My name is Kayli Hrdlicka and I am new to Team Zensah. In order to get to know me a little better, I’d love to share my goals and dreams as an aspiring elite distance runner and the interesting story of how I’ve gotten to where I am now.
I grew up in the small town of Pella, Iowa where I began running cross country and track at the age of 12 and my love of running was born. Although not recruited out of high school, I sought out a collegiate career as a walk on. I was blessed enough that Scott Lorek at Northwest Missouri State agreed to give me a shot.
A short time into my freshman year I developed a stress fracture in my foot, which was the start of my shift from a heptathlete (yes heptathlete) to a distance runner. Not able to do all the heptathlon events, I was put into my first 1500, which would become my bread and butter the rest of my collegiate career. I was by no means a stand out during my four years as a Bearcat, but through consistent hard work I earned a scholarship, improved my times, and received all conference honors before I graduated.
When my final season ended I didn’t think that I had tapped into all of my potential yet. I asked if my coach would stay on board and help me continue to grow as a runner post collegiately. My first year out of college I ran my first 5k on the track (a huge distance leap for this miler!) hoping to break 19 minutes…and surprised both my coach and myself by running a 17:43. Over the next year I managed to tick away at my 5k PR, so of course that meant I needed a new challenge-- so up to the 10k I went! In my second 10k ever, I found myself toeing the line at the Drake Relays, which as a native Iowan was a dream come true, and placed 5th. To top off the year I was the 10k national champion at the USATF Club Track & Field Nationals in New York City.
With success in the 10k that meant I needed another challenge, so my coach proposed the leap to the half marathon. Although I was leery of the 13.1 mile race, I joined an impressive field of elite women at the Philadelphia Half Marathon hoping to run under 1:20. I amazed myself by finishing in 1:17:15 and was 8th women overall. I couldn’t have asked for a better debut!
Through all my changes in distances I haven’t quite figured out what distance I’m meant to race just yet but I am always open to a new challenge! My goal right now is qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials in some distance, and as of now I think the marathon is my best opportunity. I have 2 years and about 2 minutes to take off of my half marathon to get me there…which means a full marathon may be on my horizon! I am excited about racing in some higher profile races in the next year and continuing to challenge myself with even higher caliber competition and chasing down new PRs. I am lucky to have a great support system including family, friends, my coach of 7 years Scott Lorek, and now Zensah!