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The Spunky and the Funky

Here are all of my strengths for Skagit Flats 2016:

My cardio was rock star status. My resting heart rate right before the Seattle Marathon in June was around 48-54 beats per minute whereas my resting heart rate right before Skagit this year was 38-42 beats per minute. I wonder if it’s because I was training too hard for Seattle that my body never fully recovered before the race.

My mental game was on point. For some reason, I handled the mileage a lot better this time than in any other marathon. I broke it down into sections: The first section was from the start to the halfway point (where we pivot around a cone in the middle of the road to come back) and then the second (mental) section was from the halfway mark to the 16 mile mark where I saw Andrew and Callum. Once I chugged some cold Gatorade and saw my boys, I felt re-charged. I then turned off my iPod and forced myself to run without music until mile 20. Hitting mile 20 was a sweet reward; I was able to dial it up with both music and energy (I heard the third place woman’s mother tell her to stay on my heels). Miles 20-26 were divided up into 3 miles each, but honestly, they didn’t drag along like they always have before. It’s like a couple of my favourite songs would play and then all of a sudden I’d be leaving behind another mile.

I had fresh legs. Last year before Skagit Flats 2015 I had hit 100 miles during peak week and then (half-ass) tapered. I peaked at 90 miles during peak week before Seattle in June. This time, I kept my mileage mostly around 60 miles per week. I just felt a lot spunkier out there on Sunday.


Here are all of my struggles for Skagit Flats 2016:

I pooped out. I couldn’t hold onto sub-7 minute miles for longer than 10 miles. Granted, I only lasted 11 miles in Seattle, although that course was much hillier. Hanson’s Marathon Method has peak training week hitting marathon race pace for 10 miles before the taper begins, so you’d THINK that if I could hit those paces for 10 miles on Sunday that in 3 weeks I’d be able to hold it for 26.2. No. Not gonna happen.

My muscles were under-trained. While I could probably run 50 miles straight at a 9 min/mile pace, hitting sub-7 min mile paces require a lot more muscle strength, muscle strength that I just didn’t have on Sunday. At mile 8 I felt my left quad start to go, so I compensated with my right side which I felt in both my right hamstring and my right foot (cramps). Doing strength and speed work would remedy this, I’m sure.

I’m not a gifted runner. I shouldn’t say I’m not gifted. Running is a gift and I’ve got some sort of natural athletic ability for sure, which I’m so thankful for. But a natural runner? I’m just not. A 3:06 or 3:09 or whatever it is marathon does not come easy for me; I’ve worked at marathoning now for twenty straight years (taking baby breaks) and you’d think by now with all the mileage I’ve done that I’d be eating with silver spoons, spilling caviar on my gold-lined Canadian Olympic tracksuit.


Do you know where the word “spunk” comes from?

It means sperm.

Do you divide long runs/races up into mental sections to help it not feel so overwhelming? Which sections?




{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Megan @ Meg Go Run September 14, 2016, 6:43 pm

    Obviously you have a Pr in you it’s just training can be a mystery and race day anything can happen. I like how you laid this all out! Do you have your next race in mind? How is your body feeling posthat race?

    What is the scenery like at Skagit and what brings you back there?

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 14, 2016, 8:30 pm

      We have two races close-by on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. One is in Victoria (on the island, about a 4 hour trip including driving, ferry, and driving but it’s GOURGEOUS!!!) and one is in the interior of BC in Kelowna (butt-ugly but only a 3 hour drive). Skagit is the closest marathon to where we live, even though it’s in the States (an hour and a half drive, tops). Skagit is flat, and ugly as sin. We have friends in Victoria who stock endless supplies of tequila, and so I’m thinking about running that in 3 weeks, which means I need to do my long run on Sunday (I’m running 20 miles with Lora on Sunday). Don’t tell Andrew though. He doesn’t know about it yet (the long run or the marathon plans). 😛

      • Megan @ Meg Go Run September 15, 2016, 6:04 am

        Your secret is safe with me!!

        I actually now remember you saying there are like no marathons around you!

  • Sam September 14, 2016, 6:56 pm

    I have to break it up to stay sane. If I keep thinking about the total miles I have left, I go a little nuts! Great job on the race btw!!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 14, 2016, 8:26 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s amazing how we are able to trick our own minds sometimes. We’re so smart and so stupid all at the same time.

  • Helly on the Run September 14, 2016, 8:11 pm

    You are for sure a gifted runner. For sure. Even though you work your ass off, you’ve got that special something. Which is super effing scary because that means with a little more working your ass off, you’ve got a lot of improvement left in you!!!


    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 14, 2016, 8:25 pm

      I’ve always wondered what it would be like to really get down and train for a marathon from start to finish. You know, and like clean up my diet, drink a bunch of water, stay away from the beer and Doritos, stuff like that. But then, I don’t care enough. But maybe I should care if it’s just for 16 weeks or something. Because then won’t I always regret it? And I don’t want to regret anything.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe September 15, 2016, 4:09 am

    The onus and wonder of the marathon is the fact that everything has to come together on one day. Your strengths FAR outweigh your (literal) weakness, so if you can get that to come together, you will have it MADE!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:04 am

      Badoom chow. Hopefully!

  • meredith (The Cookie ChRUNicles) September 15, 2016, 4:09 am

    i love that picture of you! i do try to mentally break races down although i still haven’t run a marathon, that takes crazy ability and mental toughness which you have, even though you don’t find yourself gifted. i think you are! i am so not athletic or gifted though when it comes to running or any other sport. i guess i have developed some ability but hardly realize it.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:03 am

      The one with the horns and beard? 😉

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home September 15, 2016, 5:08 am

    I agree with what Suz says…it really comes down to one day. Your training could be 100% spot on but if something is off on race day, it’s hard to overcome that. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?

    I do break races down into chunks…sometimes songs…whatever it takes to keep me moving forward.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:03 am

      Oh yeah! Songs too. I’ve memorized how long each song is (a quarter of a mile, a half a mile) and that helps too.

  • Amy Lauren September 15, 2016, 6:49 am

    I’m reading a book called Running with the Buffaloes and there was a quote in there… you can never reproduce a race, it is a fleeting moment like life. I feel like you had a really great race considering how short your training period was and on lower mileage. Was it perfect? No, but races are like life and even victories have ugly portions. It says a lot about your overall fitness that you ran such a great time on fewer miles and without a solid plan and being a week a off for awhile (it happens).

    I do break races down into chunks… for a half I break it down into 5 miles, 5 miles, and the last 5K. Not sure what I’d do for a full…

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:01 am

      Yeah, that quote makes a lot of sense. So true. And yes, the half is way easier to digest when it’s 5, 5 and 5! Smart.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes September 15, 2016, 7:45 am

    Your strengths far outweigh your weaknesses! I argue that you are a gifted runner. The mental and physical ability to train hard and race faster than most people is remarkable.
    I honestly think that Skagit showed you that you race well on lower (still very good) mileage! Throw some more quality in there, have that race where things align, and you will get that PR.
    I break races and even long runs into sections. It helps with pacing and not starting out too fast.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 8:16 am

      I think you’re right about keeping my mileage lower but incorporating some speed and strength and tempo work in there. That may just be the perfect formula!

  • Gretchen September 15, 2016, 2:20 pm

    New drinking game…read through Suzy’s blog and everytime she refers to sperm take a drink. If she comes (no pun intended) right out and says sperm take a shot. LET’S GO.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 3:46 pm

      This is an excellent idea. I found it so amusing that nobody made mention of the fact that I wrote about sperm. It’s like everyone is used to it by now (my crassness, not sperm… although probably that too).

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine September 16, 2016, 2:28 am

    I love that you were able to measure the difference in your resting heart rate between the two marathons and it was able to give you hard data that shows you were better rested for this one! Every race teaches us something different, and Im excited to see what you do differently next time around.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:25 am

      I’m just so glad that I thought to take my RHR each time!

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets September 16, 2016, 4:43 am

    Sub three or not, I still think you’re amazing. Oh and spunky of course.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:23 am

      Ha ha! Spunky fo sho!

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