My Running Story

What a difference a year makes.  A little over 14 months ago (February ’13), I was training for the Gate River Run US 15K Championships in Jacksonville, FL.  I had a new training partner and was running faster and doing workouts that I didn’t think could be done for another year or so.  I knew I was capable of breaking the 16 minute barrier in the 5k and 33 minutes in the 10k that track season.  Unfortunately, my season ended before it even began due to an achilles injury, and I never got the chance to prove myself in that 15K.006_UCR_RUN_0916

Running was everything to me.  Everything.  I had found a new love and passion, and my life suddenly had more purpose.  Of course there were other amazing aspects in my life, such as my amazing husband.  But I admit to sometimes sacrificing parts of my relationship to do what I needed to do on the track.  For instance, my husband desperately wanted to start a family, but my 2016 Olympic Trials goal would put that on hold…

Until that darned achilles…

As soon as the doctors told me I’d have to shut it down for a few months, I knew it was the perfect time to have a baby.  I might as well be productive right?

Fast-forward 14 months, and I have the most incredibly loveable and beautiful 4 month old girl, Daisy, who means more to me than any record or championship ever will.  I thought I’d be back to racing again at this point, but my body is completely broken after a difficult pregnancy with a pelvic disorder, and it wont even let me walk more than a couple hundred meters without pain.  As time goes by, I become more and more eager and hungry to compete again, but at the same time, I’m learning to be OK with the idea that things may take more time, patience, and hard work to get to where I want to be.IMG_0329

Everybody’s got a story, but my running story is different than most.  Mine’s only really just begun, and I believe that the problems I’m facing now are just bumps in the road and will only make my comeback that much better.

So this is how I got here:

Most professional runners have over 10, 15, or even 20 years of experience.  Look at Meb.  He’s just shy of 39 years old, and he’s setting PRs and winning Boston Marathons.

Crazy.

I’ll be 30 years old this year, and I started running just 4.5 years ago.  Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,

I ran from 7-10 grade, because it seemed like the norm.  My dad and four of his brothers were all high school standouts and competed at the University of Maryland, so it was only natural for me to follow in my dad’s footsteps.  I was told very early on that I had talent, and I even broke an 11 year old 3200m school record my sophomore year in high school.  Unfortunately, my dreams of competing in college were shattered when I developed a Thyroid disorder that caused me to gain weight, become really slow, and lose interest in running altogether.

I moved around a bit after failing my first semester of college miserably, pursuing different things…singing, golf, acting, you name it, and made my way out to CA.My Running Story

It wasn’t until the fall of 2009 when I started running again.  I had just turned 25 and was attending San Diego Mesa College.  It was my Sophomore year, and I had to start looking to transfer to a 4-year university.  I really wanted to go to UCLA but knew I wouldn’t be able to afford it, so I looked into different scholarship opportunities.  I found out that my school had a track and cross country team and thought I may be able to get an athletic scholarship if I started running again.

After only 2 weeks of training, I ran my first 5k cross country race in 22 minutes.  Not exactly impressive, but my coaches believed I had talent.  A couple weeks later, I almost ran my PR from high school XC running 19:55.  My coaches were really excited about me and had me excited as well.  The following track season, my first 5k was another PR in 18:54.  Unfortunately that season didn’t go very well, because I was severely anemic.

My dream of competing for UCLA didn’t come true because of NCAA eligibility rules.  Over five years since my first semester of college = no competing in Division 1 athletics.  My choices were DII or the NAIA.  A friend had told me about Cal State San Marcos and their championship XC team coached by Steve Scott.  I looked them up and realized that Coach Scott was legit, so I gave him a call.  We hit it off right away.6205058119_25e40378fb_b

I was only able to compete for 2 years at Cal State due to the NAIA’s 10 semester eligibility rule, but that was enough time for me to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with running.

I held 4 school records in the 1500, 3000, 5000, and unofficially the 10000 (since it was after the last official race of the season).  I led my XC team to its 3rd National Championship XC title and was a 3-time All-American.  In my last collegiate race, I was the runner-up to my friend, Lauren Jimison, at the NAIA National Championships 5k, in an intense dual in 95 degree heat.IMG_3935-1024x682

After my final race, I took some time off to get married to the love of my life, Tad, and came back a month later to join the elite development club, Nike Team RunLA.

Coming back after taking so much time off for my wedding and honeymoon was difficult, but things finally started to click.  My first season as a professional athlete went really well.  I won the USATF SoCal Association XC meet and placed 3rd at the USATF West Regional Championships up in San Francisco.  I later competed at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships in Kentucky, placing 16th, and was just 2 places shy and only 3 seconds away from making my first national team and wearing the USA jersey.47a2cc28b3127cce9857609c23b200000045108AcsmzNi3Ytg

My next race at the National XC Championships in February ’13 was a complete disaster, but I was able to regroup and train harder than ever.  That’s when I met my friend and new training partner, Brooks Beast, Natasha Labead Anzures.  I probably only trained with her for about a month, but we hit it off right away, and she was better than I was, so it gave me the opportunity to push harder than I ever had.  I may have pushed a little too hard and made some mistakes with my training, which is what killed my achilles.

Getting pregnant wasn’t a difficult decision for me.  I have always been really excited about starting a family, and it brought me even more joy to fulfill my husband’s wish to be a daddy  I knew that I could have a baby and still come back with 2 full years to compete and get ready for the Trials in 2016.

Things don’t always go according to plan, and in my case, they couldn’t be any further.  I had an extremely difficult time with pelvic pain that started very early on in my pregnancy.  I started noticing it at about 12 weeks, but I thought it was something I could run through.  You can read all about it here.  I had to stop running at 26 weeks, but I continued to cross train up until my last month of pregnancy, when it became extremely difficult to walk without pain.  My last few weeks of pregnancy were spent mostly on the couch, because it hurt just to move.

So here I am.  My running career has been put on hold, but I have faith that I will be able to compete again one day and will do everything in my power to do so.  God has truly blessed me by giving me an amazing little girl, and there’s a reason why He’s sending me on this long road to recovery.   I’m here to share this journey with anyone who wants to listen and who may be going through a similar experience._DSC0747

I plan to share this very personal challenge of getting back in shape, getting my body back after pregnancy, and being a running momma.  My goal is to post weekly workouts, weight and body changes with photos, exercises and stretches I learn from physical therapy, and how I manage (or try to manage) it all while being a new mom.

Thank you so much for reading and following my blog, and please feel free to share your thoughts and any similar experiences you may have had!

 

Run Happy!

Suzanne

 

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