The Flock
June 20, 2012

Getting To Know Kate Grace

Kristin Metcalf

We are so proud and excited to have Kate Grace representing Oiselle at the Olympic Trials in the 800m. We interviewed her over the web and here's what she had to say. Time to get to know Kate Grace!

What got you into running?
Soccer, actually. High school, freshman year, we had to compete in cross country meets for cardio training. I still remember the first race. We didn't practice with the xc team, so it was the first time I had met their coach. He had us all doing drills, warmup stuff, and something about my form impressed him. He said I had nice gait -- Kate with the great gait -- and that I was going to be a runner. 

I wound up getting second in that meet. It took them over a year to finally convince me to put track training above soccer, but I eventually came to the dark side.


my first 1k? This was taken in the town where I grew up, Santa Monica, CA. I'm number 79, with my mom and younger sister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where do you train and live?
I train with the New Jersey New York Track Club, under famed coach Frank "Gags" Gagliano. A group of us live in Annandale, New Jersey, and everyone in the club meets to run our track workouts in New Brunswick, at Rutgers.

People ask why a west coast girl would stay on the east for running. Reasons number 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are Gags. He's just that good. But the east has also become my home over the past four years. I went to school here, I became an elite runner here, and a lot of my support networks are in this area, be it from Yale, my college coach, or friends living nearby.


sophomore year, after placing third at state finals, and dropping twenty seconds in the 800 over about a month (on the right, in purple)

What do you like least/most about training for the Trials?
I have never had such a singular goal. It's a wonderful feeling. To wake up every morning and work toward attaining it. It's been great running more mileage and higher-volume workouts with Gags. That is something that I didn't test much in college.

How do I make a negative out of this? I love most aspects of training. Maybe the number of showers I have to take throughout the day? Ha!

Other than race, what are you looking forward to doing in Eugene?
Party! No. Joke. Gags would not like that -- he already thinks I go into the city too much. Am I allowed to say I'm pretty pumped for MC Hammer at the Oiselle fashion show? That's still a party! How about ... seeing other athletes compete as I watch quietly in the stands. 


the reservoir near my house in New Jersey -- nice vista for a run

When did you know you had "it"?
Track has always been fun. I love training, I love competing. I love running with people and without. Maybe there wasn't a specific point when I had "it," just never a point that I didn't. 

A big leap did come sophomore year of high school, when I started thinking of myself as a source of untapped potential, and a mid-distance specialist. There was a period of 5 races during the championship season, where I dropped 3-5 seconds each time, to win every one, and go from a 2:30 pb to a 2:11.

Fun fact, we used to run all our high-school meets at the Occidental College track. That's where I first started that rise to the next level. And a few weeks ago, I was back for the first time in 5 years, running another big 800 pr, 2:01.6, at the High Performance meet. How’s that for coming full circle!

Is there a mantra that keeps you going?
If you opened my laptop last fall, you’d see a black screen and the words: "THE IMPORTANT THING IS THIS: TO BE WILLING AT ANY MOMENT TO SACRIFICE WHAT WE ARE FOR WHAT WE COULD BECOME." Good for a girl leaving her home of 5 years to move to rural New Jersey and train for a dream. 

A few weeks ago, I changed it to a web comic I like, with the phrase: "It's later than you think. Go ahead and f*** up. No room or time for timidity!"

But if you really want to get me moving, a good song. "Rockin' Robin," specifically. I’ve been bopping around to that one for weeks.


my roommate, ashley, and me ice-bathing after a run

What other runners inspire you?
My training partners. Sometimes literally - physically dragging me out of bed on a few occasions. I live with Ashley Higginson. Steeple extraordinaire. We new each other from meets in college, and she has been my rock this year.

As for people not living on my block, I look to similarities for motivation. Like Morgan Uceny -- the Ivy Leaguer improving post-college. Sometimes on solo runs, I do visualization track. I picture myself in a big race, and what it feels to be right behind, then next to, some of the women at the top of the field. Alysia Montaño, Jenny Simpson, you name it. My imaginary running buddies! I know, a bit crazy.

What's a favorite memory from HS running? College?
High school: definitely when my cross country team won the California State title my senior year. My two best friends and I grew up with the program, had the best relationship with our coach, helped nurture younger runners, and saw our team improve with each year. There was this great arc, from that first cross country meet in 9th grade, for soccer training, to a wonderful, cohesive group that was firing on all cylinders. We won state as a team the same year I won individually. First time in the history of our school. We felt such a part of that improvement.

College: proudest race moment was a fourth place finish in the 4x4. 4x4s help remind me that kicking can happen at any time, over any distance. Bolt seems to kick in 100s. It's simply a belief that the race is not done until someone crosses that line. I had a mean kick in a 4x4.

I ran the fastest 400 split of my life in that race. Passed two people early, and was gunning for 3rd. She had taken the baton maybe 30 meters ahead. With 20 to go I had made up the distance, was a stride away. The final push to go ahead was feet from the line and just over my edge. My legs seized and I fell. She crossed the line first. There is still this big scar from a huge gash on my right knee. I am so proud of that scar. It's a reminder that I can push my body beyond its limits. (Is that the name of a Pre movie? I think so).


the state-winning XC team -- a very happy day!


my love of relays! this is actually a 4x100 ... no, that's not a typo.

When not running, we're most likely to find you __________?
Outside. I'm a big outdoors person. Running is a great means to do this, but I love all form of outdoor activities --  biking, hiking, exploring new places. For the past few months, if I were to be realistic with this answer I'd say Riverside Coffee on Main Street Clinton. I've been doing part-time research on science and new trends in wellness and exercise. I post up with my iced coffee for hours at a time. The owner and I have become friends. I think he found me strange at first, this person wearing colorful spandex furiously typing. Now I report back to him after each race.

Learn more about Kate on twitter and on her blog!