Watch Kate Grace run a few laps around a track and you will immediately conclude that she has a fitting last name.
A four-time NCAA All-American while at Yale, Grace has been on a tear lately both on the track and along the roads. Last month, she won the U.S. 1-Mile Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, with a heroic final kick in the last 100 meters to edge past Sara Hall. And on the track at the Drake Relays, she recently set a personal record in the 1,500 meters (4:08.24).
But the best news that spurs the 24-year-old along and gets her dreaming of Olympic medals is that she keeps getting better. She hasn't hit a plateau, and her trajectory continues to point skyward. She's at the point all runners desire to reach -- the point where anything is possible.
"The last five months have been going great," Grace said of this season. "Starting in January with the 3K, pretty much every race I've run has been some sort of PR or close to a PR. And the way that things are going with my training tells me that there are more good things to come."
For Grace, those "good things" around the bend include getting an Olympic "A" standard in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters, as well as making it on the U.S. team to go to the world championships in Moscow in August. She credits her coach, the legendary New York-New Jersey Track Club's Frank Gagliano, for much of her success.
"He's been incredible," Grace said. "He comes from coaching football and is very inspiring. He brings out the excitement and passion in training."
Specific to training, Grace admits that her coach has her doing much more mileage than she did while running at Yale. There, she logged 30 miles a week -- typical for collegiate middle-distance runners. But Gagliano has her doing nearly double that. He also has her incorporating training essentials such as long runs and tempos -- things she didn't do at Yale.
"He's throwing everything at me as a way to show that he trusts me to handle the different work," Grace said. "It's almost like we're 5K runners."
Emboldened by her recent success, Grace doesn't shy from sharing her dreams and why she wants an Olympic medal. None of Gagliano's athletes have medaled at the Olympics.
Grace wants that to change.
"A big driving factor for me is to give him an Olympic medal," she said.
But Grace also wants to bring attention to her sponsor, the Oiselle running apparel company. Though distance running can be a solitary sport, she gets energy running for a team.
"I love this community of female runners," Grace said. "I feel like I'm running for something else -- for a greater purpose. It definitely drives my motivation."