Comebacking Finn's 'workout': 10:18.23 3200!
The last time Erin Finn was engaged in competition, she was enduring what felt to her like an out-of-body experience, racing Foot Locker Midwest in late November in an influenza-induced fog, and stumbling across the line a non-qualifying 12th to miss a third straight trip to the Finals in San Diego.
Thursday, the West Bloomfield (Mich.) senior had a bit of an out-of-body experience again, of a much different variety. She appeared to be floating around the oval at University of Michigan’s Indoor Track Building – 16 times – during the 3,200 meters of the Michigan Indoor Track Series’ (MITS) second stop in Ann Arbor. When she finished, observers had to wonder if any prep girl had ever run an easier looking sub-10:20 for the distance – a US#1 10:18.23 to be exact.
Splitting 5:12 and 5:06, Finn prevailed by 42 seconds over Grosse Pointe South’s Kelsie Schwartz (11:04.23). Not surprisingly, it was the clear highlight of a spirited night of early-season competition in Michigan.
“I was mostly just doing a workout and thus wasn't really putting in a ‘race’ effort,” she admitted Friday. “It was so much fun just to get my feet moving again. It felt awesome!”
The last time Finn looked that good? It might have been last March, the last time she was racing indoors. That would be the first night of the 2012 New Balance Nationals Indoor, when she crushed the USR for 5,000 meters with a memorable 16:19.69. Coming on the heels of her 2011 Foot Locker Finals runner-up finish a few months earlier, Finn was on top of the prep girls distance running . That Friday night, it was hard to imagine anyone in the country could have beaten her.
But since then, the road has been rough for the University of Michigan commit. She was fourth in the USATF Junior 5,000 last June, ending her outdoor season on a sour note. Her first big race last fall was a sound defeat at the hands of in-state rival Julia Bos. Then there was the debacle in Kenosha. In each instance, Finn was coming off good training and had very near to those races had been in great condition – but always something had happened, whether it was illness or ineffective race-day (or race-week) preparation.
Thursday, though, the “good Erin” had returned. And if the effort and time are fair indication, Finn might be faster than ever before. It was announced this week she had been invited back to the Brooks PR Invite, next month in Seattle, and it’s abundantly easy to imagine at this point that she could run 10:10 or faster for two miles on the friendly oversized oval at U-W.
After taking just a short break after FL Midwest, and recovering from the flu, Finn jumped back into it. “My training went pretty well soon after that and has been going well since then.” She has big plans for the winter. “My immediate goals are to place well at the NACAC Cross Country Championships, at the USATF XC Junior Nationals, and at the Brooks PR Invite. A berth on the World XC team would be incredible.”
And Finn does plan to try and defend her NBNI 5,000 title and lower that superb record.
The senior has done a good job of putting what happened in November behind her. “Not qualifying for the Foot Locker Championships was definitely difficult,” she said. “It was even harder when the event began. I believe that I should have been there, but things happen for a reason. I trust that God has a plan, and maybe He showed a little bit of it last night at the meet! Also, I spent the weekend with my future teammates at University of Michigan, and that was a blast!”