*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.

*Weekly mileage ~ Oct.26-Nov.1*

Mileage for the week of October 26th – November 1st

Total weekly mileage: 17.25

Total October mileage (to-date): 101

Total November mileage (to-date): 3.25

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,621.5

Run review:

10/26           No run

10/27           29:34 min./3.25 mi./9:06 pace

10/28          No run

10/29          28:23 min./3.25 mi./8:44 pace

10/30          30:50 min./3.5 mi./8:49 pace

10/31          33:34 min./4 mi./8:23 pace

11/1            30:09 min./3.25 mi./9:17 pace

For the second week in a row, I didn’t break 20 miles. Heck, I didn’t even make it to 18 miles. The runs I did get in were all on trail, or cross-country terrain, so a bit slower but that’s where I’ve been focusing my energy. I will also note that October was my lowest mileage month of the year.

With that in mind, as November was approaching, I started thinking about a strategy for getting my mileage up higher and decided on a month-long running streak. My streak will consist of running every single day in November, a minimum of one mile.

This week has started off pretty good. I’m aiming to, at the very least, double my mileage and find a race towards the end of the month to focus training on.

I hope you have a great week!

*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!

*My first cross-country race*

Every opportunity presents a lesson.

This morning I was humbled in a huge way. After three years of coaching cross-country, I gave it a try for myself. Over the past few years, I’ve ran right alongside my athletes. I’ve run hill repeats, interval sessions and speed work with them. I’ve been there for every long run. Every short run. And everything in between. Yet, I’d never run an actual cross-country race. Until today.

My mind was blown and I’ve gotta give mad props to my athletes. Holy hell! Running cross-country is HARD!

The race I ran today was put together by a Portland-area running club called the Red Lizards. Today’s event was part of a series that they host during the autumn months. Considering I coach XC, I’ve been to plenty of meets over the years but having never actually run one, I was feeling a little apprehension. Arriving at the park did not squash my nerves. There were some serious looking runners there. I feared that I was in over my head. But no matter. I was there to experience my first XC race and that I did.

The women’s event began at 9 AM. I followed the other 57 gals to the spray painted white line in the grass a few yards from the finish. The course was two loops, each consisting of 2 miles, through Gabriel Park in SW Portland. Grass, mud, muddy grass, dirt/gravel trail, some pavement, and all hill. Either uphill or downhill but not flat what so ever.

We started off right at 9 and within about 45 seconds I was sucking air. Ugh. I felt like I ran forever and was distraught to discover that I’d only run .66 of a mile the first time I checked my watch. Not even halfway through the first loop. But I kept going.

Finishing my first XC race!

Finishing my first XC race!

I can say with certainty that it was one of the most challenging races I’ve ever run. Out of 58 women, I finished 47th. In my age division, women 35-39 years of age, I was 8th out of 8 participants. Needless to say, it was a pretty big bruise to my ego.

However, instead of dwelling on where I placed, I’m choosing to focus on what went well. Such as:

  • I RAN MY FIRST XC RACE! The overall experience was actually a lot of fun.
  • I didn’t finish last. Came close, but still beat 11 other women.
  • Didn’t pee my pants. (That’s another story for another day.)
  • Finished without rolling an ankle or injuring myself. (One of my greatest fears of running uneven terrain is hurting/breaking something.)
  • Had Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking and son in tow for support. After being at every one of my son’s XC meets over the years, seeing him on the sidelines cheering me on was so awesome. I’m grateful that they wanted to come.
  • There was a break in the otherwise stormy weather and we didn’t get soaked.
  • I kind of want to do it again.

I’m grateful for the experience and that there are cool running clubs out there offering XC for adults. I’m taking away a few lessons from today’s event but I’m fairly certain that there will be more cross-country races in my future!

Race results:

Distance:     4 miles

Overall time:     33:34

Pace:     8:23

*Blogger Bitch*

The scene in my head could be straight out of a Melissa McCarthy movie: mid-40’s woman arriving to her job as a filing clerk at the office of the Secretary of State. Flustered and irritable after finding that she has spilled some of her Starbucks pumpkin spice latte on her skirt during the commute, she flings herself down at her desk to begin the first task of the day. That task includes processing the electronically filed applications that were submitted overnight for assumed business name registrations. From the pile, filled with common, boring business names such as Joe’s Restaurant or Betty’s Boots and Bags, my applications appears…

Entity Name:

Blogger Bitch

To which the clerk begins to giggle and a smile breaks out across her face. Her day is no longer doomed to be gloomy and she has already forgotten about the stain on her skirt.

And scene.

One might have assumed from my sporadic posts here at Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking that I have grown weary of writing. On the contrary! My occasional absence has been the result of wanting to write MORE! (And, I might add, a busy fall season of cross-country!)

I may as well confess, because I’m not sure that I’ve ever shared what my ultimate professional goal is here, but my dream is to become a writer. While I’ve loved this outlet for sharing my passion for running (and I promise I’m not going anywhere!), honestly, it has been primarily a hobby. Hobby is code for doesn’t pay the bills. I’m ready to fulfill my dream of becoming a real writer. Real, as in money, baby!

I’ve been sitting on the Blogger Bitch business idea for many, many months. After plenty of thoughtful and careful consideration, I decided that life is just too short not to try. Is it risky? YES! (Starting any business is!) Will my business name offend a few people? SURE. Will I find any level of success if I don’t give it a shot? PROBABLY NOT.

While I’m still very much in the development phase of the process, I’ve made a few strides that have felt really good. I figure that since I’m now officially registered in the State of Oregon, and it is public record after all, I might as well share my news with the rest of the world.

Blogger Bitch is a blog-specific ghost writing service that provides relevant and creative content targeted to your ideal audience, staging you as the expert in your field. (Meaning I do not take any credit.) I can also offer traditional content creation for your website, such as this text that I wrote for Italstone. I will eventually provide blog management services such as brainstorming ideas, post planning, scheduling, maintenance and more. My ideal clients are small to medium-sized businesses that have a web presence but are unable to retain an in-house writer to create blog posts and would like to increase their visitor traffic by more than 50%.

There are still a lot of details to hammer out, like getting http://www.bloggerbitch.com up and running (yes, it does exist but forgive the fact that it is currently under construction) as well as several other administrative structures before I dive into the real guts of it.

Blogger Bitch is in business!

Blogger Bitch is in business!

Thank you for your patience with me when I occasionally disappear and if you know of someone that could use my service, please have them email me at hyla@bloggerbitch.com.

*Weekly mileage ~ Oct. 19-25*

Mileage for the week of October 19th – October 25th

Total weekly mileage: 17.25

Total October mileage (to-date): 87

XC mileage (part of weekly total): 1.75

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,604.25

Run review:

10/19           26:26 min./2.5 mi./10:35 pace      + .5 miles w/XC

10/20           33:57 min./4 mi./8:29 pace

10/21          18:22 min./2.53 mi./7:16 pace      + 1.25 miles (warm up/cool down)

10/22           No run

10/23          44:34 min./5.25 mi./8:28 pace     + 1.25 miles w/XC

10/24         No run

10/25         No run

My weekly mileage review from last week pretty much sums up my week. BUSY! Cross-country is officially over but not before three final meets sprinkled throughout the week. Our final one of the season was this past Sunday in which I got so wet and cold, it took me a day and a half to recover. After a skipped run yesterday, a mid-afternoon nap, miso soup, the wet sock remedy, various vitamins and minerals, and an extra early bedtime, I woke up feeling a ton better today. It’s just been one of those weeks.

Last week I shared a mini race recap about the 4k I ran on Wednesday. A couple of days later I came across my finish line photo. For laughs:


Pain face at the finish.

*Third place, Baby!*

I’m actually serious! Having decided, on a whim over the weekend to enter a small fun run 4k, I wasn’t sure what to expect today. Layered on top of that is the fact that I’ve not really “raced” since the Boston Marathon, nor have I done any significant speed work since… and I’m guessing here… sometime in mid-March.

Despite my feelings about hope being a “hail Mary”, I was hopeful that I could manage at least a 7:30, or so, pace today for the fun run that I decided to enter for the sheer fact that it was a unique event. A 4k on a Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM… and on a rare day off from coaching cross-country? Sure! I’m game!

The 4k 4Charity was primarily attended by technology industry professionals (and honestly, I sort of felt like an outcast) because the concept of the charitable race was created by the technology industry. But nevermind that. I’ve been searching for events that move me from my comfort zone to that sweet space just beyond… where the magic happens!

While at one point, I was in the second place spot, I dropped to third the last half-mile. No matter. Considering I was waaaay under-trained and all, I’ll happily embrace third. The event was not officially timed so these results are my own, based on my Garmin.

18:22 minutes

2.53 miles (slightly over the 4k distance of 2.49)

7:16 pace

My shortest “race” ever proved to also be my fastest. And I’m stoked!


Yeah, baby! Rockin’ 2.49 miles like a boss!