NAZ Elite This Week: 7 gearing up for The Marathon Project taking on tough training
Scott Fauble calls them the “real workouts. The sit down in the shower workouts.”
NAZ Elite is gearing up for a crucial stretch of racing in December that is capped with The Marathon Project, and many of the team’s runners are currently deep in the brutal segments of training.
NAZ Elite head coach Ben Rosario said on Wednesday it’s good to see his athletes “doing what they are best at,” as they get in shape for track meets and a marathon.
First up, on Saturday, Dec. 5, is the Track Meet in Southern California, where Stephanie Bruce, Tyler Day, Lauren Paquette, Danielle Shanahan and Kellyn Taylor will race in the 10,000-meters event. Then, seven athletes, including Taylor and Bruce, will compete in The Marathon Project, a race for elite runners only, on Sunday, Dec. 20. In between those races, Matt Baxter, looking to hit an Olympic qualifying standard, is scheduled to compete in a 5000m race in New Zealand.
Rosario said the upcoming slate of races is huge and that he “can feel that vibe where everybody is locked in.”
Joining Bruce and Taylor at The Marathon Project will be Julia Kohnen on the women’s side, with Fauble, Rory Linkletter, Scott Smith and Sid Vaughn racing for NAZ Elite in the men’s race.
It’s the first marathon for NAZ Elite since the U.S. Marathon Team Trials back in February. NAZ Elite’s Aliphine Tuliamuk won the Trials, with Bruce and Kellyn placing in the top 10 at sixth and eighth, respectively. Though she was not yet signed with NAZ Elite at the time, Kohnen came in 10th in Atlanta.
Fauble finished in 12th at the Trials and Smith placed 19th — not the outcomes they had expected.
Now, all the runners who came up short at the Trials get a chance to earn back bragging rights, as a chunk of the field on both the men’s and women’s side for The Marathon Project are competitors from the Trials.
Normally, NAZ Elite would have already been in a handful of marathons, particularly the world majors, but the COVID-19 pandemic took those opportunities away.
Last year the team competed in seven total marathons, one more than it did in 2018.
It’s one of Fauble’s favorite distances.
“I find this a really cool opportunity to race,” he said Wednesday over the phone. “Obviously we haven’t had that for a while.”
Fauble, one of the fastest American male marathoners thanks to his 2:09:09 set at Boston in 2019, had wanted to run a marathon earlier this year, such as Boston or New York City, but due to the pandemic, he said, “all of a sudden, it’s gone.”
Now Fauble gets a chance to again face runners who topped him at the Trials like Augustus Maiyo, Martin Hehir and Colin Bennie — all top-10 finishers in Atlanta.
“Yea, there is some redemption in it for me, I guess,” Fauble said.
Then again, Fauble gets enough motivation just in the fact that he gets to race.
Rosario, who was involved in the creation of The Marathon Project, said he also likes the rematch feel The Marathon Project has, and added that it’s a redemption-type race for Fauble, who clocked a 2:12:39 at the Trials.
“He wants to reestablish himself as one of the very top U.S. marathoners,” Rosario said, “and I think if he were able to win this race and run a really fast time, that would certainly go a long way toward doing that.”
Rosario added: “Sports is kind of, ‘What have you done for me lately.’ So this will be a good opportunity for him to get back on top.”
First, however, the group of seven NAZ Elite runners heading to The Marathon Project have to get through the training.
“We are right in the thick of the hardest part of the training, so as we come home we’ll begin to lighten the load a little bit midweek and then start focusing the weekend workouts, which kind of starts next week,” Rosario said.
With the tough training also comes the task of building up the mental toughness required to race in a marathon. For Fauble, digging deep into the psyche, finding those places when the pain is bad, is part of the workout sessions.
“I think those things kind of go hand in hand. If you are training really hard, you have to be training your mind as well, because you can’t really push your body without pushing your mind as well,” Fauble said.
Fauble’s also gotten a bit of an extra push from a teammate during these marathon training sessions, saying he’s really enjoyed spending more time working out with young Rory Linkletter.
The last time Fauble and Linkletter were training for separate marathons around the same time frame, their sessions sometimes overlapped. Now, they are step for step for the most part along with Smith and Vaughn.
“He shows up to every single race and every single workout and he definitely has an edge to him,” Fauble said. “And he’s very talented as well. The sky is the limit in terms of his physical abilities as well as his mental grit and stubbornness.”
Linkletter will be running with a bit more pressure to perform than his teammates, however, as he is out to clock a time better than the Olympic standard of 2:11:30 so he can possibly make the Canadian squad.
There’s only one spot left, and Linkletter has a chance to take it.
“He’s in hog heaven getting a shot at this,” Rosario said of Linkletter, who in October 2019 placed 16th at the Toronto Marathon Rory Linkletter in 2:16:42 as his debut at the distance with NAZ Elite.
Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AZDS_Hartman.