Think it’s crazy to run a marathon on all seven continents? There are a LOT of runners out there way crazier than I am. Today, meet Eileen M. Fannon, a true race rockstar! We met in China during our Great Wall Marathon trip in 2010. I recently asked her some questions about her own running life. Check out her insightful responses below! (I’ve also inserted a few of my own reflections in italics.)
Photo: Eileen and me at the Solar Eclipse Marathon post-race dinner in 2012 (Port Douglas, Australia)
Q: What's the weirdest running experience you've ever had?
Eileen: I think it was towards the end of my second half marathon (Atlanta Thanksgiving Day many years ago). As I was getting close to the finish line, all these cops on motorcycles started zooming past me. So I picked up the pace. Turns out they were the police escort for the lead marathoner who had started 30 minutes after I did and covered twice the distance.
Also, the moose on the course in Alaska was pretty weird to me, but I am not from there...
Are you laughing? I am!
Q: How many marathons and half marathons have you run?
Eileen: I have completed 21 marathons and 177 half marathons.
Are you impressed? I am! Eileen’s tally includes all 50 U.S. states, all 7 continents, the Abbott World Marathon Majors, and the 125th Boston Marathon.
Photo: A *small* sample of Eileen's race medals
Q: Which race are you proudest of?
Eileen: What a great question! I would say the Petra half marathon for a couple of reasons. That area of the world has always fascinated me and to see it during a race was even better. The course was very challenging, but I didn't know that until I got there, thank goodness! Also, I knew my parents had concerns. We discussed it as three adults and worked it out so their concerns were honored and they understood how important it was to me.
Eileen, way to embrace not just the race but also who you were becoming as a person in all areas of life!
Q: What are the top 5 races you'd recommend to beginning runners?
Eileen: Honestly, it depends on the runner. In the beginning, it is not generally just about the running. What about the event speaks to you? Theme, costume opportunity, location... Also, many people find themselves at their first (or any) race because of the "suggestion" of a friend. I affectionately refer to these people as race enablers.
Eileen has been one of those “race enablers” for me over the years. 😉 And I totally agree here, if you’re looking around for your first or any race, choose one that calls to YOU, not one that you feel like you “should” do!
Q: Why do you run?
Eileen: It keeps me out of trouble? Sort of kidding. Running is moving meditation for me. It has literally given me the world and is the epicenter of my social/support network.
Mic drop. Beautiful!
Q: What's the most surprising thing you've learned from running?
Eileen: Running has trained me to just make the effort and see the possibilities.
Love this! So applicable to life as a whole. Taking that first step opens your world in ways you’ve never imagined.
Q: What keeps you motivated during a grueling race?
Eileen: There was some reason I signed up for it. Whatever the reason may have been at the time, I usually think about that a lot during the hard parts.
So true. The why behind the what, or what I call the goal behind the goal… staying connected with that initial inspiration helps us keep going.
Photo: Eileen staying motivated on the grueling Great Wall of China
Q: What gets you out the door for a training run when you'd rather stay home?
Eileen: At this point, having the running base to support the group I am training with.
Ah yes, that element of service and supporting others often snaps us out of a funk and interrupts unhelpful stories playing out in our heads. Motivating someone else can really revitalize your own energy!
Q: What have I not asked you that you wish I had?
Eileen: It isn't really a question to answer, but I strongly encourage people to find and/or build their running community. Running can be a solo endeavor, but it is much better with friends!
You model this beautifully, Eileen! Thank you so much for your reflections and insights!!
Photo: Eileen and me at the finish line of the Solar Eclipse Marathon in 2012 (Port Douglas, Australia)
My friends, I hope you enjoyed these fun nuggets of wisdom from Eileen. Who’s ready to run?!
You can follow Eileen and her "traveling companion" on Instagram @nickofnack :)