American Age Group Record #1 in the 5k, 18:05
Something spectacular is happening in Sacramento and it's worth taking note: rabbitELITE athlete Jenny Hitchings is not only winning races, she's breaking longstanding records by large margins. Not just one or two, but now three American age group records (55-59) in just a matter of months.
In May, she won the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon in Ventura, California, setting the masters course record and topping her nearest competitor by nearly three minutes. Less than two months later she lined up at the the über competitive Wharf To Wharf 6-mile in Santa Cruz and finished 16th, outpacing her nearest age group opponent by nearly 5 minutes.
Just a few weeks later she ran 18:05 at the Susan B Anthony 5k for the win and secured her first record, breaking the legendary Shirley Matson's time of 18:32 from Carlsbad set in 1997. Only a month later she jumped up in distance to take the 10-mile American age group record by over a minute in 1:01:20, highlighting her summer of speed.
October 8th, 2018 Edition of Sports Illustrated
After being featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" segment for her September 10-mile performance, Jenny lined up at her hometown half, Sacramento's Urban Cow Half-Marathon. Not one to disappoint, she did it again by running a personal best time of 1:21:14, breaking the record by nearly two minutes. Her third American age group record in just 3 months.
Is it fair to say she is on fire? Absolutely. In fact, that may be a slight understatement as some would argue we are witnessing quite possibly one of the greatest running years of any American masters runner, ever. The 55 year old lifelong runner just keeps getting faster.
You've raced your way to three American age group records in a matter of months after winning the M2B marathon; what are your initial thoughts and feelings about these accomplishments?
Honestly, I feel a little overwhelmed and yet very satisfied. It’s been calming in a weird way. I feel like I set out to do something that no one else was doing or going for, and I accomplished it (so far) and also managed to have personal best times for all 3 distances, and that feels AMAZING!
The Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Win in May
What has your training been like this year? Any differences that have helped you push your limits to these new highs?
There have been 2 marked differences for me this year. I hired a new Coach, Jenny Spangler ( a 1996 Olympic Marathoner) and I was coming off a long set back, so I was easing back and felt pretty rested. Most people my age don’t come back from injuries and set PRs! I really thought I was on a downward spiral. In the past, I would get a little anxious about my workouts and this year, I just felt I could handle everything Jenny was giving me. I’m also not tied to the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday workouts. Sometimes I do speed on a Wednesday and incorporate my next speed into my long run. I feel more relaxed, and I get out there and get it done!
Top 100 jacket and PR in July at Wharf To Wharf
Have you specifically been going after these records or have they just happened naturally?
I’d say specifically. After M2B, I decided to train for the Wharf To Wharf in July. I don’t usually train specially for shorter distances….I feel like I’m always in marathon training which may have also hindered me from having faster times in shorter races. I ended up with a PR at Wharf to Wharf (35:24), so I thought, I’d go for the 5k record, as I basically ran the record time I would need to break the 5k mark at W2W. Then the 20 year old 10-mile and half-marathon records just seemed like a perfect trajectory. Though it wouldn’t be easy, I felt I could run the paces needed to break these records, and that gave me a sense of calm; I had no idea I actually had it in me to break them by a lot and also set personal records. I’ve also been very lucky that the record eligible races (USATF sanctioned, certified and not point-to-point) I’ve run have been in my hometown. It makes a big difference. Sacramento is becoming a running mecca!
American Age Group Record #2 in the 10-mile, 1:01:20
Any big races coming up the rest of the year and how will you train for them?
I have another half in November called the Clarksburg Country Run, but this will be a no pressure half that I'll run just for fun and PAUSATF points for her SRA Elite Team. I do plan on running CIM, but I’m also going to be smart and see how my body is holding up. I’m registered for Boston too.
Do you have your sights set on any other records in 2019 or beyond? Which ones and why?
I still may go for the 10k age group record this November (Thanksgiving run) and then perhaps the Marathon next year! CIM and the Boston Marathon are not record eligible, which is too bad.
It was a real thrill to be featured in the Faces in the Crowd section of SI magazine too! As a masters amateur athlete competing with the overwhelming number of nominations of high school and college athletes, I feel really fortunate and inspired that my race results were recognized on such a national level.
American Age Group Record #3 in the half-marathon, 1:21:14