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Hi there I’m Suzy!

I uplift other women in the areas of running, lifting, and motherhood

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Lessons Learned Running in 2021


Prior to setting goals for 2022, I am reflecting on lessons learned running in 2021.

In this way, I can celebrate accomplishments and identify takeaways useful for the upcoming year.

I encourage you to do this as well!

The Spotify Unwrapped effect has extended to Strava, Peloton, and other fitness apps, making it fairly easy to reflect on running in 2021. Here’s my year:

January: NC Fat A– 50K

In the NC Fat A– 50K, I drank an airplane bottle of Fireball and got lost on the course shortly thereafter.

Don’t go thinking that’s necessarily a bad thing, though because I got so panicked when I was lost I actually sped up for the remainder of the race and achieved 1st female overall in 4:50, which is a personal record for me!

The lesson? Take the shot! Literally and metaphorically.

There’s no blog post for this one, but I did an audio journal with pre-race and post-race thoughts. Listen here:

February: Oak Island Marathon

Oak Island marathon was my running in 2021 personal low this year.

I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which requires a 3:40 for a woman my age. I was actually going for a 3:35 here.

Missed that by a long shot and I’d love to tell you it was because of the pouring rain the entire race, but that’s not it-

I just didn’t run well.

The rain threw me off mentally but physically? Nah, that’s on me. My splits were all over the place before the wheels falling off totally around mile 22.

It wasn’t my day. And that happens.

The lesson? Don’t blame the weather.

March: Sunset Beach Half

I wasn’t yet living on the coast of North Carolina at this point, but knew I would be by the end of the year.

Did this race for no other reason than my friends from Fayetteville were and was not disappointed!

While full marathon – 26.2 miles- is the distance I have traditionally done most often, there’s a lot to be said for half marathons:

  • challenging distance
  • doesn’t take the entire day
  • easier to recover from

Really, the only con with the half option (for me, anyway) is ego getting in the way when there’s a full option as well.

That’s a mindset problem, though- agreed?

The lesson? Get outside your comfort zone.

April: BAA mile (virtual)

The Boston Marathon was delayed this year, so Boston Athletic Association did a number of virtual events, including a virtual mile.

It’s not the time I clocked in high school or even scratching the surface of what I’m capable of (side note: I like the Jack Daniel’s calculator for predicting that kind of thing), but I enjoyed attempting a short distance.

The lesson? Try a new distance.

May: Myrtle Beach Marathon

I wasn’t going to do another marathon until the Fall, but Oak Island went so terribly I decided to do the Myrtle Beach marathon very last minute.

Like, two weeks beforehand.

I got a marathon personal best of 3:26:06.

The last time I ran that fast? A decade and four kids ago.

It felt good!

Was it the magic shoes? Yeah probably.

But I bested this time in them a few months later, so in hindsight I know it was just a good performance day.

The lesson? Comebacks are sweeter than setbacks.

June: The Goggins Challenge (virtual)

Okay, technically this isn’t a formal race but I’m including it here because it was a major running in 2021 accomplishment.

The Goggins Challenge, made popular by Ultra marathoner and all around incredible athlete David Goggins is 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.

I liked the idea of something hard.

Hard stuff on purpose…because it builds grit.

I did this over the course of a working Friday and Saturday when my Mom had the kids.

Side note: I’m back at work full time now and no longer in direct sales. Big unrelated to running change for 2021!

It was nice to complete on my own, away from the pressure of any crowds or other competitors.

Just me versus me.

The lesson? Do something hard on purpose.


July Firecracker 4 Miler (virtual)

We moved toward the end of July, so Fayetteville Running Club‘s Cupcake Challenge and Firecracker 4 Miler was my final in Fayetteville.

My eight year old son and I got to do it with the club and it was the perfect ending to time spent in a town I love very much.

I love this running club something fierce. They:

  • welcomed me
  • threw me a running baby shower.
  • ran errands for me when my Husband was deployed.
  • made meals for us when the triplets were in the NICU.
  • defended me when we had 5 minutes of not so great Internet fame.

Now that we’ve moved, they still welcome me…cause we’re not just club members. We’re friends.

They’re my team.

The lesson? Enjoy the community.

September: Holden Beach Half Marathon

Feeling confident from my experience at Sunset earlier in the year, I focused my Fall running season on achieving a personal record in the half marathon distance.

I trained specific to that goal and achieved it at Holden Beach in 1:35:15!

My personal best prior was in Fredericksburg, VA in 2011.

That’s right, a decade (and four kids!) ago.

I also weighed about six pounds less, which is not a knock to my current weight but illustrates the importance of strength training on performance.

I recapped this one, which is something I don’t typically do for half marathons (but I’ve received a lot of good feedback so I may start on the shorter races!).

The lesson? Design training around a goal.

October: Ocean Isle Half Marathon

Another half marathon PR. This was totally unexpected.

In fact, I was using it as a 16 mile long run for an upcoming marathon and attached three miles to the beginning. This is a great strategy if, like me, you have a hard time with solo long runs.

I just like having other people there, even if it’s not a talk-to-me-the-entire-time scenario.

Here’s the recap. I’m still as surprised as anyone about the 1:34:36!

The lesson? Get creative in training.

November: Richmond Marathon

I’m not going to bury the lead on this one: it was a marathon PR. By a lot.

Funny thing happened, though: I got chip results from the timing company that ended up being 2 minutes faster versus official race results the following day.

Naturally, I had already posted all over social and humble bragged to everyone about my 3:20…only to find out it was actually 3:22.

You can read all about it in the recap.

Did I feel stupid?

Well yeah!

It was also a great reminder that my ego is the only place a faster time really matters.

I have great friends that applauded my 5:20s (yes, I’ve been that pace too) just as hard as they did this one.

A finish I can be proud of is one where I left it all on the course and gave my best. And I did.

The lesson? Be proud of the effort, not the time.

November: Calabash Turkey Trot

Our local Turkey Trot has three races (1 mile, 5K, 10K) and since I’m an idiot, I did all three.

I raced the 10K, coming in 2nd female overall.

The 5K was a graduation race for our First Strides running group.

Joined my kids and Husband for the mile.

We’ll be sticking to one race next year.

It was chaotic getting from one race to the other and though the Michael Phelps style photo op is cool, it’s not worth the logistical stress.

The lesson? Choose one.

November: Wilmington Half Marathon (virtual)

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I realized I did an event in every month except one- August.

While that may seem like a no-brainer to shoot for next year, I was mentally spent by November and ran the Wilmington Historic Half as a virtual.

No regrets.

The lesson? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

December: Nutcracker 6 Hour Ultramarathon

I have done the 12 hour race twice- once in 2019 and again in 2021. This year, I opted for the 6 hour because my Husband’s retirement ceremony was the day prior.

Earned first female overall and third in the total field but it was a tough day.

I couldn’t find my groove.

It was weird.

The lesson? Good performance doesn’t always mean good day.

What about 2022?

I’ve already got a few races lined up for the upcoming year:

  • Southern Tour 50 miler (January)
  • Topsail Beach 13.1 (February)
  • North Myrtle Beach 13.1 (March)
  • Boston Marathon (April)

I’m also considering a 50 mile GORUCK event with my Husband in Florida for the Fall.

Something I didn’t do as much of this year is volunteering. We got really busy with the sale of our house, the move, my return to work, and my Husband’s retirement.

I served as a coach for our local group, but that was it.

I’m a little embarrassed to look over all these races and think, “you couldn’t have opted to volunteer at at least one of them?!”

There’s no written rule about runners handing out water, providing parking or course direction, and handing out packets…but I believe you should give back in this community.

So, next year I want to volunteer more!

Connect with me!

Thanks for reading all about my running in 2021!

I’m really proud of the year and hope one of these lessons helps you as you think about your own running in 2021 and look into the future.

Until next time, I hope you’ll drop me a line or come hang with me on Instagram.