Husband, Javier; sons Gabe, 8, and Asher, 5
Manager of indirect procurement, Kontoor Brands, Greensboro
Why I run
"Running helps me to sort out all my thoughts and energizes me for the day ahead. I've been through some tough times. But I feel like because I run, I'm able to handle all the crazy things that life throws at me without losing my mind. Running also empowers me. And as I'm running, usually I'm clearing my mind and coming up with new ideas. So it really does a lot of things for me."
My runner's high
"I don't get the runner's high always. Usually I feel good after a run, but after a really hard race where I know I've given my best effort and maybe I've gotten a personal record, that's usually when I feel the runner's high. It's almost like euphoria, like, 'Oh, man, I just did such a great job and it just feels amazing.'"
'A noble calling': To West Point and the U.S. Army
"Out of high school (Titusville, Pa.), I decided to go to West Point. When you're in high school, you don't really know what you want to do with your life. I kind of wanted to be a doctor; I didn't really know what I wanted to do. My older cousin (Alexia, who is four years older), I sort of look up to her like a sister. She went to the Air Force Academy, so I thought, 'Well, maybe I'll go to the Air Force Academy,' and it just worked out better. I didn't have any desire to fly planes. It was a better fit to go in the Army, and West Point was much closer to my hometown than the Air Force Academy (in Colorado).
"It was after 9/11. I just felt like it was a noble calling, and I wanted to serve my country and do something different and something challenging.
"I was there for four years. I wanted to be on the track and field team at West Point but I wasn't good enough to walk onto the team. So I ended up doing the crew team, but we ran a lot and it was funny because I was a sprinter in high school, and, of course, the Army is much more about longer distances. I sort of became a long-distance runner just because of West Point and the Army.
"I graduated in 2007. I was a transportation officer, and I chose Germany as my first duty station. I lived in Mannheim, Germany, just for a few months, and then we got deployed to Iraq for 15 months. So I was a platoon leader in Iraq, from May 2008 until I got back the next summer. The deployment was really hard. But the bright spot was I met my husband in the Army, and when we got back from Iraq, he decided to get out of the Army. And then a year later, we got married and I decided to get out of the Army (as a first lieutenant, on the promotion list to become a captain) because I didn't want be deployed again and have to be away from my husband, and we got pregnant with our son and I don't want to be away from him.
"It was enough time. It was a difficult career, and I applaud those who can do it for their whole life. I definitely could not, but it was a good experience."
'A tough time'
"It was a lot of different things. It was my first job out of college. We deployed to Iraq, which is maybe the worst place in the world to go, the desert, besides maybe Antarctica. It's just really not a nice environment. Super hot. Sandy. Dusty. Dirty. Really didn't have a lot of support other than the folks that I was working with. It was dangerous. It was lonely. Yeah, it was a tough time."