CCC president gearing up for marathon

Clovis Community College Interim President Becky Rowley lifts weights Wednesday at the college. Rowley will run in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon.

Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

What can you do in three hours and 17 minutes?

Becky Rowley can run 26.2 miles, and at Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, she is looking to knock a few minutes off her career best.

“I’m hoping to do at least that well, maybe a couple minutes faster,” Rowley said.

Rowley, the president of Clovis Community College, is running her 11th marathon this weekend. She ran the Chicago Marathon in 2003 and is excited about going back.

“They are all a little bit different,” said Rowley, who has run in the Boston Marathon four times. “The thing I like about Chicago is the scenery. You run through all the little ethnic towns and each of them they usually have bands playing outside playing music, it’s pretty neat.”

Rowley said the atmosphere is key to running a good race.

“It helps having people cheering you on, even if they don’t know who you are,” she said. “And changing scenery is nice, anything like that helps.”

Rowley, 41, runs six days a week for a total of 60 to 70 miles, including 20 miles every Sunday.

Even for an experienced runner like Rowley, a marathon is a grueling experience.

“You just tell yourself that you are going to feel bad at about 15 or 20 miles,” Rowley said. “As long as you expect it, it’s not that bad.”

Rowley has been running recreationally for a long time, but a run-in with a future co-worker started her competitive drive.

While she was in graduate school in Albuquerque, Rowley was running a 10-kilometer race when she met Mark Bussen, now the health and physical education chair at the CCC.

“He really helped me become a better runner,” Rowley said. “He coached me along and taught me about the discipline for the sport.”

Bussen, a former cross country coach and marathon runner, helped Rowley train.

“I brought a little structure to her workouts,” Bussen said. “It gave her confidence, it made her feel more like she knew what she was doing.”

Bussen has run 18 marathons and encouraged Rowley to run in bigger events.

“It takes so long to train,” Bussen said. “So you don’t want to do one without significance.”

Although their schedules do not allow Bussen and Rowley to run together consistently anymore, they still find time every once in a while.

“She still calls me when she wants a good run,” Bussen said.