Runner keeps finding new finish lines

Nanaimo’s Erin Burrett, coming off a second-place finish at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal last month, is now considering upping her distances and entering her first marathon. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo’s Erin Burrett, coming off a second-place finish at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal last month, is now considering upping her distances and entering her first marathon.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Marathon running would mean even more kilometres, more training, more for Erin Burrett to demand from herself. More, from someone who already goes for a run every day, or oftener.

“I always think the people of Cedar think I’m nuts, because they see me out there twice a day and I’m everywhere,” Burrett said.

There’s a method to her mileage. The 32-year-old is no jogger. She runs races; she sets paces. These days, she’s thinking about where her next finish line lies.

A week and a half ago, Burrett came second at the 21-kilometre Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Montreal. She raced a personal best of one hour, 15 minutes, one second, a two-minute improvement on her previous personal best.

“The race just fell into place…” she said. “The legs, everything just felt fantastic the whole way through.”

The ending was bittersweet, as frontrunner Krista DuChene pushed herself so hard, running on a stress fracture, that she broke her own leg in the finish-line sprint, was passed by winner Rachel Hannah and Burrett, and still managed to hobble home in third place.

“Not the way I wanted to get second, but I’ll take it,” Burrett said.

She was thrilled with her time and there was a sense of fulfillment to do so well at a goal race.

Burrett had spent most of last month training in Flagstaff, Ariz. Running at 7,000 feet above sea level is hard, and it’s meant to be. Burrett ran, she ate, she slept.

“I can go for three weeks, run high mileage and recover properly without work,” she said. “So you can run 180K that week but if feels so much easier than running 180K while working.”

Whether at high altitude, or by the sea in Cedar, or at Nanaimo’s Rotary Bowl, the kilometres add up, every day, twice a day.

Burrett’s never raced a marathon before, but she could run one tomorrow, easily, and that’s gotten her thinking. The marathon distance would mean new races, new opportunities, new challenges.

“The marathon’s a whole other world,” Burrett said.

It’s daunting in some ways and it would mean tweaking her training, but her mileage is there.

“My coach [Matt Clout] seems to think as the distances get longer, that’s where my strengths are, rather than hammering out a 5K; I don’t have that fast twitch in my legs,” Burrett said. “Whereas I can go out and hold paces for longer.”

Running every day, there are times when she’s sore, or tired, or doesn’t feel like it, but she runs anyway.

“That’s the point of training. I train the high mileage to train the body to be tired and to work out these paces when I’m tired so that in a race situation when you are tired, your body doesn’t give up.”

It can’t – not in the big races, not against women so competitive they would break their own leg to try to win.

Burrett has to be every bit as determined, and she is, and it’s why she runs and runs and runs. And if her neighbours think she’s nuts, well, maybe she knows better.

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