A longdis­tance re­la­tion­ship

TMU In­sider: Marathon run­ner Katrina Gra­ham has Olympic goals

The Signal - - SPORTS - By Mason Nes­bitt

Asked Mon­day about why she runs marathons, The Mas­ter’s Univer­sity alum Katrina Gra­ham didn’t have to an­swer.

“Be­cause she’s sick,” in­ter­jected TMU as­sis­tant coach Amie Schroeder. “Why would any­body do that?”

Schroeder – whose younger brother, Jeff Jackson, won an NAIA na­tional ti­tle in the marathon at Mas­ter’s in 2010 – was kid­ding, of course. And she was quick to pro­vide a real an­swer as to why Gra­ham will­ingly throws her­self into track’s long­est race – most re­cently post­ing a sec­ond-place fin­ish in a loaded field at the

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego marathon ear­lier this month.

“Katrina loves to run,” Schroeder said. “She just loves it, and it’s the long­est race there is.”

It’s the race Gra­ham has fo­cused on as she joins a short list of ath­letes to con­tinue train­ing with Schroeder and her hus­band, TMU head coach Zach Schroeder, after grad­u­a­tion. And Gra­ham in­tends to be the first name on an­other list: Mus­tangs to hit an Olympic Trial qual­i­fy­ing time.

Gra­ham ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, aptly named be­cause lo­cal bands are sta­tioned at ev­ery mile marker, with that goal in mind. Zach Schroeder told her be­fore the June 3 event that it wasn’t a day for a PR. It was an op­por­tu­nity to train on how they were go­ing to run the back half of the race and how to man­age wa­ter and nu­tri­tion in­take with their sights set on the Cal­i­for­nia In­ter­na­tional Marathon in De­cem­ber.

Gra­ham com­plied. But she still man­aged to fin­ish sec­ond be­hind Beth San­den of New York City. Gra­ham’s time was two hours, 59 min­utes and 39 sec­onds. The “B” Stan­dard qual­i­fy­ing mark for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Tri­als is 2:45:00.

“It was def­i­nitely one of my most-spe­cial race mo­ments,” Gra­ham said. “Not so much be­cause of the time – I’ve run faster. But ex­e­cut­ing the strat­egy of the race and the amount of sup­port I had out there was great.”

Gen­er­ally, it’s been Gra­ham pro­vid­ing the sup­port. After run­ning cross coun­try and track at Mas­ter’s for four years and grad­u­at­ing in 2014, she joined the coach­ing staff.

Her tasks range from ad­min­is­tra­tive (team record keep­ing and walk­ing new ath­letes through pa­per­work nec­es­sary be­fore they can work out with the pro­gram) to run­ning with the ath­letes as a train­ing part­ner/coach.

“We re­ally point to her for the girls and say, ‘This is how we want you to run the runs. This is how we want you to train,’” Zach Schroeder said. “She is the per­fect role model for how our girls should train.”

Gra­ham, who didn’t earn an All-Amer­i­can honor at Mas­ter’s, has been able to push to­ward elite sta­tus post grad­u­a­tion for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. For one thing, she was al­ways coach­able, and that hasn’t changed.

Zach Schroeder asked her to be­gin a new lift­ing rou­tine. She was all in. He asked her to in­crease her train­ing work­load “block by-block.” No ques­tions asked.

In the last sev­eral months, Gra­ham’s long-run train­ing has risen to around 24 miles, a dis­tance she tra­verses ev­ery seven to 14 days.

Sec­ondly, and seem­ingly by def­i­ni­tion, it can take time, even years, to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove in dis­tance run­ning.

“Dis­tance run­ners, the longer they do it the bet­ter they get,” Amie Schroeder said. “There’s no short­cut. It takes years.”

Gra­ham keeps putting in the time.

Cour­tesy photo

The Mas­ter’s Univer­sity alumna Katrina Gra­ham poses with TMU coaches Amie and Zach Schroeder after fin­ish­ing sec­ond place on the women’s side of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego this month.

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