Rochester's Ruth Brennan Morrey didn't get to indulge too much over the holidays. That's because she was in training, like she has been virtually her entire adult life.
The former professional triathlete was also recovering and celebrating from a recent marathon that earned her a spot in the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 44-year-old qualified during the California International Marathon on Dec. 8. The women's standard to qualify, within a two-year window of the Olympics, is two hours and 45 minutes. Brennan Morrey had a time of 2:43.41.
"It was super exciting because it was a goal of mine for the last two years since I retired from triathlon," Brennan Morrey said. "It was just a goal that was pretty special as it was the 20-year anniversary of when I qualified for the first time."
Brennan Morrey had previously qualified for the marathon Olympic Trials in 2000.
"I thought it would be a fun thing to be back," she said.
It also marks a near full circle of Brennan Morrey's stellar athlete career. After graduating from Mayo in 1994, she went on to play Division I soccer at Wisconsin before later excelling as a professional ironman triathlete.
The Olympic Trials will be held in Atlanta on Feb. 29. Nearly 500 women have qualified and the top three finishers will earn U.S. Olympic berths for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
"Going into the Trails, I know that there's really not a chance for me to go to Tokyo," Brennan Morrey said. "It's not something that I don't believe that I can do it, it's just physiologically my body isn't at the caliber that it would need to be to run the fast times that the top women are running."
Most of the top U.S. women runners do a marathon in just under 2:20. Brennan Morrey said the times will be a bit slower in Atlanta, but a time of under 2:30 will be needed to advance.
But for her, just a chance to compete and celebrate her career will be a joyous occasion.
"For me, the Trails are my Olympics," she said, "and probably for 80 percent of the field. It will just be a wonderful celebration of my career in one of the last major (races). I won't say it's the last competitive race that I will do; I just don't know, but I know that it's probably within the last bit of my athletic endeavors since age 8."
Brennan Morrey is one of about 70 women in the 40-52 age group who have qualified for the Trials.
"More women are trying to run at a higher level and there is more opportunities," she said. "I think more women are realizing that their life expectancy at the sport doesn't end at age 38. They can go well into their forties."
Despite the winter conditions in Minnesota, Brennan Morrey will not travel to train for her upcoming race. Family obligations, a prime reason for her stepping away from being a professional triathlete, will keep her close to home.
"I'm not going to go anywhere to train," she said. "Just the RAC (Rochester Athletic Club), home gym, and run outside as much as I can. As a mom of three, I just don't have the flexibility to do that. I've always just managed my home environment as best as I can for my training facility."