On the Podium: Amy Farley

By Denise Sechelski

 Amy Farley at the Boston Marathon, 2016

Amy Farley at the Boston Marathon, 2016

 Amy Farley has had a varied and accomplished running life: from the track as a kid, down the roads of Austin, through the streets of Boston, to the rims of the Grand Canyon. An “almost original” Gazelle (she hitched her wagon to the group in 2004, two years after its official launch), Amy has been an enduring, supportive, and, of course, joyful, presence in the herd.

         Amy grew up in DeLeon, Texas, a small town between Brownwood and Stephenville, about 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth, and it was here that she started to run. Although not from a family of runners, Amy ran middle and high school track—with her enthusiastic father cheering her on and keeping an eye on her splits. “My dad is a huge supporter,” Amy says, “and he still comes to races.”

After running recreationally while in college at Texas A&M, Amy moved to Austin in 1997 and started doing triathlon a handful of years later. She wanted to improve the run portion of her triathlon races, so in 2004, she joined Gazelles. Her first impressions of Gilbert were like those of so many others: “He was positive and inspired confidence. He’s so encouraging and has fostered a very inclusive and supportive group.”

         Amy’s training for the 5K run in sprint triathlons soon led to longer and longer distances. Then, in 2006, she ran her first marathon. The Freescale Austin Marathon took place in freezing drizzle with temperatures in the low 30s. “The start was delayed because of the weather—there was ice on the roads,” Amy recalls. “But it went okay—I didn’t die! And I thought, ‘I’ve officially got the marathon running bug.’”

So Amy kept running and kept having fun. She toed the line again at the Austin Marathon in 2012 and ran what she considers her best race ever—which also happened to be her first Boston Marathon Qualifying Time (BQ). “I’m proudest of my first BQ,” she readily admits. “It wasn’t my fastest race but it was my most solid race. I stuck to the plan and trusted in the pace. There was never a time when I thought I wouldn’t make it. It had been a really fun training season. I had good friends pedaling all over the course cheering for me, Yetik Serbest pacing me, and Peter Flemings ran me in.” The combination of good training and good friends yielded a perfect day.

 Peter Fleming “encouraging” Amy across the line in Austin

Peter Fleming “encouraging” Amy across the line in Austin

 (left to right) Huseyin Tanriverdi, Amy, Yetik Serbest, and Peter Flemings after the Austin Marathon 2012

(left to right) Huseyin Tanriverdi, Amy, Yetik Serbest, and Peter Flemings after the Austin Marathon 2012

 Amy with her dad in Boston, 2016

Amy with her dad in Boston, 2016

That 2012 BQ led to Amy’s first Boston Marathon in 2013. “My Dad has come to Boston every year I’ve run it, including 2013, the year of the bombings,” she said. “The first thing he asked afterward was, ‘You are coming back next year, right?’ He was ready. No fear.”  Amy returned to the Boston Marathon in 2014 and again in 2016.

Amy trains on Tuesday-Thursday at 5:30am and is quick to help a friend on a run or offer a hug in the sleepy predawn Saturday darkness. She hosted the Gazelle Austin Marathon cheer station near her house before the course change in 2018. Part of the fabric of Gazelles, Amy is an integral part of the vibe that makes the group so special.

Becoming a Gazelle made Amy faster, but more importantly, she explains, “running is part of who I am now. I’m very crabby when I’m unable to run.” Staying sane, she says, motivates her to lace up her Sketchers GoRun Max Road Ultras for her favorite workout (20 x 400s on the track: “you can set a pace and click off the repeats”) or her least favorite (the time trail: “it’s always more stressful than it should be!”). And when the going gets tough, she thinks, “Suffering now makes race day easier.”

Working as a software developer and going to graduate school in geographic information systems leaves less time this year for a full race schedule. However, she still completed the 47-mile Rim to Rim to Rim trail run in the Grand Canyon in May with a group of Gazelles. <ED: add hot link to GC post here> “I was nervous for three days before,” she admits. “It was the most epic thing I’ve ever done. I had been to the Grand Canyon, so I knew it was hard. And the training in Austin was tedious. We would do the 3-mile section of the River Place nature trail. The longest day out there was 6 hours, around 18 miles. Just out and back, out and back, out and back.”  She also ran a speedy Houston Half Marathon in October, and a week later ran her favorite race, Run for the Water, as a “fun run” to support Gilbert and the Gazelle Foundation.

There are still a few running goals—short term, long term, mythical—on Amy’s horizon. She might run the Decker Challenge Half Marathon in December. The New York City Marathon is on her race bucket list. And given the choice of going on a conversational run with anyone in the history of forever, Amy replies with a giggle, “My first thought was Usain Bolt. I love his attitude! I used to geek out over the Olympics whenever he was running, and my dad would call to see if I had watched him so we could talk about it.”

When asked about what she does with her time when she’s not running—or working or going to school or riding her mountain bike, which she used to race competitively—Amy responds instantly, “I’m a beekeeper! My boyfriend and I love our bees.” They have had their hives for two-and-a-half years. “I can talk for hours about the bees,” she says with a laugh. “We even keep chairs out in front of the hives so we can watch them in the evenings sometimes.”  

After 14 years as a Gazelle, countless miles, and an impressive race resume, Amy’s mindset might be the most admirable facet of her running profile. “I don’t need to be the fastest person,” she explains. “I want to be a role model for my nieces and nephews. I want to show them how to put in the work and persist—persist until success happens. Basically, it’s just very important to me that they have a crazy aunt that tries to stay as fit as possible so she can go on epic adventures and do fun things outdoors. I want them to see where life can take them if they choose to put in the time and effort.”

So keep an eye out for Amy and her trademark hat and sunglasses. We’ll be waiting to see where life takes her next.

PodiumSusan RoweComment