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Setting the pace

1500-meter run all about pace, tempo before final push

Setting the pace

Rubye Elhard, left, is trying to reach a national provisional qualifying mark in the 1,500-meter run for a chance to compete at this year's NCAA Division II Championships.

POSTED April 19, 2011 10:38 p.m.

It’s tempting for a runner to go as hard as they can, as fast as they can in the 1,500-meter run.

But, don’t.

“It’s all about pace,” Stanislaus middle-distance runner Rubye Elhard said. “You can’t go too fast, because then you’ll screw it up.”

Elhard is the top women’s team runner in the 1,500 meters, as she’s close to making a national qualifying time, which, of course, would be a good thing. Why? That’s because she can compete at this year’s NCAA Division II Championships in front of a home crowd, as the event will be held May 26-28 at the Al Brenda Track at Warriors Stadium on the Cal State Stanislaus campus.

She’s not the only one, though. Dawson Vorderbruegge is also close to making a national provisional mark on the men’s side. Both runners know that their race doesn’t just require endurance, but also some speed, which is normally used for the last few hundred meters.

The 1,500-meter run is about 0.932 miles or 4,921 feet — just short of a mile. There’s no mile run at the college level, but the approach is about the same. Runners want to set a good pace, as all of them know exactly what time they want to reach at every crucial juncture of the race.

Vorderbruegge says the race is a spiritual experience.

“My biggest thing before a race is that I try to get spiritually prepared,” he said. “I pray a little bit. I just see how God wants me to run it. I try to listen to Him to see how hard He wants me to go or take it easy and listen to my body. I try to stay focused. Once the gun goes off, it’s kinda instinctual.”

All runners have different approaches to the 1,500-meter race, but they all have the same goal: They want to finish strong. Like Elhard and Vorderbruegge, some of them come from a cross country background. They say the adjustment was difficult at first, but they eventually got used to it.

“I try to take the first lap,” Elhard said. “I see if anyone goes, if not, I kinda take over and do the pace. I try to do whatever coach wants me to do.”

Her coach is Diljeet Dosanjh Taylor, who says that the first two laps are meant to have a more controlled and relaxed tempo than the third lap, which is considered the most important part of the race.

“Definitely setting a pace in the 1500 is essential, and then having enough to carry you through the last 700 meters,” Taylor said.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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