NOVA Featured Runner: Erin Masterson

By | May 4, 2015
Photo Credit: Swim Bike Run Photography

Photo Credit: Swim Bike Run Photography


This month’s NOVA Running Club Featured Runner is none other than NOVA RC President Erin Masterson.  The well deserved feature goes to Erin for her gutty performance in Boston where she faced and overcame adversity in the form of a pre-race illness and tough in-race weather conditions.

Coach Jerry:Erin continues to amaze me with her improvement. When I’m working with a runner as experienced as Erin, PRs are normally hard to come by, and when they do come, they tend to be fairly minor. Erin has made several major leaps in the last few months, and none was more impressive than her performance at Boston. A six minute PR in the marathon is impressive to start with, but factoring in the rough conditions at Boston makes her performance downright incredible. Erin has clearly got more in the tank, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more PRs from her in the future!

1) What are your PRs?

800M: 2:15.2
1500M: 4:40.3
Mile: 5:03
5K: 18:28.7 (track), 19:22 (road)
8K: 33:10
5 Mile: 32:48
10K: 40:01
10 Mile: 1:05:57
Half Marathon: 1:30:02
Marathon: 3:08:34

2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?

The Boston Marathon was my big goal race for the year. Now I’m looking ahead to a slew of late summer/fall races, including the Annapolis 10 Mile, the Army Ten Mile, and the Philly Rock n Roll Half. I’ll also do a couple 5Ks and 10Ks (including the NOVA 5K on August 25!)You’ll note that no fall marathon is listed — I’m finally taking Coach Jerry’s advice and looking to see if I can PR in the shorter distances now that I’ve got a good marathon PR under my belt.

3) What do you consider your best race performance to date?

I’m truly happy with my 3:08 PR in Boston this year. That represents a big accomplishment for me – not only in the race performance itself, but for the months of training that led up to it, through a really challenging winter. I ran 55-60 mile weeks through most of the season, which is a lifetime high for me, and only with the support of my boyfriend Greg, the camaraderie of my fellow NOVA Boston runners, and the guidance from Coach Jerry did it all happen. I set out to do a big PR in Boston, and I’m pleased it all came together. I’ve also had a lot of races in the past that I’m proud of – including a 65 minute Army 10 Miler last fall, my 1:30 half at DC RnR this year, and some of my college track PRs. Those track days are long past, but the experience says with me.

4) How did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?

Funny story. I first met Coach Jerry as a 16 year old junior in high school in Annapolis. Jerry was recruiting me to run track at American University, where he coached at the time, and I’m sorry to say I broke his heart when I turned down his offer to run under his tutelage, instead choosing to run at William and Mary.

Flash forward years later to 2009 – I’m a somewhat out of shape mid-20s recreational runner with a 3:56 marathon PR. I was looking for a club to motivate me again, and stumbled upon NOVA in a Google search. I signed up for the group, but it took me over a year to actually show up and work out. Jerry noticed I had joined the roster, and gently encouraged me throughout that first year to actually come to practice. One day, on April 19, 2011, I actually did (and we did 6x800s).

Justin invited me to join the NOVA Board as Social Media Director in 2013, then I took over as President in 2014.

What do I like best about the team? So many things, but most importantly I value the totally supportive and accepting community that NOVA offers. The friends I have made here respect and appreciate me completely – with no caveats and no reservations. I feel the same way about them. It is so rare to find a group of people like that, where you can be totally yourself without worrying about what others think. I think the fact that we’re all out there every day – finding our strengths, confronting our own weaknesses, challenging ourselves, and pushing each other to and past our limits, means that we don’t have time for anything else (and need all the positive reinforcement we can get!)

Also, I happened to meet my boyfriend Greg at NOVA, so that’s been pretty great advertising for the side benefits of a running club!

5) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry?

So many things! I’m including a compendium below – but this is in no way a complete list!

– “If you have to ask yourself, ‘Should I finish this workout?’ You probably shouldn’t finish this workout.”

– “Give me a call if you want to talk, but don’t call because you think I want to talk to you. Only call if you actually want to talk to me.”

– “One year before Heps XC, I went to my coach’s office and told him I was nervous. His response is something that I’ll never forget—he said that there was no reason to be nervous because no one on Earth cared about how I did except for me and him. He was absolutely right. It made no difference to anyone other than the two of us how I performed. Think about it–the race is important to you, and it’s important to me. But are your parents or siblings going to think any differently of you if you run 3:05 or 3:35? Are you going to get a raise at work if you run 3:05, or a demotion if you run 3:35? Would any of your friends even know the difference between the two? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding NO. The reason you’re doing this is because you want to. It’s a chance to prove to yourself what you can do, but the sun is going to rise the next day no matter what happens out there, so you might as well relax for the next couple of days, and go out there on Saturday and do what you’ve been training to do. If you run smart early and tough late, the rest of it will take care of itself.”

And, to save the best for last:

– “Erin, I don’t suppose it would do any good for me to try to talk you out of running Boston, but I will say briefly that if I were telling you what to do (which I’m most certainly not) I would tell you to stay home this weekend, and run Pittsburgh on May 3, because that illness is going to limit you at Boston. My point is that you’ve done all this work, and you’re in a position to run a big PR, and through no fault of your own, being realistic, that’s not going to happen in a week. One thing I’m sure of is though that you’re going to do the absolute best you can, and whatever that ends up being, I’ll be proud of you.”

6) What thoughts do you have on your performances at the Boston Marathon?

I’ve put a lot of my Boston thoughts into this write up here:

In brief – it was a tough day made easier by a lot of preparation, a good strategy, and a ton of support from my friends, family, and Coach Jerry. Can’t ask for more than that.

7) What other non-running activities do you enjoy?

There are non-running activities?! Just kidding. In addition to running, I like talking about running, looking at race results, writing running articles for RunWashington, spending time with fellow runners, and being President of NOVA Running Club.

In my remaining free time, I like lifting/strength training, occasionally biking, and swimming. Yoga if I force myself, which is rarely. Hiking if I don’t have to get muddy. I love cooking and trying out new recipes while taking Instagram pics. I like carb loading with Greg (pizza, doughnuts, fries, pancakes – I’m not picky), drinking craft beer with Mike Naff and Mark Drosky, going to Nats baseball games, reading the Washington Post, and generally spending time and doing fun things with awesome people (i.e. everyone in NOVA).