Finding My Song

Scientifically proven: plants grow better when talked to.
Or sung to as seems to be the case with this oriole and his crab-apple.
He lights. He flitters. He sings his beautiful song. He can’t help but sing. It comes too naturally. It’s the vibration, perhaps, of his oriole song that encourages the pink to explode. Sure, the crab-apple would bloom without him, but there would also surely be a stagnation, a sluggishness, without his encouraging words and flutters of activity. The way I see it, God gave songbirds a purpose not just to look beautiful, but also to play a role in His complex creation. For real, I don’t know about you, but I notice the robin’s song long before I see buds on trees. I see the orioles before those pinks burst open with all their glory. It seems likely that the robin, the oriole and the like stir up life on a microcosmic level to encourage something good to come out from beneath that cozy, safe bark. They encourage with their song. It’s taken me about 30 years but…
 I’ve finally found my song through running.
My earliest running memory was with my mom. She and I were driving home to the farm. We were about a mile from home and I said, “Stop. Let me out. I wanna run home.” She did. I took off running. She followed me ever so slowly in the car as I ran down the gravel road and up the huge hill all the way home. I was four. It was evident from a young age that running was “in my blood” so to speak. But what’s in the blood doesn’t always surface right away. Up and through school I was a relatively competitive runner but not overly dedicated. Like a bird that just didn’t know its song, I fluttering around aimlessly and muted. I lived by whatever sounded good. I was pretty shallow and undisciplined. I wasn’t thinking about my purpose — how God formed me to glorify him best. I needed a little Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed by this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That by testing you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I mean, I know: our value is complete simply in our existence. No works, nothing I do, can make God love me any more than He already does. The bird can just be and he will still be loved. Nevertheless, God created the songbird to sing; he finds joy and purpose – possibly even nearness to His creator – in doing that which he was created to do. So in the search for my song, I kept coming back to running.


My progression has been slow and not always deliberate:
  • Marathons came into the picture in 2001. I’ve shaved an hour off of my marathon time since then, reducing it to a miraculous 2:42 (miraculous because it really was a miraculous race). I’ve run 15 and counting.
  • My husband came into the picture in 2003. I married a runner. He has been both my anchor and my sail. He encourages me to fly but still helps me to stay grounded and realistic with the expectations I put on myself.
  • I tried my hand at an ultra marathon in 2007. It was one of the first North Face Endurance Challenge 50-milers. I won and practically by accident.
  • My first Boston was in 2009.
  • My first sub-3 hour was in 2012.
  • My first Olympic Trials will be in 2016.
Every day and with every mile, it becomes clearer that I’ve been given me this opportunity to sing this song. Similar to how the bird encourages the tree to bloom with his song, my voice to encourage others goes through the megaphone of my feet.
Thanks for hearing my song.
 ~Susie Duke

14 thoughts on “Finding My Song

  1. My running journey began my Junior year of high school when both my sister and I got a call from the Cross Country coach. At this time I didn’t even know this existed as a sport. I was an okay runner the next 2 years of high school but lacked passion. My sister dominated me. After High School cross country I decided it was time for a break and took a good 10 years off until my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were in DSM for the Susan G Komen run where I ran a 29 minute 5K and can remember being passed by what had to be a 90 year old man. After that I told myself I would always give it my all and would makeup for that terrible showing. Since then I have reduced my 5K time to around 18 and extended my mileage out and now even do a couple marathons a year. The hope is sometime I qualify for Boston. I am currently 7 minutes away from 3:05

  2. I’ve been running since I was a young girl. No real funny story there. I am in current pursuit of a sub 3:40 marathon and my biggest hurdle is fear. I’m working on it. I just wanted to comment that I love your public display of faith and trust in God. It is immensely refreshing. Thank you sister in Christ!

    • Best to you in that <3:40 pursuit! You've got it! And fear is such a huge thing to me! I'm not anti-fear but I do try to corral it and channel it into something better than worry and such. Thanks for reading!

  3. After several starts, running finally became part of me three years ago at the age of 45. It’s been quite a journey so far. Running clears my mind. It is a time I use to reflect and meditate. Running has gotten me through some tough spots in life.It is a tool I use to get past obstacles. Currently I am trying to run a half in every state with my youngest sister. I cannot wait to see where running takes me next.

  4. My parents bribed me. If I went out for cross country, I could get a golden retriever. 🙂 I have fought knee issues since high school, have tried to train for marathons and get to the 9 mile mark, and my knees give out. I’m happy with 3-5 mile runs just to clear my head and get away from the chaos of having small children! I still have aspirations to run a half. I do believe, however, I still struggle to find my ‘song.’ You are an inspiration. And the hill you ran as a 4 year old is impressive!!!

      • Bought the kiddos to the track tonight. Kate wanted to run with me. We ran three laps together and then she ran around with her brothers. It completely reminded me of your story! Hope your training is going well.

  5. I love track workouts with the kids. Mine are 6, 3, and 5 weeks. My 6 and 3 year old get a real kick out of running on it. I can tell they think there “big stuff” when we get to run there. In our town at age 7 the kids can start going out for track. Can’t wait for next year.

    Although last Saturday we showed up really early for a track workout and about 15 minutes into it the startup football team showed up and started practicing. This is just some adult league football. One of the guys said to me with my son around that I should consider trying out for the team. *LOL* I took it as a compliment for my running but also at the same time I was in sweatpants and a couple sweatshirts and he has no idea that if somebody hit me on the field I would break into a hundred pieces.

    • HA! I’m sure you could hold your own on the football field. … And it is funny, but I do think the track bring out the best in people. A good track is a special place. I know lots of people that can’t stand running on a track, but I find it somehow invigoratingly peaceful.

  6. As a kid and through out high school & college, I was an athlete, but I wouldn’t call myself a runner. In fact, I did the sports or played the positions in the sports where you did run: goalie, threw shot put, etc. Then many years after college, I got bored one night. It was late and instead of popping down on the couch or heading out to meet a friend for a drink, I put on “running shoes” and some workout gear and went out for my first run. This night, November 3, 2011, forever changed my life. It was a slow 2.5 mile run and in fact, there was a lot of walking, but it was the catalyst to calling myself a runner! At the end of the run, I was in pain, panting, so sweaty, yet on cloud nine. As I walked through downtown Pittsburgh back to my apartment, I thought to myself when could I do that again?! I knew from that first night, running was forever going to be in my life. I immediately signed up for my first 5k three weeks later and then once I finished that, signed up for my first half marathon. Now, after 10 half marathons and about 60+ other races since that fateful night, I take on my first marathon in just 2.5 days. It’s all because I was bored one night that I accidentally became a runner.

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