334 days: Guest Post #1 – Suzanne K.

Note from Jeff: today I step away from the keyboard. I’ve asked a friend of mine to share her story – one that I find exceptionally motivating and inspiring. I would like to introduce you to my friend Suzanne.

Suzanne – she is an Ironman

I am honored that Jeff has asked me to be a guest on his blog this week.  I am a huge supporter of this 365 day effort and I can’t wait to see Jeff obliterate his first Ironman next year.  I also can’t wait to see all of us obliterate his $10k goal!  Jeff set the bar high, but I have no doubt we will see his $10k and raise it even higher this next year.

Jeff has asked me to share my journey to becoming the event junkie that I now am.  It started out in 2008.  I was just turning 36 and had a desire to lose some weight, 25# worth, which for me at 5’2” was fairly significant.  I had tried restricting my calorie intake and that wasn’t working for me.  I love to eat.

Previously, I had never done any kind of real physical fitness training.  I had barely run more than across a parking lot in the rain.  A year before I had completed 8 years of concurrently working full-time, going to school, for first my Bachelors and then Masters, while taking care of a house and raising my teenage daughter. I was exhausted. And for a year, I basically went to work and came home to sit on my couch in front of the TV or to read a string of novels for pleasure (rather than for academics). At the end of the year, I weighed in at slightly more than my full-term pregnancy weight.  I was horrified. Worse than that, I was completely mind-numbingly bored with my life.

My friend Dave suggested I do this super-sprint triathlon (.25 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 2.6 mile run) he had done a couple times, so I started “training.”  When I started this journey I figured it would take six months, a year tops, to lose the weight. That was my only real goal, well, and to get my rear off the couch.  I couldn’t swim with my face in the water and could only do about 2 lengths without stopping.  I could only run a quarter mile without stopping and I didn’t even own a bike.  I bought a good entry level Trek road bike and some good running shoes.

I started out with that first super sprint. Then to keep motivated, I signed up for another at the end of summer and trained for it, hard.  I improved, a bit.  Unlike Jeff, I haven’t finished in the top 10 ever.  Last summer I did place in the top 3 of my age group; that was shocking to me.  I haven’t had a goal of winning medals. My goal has become to do better than I did at the last event, to push myself further and faster than I have done previously. I am racing myself each and every time I put my shoes on.  And at the end of each event, I sign up for another.

Suzanne – pre-race energy at the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens

To get to the next event, I track my progress.  I have a multi-tab excel spreadsheet, thanks in part to my friend Katie, that contains a daily planner/tracker, an event record of times/distances, body measurements and marathon and triathlon training plans for each big event. I plan monthly. I record daily the work I have done. I over-plan so that I can have skip days when I need it.  And I make adjustments to the plan when it’s too hard or not hard enough.

I no longer run on the treadmill.  I run outside in the cold, heat, wet, ice, dark, blinding sun. I seek out hills for those climbs riding and running.  The fears I had before are memories and the fears I have now, will soon be.  I know I can accomplish the next event because I accomplished the last one, I know what it takes. It takes getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other with passion and drive.

HA! Yeah, some days that is hard to summon, on those days it takes putting on the gear. Boy, some days pulling on my big girl shorts and tying my shoes is the hardest part. I have to tell myself “suck it up Koval.”  I have never been sorry I ran after the run though.

I am so grateful for the incredible support I receive when I am training for a big event.  I know I couldn’t keep up the pace without all the moral support from all my friends and family. Over the last few years, I have found friends to train with; they keep me showing up each week. Lately, I have begun running with a group.  I need the accountability, plus faster people make you faster.

On Monday mornings my co-workers always ask me what I did over the weekend. They actually like hearing about my adventures and warrior moments.  The positive comments, liking of my FB status, the exciting updates about their events and training really make a positive impact on me and I really appreciate the motivation. Never underestimate the power of a positive word, a common complaint or a personal victory shared.

Team photo of our 2012 Ragnar Northwest Passage relay team. Suzanne ran the last leg in a tutu.

It has been so wonderful to meet others in this journey and to share the experience of physical pain and the elation of completing, what at one time, seemed impossible and to continue to experience personal bests in distance, time and experiences.  The rest, as they say, is history.  About 11 pairs of shoes, 4 swimsuits and a bike later, I have completed some really great events including a marathon and a half Ironman. I have had some amazing experiences riding my bike up and down the state and around several counties, running with 11 crazy people from Blaine to Whidbey Island, running countless miles in and around Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods.

I hope I can continue to improve and grow as a person through this lifestyle choice.  I hope to be that 89 year old last finisher, well past the cut-off but still has the announcer waiting there to say “and last but not least, our oldest ever finisher to cross the line…”

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2 Responses to 334 days: Guest Post #1 – Suzanne K.

  1. CopyStrands says:

    Way to go Suzanne, you go girl! Great story. And Jeff, good luck on your year goal, I’ll be rooting for you to accomplish it!

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