On Sunday, January 14 2018
AUTERI MAKES IT TWO – GRAND PRIX AND SUB THREE MARATHON
Let’s see. Win the New Jersey New Balance Grand Prix. Check. Break three hours for the marathon. Check.
Karen Auteri of Liberty Township with a mailing address of Belvidere has bragging rights to both accomplishments. And it all started with an invite from her father, Peter, of Pompton Lakes.
When Peter Auteri asked her in 2004 if she wanted to run the Walt Disney marathon with him the answer was quick and emphatic.
“Absolutely not! I never want to run a marathon. Ever in my life!”
Back then, fresh out of college and used to running short distance, with only one 10K under her belt the marathon seemed like an impossible and distasteful distance.
The aversion didn’t last long. Auteri found herself running a half marathon that fall.
“It was so hard. I couldn’t imagine running it twice,” she said. But the following January she did join her father to run in the Disney marathon and finished in 3:48.18. She ran it again the next year and the next year, and this year, in her 23rd marathon she placed fourth overall at Disney on January 7th and broke the three-hour barrier with her 2:59:15
Although the Disney course is basically flat, Auteri relied on her training with Gary Leaman of Hardwick to power up each incline on the overpasses.
“On every tiny incline I did power up them because I have been training,” said Auteri. “Gary taught me to run up the hills and then maintain a seven-minute pace. With Gary you run hard all the time.”
Winning the New Balance Grand Prix might have seemed destined in 2017. With Randolph’s Roberta Groner now affiliated with the New York Athletic Club and not eligible in New Jersey, the game was wide open, and especially for someone who loves to race. Getting to enough races would not be all that difficult for Auteri.
Races are chosen based on what her training dictates as well as what races she needs in the grand prix. She was in the lead from early in the fall but kept racing and improved her Category One score to 500 points at one of the last races of the season, the hugely popular Doughnut Run on December 10th. She was first runner overall to finish in the East Brunswick 10K in October.
Auteri is making a big move in 2018. After seeing the improvements that Groner, and Sam Tiegen of Hawthorne had in running the California International Marathon in December after hiring Hector Matos as their coach, she wondered if he could help her to reach another milestone, the B standard for the Olympic Trials Marathon.
“I just see such results – someone like Roberta who you can’t imagine her getting any faster than she is and taking six minutes off her already unbelievable times,” said Auteri.
Auteri referenced the double amputee, Brian Reynolds of Clifton, who now holds the world record for below the knee amputees.
“He started training with Hector and he went from a 1:28 half to a 1:21,” she said. “He also took an extreme amount of time off his marathon.”
It was Tiegen that planted the seed to reach out to Matos. He told her that he thought she had the potential to qualify for the Olympic Trials B standard of 2:45.
She knows that she will have to make big changes to her training. Even training for the marathon, her highest mileage may have been only 48 miles. Under Matos she expects that to nearly double and could include doubles on some days. She runs only five days a week and does no workouts on the track.
“My races take the place of workout’s,” she said.
“I just run on “feels”. If I feel good I’ll run a little faster,” she said. Sometimes I’ll hit a marathon pace just because I’m feeling good.”
Although she had broken the 3:05 marathon barrier with a 3:01 at the Pocono Marathon in May of 2016 Auteri said she was lacking confidence ahead of the Disney marathon. Her talisman showed up in the form of a running shoe. Nike athletes Geoffry Kirui, and Galen Rupp among other elite athletes have been running in the Nike Zoom Vaporfly. With the same shoes on her feet, Auteri was ready to go, confidence restored and 2:59:15 her prize.
With her new magical shoes and a bone fide coach, 2018 is looking good for this talented runner.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at firstname.lastname@example.org