G-R-I-T

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“Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase- as much as the capture- that was gratifying. Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring. In a word, they had grit.”

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I’m racing the NYC Marathon on Sunday November 4th. My teammates Scott and Scott are also lining up, and so we have all been training together this fall. I’ve run 8 marathons and each buildup has it’s own story, it’s own path. Heading into this NYC I wanted to capture what we do, day in and day out. The hard days. The workouts that written on paper are scary as hell. The days that challenge us for the sake of challenging. So GRIT was born. Born from a need to define what it is that keeps pushing me through mile repeats at 7000ft, through a 20 mile progression run up and down Lake Mary, and through taking risks. “Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it. It’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love- staying in love.” -Angela Duckworth

building the fire

5 weeks out from NYC is when the heat gets turned up. The miles are starting to pile up, and you’re starting every workout on fatigue laden legs. Freshness is no longer an option. Building the fire is essentially putting in the uncomfortable work early in a training segment that allows you to handle what’s to come. The session we filmed in Episode 1 was 12 x a mile with 1 min rest, with every 4th mile a surge, at 7000 ft. (6600 to be exact). The pace prescribed was 5:35, and 5:25, 5:15, and 5:05 for the surge miles, and 2 mins rest after those. Here are the my splits: 5:33, 5:34, 5:33, 5:22, 5:32, 5:33, 5:33, 5:16, 5:34, 5:33, 5:15. Here’s the story.

Having trained at altitude for 8 years I am all too familiar with discomfort. Almost the entire NAZ Elite team was out at Doney Park this morning. I was getting over a head cold, and I felt flat. I had to somehow make 5:35s feel smooth on a day I already knew they would not. But don’t run the workout in your head before you run the workout. We took off running a square mile, back and forth. Kellyn and I were in sync, matching each other’s stride, and breath. 1st rep, 5:33. I felt in control but knew that would be short lived. 5:35 isn’t a particularly scary and fast pace, but at 6500 ft and with 1 min rest, the effect of fatigue begins to snowball. The next few reps clicked off and the surge mile was very manageable. Then the hurt began to set in. My stomach was churning, my quads were heavy, and my breathing became more pronounced. Each 1 minute recovery I chugged a few gulps of water and gatorade. The temp was creeping up. We passed the Scotts and Futsum, gave an unspoken nod that acknowledged the work we’re all putting in. On our 8th mile, the surge mile, my stomach rebelled….I stopped 800 in, dry heaved for 10 seconds and kept pushing on for a 5:16. Kellyn looked back when I stopped and muttered “you all right?” Yeah just dry heaving I thought jokingly.” Although not ideal that I had to stop in that interval it wasn’t a sign I needed to stop and call the workout. Workouts have hiccups, interruptions, and challenges. They are never perfect. But you don’t need perfection in marathon training, you need consistency. We head into our last set with 4 miles to go. I’m hot, and my body is feeling out of sorts. This is hard. But the marathon is hard so you gotta get ready. I run 5:34 and 5:33 for #9 and #10, but I’m drained. I asked Coach Ben if I should continue based on how I’m feeling. He says “10 mile repeats is solid, take this next one off and try to help Kellyn through 800 of the last one.” I welcome the rest and freshen up quite easily. We’re trying to hit 5:05 and Coach Ben knows it’s a reach but he puts it out there for us. That’s how you get better, set almost unattainable times and see where you end up. I take a deep breath, click my watch and pull Kellyn through 800 at 2:38, and feel I can grind on. She pulls up alongside me and we push one another every step that last 800. She surges, I surge. We hit 5:15 and although not 5:05, it was a successful day. We got better. I began building the fire for NYC today and found my own version of GRIT on that last mile rep.

“To be gritty is to resist complaceny.” -Angela Duckworth



Episode 1: building the fire

So in this series, captured by Rabbitwolf, taking me through the training cycle building towards NYC, you’ll see my workouts, my splits, my hands on my knees. I wanted to captured what we train for, train through, and how we handle the adversity that is presented. It’s about being willing to go to places in workouts that are very dark and daunting. It’s about trying to get the most out of yourself for the sake of of getting the most from yourself. That’s what GRIT is about. Staying on course even when it’s gets tough, challenging, and threatens comfort. So I hope you enjoy this other side of me as a professional runner that I haven’t shed as much light on. We all have that other side, that’s just waiting to come out. The badass mom that brings it. The guy chasing the dream that’s seems unattainable but revels in the chase. The woman that never gives up and pursues relentlessly. That’s GRIT. Get Ready It’s Time.

-STEPH BRUCE