OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Elizabeth Herndon is a Research and Development Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"My research focus is primarily on the chemistry of soil and how soil plays a fundamental role in our environment," she said.

The 34-year-old has a strong base in geology.

"I like understanding what's going on in the world around us," she said. "I like the complexity of environmental sciences."

When Herndon isn't in the lab, she's hitting the trails.

"I started running on middle school cross country and track teams and I was pretty bad for a while," said Herndon.

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She's pretty good now.

"I ran my first marathon in 2010 at the Chicago Marathon," she said.

Of the 8 marathons Herndon has run, her fastest time was 2 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds.

To qualify for the Olympic trials you have to run a marathon in 2 hours in 45 minutes.

Herndon is training for her second Olympic marathon trial coming up in 2 weeks.

"The Olympic trials are really the big goal for most post-collegiate competitive runners," she said.

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In 2016, Herndon finished 43rd at the trials in Los Angeles.

This year the trials are in nearby Atlanta.

"Living here has been great for training because it's about the same weather, about the same hilliness as the course is gonna be," said Herndon.

Herndon said its challenging to balance work, having a family and running.

But she's not alone

"Most of the people who are gonna be there are the people like me who have jobs, have kids, do running around that," said Herndon. "We like to say the trials are our Olympics."

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The top three women at the trials will go on to the Olympics.

Herndon said she doesn't expect to be in the top, but she will be running the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon at the end of March.