Prior to Saturday's U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon in Los Angeles we caught up with Erin Vergara (nee Nehus), 34, of Indianapolis to learn more about her running, how she felt when she learned she had qualified for the Trials, and her life beyond running; including some fun facts on who she would most like to have lunch with, her role model, her favorite athlete, and something a bit unique about herself. This will be her fourth Olympic Trials (previous 2012 marathon and track & field; 2008 track & field). She owns a lifetime marathon best of 2:37:02 from the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in Houston. Her career bests on the track are 15:52 (5000m) and 32:56 (10,000m). So let's get to know Erin a bit better...
I started running prior to 7th grade just for fun. I grew up in Gallipoils, oh, a small town that every year as a part of the 4th of Julyparade held a mile race prior to the parade. The course was the exact mile used for the parade which included the Main Street of the town. I participated in grade school in this event and ended up winning my age group and eventually the entire race as years progressed. I attended Gallia Academy high school where and competed both in XC and track each year, making it to the state meet as well during those years. My highest finish was 6th in XC, 2nd in the 2 mile for track. I was awarded an Athletic scholarship to Cedarville University located in Dayton Ohio where I competed in both indoor and outdoor track as well as cross country during the years of 1999 through 2003. Upon graduating I moved out to Santa Monica California and joined Track West, A post-collegiate professional running club. I trained there for a year prior to starting my doctoral degree at the University of Indianapolis. I then joined the Indiana invaders in 2005 through 2007 also a post-collegiate professional running club based in Indianapolis. One of my best running partners at the time, Stephanie Dueringer, who was also a part of the Indiana invaders sought more specialized coaching from Thom Burleson, a former local elite level runner himself competing in the Olympic trials in the 1980s. After her success with achieving a 2008 Olympic trials marathon qualifier, I began training under his expertise. Thom has been my coach since 2007 and has been an amazing mentor, friend, and coach.
I actually qualified for the 2016 trials by running a half marathon and achieving the 1:15:00 standard in the 2014 monumental 1/2 marathon (1:14:48) and then again in 2015 monumental (1:14:56). Those efforts are each 5:43 pace per mile. I have run a total of 3 marathons, including the 2012 Olympic marathon trials in Houston placing 23rd overall , 2:37:02, also a career best. The 2016 trials will be my 4th marathon to compete in. The 2014 qualifier 1/2 marathon race occurred just 11 months after having my daughter, Layla.
I have been training consistently on a professional level since graduating college in 2003; however have also chosen to pursue further education with going to PT school at the University of Indianapolis (2005-2008) as well as starting a family (my daughter was born in December 2013). Throughout I have learned to balance life along with pursuing Olympic goals. Having said that, I had somewhat of a complicated, high risk pregnancy during much of which I did not run. Coming back after pregnancy was very challenging; however having a great training partners, coaching and a supportive family enabled me to continue to pursue another Olympic cycle. The Mini Marathon in May 2014 served as my first "test race" back. I only ran 1:19, far from the 1:15 needed standard; however was early in on training after pregnancy. By the time the Monumental Half Marathon came around in November I had gained fitness again and knew if the race went well I would have a shot at qualifying; after all I had run a 1:14:07 just prior to pregnancy. Well, as it turns out, that race did go perfectly as planned, crossed in the needed time under 1:15 which served as a B qualifier. My plans still were to run another marathon to achieve the A standard, which I later did in Eugene 2015; however ended up with a hamstring injury limiting my ability to achieve my goal that day of under 2:37. I ran 18 miles injured and finished with 2:45:02. Need less to say, While disappointed with that race, I was relieved knowing I had achieved the B standard already. Rather than attempting to run another marathon prior to the trials I focused on healing and building mileage without interrupting a training cycle needed for tapering and recovering from yet another marathon.
Off note: I also found out earlier this same month prior to racing Eugene marathon (April 2015) that my husband Frank has stage 4 colorectal cancer. Despite this news, He has continued to be an amazing support. He has encouraged and supported me to continue to train and race despite the challenging year we have had fighting cancer. Having the opportunity to race at the trials, in hopefully my best shape to date, is as much apart of the healing process for him as it's been for me. We have chosen together as a family to sacrifice and pursue this goal despite so many obstacles in our way this year with his health and needing him to continue to pick up the slack with raising our 2 year old daughter as I have needed so much time away to train. The Lord continues to bless this trial period in our lives.
Gallia Academy High School (1999), Gallipolis. OHio
This will be my fourth Olympic Trials
Track & Field : 2008 & 2012
Marathon: 2012 & 2016
Physical therapist, graduated from University of Indianapolis 2008 with doctorate in PT.
My husband and I love to travel. We will be heading to Hawaii after the trials for a week in fact, which will be the first long trip with taking our 2 year old daughter Layla. We enjoy All the outdoor activities , diving being one of our favorites.
Sushi from Ichiban located in Greenwood, IN. Hands down the best sushi in Indy!
I would love to have the opportunity to have lunch with C.S, Lewis. What an amazing writer he was and very wise I'm sure! I'm certain he would have wisdom to share on having a proper perspective/outlook on life.
My coach Thom Burleson, he has not only help me to achieve my Olympic goals but more importantly has served as a mentor and role model in my life. His perspective on life reflects having a grateful spirit, regardless of circumstances that we all face. I've learned so much through his coaching and guidance over the years.
Desiree Davila. She has trained consistently over time and is amazing at what she does. She is humble always, which I respect most.
ACHIEVING a PR, under 2:35. Ideally placing higher than 2012 (23rd) although the field this year is very competitive!