Introducing Hops!

Typical pre-race scene. Chocolate and adult beverages help calm the nerves (or something like that).

Well hello there. I’m Hops, a former three time All-American at James Madison University, currently on the comeback train after having my second child.

I got my start in running as a mediocre hurdler and high jumper, who later turned into a decent distance runner. I was injured a lot in high school and, although I ended up choosing a college with a great running program, I wasn’t initially planning on running. I didn’t think I had what it takes to run in college, let alone at the D1 level.

But something gnawed at me once I set foot on campus, and I decided to talk with the coach and see if they’d let me walk on. Somehow I eked onto the team with my meager running resume. I was the slowest woman on the team. I barely talked during any of my freshman cross country season runs because I was so out of shape. I barely survived practice, just holding on for dear life at the back of the pack.

During my junior year, the NCAA added the women’s steeplechase as an event. I guess they finally decided our uteruses weren’t going to fall out or something. That lit a fire under me and gave me a goal to shoot for: to qualify for NCAA D1 Track Championship. And although I didn’t make it to NCAA’s that year, I qualified for my first NCAA cross country championship in the fall. I followed that up by finishing 6th in the 5,000 meter run at NCAA indoors. That spring I finished 4th in the steeple at NCAA’s, then finished 4th at the USATF championships. Not bad for a walk on.

Competing at the USATF championships (photo credit: Getty Images)

After such a successful collegiate career, I figured I would keep improving. But my transition to post-collegiate running didn’t go well at all. I was burned out, and ended up injured and unable to run in one of the most important years of my career.

So I decided to take a hiatus from running and focus on graduate school and being a “normal” person, which turned into an extended break from competition. Except for the local Turkey Trot I didn’t run any races for almost four years. I graduated with my MS in Exercise Physiology and started working full time shortly after that.

Eventually I picked up running again and entered some local road races for fun, despite being severely undertrained. I raced and trained sporadically for a few years, and ran throughout two pregnancies. After having my second daughter in 2015, I decided to join a local elite running club and have been working my way back into shape.

I recently ran 17:20 in a local 5k and 1:22 at the Houston Half Marathon in January. I have another half marathon coming up in March where I’m aiming to break 1:20. My big goal for the fall is to shoot for a 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier: 2:43:00 or under.

Besides my own running, I love coaching other runners and helping them reach their goals, which is why I started my online coaching business, Piece of Cake Running in 2012. I currently run for the Willow Street Athletic Club, a group of seriously badass women runners here in upstate NY.

In real life I generally have no filter. I love coffee, chocolate, desserts, beer, wine, and of course running.

I'm a mom and business owner from upstate NY. I love running, coffee, and adult beverages. Also chocolate. I'm currently training for shorter distances (mile-5k) but my big goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the marathon.

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12 comments

  1. Welcome! I looked at JMU when considering colleges (I’m from nearby Charlottesville). Actually several people from my high school ran there. It’s a great program! When were you there?