I struggled at the end of June with emotions post-marathon. The marathon is a fantastic, yet depressing event. As an athlete, you pour your heart and soul into training. Doing all of the little things right and spending every hour of the day focusing on either being 100% prepared for the upcoming training session or recovering from the previous one. Regardless of how the marathon turns out, all of the work you put in is temporarily over. You cannot go out the next weekend and try again like you can in a 1500. In fact, I was on a run the other day with Australian prodigy and Penn State graduate Ryan Foster and we were discussing race tactics and the differences between him racing the 800/mile and me in the marathon. It was an interesting conversation and Foster really grasps the idea of post-collegiate competition.
I had physically recovered very well from the marathon, but financially was another story. As a young American athlete there are many opportunities to earn enough income in road races, and the marathon is no exception. However, this year at Grandma’s Marathon the field was very deep and I finished 11th, just out of the prize money and only earning a $700 time bonus. After my agent’s fee, my prize money was almost exactly equal to one month’s rent. I’m very fortunate to have fantastic sponsors Mizuno and Honey Milk as well as being an athlete ambassador for Chia Chargers, GU, EVOL Foods, Sigvaris USA, and Julbo USA. With some exceptions, most professional athletes make the vast majority of their money from prize money and race bonuses (either place and/or time). When you dedicate yourself to a marathon and come away with one month’s rent, you definitely worry about the longevity in the sport. In addition to running, I’m the Head Track Coach at Peak To Peak High School. As any high school coach knows, that salary is far from livable, but I wouldn’t trade helping high school athletes mature and learn from this sport for anything. Coaching at the high school level takes time, yet I was able to blend it very well with my training…although my triple jumpers were probably not fond of doing core work with me!
Then I got the news: I was notified I was a 2011 Road Runners Club of America Roads Scholar! I saw the e-mail and literally jumped out of the chair I was sitting on, grabbed my phone and called my college coach to tell her the news. After that I immediately called my extremely supportive parents to let them know the great news. This $5,000 grant was created to “improve the state of long distance running in the US and the goal from the RRCA website states, The goal of this program is to assist American post-collegiate runners who show great promise to develop into national and world-class distance running athletes.” The 2011 class is outstanding with fellow athletes Lex Williams, Bobby Mack, Megan Hogan, Megan Duwell, and Meghan Armstrong also in the class (four of which are Big 10 conference graduates!).
Not only is this the biggest honor I’ve received post-collegiately, this was a financial relief. To quote Vince Lombardi, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” This quote is a reflection of marathon training and the RRCA Scholarship will ease financial worries and continue to let me train at the highest level possible. I cannot thank the Road Scholar committee for choosing me, the Road Runners Club of America for creating this scholarship, and all of the sponsors that make this award possible. I will do my best to represent the RRCA and all of the sponsors by doing exactly what the award was intended to do – train as hard as possible to advance American long distance running!
Train with convinction,
Link to the RRCA Announcement of 2011 Road Scholar Class – http://www.rrca.org/programs/grant-recipients/year2011-roads-scholars/