HONOLULU (04-Dec) -- Although she and husband Ben Bruce own a home in the dry mountain air of Flagstaff, Ariz., where they do most of their training, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce isn't overly concerned about the warm and humid conditions she'll face here at the 40th Honolulu Marathon on Sunday.
In fact, she said, the challenging conditions were a selling point. In two of her best road running efforts this year at highly competitive events --a pair of 6th place finishes at the NYRR New York Mini 10-K and Falmouth Road Race 7-Mile-- she ran well, and that convinced her that Honolulu would be a good choice.
"How I ran in both those races maybe showed me that my body had a way of tolerating heat and humidity better than a lot of other competitors," said Rothstein Bruce in an interview with Race Results Weekly here today. "I know a lot of people buckle in that because their bodies can't regulate temperature."
Indeed, when Rothstein Bruce ran her marathon personal best of 2:29:35 at the Chevron Houston Marathon in January, 2011, the race was held in sometimes heavy rain, with 85% humidity and a temperature of 65°F (18°C) at the start.
"That was really high humidity as well," Rothstein Bruce acknowledged.
Rothstein Bruce, 28, is rebooting her marathon career here. She failed to finish the USA Olympic Marathon Trials last January in Houston, but rallied for the Track Trials in Eugene last June where she finished a credible 8th in the 10,000m in a personal best 32:24.25. After that, she said, she still wasn't sure if she wanted to run a marathon this year.
"We were trying to figure out how I would end my year," said Rothstein Bruce, who was married in Phoenix on October 26. "Coming off the Trials in January I was obviously very disappointed. I didn't know if I wanted to run another marathon yet, if I was ready. Then, after the track season I just got that fire back and realized that I wanted to go attack the marathon again."
But, she wasn't immediately drawn to the race here. She and Ben shopped around, trying to find a race which would both challenge her and allow her to contend for victory.
"So, we kind of went and looked around what happened after the wedding, so it was December or wait until the spring," Rothstein Bruce explained. "We looked at Las Vegas, CIM (California International Marathon in Sacramento) and then this one. We put Honolulu as just one step down from the Majors --New York, Boston, Chicago-- and we felt like I was ready to take on a race like this."
Ronald Regan was still in the White House the last time an American woman won the Honolulu Marathon. Cyndie Welte, from Kettering, Ohio, clocked 2:41:52 to get the win in 1988, an especially remarkable feat because she had come to Honolulu to spectate and not run. Rothstein Bruce said she feels a lot of national pride being an American contender at the race.
"It's actually really exciting," she said. "From the first time my agent Ray Flynn contacted them, they were really thrilled to hear that not only an American, but an American who could compete for the win, was coming to this race. I think because of the conditions, it's very hard to entice an American to come to a race like this, probably not getting a big PR (personal record) out of it."
Rothstein Bruce got some of her motivation to race here from her husband, who competed in the steeplechase at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu. Ben Bruce was second twice at the XTERRA Trail Running World Championship Half-Marathon at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu in 2008 and 2009, and last Sunday he was declared the co-winner of the event along with Joseph Gray in a photo finish. Bruce said a race official initially said he was the winner, but later told him it was a tie.
"They put a wreath on my head," lamented Bruce.
Bruce has helped his wife prepare for this race, by serving as both a training partner and a part-time physical therapist.
"He is my training partner, my P.T., my chiro, my massage therapist all when I can't see those other people," Rothstein Bruce said. She continued: "He paced me in some of my big tempo runs and come of my big workouts."
She then turned to her husband and smiled.
"Best training partner," she said.
PHOTO: Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Ben Bruce on Waikiki Beach in advance of the 2012 Honolulu Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)