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September 27, 2011

Kim Conley

Written by Dena Evans
Conley_tuftsCurrently balancing a pro athletic career and assistant coaching duties at her alma mater, UC Davis, Kim Conley is a young elite athlete in the midst of a breakthrough year.  In February, she earned selection to Team USA for the NACAC (North American, Central American, and Caribbean) Cross Country Championships with an 8th place finish at the USATF Championships.  With personal bests of 4:11 (1500m) and 15:38 (5000m) set just this year on the track, Kim has come on even stronger in the summer, gaining top 5 honors at the Falmouth Road Race and nearly winning the national road 5K championships last week.  Deep in the heart of Davis Aggie cross country season, we catch up with Kim as she preps for this month's Pan-Am Games and continues to establish herself as one to watch for 2012.

FNF: Congrats on your runner-up finish at the 2011 USATF Road 5K Championships at the CVS Caremark 5K in Providence, Rhode Island.  How did that race play out from your perspective?

KC:  The race went out a little harder than I expected and strung out very quickly. I had gone in with a goal of winning, so I gave chase after Julie Culley took an early lead, but I was never able to close the gap she put on me in that first mile. Overall I am still happy with the result. 2nd place in my highest finish at a national championship event, so its a very good step forward for me.

FNF: You've had a period of steady improvement as a post-collegiate athlete since graduation.  What have been the key factors / adjustments in your training that have led to these breakthroughs?

KC: The key factor has really just been consistency in training. I've been fortunate enough to not encounter too many set backs and I've been able to build weeks, months, and years of progressive training now.

FNF:  Who have been the major influences on your running career so far and why?

KC: My coach, Drew Wartenburg, is definitely the biggest influence on my running career, especially at this level. When I graduated from UC Davis my 5k pr was 16:17. It was kind of a gray area in terms of whether or not it made sense to continue pursuing competitive running with a time like that. We both knew I had a lot more in me, but I was also a long way off from being the type of athlete that would secure at shoe contract and truly be able to earn a living running.  I was balancing that with the normal "graduation pressure" of feeling like I should be going to grad school or having some kind of set plan for my future. It took a while, but eventually he helped me to realize that running at the next level was not only something I could do, but needed to do for myself. Now looking back, I'm so grateful he pushed me in this direction and set up a great environment at UC Davis where I can be a coach and a high level athlete.

FNF: You've been fortunate to grow up and attend college all in a relatively small geographical area.  How have the Santa Rosa and Davis communities served as productive backdrops for your running?

KC: I've been lucky to have spent my life surrounded by people who are highly invested in running. In Santa Rosa I spent a lot of time outside the high school setting running with the Empire Runners. I had several coaches in high school, but all of them were friends through this running club which allowed for some continuity and kept me connected to all of them. They are all still good friends that I keep in touch with regularly. I touched on it in the previous question, but UC Davis has been wonderful in allowing me to coach here and balance that with pursuing my own running objectives. Furthermore, the Sacramento Running Association is starting an elite team to help support post-collegiate athletes in the area. I am very happy with the situation I have right now. I'm close to home, the training in Sacramento is great, and I love coaching at UC Davis.

FNF: Does 2012 include some significant aspirations at 10K or even longer distances?  Or, do performances like your 1500m PR this year encourage you about your near term future at 5K and below?

KC: My focus for 2012 will be primarily on the 5k, but I definitely plan to run a 10k and some 1500s as well. I feel like I have a little bit more development to do in the 1500 which I think in the long run will make me a more competitive athlete in the 5k, 10k and on up.

FNF: Including and beyond the 2012 Olympic Trials next June, what are your goals for the next couple years?

KC: In a general sense, my goal is to continue rising on the elite level. Eventually I want to win a national championship on the roads and be on the podium on the track. I will probably begin to dabble with the marathon in 2013 or 2014 which is something I am also really looking forward to.
Last modified on December 01, 2011
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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