*Woman Crush Wednesday ~ Susie Stephen*

By now, I’m sure most everyone with any type of social media account is familiar with the term “Women Crush Wednesday.” It has been made popular on sites like Twitter and Instagram. (You might also recognize these widely used hashtags: #womencrushwednesday and #wcw.) WCW posts typically tag a photograph of a woman who the user admires or looks up to.

Why the lesson on this social media phenomenon? Because I’m crushing hard on some badass chick athletes that are super inspiring. I’ve been playing with the idea of a bi-monthly WCW feature that introduces you to some of the women that I think are super awesome and after a few weeks of planning and connecting with a handful of them, I’m ready to launch it.

I’m kicking the first installment off with a rad chick named Susie Stephen. Susie is a fellow Nuun athlete and we met when we ran Hood to Coast on a Nuun team in 2014. Riding in a van with a bunch of strangers is a sure-fire way to get to know one another and when Susie and I started to share our stories, the similarities were profound. (Except for the fact that she’s English and a super fast runner! Oh, not to mention gorgeous!) It was fun to learn that she was a yoga instructor and cross-country coach. Both of which I was doing at the time.


Susie crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. Source: http://www.instagram.com/longrunergy

List five words that describe you?

Um – gosh, how about active, adventurous, compassionate, coffee drinking English woman, runner/yogi.

If you could only eat one food forever, what would it be?

Oh wow this is tough – probably bread! It leaves you satiated, there are loads of different types, it can be eaten for any meal – is easily transportable and doesn’t go off as quickly as say fruit – which would be my second favourite food! 🙂

If you could have a super-power, what would it be and why? 

It would be amazing to be able to breathe under water so that you could explore the oceans and see all the amazing marine life!

What one piece of advice would your adult self give your child self?

Try not to worry about what people think and don’t compare yourself to others!

Tell us your running/racing bio… How long have you been a runner? How many marathon’s, half-marathons, etc.
Upcoming events? Favorite race? 

I started running cross-country as a 7th grader in England age 11 and ran all the way through high school, University in the UK (Newcastle University) and college in the US (Northern Arizona University). Since then I’ve been back and forth with running but have never really stopped completely. In 2008 I ran my first marathon in London, and since then have run 7 more marathons and 3 ultra trail races. Overall I have to say I’m still learning and feel keen to test myself further. Right now I’m preparing for the cross-country season back in England, where I’ll be for the winter – but I’m already looking forward to the trail running season back in Hawaii in 2016.
Susie Stehpen yoga

Susie practicing yoga in paradise. Source: http://www.instagram.com/longrunergy

Goals for the upcoming year?
I think my biggest goal for 2016 is to create more yoga tools to help runners – especially trail runners.

 Anything additional you’d like to add?
Yoga is awesome 🙂
I want to send a super HUGE thank you to Susie for allowing me to feature her here on Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking and also congratulate her on two things: first, her recent first place finish at the Kailua Surfriders Run and second, on her upcoming exhibition, Retracing Routledge. Susie curated the exhibit after retracing the steps of anthropologist Katherine Routledge, who was the only woman a part of the 1914 expedition to Easter Island. (I found this great article about Susie and her journey here.)
You can connect with Susie via her website and social media sites.

*The blur that was October*

October Review:

Total miles: 101

Longest run: 26.2

Total days running: 20

YTD mileage: 1,618.25

Some of my favorite October moments included:

  • Participating in a work retreat that stirred up my excitement over starting a business that I’ve been dreaming up.
  • Supporting my friend for 26.2 miles when she ran the Portland Marathon. It was an honor to be there with her every step of the way!
  • Celebrating my 38th trip around the sun. I had a great birthday despite being sick.
  • Enjoying an unexpected week off from work after our trip to see our daughter graduate from basic training was cancelled. (That was a HUGE bummer but we made the best of it.)
  • Adventuring with my boys for a post-birthday trip to the beach and some crabbing. Though not very successful, we only came home with three keepers, it was a ton of fun!
  • Eating, sleeping, breathing cross-country. Not only for the athletes that I coach but shifting my training to focus on my preparation for my first XC race.
  • Spending a Sunday afternoon on an urban outing with my guys.
  • Racing my first 4k and finishing in 3rd place.
  • Crabbing for a second time which was waaaaay more successful and a fun day all-around.
  • Getting my business, Blogger Bitch, off the ground. I’m taking my time, doing the research, making thoughtful choices, and learning so much along the way. It’s an exciting process and I’m already proud of what I’ve accomplished with such limited time over the past few months.
  • Wrapping up a great cross-country season. I was a little emotional about it given that I’ve coached some of the young athletes on my team for three years. They’ll be moving on to high school next year and honestly, I’m not sure I’ll still reside in the community that I’m living in now so the end of the season felt like I was saying good-bye to a great group of kids.
  • Finishing up the month by racing my first XC race and gaining some insight about how challenging the sport truly is.
  • Savoring the last moments of October with family and friends, good food and drinks, and a handful of kids in costume that came by for a trick-or-treat.

October passed so quickly that it does seem to be a bit of a blur. I’m feeling ready for a new month and new adventures. Not to mention some serious down time.

Happy November!

*Weekly mileage ~ Oct. 12-18*

Mileage for the week of October 12th – October 18th

Total weekly mileage: 27.5

Total October mileage (to-date): 69.75

XC mileage (part of weekly total): 10.5

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,587

Run review:

10/12           5.25 miles w/XC

10/13           20:52 min./2.15 mi./9:42 pace     +2.35 mi. w/XC

10/14           52:51 min./6.25 mi./8:27 pace

10/15           21:25 min./2 mi./10:43 pace

10/16           8:07 min./1 mi./8:03 pace

23:21 min./2.5 mi./9:18 pace

+ 3 miles w/XC

10/17         26:24 min./3 mi./8:48 pace

10/18         No run

My intention last week was to run as much as I possibly could on soft surfaces to mimic cross-country style terrain. I was largely successful, running most of my runs on trails and in fields. It is interesting to watch my pace drop but I’m trying to ignore that, for now, and just focus on getting acclimated to running on a different surface than my body is accustom to.

While this week proves challenging with a three XC meets, jury duty (UGH!!), work, building a business, laundry (never-ending!), and a host of other odds and ends, my intention is to focus, not only on running on soft surfaces, but doing some speed work on them too. I made the mistake a few nights ago by looking at some of the previous meet results. Dang. These adult XC runners are speedy!

I’m in it for the experience of just doing it. But I don’t want to completely embarrass myself either!

In doing some related research, I found this article that discusses the benefits of taking a break from the road and switching over to trail to build strength and stamina. Honestly, it’s been nice to shift gears and approach training for a new angle. It has created a renewed sense of excitement for sure!

More to come! Have a great week!

*Weekly mileage ~ Oct. 5-11*

Mileage for the week of October 5th – October 11th

Total weekly mileage: 11.25

Total October mileage (to-date): 42.25

XC mileage (part of weekly total): 0

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,559.5

Run review:

10/5            No run

10/6            34:33 min./3 mi./11:31 pace

10/7           No run

10/8           31:13 min./3 mi./10:24 pace

10/9           No run

10/10         52:32 min./5.25 mi./10:01 pace

10/11         No run

The only thing I can say about last week is this: WHEW! I’m glad I survived! Between a cancelled trip to South Carolina (and the heartbreak I suffered as a result of not being able to see my daughter), a head cold, birthday celebrations, a mini over-night crabbing adventure, and a night out on the town… I’m grateful for those 11.25 miles I did get in! They were all run at an easy pace as I wasn’t feeling well and still trying to respect the fact that I did run a marathon the weekend before.

I’m super pumped about this week though! I feel a ton better and am focusing on training for my cross-country meet at the end of the month.Taking it easy last week was a good thing and I believe that my body will be much more responsive to the training I’m going to be doing. Lots of XC style running and drills! In fact, tonight at my teams practice, we ran the 5k course that our local high school uses when they host meets. Complete with a creek crossing! Even after just a taste of it today, I know I’m going to love it!

So back at it this week, focused, and ready to kick some ass! Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking wishes you a great week!


*2015 Portland Marathon*

In the world of marathons, and in my opinion… based on my experience, the Portland Marathon ranks right up at the top of the best-of-the-best!

A week has already passed since I ran the Portland Marathon last Sunday, on October 4th. Truthfully, I’ve struggled to find the words to share my experience because it wasn’t really my experience. At least as far as running goes. While I loved being an ambassador for the Portland Marathon and the event itself, my heart wasn’t in it for myself. I ran the marathon with the intention of supporting my friend while she ran her first marathon. And honestly, it was SO great to run a marathon with no pressure on myself as far as performance goes. (High-fives for everyone!!)

What I didn’t expect was that my role as supporter, cheerleader, coach, and friend was going to be more challenging than I realized. The hardest part of the marathon was watching my friend suffer. Without sharing too many details for the sake of her privacy, she had been ill in the days leading up to the race and though she was well-trained, things took a turn in the wrong direction around mile 18 and it went a bit downhill from there. (Figuratively speaking. We ran in the right direction and there wasn’t really too much downhill. Hehe.)

Regardless, at 5:01:11, we crossed the finish line. Tears were shed. Orange juice was consumed. We collected our swag and staggered out of the finish area grateful to be done!

Despite the hiccups, it was a such a great day and race. The Portland Marathon goes above-and-beyond to make sure that every participant has a race experience that will be remembered. The on-course entertainment is such a welcome distraction and the aid stations, volunteers, and spectators along the route really make you feel that they are there for YOU.

I’m already looking forward to next year! So much so that this happened:

2016 Portland Marathon

The 2016 Portland Marathon is happening!!

Registration is open for the 2016 race, which marks the 45th year of the Portland Marathon, and prices are the lowest they’ll be all year. If you’ve been considering running it, 2016 is YOUR year to do it! Register HERE!

My friend has recovered and has already indicated that she will perhaps try running a marathon again in the future. It was such an honor to be there to support her and I was so moved when her man presented me with a thank-you. Gluten-free brownies with this note attached:

Portland Marathon

Such a thoughtful gesture! And all I had to do was run 26.2 miles!

You can find a more in-depth race recap from my 2013 experience at the Portland Marathon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

*Weekly mileage ~ Sept. 28-Oct. 4*

Mileage for the week of September 28th – October 4th

Total weekly mileage: 41.5

Total September mileage: 132.5

Total October mileage (to-date): 31.25

XC mileage (part of weekly total): 6.25

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,548.25

Run review:

9/28            XC only (3.25 miles)

9/29            32:51 min./4 mi./8:13 pace   +XC (3 miles)

9/30           No run/travel day

10/1           18:28 min./2 mi./9:14 pace

10/2           27:24 min./3.12 mi./8:43 pace

10/3           No run/rest day

10/4           5:01:11 hr.-min./26.2 mi./11:30 pace (*there was some walking mixed in)

Between coaching cross-country, a three-day trip for work, volunteering time at the Portland Marathon expo booth, and running the marathon itself, it was a wild week! I’m grateful for every single mile I logged!

This week is off to a rough start but I’m trying to stay positive. I was supposed to travel to South Carolina this week to see my daughter graduate from basic training but due to the hurricane, the Army has cancelled the graduation ceremony. While I’m heartbroken that I won’t see my daughter until Christmas, my thoughts are with those affected by the storm and I know that officials made the tough decision with everyone’s safety in mind. My post-marathon recovery last night consisted of frantically cancelling flights, lodging, etc.

On top of that change in plans, within hours of finishing the marathon yesterday, a slightly scratchy throat manifested into a full-blown head cold.

Oh. And it’s my birthday tomorrow.

There may be some sorrow drowning in the form of wine consumption.

Kidding aside, I truly hope you have a wonderful week and please give the people in your tribe an extra hug to let them know you love and care about them!!

*Jumping on the cross-country bandwagon*

After an optimistic start to a busy fall season… meaning that I thought I would be able to maintain a pretty consistent training schedule and even put an autumn race on my calendar… I was bitch-slapped back into reality.

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. Work, some work travel with more coming up, cross-country, day-to-day life stuff… I’ve missed multiple days of running over the past two weeks and often find myself only logging a few easy miles when I run with my XC team.

Before the madness began, I’d been giving some consideration to finding, and training for, a race. Not just a fun run but an event in which I could *sink my teeth into training* kind of race. I wanted something shorter. Perhaps a 5k or 10k. I thought November would be good because I could train through XC season and be ready by the time November rolled around.

But given my current state of affairs, I’d come to terms with the fact that I can’t train for a race the way I wish I could.

Or… (the plot twist you didn’t see coming) have I????

Did you see the September issue of Runner’s World? There is an awesome feature article in this months edition about cross country racing. For like, um, adults! The wheels started turning and I figured out how to bridge the gap between my coaching schedule and wanting to train for something. Duh! I’ll train for a cross-country race!

That’s the plan anyway. Team Red Lizard, a Portland, Oregon running club, hosts cross-country meets in the Portland area September through November. While I haven’t had a chance to research other options, I’m sure they are out there. I’ve got three tentative dates on my calendar and am excited to give cross-country a try for myself! (Yeah, I have impostor syndrome. I’ve coached cross-country for three years and have NEVER actually run an XC meet.)

Any XC runners out there? I’d love to hear about your experience.


Love XC! (And this guy in pink fuzzy socks… hehe!)

I’ll keep you posted!