Saturday, July 24, 2010

Runner of the Week: Suzanne

A few months back, I was at seminar for Triathlon coaches. The seminar was about an hour away in the Raleigh-Durham area of NC. The session was great. It was divided into three sections—yoga for athletes, resistance training for triathletes, and running drills. During a break the yoga instructor asked if I knew the lady sitting in front of me since we were both from Greensboro. I had been looking at the back this person's head for the past hour, never realizing we had both traveled from Greensboro for the session. The instructor introduced the lady to me as, Suzanne Duncan. My eyes lit up upon hearing this name. You see, Suzanne is a yoga instructor as well as a triathlon coach in Greensboro. I'd heard her name many times and had heard great things about her yoga classes, but had yet to have the opportunity to meet her.

We emailed after the seminar and Suzanne stopped by the studio one day and we had a great chat. It was during this chat that I learned of Suzanne's plans to run an Ironman in the weeks ahead. After conquering the Ironman, Suzanne did a free seminar at RunnerDude's Fitness for my clients and other runners in the community. It was a packed house! Suzanne, has a wonderful story of how she came to fitness, yoga, and the world of running, swimming, and biking. Read on to learn more about Suzanne.

RD: Are you a native North Carolinian?
Suzanne: I was born in Ohio but grew up in Carmel, Indiana. After college, moved around through Tampa, Atlanta and Memphis and finally settled in North Carolina.
RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Suzanne: I have an accounting degree from Indiana University and am a CPA. I was lucky to be able to give the 40+hour/week job up about 6 years ago to concentrate solely on teaching fitness classes, yoga and coaching. My husband and I travel a lot during the year to some rather exotic locations. However, I'm just as happy laying on the couch reading a good book.
RD: How long have you been dong triathlons?
Suzanne: I did my first triathlon in 1994. It was an indoor triathlon at the Spears YMCA and I was scared out of my mind that I wasn't going to be able to finish. I cried when I did because I was so happy I had actually completed the 50 minute event.
RD: From reading your website, I know you lost a lot of weight. What motivated you to do so and how did you go about achieving your great results?
Suzanne: I always tell people that I had been trying to lose weight my whole life. I always remember being overweight. After letting my weight creep up to over 300 pounds and being in a crappy marriage, I finally realized that I deserved to be happy. Something clicked in my brain and I made a commitment to myself to start eating healthier. I joined Weight Watchers and concentrated on my diet for a few months. I then started walking and eventually added in all the other stuff I do now. It was a long journey but so worth it!
RD: What got you into triathlons?
Suzanne: I had always watched the Hawaii Ironman on TV each year and wondered why people would put themselves through that much torture. Well, I guess now I know why. There was a local triathlon at Sedgefield that some of the YMCA cycle instructors were talking about doing. They asked if I was interested and I said no because I hadn't been running. Once I picked up running, my friend Mary Beth encouraged me to sign up for the indoor triathlon. My current husband had also done triathlons in the past so he was there to encourage me as well.
RD: What do you enjoy most about the triathlon--the run? swim? bike?
Suzanne: Biking is my true love of all the three disciplines in triathlon. It's the one I do the best at and the one that makes me feel fast. I think it comes from the fact that I started cycle classes way before I began to swim or run.
RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Suzanne: I certainly have to give a shout out to Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods (formerly Baker's Breakfast Cookies). They are such delicious, good-for-you cookies. She was also my very first sponsor. She gave me lots of cookies to pass out at races and really made me feel special by being on the company's triathlon team. With my recent Ironman training, I also enjoy Latte flavored Power Gels, Pomegranate Berry Cytomax and Clif Bars. Mango flavored smoothies with a shot of protein powder and peanut butter is also one of my favorite recovery drinks.
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Suzanne: I first "learned" to run with a YMCA buddy that took me through the paces of building up from a walk to a run. I really enjoyed running with her. Then, I began to run alone because I was slow and most of my friends were faster. I enjoyed being on my own schedule and going wherever I wanted and going at my own pace. Now, however, I have recently started running with a few other people and absolutely love it. I love being able to chat and take my mind off the pain. They push me to be a faster runner which is something I really feel was lacking in my first years of running.
RD: What's the funniest or oddest thing that's happened to you while on a run or a ride?
Suzanne: In triathlons, the organizers always use an orange spray paint can to mark rough patches of road. During the Woodlake triathlon a few years ago, there was a dead deer on the side of the road - partially in the road and partially off to the side. It was huge and was not something that we would have missed. However, the race organizers drew a big orange circle around it, just in case we did miss it.
RD: What's your biggest running / triathlon accomplishment? Why?
Suzanne: This one is easy. I just finished Ironman Coeur d'Alene. It's definitely my biggest running AND triathlon accomplishment all wrapped up in one because I had never run a marathon or even anything longer than 19 miles prior to this triathlon. Coming from being an inactive, overweight smoker completing an Ironman is huge. It was a huge boost in my confidence. Today, I feel as if I could accomplish anything.
RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Suzanne: I have been running in Asics my whole running "career". They feel fantastic on me and I'm of the mindset "Why fix something that ain't broke?". Some shoes look flashier but I'm good with the Asics.
RD: What's your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Suzanne: My favorite races are anything that's flat and in cooler weather. I really enjoyed the Indianapolis Mini Marathon. The course has tons of support from locals and lots of music and bands along the way. It was also my very first half marathon. Being from the Indianapolis area, running around the Indy 500 track was an awesome experience. My race schedule seems to change a little each year depending on our travel schedule so there isn't one that I just have to do each year.
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Suzanne: Most of my clients are new runners and new triathletes. If you have a desire to do something then do it. It's like putting your shoes and socks and running clothes out the night before. When your alarm goes off, you just go get dressed. Don't think about it or you might talk yourself out of it. Once you get going - or once you get done! - you will feel better about getting your workout done. The other thing is that if you have a big goal set for yourself, be confident that if you follow a plan you will succeed. I always tell my clients to "trust their training". There has never been one time where I have failed if I have been true to my training.
RD: Open Mike: Share anything you'd like about your running / triathlon experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams....anything you haven't previously shared.
Suzanne: The last thing I would want to share is the thing that I learned from completing an Ironman. Don't let previous negative experiences or past negative thoughts hold you back or discourage you from doing something that you want to do. One of my clients gave me a magnetic that I have prominently displayed on my fridge - "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone". That is so true. Don't be afraid of trying something new. You might just surprise yourself!

Thanks Suzanne for sharing your story! Be sure to check out Suzanne on Facebook and at her website.


wendy said...

Awesome post! I ordered some of the breakfast cookies this morning : )

Rachel said...

love that last quote! words to live by : )

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