Barely a year removed from her marathon debut—don’t worry, it was a quick, impressive 2:28:40 effort—Northern Arizona Elite’s Kellyn Taylor is primed, confident and ready to race against the country’s best at the Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 13.
Related: 5 Questions With Kellyn Taylor
“People say I’m a dark horse, that’s fine. I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m good enough to run with anybody out there,” says Taylor, who comes into the race with the eighth-quickest qualifying time.
The current buzz around race-day conditions is all about the unseasonal heat that Los Angeles, the host city, is experiencing; race-day temperatures are predicted to soar into the high 80s by the afternoon. Runners have been prepping for such heat, including Kellyn, who spent some time down in San Diego training under the Southern California sun layered to the gills in cold gear.
“Each day we went out and ran at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., in long sleeves, jackets, tights. It was completely miserable, but in the long run it will pay off for Saturday,” chuckles Kellyn. “It’s going to be hot. I think not having all those layers on at the race, it will be like, oh, this feels great!”
Similar to specific heat training, working on gnarly turns during workouts is also part of Kellyn’s prep; the LA course has many turns, specifically tight hairpins along the 6-mile loop that runners do four times. However, the marathoner doesn’t consider that focus any different than every other runner; it’s just part of smart training, part of the game.
“We’ve done a lot of workouts that have had a lot of turns, like 180s. Everybody has to do it. Everyone is probably prepared in some sense, so I’m not too concerned about it.”
With the deepest field the trials has ever seen to date, the race will most likely come down to the final miles to determine which three women will represent the United State in Rio this summer. Kellyn just has one plan if it does boil down to a more-or-less sprint over the last 1.2 between more than three women: just grind it out.
Although Kellyn’s daughter, Kylyn, won’t be in LA to watch her mom race to a hopeful podium finish, the mother-runner will be running with her daughter’s support underneath her stride—literally.
“Hoka specialized our shoes with colors, our names and things on the inside,” Kellyn smiles describing her race-day kicks, a shoe from her sponsor that will hit markets later this year. “Mine say, ‘My mom is fast’ —Kylyn.’ And the other one says, ‘Let’s do this.'”