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Canadian marathoner Krista DuChene on pace for spring comeback from broken femur

10/22/2014 06:27 EDT | Updated 12/22/2014 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Krista DuChene had just suffered a small setback in her recovery when friend and rival marathoner Lanni Marchant raced to a fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games.

Only months earlier, Marchant and DuChene had dipped under the Canadian women's marathon record in Toronto, and a great season beckoned for both women.

But DuChene's derailed in April when she broke her femur while running the Canadian half-marathon championships in Montreal. And watching Marchant race through the streets of Glasgow in July was one of the most difficult days of her comeback.

"It was tough," DuChene said. "At the time I had had a little setback, I had tripped on a rock and caught my leg. It was that weekend where she was racing and I was supposed to be there racing with her, and here I am making my comeback and I had a little setback."

DuChene, a 37-year-old mother of three, regularly speaks to groups, and so took her own advice.

"I teach people when I do my talks, to acknowledge your feelings at the time and deal with the reality of what's happening, and then move forward, don't stay in that place for too long, to start looking at the positive and moving forward," DuChene said. "That's what I did."

Looking forward, DuChene hopes to be pacing Marchant on the international marathon circuit again soon. Her recovery is on schedule, and she has her sights set squarely on the qualifying standard for this summer's Pan American Games in Toronto, the world track and field championships in Beijing in August, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"The goal is that I'll run a spring marathon in April, and ideally I'd get the standard for all three, but we'll just take it one step at a time," DuChene said. "Right now I'm in a great position. It's amazing, break my leg and here I am back on track like nothing ever happened really."

DuChene, who's been jogging since July and logged 100 kilometres last week — her longest run was 24K — will race an 8K next month in Cambridge, Ont., near her hometown of Brantford. She'll do a couple more short races in December.

"I'm not looking for personal best times or anything," she said. "Just enough to get the rust out, but no high expectations."

The fact she's back on track to race for Canada is remarkable considering the severity of her injury.

She went into April's half-marathon championships with some pain high up in her thigh, but didn't realize it was a stress fracture in her femur. She started to feel pain a few kilometres to go, but gutted it out until her leg completely gave way 500 metres from the finish line.

She limped and hopped across the line to finish third. She underwent surgery that night, needing a plate and three screws to mend the break.

Day 18 after surgery DuChene was back in the gym, "and in the water doing classes with the geriatrics who were recovering from heart attacks and strokes and their own surgeries. I just got in the water, and made my way around on my crutches, and eventually it was a cane."

She spent the summer with her three kids — all under the age of 10 — at her sister's cottage, swimming, biking, walking and eventually running. The busy mom cherished the extra time with her kids.

"It was a great summer," she said.

The timing of her injury, DuChene said, was ideal.

"This was just going to be a year of fun races, always trying to get stronger and faster but no real pressure to get any specific standards, it was kind of a down year," she said. "I had a successful season in 2014, I did well considering I had this injury in April. It's just like I took the middle part off of the year and I'm back at it."

DuChene was on the sidelines commentating on Sunday when Marchant raced to seventh — the top Canadian — at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Marchant, from London, Ont., holds the Canadian women's record of two hours 28 minutes — the mark she set at last year's Toronto marathon with DuChene on her heels. DuChene finished 32 seconds behind her.

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