Erica Rasmussen makes the Big Apple into her pie

By Dawne Belloise 

Erica Rasmussen’s running journey started about a year ago and though at times it was a difficult path to endure, it led her to the finish line at one of the most challenging, prestigious and largest marathon races in the world, the New York City Marathon on November 5 this year.

Through her involvement with Oola, a company described as helping people transform their lives for the better by combining a powerful customized e-learning platform, accountability app and community, Erica says, “I’ve been able to prioritize my goals and hold myself accountable for achieving them.” From the time she quit the cross-country team in middle school, Erica thought she’d never run again, “And last year in taking ownership of my health, I set out on a quest to complete running races in all 50 states.” 

All throughout last year she started incrementally running from mailbox to mailbox while visiting family in Minnesota, eventually working up to two miles. When she returned to Crested Butte, she realized she could do more miles and set out to complete her first marathon in April this year, the Boise River half marathon in Idaho. “In training for my first half marathon, I initially said no to NYC because I didn’t think I’d be ready for it. I didn’t think I could ever run that far in my life,” she had concluded. But she got a spot in the NYC Marathon through a charity from Aspen, raising money for the Chris Klug Foundation which supports organ donation awareness. “Essentially, the NYC Marathon is a huge fundraiser,” Erica tells. 

It was a whirlwind event for Erica, leaving Crested Butte on Thursday, November 2 and returning the day after the race. One advantage she had was having trained at her home elevation of 8,885 feet. “They told me the elevation for the marathon was going to be a challenge,” she grins, “It’s a known thing for the runners. You have five boroughs in NYC and five bridges. The first mile of the race is uphill from Staten Island over to Brooklyn across the Verrazano Narrows bridge. But I did the Gunnison Sage Burner in October and that has triple the vertical increase as the NYC Marathon. The reality is, running a marathon is no easy feat but heading into it with altitude training gave me an advantage.” 

Time-wise, Erica did really well. “The first half was my personal best. I hit 13.1 miles, which is half a marathon, and I was at 2 hours and 30 minutes. I came out really strong. My first 5k was super fast and honestly, I felt like the first 10 miles flew by. The energy of Brooklyn was unreal, you had people singing and dancing and they had the most hilarious signs in the world.” She recalls a few of her favorites as she cruised by them: “Slow down I’m trying to count everyone,” “Run like a monster is chasing you,” “If you think this is hard, try dating in NYC,” and, “Due to inflation the race is now longer.” One that really resonated with her was, “Toenails are for losers,” and she notes that by the end of the race, “I could feel every toenail I was about to lose.” Erica recalls that in some places, the street was so crowded with spectator overflow that you could barely run through. “There were just so many people cheering everyone on.” 

The second half of the race was far more challenging for Erica. “I had leg pains that I had never felt in my life, and I got a little nervous about not being able to finish between mile 15 and 16,” but she was determined and powered through that pain. “The energy of the crowd helped and when I hit mile 26, I knew I would finish that last half mile. I was really grateful to cross that finish line healthy and immediately started crying happy tears.”

Erica had the honor of marching in the opening ceremony representing the U.S. “We had 148 countries. The U.S. had 100 delegates out of the 51,933 racers.” She had submitted a required essay on how freedom related to one’s running journey. “I explained that I’m on a mission to finish a running race in all 50 states and I wanted to tackle the world’s largest marathon as my New York race. Plus, I’m down about 100 pounds from my highest weight after having kids. Taking ownership of my health has given me the freedom to tackle my goals in a way I never imagined.” Erica made many connections during her walk in the opening ceremony. “I met runners from all over the world. I made friends from so many different countries and got invited to run everywhere from Capetown, South Africa, to Stockholm, Sweden, and I’d be running with those new friends in those races. My goal is already changing to try to complete running a race on all seven continents in my lifetime,” and at 36 years of age, she feels she has time. “I’m still going to work on completing races in all 50 states by age 50 but the NYC Marathon opened up doors for me to be inspired to run all over the globe.” 

Erica’s two children, Mary Sue, age 5, and Tommy, age 6, also run and will join her in a race on New Year’s Eve in Panama City, Florida. “Last year my son and I came in last place and had the best time ever. It’s not about finishing within a certain time, it’s about being out there and having fun with my kids.” This year, Mary Sue will join them in the Florida race. “Some people take a really serious competitive approach to running races, but I just like to keep it fun. That mindset is so critical. How I ran the NYC Marathon and how my mind and body were working together helped me ensure that I had a good time. I didn’t want to look back on this journey and wish I was being kinder to myself. I’m already doing something I never imagined possible.”

On December 4, Erica will run a half marathon in Nashville. She’s working out her 2024 race schedule now. “I have my sights set on either the Boston or Chicago marathon next year.” Boston, she says, is her favorite city, “but it’s really hard to get a spot in that race.” She’s also eyeing the Berlin Marathon for next year. 

“I don’t run every day but will continue to run three to four days a week on top of strength training and skiing. It takes about 18 weeks to properly train for a marathon,” she says. “For me, this running journey is part of my lifestyle now. What was really special is this Gunnison Valley community, because it felt like wherever I went, people were cheering me on like I was going for the Olympics. Since I’ve been back, the encouragement has been overwhelmingly positive and uplifting and no matter where I’m running, this community is 100% behind me.” 

Follow Erica’s journey on Instagram

@runforyourgoals and her web blog EricaRuns.com

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