That Girl: Meet 48-Time Ironman Finisher, Susan Haag

Doing an Ironman is one thing, but doing 48 of them is impressive beyond words. The grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run is anything but easy. But if you ask Susan Haag, who just crossed the finish line of her 48th ironman distance race, it’s pure joy. In fact, the accomplished triathlete says she likes the way all of this makes her feel–especially afterwards. “I like knowing that God gifted me with my body and my mind. I feel free while I swim, bike and run all around this beautiful outdoor world, knowing that I CAN DO IT.” Read on for more amazing inspiration from Susan:


Susan L. Haag

46 years young

Jacksonville, FL


Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of:

That I can do what I do repeatedly and enjoy it. I just did my 48th Ironman distance race last weekend in less than 10 years – and my 12th Ironman distance race in less that 12 months. I do believe though, that my first Ironman in Brazil in May 2002, might have been my crowning achievement. I had not trained for it -was just doing the general distances in my normal life :). I just signed up 2 weeks out, got a visa almost over night and just DID IT–and carried a camera. I reminded myself, starting w/ the rainbow on the beach before the swim–to find the joy in the “journey of the day”. My love affair with Ironman started there. And I have chased that wonderful joyful journey again and again.

What inspires you to get fit every day?

The way it makes me feel–especially afterwards. I like knowing that God gifted me with my body and my mind. I feel free while I swim, bike and run all around this beautiful outdoor world, knowing that I CAN DO IT. I do have low moments, but it amazes me that if you go with it a little, you can pull yourself out. Sometimes, even shedding a few tears lets you feel honest. Then you put your mind and body back to it and get’r done!

I also really love being out there with other like-minded sporty folks. It means the world to me to make a difference to those around me–by yelling out a well-placed word of encouragement or just smiling at someone…I like to think that I can turn someone’s hard moment around just by changing up the scenery for them and reminding them that it is a joy we are given that we can be pushing ourselves like this and a little jolt that we are not alone in our endeavors.

What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?

I honestly take it easy on myself. If I don’t stress myself out and make myself feel guilty, I usually find a way to ease on into it. Or I just decide that it is my body reminding me that rest is as joyful as action some times. If I let myself recover, I can go harder and more joyous the next time.

Favorite energizing meal:

I love THAI food…and sometimes get a little crazy with the spices. The waitress at a local haunt remembers me as the nutty one who ordered the jalapeno poppers before a 32 mile run :)…Afterwards, my most wonderful delish treat are found in your frozen food section” White Castle burgers with sliced green olives and cheese :) And NO, Krystals is NOT the same thing. NEVER. MMMMM!

What’s your favorite way to chill post-workout?

A big ole fountain diet coke and a wonderfully local (not a chain restaurant, I like finding gems in traveled to locales) meal with friends who have shared the day with me. I also can be found at the local Boiled P-Nut stand too :) and usually a bottle of hot sauce isn’t too far away.

What is your top kick-ass workout?

Funny, I race (or complete) about 45-50 events a year. Seriously. I know, kinda nutters…but I love being surrounded by my fellow athletes more than a manicure or really sweet expensive shoes and purses, so for me, an ironman distance race really “exercises” me -fully mentally and physically and emotionally whenever I choose to go that far. So for me, any thing less feels like a day off :) (really…)

Where is your favorite/most unique place you’ve ever exercised?

I loved racing in Malaysia, watching monkeys eat the discards from the bike course–I kept waiting on them to eat a thrown banana or a gel :). It was so wild exercising out in the “wilds” of nature.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through sports?

Anything is possible if you have determination and put your mind to it. I truly believe (and believe I embody it) that endurance events (and to some, a sprint tri can be an endurance event)…”it is 98% mental and the rest is in your head”. If you can visualize it, suffer some or mightily, you WILL SUCCEED! I was not an athlete growing up, you found me listening to music or reading. I simply came upon this with no real talent for speed. BUT, we can still do this. If you want to, you can. Call me and I will go for a run or a bike with you and tell a joke or 2 and pretty soon, you will be hooked too :)

Photo: courtesy of Susan Haag


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    • Kellie

      You are a crazy yet amazing and inspirational woman, Susan!! Thanks for an awesome interview. Enjoyed it and you look great in a run skirt!!