Susan Clare Reflects….



I caught up with Susan at the Aquatic Centre café recently to talk about what has been an exciting time for Susan – in a little over 12 months she’s run two marathons, and endured an extended period of pool training while recovering from a stress fracture in her foot.


Susan ran her first marathon here in Wellington in June 2017, in the very impressive time of 4:06. However, this wasn’t good enough, especially as she finished feeling she had more in her! She was determined to break 4 hours at her next attempt, the Waitarere Forest Run in April this year.


Susan more than exceeded her own expectations: she had told her family the time she expected to run, and they almost missed her crossing the finish line – her children had a bit of a run themselves to make it to the finish area in time! Susan’s time of 3:44 was good enough for 4th place overall, and second in her age group – behind our own Jennifer Lane. Susan said that this result exceeded “her wildest dreams!” Although the terrain was difficult (she had one fall), there was insufficient water (to drink!) on the course, and there were a few puddles to negotiate, she was amazed to find some source of power within her, which enabled her to complete this wonderful run. And the race day vibe was just so enjoyable!


However, misfortune struck soon after. Even on gentle recovery runs, Susan was feeling some foot pain, but pushed through for about a month. Then on her first really long run after Waitarere, as she was contemplating her next marathon, the pain became unbearable, and she had to walk (limp!) home. The next day she cycled (!) to Accident & Emergency, where she was told to keep active! Stress fractures are notoriously hard to diagnose, and it was some weeks before she was told about the stress fracture. “Keeping active” was agony, and with the correct diagnosis the dreaded moon boot made an entrance into her life!


Susan found one silver lining to this part of the story: although she’d always enjoyed swimming, she’d never learnt properly, and so this proved the ideal time to sign up for swimming lessons! By the end of her recuperation period, she was able to swim 60 twenty-five metre lengths!


Getting the all-clear to run again was a relief – but there was also fear. What if it was just as painful even after the rest? And it felt like hard work, starting all over again. But the feeling of running again soon outweighed the worries! Susan has been cautious in her return to running, and is just about ready to start training for another event!


I asked her if she had any advice. “Don’t burn yourself out, and listen to your body!” Here’s hoping for many more fine marathons, Susan.




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