When I was eighteen I told one of my coaches, Larry Meredith, that I was already a lifelong runner. Growing up in Santa Rosa, California, I joined the Santa Rosa Express Track Club when I was eleven and discovered the sport in the shadow of several all-time high school greats. I learned to love running in the hills of Annadel State Park, under the guidance of coaches from Slater Middle School and Montgomery High School who were invested in my long-term development. I wasn’t recruited by major Division I collegiate programs, but in my senior year of high school I received a scholarship offer from the University of California, Davis, where the athletic program was in the process of transitioning from Division II to Division I. I had several coaches while at UC Davis, including 1996 Olympic Head Coach Deanne Votchatzer, and in that environment I continued to develop as an athlete and refine my identity as a runner. In my senior year, Drew Wartenburg became the distance coach at Davis and encouraged my desire to continue competing after college.
In 2009 I graduated with a degree in Exercise Biology and decided to stay in the Sacramento area to continue being coached by Drew, while also signing on as his assistant coach and learning about the coaching profession. I spent my initial post-collegiate years balancing coaching with my professional running aspirations. In 2012, with six months remaining before the Olympic Trials, I decided to step back from my coaching role to go all in on my running career. My goal was to perform well enough to land a shoe contract and cement my status as a professional runner. If I failed, I would walk away from elite competition and devote myself to a career as a collegiate coach.
I entered the 2012 Olympic Trials without the Olympic standard but prepared to contend for a top-three finish. In one of the most dramatic races of the meet, I launched a comeback effort over the final lap to move from 5th place to 3rd place. With a lean at the line, I earned the final spot on the United States 5000m team by .04 seconds and finished inside the qualifying standard by .21 seconds. In that fraction of a second I took a defining step in my career and qualified for the London Olympic Games.
Competing at the 2012 Olympics became the entrée to an exciting career. In the aftermath of the Olympic Trials, I signed an endorsement contract with New Balance, who remains my principal sponsor to this day. Since 2012, I have won two national titles and continued to represent the US on the international stage, including at the 2016 Olympic Games. In 2019, I won the bronze medal in the Pan-American Games 5000m. Drew and I married in 2015 in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we now live with our dog, Smokey. I missed the 2021 Olympic Trials with an injury, but as soon as I am ready I will turn my attention to the marathon.
Off the track, I am an avid reader and enjoy writing. I serve as a board member on the USATF Pacific Foundation, which awards grants to aspiring elite track and field athletes. When I told Larry that I was already a lifelong runner, I had no idea that I would one day reach the sport’s pinnacle and make it my career. While running has taken me across the world and to unexpected heights, at the core I love the simple running lifestyle and am committed to being an active member of the sport for my entire life.
The 5000m race at the 2012 Olympic Trials was the defining moment of my career.