up. It was my race day. You need that adrenaline if you want to run fast.”