Running at a Higher Level

By Shayla Houlihan

Editors note.  Shayla is a former employee of Salt Lake Running Company.  Recently she left coaching at the University Of Utah and working at SLRC to run at the professional level.  It’s fun for us to see our former employees move on to something amazing.  Through the last 16 years we’ve seen it all. We’ve got  physician’s assistants, lawyer’s, Ph. D’s, elementary and high school teachers, coaches, college professors , vice presidents, independent business owners, air plane and helicopter pilots, doctor’s, firemen, paramedics, running retail managers, physical therapists, engineers, models, massage therapists, writers, geologists,  computer programmers, personal trainers, contractors, business executives, artists, elite male athletes and now, our first elite female runner. Whew, you get the picture!  Sincerely, we have been blessed to work with great people, regardless of wherever life has summoned them. But let’s not forget one IMPORTANT thing, some of the great ones are still with us!

And now an update from Shayla…

Since my time at the Salt Lake Running Company I have kept very busy! This last year was full of pleasant surprises for me. I took 6th at the USA Indoor Championships in the 3,000 meters in Albuquerque. The 2 days leading up to this race I was with my Utes at the very same venue coaching the winning Distance Medley Relay and the 3,000 meters for Mountain West Conference titles; very inspirational to say the least. From there I went on to drop PR’s from the 8k all the way down to the 800 meters with my main focus on the 3k Steeplechase. I was ranked #1 in the world for a few weeks and undefeated leading up to the USA Championships. It was my first experience with rounds at a National Championship race and I was able to hang on for a 6th place finish.

Right before USA’s I signed with Charisma Sports Management and then with Brooks shoe company.  With this came great opportunity for my professional running career. I got a call asking if I wanted to run at Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. I said of course! This race was part of the Diamond League series of races put together around the world. It’s the highest level of competition. I was racing the top 3 from the world championships the previous year. I went in knowing I was out of my league but knowing I was capable of giving it my best against the best in the world. Finally. I broke 10 minutes in a time of 9:57.49. From here I was off to Europe to run some more races. I was based out of Leuven, Belgium. It was a whirlwind thinking about all of this now; from meeting some of my biggest inspirations to traveling the furthest I had ever traveled in my life! Once back from my European adventure I started visiting and talking with a few different professional running groups. Coach Greg McMillan with Team USA Arizona seemed to be the best fit for me in order to take that next step in my running career. Flagstaff, Arizona seemed to be very similar to Salt Lake City.  I really enjoyed taking advantage of the altitude, it seemed to really help me develop as an athlete. Flagstaff sits at about 7,000 ft in elevation and has hundreds of miles of trails to run on.

Being able to focus on my running this fall has been amazing for my running and I hope to see another huge jump on and off the track. My next big focus is USA Cross Country Championships February 5th, top 6 to declare make the USA team and travel to Punta Umbria, Spain at the end of March for the World Championships. Follow my progress on Twitter and Facebook !

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