Balancing a life of motherhood and elite athletic training is no small task.
With a husband, four children and a job, Suzi Swinehart has had to learn the art of balance as her time gets split between training, award ceremonies, sportsevents, homework help, children bickering, cleaning, grocery shopping and cooking.
The Fort Wayne woman is an ultra runner and between 15 to 20 hours each week is spent training. In an average week, she runs anywhere from 80 to 100 miles.
On top of rigorous training, she takes care of her family and works part-time as a behavior therapist for people with special needs. Finding the harmony of motherhood, life and running isn’t always easy.
“There are days when my brain just spins and spins,” she says. “It can be extremely stressful.”
Amid the chaos, time seems to slow when Swinehart escapes the business of life to run.
“It’s like therapy for me,” she says. “It gives me peace.”
As an ultra runner, she is one of those elite athletes who take on the challenge of running ultra distances – any distance beyond the 26.2-mile marathon.
Ultra running can include races that are 50 or 100 miles and races that are blocks of time with the goal of running as many miles during the time span.
“It’s almost like a team sport,” she says. “You’re out there helping each other get to the finish line.”
Swinehart has been running since she was 8. She would run with her father growing up and has cherished childhood memories of running alongside him.
She ran through her high school years at Homstead and went on to run during some of her college years.
At 19, she ran her first marathon in San Francisco.
Once Swinehart had kids, though, competitive running ranked lower in priority and she ran mainly to stay in shape.
But in 2004, after her mother died, she began to get the itch to compete again. She began training with her brother. For the two of them, it was a way of bonding after the loss.
“I think after she died, it…