Susanne Lyle

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you completed the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?

I’ve run this marathon three times, I believe. In the last couple years I’ve really enjoyed running as part of a team on the relay.

What does your training schedule look like to prepare for this event? When do you start training? How often do you run on the course, the trails, and the Dome?

To be honest, I’ve never trained for any of the marathons I’ve run.  Although I try to maintain a good base by staying active with running, swimming and biking, I have never even looked at a training schedule.  In fact, my husband John always says that I could “do so much better” if I were more serious about training.  For some reason I’ve never had that kind of ambition.  I usually wait until the last minute before signing up, depending on how I feel.  

The closest I’ve gotten to a training regime is participating in the women’s running group with Bruce Miller and Steve Bainbridge’s Equinox training runs.  I’m not disciplined enough to do interval or hill training by myself.  Every year is different and I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the summers, so unfortunately I don’t get to attend these training runs religiously.  I’m lucky to live right on the Equinox trail and I run on it a lot, either connecting onto campus trails or roads up and around Ester Dome.  I hardly do any running on roads and feel grateful for all the great trails we have in Fairbanks.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

It’s such a community event.  Whether you race, jog, or walk, hike, volunteer or cheer on the sidelines, it’s always felt to me as if the whole community is out to support each other.  It brings people together and celebrates everyone’s capabilities, efforts and accomplishments equally as we collectively appreciate the beautiful surroundings in which we live.

What’s your favorite part of the course?  Your least favorite part?

This relates mostly to the degree of difficulty.  It’s sometimes hard to remind yourself why you’re doing this when the alarm clock goes off early in the morning and you know it’s dark and chilly out and really, you’d much rather stay in your warm, comfortable bed. Then there’s the anxiety of not knowing what your race is going to be like.  I’m happy to get the first steep hill at the SRC behind me because it’s such a bottle neck, but once I find my pace and stride, I shift into the moment-by-moment, one-step-at-a-time mode.  Of course I dread the steep up-hill sections, but each Equinox is different and the same course section can feel easy one time and then really hard another.  I like the section where the trail meets Henderson Road.  Naturally, crossing the finish line is one of the best parts because you get to see all the smiling faces and cheer on the ones yet to cross…plus there is always the sauna afterwards.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.  Describe the worst.

I’ve been lucky to have never experienced “hitting the wall” or injuring myself during the run but again, I don’t “race”.  I’m happy if I can just go the distance.  I’ve always been challenged staying warm and look forward to many cups of hot tea from the thermos during the race.  Psychologically one of the best moments is always reaching the top of Ester Dome and enjoying the view from up there.  It’s a great reminder what a magnificent place we live in, and a relief that the toughest (meaning up-hill) part of the race is over.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner?  What are your running goals/fitness goals?

Like most runners know,  running a marathon is very humbling.  I lack the ambition to be competitive and besides staying healthy into old age, I never really had a “goal”.  If I know for myself that I did the best I could out there that day, I’m satisfied.  Running is only part of the activities I enjoy.  My first love is yoga and running is secondary.  It’s my yoga practice that has allowed me to continue running as much as I do in the first place.  Personally, I’ve found cross training to be beneficial.  I tend to alternate running and swimming days, once in a while combining both for a double workout or throwing in a bike ride.  In the winter I switch to cross country skiing.  

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate being able to run no matter how far or slow.  I don’t take my body for granted and try to take care of it by finding the balance between keeping fit and allowing it to rest.  My long-term goal is to be able to keep running as long as possible.  For me, that can sometimes mean running less (and doing more yoga) in the short term. 

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

We only have this one body and the better we care for it the more we’re able to enjoy life.  It is a skill to stay tuned-in to your body at all times and know what it really needs.  I’m sure every runner has over trained or pushed themselves too much, too far or too fast at some point and then paid the precious price.   Yoga teaches to give 100 percent and then let go of the outcome.  I think running is a little like that:  we can prepare for the course as best we can but we never really know what will unfold on race day.  We can’t control all the factors.  There are too many. The only thing we can really control is our attitude.  So my advice would be to not take one’s self too seriously and remember to have fun. Enjoy yourself. Pause and notice the smell of the cranberries and soak in the fall colors. Most importantly:  smile, greet and thank those who pass by.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in the Equinox?

I’ve never really worried about training by the book.  If anything I could have probably put in more training miles, fueled more smartly, as well as allowed for more rest days prior to race day.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?  Why do you participate in this event and what keeps you motivated?

Never say never.  The marathon distance is kind of hard on my body and at this point in my life,  not what I personally need.  But I’ll definitely consider the relay any year and would love it if the Equinox race would offer a half-marathon distance option.


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