Islander finishes Seattle Marathon

By Mary L. Grady

All that Islander Brian Duchaine ate on the morning of his first marathon was two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The 16-year-old Mercer Island High School junior ran in the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 27. There were 1,384 male runners, 14 to 99, who finished the 26-mile event. Just six male finishers were 16 and younger.

The teen is a member of the high school cross country team, Duchaine has run for just two years.

When the cross country season ended on Oct. 28, he had just four weeks to focus on training for the marathon. Cross country athletes compete at a distance of 3.1 miles and do not generally train with runs longer than eight miles.

``After cross country ended, I knew I had to put on the mileage,'' he said.

Duchaine has some distance experience. He ran a half-marathon during May in Kirkland and took third in his age category. He did a mini-triathlon and has done a couple of 10 k runs. But at some point this fall, he decided to go for the 26-mile endurance test.

``I wanted to test myself and see what it is like to go further,'' he said.

The teen incorporates getting to and from places he needs to be into his training regime.

Running to destinations helps, he explains. He runs to Factoria Mall and back and to the Mercer Slough, to Leschi and even Husky stadium.

``If you run on the Island, it is too easy to head home,'' he said. ``When your run someplace further away, you don't have the option to take the easy way out''

Along with his friend, Kevin Ting, the two run all over. The last run before the marathon, the pair ran over to Husky Stadium on the day of the Apple Cup. As the game went on, they listened as they did laps around the outside of the stadium, to up the mileage. They only stopped briefly to watch the game then headed back.

He does not keep a training log. He keeps track of his time, but mostly keeps track of how far he has run in his head. He is mostly concerned about beating his own times.

``It is just like any other commitment,'' he said of his sport. ``You have to stick to it and make it work.''

Duchaine was born in Carmel, Calif. but grew up here. Along with his parents, he has three siblings: Two older sisters and one younger brother.

There were indications before of his ability to go long distances and doggedly pursue a goal, his mother Vicki Duchaine said. At one West Mercer Elementary School Metrathon, he walked 41 kilometers. He was in the fourth grade.

Now, several inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than when he began high school, he was ready to up the ante.

On the day of the race, he woke up early. He hadn't slept well. He said he was kind of nervous. He didn't want to not finish, walk or get sick.

He got up and ate two sandwiches. He packed a couple of energy bars. The night before the race he ate a bowl of tuna and noodle casserole for the protein and the carbs. But it was not a huge amount.

``Mom kept asking me if I had enough. If I wanted more,'' he said.

At the starting line, it was very crowded, Duchaine remembered. The full marathon group went last. The group ran south on Fifth Avenue under the wrecked monorail perched above. He did not look up, he said. There was too much to concentrate on keeping track of around him

He never did eat any more. He took a single Jolly Rancher candy to suck on. He drank lots of Gatorade and water, he said.

Duchaine's parents, Vicki and Rick, were determined to see their son run and cheer him on. It took some doing. After seeing him off at the starting line near the Seattle Center, they drove to Seward Park and saw him as the runners took a loop before heading east on the express lanes on the I-90 Bridge and back to Leschi. They drove across the bridge and were able to find and snap a photo of their son mid-span.

Vicki Duchaine said her husband said: Here we are, our son is running 26 miles and we are driving 300 to see him.''

The hardest part was at about the 20 mile mark where the course canted uphill. It helped, Duchaine recalled, when he came through the Montlake neighborhood and could finally see the Space Needle.

The runners finished in the stadium at Seattle Center to cheering spectators and friends. ``I got a burst of energy when I heard the noise,'' he smiled.

Brian's time was under 4 and one-half hours. The biggest accomplishment was simply finishing without stopping or walking, the athlete said.

``I knew if I stopped and walked, it would be hard to start up again. Beginning with the 18th mile, it was a constant battle with myself.''

When it was over, he said didn't feel too bad. Instead of getting a massage or something to eat, he had other places to go.

``Here his sister and I are getting all emotional,'' his mother said. ``We had a blanket and food and he gets in the car and said `I need to get to the game.''' Duchaine's Dad was already at the SeaHawk football game and there was a seat there waiting for him.

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