Donegal’s newest Olympic hopeful Caitriona Jennings was back at her desk this week but her thoughts have already turned towards London and the 2012 Olympic Games.
This was following her achievement of the making the Olympic Marathon qualification time in Rotterdam on Sunday last although she is still not guaranteed a place on the starting line for next August’s race in London.
The Letterkenny woman, who is a tax adviser with Price Waterhouse Cooper in Dublin, runs in the colours of Rathfarnham AC in the capital. She is one of four women - all who have achieved the qualifying standard - who are vying for the three places in the Irish team for the London marathon.
The other three are Ava Hutchinson, Linda Byrne and Letterkenny AC’s Maria McCambridge.
“I was on cloud nine on Sunday and Monday after making the qualification. But I’m back down to earth and back working again today and focusing on London,” Caitriona told the Democrat on Tuesday evening.
“It’s brilliant for Irish Ladies athletics that four women have made the qualifying time. I think it is the first time it has ever happened. It also means that someone is going to miss out and will naturally be disappointed and that is the tough part but unfortunately that is the way it has to be.
“I know I have only achieved the qualifying time and there are no guarantees, but I’m taking it that I have qualified and there is no other way I can take it. I have to start to prepare and train as if I’m going. It’s not ideal, but I can’t just wait until the team is announced and then start training.
“I have to start right away and begin focusing on London and the Olympics and being on the starting line in the marathon. There is no other way to approach it.
“It is now a matter of setting out a training regime and sticking to it and given the nature of marathon running hopefully staying injury free. It is a matter of just getting the training balance right so that I do stay injury free.”
Caitriona, who took the last two months off to train full-time for Rotterdam, has already pencilled a 17 day training camp in Portugal in May into her diary. And she will be knocking on her employers’ door again in the coming days too looking for more time off.
“I took two months off to train for Rotterdam. My bosses were very good to me about it, and I’m going to be looking for more time now. The other girls were training full time so I felt if I was to give myself a chance I was also going to have to train full-time and it was all worth it on Sunday when I achieved the time.
“I trained three times a day and I’m going to have to get back to that routine again because I feel I can improve my time and be in even better shape if I do get the call.”
Sunday’s marathon was only the second full marathon for the former national half-marathon champion. The first was in Dublin in October.
And given the improvement in her time last weekend in Rotterdam of close on seven minutes from October, it is easy to see why Caitriona feels optimistic she can build on Sunday’s run and she has much more in the tank.
“Sunday’s time was a huge improvement on Dublin, but my preparation for Dublin was very poor. I was injured for the eight weeks leading up to the race and I only got back out doing some running in the two weeks before the race.
“But I learned a lot from Dublin, like pacing myself and when to take water on board and it all worked well and was a big advantage to have a run in Dublin even if the time was not great. I set myself a target on Sunday of getting in under the qualifying 2:37:00, but to run it in 2:36:14 was brilliant and has also given me the confidence to feel I can even run much better and clock a better time.
“It is a matter of now over the next couple months putting in the work and hopefully staying injury free and obviously making the team. But that is out of my hands and up to the selectors. But hopefully, I will make it. It has been my dream ever since I was very young.”