Jordan Hasay had a plan.
The Arroyo Grande native was aiming to finish Sunday’s Chicago Marathon — just her second such race since she made the leap from the middle-distance ranks — in 2 hours, 22 minutes. It was a lofty goal that would have bested the former Mission Prep and University of Oregon star’s previous mark by a full minute, set in her record-breaking performance in the Boston Marathon in April.
But that plan changed quickly.
A group of front runners made an early move, and Hasay — then in fifth place — had a decision to make. She could lay back, or try to keep up.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I thought, ‘You know what, I didn’t come all this way to just sit in the back pack,’ ” Hasay told The Tribune on Wednesday. “So I made a pretty brave decision.”
Hasay upped her pace to around 5 minutes 15 seconds per mile in the first half of the race, despite her coach’s warning. It paid off as she passed one runner, then another. Hasay would go on to place third, setting a course record for an American woman with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 57 seconds. The mark smashed her previous best and was the second best performance by an American woman in a marathon, passing Shalane Flanagan’s mark of 2:21:14 at the Berlin Marathon.
“It was kind of unknown territory being my second marathon,” Hasay said. “You hear horror stories of people hitting the wall that last 6 miles, especially if you are going out as fast as I did. I was just praying that something bad wasn’t going to happen.”
After digging deep for a sprint on the final stretch up Columbus Drive and crossing the finish line, Hasay collapsed. But she didn’t stay down for long. Right there to pick her up, just as he had done so many times before, was her father, Joe Hasay.
“I couldn’t have gotten through this without him and our family and friends,” Jordan Hasay said. “He is just my hero, and for him to be right at the finish line was just really emotional. The best thing is I know he is going to be proud no matter what.”
The moment, similar to her emotional finish at the Boston Marathon, carried extra meaning since the sudden loss of her mother last November.
Hasay received the same support when she arrived home.
“When we landed at the SLO airport everyone was hugging me,” she said. “They treat me like family. Everyone here has just been so supportive of me my whole career, the ups and downs.”
Her career trajectory is nothing but up these days, but Hasay is taking the rest of the year off of competition to recover and train. In the next couple of weeks, she plans to take a trip to Disneyland and then to Hawaii with friends and family.
“It’s still strange to me that I won’t race again until 2018,” said Hasay, who said she plans to run a couple of half marathons early next year and her next marathon in the spring.
Hasay said her long-term goal is still to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2020, and another successful marathon gives her a new boost of energy and confidence to chase the American female record, 2:19:36 set by Deena Kastor in 2006.
“I think that’s what’s really exciting about my time is it puts me on that global stage now,” Hasay said. “Not just one race in Boston where I was the best debut for an American, but now I am competitive on that world scene, which is really cool.”