In her first attempt, long-time CPTC team member Aileen Conlon Barry hit the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifying Standard this past June at Grandma’s Marathon! Conlon Barry raced to a 2:44:49 in Duluth, MN to beat the standard by just 11 seconds. While she only took up running after college, Conlon Barry has been racing for CPTC for over 12 years, putting in many miles and workouts all across the city. Conlon Barry has been coming back to running over the last month and helped the women’s team capture first place in the Open division at the Club Championships placing 4th on the very deep and talented squad a few weeks ago. We asked Aileen to tell us a little more about her race at Grandma’s Marathon and about her time running for CPTC.
Q: Congratulations on your Olympic Trial Qualifier in the marathon at Grandma’s last month! Can you take us through your race? Did you have a plan going into the race and were you able to stick to the plan?
Aileen Conlon Barry: Thank You! The plan was to go out on the conservative side and hope to feel strong the last 10K. I wore a pace bracelet to run 2:44:45 so that I was aware of where I needed to be at certain mile marks to achieve my goal! The first half of the race flew by and I was lucky enough to be running with an amazing pack of about 10 women (and a few guys) all going for the same goal. By mile 20 the pack had spread out alot, so I was solo for the most part trying to focus on catching each person in front of me.
Q: What was going through your head in the last mile knowing you were so close to the trials mark?
ACB: At mile 25 I knew it was going to be close when I looked at my pace bracelet. At that point I did not at all think it was a done deal because my longest run had been 22 miles and I did not know how my body would react to the full 26.2! I also passed two women around mile 25 who I had run with earlier, so as much as that gave me confidence it also made me worry that at any moment I would really slow down. At mile 26 I turned the corner and could see the finish. At that point I started to get excited that I was going to run sub 2:45 and get the OTQ!
Q: You ran almost exactly even splits (82:23 first half and 82:26 second half), did you feel pretty consistent throughout the race?
ACB: I am still shocked with how even I ran! I did feel pretty consistent until mile 20. Mostly because of the pack I was running with. I felt like I was slowing down a lot during the last 10k and had to keep reminding myself to focus. The last 10k felt tough!
Q: What was your preparation like leading up to the marathon? What were some of your best workouts?
ACB: I am the mother of 3 boys (Jack age 6, Charlie age 4, Brendan 1) so the main focus a few weeks out was SLEEP, and I really tried to get to bed early. I was also paranoid about getting sick since kids carry so many germs! All my long runs with marathon pace miles went very well. My husband Jay, who I met on CPTC in 2006 and is a sub-2:40 marathoner, paced me through the majority of my long runs at marathon pace, so that was very helpful!
Q: You’ve been racing everything from 5k’s up to marathons for CPTC for 12 years now. Where does your Grandma’s marathon result rank for you?
ACB: Grandma’s marathon is probably ranked as #1. Running the 3k and 10k at USA Nationals is also up there, but running the OTQ on my first attempt was really exciting! When I registered for Grandma’s my youngest was only 4 months old so I was not sure at all how my training would go. I had not run more than 45-50 miles consistently since 2010 so I was worried about the potential for injury with marathon training and trying to get the miles in.
Q: Are you taking some downtime now or are you straight back into training?
ACB: I took a week off and then ran when I felt like it. I swam some. I ran Club Champs which kicked my butt and now back to doing 1 workout a week. I will ramp up the training this fall for half marathon distance.
Q: Going back, how did you first get involved with CPTC?
ACB: I grew up doing ballet and then in high school decided to play field hockey and lacrosse, while still trying to keep up ballet. Ultimately I had to choose so I stopped ballet. After I graduated from college I was working in NYC and started running NYRR races. I always saw many CPTC runners at the races so looked up the team online and reached out to Tony. I was also interested on joining the team more for the social aspect, not really to run and try to get faster. I went to my first workout on a Tuesday at E6th track- 400’s. I still remember that night very clearly. I was hooked!
Q: What have been some of your most memorable moments with club?
ACB: I have so many memorable moments with the club from practices, to races, to social events, to meeting my husband and making some lifelong friendships. I will always remember some of my first races- 3ks on the indoor track at BU, 5ks at USATF Club Champs in CA, Club XC Nationals in San Francisco and every time I raced the 10k at Stanford. I also have great memories of working out with my teammates and friends week after week whether it was at the armory, Columbia track or Central Park.
Q: In addition to running, you also do some coaching. Tell us a little about Mot-R-Run and your involvement?
ACB: My friend Maggie Tursi and I started a women’s running group on Long Island in which we live in. Maggie ran for NYAC and we wanted to create an opportunity for women who wanted to run a group to join. We also offer private coaching. We do group training sessions that involve group workouts meeting 1x a week for 5-6 weeks geared towards a local race at the end of the training session. This past spring session we had 22 women who joined. We welcome all abilities and encourage beginning runners to advanced runners to join. It is also very social which adds an element of fun! We are currently coaching a few women who will be running the NYC marathon!
Q: Do think coaching others to run has helped or changed the way you train?
ACB: I enjoy coaching and reflecting on my training to help others reach their running goals. I think coaching has helped me take a step back and analyze my running career and what I have learnt from the past 12 years. I can then apply my experience to coaching others. I can relate to many of the women we coach because I started as a novice runner just trying to stay in decent shape.
Q: You didn’t start running competitively until after college. What advice would you give to runners on the team earlier in their running careers that don’t come from a high school or collegiate running background?
ACB:I would tell these runners to be confident and to not worry about the lack of a competitive running background. Many times I felt like I had the advantage. I was not worried about trying to run my college times or focusing on past times/races. I focused on being in the moment and thankful for the opportunities I had running against the country’s best female runners. Yes, it was intimidating sometimes, but also exciting to be on the track running against Shalane Flanagan!
Now some quick hits:
Q: Preferred race / distance?
ACB: 10K and now marathon! Tufts 10K in Boston is on of my favorites. I also do love XC.
Q: Favorite workout?
ACB: Mile repeats or Tony’s 4 at marathon pace, 4 at half marathon pace.
Q: Least favorite workout?
ACB: I do not really have one. I love mixing it up and doing all types of workouts from mile to marathon workouts.
Q: Favorite running shoes (trainers or racers)?
ACB: Trainers- NB 880’s Racers- 1400’s and Hanzo
Q: Any favorite New York running routes?
ACB: Bridle path in CP because I have no dirt or trails on Long Island.
Q: Favorite Season?
Q: Favorite TV show?
ACB: Law and Order?? I do not watch a ton of TV.
Q: Favorite non-New York place to run?
ACB: Georgetown, Washington DC (I grew up in MD and my 3 sisters went to Georgetown so I try to run on the canal when I can!)
Q: Favorite Travel destination?
ACB: Australia or St. Barth’s
Q: Go-to non-running pastime?
ACB: Spending time with my family, going out with friends and non running exercise like Bar Method and yoga.