Sunday, March 12, 2017

Roberta Groner leaves for New York AC

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, March 12, 2017


Roberta Groner of Randolph began making waves after moving to the state from Pittsburg in  2014.  In 2015 she was always in the top three in races and in 2016 she was PR’ing and winning races.  Groner won the USATF grand prix in 2015 and in 2016 she did it with a perfect score.

While being a big fish in a small pond satisfies some people, for Groner, it had begun to chafe.  At the Ashenfelter 8K last November with no other women around she remembers that her drive in the last half mile was just a bit let down.  She said that she didn’t stop her drive but was at the point that she knew she wanted to see what she could do with competition.

The competition that she sought was not far away; just across the Hudson a mere hour’s drive or so from home.  At the New York Athletic Club, there is no required practice and you can run on your own, a definite plus for someone who lives all the way out in Randolph.  In addition to being pushed by other women of her ability, there were some financial considerations too.

 “I reach a certain tier level and I get some funding and races paid for, shoes, things like that.”
While she will be spending time in her car to get to New York races, her travel expenses will be reimbursed

“There will be women a lot faster than me,” said Groner.  “But it’s nice to have that push and to strive to see what I can do with faster women around me.  I’m looking for a new adventure.  I just turned 39 and I don’t know how many more years I have left to run at this level.”

“Why not try it for at least a year and if it doesn’t work out I always have my team to return to in New Jersey,” she said, referencing the New Jersey Racing Project.

It is unlikely that it won’t work out for her according to her coach Hector Matos of Rutherford.
Matos has been coaching Groner since late October and he has very high in praise for her.

“She’s got a lot of untapped talent.  Her training was very moderate considering she is training for the marathon,” said Matos.   “She is responding very well so far.  It is only a matter of time before she has a huge breakthrough in the marathon.”

Groner will race in the United Airlines Half Marathon next weekend.  How she does in that race will help in judging her fitness for running in the Boston Marathon in April.  Last September she finished the Newport Liberty Waterfront Half in 1:16:35.

“We’ve been training for Boston, but after the half marathon next week, we’ll make a final decision to go or not,” he said.   “She is in PR shape.  If she can improve on her PR then it is definitely worth a try.”

“Boston can be tricky, and sometimes Boston can be really hot,” he said.  “If that’s the case then we will probably scratch.”

More long range planning has Groner running in the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December.  If she hits an Olympic qualifying time in the race it will ensure eligibility for the USA Olympic trials marathon.

Groner said her goal is to reach the A Standard which is 2:37, not the B which is 2:45.  She won the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon last fall in 2:37:54.  The Boston course is harder but with the training she is doing – 80 to 85 miles a week no one would bet against it.  The Sacramento course should be a snap – no heart break hills.

“She’s amazing how she can handle it all so well,” said Matos.  “She works full time.  She’s training at a high level and she is a mother.  It’s impressive how she can handle all that together.”

“She is very focused, very disciplined, he said.  “It’s a pleasure to coach her.”

He points out that Groner knows the difference between marathon pace, half marathon pace, or 10K pace effort. 

“It’s a good skill to have.  I’m looking forward to working with her and see more improvement,” Matos said.  “I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.  As long as she stays healthy she is going to do very well.”

“As for her turning forty next year, she’s definitely ahead of other masters out there,” he said.  “By a long margin.”


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