Continuing with our weekly column, “That Girl”, we are celebrating the accomplishments of real women who make health and fitness a priority because we know that true athletes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and athletic abilities from around the world. So this week we’re celebrating Susan Wallis, an amazing triathlete who has completed an impressive 36 Ironman races (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run), including competing six times at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. And at age 59, she’s not stopping! Read on to hear what she has to say is the biggest lesson she’s learned through it all…
Ponte Vedra, FL
59 years young
Retired high school math teacher
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of:
I am most proud that I have been working out since I turned 30, even though my workouts have changed over those years. I started running when I turned 30, did high intensity aerobics, moved into short triathlons, then the irondistances and have added crossfit to the mix, recently.
What inspires you to get fit every day?
My inspiration for daily fitness is that I want to be healthy for as long as possible, and that is a daily commitment. Real nutrition, proper exercise, and faith, family and friends are all necessary parts of that.
What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?
When I don’t feel like exercising, I remember that there is a purpose for every day and once it is gone, you may have missed the whole reason the day was created. I am not saying that exercise is the most important thing in the day, but it can set up the day to be great. And give you the energy to accomplish what needs to be done.
Favorite energizing meal:
My favorite meal is almost anytime I am eating! I love food, but am making sure, now, that my body is getting the proper food to fuel it. That means I have cut out the sugars and processed foods! So my favorite go-to meal is scrambled eggs mixed with coconut milk, cooked in coconut oil. Usually I add in bacon, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms and onions.
What’s your favorite way to chill post-workout?
Post workout, I don’t chill till I have refueled! Those first 30 minutes are important to give the body the fuel it needs to be able to perform again. After that, I like to relax with my feet up, and maybe take a nap if it is after an intense workout!
What is your top kick-ass workout?
My top workouts have been when I am at the crossfit gym and doing workouts that say “as many reps as possible”. That means you are doing several movements during the given time-frame, as quickly (but must be in good form) as possible. You are breathing really hard and feel like quitting, but it is only maybe 10:00 total, so you must give it your all! The other killer workouts are when you have to do several rounds for time. For instance, 5 rounds for time of 9 kettlebell swings, 5 pushups, and 5 toes-to-bar is one of my upcoming workouts. You want to do these as fast as possible, so that the final time is short. But again, that means the breathing is labored and you are glad when it is over!
Where is your favorite/most unique place you’ve ever exercised?
My most unique place I have worked out was in Elizabeth Town, South Africa, where I did one of my Ironman Triathlons. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, swimming in the Indian Ocean (didn’t see any great whites!), seeing the Southern Cross in the sky at night, it was all so much fun. And the other triathletes I met there are still friends. I have been to other places for my Ironman competitions, and Austria and Kona also rank in my mind as awesome places to swim, bike and run. I did get to do a crossfit workout in Kauai this year!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through sports?
The biggest lesson I have learned from sports is that you can do almost anything, if you are just willing to risk failing sometimes. Too many people restrict themselves or make up excuses. I have met so many friends through my sport of triathlon and crossfit, I have gained an appreciation of what food is meant to do for our bodies, and I believe I am adding years to my life. If I don’t get to live longer due to my fitness, at least my years will be with higher quality. Who wouldn’t want that??
Calling all female athletes (that means you!): Do you surf, ski, swim, climb mountains, mountain bike, compete in races or stay fit with any other sport? We want to inspire other women with your story. Send an email to editor@Blisstree.com with the subject “That Girl”.
Photo: Susan Wallis