ALL ABOUT SHERI PIERS
American Elite Marathoner
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
Adult Nurse Practitioner
How did you start running?
I started running when I was little and joined the USATF Track Rec Program. I have not stopped, ever since! Even throughout high-school and college sports, I ran 3 miles every day. After having kids, my running has increased tremendously.
What is your favorite sport, other than running?
I played basketball for four years, at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. I love basketball!
How were your marathon experiences, in the beginning?
The Maine Marathon was my first 26.2 experience. I finished in 3:42, wearing my Saint Joseph’s College basketball shorts. I honestly did not know if I was going to run another marathon after my first.
My second marathon time was 3:20, and I qualified for Boston. After that, I told my running partner Kristen that I wanted to run a sub-3 hour marathon. She believed in me, so I hopped on board training and ran 2:57 in my next marathon.
Kristen, tried qualifying for Olympic Trials several times, and in her next attempt she invited me to join the journey. Together, in the Philadelphia Marathon we qualified for Olympic Trials. Now, I’ve ran Boston 13 times and 30 marathons.
What is your most memorable marathon?
The Boston Marathon in 2012, I came in tenth place as the first American finisher. I did very well running in the heat, it was over 90 degrees outside. I was running alone for most of the race, not in a pack, it really felt like everyone was cheering just for me!
In the Boston Marathon, the elite women take off a half hour before the men. It is harder to run Boston when you start in the elite race because there are only about 40 women. I always know how well I am running, by where the men catch me.
One year, I remember getting to mile 23 before the men caught up. It is very cool to watch the men. The year MEB won, I felt chills as he passed me on the course. It was so exciting, I could not believe there was an American winning!
What are the most difficult parts of the Boston Marathon?
Boston is always either freezing cold or smoking hot. The Newton hills are bad, and it’s because it is all downhill in the beginning. We are all going out at flying paces, last year I asked myself, “Why is Shalane Flanagan next to me, right now?!” Boston always starts out so fast.
The course is mean, you shred your quads the first 5-6 miles, hit the hills and then the CITGO sign. OMG, I always feel like it is never getting closer.
Except, there have been a few years I have looked to my left feeling pretty good about seeing that CITGO sign, so early in the race. Every year I think, “I am never going to reach that CITGO sign.”
What is your marathon PR?
My personal record is 2:36:59. A friend asked me what my goal time for Twin Cities was and I said, “If I run 2:36:59, I’ll be happy.” When I crossed the finish-line my stop-watch said 2:37:10 and I was livid. Then, I found out that my chip-time was exactly 2:36:59!
Have you ever ran the New York City Marathon?
Yes, once for the Master Championships and that was good enough for me. New York City is so difficult because of the footing and pot-holes. The race is very cool and I finished top ten in 2:42.
What was your most bizarre running scenario?
When my kids were little as they took naps, I ran laps around the house. In the drive-way, I marked how many laps it took for one mile!
What is your favorite marathon to race?
Twin Cities! The weather is always perfect in the low 40’s and everyone is so friendly.
How do you fuel?
I love candy so much. I love skittles, starbursts, bottle-caps, and gummy bears. The morning of a race I eat three dry pancakes. During the race I eat a gel every five miles. I enjoy the vanilla flavored Power-Gel.
In my last marathon, I thought that an orange-creamsicle gel at mile 20 would be a nice treat… it did not taste very good. Vanilla is my flavor. At every water station in my marathons, I have my own personal water bottle with a gel taped on it.
I take my gum out, eat my gel, drink water, and put the gum back in my mouth all without losing my stride. It takes years of experience to find the right way to fuel your body for a marathon.
Who are your greatest supporters?
Running can be a very tough sport, on the elite level people can be mean. Some people think I am crazy for running so much! My Dad has always been my #1 supporter throughout my athletic career. In college, he never missed one of my basketball practices.
I am always striving for perfection, and sometimes if I do not reach a goal I put myself down. My kids always ask me, “Are you happy mommy?” and I’ll say, “Yeah, sure.” And then they go, “No, you’re not…” in the cutest tone of voice.
I try to have a more positive attitude. My kids, just do not want me to stop running! I have such an incredibly supportive family.
How did your first long run feel?
I remember when I was studying at Saint Joseph’s College, and ran 13 miles for the first time. My roommate locked me outside the dorm, because she was with her boyfriend.
I was so angry that I ran all the way home! My mom asked, “How did you get here?” I explained and she drove me back to campus. The first time I ran 20 miles, I remember having to stop and call my dad to come pick me up!
What is your favorite running apparel?
I am a total Nike snob. Volt is my favorite color, I race in Lunar-Racers and train with Lunar-Glides. In big races I wear sports bras and racing briefs.
How do you strength-train?
I am all about sit-ups and push-ups.
Are you looking forward to your up-coming races?
Yes! I will be running the Naples half-marathon in Florida. In February, I am flying to LA to compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials!
Photography, courtesy of Sheri Piers.
That Pretty Runner