Once More, for Erica Moore, by Jon Gugala

Moore_Erica-Worldi12 copy.jpg
Erica Moore, World Indoors, 2012, Istanbul, photo by PhotoRun.net

Once More for Erica Moore

The 2012 World 800-meters bronze medalist returns to USA Indoors after injury and bad luck.


Phoebe Wright, Erica Moore, NB Indoor, 2013, photo by PhotoRun.net 

by Jon Gugala

Erica Moore's got a great story, right? An athlete breaks onto the scene two years ago, wins a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, and then just disappears.

"Yeah," Moore, 25, says, laughing, that pretty much sums it up.

"I've been elaborating on this whole story to make it sound more interesting because it's really pretty tragic and depressing. I thought maybe I could spin it and be like, 'I ran off and joined the circus,'" she says.

(The flying trapeze, if you're curious. Naturally.)

But Moore only wishes her time away was because she married a criminal. The actual story is that shortly after her bronze medal run in 2012, a nagging Achilles injury popped up. Then there was the overtraining. In 2013, it was a case of mono and more Achilles.

"I pretty much got splat on the ground," she says. "I got dropped from super high up, and just . . . splat, like a bug on a windshield. It was from one extreme to another."

Timing made it easy to forget about Moore in 2012; after World Indoors everyone got caught up in Olympic fever. And you might think it's as easy write her off in 2014. 

But only if you haven't watched Moore race.

Go back and watch the 2012 World Indoors 800m finals. See her shoot out from the gun, leading a pack of startled women through a hot pace, something that would have been daunting for them even if this were outdoors and Moore was the rabbit. Watch her, in the final 200, begin to tie up, diving across the finish for her bronze and scraping herself all to hell.

That is the Erica Moore you don't forget.

"I was super fit, and I knew it. I had a dozen workouts in the bank to prove it. I had a couple races in the bank to prove it," she says. "You just build that confidence, knowing what you can tolerate, and at some point you pretty much feel indestructible. 

"I just remember thinking before finals, 'I'm medaling.' There's no other option. I'm going to run like hell to win a medal. And that's pretty much how I executed it."

It's in sharp contrast to where she's at now. When she moved to Seattle to join the Brooks Beasts in late 2013, she hadn't run in five months, and she hasn't raced a full 800 meters since the first round of USA Outdoors last year.

"They took a big chance on me," Moore says. "They took me on and committed to having me as a part of the team when I was really not sure if I was going to come out of that injury."

It's the resources that the Brooks Beasts offer her, in addition to the coaching, that make the difference. It's the massage and support system for supplements. And it's the big group of teammates.

There is a video somewhere, Moore says, of the Brooks DangerSmoke karaoke team performing Outkast's "Hey Ya!" in a bar. "We have a good time. It definitely suits my lifestyle, my personality, being in Seattle. Everyone's as concerned about having a good time as they are about being fit. It's a good balance, and I need that."

In Albuquerque, where the USA Indoor 800m rounds start on Saturday, Moore is quick to point out why her expectations aren't as high as when she won in 2012. There's the fact that she's training at 75 percent, or that she's only got a block of eight weeks under her, or that the only race she's done this indoor season was a 600-yard, in which she got caught in traffic and lost to a collegian.


The Brooks Beasts, photo from Brooks Running

But Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey says that despite all of these reasons, he still expects Moore to advance to Sunday's finals, and that she's poised to "surprise people."

"I feel a little uncomfortable about that," Moore says in response. But even if she's detached herself from the pressure of a national championship, she admits, "I'm more excited as the days go on. There's no point in being out there if I'm trying to half-ass it."

Whether the result of the 2014 USATF Indoor Championships means a trip to the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, that will be decided on Sunday. But for Moore, she's already looking ahead: "You can only hide behind the injury and the past two years for so long. I'm still young enough where I can do it right the second time around." 

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