Introducing Barley!

Hard work, patience, and determination pay off! Believe!

Hi all, I am so excited to be added to the Salty Running crew! Before I start rambling on and on about running, something that happens often, I should probably tell you a little about myself.

You can call me Barley, if you’re curious about the name, just look at the main ingredients in Guinness. See, we are already getting to know each other! You already know I’m a running nerd and a Guinness fan, that makes us friends right?

Anyway, you probably want to know a little more about that running thing.

I have been a runner for as long as I can remember, chasing my older sister and her friends around, chasing cookies, boys – you name it. I started competing though when I was in 7th grade where I thought it was a good idea to sprint the beginning of every race, bonk hard and subsequently tell people who were cheering for me to “shut up”. True story folks.

Luckily as I got older I learned to be nicer, pace myself, and fell in love with running in circles. I ran in lots of circles and jumped over things all through high school and college. I walked away with some fancy swag, an All-American title, and a team National Championship.

College Nationals
2007 Collegiate Outdoor Track Nationals

Running is so much different to me now as an adult. Brad Paisley could serenade me to Then and I’d think about running more than anything else. I thought I loved it, I thought I knew everything (that was part of being 18 though, right?), and I thought that I was giving the best that I could. HA!

Come to find out, I love distance running, despite years of refusing to do it! I don’t know everything about running, but I’m constantly trying to learn. I truly believe that my current-self could demolish my college-self even on a track. But since I don’t have access to a Delorean, I’ll have to save showing my 19 year old self up at a race in my dreams.

I took an unplanned break from running when I was 21. My body decided it wanted to be friends with a really nasty bacteria that caused me to have Nocardiosis. Nothing like a little bacteria to take over your brain, lungs, skin and basically shut you down at an age where YOU should be shutting the bars down. It’s 80% fatal when found in the brain, even more when found in multiple systems.

Luckily, I’m here today and instead of being a medical statistic I can thank that whole ordeal for motivating me to be a running statistic instead. When I started healing after surgeries and treatment, I began walking a lot. I’m impatient when walking, so I started running. I ran my first ever 5k race a few months later, and I was hooked.

Running was what really made me feel like I was me again; it helped me regain my confidence and passion for life. So began the addiction to running, racing, training and everything in between.

When I was 23 I ran my first marathon after, of course, swearing I would never do one. I came within a few minutes of a BQ on my first shot. A few months later, on a whim, I decided to run another and missed qualifying by a minute. A few weeks after that I ran another one, with a 4 minute PR but no BQ because the standards had changed.

So began the epic BQ chase so many runners know all too well.  A broken foot the following spring was something that I thought would hold me back- but it ended up pushing me forward. I started from scratch, getting stronger and healthier and actually training properly for a change, which gave me my first BQ that fall. The theme of this story is my stubborn tendencies – I don’t give up.
My first Boston Marathon, 2013, celebrating with a Guiness, naturally!

Since March of 2011, I have ran 13 marathons in 9 states. Part of me thought after I qualified and ran Boston, the marathon would fade for me. It’s funny though that the exact opposite happened. I fell in love with the distance. I fell in love with the dreams of faster times. I thrive off of the chase. I chased a sub 3:15 in 2013, and it came on a cold California day at CIM. I chased a sub 3:05 in 2014, and on a windy day in Memphis I nailed it and the celebrations on Beale Street were epic.

2015 has been the year of chasing the elephant, a big scary sub-3:00 elephant. A week after I turned 28 in September, I smashed a 6 minute PR and ran a 2:58. Since then I have been running small local races, and just having FUN! I also had the amazing opportunity to pace my best friend for her first marathon in Chicago through the Saucony 26 Strong Program. To say 2015 has been amazing, fun, inspiring and overwhelming would be a vast understatement.

So I start here on Salty Running as a sub-elite runner, full time financial planning assistant, pug mom, Guinness drinking-whiskey chasing woman who wants to chick as many dudes as possible. I can’t tell you exactly what is next or what 2016 will hold, you can bet it involves 4 safety pins on my shirt, exorbitant amounts of body glide, and setting my alarm so early it should be a crime.

A new mom and Upstate, NY resident who loves the marathon, a good beer, and all of the numbers/nerdy things. I write about my journey to a sub-3:00 marathon, training tweaks for improvement, and finding that "running/life balance" unicorn. On tap Next: Maneuvering through motherhood and postpartum running!

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  1. I loved reading this! I love your passion and perserverence. It shows you were a collegiate athlete in that you never give up what you really want! You are truly inspiring! Can’t wait to hear more about your journey.

    1. Haha, I guess we will file that under good problems to have! Although my Alma mater would probably have something to say about me not repping them properly! I went to a small state school here in NY (Alfred State). At the time, we were so small we were in the NJCAA, D3. So, admittedly It’s not like I was All American at a D1 School or even in the NCAA but it was still a big accomplishment for me (or anyone obviously!). Since I left though, they have joined the NCAA, which is great to see them growing as a school and a program as well!

      1. I also went to a very small school (Kalamazoo College) but I was never AA and only 2nd team all conference senior year. I am still impressed. 🙂

  2. Welcome aboard, Barley! You’ve already had some much life experience, and I’m looking forward to hearing more pearls (get it, “pearl barley”?) of wisdom from you! 🙂

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, but I’m really glad I could learn more about you and your journey! How amazing and inspiring! Now I feel bad for complaining about fitting in running and life in general..if you can do it so can I 🙂 Looking forward to your posts!

  4. You go, Laura! Following you on your blog, now here. Trying to emulate your times has become harder and harder the last year..