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Why I Race : Favorite Race Memories

What are some of your favorite race memories? Remember why you race and link up with Running Coaches Corner!

Why do you race? Remember and share some of your favorite race memories for this week's running coaches corner link up!

 In the midst of Marathon Month, I thought it would be great to look back at just why we run. When I first wrote this post, I had been forced to take a week off in the midst of peak marathon training for Twin Cities due to a flair of my hamstring strain from the previous spring. Taking that break broke my forward momentum, and I needed to remember just why I was getting out there, doing my PT, and doing the work. 

This post is adapted from a previous post! But there are some new tidbits, and I doubt that you will recognize it πŸ˜€ I’ve added a few extra favorite race moments to the end of the post! I would love it if you would share yours with me as well!

Favorite Race Moments To Date

For the first two moments–read this and you will know just how I felt going in to them!

2013 Marine Corps Marathon.


Every mile (Recap here). There was a moment every mile that changed me. Every mile, I thought to myself, I can’t believe my leg has held, I can’t believe I just finished another. And then I saw the former serviceman (I am thinking of one in particular, but please know that he was one among many) being pushed in formation by his unit-mates because he had lost his legs. The fact that Marines were cheering us on. The fact that we were running in just the most amazing circumstances. The fact that I was negative splitting. Then the pain started, and I staved it off, thanks to internal and external (spiritual) help and some silly physical improvisation. Realizing that I was 2 miles away, then 1.5 miles away, and that I was going to finish. Having Bart Yasso cheer me on and high five me as I passed. Running up that last hill. Going through the arch. Getting my medal and being saluted. Not really being able to walk up/down hills. Seeing my mom. Never wanting to take that medal off.

2012 Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon.

My first half marathon finish line. VA Wine Country Half Marathon 2012

My first half marathon finish line. VA Wine Country Half Marathon 2012

Team Challenge. My first half marathon. I was so, so nervous–my stomach had been acting a fool the last 3 weeks prior, and I had no clue what would happen. And then I exceeded every expectation I ever had. 

2012 Nashville Women’s Half Marathon

Running my second official half marathon--Women's Running Nashville Women's Half Marathon 2012

Running my second official half marathon–Women’s Running Nashville Women’s Half Marathon 2012

I hit a wall. Hard. And then I had this thought. Start to finish. We never quit. All of the sudden, I was running for every person with Crohn’s and Colitis, for all of us.

2013 Allstate Chicago 13.1

chicago half team challenge suzlyfe

My PR, but it almost wasn’t. If my coach Joe hadn’t jumped in with me at just the right moment, I think I might have quit. And if I hadn’t thought that the finish was WAY sooner than it actually was, I wouldn’t have sprinted the entire last mile, looking frantically for Alex. Also, the only race Alex has ever seen me do, our first full official day as Chicago residents, and 48 hours after leaving Europe.

2009 Real Girls Run 4 Miler. My first race. I finished top 10 total. I never knew I had it in me.

Edited to add these more recent races:

2015 BMO Phoenix Marathon

The Phoenix Marathon is a fantastic Boston Qualifier marathon or Personal Best course! |

I’m elite in my mind

My first BQ, and a race that still seems pretty surreal to me. I go into pretty great detail about it in my Phoenix Marathon recap, but I will just say that this is probably the smartest run race I have ever had, and may ever have. I just, for lack of a better word, nailed it. The only way I could have improved would have been to not have gone to the bathroom at mile 16. I figured I had it in me, but I didn’t know until I was running that I really did.

2015 Ragnar Relay Madison to Chicago

Running Happy.

Running Happy.

This was just one of the most incredibly fun experiences that I’ve ever had, and Madison to Chicago Ragnar was a race that I needed to run to know that I “still had it” after my stress reaction. I will definitely do another Ragnar, I just don’t know when! I would love to do an ultra team, actually.

2015 Chicago Marathon

Susie's 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Finisher's Medal with its engraving. What an experience! Read about it at

Yes, this was the race that broke me. But it was also exhilarating beyond belief. I never thought that I would run that time, and though maybe I shouldn’t have, I did and I loved every step of the way. Better to have loved and lost, you know.

2016 Run Mag Mile Half Marathon

We knocked it out of the park! Don't miss this recap and review of the Chicago Run Mag Mile Half Marathon and 5k! This flat fast course is perfect for a PR! Get the full review at

My first half marathon after Sacral Stress Fracture!

This was the race that made me feel whole again. Run Mag Mile Half Marathon is a race that has improved each year, and this year was its best yet, and my best year running it, plus my first half marathon back after breaking my back. I accomplished just about all of my goals, and I finished strong and happy beyond measure. This race made me feel like an athlete again, as well as a runner. Having Alex there was the cherry on top!

Why do you run? Coach Suz shares some favorite race moments #runchat #marathon Click To Tweet

This is why you run. Because you never DO know what you have in you. And you will always be able to surprise yourself.

Now, link up with Running Coaches Corner and share some of your favorite race moments and memories!

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I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday. 

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Have you read these gems?


  • Reply Kimberly Hatting

    so true…we never really know what we have in us until it (magically?) appears. I can train like a maniac, but until the actual race is being run, I never know precisely what will happen on the race course.I have had great training go bad on race day…and the reverse. Maybe that’s why I keep doing it….the great unknown (or element of surprise). πŸ˜‰
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Mercy Live Up Loop 5-Miler recapMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 6:25 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And you know that race always surprise us!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm
  • Reply Jenn @ Run With Sole

    Wonderful race memories! I met you at the Phoenix Marathon and I remember how excited you were with that BQ!! And it’s just wonderful that you had such a great race at the Run Mag Mile!! Awesome!
    Jenn @ Run With Sole recently posted…Strength All Runners Should Do – SquatsMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 6:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It was such a treat to meet you, Jenn!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    There is no feeling like that finish line feeling, particularly crossing the finish line of a marathon. But after running my 12 miler on Sunday, I felt like I won a race. It always feels great coming back after injury.

    You’ve got some great memories here. I hope you get to keep making more!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…You Might Be A Runportunist…My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 6:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope I do as well! There are definitely more to come, but it might take time.

      October 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Exhilarating is the word I would use. Racing lights a fire burning inside to push harder, get a little more uncomfortable, and learn about yourself on the way.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…4 Lateral Strength Exercises to Improve Your RunningMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:18 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Racing is probably when I am my most uncomfortable. It is one of the few times i really let myself rip.

      October 20, 2016 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    It is so true that we don’t know what we are fully capable of. I was recently reading something about Lauren Fleshman and how her psychology studies in college helped form her into the runner she was. Unlike most of us, she was able to tap into the knowledge that her mind was perhaps playing tricks on her and she could keep going. What a powerful tool!
    Sarah recently posted…Legend Compression Wear & Special Discount!My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      There should be a mental strength for runners or runner psych class in undergrad.

      October 20, 2016 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    I love that photo of you from Phoenix! Lots of fun memories for you. Raganar memories are some of my favorites as well nothing like it. Thanks for the linkup
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Will Run For Chocolate-Hershey Half RecapMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I really want to do another Ragnar!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    I’d love to run a race in Chicago someday!
    Annmarie recently posted…How to PR Your Next Half MarathonMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:22 am
  • Reply lindsay Cotter

    yes! and because each mile is different. You learn from it. Whether it be a healing journey race or a one where you push your strengths!
    lindsay Cotter recently posted…Brain Boosting Garlic Herb Oven Baked Cod Cakes {Paleo}My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:24 am
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Such good memories!!! You’ve had some amazing races and times. Congrats! Love the idea of this post. Thanks for hosting.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Healthy Pumpkin Pie SmoothieMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:36 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I loved your post as well!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Ellie

    What wonderful memories! I know that the most fun races I’ve done were also races where I struggled and made it through. Some races are Christmas, others are sucky, but spent with people who made it great πŸ™‚
    Ellie recently posted…Easy As Pie 5K Race RecapMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Exactly! When you struggle with people, it doesn’t feel as much like a struggle!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm
  • Reply Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs

    I admit I’ve lost some of my competitive fire after 20+ years of racing, but I still love the experience (though not he prices!). Love reading your memories. I loved my Ragnar too, it is definitely one of my favorites. Though there is also Paris, Honolulu, my PR in St. George….Oh, and that time I got married at the finish line of the Tram Road Race. πŸ˜‰
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…13.1 Tips to Run your Best Half Marathon and a Race GiveawayMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 8:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Definitely a pretty good memory, that one!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply Bri

    Love. I need to go back through my race recaps to relive my favourite parts. My most memorable, and one that changed me forever, was my first ultra. I literally thought I was going to die in the wilderness, haha!
    Bri recently posted…A runner’s review of the FitBit Charge 2 Heart Rate PlusMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 8:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Omg that was the most incredible story!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    I loved this. We really should reflect on all our awesome experience more often. I might have to steal this idea!
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (Part One)My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 8:19 am
  • Reply Lauren

    You have some great races under your belt!! I can’t wait to see what this year hold for you!
    Lauren recently posted…How Running Changed my LifeMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 8:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We’ll find out! Hopefully a little one first πŸ˜€

      October 20, 2016 at 3:22 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    I’d like to do Ragnar one day. My running club used to do a relay each year and we’d wear pink tutus and coconut bras, and do samubuca shots out the trunks of the designated driver’s van. It was so much fun.
    Suzy recently posted…CARES 10K Race RecapMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 9:03 am
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    I really want to do Marine Corps, the Virginia Wine Country race, and the Chicago Marathon! I’d also love to do a Ragnar! So many on my bucket list.
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Brooklyn Greenway Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 9:49 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      They were all so magical. And I want to do NYC!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is so crazy! What if we had actually met there?

      October 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Love your look backs! HEY! I ran the Chicago Allstate 13.1 in 2013! Too cool! Wish I’d have known you back then!
    Michelle recently posted…Weekly Wrap 10/10-10/16My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Lora @ Crazy Running Girl

    I love this post so much! Such a great idea to look back and remember the “why.”

    October 19, 2016 at 10:09 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We all need that, from time to time!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:24 pm
  • Reply Ilka

    Thanks for sharing these awesome running moments with us. I have so many great running memories as well, and I often reflect on them while I’m out running. For me, the running journey itself keeps the best memories in my heart, more then the actual races. I’m still sometimes amazed that I started running …
    Have a wonderful (Running) week Susie!
    Ilka recently posted…My Training Log Week October 10th – back in training!My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 10:11 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is part of the reason that I don’t race so much–I’d rather just run! Have a great week (running and otherwise), Ilka!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:25 pm
  • Reply Kat @anaussieinsf

    Wow, you’ve run A LOT of marathons. I was injured 3/4 of the way through training for my first marathon in 2015 and am STILL recovering. It was so nice to read through all of your favourite memories though. One day I’ll get there!

    October 19, 2016 at 10:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh my! What happened?

      October 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm
      • Reply Kat @anaussieinsf

        I’ve torn the cartilage inside my right hip joint. So I’m trying everything other than the recommended surgery at the moment because I’m a total wuss and scared of the American health system.
        Kat @anaussieinsf recently posted…Australian Communities in San FranciscoMy Profile

        October 20, 2016 at 4:31 pm
        • Reply suzlyfe

          Oooof. I’m sorry to hear that. And I understand your fear, but I also will say that we have some of the best surgeons in the world!

          October 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm
  • Reply Jennifer @ Fit Nana

    These are such amazing memories! And I LOVE the MCM. So inspiring to be running with those who have fought for our country and darn near paid the ultimate sacrifice and yet, they are cheering US on. I’ve cried both times I’ve crossed that finish line. LOVE that race so much!
    Jennifer @ Fit Nana recently posted…IS β€œFATE” REAL? DO THINGS ACTUALLY HAPPEN FOR A REASON?My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 10:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      MCM was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, for so many reasons!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:14 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    I love hearing the stories behind your favorite runs! It’s funny how some stick out so much more than others.

    Come do a Ragnar here with me! It’s on my bucket list.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Post-Vacation Eats [WIAW]My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 11:40 am
  • Reply Linda @ Veganosity

    This was so much fun to read! Thank you for sharing your memories, they gave me goosebumps. πŸ™‚
    Linda @ Veganosity recently posted…Vegan Pumpkin Sage RisottoMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 11:42 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You have so many marathon memories to come!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    I love the idea of running to surprise yourself with what you are actually capable of- and that the confidence gained can trickle into all other aspects of life. PRs are always highlights but I also love races I’ve run with friends… running is definitely a community sport!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…A few surprises the first ten days post marathonMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Absolutely! I love the community!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    Yaaaaay races!!! I love/hate racing. Mostly love. But sometimes hate. Haha!
    Rachel recently posted…How to Survive Taper (and Live to Tell About It)My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    I love all your mini recaps. That pic of you at Marine Corp is priceless. I laugh every time I see you post that pic. Your face says it all…haha. Way to go BQ after stopping to go to the bathroom during Phoenix. That’s awesome!
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Worthwhile RunsMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 4:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I have to say–I probably wouldn’t have been able to run the second half without that stop, lol

      October 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Jo @ Living Mint Green

    … for the sense of FREEDOM. And vitality. Running is when I feel truly alive. Also, it’s been my best friend. In times of joy or hardship. It’s helped me in ways that nothing or no one ever could. <3
    Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted…Weekend: Date Night in Calgary + Fun Sephora Finds!My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Those races when you surprise yourself are the best! I have a few that stand out in my mind, that were executed well, and exceeded my expectations. Races like those stand out and make it easier to forget about the bad ones.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Goals For The End Of 2016My Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      There just is nothing like that sense of accomplishment when you #nailedit

      October 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm
  • Reply Michelle @ Fruition Fitness

    I needed that! Hearing your favorite memories made me reflect back on mine…it’s been a great ride and it’s not over!
    Michelle @ Fruition Fitness recently posted…What to Do When Your Marathon Training {or half!} Does Not Go as PlannedMy Profile

    October 19, 2016 at 7:48 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Heck no, it is not!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm
  • Reply Nicola @ Running Happy

    Great memories. I think my favourite race memories are to do with the people or the scenery.
    Nicola @ Running Happy recently posted…How to start running and actually enjoy itMy Profile

    October 20, 2016 at 3:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I definitely agree! I’ve a great time racing with friends as well!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Pam

    You have such a positive attitude about running and I love that you shared all these memories. Actually, my recent marathon (Chicago) was really special not because I ran a splendid time, but because I helped another runner near the finish line. You never know what makes one race stand out, and it is not always the PR races.
    Pam recently posted…Logistics for running the Disneyland Paris racesMy Profile

    October 20, 2016 at 5:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And you know that you helping her will be emblazoned on her mind forever!

      October 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm
  • Reply Taylor Kiser

    Loved reading about your favorite race memories! It’s the memories that fuel the desire to finish strong every time!
    Taylor Kiser recently posted…Cauliflower Alfredo Vegan Scalloped Sweet PotatoesMy Profile

    October 20, 2016 at 8:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So true! It sin’t just about PRs!

      October 20, 2016 at 2:56 pm
  • Reply Laura

    I love running races! My favorite is the 5K in my hometown on Thanksgiving Day! I’ve run it every year (minus 1 because we had just moved out of state) for 13 years this year…I participated when I was pregnant with all 3 of my kids…and this year baby #4 will be running with me! πŸ™‚ Such great memories!

    October 20, 2016 at 8:33 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      What a fabulous tradition! I love that you have a benchmark for each year to remember the holiday by!

      October 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    So many great memories! You know, I should go back and look at my past races and think about those great moments. And it’s not always at a race where you PR!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Goals for the Perfect 10 MilerMy Profile

    October 20, 2016 at 9:43 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It definitely isn’t! There are so many other reasons to race!

      October 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Jenn

    I loved reading this! I am just now getting back into running . I was instructed to quite when I was pregnant with my twin girls and never got back into it after they were born (they are going to be FIVE in January!!! It’s been awhile! LOL). I definitely need to dig deep and remember what I’m doing it for. πŸ™‚

    October 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope this helps, Jenn! Let me know if you want to talk about coaching–I’ve helped lots of women get their mojo back!

      October 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Heather

    Such a good question because I *always* question why in the middle of a race. For me, it’s all about the challenge, so to see if I can do it!
    Heather recently posted…Comment on National Animal Safety and Protection Month with Dawn Wildlife by LauraMy Profile

    October 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      A fantastic reason!

      October 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm
  • Reply amanda -runtothefinish

    I would actually say a lot of my favorite running memories don’t involve a race at all, but for my favorite races they always involve David.

    October 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm
  • Reply Wiktoria

    ahaha I absolutely love this post! God your love for running is so inspiring ❀️

    October 20, 2016 at 5:32 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is so sweet!

      October 21, 2016 at 1:05 pm
  • Reply Rebecca | NOURISHED. the blog

    Wow! Such awesome memories. I love the reflection here – sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up moment and forget why we love something.

    October 20, 2016 at 7:07 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love to just run–sometimes I forget how much I love a good race as well!

      October 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm
  • Reply Emily Kyle

    You are such an inspiration! I don’t run, but I love learning what makes other people love it so much!

    October 20, 2016 at 8:03 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love discovering that as well!

      October 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Alisa Fleming

    These are such amazing memories. You should be so proud of so many fantastic milestones.

    October 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much!

      October 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Babydoll_Brea

    Your Phoenix race in 2015 is when I started following along with your blog, and the race photo from that event is one of my very favorite pictures that you’ve shared on IG.

    There are a handful of races that I’ve felt like I have nailed it, as you aptly put it. Those race memories are like gold to me, man. It is one of the best feelings I can think of. πŸ’«

    My apologies for doing the linkup incorrectly this time. I posted a favorite race memory with my daughter from my archives without getting the full scoop. I’ll get it right and link back next time, but it was very sweet reading about the race favorites of several of the links here.
    Babydoll_Brea recently posted…Weekend Snapshots – Friday Night Lights And Staying ClassyMy Profile

    October 21, 2016 at 8:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      No worries! I’m so glad that you shared, and you can always share something running related!

      October 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    What wonderful memories you have! This is such a great reminder to keep on sticking with PT and working towards healing yourself!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Pancake Fails, Surprises and SunrisesMy Profile

    October 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is why I keep telling myself that I NEED TO DO PT

      October 22, 2016 at 6:43 am
  • Reply San

    I don’t have a lot of races to look back on yet, but your memories make me want to make more of my own πŸ™‚
    San recently posted…Currently | OctoberMy Profile

    October 22, 2016 at 6:31 pm
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