The heel and the heal, Jordan Hasay is back

Jordan Hasay rebounded from multiple heel fractures to finish third at the Boston Marathon. She has now finished third in her three marathons. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON -- Three major marathons. Three third-place finishes.

On paper, Jordan Hasay has had an incredibly straightforward marathon career: a third-place finish in her debut marathon, the 2017 Boston Marathon, followed by a third-place finish in the 2017 Chicago Marathon and now a 2:25:20 third in this year's Boston Marathon.

But Hasay's career has been anything but straightforward.

After having a breakout 2017 season and setting the U.S. record for the fastest debut at 2:23 in Boston, the 27-year-old Californian missed all of 2018 with a stress fracture in her heel. A last-minute MRI on the eve of the 2018 Boston Marathon, where she was a top contender, changed her trajectory. She had to take months off and when she began prepping for the fall, she discovered she had fractures in the same heel.

After two months rest and four hard months of training, Hasay felt prepared for this Boston Marathon. She had a realistic goal -- she wanted to run a solid race with no unrealistic expectations for her body. And she was successful. Hasay ran a solid marathon, sticking to the main pack and even getting advice from 2018 champion Desiree Linden.

"It's a long race, be patient with yourself," Desi said to her during the first six miles of the race when Hasay got anxious when she saw Edna Kiplagat and Degefa take a massive lead.

"It took the pressure off, I felt at peace, and because of that I had a lot of fun out there," Hasay said.

She looked calm and composed. There was something else that was different about her. The Rapunzel-like mane of blond hair that usually falls below her waist was now a short ponytail just down to her shoulder. She had cut off 7 inches of her hair -- she didn't want to be weighed down.

Even though Hasay is considered one of the top contenders in every race she runs, she has only three marathons to her name. She was still somewhat starstruck as she paced next to some of the best distance runners in the world, she said afterward.

Although Hasay is a relative newcomer to marathons, she has had a prodigious career in distance running in high school and college. She ran cross-country and track, representing the United States in the World Junior Championships and PanAm Junior Championships, and winning multiple All-American honors and NCAA titles at Oregon.

She is back on track physically, but Hasay wants to make sure she's being smart about her health. Though she'd like to go out for 2-mile runs and sprints starting tomorrow -- she needs to work on her speed, she said -- she knows she needs to shut down training for a while to let her body recuperate. It's all about the big picture now for Hasay.

"I am excited for the future and building towards the Olympic trials and the Olympics," she said.