A series of interviews "Meet the Runners" by Debra Agong
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart” said Elizabeth Andrew. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking how sappy a saying that is but for all the gush and mush it exhibits, there probably was never a more true statement. Ask Susan and I’m sure she would agree. Her membership in the TTRRC can be defined more by her dedicated volunteerism to the club and support of fellow members than by her exploits as a competitor on the local racing circuit.
An Information Technology Specialist by trade, Susan, along with her teenage son Stephan is part of the small core of non-Executive members who consistently give their time and support to the race management arm of the club.
Susan started running in 2004 when she felt that the time was right to start creating a better balance in her life. Until that time, her daily routine involved working and taking care of Stephan. As a dedicated single parent, she gave up many leisure activities to care for him and although she loved motherhood and her work, she needed to add something to her life. Running was the answer. With the encouragement of her brother David who was a member of TTRRC, she joined the club and became a more consistent runner. Nowadays, Susan is forced to watch from the sidelines, owing to a nagging knee injury. Despite that setback, she still enjoys a casual jog whenever she finds the time.
Volunteering for races helps Susan stay in the loop and also gives her the opportunity to experience a road race from both sides, i.e. as a participant and as an official. She admits that before helping at races, she did not have an appreciation of the amount of work that is done before race day and even behind the scenes on the day of the event. She is always impressed by the dedication of TTRRC race management team who juggle their work life, family commitments, running schedule and personal social activities with the work of the club. She knows that her work on race day is only a small part of the entire process which is why she continues to give her support in any way possible.
Susan also volunteers at her son’s football club where she manages the under 14 team. This involves most of the weekends as the team either plays a match or practices on those days.
We all know that good volunteers are hard to find, no matter what the cause, as most people find it difficult to give their hard earned time and resources for free. However, Susan sees it as a good example for her son, showing him the importance of commitment, volunteerism and healthy living all rolled up in one. In addition, she considers her fellow road runners to be a “good bunch of people” who share her love of running and can make anything fun. A few hours each month are not too much to ask.
Here are some more facts about Susan’s running career:
- When did you start running?
I started running for the company that I work for in ‘Women Against Breast Cancer 5K Classis’ in November 2004. I remember my first 5K was for my hockey club and that was in the 1980’s but that does not count.
- Who or what prompted you to start?
The camaraderie of the women in my company to run the “Women on the Move” race.
- How have you benefited from running?
When I started running in 2004 my 5K time was about 32min+ with training my best time was 26min+. Running is a stress release for me and it has overall health benefits. It made me fitter and stronger to face the world. Also I met a great bunch of people.
- What is your favourite race distance?
I started with the 5K, then went on to the 10K. I ran a 15K and then the Half marathon twice. I really don’t have a favourite distance, I just treated the distances as a challenge. I ran more 5Ks because this was what was available.
- What was the time of your first marathon?
My time for the first half marathon was about 2:14. I never got to run the marathon because of a knee injury.
- What is your favourite training workout?
I like running long distances especially through the green valleys of Santa Cruz
- What is your favourite local race to run and why?
I enjoyed the Amoco Coconut Run 10K for the scenery and the peacefulness of the sea.
- What is your most memorable race experience?
Completing my first half marathon.
- What do you like least about running/training?
Injuries and the traffic during races/training
- What are your future goals in the sport?
At this time I don’t run competitively however when I get the urge I run about 1-2K
- Has becoming a member of TTRRC benefited you? How?
Yes, I will always remember Learie’s encouragement when I started running with the group. Learie actually walked with me through Woodbrook up to the Savanna and kept telling me to go on. One day much later when I was talking to him by the Savanna and he was talking about running for 45minutes and I told him that was like a walk in the park. TTRRC is a bunch of good guys and gals who hang out, support and encourage each other and anyone else who wants to run and have fun. “Beer drinkers who run”.
- What do you enjoy most about being a member of the club?
A good bunch of people to run with, lime with and talk shop.
- In your opinion, are there any side effects to running?
Injuries especially as you get older.
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to start running?
You have to love running to be able to do it consistently. Once committed it is hard work. Set small goals first and accomplish them and then move on to harder ones. For example, be able to run the whole Savanna before you tackle your first 5K.
- Do you believe group running is better than running alone or vice versa? Why?
Group running is better for encouragement and good advice on how, what and when to run. For me and my schedule it was easier to run alone especially around where I live than to hook up with the group.
- How long did it take before you noticed improvement in your training or racing performances?
Almost immediate, as I had cut out about two minutes and a half for my second 5K and ended up cutting about 6 minutes for my best 5K. I then move on to the 10K, 15K and finally the ½ marathon. I ran with TTRRC for about three years before I stopped and went from running a slow 5K to completing a ½ marathon in two years.
- To what do you attribute that improvement (as stated above)?
Consistent running, running and training with the TTRRC members. When you watch the TTRRC members training and during and after a race you get the feeling that you can do that too. Motivation can help you improve.
- What do you think is the most common mistake made by runners in training and/or in racing?
I would say not training the correct way and not getting the required rest for the muscles to repair themselves. For racing, running against other runners instead of running your own race.
- Would you advise other women to take up the sport? In your opinion, are there any special benefits to women who run?
Yes, once you like to run, it cuts the fat and builds up endurance. You do a lot of good for your heart and the feeling of accomplishment can make a woman glow. It reduces your stress level and makes you concentrate better.
- What challenges do you feel female women face that are specific to their gender?
When women run they get harassed a lot more than men. Also, with how crime is today in the world a woman’s safety is a concern.