Over the past few months, marathon runner Kris Lawrence has been training for the biggest competition of her life – the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Lawrence, hoping to qualify for the marathon in the 2020 Tokyo Games, will compete in the trials on Feb. 29 in Atlanta, Ga.
“Right now, I’m running about 65 miles per week, and I will slowly get up to 80," Lawrence said. "And then I will cap out.
“The intensity of a marathon is very high, so I will continue to run every race (on Guam) until the end of February.”
With a 2 hour, 45-minute minimum qualification requirement for the trials, Lawrence’s 2:42:42, posted at the 2017 California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif., was fast enough to get her feet in the door.
Qualifying for the trials early, Lawrence has had time to train without added pressure. But, as the trials' date approaches, nerves are setting in. And, having suffered a knee injury in 2019, the lessened pressure was just an illusion.
“I feel worried that I am running out of time for where I want to be,” Lawrence said. “I am wondering where my fitness will be because I still have a lot more work to do.
“I would love to run under 2:40. I’ll go for it.”
Atlanta is a tougher course than CIM, she added.
But, with the U.S. slightly lowering the qualification standard, Lawrence expects a packed race, where nearly anything can happen.
“I know they (USA Track and Field) changed the standards and made it a little easier to get in," Lawrence said. So, it will be a very big field.”
With hundreds of Olympic hopefuls expected to participate in the trials, the U.S. Olympic Team will choose the three fastest men and women.
“On the women’s side, this race will have a very exciting field because we have at least 15 to 20 people that could easily make the U.S. Olympic Team,” Lawrence said. “There are very, very fast and talented women out there. So, it will be really exciting.”
Lawrence, needing to shave off at least 13 minutes from her qualification time, has her work cut out for her.
In 2019, the fastest U.S. women marathon runners – Laura Thweatt, Samantha Bluske, and Roberta Groner – all ran in the low 2:29s.
Not her first rodeo
Missing the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games by two minutes, finishing the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon in 2:47-plus, the disappointment has stoked Lawrence's competitive fire.
“It was a bummer because the race was in my hometown,” Lawrence said. “I just knew I needed to work harder.”