2020 Marathon Trials Diary: Kellyn Taylor Finds Redemption (and a PB) at Grandma's Marathon, by Carolyn Mather/Running Journal, for RunBlogRun


This is the first in a new series on the women racing in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials for the Marathon team. Carolyn Mather will provide us her insights into the elite women, as they focus on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia for February 29, 2020. This piece is on Kellyn Taylor, who just won the Grandma's Marathon this past weekend, with a fine personal best! We thank Carolyn Mather for this fine piece.

Kellyn Taylor is a tough athlete. In the 2016 Trials, she finished sixth in the Trials Marathon, 4th in the 10,000m Trials and 12th in the 5,000 meters. Taylor had to drop out of the 2018 Boston Marathon, and, just 61 days later, wins Grandma's in a PB and course record!

Taylor_Kellyn-USOlyT16.jpgKellyn Taylor, photo by PhotoRun.net


For many years I have watched Kellyn Taylor (Northern Arizona Elite and HOKA ONE ONE), who lives and trains in Flagstaff, Arizona, compete as a professional runner. She had demonstrated so much potential and she trains so diligently and hard, that I truly knew she was going to be an Olympian. This tall, willowy blonde finally pulled off what she always knew she could do this past Saturday at the 42nd Grandmas Marathon in Duluth, MN. Not only did she confidently state at the pre-race press conference that she was going for the win but also for the course record. Kellyn had never participated in Grandmas Marathon weekend, but she was on a mission to vindicate herself after her first DNF at the prestigious and brutal Boston Marathon this past April.

Kellyn has an unwavering belief in herself and knows if she puts herself out there eventually it will happen.Taking the lead from the start, Kellyn and a small pack of ladies passed the first mile in 5:17.She focused on staying composed and not letting that first fast mile unnerve her. Her goal was a win, a personal best and a course record. Despite a very talented field including defending champion, Hellen Kipjurgat and course record holder Sarah Kiptoo, Kellyn ran with only one guy in her vicinity from the halfway point onward. She eventually left him and powered her way to the finish on her own.

Coming down the stretch, this 4:33 miler looked totally in control as she not only took the win by nearly six minutes,but broke her personal best by over four minutes and the course record by two minutes.With her 2:24:28, she became the seventh fastest American female marathoner and she did it her way, without anyone to push her. She actually had reserves in the tank and feels she could have gone faster and most certainly, could have responded if anyone got near her. Her dream and all the hard work paid off and it "finally happened".

Kellyn shared her race and preparation with me Monday morning after the race. She was feeling good and only had a bit of residual soreness.She is on a month long Wisconsin vacation. I caught up with her after she took her daughter to horse camp. She is taking a couple of weeks off running and going to enjoy the time in her home state with her family.

After her DNF at the "worst weather ever" Boston Marathon, she took a complete week off as she was so sore from all the shivering she experienced due to extreme hypothermia. She had never had a DNF and once she chose Grandmas, she was a woman on a mission. She was going to finish no matter what and she was going to "destroy it". After her 8th place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon in November where she was passed by four women in the last half mile, she took heart from that performance. She believed that anything was possible and put in her best training block ever with 130 mile weeks for Boston. She arrived in her best shape ever, but the weather was brutal to most of the elite field.She had a very compressed time to prepare for Grandmas. With less than eight weeks to prepare she got a week high of 108 miles and three key workouts, the first of which she could not complete. Both for Boston and Grandmas she did all of her training by herself with her coach , Ben Rosario, calling splits and telling her to slow it down. They had decided on Grandmas and she was told by several people that the course "rolls but nothing too crazy". It was similar to her workout area at Lake Mary in Flagstaff. When asked by friends a month ago if she got a win but ran 2:29 she realized she would be "disappointed".

On race morning, Kellyn felt good and was more than willing to take a chance to make great things happen. "I had never felt that good and did not want to overtax myself in the first few miles. I settled into a groove paying attention to myself and nothing else". "Sometimes I forget to focus on me and get distracted but not today."She took a different approach to this race and treated it as a training run clicking off the miles and telling herself that she only had 12 miles more on her Lake Mary route workout. She knew she was running well but even she was a bit surprised at her time. Kellyn got it completely right this time and learned some valuable lessons for future races.

Kellyn does not really do anything special in her training. She puts in the miles and believes the effect of patience and cumulative miles pays off eventually. She will continue to keep the same basic training plan with an eye to a fall marathon. She gets bi-weekly massages but has discovered that she is naturally injury free.

Kellyn is a Mom and she believes her daughter and husband help to make her life more balanced and distract her from becoming overly obsessed with her training. She pours herself 110% plus into everything she does. I had picked her a a darkhorse at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and then in the 10,000. She had great finishes at both but the time was just not quite right. Kellyn has come of age and will definitely be a contender in 2020. She knows the "American women are on fire" and she will have to run fast despite the hilly contours in Atlanta.She feels there will be several women in contention and it will come down to the last 10K.

I hope to visit Kellyn before the trials and observe and report on her training. I truly believe Kellyn has come of age and she will be there in 2020. Congrats on taking a chance, going for it and proving that if you believe it will happen, it will.

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