Cross Country |
Aug. 11, 2010
By Jeff Gentil
Life as a Bearcat hasn't always been easy for Eric Finan. The redshirt junior, who currently holds the UC school record in the 5K, got off to such a rocky start as a freshman he wasn't sure he ever wanted to run again. After an extremely successful high school career at New Richmond High, Finan was set to join the UC Cross Country team in the fall of 2007 when a series of unfortunate events derailed his career before it ever started.
The first event came during summer training when Finan got the first of what turned out to be several stress fractures. This one was in his tibia and set him back a few weeks. Unfortunately, the fracture wasn't completely healed and when cross country camp began, Finan was limited to running only a few miles a day. If this was the worst thing to happen, all would have been forgotten. Unfortunately, things got even worse.
On the second day back from camp, Finan was on his way to a friend's house to go swimming and at the same time he turned up the driveway, a car was backing out and he smashed into the back windshield, shattering it, the bicycle he was on, and nearly the rest of his body. Freshman year was over; perhaps his running career as well.
Undeterred, Finan was ready to give it another try come January. Yet again, his body wasn't cooperating as he got another stress fracture while training and nearly gave up for good.
"He (Finan) just couldn't picture college," cross country coach Bill Schnier said. "He felt like such an outsider because he couldn't participate. He was having no fun and even asked 'Do I continue?'"
"It was very frustrating," Finan said. "But I had a lot of encouragement from family and friends and Coach Schnier was so good as well. He's dealt with a lot of injuries and he stayed patient with me. I'm so lucky to have a coach who is such a fantastic individual. He gets the best of his athletes; even the ones who are injured."
Continue he did and after making some changes to his training regimen, Finan began to see some progress and in the meantime started to regain his confidence. Embracing a method called "logical and intelligent training," gone were the stress fractures and the nagging fear of frustrating setbacks.
"I focused on getting healthy," Finan said. "Coming back, I was cautiously optimistic. (Intelligent training) is something that requires a lot of patience. It is slow to build up your times because you start off only running once every four days. Then over time you can run every three days and so on until you build strength. It took me about a year to get back into shape."
When he did finally get back into the shape he wanted, it didn't take him long to establish the school record in the 5K race, which he set his freshman year and has broken twice since. It now stands at 14:01.16 and Finan is hoping to break that as well as accomplish some other goals this year starting September 11th when the men's and women's teams open their seasons.
"I would like to qualify for the national meet in Terre Haute," he said. "I also want to race better at the BIG EAST meet and get into the top 10 (24th in 2009)."
Any down time for the Student-Athlete of the Spring 2010 Quarter with a 3.9 GPA in the Mechanical Engineering/MBA ACCEND (ACCelerated ENgineering Degree) Program? Not much: "I get up at a quarter till five every morning and run. Then I go to my co-op job. After that it's back to running more at night. Then I go to bed and start it all over the next day."
As he gets further removed from the troublesome freshman year, Finan gains more confidence and is expecting even better things to come his way.
"Everything is clicking; it's a blessing to have all the guns firing," he said. "I'm in shape and ready to thump guys (other teams' runners) into the ground."