Connecting the dots…

Like my most other runners at my level, the choice to run post-collegiately was not an automatic one. It wasn’t hard to know what I wanted; running had been the best part of my college experience and I love to train and especially to compete. However, with a personal best 5k of 16:17, there was neither a shoe contract on the line nor one in the foreseeable future. So how was I going to justify my choice to do this? Clearly I wasn’t in it for the money, and yet the purpose with which I would go about training and competing would make running much more than a hobby. After some reflection, the answer I decided upon was that running was going to be  a vehicle by which I saw the world. Many students graduate from college and decide to travel. I was going to do the same thing, but have it mostly paid for and earn enough prize money to cover the times when it wasn’t.

In the two years since my decision to run professionally my goals have evolved. Like any competitive runner, I am never satisfied with the current state of things, and I am constantly seeking ways to climb another rung up the ladder. So while it often feels that I am still “chasing” the dream of being a professional runner, I can also look back on what I wanted when I started this journey and take satisfaction in knowing that I actually am living this dream.

In the last 13 months running has taken me to four foreign countries and at least half a dozen states. Last summer I experienced heat, humidity, and thunderstorms that I never could have imagined while I was in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. In the fall I was treated to the rich history of Boston while out there for the Tufts 10k for women. My performance at that race allowed me to be selected to represent the US at the International Chiba Ekiden in Japan, and I was thrilled to be able to put on the US singlet for the first time. When I chose to pursue running after college, making a US team was a dream that seemed too distant and unreachable to even say out loud. In a way, that achievement legitimized my choice and gave me confidence heading into 2011 to compete with the runners who were already running at the level that I was seeking.

2011 started with my first altitude training camp in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I was joined by three other runners, and we had a great time training together with gorgeous weather and wonderful facilities at La Loma, and came home very excited for our late winter/early spring campaigns. For me, that was the US Cross Country Championships, where I finished 8th. That was a tough place to finish; it was one of my best performances to date and yet I fell just short of making the World Cross Country team, which had been the focus of almost every step I took while in Mexico. However, it still qualified me to represent the US for the second time, and two weeks later I was flying to Trinidad for the North American-Central American-Caribbean (NACAC) Championships. NACAC was another great international experience, and I was happy to come home with a team gold medal and an individual bronze.

Track season brought about two major trips: the first a three week stay in Corvallis, Oregon where I based myself to train between racing the Portland Track Festival and the US Championships in June. After the US Championships I chose to run one more track race,a 1500 at the Toronto International Track Festival. While the travel to that race was hard, and I fell short of what I had hoped to accomplish, I was very happy to see Toronto, Lake Ontario, and Niagara Falls.

Now I am back in California and doing another altitude stint, this time at Lake Tahoe. I’ll be based here for three weeks to get some solid training under my belt before embarking on the next phase of races: Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts, the US 5k road championships in Rhode Island, and the US 10k championships in Boston.

My journey as a professional runner is really only just beginning. I hope that through this blog I can stay connected to the people who I don’t see as often as I would like, especially those that helped lay the foundation for me to run at this level. There is still so much that I have yet to accomplish, so much of the world I have yet to see, and I want to be able to share the experience along the way.


Posted on July 25, 2011, in Blogs. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. BOOM. You’re live, Conley.


  2. Yes! I love it!

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