Of all the people currently in training for the upcoming Oakland Marathon, one of the most inspiring is Erin Findley. A few years ago she weighed 270 lbs. and thought she couldn’t run a mile. But Erin has lost 150 lbs. and walked, then run, half-marathons with the support of Team In Training (TNT). Her teammates and coaches deeply admire her perseverance, and are excited to see her transformation. The upcoming event, on March 25th, will be her first full marathon.
Here’s her story.
The first chapter of Erin’s TNT story started in 2006. She was putting herself together after a divorce and health and fitness was part of getting life back on track. Erin aspired to become a runner and complete a half marathon, but at 270 lbs., simply running one mile seemed beyond impossible.
Everywhere she went, Erin seemed to be surrounded by advertising for Team In Training—to the point that she started to wonder if someone, somewhere wasn’t sending her a message. So she acquiesced, attended an information meeting, and found herself inspired to join the TEAM.
For the next couple of weeks, Erin diligently followed her training schedule and attended team workouts. It was hard work, but she kept at it. And to her surprise, she found herself running an entire mile.
The flood of confidence that came with this accomplishment was unreal. And when coupled with the enthusiastic support from her coaches and teammates, it was like a drug. She could do this!
Unfortunately, she pushed a bit too much and about nine miles into her training developed an IT band injury that ultimately postponed her event until the following year.
“I couldn’t just leave the TEAM and come back. I felt like I had just gotten my body back,” recalls Erin. “So I stayed involved and cheered my teammates on.”
Erin lost about 20 lbs. that first season with TNT. She returned to the TEAM the summer of 2007 and successfully completed the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with the walk team.
“It was a great experience that really opened me up to the fact that there are things I think I can’t do, but really it’s just the opposite,” said Erin.
Erin’s TNT success story doesn’t end there, however. Two years ago, when her weight started to creep up again, she enrolled in a metabolic weight loss program and lost 150 lbs. She looked to returning to Team In Training as a way of celebrating her weight loss achievement. But this time she wanted to run it from beginning to end.
With her doctor’s encouragement and approval she joined the TEAM, trained for the 2011 Nike Women’s Half Marathon this past October and realized her running dream. And then some.
“Exercise is a huge part of my weight loss maintenance and TNT allows me to have more of a normal diet,” she said. “I am so dedicated to my coaches and the program. It’s such a gift to be able to enjoy being in my body.”
One thing that she did not anticipate was the profound effect her success had on her teammates: “There was no room in my head for thinking that I might inspire others. I was the ‘fat girl.'”
“But Coach Al took me aside one day and said something that stuck with me. He said, ‘It takes serious guts to come out here, give it all you have and struggle with what you are struggling with. People aren’t looking at you in a negative way; they are looking at you and thinking you are amazing.'”
Erin, you are an inspiration! Thank you for so openly sharing your story. We will be cheering you on at the Oakland Marathon.
Teams are forming now for the upcoming Team In Training season. The event lineup includes full and half marathons throughout California and in Alaska, triathlons of various distance, scenic cycling events (like around Lake Tahoe) and a variety of adventure hikes. To learn more, call 800-78-TRAIN or visit www.teamintraining.org/sf.