MEMBER: Erica Long
Name: Erica Long
Hometown: Darien, CT
High School: Darien High School
College: Oberlin College
By: Kevin Brandon (03/08/19)
Erica, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
Thanks, Kevin! I graduated from vet school at Tufts last May, and moved to the Philly area in June to start working at a small animal practice. While I was living in Massachusetts, I ran with GBTC and loved it, so was looking to find a similar running group around Philly. I came across PRTC when I was looking up running groups in the area, and started coming to practice pretty soon after I moved.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
My mom ran track in high school right around when Title IX was passed, when there still wasn’t an organized girls’ track team. She went on to run in college as well, and ultimately to coach high school track. I’ve always really admired that, and have wanted to run track pretty much as long as I can remember. I didn’t seriously start running until my freshman year of high school though, when I joined the cross country and track teams.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
The first races I ran were the 4x100 and the 400 at my town’s annual 5th grade track meet. I remember that no one really wanted to do the 400, but I thought that it would be no big deal to race just one lap of the track. I hadn’t been training at all, and I sprinted about the first 150 of the 400 and then completely died. My town didn’t have a middle school cross country/track program, so after that beginning I didn’t really run again until my freshman year of high school.
In high school, I ran all 12 seasons of cross country and track. Even though I ran cross country, I tried pretty much every running event in track (there was one meet I think I ran the 4x100, the 3200, and the 4x400). My freshman year of high school, I mostly ran the 400 (which went a lot better than at the 5th grade track meet). My sophomore year of high school, I moved up to the 800, and ended up focusing on that for the rest of high school. I went to Oberlin for undergrad, where I also ran cross country and track (minus one semester abroad in Denmark). I ended up moving up to the 1500 while I was at Oberlin.
Since graduating college, I’ve mostly been running 5ks and 5 milers on the road with a few cross country and track races thrown in. I’m planning on doing Broad Street this year, which will be the longest race I’ve run so far. Depending on how that goes, maybe I’ll start thinking about moving up to halfs and marathons soon!
What is a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
I started focusing on the 800 my sophomore year of high school, but then had a pretty frustrating year where I would run just about the same time at every meet, and couldn’t seem to improve. That also put me right at the edge of making the 4x800, so that I would sometimes be the alternate at the bigger meets instead of getting to race. Then, after being stuck at the same time for so long, I improved a lot in the 800 during my senior year of high school. At the outdoor state meet, I qualified individually in the 800 for the first time, and was also on the 4x800 and 4x400. I ended up scratching in the 800 to focus on the 4x800 and 4x400, and got to anchor the 4x800 at my last state meet. It was a really special way to end my high school career.
How about a not-so-great moment?
Ironically, it was from the only other time I’ve run in Philly before moving to the area- when I ran the 4x800 at Penn Relays during high school. We woke up very early to drive from CT to Philly the day of the race, got there with just enough time to warm up, and then ended up having to stand on the track for a long time waiting for our heat (and it was a very hot and sunny day). While we were waiting, we also realized we didn’t have all of our numbers on, which we luckily had enough time to fix before the race. Needless to say, I did not run the best 800 of my life, was sick after the race, and then pretty much had to drive right back to CT again. I’m feeling a lot better about Franklin Field these days.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
The last 14 months of vet school when I was on clinical rotations was a pretty sad time for my running, and I struggled even just to go on a few runs a week. Now that I’ve finally been able to build up my mileage again and be consistent over the last 9 months, I’m excited about starting to run more races. At the moment I’m having fun running 5ks, and I’d love to run some track races too. I’m also probably one of the only people on PRTC who hasn’t run a marathon yet, and ultimately I do want to start running marathons. I’m not quite ready to give up my middle distance ways yet, though.
Preferred pre and post-race meals?
I still like to have pasta and marinara sauce the night before a race…I’m not sure I have any particular favorite post-race meals though. I think I could eat almost anything after a race.
Can you share with us what you're currently up to professionally?
I work with 4 other vets at a small animal general practice. We see mostly dogs and cats, and very occasionally small furry things like rabbits and guinea pigs. For better or worse, every day is definitely an adventure in veterinary medicine! I never know what my day is going to be like.
What inspired you to pursue this field?
I’ve always loved animals, but I actually didn’t decide I wanted to go to vet school until after my sophomore year of college when I shadowed a vet for the summer. I love horses, and when I first started vet school, I wanted to go into equine medicine. I ended up deciding to go into small animal medicine instead, but I still love horses. Maybe someday I’ll fulfill my childhood dream of owning a horse, we’ll see!
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
I do make a pretty good banana bread. I also love skiing. That’s really about it.