When Stephanie Bruce approached her head coach about running the USATF Marathon Championships just weeks after finishing 11th at the New York City Marathon, he thought maybe the emotions were doing the talking for her.
Running two marathons in a month's time is unheard of in the running world, but Bruce convinced NAZ Elite head coach Ben Rosario that it was as good as time as any to attempt the feat. Bruce took the risk and finished second at the marathon in a PR time of 2:29:21.
"They don’t do that, and it’s pretty rare because most people run two per year, not two per month," Rosario said of professional runners taking on such a challenge.
One of Bruce's arguments to her coach was that the window of time she has to have such experiences is shutting. Rosario trusted his runner's thought process, knowing the veteran wasn't outright ignoring the danger that could come with taking on the California International Marathon course on Sunday after tackling NYC on Nov. 4.
"She is later in her career, so she can afford a to take a couple of risks, and I think it comes back to self-confidence," Rosario said. "Of course she is not satisfied, she wants to accomplish things, but she is at peace as a person, as an athlete, and when you are in that frame of mind you can make clear decisions compared to when you are in your 20s.”
It was a strong finish to stellar year for Bruce. She started 2018 with a January victory at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon in 1:12:30, and had impressive performances at shorter distances, too, including winning her first-ever national title in July at the Peachtree Road Race USATF 10K Championships with a time of 32:21.
The California International Marathon title race was Bruce's third marathon of 2018, as she took 10th at the London Marathon in April in 2:32:28. On Sunday, she got to run with her husband and teammate Ben Bruce, who crossed the championship run in 109th at 2:24:50.
“Everything she is doing, she is just looking at like it’s a great opportunity to do something each race" Rosario said.
Bruce did all the right things in recovering from NYC so she could create the opportunity to run the California International. Rosario's workout plan also went well, considering he was never faced with helping an athlete take on such a daunting task.
The emphasis for both Rosario and Bruce was the runner's health, and the two walked the fine line of recovery and preparation so that she could maintain her high level of fitness. And Rosario liked that the California International course isn't the most grueling of races, noting that the marathon has no big bridges and not a ton of turns, sharp angles or drastic hills.
Bruce ran only four hard workouts during the four weeks between NYC and the championship marathon. She didn't run for a week after NYC, then started on some easy workouts.
Rosario said Bruce has been running without fear, and it showed in how she conquered the dangerous feat.
“She’s having a fantastic couple of years. It’s sort of like, when you get hot as a runner, it can be a period of couple of years, unlike a basketball player where it can be a couple of games,” Rosario said.
Two young runners will look to make a statement for NAZ Elite on Sunday when Erin Clark and Dani Shanahan run the USATF Club XC Championships in Spokane, Washington.