There are all kinds of goals that runners take with them to the starting line for a marathon.
There are those that have a specific time in mind for the race that spans 26.2 miles. They may have a certain pace per mile that they’re looking for with the hope of running it in under three, four or five hours.
There are those that simply just want to cross the finish line in what is considered a very demanding test, both physically and mentally.
Those who are considered elite-level runners will be at the very front of the start line and will take aim on men’s and women’s overall titles and the prizes that come with winning.
There are other incentives that draw distance runners to the marathon. Maybe it’s obtaining a Boston Marathon qualifying time or establishing a personal record. Maybe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, to say you did it and to show family and friends your finisher’s medal. Maybe it’s to dedicate your finish to a loved one.
Yes, the goals are varied among the hundreds or thousands who enter a race.
“I think it’s just a challenge,” Patty Rogers of Lakewood, Colo., said Tuesday. “In a race, hopefully things go well and you finish. I like the training for it, too. I think the training is good. Some days you do a lot of running and then other days you don’t do as much. I kind of enjoy that challenge.”
Rogers, a four-time NCAA All-American at the University of Colorado, has a goal that she will bring to the 33rd annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. The race is Sunday, March 6, starting at 7 a.m. and held on a point to point course, from Rosedale Road and the Silverado Trail in Calistoga and finishing in the front parking lot of Vintage High School on Trower Avenue.
“I’m just hopeful, trying to do the best I can and enjoying it,” said Rogers. “I think it’s just a beautiful area.”
Rogers wants to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials. To do that, she’ll need to run 2 hours, 46 minutes or faster.
“That would be my goal, just to try to go that pace for as long as I can, and hopefully get the time,” said Rogers. “I’m just going to try to really go for that. It just looks like a good course. It looks beautiful.”
Rogers, who earned a full scholarship as a walk-on athlete at Colorado, will be running the NVM for the first time. The race, an established favorite among experienced marathoners and serving as the Road Runners Club of America’s Western Regional championship, has a sold-out field of 2,400.
The event is dedicated to fostering and promoting quality road racing in an inspiring setting. The NVM has earned a reputation for outstanding runner support, attention to detail, and a beautiful course with world-class scenery. The race is a certified Boston Marathon qualifier
“I was looking for something like this,” said Rogers said. “The timing for it was really good. The course looks good.”
Rogers has also heard about the NVM’s reputation as a first-class event. Four runners qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008.
That year, Maureen Ackerly of Richmond, Va., won the NVM women’s overall title and was 13th overall in a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 25 seconds, a 6:17 per mile pace. Claudia Becque of Chicago, Shalluin Fullove of Palo Alto and Mary Coordt of Elk Grove also qualified for the Trials, which were hosted by the Boston Athletic Association. At Napa, they were paced by Caroline Annis, who had already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials.
“I noticed that several runners qualified for the last trials, so I knew that it was a pretty good course,” said Rogers. “I want to try and qualify again.”
Rogers was 91st with a time of 2:49:18 at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Marathon Olympic Trials.
The “A” standard is 2:39:00 and the “B” standard is 2:46:00 for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. The Trials are in January 2012.
“As I get older, it’s not getting easier, but it’s something you love to do,” said Rogers. “I think to try to do it is great.”
Rogers, 36, is a veteran marathon runner who came back from a knee injury to finish as the fourth woman in a time of 2:59:41 at the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon, which was held in October.
She won the Colfax Marathon in Lakewood, Colo., in 2007, clocking 3:05:56. Her personal record is a 2:45:34, which she achieved as the seventh-place woman during the 2006 Houston Marathon; her time qualified her for the 2008 Trials.
Rogers said her fitness level is closer to where it was when she first qualified for the Trials.
“I’m hoping that I have a good shot this time. I’m going to try to run that pace — I’m just going to try to go for that time as long as I can. Hopefully I can do it. I feel like my workouts have been pretty good. I’m doing better. My fitness should be good.
“I’ve just been working hard. I think the timing is really good. It’s a good chance for me to try to do it.”
There are several other elites in the women’s field for the NVM.
“It will be a very exciting field this year,” said Coordt, the race’s elite coordinator.
Rogers has other noteworthy finishes:
• Third women’s finisher in a time of 2:54:27 at the 2008 Denver Marathon.
• First female finisher with a time of 1:21:31 at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon in 2008.
• Fifth-place woman with a time of 2:47:15, helping the USA team win the team challenge at the 2008 Austin International Team Challenge Marathon.
• Second female finisher with a time of 2:54:25 at the 2007 Denver Marathon.
• First female finisher with a time of 1:20:14 at the 2007 Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon.
• First female finisher with a time of 1:22:38 at the 2007 Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.
• First-place woman with a time of 2:29:08 at the Rim Rock 22.6-mile run in 2005 in Grand Junction, Colo.
• Second-place woman with a time of 1:21:44 at the 2005 Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon.
Rogers was a walk-on who ran cross country and track from 1992-1996 for Colorado, earning All-America honors twice in cross country and twice in track. She finished sixth in the Indoor NCAA 5,000 meters. She won the college race at the Penn Relays in the 10,000 meters and was third at the Outdoor NCAA in the 10,000 meters in 1995.
“I think I just got up to a level — they had good athletes there and that just pushed me,” she said. “I just was willing to do the work. I was willing to work really hard. I think I just improved a lot. It’s so beautiful running in Colorado.”
She was a double major (psychology, history) in college. Her husband, Fritz, also ran cross country and track at CU. They have two daughters, ages 71⁄2 and 4.