Oct. 19, 2011
UC Davis assistant cross country coach Kim Conley has qualified for the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and will be competing in the 5,000-meter distance event. The Pan-Am Games will be held Oct. 23-30 with Conley's event taking place on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Most recently, the 2008 UC Davis grad placed third overall at the USA Women's 10K Championships, held Oct. 10 in Boston, clocking in at 33:34.80.
The result came less than a month after Conley finished as runner-up at the USA 5K Championships on Sept. 18 in Providence, R.I. She crossed the line in a time of 15:47.40, only eight seconds behind the race winner.
"I went in thinking I should finish in the top three and I definitely wanted to win," said Conley. "The race strung out into the eventual finish order almost immediately. I tried to give chase to the leader, but just couldn't close the gap. At the end of the day I'm happy since my highest finish at one of these races before this was sixth place."
Conley's progression through the world of professional racing has been consistent and successful. A February selection to Team USA for the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Cross Country Championships - where she finished third overall - led to a top-five finish at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race in August.
On the track, Conley has set personal bests of 4:11 (1500m) and 15:38 (5000m) this year alone as she continues to emerge onto the professional running scene.
The Pan-Am games will give Conley a taste for international competition as she eventually works toward Olympic aspirations, but her main goals are to lay firm ground on her own home turf first.
"It'll be good to get a little more international competition, but before I can even really think about Olympic aspirations, I still have a lot of work to do a national level just in terms of continuing to finish higher at national races," said Conley. "I need to work my way up the ranks of US distance running."
To help her move up those ranks, Conley will rely on her coach of the last three years - and current UC Davis cross country head coach - Drew Wartenburg. Working with him on a consistent basis has been a key to Conley's continual progress.
"The training we've been doing over the last three years has been consistent, but it's also been progressive and it builds on itself every year," said Conley. "It's just been nice to have one coach who can see where I've been and build on that and have a long-term plan and long-term goals."
Between cross-country flights and cross country races, Conley's professional racing career has its own set of challenges. She balances that with her full-time duties as assistant coach of the UC Davis cross country team. As the primary coach of the women's team, which just finished sixth overall at the NCAA Pre-Nationals Invitational, Conley has a consistently full schedule to balance.
"That's where it's also ideal having Drew as my coach because he's totally on board with making running a top priority for me right now," said Conley. "He helps me to balance. When I need to go home to recover, then he kicks me out of the office for the day."
While Conley is competing in Mexico, the UC Davis cross country team will prepare for the 2011 Big West Conference Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29 in Riverside, Calif.