Dr. Erin Bodnar, a beloved music professor at Graceland University and director of the Symphonic Band has recently ran in the Boston marathon coming in at a 3:38. She is nearly three quarters of the way to her goal of 40 by 40, to run 40 marathons by the time she is 40 years old. At 36 years of age, Dr. Bodnar has just over ten marathons left to run for this accomplishment.
Dr. Bodnar ran her first marathon at the age of 26 in Red Deer, Alberta when her roommate signed up to run. She decided if her roommate could do it then so could she. Bodnar missed qualifying for Boston by one minute at this race and so chose to run another marathon where she then succeeded in qualifying for Boston. This friend is what introduced Dr. Bodnar to the life of a marathoner, but that’s not what kept her interest. At her first Boston marathon, she was able to witness the U.S. Women’s Olympic Trials the day before her race. She was so inspired by all these women that when running her marathon the next day she went way too fast, which made the finish hard.
But that’s what she likes about marathons, the challenge. Each race presents its own trials and tribulations with the course, the weather, how she’s feeling that day, etc.; one race she ran in Bankok started at 2AM! Completing marathons are also very rewarding to Dr. Bodnar. It requires a lot of perseverance and to be able to say you’ve completed a three and a half hour run is very exciting. Bodnar also appreciates that there exists a definite goal or outcome, “I signed up for it. I ran it. I completed it,” she said, all within in a certain time frame.
When asked if she felt that being a marathoner was more of a hobby or part of her identity, Dr. Bodnar enthusiastically exclaimed that it was definitely the latter. “It’s becoming more and more of who I am.” She uses her experiences in marathons a lot in her teaching as a band director. It allows her to connect with her students in more ways than one. Bodnar says that running marathons demonstrates “more dimensions” of who she is – she’s not just a musician or a teacher.
Her marathons have taken Erin Bodnar all around the country and even other countries like Bankok (as mentioned earlier) and Thailand (where she lived and taught music for a year). “What’s been really cool is the people I’ve met at different races.” Her eyes lit up as she shared about awesome experiences like meeting an injured man with whom she ended up walking the end of the race, enjoying every step and conversation, or the time she brought in a woman who had been struggling with consistency at 3 ½ hours. Thanks to Facebook, Dr. Bodnar has been able to keep in touch with a lot of these awesome people she met along her marathon path.
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