Interview: Camille Herron

Camille Herron is a professional marathoner existing in the ‘prolific’ range of such runners. By the time 2012 comes to an end she will have ran five competitive marathons – winning 3 of them, gaining a World Record at one and finishing 26th at the US Olympic Trials Marathon with a PR of 2:37:14!

Camille started to train to become a marathoner whilst at Grad School in November 2006, what is all the more impressive is that before this her collegiate running career was curtailed by stress fractures – prior to college she was the holder of High School State Championships, 6 All-State records and consequently both an academic and an athletic scholarship to the University of Tulsa.

Camille’s impressive and prolific marathon career has been helped along with coaching from her husband, former professional road runner Conor Holt and also with the support of her team at MarathonGuide.com and with the assistance of sponsors Powerbar, Inov-8, 2XU, Hyperwear, Oakley, Wrightsocks, Nalgene, and Bel-Art.

When did you start running and did you have any particular reasons for starting?

I started running in Junior High because our basketball team had to go out for track for off-season conditioning. I found out from the first day I could go and go and go! I thought my teammates were being a bunch of wimps when they’d stop running after only a short distance, but I realized there was something inherently unique about me. I read about slow twitch fibres in Kids Sports Illustrated, and that’s when I realized I was meant to be a long distance runner. I quit basketball going into high school and stuck with the running because I was naturally good at it.

If you could run with and/or race anyone, anywhere who would it be and where? Over what distance and on which surface?

I met Deena [Kastor] last year, and it was like meeting a soul sister! I totally hit it off with her. I had actually gone to Alamosa, Colorado back in ’08 and trained on the roads and trails where she got her start, so I already felt ‘magically’ connected to her. I think we’d be best friends and make good training partners if we lived closer to each other!

Running wise, who do you look up to and who has inspired you?

Definitely my husband/coach, Conor Holt, who was a professional runner 10+ years ago. He is the reason why I am where I am today. I’m only one of two women distance runners ever from Oklahoma who has gone on to compete at National and International level. I wouldn’t have known what’s possible if it wasn’t for him. Now I hope to inspire and possibly guide other Oklahoma runners to keep running beyond college and really try to reach their full potential.

I’ve also been inspired by my sponsor, Marathonguide.com, and fellow teammates, who have shown me there’s a whole other world to running besides being the typical 1-3 marathon/year elite runner. I’ve learned to define myself and found my niche as a prolific marathoner. I love running marathons, and racing in general– traveling all over and meeting wonderful people. To me, it’s more about the experience– I’m high on life and embrace it all! It’s fun to win/place well and be rewarded for your hard work. I’m extremely grateful to my sponsors for believing in me through the ups and downs.

What are your favourite training conditions and are they the same as your favourite racing conditions?

Living in Oklahoma, our weather can be pretty chaotic with strong winds (like the Oklahoma song, “When the wind comes sweeping down the plains”). Having trained at high altitude, I would compare the strong wind to the resistance you get at high altitude. It makes it easier when I go race elsewhere and the conditions feel quite calm. I tend to race better and more consistently in the cold, but I’ve run well in the rain and over both hilly and flat courses. It’s hit or miss for me on racing in the heat.

What is your fondest memory of running and, conversely, your worst?

I’ve had a couple of fondest. 1) Qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials at the Memphis Marathon in ’07 2) Toeing the line at the ’08 Olympic Trials and the sense of ‘calm’ amongst the women 3) Hitting the A standard on the first try at ’09 Twin Cities, after spending several months away from my husband to train for that moment 4) Winning my first marathon at ’10 Dallas White Rock, only 4 months after having surgery on both hips 5) Hearing the spectators cheer in Spanish at the 2011 Pan American Games 6) Unintentionally leading the first mile of the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials – gave me chills!

As far as worst, that would be when I fractured a bone in my foot at the State Cross Country Meet my Junior year of High School. I was #1 individually and my team was a strong #1 in the State (and undefeated), and we shockingly got beaten by another team. It was my first injury, and highly depressing! However, because I couldn’t run for several months, I practiced my French horn and made the All-State band! Definitely made up for the foot.

Where do you see yourself in six years?
My short term and long term goals are 2:35 and 2:27 in the marathon; want to make a few more US Teams; and, I will progress into ultra running and break American and World Records from 50K and up. I also want to set the World Record for ‘Most wins under 2:50’, which is 24 by a German – there’s a few women inching close to this. I aspire to be a female Doug Kurtis, who has the most marathon times and wins under 2:20 (female equivalent is 2:45).

I also had a blast setting the Guinness World Record for wearing a Superhero costume (dressed as Spiderwoman), so I’d like to go for more costume World Records.

I’m also assisting my husband, Conor, with the Oklahoma City University Cross Country & Track Teams. We’re in our second year here and are determined to build a powerhouse that wins the NAIA National Championship. It will happen!

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