The mother and student is one of the favorites in the competitive half marathon field.
Most elite runners set lofty goals; Kellyn Taylor isn’t afraid to state them. Earlier this year at the Chevron Houston Marathon, the Wichita State graduate burst onto the scene when she debuted with the sixth-fastest marathon time for an American (2:28:40). This impressive performance has fueled Taylor’s passion and given her the confidence to state that she hopes to become the next great American marathoner.
“I’ve always had big dreams,” she says. “But after Houston it put things into perspective a little more of what things I can do in running. It makes me think that the possibilities are kind of endless. I want to be one of the great American marathoners.”
Taylor heads into this weekend’s Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon aiming to run 70 minutes—a time that puts her in the running for a possible win. But time aside, she says she’s be happy just with a “good, strong” race. San Diego is a stepping-stone for her as she aims to qualify for the U.S. marathon squad that heads to the Summer Games in Rio next year.
“I have been wanting to get into a fast, competitive half marathon for a while,” she says. “I just never really found myself in one. The field looks good and I’m in pretty good shape, so this will be a great opportunity for me.”
Taylor, who owns a 1:11:51 half marathon best, has a good record with Rock ‘n’ Roll series races. Last year, she won the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. She has never raced in San Diego, but says she’s looking forward to that same vibe that she got in San Jose.
“I think Rock ‘n’ Roll races are great,” she says. “Competitor always does a great job taking care of us [professional athletes] and putting on the race. Along the course there are a lot of bands and entertainment. That’s always nice when you are trying to grind out some fast miles. It makes the time go by quicker.”
Taylor runs for Northern Arizona Elite and is coached by Ben Rosario, who she has worked with for the past year and a half.
“Ben’s great,” she says. “He’s really intense and you can just tell that he puts everything he has into what he does, which is exactly what I need from a coach. He has an individual relationship with each of his athletes and that helps because he tailors workouts specific to us. Having him believe that we can do great things is really important.”
Even though she’s been training for the half marathon in San Diego, Taylor says that her routine of heavy track workouts, longer tempo sessions, and long runs of 20 miles or more still have her primed to start training for the forthcoming U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles next February. “Doing this kind of training will help make things less of a shock when I shift gears to the marathon,” she admits.
Since she ran her impressive debut, Taylor says that her life has been a bit of a whirlwind. When she’s not training, the 28-year-old is carefully balancing her work and life. Taylor is the mother to a four-year-old daughter and also in school full time, studying to get her fire science degree at Coconino Community College. With that degree, she hopes to begin working as a firefighter—a job she says isn’t a typical career choice for a woman. “I like the idea of doing something that’s always changing,” she says of firefighting. “I also like helping people, so I’m really excited to get into it.”
Taylor may be fighting a different type of fire in the form of her competition at next weekend’s race in San Diego. Her rivals for the win there include big names in the sport like three-time Olympian Jen Rhines and Sara Hall, who was recently top American at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Also in the mix is the reigning Half Marathon Grand Prix Series Champion, Lindsey Scherf.
Events for the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon kick off on Friday May 29 with the Health and Fitness Expo. The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego 5K takes place that next day and on Sunday San Diego plays host for the marathon and half marathon, which start in Balboa Park. Runners will celebrate all the fun with finish-line festival at PETCO Park following the races.