Last year, we asked Alex Coffin, a past champion of Marathon by the Sea, for his Running Whys story. This year, Alex is slipping into the coaching role with the Running Whys and Hows, with a look at Hannah Arseneault of St. Martins. Hannah’s progress in various areas of running has benefitted from two strong appearances in the MBTS half marathon. Here, Alex details her path to the half marathon title a year ago! Enjoy
By Alex Coffin
Hannah Arseneault joined the Saint John Track & Field Club even though it was a tough commute from St Martins into the city for practices. When she decided on her high school, she also committed to attend Saint John High School to take advantage of the well-supported running program there.
At the high school provincial cross-country championships, she finished fourth in the junior girls category in Grade 9, she finished third in the senior girls category in Grade 10, finished fourth in the senior girls category in Grade 11, and finished second in the senior girls category in Grade 12.
At the high school track & field championships, she finished second in the junior girls 3000 meters in Grade 9, finished 4th in the junior girls 3000 meters in Grade 10, and then won the senior girls 3000 in both Grade 11 and Grade 12.
After high school, Hannah could have accepted athletic scholarships from many universities but followed her heart to agricultural college in Truro. It speaks to her maturity that she was able to keep making such tough decisions to follow her passions.
In the lead up to this year’s MBTS, we also have profiled Todd Price, Erica MacMillan Carol Lynn Landry, Donald and Elspeth Lemon, Carolyn Radcliffe, Andrew Estey, Corinne Fournier, Kevin McEachern, Sherri Colwell-McCavour, Jesse Davidson, Jason Kaulbach, Jacqueline Boucher, Jen Payne, Mark Clinton, Patty MacMillan, Haley Adams-Green, Dean Mercer, Caitlin Stevens-Kelly, Carla Harris, Dave Horgan, and Krista Sutton.
Being in Truro however did not mean that Hannah could not continue to juggle academics with her athleticism. In her first semester at college, she became the ACAA female champion for cross country. In the summer of 2013, I was lucky enough to be coaching Hannah in her effort to qualify for the national youth track & field championships sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion.
Hannah barely missed making that team in the steeplechase event but she immediately decided to take advantage of her fitness and try the half marathon at the Marathon by the Sea. It is rare for a high school athlete to attempt to do well at such a long distance but Hannah loved to run and had built up a great foundation for such a challenge.
She ended up finishing second to Brenda Guitard with a very respectable time of 1:35:10.
It is a pleasure to coach someone who is motivated for a specific goal.
In the 2014 Marathon by the Sea, Hannah wanted to go for the half marathon win and we had a great game plan based on who might be running. The course had changed to add some extra ups and downs as well so we made sure that her foundation training included hill repeats. Her interval workouts included the mile repeats that track runners usually avoid in favour for shorter distances like quarter miles.
I also like to include a race beforehand to build confidence and we decided on the 10K at the Subway Grand Bay- Westfield Canada Day Event. Hannah not only took the women’s title but finished second overall. Hannah would indeed win the 2014 half marathon at the Marathon by the Sea. She finished nearly two minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Tosha Feitag from Ontario.
For 2015, she is a little busier with work in St Martins but she still travels to Saint John to train with the Saint John Track Club when she is able to. We will be watching the registrations to determine her strategy for the day but Hannah will be a threat to defend her title no matter who decides to run.
Hannah’s half marathon training also serves as an important transition to her cross-country racing in the fall. I’m sure I will not be the only person watching her results with interest as she attempts to defend her ACAA title and then hopefully travel to the CCAA cross-country championships to become a national champion.
The Marathon by the Sea is a great opportunity for our local running community to get to know our local elite runners! I hope Hannah is able to compete for the marathon title in the future!!