This story is the first part in a four-part series about our Halfsy Hero Susan Swearer. Our series will follow Susan and three other heroes as they train for the 2017 Good Life Halfsy.


Susan Swearer isn’t afraid to stand up to a bully and she never planned to let an injury push her around. Life never goes quite as expected, but Susan has the guts to grab it and remind it that it belongs to her, not the other way around.

Professor of psychology at UNL, and Manager of Bullying Research Network and The Empowerment Network, Susan has found her calling in researching and overcoming oppression.

With a fulfilling career and a beautiful family, Susan felt her 50th birthday was a great opportunity to set some new goals. In 2015, she decided she would run a race every month. She found several, including The Good Life Halfsy, and signed up months out. She had run a half marathon before, in 1997, and The Good Life seemed like an excellent fit.

Her first few races went well and, as the Halfsy approached, she set a goal to beat her 1997 time of 2:10.

That was when she was dealt an unexpected blow. An accident left her with a traumatic brain injury, a broken rib, and a collapsed lung. She took the injury in stride, but her races and her training were traded for rehabilitation at The Madonna Center for therapy.

“Everyone at Madonna was just amazing. They were patient, kind, understanding. They knew my limitations and helped me push them.”

Her recovery process was slow, and even as she climbed her way back from the injury, it found ways to knock her back down. Pneumonia, caused by the collapsed lung, derailed her plans for a quick return to racing, and she was forced to keep her focus from a hospital bed.

A half marathon isn’t as much about physical discipline as it is about making a decision and sticking with it, even after the fatigues sets in. Even after the pain creeps up. Even as your mind starts to wander. It’s a mental discipline.

From her bed, her mind had hours, days to wander. But she had a goal, and now she’s back and ready to crush it.

Susan has used discipline and determination to put her brain, body, and life back on the path she designed. She has conquered several 10Ks in the last few months, and with the help of two of her graduate students who will be running the Halfsy with her, she’s ready to take on her next challenge.

Check back for more Halfsy Heroes, and to read the next installment of Susan’s story!