3 avril 2019. Running Balls to the Wall & the Big 50K DNF (did not finish).

This post is dedicated to all of you who live balls to the wall.  In the event you find yourself unable to go balls to the wall – be gentle with yourself, then get back up – and smash that wall with smart training. 

Smart training is the new balls to the wall.

Slow and steady wins the race

Balls to the wall –

Over the last year,  most of my running has been pure balls to the wall.  Balls to the wall / just tough it out / really no training.

See – 21 janvier 2019. What Came First – the Knee Pain or the Under Training? J’aime courir. Mais mon genou me fait mal tous les jours. To Run Through The Woods…

If you know Suz, you know I consider myself a Jack of all trades, which means I don’t specialize in any one thing.  I’m just a Jack (not to be confused with a Jack Ass which, I am at times as well).  Historically, I’ve been able to forgo most of the training and just go balls to the wall on event day.

I can usually go balls to the wall mentally and overcome physically – this time, I chose to stop.

Exhausted from life – my mind was not strong and my body was really not strong.  It takes one or the other to go full balls to the wall – and this day I had neither.

Over the last two years, I ran a 50 mile race – balls to the wall, a full marathon – balls to the wall and a couple of half marathons – balls to the wall.  Knee pain, under training, more knee pain, no training, worse knee pain, less training, etc.

Vicious little cycle.

As I ran this 50K, regardless of the voice in my head, I still thought about continuing.  Ignoring the pain in my knee and now hip.

As I ran, I sang the lyrics to the Clash song – Should I Stay or Should I Go.

I needed someone to help me let go –

I needed someone to tell me it was OK to stop.  I needed someone to be the voice of reason.

At mile 7, I stopped to go to the bathroom and when I came out of the porta john, I saw my friend Pam.

Pam is one of my hero’s.  She’s beautiful, she’s sweet, she’s kind, she’s creative, she’s nurturing, she’s loving, she’s strong and she’s brave.  If Pam says she is doing something, there’s no doubt she will do it.

As I ran with Pam, we talked.  I explained that I needed to let go of this one.  I told her I didn’t want to quit.  We talked and over the course of the next 3 miles – unbeknownst to her she helped me to let go.

As we ran, I was cognizant of my outward mood – not wanting to bring Pam down, as she had her own 50K to run.  I tried to be positive and upbeat as my mind worked through what it needed to do.  Let go.

Pam set a goal.  She trained for and completed her 50K.  Not her longest race to date just her goal race for the season.

Merci beaucoup mon amie et bravo!

Be the girl you dream to be –

This summer Pam and her husband Ralph will travel to Canada and bicycle across and through the Canadian Rockies. Occasionally, during the month long trip their friend Tony will ride with them.  He’s the handsome, crazy guy every girl loves to be around.  I’m sure Ralph is the responsible one when the trio come together.

At first I didn’t understand their relationship – I wasn’t sure how Tony fit into their picture…  But now I see it for what it is.  Tony’s the glue that holds this relationship together.  He’s the breath of air that ignites all their passion and keeps these two young.  He’s the ultra cool guy all young men want to be and all young women want to be with.

This is not their first long bike trek and it won’t be their last.  Pam is living her life full! She’s blessing those along the way and setting a wonderful example for women of all ages.

If I had to write Pam’s motto it would read: You can be the girl you dream to be.

Pam and her man

Bonjour –

It was a perfect day, sunny and crisp.  Right before I quit.  Right before I DNF’d, I heard someone yell “BONJOUR.”

I looked around to see if I could pick out who the French person might me.  As I scanned the group of people around me, I spotted a guy I thought could be French and said “Bonjour Monsieur.”  He immediately said “bonjour” back with a very surprised look.  He responded “you speak French?”  I responded back in French “mais bien sûr  / but of course.”

We talked back and forth for about a mile.  He explained that I could go anywhere with French and with my smile (charming).  If he only knew my smile was about to be turned upside down.  If he only knew how happy I was to stumble upon him and speak French.  It’s the simple things.  As we chatted I forgot about my knee and hip.

Letting go –

As I spoke French, I actually forgot about my knee and hip.  For a brief moment I almost changed my mind.

Letting go is not easy.  I struggled with all the things a person would struggle with.

Mostly, I struggled with embarrassment.  I knew if I let go, I could not just wallow in self pity – I had friends to support.

As I let go, I sat down, I almost cried and then it was over.

It wasn’t the end of the world.  It was just the beginning. Vachement! Sérieusement!

It was the first step to healing.  Not just my knee but my mind.

I rested for a week – then I ran.  I ran slow and short.  I took walk breaks and I thought about how much I would miss running if I couldn’t run anymore.

I thought about all the times my balls to the wall attitude had pulled me through.

I thought about how at times it had served me well.

I thought about how exhausting balls to the wall living is.

I thought about my granddaughter whose heart condition won’t hold her back.

Letting go of the crazy –

This post is dedicated to all of you who live balls to the wall.  In the event you find yourself unable to go balls to the wall – be gentle with yourself, then get back up – and smash that wall with smart training.  Smart training is the new balls to the wall.







  1. So many things here….
    1st of all I never heard the expression ‘balls to the wall’ – bon, I learned something
    2nd – you know that I’m really NOT into running, nowhere, fast – I’m your ultimate ‘gourmet de la vie’. I like enjoying everything I do as much as I can and running is not one of the things I will do much in the rest of my days.
    3rd – I can only congratulate you to your decision of wisdom! It’s one of those decisions where I’m likely to silent-scream: That’s not a WOW (situation) but a WHY…. And wonder really WHY would anyone undergo such stress, doing your own body no favour, feel ‘useless’ at the end AND being totally exhausted. To then say: But Suze likes to run!!!! – OK – you win…. Je baisse mes bras 🙂
    You know my friend that all healing begins with forgiveness. Only when you can ‘forgive’ yourself (for not being overly fit, forgiving your body for not being as performance-ready as you wish, for not being 20 any longer, for WHATEVER), you’ll begin to heal. And what a GREAT feeling that is!


  2. I love this. After working non stop for 30 years I’m taking a 6month sabbatical on the Ile de Ré. Forced myself to see the island differently by running -well jogging or cycling. Yours is a lovely blog. Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t believe how motivated you are — running and learning French at the same time! Awesome! Thanks for following Oh, the Places We See. We’ve taken a break after traveling through Cambodia and Vietnam, but will be back soon, I hope. Thanks for taking an interest in us and our travels. And best wishes for learning lots more French as you run!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for having Suz Learns French as a Friday Fav. I was very surprised! I appreciate you and your time! I read your blog regularly and enjoy your posts. Very cool idea – the Friday Fav.


  4. You are incredible Susan. I have never heard the “balls against the wall” term before, but I have been there too many times. And as you mention, it is very exhausting. It is neat having friends like Pam, where you can confide and be yourself with. Wishing you all the best in 2020 Susan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Carl – I learned a lot in 2019. And same to you in regards 2020 – I’ve got a few goals set – just trying to train smart. I’m training for a half Ironman in May. What do you have planned? Biking and swimming has been a lot of fun.


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