Erin Finn, a senior at West Bloomfield High School in Michigan, looks like any bright-eyed, petite 18 year old you might meet.
However, Erin is the High School Indoor National Record Holder in the 5k based on her win at the New Balance Nationals Indoors last Marchin 16:19.69. She's also earned All-American honors in in cross country and represented the US in the USA vs. Scotland XC dual meet in 2012.
Erin has committed to continue her running career at the University of Michigan in the fall, but life and success haven't always come easy to Erin. After a quick start to her high school cross country career, she lost most of her freshman year to a stress fracture. Last November, she tried to fight off the flu at the Footlocker Regional, but was unable to qualify for her thrid straight trip to San Diego.
She has bounced back nicely so far in 2013, though, and her 10:18.23 3200 "workout" on 1/10/13 earned her the spot as the new US leader for that event. We at the NSAF thought it would be fun to follow along with Erin as she works her way toward defending her NBNI 5,000m title with stops along the way like representing the US again at the NACAC Junior XC Championships in Jamaica. It is our distinct pleasure to introduce to you, National Record Holder and girl-next-door, Erin Finn!
April 23, 2013
Who would have thought that Heartbreak Hill would ever be associated with pain outside the realm of blistering toes and burning lungs?
This attack, unlike any other previous national tragedy, has resonated deeply within me. Not to say that I have been immune to the sadness and pain felt after terrible disasters such as Sandy Hook, the Colorado movie theater shooting, and 9/11, but the Boston Marathon bombing, to me, seems to strike a deeper chord.
I have always believed that running is special; it takes immense courage and dedication for a person to stick to a specific goal for consecutive weeks, let alone years, especially a goal as challenging and demanding as running. Boston Marathon qualifiers embody the difficulty of running and dedication to the exercise at a level unlike any other. Perhaps this gathering of a sport so special and a group of people so devoted is what makes the bombing of the marathon so dreadful in my eyes. By bombing THE Boston Marathon, the attackers were tearing apart something sacred. The bombers didn’t just attack a school that I will never see or a movie theater that I will never know, but they devastated a marathon that I and thousands of other runners just like me dream of one day running. Maybe it’s selfish, but this is why this tragedy impacts me the most.
However, like a said before, we’re runners. We are a different breed. When someone tells us that a time goal is impossible, we run more miles and prove them wrong. When a race comes down to a sprint finish and everyone else thinks that we having nothing else to give, we kick the hardest. We don’t take no for an answer. How should this be any different for Boston?
We must pray for those who are injured. We must pray for those who have died. We must pray for the families, the crowd, the police, the hospital staff, the doctors, the news reporters, each other. In the midst of this terrible tragedy, we must stand together. We must hold on when it might be impossible for any other sport, because we are runners.
Please allow this catastrophe to remind you how great a blessing each run is; every step that you take is one that many Boston racers, people whose lives were dedicated to the sport, will never be able to take again. Every good race, every bad race, every after-school practice, is special. I have never been so at peace with how lucky I am, nor more determined to make the most of the future.
We find the good in disasters. We learn. We overcome. We run.
I challenge you to pray and to find the good.
P.S. XC World championships recap to come soon!
March 6, 2013
Whether you are an aspiring high school athlete or an elite college runner, the “Big Dance” is this upcoming weekend. Everything that you have trained for has prepared you for this performance; all of your real work is done. Perhaps you are going to do a light workout today or tomorrow, but it is more to quell your nerves than to accomplish anything physically pertaining to your race.
Nerves have you on edge. You think about things differently; perhaps that Hot Fudge Sundae Pop-Tart or that Baconator doesn’t seem like the best idea anymore. Bedtime is more than just a suggestion and the attention you pay to stretching makes it seem like it could solve all of the world’s problems. Race time is fast approaching. You’ll be ready (maybe plan on a Wendy’s stop post-race).
Unfortunately, things have gone a little less than desirably at my house in the last few days. After contracting a virus and suffering from its effects, I caught a bacterial sinus infection. A pile of tissues lays on the floor next to my bed as I pound out these letters.
If my last cross country season taught me anything (I finished a disappointing 12th at Foot Locker Midwest), it was to make each race count. I no longer take any race for granted; each race is special and deserves the utmost care. Also, I found that there is always another race. These two little factoids have already made an immeasurable difference in my racing. I celebrate each race and do not hinge my season on the success or failure of any single race. Also, I train with long-term goals in mind.
So, all of you racers, please remember that if you are able to race this weekend, that is special. If you race well, congratulations! However, chances are that someone will have a poor performance; please do not let this bring you down. Rather, let this race light a fire under you and motivate you to bust out a super outdoor season. Remember that in running there is always another chance.
Only time will tell if I will be able to race this Friday to defend my title in the 5000m at New Balance Indoor Nationals. I plan on doing everything possible to safely and healthily get there, but I know that there is more ahead for me if I am unable to do this. The cross country world championships and a super fast outdoor track season are calling my name!
(Hopefully) I’ll see you on the track.
February 28, 2013
2013 Brooks PR Invitational, a Recap
· Friday Morning, February 22nd:
o I hop (I literally hopped – I guess that you can say I was excited!) into the car, visibly shaking with excitement
o SUDDENLY, it begins. The skies have opened up and snow pours out of the heavens
o A 35 minute car ride lasts almost over an hour = Erin is freaking out
o Bolting down the ginormous Detroit Metro Airport, the Rocky theme song plays on repeat in my head and inspires me to keep pushing forward
o I MAKE IT ONTO THE FLIGHT! SUCCESS!
Still Friday Morning, February 22nd:
o Upon arriving in Seattle, it is still morning.
o I rediscover that three hours really is a lot of time and decide that the whole world ought to just switch over to Eastern Standard Time… sorry to all those that it would cause to live in the dark!
o “Yikes, it’s going to be a long day…”
· Friday Afternoon, February 22nd:
o GEAR ROOM! Brooks outfitted the PR athletes with some pretty awesome swag – this may or may not have been one of my favorite parts of the trip
o My fellow Michiganders and I ogle in awe over the awesomeness of our new gear.
o **Tinkly feeling** = Erin is pumped and ready to run!
· Friday 8:00 pm, February 22nd:
o I mope around like someone from The Walking Dead and the evening festivities have barely begun… we seriously need to consider this mass-world switch to EST. It would be quite nice :]
· Saturday, February 23rd:
o Wake up at five o’clock in the morning (*once again, insert EST statement here)
o I don’t know about everyone else, but I do NOT like the day before races. I hate resting and seemingly doing nothing. Runs are too short and the day is best spent off one’s feet. Fortunately, Brooks was quite accommodating…
§ Seattle Duck Boat tour
§ Real-life Angry Birds war
§ The most epic Harlem Shake that the world has ever seen!
· Sunday Morning, February 24th:
o It’s race day! I wake up at a reasonable hour (I feel groggy if I sleep in too late on the morning of a race) and chant my race morning mantra: “Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we are gonna get out of... The tank is clean. The tank is clean!” Good ole Nemo!
o **Try to rest, relax, and envision a successful race**
· Sunday Afternoon, February 24th:
o And we’re off! We bid our hotel goodbye for a little while and embark on a trip to the Dempsey! But get this: we have our own police escort, so we drive straight through red lights!!!
o I put my Michigan cheek tattoo on – it’s time to start thinking about rocking and rolling
o I put my spikes on – it’s time to rock and roll
o Boom! Off goes the gun, the first final event of the Brooks PR Invitational, the girls’ two mile, has begun!
o After 10 ½ trips around the Dempsey oval, I finally clinch the Brooks PR Two Mile title and a golden shoe in a new meet record time of 10:08.24. I guess that third time’s a charm for both me and Galen Rupp!
o **Enjoy an awesome afternoon of thrilling races and multiple cool downs with some amazing girls!**
· Sunday Evening, February 24th:
o **Enjoy dinner and a dance on the highest floor of the Columbia Tower, the west coast’s tallest building**
o Also, I was honored with a second shoe – Top Female Performance of the meet. I am extremely honored and can’t wait to hear about some awesome performances next year!!!
· Monday, February 25th:
o After waking up early for a morning run, my future Michigan teammate, Jamie Morrissey, and I head out with Coach Lisa, a meet chaperone and Traverse City, Michigan, resident, to explore Pike’s Place. We picked up cups of Starbucks Coffee from the original store (surprisingly, the logo is tan, not green!). Also, we saw flying fish! (You’ll have to go to Pike’s Place someday to understand!)
· Tuesday Morning, February 26th:
o As I try to drag myself out of bed for school, I think: “Maybe we should all just switch to Pacific Standard Time?”
Thanks for reading!
February 21, 2013
OK, so for all of you who aren’t suffering through winter right now, I am jealous. Midwesterners and people of the north, I am sure that you understand my exasperation; I am just about fed up with winter. I am tired of pulling on layers of long-sleeved shirt and tights, mittens and hats, windbreakers, and the like. I am just so ready to run outside in only my shorts and a t-shirt! I am actually so done with the cold that I have run inside eleven of the past fourteen days, including eleven and thirteen mile long runs!!!! Imagine your own disgust with running on the treadmill; now imagine something worse than that, and you have me and winter.
However, I must give credit where credit is due; I do believe that Michigan winters have made me a stronger runner. I also do like to cross country ski when the sun is shining and the snow is glistening. But otherwise, I am DONE! Goodbye winter, Punxsutawney Phil better be right!
The running world has been full of surprises this week; some good, others not as good. First of all, I would like to congratulate Mary Cain on another superb mile; although I have never raced as fast as she has, I know the awesome feeling of seeing hard work and training show in a new PR. On another note, Eric Sowinski astounded the world in the Millrose 600m by defeating American record-holder Dwayne Solomon en route to a new American record! Let’s go underdogs!!!
On a more somber note, almost the entire nation, both followers and non-followers of track, have heard about the tragedy involving Oscar Pistorious. I was dealt a shock as more and more pieces of this news story were released because I had previously held this man in the highest regard. Now, however, I fear for the mark he has left as a role model on aspiring athletes. Please take this as a reminder to never use illegal substances; it is not worth it to cheat, and it is especially not worth it to hurt those that you love.
Now, onto what you have all been waiting for… more exciting than Millrose … more exciting than the next episode of The Bachelor or The Walking Dead… is my racing! Just kidding, my races might not be as great as Millrose (but they’re definitely cooler than the Bachelor!). This past weekend, I competed at the Grand Valley State University indoor track in the adidas Gazelle Sports Elite Mile. Hannah and Haley Meier were both in the race, so we each came out of the event with season bests. I actually ran a time that tied my outdoor PR, so I am excited. I feel really ready for the Brooks PR Invitational 2 mile next week. Bring on some fast times!
Have a wonderful week of training and racing! See you on the track!
Februrary 13, 2013
Although my schedule for this week included no races, I believe that it was one of the most exciting periods in my history as a runner. Class of 2013 student-athletes from all across America sat down and signed their National Letter of Intent. By signing, an athlete is agreeing to compete for a university for at least one year in exchange for a scholarship. Other schools can no longer recruit the athlete and must respect the athlete’s decision. Also, after a period of a few more days, NCAA recruiting communication bans between coaches and athletes are lifted; in other words, a coach can finally call and text an athlete without any restrictions. Thus “signing day” is very exciting. I signed with the University of Michigan, so I have Gone Blue!
While signing my life away, I thought: “I can't believe that it's already signing day; I feel like I have been waiting for this day for FOUR years. It's better than I even dreamed.”
My tips for other aspiring cross country and track signees:
· Nutrition is vital – don’t forget to replenish your body post-workout and post-race. PRs are lowered by rebuilding the body with nutrients after hard efforts.
· Strength work is similarly important – just because you ran does not mean that you can skip out on abs! A healthy mix of strengthening the legs, arms, and core will provide a great way to get more speed. Also, although working out is important, don’t overdo it, either.
· SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! To train your best, you have to be awake. To recover your best, you have to sleep. Allowing such a painless training method to slip away is a travesty. (I understand how difficult it can be to get to bed with a full class load on top of running, but making time for sleep is necessary. You’ll perform better in school AND on the track!)
· Stay dedicated – continuity in training is the key to long-term success.
Other big news from this week:
· SEVEN girls from the state of Michigan are going to the Brooks PR Invitational (three of whom have signed with the University of Michigan)
· Grosse Pointe South ran the US#3 All-Time DMR
· Michigan is just a cool state.
And one more thing:
If we are anything alike, you wear your running watch everywhere: in workouts, during runs, to bed, in the shower, to school. It was actually even a struggle to take my watch off for prom last year. That is why when my watch died earlier this week, I was in a serious debacle. For a few tedious days, I suffered without the companionship of my running buddy, my watch. Fortunately, I exchanged the watch today. Now all is well in my life again!
February 4, 2013
Sorry for the delayed post – I was fangirling over Beyonce last night. Did anyone notice the football players that she brought in for entertainment? (Credit to Mallory Wilberding)
Although most people would agree that the Superbowl was last weekend’s biggest sporting event, it only ranked as the third most exciting in my book after the Michigan basketball game and, more importantly, the 2013 USA Cross Country Championships. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, at Forest Park, the approximately two kilometer loop brought more thrill than a football game ever would to a handful of crazy people. Those racers and spectators lucky enough to experience one of St. Louis’ coldest days in two years (Friday) also held front row seats and backstage passes to some incredible races. There is something very special about cross country in that it can unite racers of all distances and force them to endure the elements, which once again brings me back to the fact that the people collected at Forest Park were CRAZY! I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend a whole day outside in nearly freezing temperatures, thick mud, and roaring winds?!? Right?!?
Going into my race, the Junior Women’s Championship, I was a little nervous. I had been sick with a fever earlier that week (perhaps from earlier travel) and was unsure of how that would affect my performance. Fortunately, Emily Stites of William and Mary simply said hello and wished me good luck. This little gesture of kindness turned my mood around completely. I pulled on my spikes and followed my rule (once the spikes are on, there is NOTHING that can stop you; we play a sport that involves a large amount of working against one’s own mind, so self-encouragement in VITAL). It was go time.
After my first ever 6k race, I crossed the line in 20:48 and in second place. I threw my hands up in the air, more than thankful for the race that I had been blessed with and incredibly excited for the trip to Poland for the World Cross Country Championships that I had earned! It was an incredible weekend with incredible people; I am honored that I was able to take part in it.
A few more things to note:
• In a 6k, there are still 1000 meters left after you think that you’re done (at least if you’re still in high school)!
• Mud up your back and caked on your spikes is a sign of a well fought race.
• Shalane Flanagan and all of the other women runners are BEASTS!!!!!!! I can’t wait to race in the open event!!!
One last thing:
What is it about runners and Panera Bread? In the two trips that I took there, I saw at least 50 different racers!!