When I think about running, I think about Erin. I met her in July 2014 when she was halfway through her feat to run 12 half marathons in 12 months! At first, it sounded crazy. But as I got to know Erin, I realized she thrives on a challenge and her commitment to running transcends other areas of her life. And you won’t believe what she’s training for next!
When did you start running? Was it always something you enjoyed?
I started running in 2009. When I first moved to Cincinnati, I was a producer for WLWT, and part of my job was covering the Flying Pig. I was stationed facing the finish line telling the anchors who was leading the full marathon during our live coverage. I should have known I was crazy when after two years of watching people stagger across the finish line, I decided I wanted to try the half marathon! I had never run a 5K or 10K before. I didn’t have the right shoes and I had no idea how to fuel myself properly, but when I dragged my butt across the finish line, I was beaming!
When was your first race?
The Flying Pig was my first half. The following year, I ran the Flying Pig full marathon
What made you decide to run 12 halfs in 12 months?
I realized I had six half marathons on my schedule and thought, “I could do six more,” so I did.
Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit?
I wanted to quit about halfway through my half in California. It was June and hotter than I had trained for, and I just wasn’t prepared. I actually stopped halfway through to stand under a garden hose someone left out for runners. Other than that, I never wanted to quit the commitment – I don’t tend to do things halfway. I also purposefully stacked fun races in the back half because I knew I’d be feeling a little burned out and wanted fun races I’d look forward to.
What is your favorite race?
It has to be the Flying Pig…still! It’s the reason I started running, and I have such an emotional connection to it.
Who are your biggest cheerleaders?
My book club girls! These ladies always make a point to ask me how the training is going and provide real encouragement. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
What do you listen to while running?
I listen to podcasts. I was lucky to have the first season of Serial to enjoy during the last half of the 2014 races, but I’ll listen to just about anything in the NPR podcast suite.
Describe what it felt like to complete the 12th half. Were you happy to be finished? Sad to be done? What did you learn through this experience?
Finishing the last half was surreal. I made a back sign that had all of the races with check marks and had my husband bring a marker with him to the finish line so I could check off my final race. During the run, several runners encouraged me to stop to chat about the similar challenges they finished. In my last half mile, I actually met someone who was finishing her year of half marathons with the same race. The last race was just a fun one to participate in – everyone dressed as Santa Claus and ran through Indianapolis. It was a great way to end the experience – and I’d suggest that race to anyone who’s looking for a half in December.
What advice would you give to someone who says ‘I could never run that far, I’m not a runner’?
If you hate to run, don’t force yourself to do it. I just happened to fall in love with this form of fitness, but it isn’t for everyone. If you want to give it a try, train for a 5K – with the right shoes and nutrition! – and have an open mind. I hate that so many other sports use running as punishment – it makes adults hate running because they had to run laps as a child.
If you finish the race and feel miserable, that’s ok – you gave it a good effort and should be proud of yourself. The most important thing is to find an activity that makes you happy so you’ll do it. If you’re happy doing Zumba or spinning or lifting weights, then more power to you! Just find the thing that keeps you active!
What’s up next?
I’m hoping to run the Marine Corps Marathon for the third time in October. Then in January 2017, I’m planning to head to Disney to complete my first ever Dopey Challenge – 5K, 10K, half and full marathon all over a four-day weekend!
What does Own Your Strong mean to you?
Own Your Strong means doing something that builds you and those around you up rather than tears you or your team down. It’s so easy for us to be down on ourselves and those around us. Instead, women need to look at the amazing things we can do and celebrate those accomplishments – together!