Sarah Cummings, 27, New York
Occupation: Investment management professional at BlackRock, a financial services firm
Marathon Personal Best: 2:34:47 in the 2014 Chicago Marathon
Weekly Mileage: Up to 100
The Balancing Act: Cummings, a member of the New York Athletic Club and former Princeton University runner, wakes up at 5 a.m. and meets a running group near Central Park.
Depending on the day, Cummings and the group will log between eight and 20 miles. Some days are brutal.
"There are many dark mornings—both literally and figuratively," she says. "(I'm) struggling to run one mile at marathon pace in the pitch black and the fifteen degree windchill."
She finishes her workout by 7 a.m., hurries home and gets ready for work within 30 minutes. "Hair straightening activities do not take place every day," she says.
She briskly walks or hops on the subway to her office in midtown Manhattan. "The workout doesn't end until I am in my seat at work. It's kind of go, go, go," she says. "Every minute is precious."
She starts her 10-hour workday for her financial firm by 8 a.m, which she considers a late start. In her previous job, she had to report to work by 6:45 a.m., meaning she was out of bed for runs at 4:30 a.m.
With a 60-hour workweek and 100 miles of running, Cummings has little time to spare. Sometimes, she tacks errands onto the end of her workouts, like finishing runs at Trader Joe's or the dry cleaners.
Cummings aims to get to bed by 10 p.m., but she admits that doesn't happen often.
"Six hours (of sleep) is the bare minimum," she says. "Less than six is when things start to get ugly."
Still, she enjoys the challenge of working in finance and training at a high level.
"I don't know if I would have the same love for the sport if it was my full-time endeavor," she says. "It’s such an incredible outlet for me, and I don't think it would be like that if it was my job. There are so many other things that interest me. I like to make the most of what else is out there. Running has been a good piece of my life, but is definitely not the only one."
Trials Goal: Lower leg injuries—a tibia stress fracture, acute compartment syndrome and nerve damage—forced Cummings to drop out of the Pan American Games Marathon at mile 18 last July. After a 10-week break from running, she started up again in September and returned to serious training in October. Despite setbacks, Cummings hopes to have a solid performance.
"I'm putting my head down and getting the training in every week," she says. "When you step to the line for a marathon, especially coming off a DNF, there is going to be a lot of mental stuff going on. I want to put forth a strong showing after that tough time."