DelVal professor joins an elite national running team

Feb 24, 2011

By Annmarie Ely

This year, Dr. Morales will compete with Athena in the USA Track and Field Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix Circuit. She will specialize in the distance races from the 5K to the marathon.


“This is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life,” said Dr. Morales. “They hold national and world records! These are some scary fast ladies.”

When Dr. Morales read about the group in the October issue of Running Times magazine, she was inspired and dreamed of someday joining the elite club. She had no idea that that time was just a couple of months away.

“It seems to me surreal at times,” said Dr. Morales. “A few months ago I was holding Running Times magazine thinking, ‘these women are amazing,’ and now I’m one of them.”

In 2007, Athena’s 4 x 800m relay team set a Masters world record of 9:46 and in 2006, the team set world indoor records in the 4 x 800m and 4 x 400m relays.

The Athena Track Club is a registered club with the USATF. Athena, established in 2006, is made up of like-minded elite female runners.  They compete as a team in Masters track, road racing and cross-country events. The club takes its name from the Greek goddess Athena, who is associated with wisdom and beauty.

Athena is made up of about 15 members from across the nation. The team is all female, all Masters (athletes who are 40 and older) and all busy women with lives and careers to balance.

There was one spot left in the club when Athena approached Dr. Morales. The group had just added ABC Meteorologist Cecily Tynan. Tynan is a four-time sub-3 hour marathoner, a former world-class duathlete and a top 10 age group finisher at the 2003 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Members of Athena met with Dr. Morales at a December meet. It was her first indoor track meet. She ran an All-American performance in the mile, exceeding the All-American standards of excellence for women 40-44 years of age. Since then she has repeated All-American performances in the mile and 3,000 meter races. 

A few days later Dr. Morales received an email from Lorraine Jasper, one of the founders of Athena. She didn’t know how it was going to go at first. When she opened the email the first word was “welcome,” followed by several exclamation marks. “I stopped reading after that,” said Dr. Morales who was thrilled by the news.

“I chose Anabelle because of her character,” Jasper said.  “She is a dedicated athlete and her focus is consistent with our team theme for balance of health and fitness in everyday life.”

The club stays in touch through email. Athena is not just a track club, it is also a support system for the members who are trying to balance busy lives and careers with competitive running.

Fitting running into her schedule has not always been easy for Dr. Morales. When she was a research scientist she had a hard time finding a balance between her career and her running.

“Academia gave me what I so very much wanted,” said Dr. Morales.  “That balance.”

Her teaching schedule allows her to do most of her training before school.

By the time she gets to DelVal, Dr. Morales has usually run for 1-2 hours and done about 20-30 minutes of strength training. Her training philosophy is “hard, easy.”

She mixes it up by pushing herself really hard for one session and giving herself an easy day the next time. She also tries to take off one day per week to let her body recover and get stronger.

She’s had a lot of success on the regional level and is excited to compete on a national level.

“There’s a wonderful chemistry with the group,” Dr. Morales said of Athena. “I can see why they’re very selective when they bring in new members.”

The club meets on an as needed basis throughout the year to prepare for events.

At 43, Dr. Morales has been able to out-run women more (about) than half her age. Her 61-year-old husband, David Broadbent, is her training partner. He is an accomplished competitive distance runner who has been running for the past 34 years. They both credit their diet and healthy lifestyles for their competitive success.

She is hoping to show her students what is possible for their health if they eat wisely and remain active. “My goal is to inspire my students to run after their dreams, by running after mine,” said Dr. Morales.

Her desire to encourage young people to be healthy impressed Athena members.

“I have spoken with Anabelle on several occasions and I am impressed with her enthusiasm to be a good example for the younger generation,” said Jasper. “She cares deeply about educating our youth on proper diet and exercise for a healthy future, so that they will also be able to experience the pleasure of vibrant energy as they grow older.”