Erin' s name was submitted by several of her online friends as a great interview guest for Open Mic Friday. They couldn' t have been more right. Perhaps the only thing that exceeds her enjoyment for the running and racing she' s done is her excitement for the running that lies ahead of her.
We' re thrilled to know Erin and know you will be too!
Keeping up with the running or keeping up with the blog? Let’s go with the blog. I started the blog because I’d moved away from all my immediate friends and family but I wanted them to be able to follow me as I trained for my races. I figured it would give them some insight to my life that they might not get otherwise. I update the blog after every run and sometimes after other things as well (volunteering at a race, new cross-training attempts, etc). I’ve been a blogger in one form or another since 2001 so obviously I love to write. I’m not the best writer out there, but I do it anyway. I love having a record and I love sharing it with people. I try to keep the enthusiasm at the surface because, really, who wants to read a badly written whiny blog?
How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?
When I was in my late teens/early twenties my mom said to me, “Get in the habit now of making fitness a priority in your life. Your will thank yourself when you’re my age.” I took her words to heart, got a gym membership, and spent several hours a week weight training and hitting the elliptical. After several years of this, though, I got bored. I bought a treadmill and tried running. Many of my online friends were running and I figured that if they could do it, so could I. I think the longest I ever ran on the treadmill was just shy of a 5K distance. Then I tried running outside. Big fat fail. Finally, I joined a Beginning Women’s Running Group in July 2007. Our goal was a 5K race in September. Having a group to train with and running a race with my friends and family cheering me on started a fever in my blood. I’d never been athletic. I’d never been into sports. The closest I came was being on the dance team in high school. But when I was out there running I felt amazing. Plus, every time I run a race and tell my mom about it, she tells me how proud she is of me. Even though I’m 29, that still means a lot.
Well, I’ve only lived here for a year so I haven’t gotten to experience everything yet. I work downtown (literally less than a mile from the famous lakefront path) but live about 10 miles west of downtown. Before I lived here I lived in a mid-sized town with a thriving running community. However, I’ve found it easier to run in the Chicago area than I ever did previously. There are just so many great places to run! The Cook County Forest Preserve has amazing bike trails that go for miles and are perfect for running. I can easily run along the lakefront path at lunch. Earlier this summer a blog friend Kim at and I discovered that we work two blocks away from each other and that we both love to run. So, we’ve done several lunch time runs together and even volunteered at a water station at a 5K downtown together. When I can’t run with her, there’s a group of employees at my work who also run at lunch a few times a week. I never would have thought to run at lunch until now. And then there are the races! I tell you, I could run a race every weekend from April to November if I wanted to. I try to run one race a month now that I have so many to choose from. I also love that no matter where I’m running I’ll pass other runners.
You just completed a half marathon last month. What were the highlights?
Too many to name! Seriously, though, this race allowed me to meet and run with one of my oldest online friends ever. Holly (or hollyontherun at Runners’ Lounge) and I have been online friends for over 5 years but we’d never met in person. She’s one of the people who inspired me to start running so I thought it was appropriate to run a race with her. And since she lives in one of my favorite areas of the country, I made a vacation out of it. My husband, my mother, and my step-father all came with and we stayed in California Wine Country for a week. I got to meet and visit with a friend, run a fun (and super well-organized) race, and spend time with my family. And drink wine! My race time wasn’t a PR, but I have so many fabulous memories from the trip that I don’t even care. If you’re looking for a destination race, I highly recommend the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.
You set a goal to run a marathon next year. Have you chosen which one yet?
I haven’t. Part of me wants to run the Chicago Marathon. I mean, I live here, it’s a premier event, there are always training groups training for it, so why not? But part of me wants to run the Illinois Marathon in my hometown. It’s fewer people, but it’s my hometown. Plus, this year it’s at the beginning of May so it probably won’t be hot. As we’ve learned, there are no guarantees of that for Chicago. So, I could run a huge race and never be on the course alone and see more of the city in one day than I’ll have seen in my entire time living here but run the risk of melting in the heat or feeling cramped. Or I could run a smaller race in familiar territory with a better chance of decent weather, but risk running alone with few spectators. Decisions, decisions.
Who from your past would you like to know that you’re now a runner?
Believe it or not, an ex-boyfriend from high school. He ran cross-country in high school and I always complained that it took up too much of his time. But now that I’m a runner, I realize how running can be a passion. That sometimes it comes first. And now I’m okay with that. So, I want him to know that I understand that now. And I apologize for not getting it back then.
They think I’m crazy, but they’re super proud of me. I get so many comments from them telling me that. I think they’re also amazed that I, the girl who never did anything athletic, can run over 13 miles! They’ll also say that I’m really hard on myself. My mom even made me promise that regardless of my time in my most recent half marathon I wouldn’t let it get me down. I think I kept up my end of the bargain.
Best race experience?
Interestingly enough, I would have to say my best race experience was not even a race I ran. Last year I went to watch and cheer at the Chicago Marathon. It was my first time being a race spectator instead of a runner. I came up out of the subway and was walking down the street to meet a friend. Suddenly, I came upon the race. I stood there in awe at the number of spectators. I watched, open-mouthed, as the runners streamed by. As I took it all in, I started to tear up. That was when I knew I was really and truly a runner who loved to race. The sign I held up that day could not have been more appropriate. It read “You Inspire Me”.
Any quirky running traits?
Before December 2008 I owned a Nike+ iPod and a $5 sports watch as my running gadgets. My husband got me a Garmin 405 for Christmas. Now, I won’t run outside without it. I have seriously almost skipped runs because the battery was dead or because I forgot it at home. Thankfully I have good friends to tell me it doesn’t matter and to just get out there and run. Doesn’t mean I was happy about it though! Also, I hate running in non-matching running clothes. I try my hardest to be color coordinated before I go out the door. And, if you’d asked me this question before March 2009 I would have said that I had to run with a cotton bandanna do-rag to sop up the sweat. Now, though, I’ve switched to a visor and just carry the bandanna instead of tying it over my head. Hey, I’m a sweaty girl!
My long-term goals are to break 2 hours in a half-marathon, get my 10K time solidly under an hour (my current PR is 59:59 and that was at my first 10K. I haven’t gotten it back under an hour since.), and get my easy-run pace closer to 9:00 than 10:00. And, of course, run a marathon.
What gets you excited about running?
My outlook on running is totally anomalous in my life. Normally, I prefer structure, predictability, and success. But with running, I’m okay with not having those things. Every time I start running it’s an adventure. Typically the only aspect I know is how far I’m going to go. Will the run be good? Will I be fast? Will I struggle? Will I meet my time goals? I never know. And I think that unpredictability and the suspense is what keeps me excited.
Non-running and non-blogging interests?
I’m supposed to have other interests? Just kidding. I’m a voracious reader and currently have two books that I’m in the middle of reading. The Lost City of Z and Ahab’s Wife. I’m also getting into archery with a wooden recurve bow and try to go once a week. I’m not very good, but I hit the target somewhere more often than not. Just not always where I was aiming. I also scrapbook, but I only scrapbook my races. My husband is fabulous about coming out to all my races and taking photos. Each race takes up at least two pages and consists of, at a minimum, my race bib, a map of the course, a photo or two of me, and my time.
I have several. My online friend Aimee who truly runs for the joy of it. My friend Holly (previously mentioned) who never says “never” or “can’t”. When she sets a goal, she achieves it. She never lets injuries, speed, or anxieties stop her for very long. My friend Lindsay who has run two marathons and is training for her third… in less than a year. And I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but, really, my heroes are people who aren’t necessarily the fastest, but who have jobs and lives and struggles and still get out there and run.
When I was in high school I wanted to be Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. I even went through the entire interview process to become a police officer in my hometown. I didn’t end up in law enforcement, however. Instead, I ended up in records management. It’s as exciting as it sounds.
What’s going on in your life outside of running?
My husband and I are looking into adopting a former track greyhound. We currently have a German Shepherd-Husky mix, but I’ve always wanted a greyhound. When I saw an 8 year old grey listed on a rescue website I thought he would be perfect for us. We’re still jumping through some hoops but I’m hoping that by this time next month we’ll have our answer as to whether or not he’ll be coming to live with us.
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
A coach to work with me every day so that I can achieve my running goals. I suppose technically money can buy me that dream. I just need more of it!
I don’t know if I can say the “best” advice. I can say, though, that I’ve absorbed a ton of it over the past two years. I’m still sorting out what works for me and what doesn’t.
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Run with someone faster than you. It’s easy to become complacent with your running. Especially if you’re like me and want to get faster but aren’t really good at pushing yourself. I’ve found that running with people who are just a few seconds faster than you can really make a huge difference.
Also, I think everyone should give back to running. Whether that’s helping out a local running group behind the scenes, volunteering at a race, or encouraging someone who’s expressed interest in running. I’ve volunteered at several races so far doing everything from packet pick-up to handing out water at an aid station. It gives you a completely different perspective and one that I think is invaluable.
Thank you, Erin!
Do you know a runner you would recommend for Open Mic Friday?
Pass along their name, contact info, and some background and we' ll explore introducing them to the Runners' Lounge Community.
Send your suggestions to Tom@runnerslounge.com or Amy@runnerslounge.com