Age is just a number. Meet Erika Pierce. Our badass Masters athlete! In 1996, Erika competed at the Olympic Trials in the 400 meter hurdles. After taking 17 years off from competing she started up again as a masters runner about 5 years ago. Over these last 5 years, she has earned 11 gold medals at USATF Masters National Championships in events ranging from the Shot Put and Javelin to the Pentathlon and the 400m Hurdles. Those performances have earned her the 2014 and 2016 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year award in her age group! She currently holds 3 American Records: W40 Indoor Heptathlon, the W45 Indoor Heptathlon and the W45 Outdoor Heptathlon. While crushing records, Erika is a proud wife, a mom to two tenacious and talented daughters, and a public school teacher of 21 years! Yep, we're inspired over here...
JB: WHAT'S IN YOUR BACKPACK, PURSE, POCKET, FANNY PACK RIGHT NOW?
EP: I’m a HUGE bag person (like I always carry big bags) – so I have a lot in my current pocketbook – much more than I need. Some notable weirdness includes a pair of chop sticks, a few random legos, and 6 different types of lip gloss/balm. No joke, I just counted.
JB: WHAT DO YOU DREAM OF?
EP: Ok, is it corny for me to fall back on the idea of world peace and social justice? Seriously – there is so much hate and ugliness in this world that I dream of people simply caring more about one another. I live in Charlottesville, Virginia and I saw the type of turmoil and uncertainty a hate-filled group of Neo-Nazis can do to a community, school-age children, and to my own feelings about the safety of my friends and family. I dream of a future when people spend more time actually helping others than talking about it on social media.
JB: WHAT TIME DID YOU GET UP THIS MORNING?
EP: My morning alone time is sacred. I get up at about 5:15am to drink coffee, sit with my dog and reflect on the upcoming day before my family wakes up. I think the more interesting part of my sleeping/waking schedule is that I am in bed most nights before 9:00 pm!
JB: WHO DO YOU ADMIRE?
EP: The people I admire aren’t famous or the best at what they do. It has nothing to do with a person’s accomplishments but everything with their spirit, grit, and truth. I admire women who are unique – that don’t worry about fitting in or saying the right thing at the right time, but are real about whatever they are facing. I also admire people who don’t take themselves too seriously. And after attending 3 Oiselle Birdcamps, I have formed friendships with many kindred spirits who fit all of these traits.
JB: WHAT IS YOUR SECRET SUPERPOWER?
EP: I grew up idolizing Madonna as a teenager in the 80s. So, I think that part of what I try to do regularly is reinvent myself like she has done over the years of her career. I go through phases – sometimes I am all about track, setting goals, training hard, and running in meets. However, there is an artistic side to me that has reappeared as of late. Last year, I auditioned for a Community Theater Production of “Chicago” and put all of my time and energy into rehearsing and performing. This winter, my daughters and I are in the Charlottesville Ballet Production of The Nutcracker, which we have already started rehearsing for and I am falling in love all over again with my inner tutu. So, I guess my superpower is personal reinvention.
JB: WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING RIGHT NOW?
EP: I am re-learning Spanish. I want to become completely fluent rather than only good at communicating with others in Spanish after a few beers. (Why does that happen?!)
JB: WHAT'S THE LAST PLACE YOU TRAVELED TO? WHY?
EP: The last trip I took out of the state of Virginia was for the Masters Exhibition 400 meter Race at the USATF Championships in Sacramento, California back in June. I was the biggest dork walking up to legit Olympians and being like “Hey. I’m running in the old person race. Can I get a picture with you?”
JB: WHO'S YOUR PIC (PARTNER IN CRUSHING IT)?
EP: My husband James. We met as first year teachers in 1996, got engaged after knowing each other for a few months, and have been married and best friends for 19 years. I could not do what I do without his support and encouragement. He is my biggest cheerleader and never says no when I ask him to take a picture of me jeté-ing on the beach, which I do each year to document vacations, my own aging, and current flexibility.
JB: WHAT'S THE NEXT THING ON YOUR CALENDAR?
EP: Well, it might not be NEXT on my calendar, but the next big thing is hopefully a trip to Europe next fall for my husband and my 20th anniversary and also to compete at the World Masters Outdoor Championships in Malaga, Spain. We plan to bring our children, and hit up a few European cities while we are there. I plan to compete in the Heptathlon and come home with a medal! But the next actual thing on my calendar is recess duty.
Big thanks to Erika for crushing it. Give her a follow here!