Road to running fitness: Erin’s half marathon story

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Erin Bowerman brought us along with her as she trained for the Gazelle Girl half marathon with Sole Sisters and Fifth Third River Bank Run 25KRecently, Erin just completed another half marathon and blogged about her journey. This woman is unstoppable! Take a look at her journey.

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.

Erin’s story: 

April 17, 2016 I completed my first half marathon with the Gazelle Girl and on May 15, 2016 I completed the 25K with the Riverbank Run. After going through all of the training for these I was not sure what I was going to do next. It took a little while to get back into running because I was tired out and not sure what I wanted to do. A friend of mine that I reconnected with after I was posting about my running journey asked me if I wanted to join him for the International Marathon in Detroit. At first I looked up the pricing and passed it off and said it wasn’t something that I could do. There was a half marathon or the full marathon. I knew I didn’t have the time to commit to training for the full marathon, but the price seemed a little overwhelming to me.

In July I decided I really needed some sort of race to work towards and train for. I found a way to pay for the registration of the half marathon and started back into my training. As part of it I added a 5k for each month. In July I completed the YMCA 5k in Byron Center. In August I did the Hard Cider 5k. September I was working on increasing my miles for the half marathon that was scheduled for October 16, but during the week of September 24, I decided to participate in the Park2Park 5k in Holland. This was the same race that was my first 5k 6 years ago. Compared to my very first 5k I cut 7 minutes off my total time and I was so excited about completing this.

Erin bowerman half marathon blog
My Sole Sister, Amy and I before the Park2Park race

Through all of these shorter races and the preparations for another half marathon my Sole Sisters have helped encourage me along the way. Without them there is no way that I would have finished the first 2 long races, let alone the other races that came along the way.

Over these months I have also discovered so many things about myself. One thing was rediscovering one of my passions as I was younger was taking pictures. I loved taking pictures and I dreamed of being a National Geographic photographer. My dad subscribed to National Geographic and I would spend hours looking at the pictures and think about what it would be like to be in that place taking those pictures. But over the past few years that passion has been hiding and covered by other things, however, my running is helping me rediscover my passion for photography. I don’t think most people would put these two things together but they have come together for me.

Running on a treadmill is something that I just cannot do. I have to be outside to run. While I have been training for another half marathon I have spent a lot of my training hours in Millennium Park. There was one morning I headed out as the dew was still on the ground and trees. I started out running strong. I was enjoying the quiet and empty trail. Then the sun was hitting the dew and highlighted a snail moving across the path. I needed to take a picture. But part of me didn’t want to mess up my time with stopping to take the picture so I kept going for a moment and then suddenly stopped and turned around. I took the camera on my phone and took a picture.

erin bowerman half marathon blog

I do not know how to describe the feelings that this picture gives me looking at it. I am so proud of it and it excites me so much. A little snail brought me so much joy and continues to do so. The next mile I was so inspired and energized to keep going and it ended up being one of my fastest miles ever. My running reconnected me to my passion for photography. Just seeing these two big parts of my life collide like this pushed me forward.

erin bowerman half marathon blog

I took deep breaths in and just soaked in the beauty around me. I started taking the time to take pictures on my runs and I thought for sure that my runs would be taking me longer than they had in the past, however, the opposite happened. As I would stop to take pictures, I would be filled with joy and energy to keep going and I found that I was getting faster and faster. I would get excited about what I would find out on my runs and what pictures I could take and also look back at the increase on my speeds despite the stopping while I was going.

I continued training for the October 16 race and the excitement grew, however, 2 weeks before the race I started experiencing some pain with my iliotibial band (IT Band) during any run over 4 miles. I got scared and worried I wouldn’t be able to complete this race. This type of an injury appears to be one common in runners, so in one sense I was pretty proud to have acquired a “running” injury, and figured I must be a “real” runner now. I tapped into the knowledge of my wonderful Sole Sisters again and asked the group for ideas on what I could do as the race day was quickly approaching. I received some great advice about some stretches, foam rolling and possibly getting new shoes might help me with this. The next long run I went on it didn’t start bothering me until mile 6, so it was a little better, but I was still worried about completing the 13.1 miles.

Driving over to my friend and running partner, Benjamin’s house on the East side of the state for race weekend my nerves really picked up. I did not know how my IT band was going to cooperate. I had tried to do all the things that my Sole Sisters had suggested but I was still worried that I was going to make it all the way, or that my time was going to be really slow. I really wanted to beat the time I had done in April for my first half marathon.

erin bowerman half marathon blog
My friend Benjamin and I before the International Marathon and half marathon

 

The weather was beautiful for race day. The start was at 7am and the streets of Detroit were dark but filled with thousands of people. I started out strong and I was ready to conquer this race. As we approached the Ambassador Bridge into Canada the sun was rising and I couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture. It was beautiful and added that spring to my step again.

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