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imgresBen Bruce comes into 2012 with the momentum of a career best mark of 8:19 in the 3000m steeplechase, which earned him a spot on Team USA for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.  With top five finishes in the USATF Indoor 3000m and road 15K championships already in 2012, Bruce is again demonstrating the kind of range that has allowed him to represent the US internationally in a variety of disciplines and distances.

Now training with the adidas sponsored McMillan Elite / Team USA Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ, this Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grad is preparing for the US Olympic Team Trials this June.  Bruce’s journey to London can be tracked by following him on Twitter at @bbjamin.

FNF: Although probably best known as a steeplechaser, you have represented the US internationally in a wide variety of events - from the track to cross country, to the roads.  Last month, you finished fourth in the US 15K Championships in Jacksonville.  What is your favorite event among all these and why?

BB: I like them all. I really enjoy running a variety of different distances and surfaces. It adds variety and keeps things fresh. When I race the same distance over and over again, I sometimes feel like I am simply going through the motions. So to pick a favorite would be tough for me. I guess the best part is going to new cities and countries and the people I meet along the way. A race can be run on any road, track, or grass field in the world. The people involved in the race are what set it apart.

Bauhs_croppedScott Bauhs started 2012 off with a bang, finishing the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 3rd place with a 1:01:30 clocking, putting him the ballpark of the top 10 US men’s marks all time.  Growing up in Danville, California, Bauhs was recruited by Chico State in Northern California.  He graduated in 2009 with eight All-American honors, a sub 4:00 mile, and qualification for the 2008 Olympic Trials under his belt at 10,000m.

Since turning pro, Bauhs has trained with the Mammoth Track Club, slowing working towards the kind of breakthrough he enjoyed last summer, when he finished third at the USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000m.  His finish qualified him for the 2011 IAAF World Championships team in Daegu, Korea, at which he earned 14th place.

Bauhs took a few minutes to visit with Focus-N-Fly as he prepares in Mammoth for the NYC Half Marathon in March.

FNF:  Your progression at Chico somewhat mirrored the emergence of that school as a Division II player.  How was your experience there?

SB: Chico let me develop at my own pace.  Gary [Towne, the coach] does a very simple program that just builds year to year.  I just ran 10-20 miles per week more than the year before.  When I first got there, I felt like there were a few kids [who chose other schools] I was comparable to who ran 14:00 in the 5K, while l ran 14:50.  The next year, I broke 30:00 [in the 10K] and slowly got closer to them.  A lot of Division I schools try to maximize their scholarships and you can’t improve at a more slow, but normal rate while keeping an eye on the future.  I was able to focus on things that I eventually achieved down the road, like qualifying for Olympic Trials and winning a national title in Division II.

FNF: Do you still keep in touch with your college coach and your Chico teammates?

SB: I talk to Gary pretty regularly, and I’ve got some friends I keep in touch with.  I try to go back and meet the new recruits when I can.

FNF: How did the decision to train with the Mammoth Track Club come about?

SB:  I went to Mammoth for a high school training camp with my team every year, so I was familiar with it.  I wanted to stay in California, and I thought it was kind of an easy decision.  I saw the marathon in the future, with Deena [Kastor] and Ryan [Hall] training there.  I contacted Terrence [Mahon, Mammoth TC coach] and met him at the Trials.  It all worked out pretty easily.

FNF:  So, now, you’ve had some time to explore the longer distances.  We have a bunch of Houston trainees working with us at FNF.  How did Houston go from your perspective?

SB: Things went well.  Ever since I tried the half marathon in college, I have adapted well to that distance.  I have been inching more toward the marathon, but every time I do these long tempos or do the really long runs, I can’t quite handle them yet, the same way Meb, Deena, and Ryan would. But, I am getting closer.  I knew I had a lot of untapped potential, and being able to train with Pat Smythe, Meb a bit, and all the marathoners worked out well.  I was pretty burned out after Daegu, so I could train with those guys, just with a little edge taken off. I tapered with them too, so I was really well rested.

At the race, the pacing went well.  There was a guy from Minnesota who was aggressive early and then the Ethiopian guy started coming back to us, so I was never by myself.  The weather was good, I had people to run with, and it all panned out really well.  Hopefully I can improve on that, as I didn’t have any races leading in.

I’m doing the NYC Half Marathon.  I just did a small 10K [Coronado 10K in San Diego], and I’m hoping to be able to attack the New York Half and be able to compete.

FNF:  Tell us about qualifying for the World Championships 10,000 meter team as a bit of an underdog.

SB:  I wasn’t doubting myself, but I actually didn’t even bring my passport for team processing.  I’ve been running better and better workouts, but not necessarily better races.  I’ve been super-confident and for some reason I just haven’t had it on the day.  Either I’ve kind of been tired or not quite there yet - not able to handle the training yet.  So, I just kind of went into the race, telling myself to compete with whoever was in there.

The race went perfectly for how my training was going.  My training was going well, but my speedwork was really clicking, and the race ended up being really slow until about a kilometer to go.  I wasn’t afraid of trying to beat anyone specifically, but I was kind of gunning for top three.  So, obviously I was happy with it.  Actually, I was in a little bit of shock, realizing that goal.  I knew I was capable of running better than I had run and it was great to have it come together.

FNF: How is your approach different this year with the worlds team qualification under your belt?

SB:  It hasn’t been much different, although it is kind of a whole new ballgame.  There will be some guys in there that weren’t there last year, and who knows how the college guys will be or if a younger pro will be putting things together.  I just want to race everyone I can to the finish line.

FNF:  Obviously the Olympic Trials are the goal this year, but what do you have in mind over the next couple of years?

SB: I’m definitely going to do the marathon, perhaps this fall or maybe a bit later.  I’m excited about the marathon, but will definitely come back to the track and cross country.  The move to the marathon, will leave my options really open.  Mostly, I kind of want to let my running take me to exciting places.  Money is an issue, but I don’t want it to be more of an issue than it needs to be.  I want to do some of those fun road races that I have skipped every year because I am focused on the track.  I do want to make sure I leave the track with some PRs I am happy with, but more than anything, I just want to take advantage of the opportunities I have, and not get stuck doing the same races every year.  I’d like to have some stories to share.

BW_trials_croppedBrooke Wells was 22 years old and the youngest athlete in the field when she ran 2:42 to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials.  Four years down the road, Wells toed the line at the 2012 trials with a 2:37 personal best in the bag from 2010, and the confidence to attack the race in hopes of a personal best.

A high school triathlete from the central coast of California, Wells ran track and cross country at UC Berkeley before graduating in 2006.   When she began with Focus-N-Fly, her personal best in the 10,000 meters was about 5:55 pace.  With her 19th place finish in 2:36, she can now run a marathon that speed!

This month, Brooke chatted with us as she reflects and recovers from her second Olympic Marathon Trials experience.

Coach: This was your second Olympic Trials.  How did this race compare with your first experience?

BW: This time I think I had more of a performance goal.  I definitely felt like I have learned how to execute a personal goal within a race that was so overwhelming; last time, I was just told how honored I should be to be there.  This time I felt like I was entering a personal race in a really competitive environment.  There was all of this spectacle, but I felt I could just stay within myself and not get overwhelmed.

When I had Teresa and Catha in my group [two local athletes with which she had done some training this fall],  I just closed my eyes and pretended we were at Sawyer Camp [local trail].

Coach: How did your race compare to your anticipated race coming in?

BW: I had talked a lot with two other women beforehand, and we had set the goal of running through the half at 1:17:55, 5:55 pace. I had envisioned it being really relaxed… the first two miles were slow, but that happened in 2008, so I was prepared for them to drop to 5:30s soon.

We ran in that big group until about mile 13, and then I had to decide whether to stay or to go.  I had to do what Tom and I talked about, which was move at that point.  I thought I was going to be with people for longer, but it didn’t work out that way, I cannot reiterate enough how important it is when you have the chance to run with a group.

Coach: Last year, it took you a while to get up to speed due to some injury problems.  How is your body feeling after this race?

BW: I am a bit beat up from the fall I took [around mile 8, while approaching the fluid tables].  I took 8 days completely off and went on vacation, but my hip got a huge hematoma, and I actually just got it drained.  I’m giving everything time to settle down this time.  Last time I tried to train through and it didn’t work out well.

Coach:  What were some of the key moments in your training and how did Coach Tom help prepare you specifically for this race?

BW: Well, we started at the San Jose Rock “n” Roll Half, where I had a big PR.   We had a Michigan workout  [a workout alternating on track and off track continuous intervals] which is usually one where I can turn to see where I am.  We extended the normal workout, and I crushed it.

Monday, he’ll have me double [two runs] , so I would go into a workout on Tuesday, and not feel totally fresh.  I learned to push while tired, which is something that I respond well to.  Wednesday, I would never run over 6 mi.    My tempo pace for many of our workouts on Thursdays was 5:42, and I never would hit it, because I would run at 6am in the morning.    I think that is where I have come a long way – I am not as concerned about the little minutia, stressing over every second.


Coach: What is on the horizon for this year and beyond?

BW: Fun things, but not necessarily track this spring.  Tom and I have talked about 2:30 being a goal for 2016.  I want to run Boston and New York and I really want to run a destination marathon like Berlin or London.

Abdi_croppedAbdi Abdirahman

Pro’s Perspective - January 2012


Abdi Abdirahman finished tenth and fifteenth in his first two Olympic Games (2000 and 2004) in the 10,000 meters, and won the 2008 US Olympic Trials at that distance.  The 1995 Tucson High grad initially attended Pima College, before transferring to the University of Arizona for his junior and senior years.  In fact, he continues to train in Tucson with his college coach, Dave Murray, picking up the light-hearted nickname Black Cactus along the way.  Injury setbacks in 2010 have kept Abdirahman under the radar heading into the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials on January 14th.  However, he is now training well and has an outstanding marathon personal best of 2:08.  Abdi took a moment to chat with FNF as he prepares to challenge for his fourth straight Olympic team.


FNF: Is training going well for the Olympic Trials in Houston?

AA: Training is going wonderfully.  I’m enjoying running again, after struggling with injuries for the last couple years.


FNF: How has it been coming back after such a tough stretch?

AA: Well, in 2010 I had a hip injury.  It was a stress reaction in the femur, and I took basically 6 months of no running.  With no world championships that year, it was a great time to take a step back from running and let it heal.  I did a lot of rehab and strengthening – I got back to basics.


FNF: What were some of the things you did with your time while healing your hip?  What kinds of things are you interested in pursuing once your professional career has concluded?

AA: I want to start my foundation and work with kids.  Also, one of my friends started a company, Solar for Africa.  He has the idea of providing it to rural villages.  It could help a lot.  Kids could go to night classes.

I don’t only want to help Somalia [Abdirahman immigrated to the US from Somalia as a youngster], but all the third world countries that are the poorest.


FNF: As fans preparing to watch the upcoming marathon trials, what should we be looking for in the men’s race?

AA: It is going to be a great Trials with a lot of great people running: Ryan Hall, Meb [Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist], Dathan [Ritzenhein, 9th place finisher in Beijing], and a lot of other great guys who are running.

I haven’t run a marathon since 2009, in New York, but my training has been going well, almost as well as when I ran 2:08 in Chicago. There are only three spots; you are only running to be top three, and if you win it is a bonus.  The marathon is all about patience.  You can be in the best shape of your life, but everything has to go well that day.  I hope everyone has a good race, and may the three best men make the team.


FNF: Do you love the marathon?  Will we see you on the track this spring and summer?

AA: I love track.  Marathons are fun to train for, but I think I enjoy track more.  It is more speed, more all out. You can control the outcome of the track, but not the outcome of the marathon.  In the marathon, you can be in the best shape, but something else can go wrong.  On the track you can be pretty much 90% you will run around what you are ready to run.


FNF: What are your goals for the upcoming year?

AA: I enjoy running.  I look forward to training.  Right now, I realize the key to success is staying healthy.  If you are pain free, you can enjoy your training.

I want to make this Olympic team, and I always look forward.  I am approaching this race like I have never been to the Olympics.


FNF:  You have been in Tucson around 15 years.  How has the community supported you in your career?

AA: The community has been a big part of my success.  They say there is no place like home.  I ran well under Coach Murray at Arizona.  I had opportunities to go to other groups, but I feel more comfortable here. I have access to the facilities, I just feel like it is my comfort zone.  A lot of people say in order to accomplish something, you have to get out of your comfort zone, but that is not for me, I think you need to feel comfortable where you are.

People have been supportive of me since day one and have provided me everything I need. I enjoy spending time with the Boys and Girls Club, getting a chance to say thank you for your support.


FNF: What is some advice you have for our recreational runners headed toward their own big race in Houston?

AA: Enjoy the moment.  Enjoy that you have done all the hard work, you have done your long runs. It is time to reward your hard work and enjoy it.  Run your own race, not your training partner’s or someone else’s pace.


Christine Kennedy traveled to the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in St. Louis, Mo. this week where she was honored as the 2011 Masters Athlete of the Year.

Christine has been truly dominant on the national racing scene.  In the past year, she won the following:
  • Age division at the Boston Marathon in 2:56:17 (a 12 minute margin of victory!)
  • Masters titles at the 5 km, 10 km, and 15 km
  • 5,000 meter track title at the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships
  • Age division in the marathon at the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships
“The committee really was very proud to name her athlete of the year in a unanimous decision,” said Don Lein, Chair of the Masters Long Distance Running Committee. “She is a phenomenal athlete. We were impressed with not only what she had done this year, but her record over the years has been outstanding."

Christine's many accomplishments have inspired all of us at Focus-N-Fly.  We look forward to seeing what is in store for 2012!

Julia Stamps Mallon

Written by Dena Evans November 29, 2011
Julia-Stamps-Small-MGJulia Stamps Mallon burst onto the running scene as a young teenager at Santa Rosa High School, winning the Footlocker National Cross Country Championships in 1994 and quickly emerging on the scene as one of the nation's top high school milers and two milers.  A six-time NCAA All-American, Mallon's collegiate career was unfortunately cut short by injury.  Upon relocating to New York to begin a career in the financial sector, she took up running again with the New York Athletic Club, winning the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge World Championships in 2003 while at Bear Stearns.  After trying the marathon a year or two later, she qualified for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, had two children, and just recently qualified for the 2012 Trials with a triumphant run at the Santa Rosa Marathon. 

FNF recently caught up with Mallon as she traveled with family over Thanksgiving break....

1.  You have recently qualified for your second Olympic Marathon Trials at your hometown race, the Santa Rosa Marathon.  How was the experience of getting to run, win, and qualify at home?

It was an awesome experience.  I have always loved Santa Rosa.  We just moved back and it meant a lot. I had a lot of support; it was an easy and flawless start. No long lines in the bathroom.  We ran through a new area of Santa Rosa that I actually didn't even know about.  You can't beat waking up in your own home on race day.

2.  Running has been a part of your life as a high school star, a college All-American, a young grad working hard in New York City, and now a mom of two.  How has your perspective changed on running through all those stages of life...or has it?

It has changed a lot.  In high school it was all new and I was very focused.  I had the 100 percent support of my parents so didn't have to worry about all the outside stuff.   College was fun and I had a good time. My perspective was to hopefully run after college, but with my accident that no longer became an option.  It forced me to look for a new area of focus, so I headed to New York.  In New York it became a luxury to run if I wasn't so tired from work.  Running was basically an outlet - a chance to run super early in Central Park when it was so quiet and relaxing-  my favorite part of day.  Now I have come full circle to have my own family, and I hope my focus is more on sharing the love with my kids and also have it be part of their lives.  I want to have them love it and I can't wait to do a 5 mile run with them.  The other day my almost three year old ran 2 miles.  It was awesome.  I tried to get her to stop but she wanted to run all the way home.

3.  You have had the chance to run and race in a lot of interesting places and races.  What are some of your most memorable experiences?

Cuba!!!!  [Julia represented the United States in the 3000 meters at the 1997 Junior Pan-American Games in Cuba]  After living in Miami for three years I now realize how amazing it was to be there.  I met so many friends who haven't gone back. Or really can't.  It was as if you stepped back in time.

4.  What originally got you started running when you were younger?

I always loved it!  I used to sneak out and try to run with my dad early in the morning.  I actually used to play soccer, but they told me I should run since I was a great runner and not so great of a soccer player.

5.  Who have been influential or inspirational individuals in your life as it relates to running?

I never had a role model. I just wanted to get faster and challenge myself.  It was that competitive spirit.

6.  What are your goals for the upcoming year as well as long-term?

I love running.  It would be great to break 2:40 in the marathon, then break 2:35, then 2:30.  I have to take it one race at a time.

7.  What inspired you to make the jump to marathoning as an adult?

It was a lot easier to run longer than get faster. I also got hooked!

8.  What piece of advice would you give to our recreational athletes who are gearing up for an important goal marathon?

To love the long runs.   Then, in the race break it up.  You have the first 10k, then a half marathon then another 10k for the final 6 miles.  When you think about it that way it isn't overwhelming.

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