In 2011, Megan Hogan wouldn’t have been eligible for the CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge.
She wasn’t out of work, it’s just that her job was running, and that race is designed for people who have, you know, “real” jobs.
The Saratoga Central Catholic High graduate from Ballston Spa has one of those now, as an interior designer for Phinney Design Group in Saratoga Springs. And, still harboring much more than a vestige of her previous self, she blew away the Workforce Team Challenge field last month.
On Saturday at the Freihofer’s Run for Women, Hogan again offered a reminder of her life as a professional runner, which remains tantalizingly still in play.
Racing against Olympians from all over the world, runners who can train full-time without having to worry about a paycheck, the 26-year-old stuck close enough to the leaders to finish in sixth place in a sparkling 15:59.9, just a half-second behind Agnes Cheserek of Kenya.
A result like that forces her to consider exploring more races against top-caliber competition.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Hogan said. “I might head out to Falmouth, Beach to Beacon in Maine, just a little higher up. [Utica] Boilermaker is also a step up for me.
“But I’ve been taking my time getting back out there. I used to run professionally full-time, and I’m kind of just taking things as they go and opportunities as they’re presented to me.”
This all started, after all, with an unexpected opportunity.
Hogan played basketball and soccer at Spa Catholic, but did not run track or cross country because the small school didn’t have a program.
She went to Mount Ida College, a Division III school in Newton, Mass., not far from the Boston Marathon course, and joined the cross country team as a sophomore simply to stay in shape for basketball.
Next thing she knew, she was winning races without the benefit of experience, and transferred to George Washington University, where she became a two-time All-American.
She also was a two-time Atlantic 10 cross country champion, and finished eighth at the NCAA Championships.
“I fell in love with running off the adrenaline of winning,” she said. “I was winning right off the bat. Then it kind of grew into a thing where I have a very stressful profession, and it kind of grew into something that was kind of a release.
“I look forward to going out every day for a run, and training. That’s kind of how it grew into something.”
What it grew into was a spot with Team USA Minnesota, a professional team based in Minneapolis.
Hogan tried Freihofer’s for the first time in 2011, when she finished fifth in 15:55, a few months after finishing third at the USA 15k. After not running Freihofer’s in 2012, she was 10th last year in 16:30.
On Saturday, despite her rigorous work schedule that has imposed itself on training, Hogan came up big to finish faster than she did in 2011, as well as take the top spot for an American.
“I’m really surprised,” she said. “I was not expecting to run that well. I’ve been surprising myself lately, I guess.
“I felt really good in the beginning. They went out, and I was with them. Usually when I go out with a pack like that, I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, can I stick with them?’ But I felt really comfortable. So it was good.”
Hogan has been working out with the FleetFeet Albany team, and said she’s grateful for their support.
Among the races she has lined up are the Firecracker 4-Miler in Saratoga Springs, which she won last year.
But her Freihofer’s performance on Saturday and the fact that higher caliber races like Falmouth and Boilermaker are on her radar shows she knows she can still step comfortably into that other world, the one where you’re good enough make a living just by running.
“I’m pretty optimistic about the way things are going, and I feel like in June I should be able to get some quality work in,” Hogan said.
“I attribute my running, I guess, to having balance in my life, and having great people to train with.”