Friday, October 15, 2010

Live to Run Another Day

From: Ambler, John O [mailto:John

As mad as I was, I knew I would live to run another day. Quitting the sport never entered my mind. I’m not a quitter. I love running. I didn’t love the run I had on 10-10-10, but I still love running none-the-less.

Chicago Marathon was nothing less than a disaster for me. Ok, before you tell me, “You finished. You should be proud.” Don’t. Finishing was never a goal. Even during my first marathon. I knew I would finish the damn race. I know what my training looked like. I know what I’m capable of running. Quitting was never an option.

“You finished.” Well, no shit. I finished…4 minutes worse than my first marathon. I trained harder, my times were faster. I RAN TRAINING RUNS BETTER THAN THIS!

I’m probably the most Type A person you will ever meet. I never missed a training day. I nailed every single training run. Some were ugly. But I never, ever said, screw it, I’m tired, it’s hot, I’m not doing this. I put in the miles. I put in the hours. I trained hard. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. so I could pound out 14 miles before work. I ran a 22-mile training run with an 8:51 pace. I was ready.

So what happened? I freaked out. My fear of failure literally made me sick. I had stomach cramps at the expo. I woke up with stomach cramps the day of the race. Not intestinal stomach cramps—the kind that I get when I’m stressed, really high in my stomach, right below my chest. The forecast kept getting hotter and hotter and hotter. Before bed, I saw the high was forecasted to be 86 degrees. This just made my stomach turn even more. I had a lofty goal, the weather was not cooperating, my stomach was not cooperating. I was worried. Really worried.

Race day rolls around. Surprisingly, I got a good night’s sleep. I had the blessing of a dear friend who volunteered to pace me. He is my angel. I had a shit day out there and he wouldn’t leave my side. He did everything he could to help me, from getting ice, to water, to food, to convincing me that it was all going to be ok. At one point, I wanted to walk off the course thinking I would rather have a DNF than this sorry ass time. But I remembered conversations that he and I had about his one and only DNF and the pain he still has today about that race. I didn’t want that. And I couldn’t do that to him, not after everything he had done for me. And going back to that quitter thing, yeah, that ain’t me.

I told him I wanted to start slow. I was hot at the start line. I didn’t feel right. We got to the 5K mark and I said, “I’m behind.” He put it into perspective and told me not to worry, just follow. I kept pulling ahead and he would pull me back to where I needed to be.

It got really hot, really fast. Approaching the 10K mark, I got really worried. I was boiling. I told him, this isn’t my day. My legs are cramping. I’m hot. I threw my shirt off. He told me to drink. I had 3 ounces of fluids to his 30 ounces.

Like the angel he is, he carried my shirt. I told him to throw it on the ground. He wouldn’t. He carried my water. I was trying so hard to focus, but all I could think about was how this just wasn’t my race, not tripping on sponges, cups, and banana peels, and the masses of humanity.

I got to the ½ marathon mark, 2:05. This just sucks. I know, I know, there are a ton of people who would kill to reach a half marathon in 2:05. But, I didn’t train to run a 4:10 marathon. I trained to run a sub 4 marathon. And my body is quite capable of running a sub 4.

I started crying. I was mad. I could not go any faster. I didn’t have it in me. It’s survival now. I can still PR this stupid race. However, what was bad, got worse. 10K and I knew I couldn’t throw down a sub 1:00 10K. Not today. I don’t know what mile it was, but he told me, I could still PR this. I threw him the dirtiest look and said, “I’m shuffling.” He smiled and said, “Yes, you are.” I may have even laughed. Well maybe not, but it makes me laugh now.

Finish line. Thank God. There is the damn finish line. 4:39:23, four minutes worse than my first marathon. I was nauseous. I wanted to puke—partly due to the heat, partly due to my pitiful performance out there.

Through this 18-month journey to tackle 2 marathons, some of most amazing people have entered my life. I wanted to stick my head in my shell and hide from the world. But my world wouldn’t let me. The most poignant note I got, “You love to run and will likely continue for the rest of your life. Keep it all in perspective and don’t lose that infectious enthusiasm that makes so many of us your ‘followers.’”

That’s the real Suann: the girl who wants to share her passion for running, the girl who doesn’t want to hear “I can’t run that far,” the girl who wants to share the joy of someone who ran further than they ever have before, the girl whose favorite running memory was watching one of her best friends do something that she never though she could run before.

I’m damn lucky I have the support of some really awesome people. And I can’t let them down by sticking my head in the sand. My five minutes of pissing and moaning turned into five days. I’m sick of listening to myself whine. Surely everyone else around me is.

Ok, so it wasn’t my day. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it does. Have I moved on? Yeah, I have. Time to cowgirl up. There’s another marathon with my name on it. Marathon kicked my ass twice. But we’re going to kiss and make up one day. I lived to run another day and I’m damn lucky I can run.


  1. You'll get it, I absolutely believe that. and it will be so sweet when you do. The planets WILL align & your hard work will pay off in spades.

    That you didn't DNF speaks volumes about you and your determination & that WILL get you there. Let the goals drive you, but don't let them define you and don''t let them get in the way of the fun.

  2. Awesome! Believe it or not, this post is inspiring. It's the true meaning of running and the answer to the question so oft asked "why do you race?" For me, I know I will never "win" a race, and I'm at that point where finishing a race, any race is not in question (I'm even taking on the Vermont 50 next summer). We race with ourselves, for ourselves. So many don"t understand that. You will get your sub-4. After reading this post, one can only hope I'll get mine too!

  3. THis post is one of the many reasons why I chose to follow you. You inspire me to do better. Though we may have different goals at hand, we both are runners and marathoners. I'm proud of you for the prue fact that you didn't DNF. That speaks loudly. "To live another day" you will and you will get that sub-4.

  4. Hi you are such astrong lady with a strong will power you are a perfectionist thats why describing your last marathon experience in this way is normal. We live and learn the past is the past i am sure with this attitude you will run your next marathon sub 4 keep up the good dedication and love for running :)

  5. Keep it up and show who's boss on our next race - you trained hard, very hard but you left out the most important part: FUN - enjoy and embrass the run- your run - make it yours !
    Loved your post!

  6. Give yourself credit, Chicago was extremely tough that day and sometimes there are just things that are out of our control and we have to roll with it. At the OKC marathon Kiplimo who was a shoe-in for the win and lead the race for the most part cramped up so bad at the end that he had to walk it in and finished 9th. In Tyler last weekend he won. OKC just wasn't his day.
    Be proud of yourself for putting in the miles and the work and toughing it out on 10/10/10. While the sub 4 finish eluded you I think marathons are just as much about the journey as they are about the destination. It's the other 500+ miles that you ran before the 26.2 is what I'm talking about!

  7. I just found your blog and read this entry and immediately became a follower because you never gave up. That to me speaks volumes about who you are and what you are capable of.

    This endurance sports world has had more then it's share of motivating and inspiring stories and this is another one. When I feel like I can't go any further I will remember this post and not DNF a training run or swim or a race.

    Thank you for sharing.