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Dedication Leads to Running Success for Science Professor

December 15, 2004

In 1991, Professor Anne Myers Kelley qualified for the Olympic trials in the marathon, the high point of her running career. But by the time of the trials, Kelley was injured. I had the dubious distinction of being the first to drop out of the Trials marathon, she remembers. But it was worth it for the experience of going to the Olympic trials, and I received applause just for showing up at the start of the race.

As a child, Kelley didn't think of herself as a runner. I thought I was pitifully slow, she says. That's because kids never run very far. Later I discovered I could keep running while everyone else stopped, gasping and wheezing.

When she was a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley, her advisor, Rich Mathies, encouraged her to run the San Francisco Marathon. Her first entry was in 1983. Since then, showing up consistently has been key to Kelley's running success. She runs first thing in the morning, when she won't be interrupted. Sometimes I get up at 3:30 to run before early-morning travel, she says. Being a good morning person helps!

Now, as a founding professor at UC Merced, I never have to run indoors or cross-train, she notes appreciatively. It's not too hot in the summer as long as I go first thing in the morning, and in the winter it's never snowy or icy. Since her arrival in 2003, she has prepared again for marathons. She finished the San Francisco race in 2004 in 3:21.

In Merced, Kelley has also run in the Relay for Life for cancer research and tried triathlon for the first time. The Merced Gateway Triathlon takes place each October, and Kelley placed 5th among the women in that race in 2003.

Running also has less measurable rewards for Kelley. She appreciates the quiet time alone, to think and to see the day. She has explored Japan, Sweden, and Israel on her fleet feet. Being in shape keeps her mind sharp, she says, and that shows, both in her scientific accomplishments and her athletic success.