We're excited to continue our "Faces of Fleet Feet" series featuring the wonderful staff that make our in-store atmosphere so special. These features serve to bridge the gap and make those faces you see in the store every day that much more familiar. If you haven't read the previous ones, be sure to check them out!
Today, we're excited to highlight Vancouver outfitter and No Boundaries Coach, Erin Flinn.
How did you get started in run specialty (or at Fleet Feet)?
I was an original customer in high school at a local store in Clark County, WA and loved the personalized experience that I always got. When I was going through some life changes, I came back to running and initially came to some group runs that the Portland Metro area stores had. After a few months, an employee said I should try and pick up a job with them. Here I am two years later and loving it!
What do you do outside of Fleet Feet?
Actually I am a full time high school social studies teacher in addition to working at Fleet Feet. When I am not trying to inspire the next generation to change the world, I share a lot of map collecting with my husband. We also have two very adorable corgis named Tyrion (yes, like the Game of Thrones character) and Mercator (named after a map maker). My husband and I are also expecting our first child this later summer so we are busily running around - literally and figuratively - preparing for that.
What stands out to you about working at Fleet Feet?
I LOVE the feeling of family and coming "home" every day at the store. My team members are wonderful, supporting and energetic people who share a love of helping other. When we host group runs, whether its Winter Warriors, No Boundaries, or a social run, our community is awesome and truly cares for one another. I have always valued that about the running community and am so glad that Fleet Feet can be a place where all of that comes together. Running truly changes everything.
What's your go-to shoe and why?
Oh man! There are so many good ones out there right now! I think my favorite is the On Cloudflow since I have two of them and I wear them interchangeably for runs, work at Fleet Feet and my full time teaching job. I love the cushion that they offer, while being lightweight. Since I get to be on my feet all day while also being a human incubator (pregnancy joke), I love that I can be in them for hours on end. It will probably be my return to training shoe in about a year. The style is also a big bonus!
Do you have any exciting race stories or big running accomplishments?
There are two ways I could go with this. One is sentimental and the other is a big runner bragging rights. The Sentimental One: In March 2017, my boyfriend at the time wanted to run the Shamrock 5k run in Portland with me. I had been coaching No Boundaries for a while so I was used to doing intervals and he was not so much a runner back then. I remember distinctly getting really irritated because he was texting on his phone and whining a lot about how fast we were going on the course. At the time I couldn't understand why he was so obsessive over the time and kept checking his phone. Finally just before the 3 mile marker, he grabbed my hand and we started sprinting. In my head, I thought, "Oh thank goodness, he finally just wants to finish the race!" The next thing I knew he was pulling my hand back and I thought, "shoot, he tripped! He's down on one knee, it must be really bad." Then I looked up and realized all of his family, our friends and neighbors were standing along the course and he was in the middle of proposing! He asked me, very breathless, "will you finish the race of life with me and marry me." I was crying and said, "YES!" We finished the race, hand in hand, being chased by other runners who had snagged pictures of the proposal just in case one of our family & friends hadn't gotten it. Our goal is to go back every year to run the 5k and stop in the same spot to reflect on that year. We can't wait to do it with our kid in the future. The Running Bragging Rights Story: In October 2016, I ran my first marathon and remember deciding a few weeks prior that my goal was to run under 4 hours. Members of my running community encouraged me to set the bar higher and looked into the qualifications for Boston based on my age for me. It turns out the qualifying time was 3 hours 35 minutes. I thought that would be my stretch goal. The day could not have unfolded any better. Perfect temperature, great course support, and I just found my stride at the right moments. My now husband, friends, family and coach were all over the course and made sure to have water bottles when I needed them, gels if needed and great signs. I remember, my coach and long time friend, being right there at mile 22 in the middle of the Industrial area near Fleet Feet Portland. She told me that this is where the 2nd half of the marathon really started and I was on target for my ultimate goal of 3:30:00 if I really wanted it. So I pushed... and pushed... and ultimately crossed the line in 3 hours 32 minutes and 22 seconds. I had qualified for Boston on my first attempt. It inspired me to try two more times in following 12 months and I learned so much each time. Ultimately, I didn't make Boston's 2nd cut that they do but I plan to try again in a few years - with Fleet Feet's help of course!