Monday, January 24, 2011

Press On: My PR and BQ in AZ

The week before I ran my second marathon, my coach suggested I find a manta.

A mantra?

Yes. I needed a positive thought to counter the mind games. One never knows when the games will start, but somewhere along my 26.2 mile trek through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe my brain would start playing tricks, emit negative thoughts and make the time and miles slow to a snails pace.

I struggled for days to find my mantra.

Finally the night before Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona, it came to me via text. Just like his bat when he played baseball, Clint Hurdle had perfect timing.

I actually had an thought earlier in the day when my sister-in-law Lynnette and I were riding a packed light rail back from the race expo in Phoenix to our hotel in Tempe. We boarded the train with a dad and his young son with multiple disabilities. Once we were seated the father leaned his head on his son’s wheelchair and closed his eyes. Dad looked exhausted.

What happened next would make anyone smile. Out of nowhere, the son extended an arm as best he could towards his dad. Without opening his eyes, his dad grabbed the gnarled hand and held it tight.

I thought, when the going gets tough tomorrow, think of this moment. Run for the boy who can’t. Run for his dad who loves him.

Later that night a text crossed my phone and put the heart warming image into two words.

Every day former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle texts inspirational messages to a large group of people. For some reason I’m fortunate enough to receive them. My husband also gets them and we marvel at how often one of the quotes he sends along applies directly to something going on in our lives.

The text was a lengthy quote from our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge. It talked about persistence, talent, education and determination. It was the last sentence that got me:

“The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

Press On.

I found my mantra almost exactly 12 hours before race time.

I dreamt about the saying all night long. Press On, Press On, Press On. When mile whatever got tough I would say “Press on. Because you can.”

I told myself to think about the sweet boy in the wheelchair and his loving father. I’d think about Clint’s daughter Maddie who was born with Prader Willi-Syndrome. The chances of her running a marathon someday, while not impossible, are not likely.

Armed with my manta the next morning, I crossed the start line with one main goal: finish the 26.2 miles. I had been fighting a tweaked quad muscle for two weeks prior to the race and had my doubts if it would hold up.

I felt a little pain in the first couple miles, but once it warmed up, my leg felt good. Sometimes it would bug me but I’d think “Press On.” What was a little ache compared to how those kids feel every day? Nothing.

For the fun of it, I had written down a few checkpoint times on my wrist to coincide with a 3 hour 55 minute marathon pace. Finishing was my main goal, but if at all possible I wanted to finish in less than four hours (my first marathon was 7 seconds over four hours).

When I crossed the 5K, 10K and 13.1 markers, I was ahead of the times on my wrist. Press On.

Unlike my first marathon, many of the miles melted together and the mental game I was prepared to play never really surfaced. Every time a negative thought entered my mind, I recited my mantra. Press On.

I did have one more goal in the back of my mind, something Lynnette brought up the night before: if I finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes or less, I would qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s the Mecca of marathons and while I always hear about people qualifying, I never thought I could be in that group.

Well, turns out I am a part of that group. I earned a BQ (Boston Qualifier) in AZ with a finish time of 3 hours, 49 minutes and 5 seconds and set a new personal record (PR) shaving 11 minutes off my first marathon. Press On.

The next day, I texted Clint to thank him for the mantra. He replied back with a congrats and “Will tell Maddie ‘Susie Wargin’ did good today”. Maddie always uses my last name which cracks me up and makes me smile.

Susie Wargin did do good… but it sure didn’t happen alone.

Press On

Monday, November 15, 2010

What’s your password?


We need them for everything: email, paying bills or shopping for the holidays. Anywhere we click, we need a password.

So what’s your password? I don’t really want to know, I just want you to think about the following:

Is your password something easy to remember that you can type with your eyes closed? What if you used a password that actually made you think every time you typed it?

We are about to embark on another season of resolutions, so I offer up this one: make your password(s) a goal, a positive thought or just something that makes you stop and think.

I started doing this in April. I was dealing with a stress fracture and torn labrum in my hip and I couldn’t run because of it. One day I was prompted to change my email password and instead of racking my brain for another combination of the kid’s names and birthdays, I decided to make a positive message: Myhipis100%.

I was far from 100% at the time, but it fulfilled all those upper/lower case, number, and symbol requirements, so I figured “why not?”

For 3 months I typed that password countless times every day and lo and behold, my hip got better. Granted, I was resting it and being smart in my rehab, but I know it didn’t hurt to think “Myhipis100%” over and over and over again.

Every 90 days we have to change our passwords. When my next prompt to change came about, I was starting to take walks pain free. So, I decided my new password would be “ready2Run”. This one really made me think every time I typed it because I usually pressed the shift key too soon and had ready@Run. During those 90 days I started to run.

I was recently prompted to change again and now my current password uses numbers and letters from my next goal: the Rock & Roll Marathon in Phoenix on January 16th. Each time I type my new password I smile because six months ago I was on crutches. Today, I’m training for a marathon.

What do you want to do? Lose weight? Eat healthier? Be a better person?

Don’t wait for the next prompt. A change today could make a difference for life.

All from a simple password.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Women in the locker room... and Rome

I never call into sports talk radio. I listen all the time, but never have the urge to call.

That is until the topic of Inez Sainz pushed one of my hot buttons: women in the locker room.

Inez is the sports reporter for Mexican TV whose name (and everything else) is popping up in national headlines because of her visit to a New York Jets practice last weekend.

Inez felt like ball drills during practice were being deliberately thrown her way so players could get a better look at her. Then after practice, while waiting to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez in the locker room she said: "It was an uncomfortable moment because you are in the team's dressing room and they are obviously changing clothes, showering — doing what they do every day in the locker room. So being a woman, obviously it was a bit uncomfortable."

I have four words: Welcome to American football.

I’ve been in and around a men’s locker room since I was a sophomore at Broomfield High School. I was an athletic trainer for the football team, and while it wasn’t acceptable in 1985 for a woman to be in the men’s locker room, our training table was right outside the always-open door. I taped up just about every body part imaginable, so I consider that close enough to being in the locker room.

For the last 13 years, I’ve been in professional and college locker rooms too many times to count. Yes, there are naked bodies - that tends to happen when people shower and change clothes.

When I heard Jim Rome talking about Inez and the gray area that separates “locker room chatter” from harassment, I felt compelled to call and talk about my experience.

I received a very warm welcome from Rome’s producer Jason Stewart when he found out my background and what I wanted to talk about. In fact, after spending about 10 minutes on hold with a guest scheduled in the following segment, J-Stew asked if he could call me back in 20 minutes. First class.

After he called back, I listened as Rome re-set the scene about Inez. He gave his thoughts, which are very similar to mine, and it boils down to this: there is no black and white in this situation. I wasn’t there first hand to hear or see what happened so I am basing my thoughts on what Inez and others around the situation have said.

Here’s my take (and then some):

No person, regardless of anatomy, should walk away from a locker room feeling harassed, degraded or otherwise. That is unacceptable - period. However, while that line is drawn in permanent marker, it’s edges are blurry. That’s where either trouble can start or relationships can be built.

Contrary to what some players might think, I (and I’m guessing most other women) don’t walk into a locker room hoping to check out “packages” as Clinton Portis would say. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

For starters, 99.9% of the guys are very conscious of wearing towels to and from the shower and facing their locker when getting dressed. If there does happen to be a time when I catch a glimpse of bare skin below the waist, I immediately look up. I could probably tell you the ceiling material in every locker room.

Depending on the day, the locker room can be a great time to build relationships with athletes and being a woman is a huge advantage. Keep in mind: I’m married with two kids, I’m not looking for THAT kind of relationship.

Here’s what I’m talking about: before or after a practice, most guys are loose and hanging out at their lockers which are usually littered with pictures of family. Considering I’ve gone through two pregnancies in these 13 years, most guys know I have kids and there’s no better conversation starter than children. Sometimes I talk more about family with a guy than sports. No microphone, no camera, just chatting. That’s the kind of relationship I’m talking about.

Many of these initial bonds have grown into much more over the years. Take Clint Hurdle for example. I used to talk with him when he was a hitting coach and his wife Karla and I were pregnant at the same time. When his daughter Maddie was born with a genetic disorder and they wanted to spread awareness about Prader Willi Syndrom, they called me to do the first story. What an honor.

But back to Inez and now on to her credibility. I hate to question it, but when she showed up to a Super Bowl media day in a wedding dress and asked Tom Brady to marry her, I was suspect then. Those suspicions have now grown after seeing her appearances this week on multiple news shows, taking pictures with people on the streets of New York and looking wide-eyed at her profile pictures which appear on both her station and personal websites.

I’ll say this much: I’m 40, stay in shape and am proud of it. However, I don’t have to wear spiked heels, tight jeans and a blouse with a V neck to my belly button to feel good about myself. Its inappropriate dress for just about any workplace and a locker room is no different.

Things like this make my blood curl because I, along with so many other women in my profession, have worked and continue to work so hard to be professionals who are accepted as equals to our male counterparts. Stories like these set us back a few steps and it takes much longer to regain those steps than it did to lose them.

Lastly, to her concerns about plays in practice being thrown her way so guys could get a better look-see. Newsflash: they pull this stuff in every sport and it doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman. I’ve had footballs kicked my way, baseballs ground out at my feet and hockey pucks slapped into the plexiglass in front of my face. Usually I’m not standing by myself when this happens, but rather with members of both sexes. Players like to mess with the media - they test us and try to see what we are made of.

After 20 years in radio and TV, I know what I’m made of and I have to admit being in the locker room is one of the best parts of my job. It’s a way to get to know players beyond the X’s & O’s and give viewers/listeners a different into their lives (if appropriate).

I was able to articulate most of this on Rome’s show but have added quite a bit more here. Apparently I have a few things to say about this topic, thanks for hearing me out.

Did I mention I never call into sports talk radio?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Did you really ride 107 miles?

Yes I did.

I’ve been asked that question quite a few times since the Deer Creek Challenge. 107 miles and almost 13,000 feet of climbing. I talked the talk in our 9News promo and I biked the bike on August 30th.

My partner in crime for just about every cycling event is my younger brother Ted. We decided we weren’t real keen on riding in the dark when the course opened at 5:45am (plus he wanted the extra few winks of sleep – didn’t really matter to me because waking up anytime after 1:45am is sleeping in for me!).

So I picked him up at 5:45 and as we pulled into the Botanic Garden’s parking lot, it was impossible not to notice the hundreds of vehicles already there – maybe we should have started earlier.We got on the road by 6:35 and started climbing Deer Creek Canyon. It was a little chilly but we warmed up quickly with all the vertical miles. At aid station #1, we stopped, enjoyed some food and chatted a bit with amazing volunteers and other riders. This theme continued at every aid station… more on that later.

Next was the climb up City View which has some breathtaking scenery enjoyable from a car, but on a bike all you notice are the endless false summits. Just after finishing one steep climb, lo and behold another one stares you in the face. That was tough. We had a two word saying throughout the ride starting with “Really” and ending in another word not suitable for family reading. We found ourselves saying it quite often.

From there we cruised down Foxton Road. Wow, that was a chilly decent. I hadn’t been down this road before and kept debating on whether or not to stop and put on my wind jacket. I never did and by the time we hit the bottom turn around, I was frozen. Thankfully my brain was working well enough to get my first stamp of the day to verify we had made it to a checkpoint on the century route.

Turning around and climbing back out on Foxton warmed us back up and we stopped at another aid station. The aid stations are so important for fueling the body but we later realized that we spend WAY too much time at them – mostly my fault because I get to chatting with people… whoops.

The rest of the route took us down High Grade, back up Deer Creek Canyon and then around the Evergreen/Conifer area before re-hooking up to City View for a SECOND trek on that fun road. This portion of the ride was by far the toughest biking I’ve ever done. My quads were toast and I had to stop a couple times just to try and breathe some life into my legs before the next climb.

Along the route we had a few more “stamp stops” to prove we were there. When we finally rolled back into the Botanic Gardens for our final stamp, Ted and I headed straight to the jersey tent for our official Deer Creek Challenge Century jerseys. I wear it very proud.

Ready for the staggering stats from our day on the inaugural Deer Creek Challenge?

I was on my bike seat for 7 hours and 50 minutes.

We were on the course for almost 10 ½ hours.

Yeah, we didn’t cross the finish until 5pm. Ted’s wife and my nieces had been waiting to surprise us since 3:30 - we thought we would be done much sooner.

Regardless of the time, it was an amazing event – very well organized, fun and there’s no question we will be back next year.

With two lessons learned of course:

1. If you do the math, we spent a combined 2 1/2 hours between nine aid station stops. Granted, we ran into old friends and met new ones, which is half the fun with these events. But next time, we’re putting a time limit on stops.

2. Maybe we should have started earlier. :)

Getting my final stamp at the finish line to show that I indeed rode the Century (+7!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

I have a what??

2010 was supposed to be the year of big time athletic events for me. A full Ironman trialthon, a 1/2 Ironman tri, the Triple Bypass and the list goes on. My head wanted to prove that turning 40 isn't a barrier to what our bodies are capable of, but rather a gateway to the incredible feats we can train it to do. My body had different ideas.

It's always easy to point fingers when there is a setback in life. This one is my fault, although I am convinced it started in Vancouver during the Olympics (which was the last time I blogged - yikes).

Those 25 amazing days were also 25 exhausting days. I didn't realize it at the time because we were so driven by the Olympic buzz, but my body was breaking down little by little every day. I would wake up early to get in a workout, then proceed to work 16-18 hours. No rest and no days off makes for a very unhappy inside!

When I came home, I didn't take time off to rest then either - I just kept training. Swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run. Some aches and pains began to develop. It started with my lower back, then went to my left hip and eventually to the right hip. The pain was "do-able" though and with massages and a few trips to the chiropractor, I thought I was OK. I wasn't.

In mid April I went for a 6 mile training run. I had it perfectly timed before I had to pick up the kids from school. I knew something was wrong from the start: my gait was completely off but like an idiot, I kept going. My right hip really hurt, but the pain subsided about mile 2 so I figured I was fine. Wrong.

About mile 4, the pain was back and excruciating. By mile 5 I really needed to walk but coudln't because if I did I would be late to get the kids. Lesson learned to give more time for those "just in case moments!"

Long story short, that night I could barely walk, climb stairs or pull my pants on standing up. I walked with a cane for a couple days. Over the next couple weeks it got a little better but my limp was very noticable. Finally I made an appointment with a hip specilist.

The initial diagnosis with Dr. Xenos at Steadman Hawkins (who is awesome) was simple enough - likely a torn labum muscle in my hip. But after the MRI, the story was different: the initial stages of a stress fracture AND fraying of the labrum muscle. A stress fracture and muscle tear? Wow.

For two weeks I was on crutches to eliminate any weight bearing activities which helped so much. Thankfully both problems were caught early and once they heal I shoudln't have any lingering issues. My limp is almost gone now and I've been cleared from the crutches unless I have a "bad day".

Unfortunately most of my kick butt events are out the window. No Triple, No 70.3 Boulder, No Ironman in November. I'll be lucky to be ready for one triathlon this summer and I usually hit 3-4!  Thankfully I have been able to bike during this time will be able to ride in my 14th Courage Classic at the end of July, which is very important to me.

I have taken my workouts down a notch which is not easy for me.   I usually climb hills on my bike with great ease but have had to slow down and spin my pedals like crazy so I'm not pushing too hard. It's tough to pass guys that way but my ego is coping :)

I have decided my new motto is something Dr. X told me last week: "Let pain be your guide." No more working through pain on any kind of workout. If it hurts, stop and rest. For most people this makes naturally sense, but for us "Type A" folks, it's very tough to stop and rest.

Truth be told, this injury couldn't have come at a better time:  I still turned 40 this month and have two amazing vacations planned with my family. I'm ready for the R&R.

Now, where's the pool boy?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Pink Inukshuk Hat

Forget the sold out red mittens, that's not what Denver wants from the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Everyone wants the pink hat and it's nowhere to be found!

I bought the pink and white striped hat last week at the little gift shop inside the International Broadcast Center. I like pink, I had a 9News jacket that matched it and was having a bad hair day (lots of rain and humidity mixed with curls is never a good thing). I thought it was perfect. I had no idea it would spark a storm of e-mails and Tweets.

It started with an email from Michelle in Greenwood Village: "Susie - I was watching the 4:00pm news cast and was watching you from the Olympics. I am very interested in where you got the pink beanie. I love it. Any help on where I can get that would be great."

Then came an email to our Web Team from Laura: "Can you tell me where Susie got her pink and white Olympic hat?"

Soon another email from Nick: "Hi Susie, My wife loves your pink hat! I assume you got it at the Olympics? I am scouring websites trying to find it and I'm not having any luck. Would you mind giving me some details about it so that I might be able to find one for her?"

And then there were the Tweets: @susiewargin Where did you get the pink striped Vancouver hat you wore last night (with your pink jacket)? I LOVE IT! Now I'm on a mission!

And there are more. I've tried finding it on the web; the tag says but it's nowhere to be found in the official store. So, I'm offering to buy them for viewers and bring them back. Last time I checked, the gift shop still had quite a few, but by the time the Games are over, I might have their entire stock!

Just goes to show: you never know what can come from $25 and a bad hair day!

Matt Renoux and I enjoying Opening Ceremonie in the NBC compound

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We have arrived!

It's Sunday morning in overcast Richmond BC... time to catch everyone up on our Olympic journey so far.

Saturday was a long day of travel. I was up early at 4am (not nearly as early as I usually wake up though, so almost sleeping in) for an 8:30 flight from DIA to Seattle. After being dropped off at the airport by my husband, Matt Renoux and I checked a bunch of bulky bags and equipment in at the United counter. They all asked if we were going to Miami for the Super Bowl. Nope, 25 days in Canada.

We flew to Seattle and met up with our "warden" Tim Dietz who is in charge of all the Gannett folks here (he's the nut in the Canada hat). We also met up with a few co-workers we will be working closely with from our Gannett stations in Phoenix and Minneapolis. After a rental car pick up, we were off to cross the border.

Matt and I made a few stops along the way. Lunch was way overdue and we also shot some water scenes for a story he is working on. I took pictures of the two "tokens" my kids gave me and will continue to do so throughout the trip. The pink frog is my daughter Sam's and the Lego Skeleton man is Justin's. Pretty funny huh?

Eventually we did make it into Canada and to our hotel in Richmond. I have a suite, Matt does not. I found this out when I made the mistake of saying how nice our rooms are with the couch and living area. He said "what living area?" Whoops... he has a big room with two beds. I felt bad.

After "settling" into our rooms for all of a 1/2 hour, we boarded the train to take us to Vancouver. It was packed at 7pm at night and the games haven't even started. Matt & I were both hauling big backpacks with our laptops and cameras so we take up a little extra room. About 25 minutes later we were in Vancouver.

We made our way to the IBC (International Broadcast Center) which is where we will spend all our time when we aren't shooting stories and running down athletes. We got our credentials checked and laminated, except for Matt. There was a discrepancy on his birthday from his passport so he wasn't allowed in the IBC. Like the suite, Matt got the short end of the stick. Poor guy.

We spent some time in the IBC getting to know our workspace, checking out where Bob Costas will do his show and most importantly, where they are feeding us. We will be well taken care of if/when we find time to eat!

When we left, we found a somewhat sulking Matt Renoux blogging in a food court by the train station. We boarded back to Richmond for the hotel and I unpacked. My home away from home already looks like home: piles have formed, electronic devices are all plugged in and my snacks have taken over the ice bucket.

This morning I ran 12 miles on a gorgeous flat, dirt trail that is a block from the hotel. Water lines one side of the path and gorgeous houses line the other. It was amazing. I ran past the Olympic Oval where Speedskating will start on Saturday. What an incredible venue this is just from the outside (notice the security fences - two layers between that path and the venue). I can't wait to watch an event in there and since it's only a mile south of the hotel hopefully that will happen!

Today's plan includes a story on the IBC so we can show you what it's like behind the scenes. When you watch us live on TV or see Brian Williams on Nightly News, you only get the one view. Our "IBC Cribs" story will show you everything (except the set where Costas sits - that's off limits - but I will show you the hallway he will walk in!).

So far, I'm very impressed and can't wait to dig my heels even deeper into these games, cities and venues!