Interview with Susan Russell the female Cross Country Winner for CariFin Games 2014.
CariFin News: Hi and welcome Susan, we at CariFin News are quite excited to talk to you since after you have won the Female Cross Country race for CariFin Games 2014.
Susan Russell: Sure, thank you for the opportunity – let’s chat…
CN: What was your experience like at CariFin games?
Susan Russell: Carifin Games 2014 was a great learning opportunity … I guess I’m an “academic” at heart, and wanted to see how I could apply what I was learning about “running”
CN: You were always in the top 3, after the first event – the 1 Lap Savannah where you came 3rd you occupy 2 spot for the Green Mile and Chancellor Challenge and taking the final stage the Sevilla Cross Country. Summarize your performance over the 4 running events for our readers?
Susan Russell: I would measure my performance in terms of the improved times I recorded, instead of how I placed per event. The field of female competitors missed the stalwarts of Carifin Games like Wendy and Esla – had they participated, my placing would have quite different (smile). However, my times are the best I ever made for the first (3) events, and that was quite satisfying.
CN: You had a rest of 2 years from the event. How has being away from the competition been for you?
Susan Russell: I believe in giving your best to any effort, or don’t do it – and that was my situation… for the past (3) years my priorities were elsewhere, and I could not dedicate the time or focus that were required for meaningful participation. I preferred not to complete in just (1) event, which I did, the last time I competed.
The time away made me hesitant on whether I could still compete 3 years later. However, the times in 2014 were my best times ever… it seems like I’m good alcohol… I got better with age (smile)
CN: Now that you are back, what do you think of the competition and as you project yourself preparing for CariFin 2015?
Susan Russell: I will continue to focus on the required training, and try to complete some more challenging first-time events such as the UWI half, which I’ve been hoping to do for the past (4) years. I hope it happens this year (smile).
These new events and ongoing training will get me better prepared for 2015, and I hope to run for top places, with a more competitive field.
CN: You mentioned training with Road runners … how has that help to get back into the game of running after your 2 years absence? I want you to explain it in terms of showing how important it is for people you inspire to emulate you and winners like you be part of a structured training program.
Susan Russell: The Trinidad and Tobago Road Runners (TTRC) team is phenomenal. I joined earlier this year, by invitation from a friend Natalie la Font, and it has changed so much of what I thought I knew (smile).
You are correct – there is a structured training program, and the ‘formal’ coaches (Paul and Stewartie), customized my training based on my experience (or lack thereof), ability and goals.
We have a number of “informal” coaches (Joy, Wendy, Learie and Debbie) who teach, encourage and “buff” you, to realize your potential. For the Savannah 1-lap, most of the regulars were at the home base (the bench opposite QRC), and shouting for me to “keep the pace”. Another member/coach, Anthony, pushed me to match his pace, which I did comfortably.
Their support inspired me to continue training and target goals I thought my body (and mind), could not achieve.
CN: It is always a pleasure to watch you run, what is the high point for you in CariFin Games 2014? And what makes it so memorable?
Susan Russell: There were (3) high points – firstly, applying the “techniques” and then seeing these translated into new times…
Another high point was that our company, RBC, managed to score in top 3, Male and Female, for most Walking and Running categories – my colleagues, Clement and Jubrajsingh and Jedidiah Benjamin, performed really well.
CN: Do you think that having support from family and coworkers make it easier to strive for greatness?
Susan Russell: Definitely. Having that type of support makes an unbelievable difference! Their confidence in you encourages you to perform at your best – it makes you care enough not to disappoint. Even when you come in short, it’s a great feeling to know that the support is still there.
On a personal note, my mother has failing eyesight, and she thoroughly enjoyed the fact that my interviews were profiled on Youtube, which she could hear (smile).
CN: This is the 1st time you have won the CariFin cross country how does that feel knowing your name would be written some where on that trophy.
Susan Russell: Without meaning to disappoint the readers, I can say, I’m ok with this. The reality is, my time was better a few years ago. This year, the focus was on applying the techniques to run the course. As a result, my approach was slow, hesitant and “exploratory” at best. However, it was a great learning experience as the course became less daunting.
If I win, or place in the top 3 in 2015, with a better time, ask me again, and that will be a totally different conversation! (smile)
CN: What are you doing to prepare for the 2015 CariFin Games?
Susan Russell: I am hoping to be consistent with my training, as I balance my many other personal and professional commitments – it’s always a challenge. I am confident though, that with God’s grace, if I want to compete seriously in 2015, He will help me make it happen.
CN: Susan, as you watch the present crop of runners female in particular, what advice would you give them to raise the standard of running in CariFin and by extension health and fitness.
Susan Russell: That’s a tough question, and a very good one. To raise the standard of running, our participants must have the zeal to compete – either to challenge themselves to get better times, or be motivated to win prizes for themselves, or the company they represent.
Participants are motivated by different stimuli, and perhaps more than 75% have a goal of simply finishing (1) or (2) events – that is an individual personal decision, based on one’s life stage.
My primary motivation was that I wanted to be fit and active to play all the rough and tumble sports with my 4-year old son. Now I realize I can produce better times with structured training, I am motivated to add that as another goal.
My advice to the female runners is this: perform at the level that gives you a sense of satisfaction or achievement. Let’s not settle for less, when we can do more – if you feel good, why not set yourself a more challenging goal for 2015?
CN: There are young women coming into the financial services sector, what options do you think they have to pursue a fitter, more active lifestyle and what advice would you give to them to survive and strive within this environment which some think is very stressful?
Susan Russell: An interesting observation is that most of the top female runners (other than Hay Lee of Citi), are in their 30’s and early 40’s. I think when we get to our late 30’s and 40’s, we would have developed an idea of what’s important in life, we see our bodies and attitudes change, and we make a deliberate effort to focus on a healthy, active lifestyle. This helps us better meet our spiritual, family and professional needs.
My advice to the younger women (early to mid 20’s), is to think of your immediate and short term goals (to be achieved within 3 months to 1 year). These may include: getting professional or academic certification; aspiring to a supervisory or managerial role; saving towards your own home or even starting a family – these commitments can be quite demanding, and could take a toll, making some women wonder if we can have it all.
However, many of us seem to “have it all”, around Carnival time, or when we need to get into an outfit for a wedding or Christmas party – we prioritise, and focus on what’s important. After that event, we are usually a few pounds lighter, and a couple thousand dollars poorer. The enthusiasm to pursue a fitter, healthier lifestyle therefore seems short-lived.
One way our younger females may be able manage it all, with fewer stress-related issues, is if they are emotionally, physically and spiritually “fit”. But this is easier to say than to do.
My suggestion is to take small steps, and surround yourself with others who have similar goals. As a team of 1, 2 or even 3 people, you can agree to take a walk around the QPS, one weekend for the month, instead of a lime at Movie Towne or on the Avenue – it is cheaper, you can still look great! You may discover you actually enjoy it, and then with some discipline, it can become a way of life.
CN: Susan it was definitely a big moment for our readers to get an insight into what you are thinking / feeling for this year’s CariFin Games 2014. Any last words before we end?
Susan Russell: When I get in my “zone”, running symbolizes “freedom” – it’s a great de-stresser and so far, the side-effects aren’t so bad (smile). Why not give it a try?