This runner's story is so inspiring.
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Credit: Dustin Whitlow/DWhit Photo

For Leap Day 2020, Kelly Calway will make the trip from her home in McLean, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia. But it's not just any road trip. This mom of two, Active Duty Army Officer (Major), and two-time combat veteran and Bronze Star Medal recipient will be headed to Atlanta to participate in her third Olympic Trials for running on Saturday, February 29th.

In honor of the upcoming trials, Calway teamed up with Brooks—and she's training in a prototype version of Brooks Running’s Hyperion Elite shoes—the athletic wear company that is also sponsoring her with apparel, coaching, cheering packs for friends and family, and more. In celebration of this partnership, Southern Living caught up with Calway to hear what training for this momentous occasion has been like.

Of course, achieving this feat didn't happen overnight, as Calway began running in a youth league when she was eight-years-old and has logged many hours of feet-on-the-pavement since. Now, with two Olympic Trials under her belt, the thrill of participating continues to blossom: "This is my third time competing in the Olympic Trials and it is still such an incredible honor to race on the highest national stage and compete against the best women in the country. For me, it’s an opportunity to chase down the dream of becoming an Olympian, which I’ve dreamed of for 27 years. For my two daughters, they get to see that hard work pays off and that they should never stop working towards their dreams. On top of that I get to represent my incredible fellow Soldiers in the US Army who are defending our freedom all over the world," Calway shares.

Calway couldn't do it without the support and sense of community she's found in McLean, telling Southern Living that her McLean neighbors are all very excited for her. "I recently ran my 20 mile training run around our very hilly neighborhood to simulate the hills of the trials. I had tons of friends and neighbors cheering me on while I ran by. My daughters even set up a table with water and signs for me. By the time I finished all of the neighborhood kids were over there cheering me through the finish!" Calway exclaims. After many, many hours of practice, Calway can't wait to run in Atlanta, which will be especially meaningful following some difficult injuries.

"During the 2016 trials I suffered a major stress fracture in my femur and had to stop the race three miles in. I was devastated and angry with myself. I bawled. I had trained my butt off seven months after my daughter was born to be able to run my best at this major event. I thought everyone would be so disappointed. But when I went home, my two little girls didn’t care at all about my failure. They were just happy to see their mom. I realized I was valued for more than just my running and I was able to come to terms with the failure," Calway explains. "I shared my story with the West Point Cadets that I was teaching at the time, a story of loss and failure, and it helped many of them open up about times when they struggled, which allowed someone to step up and support them. It’s so important to talk not just about the high points in our life, but to also share the lows. I am excited to find redemption at the 2020 Olympic Trials...to show that you can overcome and excel after you get knocked down."

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This time around, however, Calway's girls will be cheering their mom on from the VIP Brooks cheering section, and, as this incredible mom puts it, "I cannot wait to hear their voices as I run the streets of Atlanta."