The third feature in our Running Whys series for 2016 is on Sue Teakles. She is from Penobsquis, just outside of Sussex and she comes from a large family – six sisters and three brothers, most of whom live in the Sussex area. She is an elementary school teacher at Hammond River Valley Elementary and lives with her partner, Nick, in Saint John.
She is another familiar face in the Greater Saint John running circles and is preparing for this year’s Marathon By The Sea.
We asked her a few questions and she put together a great story on her motivations and goals.
I ran a bit through high school when I was on the field hockey team. Since then, I had kept up some occasional short runs on my own, usually 20-30 minutes at a time, using running as a way to keep in shape. At the end of 2013, I started running longer distances, and my friend Greg and I decided to train to see if we could do a half marathon. We ran the Hypothermic Half together in February 2014. When we survived that, we thought we might as well train for a full marathon. Six months later, we both completed Marathon by the Sea, our first ever marathon.
It started as a way to be healthy and stay in shape, but very quickly it turned into wanting to see what I was capable of. I still remember the first time I ran 10km, and how hard it was, but how amazing it felt to be able to do it. Then, much later, wanting to take on the challenge of a half-marathon, not knowing if I could do it, but wanting to try. And as soon as I could run a distance, I wanted to see if I could run it faster.
It didn’t take me long after completing a half-marathon to want to see if I could do a full marathon. The training is tough, the run is tough, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it all in the end. I was on such a runner’s high after completing my first marathon at Marathon by the Sea that I couldn’t wait to try another one and see if I could do any better. I am still chasing the challenging goal of improving my marathon time – hopefully to one day qualify for Boston – as well as my shorter distance races, but now the motivation is much more about the community. I run with a couple of different running groups in Saint John, and it is the schedule and the people that keep me coming out to train and race.
I’d like to keep running healthy so that I can enjoy a full racing season, including lots of 5 and 10 km races, several half marathons and two or three full marathons. Last year, I didn’t get any new PBs, so I’d love to beat my time on a couple of distances. My long term goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon so that I can experience it at least once, but that will take some dedicated training.
My first full marathon is burned into my brain. I was so nervous, not knowing if I’d be able to finish. My longest training run had been 32km, and I had never felt like I could do another 10km at the end of any of those training runs! But I signed up for Marathon by the Sea in 2014 and gave it my best shot. It is a tough run with lots of hills but it is my home territory and I know the route really well. Heading out, I tried to keep my pace at a steady comfortable level, and I was very careful with my nutrition and hydration.
I felt good past the 32km mark, which was a huge relief as I ran over the Harbour Bridge. And then came the killer home stretch – up, up, up to Rockwood Park, where my legs began to feel pretty numb. Those hills felt endless. And of course, that was not the end. We finished that year in Rockwood Park, so I climbed and climbed those hills at an agonizingly slow pace, not really knowing when the finish line would finally appear around a hill.
I didn’t have much left in my legs at this point, but once I heard the crowd and realized I was actually going to make it to the end, I had a little left and managed to give a little push to the finish line and come over it smiling. It was such an amazing feeling that I will never forget that race. My friends were there cheering me on, the day was sunny and beautiful, and it felt so great to celebrate afterwards.
I train with a lot of different groups, and honestly, I wish there were more days in the week so that I could go out with more of them. We are so lucky to have such an amazing and extensive running community in our area. There are groups that are going out every day of the week if you want to run with a group, and most days there are multiple groups to choose from. I train a lot with the Running Room. I have done a few of their clinics and we have a regular group that goes out that is amazing and so supportive. We run along Harbour Passage and all over the city on our long runs. I also go out with the Rockwood Road Warriors. We do a lot of speed work in Rockwood Park, at the UNB track, and in Millidgeville. Other groups I run with are the Saint John Track Club and Daryl Steeves’ summer track group.
The best part of running is all the people. All the groups that I run with have runners that support me, cheer for me and challenge me to be better. My running buddy Paul and I have a friendly rivalry that keeps me going in all our races, though it is a bit demoralizing when I cannot keep up to the 60+ year old man.
Corinne’s crazy weekly mileage encourages me to run even on days when I am tired. Nicole’s enthusiasm and improvement as a newer runner is inspiring and gets me out after school, even in questionable weather. And all the local “coaches,” who encourage me to work harder and be better – Brenda, Daryl, Dean and Alex. They have all done so much to grow and support the running community in Saint John that it is not surprising Saint John has some of the strongest runners in New Brunswick and beyond.