Prior to Saturday's U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon in Los Angeles we caught up with Esther Atkins (nee Erb), 29, of Blowing Rock, N.C. to learn more about her running, how she felt when she learned she had qualified for the Trials, and her life beyond running; including, who she would most like to have lunch with, her role model, her favorite athlete, and something a bit unique about herself.  Also learn how she went from missing the qualifying time by 1 second to learning she had qualified when the standards were modified in December.
This will be Esther’s second Olympic Trials.  At the 2012 trials she finished 27th running 2:37:21.  Her lifetime best is 2:33:15 run at the 2015 Boston Marathon.
So let's GET TO KNOW Esther a bit better......

How did you start running?
Aside from a tiny bit of running in middle school, I really started after my high school junior year abroad in Germany. I had put on 15+ pounds and wanted to make sure it was gone before I came home, so I told myself I wasn't allowed to shower unless I went for a run. Been running ever since!

Where did you qualify for the Trials?
I first qualified at Twin Cities 2013 with a time of 2:34:31, but I've qualified 5 more times since then.
Tell us about the point you realized you had  qualified for the Trials and how it felt:
I remember the first time I qualified for the 2012 Trials on Valentine's Day, 2010. I remember realizing at half way that I was either in way over my head or I was about to have the best day of my life. At 40 km, I remember looking at my watch and realizing that if I ran under 6-minute pace for essentially 5.5 more laps on a track, I would not only qualify for the trials, but be eligible to pursue my running full-time at ZAP Fitness. I'll never forget the sense of pride I felt at the line when I accomplished my goal of breaking 2:40. 
High School:
Maggie Walker Governor's School, Richmond, VA 2004 
HS Best Times:
800m      2:27.02
1000m:   3:12.95
1600m    5:45.50 
High School Highlights:
Qualifying individually in the 1000m for the State indoor meet my first season of running (my senior year)
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 2008 
College Best Times:
1 mile:      5:01
5000m    16:55
10,000m  35:45
College Highlights:
6x D3 All-American
2008 D3 Champion at 10,000m
New York Athletic Club / Skechers 
Current Coach:
Terrance Shea 
# of Olympic Trials:
2012 - 27th place in 2:37:21 
Professional Runner and Assistant with the Appalachian State University Cross Country and Track & Field teams 
Something unique about you:
I sang the national anthem at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, but this time I'll be staying focused on my race. 
Favorite Workout:
Anything long. Regular long runs or anything with 12-18mi worth of hard work. 
Favorite Place to Train:
Tallahassee in the winter 
Favorite Food:
Really good steak and chocolate (but not together) 
If you could have lunch with one person who would it be?
Allie Brosh, the creator of Hyperbole And a Half  
Your Role Model:
Meb Keflezighi and Janet Bawcom 
Favorite Athlete:
Paula Radcliffe 
Goal at the Trials:
Top 10 would be an awesome day for me.

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