Editor’s note: Michigan Runner Girl is excited to introduce our newest columnist, Erica Walsh, a runner and certified personal trainer and health coach who lives in St. Joseph, Mich. You’ll be hearing from Erica on a regular basis, starting with this first post in which she shares a little about herself and her running journey. Look for a North Country Trail race recap from her next!

By Erica Walsh
MRG Columnist

My name is Erica Walsh and I am a Michigan Runner Girl. I currently live in St. Joseph, Mich., in the Southwest corner of the state, but also spent four years in Houghton and one summer in the Detroit suburbs.

I’ve been an enthusiastic runner since my very early years. My earliest running memory is from participating in a running race at my Dad’s company picnic when I was in elementary school. It was a short race, probably no more than 100 meters, in a grassy field at ValleyFair Amusement Park in Minnesota. I wanted to win since the prize for first place was a brand new Trapper Keeper. I was disappointed I did not come in first place, but second. I quickly got over my disappointment since the prize for second place was a Hershey’s chocolate bar metal pencil case which I cherished throughout the rest of my elementary school days.   

I was part of the distance track team in high school and regularly ran the 400m, 800m, 1600m, and various relays. My high school had two milestones clubs to shoot for as part of the distance running team. The sub 6-minute mile club for women would earn you a highly coveted white Hanes t-shirt with iron-on letters with my high school name and sub 6-minute mile club. The second was the 10-mile run club in which you had to run 10 continuous miles to earn the 10-mile run club drawstring bag. I am very proud to say I earned both.  

Erica running Hurt the Dirt

My high school track team introduced me to the friendships and support your fellow runners bring you. At the end of the track season, many from the team would run a 10K event and that is where I was introduced to community running events and have enjoyed the events ever since.

After high school, I went to Michigan Tech and didn’t run much there until my senior year, when my then-boyfriend, now-husband, decided to run a half marathon and I thought that was a good idea and joined him in training. We ran the Fox Cities Half Marathon in Wisconsin, and followed up the next year with running the full marathon event. We then moved to Utah and continued to run and participated in the Ogden Marathon a few years later.  

I then had a break from running and had two kids. I would run on and off, pushing the running stroller, but did not enter any races. In 2015, once living in St. Joseph, I decided to return to the running world by running the 13.wine half marathon in Baroda. I trained by myself since we had just moved back to Michigan and didn’t know anyone yet. I set a goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon and was able to hit my goal. That event opened the floodgates to running events again. I met some training partners and have enjoyed every mile of training and racing.

Erica with her daughter at the Kalamazoo Color Run in 2019

Most recently, I’ve enjoyed trail races, when one of my training partners suggested participating in the 2019 Ragnar Michigan Trail Run. After that event, I was so inspired with trail running I registered for several trail running events in the fall of 2019 and for the spring and summer of 2020.

Erica Walsh

Of course, all of the 2020 races were canceled. One of those races was the North Country Trail Run 50k, and the race director was kind enough to allow all the participants to defer to 2021 or 2022 at no cost. I’ve been training for the 50K on Aug. 29.  In my next post, I’ll be sharing my training and report of the event.  

I consider the trails at Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville to be my home trails and have run many miles through the trails there. Also, close to St. Joseph are the mountain biking trails at Andrews University in Berrien Springs. I have numerous routes through the streets of the St. Joseph area when taking the extra time to get out to the trails just isn’t possible.  

Lake Michigan, Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville

In addition to being a runner, I am also an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. I’ve done one-on-one training with many different types of clients, instructed group exercise classes, and have done group and individual health coaching sessions. I’ll be bringing training tips and motivation to Michigan Runner Girl to help us all run our best.

Have a question or thought for Erica? An idea for an upcoming post? Please share with us! Drop MRG a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com.

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