Profiles in Running: Eileen Holston

Eileen is a fellow writer and ad pro who’s been a big inspiration and motivator to me. Born in Queens  [Editor’s note: Eileen was actually born in Elmont, which is on the Queens/Nassau County border.], Eileen’s accent only comes out when she’s making fun of quoting her mutha, followed by a hearty laugh heard ‘round the building. On a wall in her office is a framed poster and medal from the New York City Marathon. And not too many people can say they’ve finished one of those.

Eileen finishing her first NYC Marathon

How long have you been running?
I’m 44 years old, and I’ve counted myself a runner for more than half my life.

How much do you run each week?
I’ve become a weekend running warrior, which has set me up for some minor injuries. This year, I’m going to try to run smarter and get into a more consistent routine that includes a day or two of cross training.

Which is a more effective method for outrunning zombies – a quick sprint to get ahead of the pack and allow for a short rest period? Or a slower-paced jog to put distance gradually between you and the hoard?
Running is what helps me face my demons and any ugly thing life throws at me. So, if I encounter I zombie while I’m out on the streets, I’ll keep my cool and remember this: zombies are called the walking dead for a reason. Once the lactic acid builds up in their rotting limbs, they’re done. I can’t be overrun by them.

Best tip for a new runner?
I’ll borrow a tip I recently heard from Ashley Johnson, co-owner of BlueMile running store. At a training seminar geared to first timers planning to run the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon, he advised everybody to stay “happy go lucky” to avoid injuries and burnout. Along these lines, I think it’s important to take your time getting to your goals, and be sure to enjoy the ride with training partners who like to have fun.

You’ve run like a billion marathons. Let’s hear them. Time and place.
I’ve only run three, in my two favorite cities:

  • New York City Marathon, 2003 — The year P. Diddy (or Pee Diddy) did it, with the unseemly assistance of manservant Farnsworth Bentley.
  • New York City Marathon, 2009 — The 40th anniversary of the race, won by Meb Keflezighi, a nasal-strip-wearing veteran marathoner who made history last week at the U.S. Olympic trials.
  • San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon, 2010 — The largest women’s race in the world, where women of all ages tackle steep hills to raise money for loved ones who have battled cancer and see male spectators in full-body pink spandex.

I know you love to talk almost as much as I do. (My office is right beside Eileen’s.) How do you have the energy to run your mouth and move your feet at the same time?
I train my mouth constantly, at intense levels, so it’s always ready to perform. Just ask any of my friends from the Not Quite Ready for Prime-Time Running group.

Describe your perfect run.
Feeling no pain on a cool morning with overcast skies and a slight breeze, followed by a coffee/fancy tea break with my running buds. Hearing NPR’s Car Talk on the radio while driving home would cap the perfect run.

What race is most memorable to you? Why?
The marathon I ran in New York in 2003, for four reasons:

  • It was my first marathon, and I made it there — in New York, the best city in the world*.
  • It made me feel connected to my father, an Irish New Yorker who passed away when I was a teenager. He would have thought I was nuts for running the streets of New York, particularly in the Bronx, but I believe he would also think it’s an accomplishment worth raising a pint (or two) to.
  • I was able to share the experience with two of my best friends, Holly Rudolph and Tammy Brown, along with relatives living in New York and New Jersey.
  • I had a brief, crazy encounter with a tough-talking but well-meaning stranger, who pushed his way into the closed course to get in my face when I hit the wall and began walking at mile 22. His words, delivered with a wry smile and a thick accent: “You’re in the best marahthon in the world*, just foah (bleep) miles from the finish, and you’re going to wawk now?!!” Thanks to the expletive-fueled fire he lit under my arse, I ran the rest of the way and had a strong finish.

*If you know anyone from New York, you’re familiar with how they think their city is the center of the universe. Some call it obnoxious; I think it’s part of their charm.

Any upcoming races you’re looking forward to?
If I can stay healthy, I’m looking forward to plodding through the Big Sur Marathon in May 2012. Mostly, though, I’m excited to see my friend Glenn reach a new level of badarseness when he completes his first marathon.

Profiles in Running is a biweekly effort (published every other Wednesday) to showcase other runners on this blog, regardless of his/her skill level or experience. Know someone who should be featured? Drop me a line.

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8 responses to “Profiles in Running: Eileen Holston

  1. Great questions. Great answers. You’re both inspiring, especially to someone like me who struggles to get up early enough on Saturday morning to hear “Car Talk” on my way to a Weight Watchers meeting! Ha! Keep up the GOOD WORK!!!!

  2. Mary Beth, I think what you’re doing is terrific. It takes a lot of commitment and chutzpah to participate in a Weight Watchers group. Good luck and good work to you, too!!!

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