Jess Trengove: Operation Rio

JESS Trengove will have just three letters burned into her mind for much of the next 737 days: RIO.

The former Naracoorte athlete will try to build on her sensational bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games women's marathon by going one step better for a podium finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

Trengove, 26, stunned Australia and the rest of the commonwealth when she stormed home to take third place in Sunday night's marathon in Glasgow, Scotland, finishing only behind a pair of elite Kenyan runners.

She now has almost exactly two years to prepare for her second Olympics on August 5-21, 2016; but first, she told the Herald after the race, it was time to reflect and celebrate her achievement.

"I'm really looking forward to a prolonged break, that was always in the plan," she said.

"It's time now to go and enjoy myself a bit, reconnect the mind and body, and then start a really good build-up to Rio."

Trengove will spend a further week in Glasgow enjoying time with family and friends, then another week elsewhere abroad before flying home to start the long lead-up to the Olympics.

She could be forgiven for not coming down from cloud nine at all after her brilliant performance, which capped a great day of marathon running for Australia after Michael Shelley won the men's event in a big shock.

Trengove said she had dreamed of a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games, but she was forced to re-set her goals as the race unfolded.

"As the race was panning out and the three girls out in front started pulling away, I thought I was running for fourth place (at best)," she recalled.

"I was able to catch the fourth girl and with about 4km to go a local yelled out I was still in medal contention.

"Someone else yelled out that the third girl was slowing and I came around a bend and saw (her) up in the distance.

"That bronze medal flashed into my head."

Trengove said she had to decide whether to chase hard and risk blowing up before the finish line, or be conservative and grind down the third runner's lead.

Fortunately for her, the decision to stay calm and consistent paid off as she gradually closed the gap and then powered home to the line to finish a clear third, bursting into tears of emotion at the realisation of what she had achieved.

Completing only her fifth marathon, Trengove said she continued to learn a lot about the best race preparation for her. She felt the lead-up to Glasgow was her best yet, enabling her to finish strongly and in a personal best time of 2 hours 30.12 minutes.

"Years of consistency really helped but also I did a much shorter running preparation because I had a bit of a niggle," she said.

"So I hadn't done too much work, I got to the line feeling a lot fresher because of that.

"I was also able to enjoy more of the race because I was feeling strong."

Trengove plans to take those lessons and more into her preparation for Rio 2016, an event which she felt would be the culmination of all of her years of running and training right back as far as her time as a Naracoorte Primary School student.

She said the school was still one of her great supporters and she was thankful for the students' many messages of support in the lead-up to her run.

In return, she hopes to visit Naracoorte later this year and drop in to the school to thank the students personally.

Trengove said she felt blessed to have so much support from all over Australia, and particularly from family, friends and her support team in Glasgow.

"Knowing that you're not just doing it for yourself, you're doing it for your supporters and the wider community, that really spurs you on," she said.

Asked if she dared to believe an Olympic medal was possible - after she finished 39th in her first Olympics in London in 2012, in a time of 2.31.17 - Trengove was realistic.

The Olympics features the best runners in the world, and the winning time two years ago was eight minutes faster than Trengove's new personal best.

"It's a dream," she said. "A Commonwealth medal was a dream, so you never know."

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