This week on That Girl, we are celebrating Susan Lacke, a triathlete who has accomplished one of the most grueling events out there–an Ironman. While thousands of women complete this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run event every year, what inspires us about Susan is the fact that she did so a mere year and a half after losing 70 pounds and running her first 5K race. That’s a remarkable accomplishment in such a short time. Oh, and we also love the fact that she says anyone can do an Ironman. Take a look at why she believes this.
Primary sports: Running & Triathlon
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of:
I took up running as my New Year’s resolution in 2009, when I said I wanted to run an entire 5K without stopping. I still haven’t stopped — today, I do everything from 5K races to Ironman! I’m currently working on my latest goal, which is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s my biggest challenge to date, and I’m loving every second!
What inspires you to get fit every day?
I have an inner fat kid who refuses to be silenced, so I run to balance out her cupcake consumption. I’ve also discovered the days I break a sweat are always better than the days I don’t.
What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?
I whine a lot, mostly to my dogs, who don’t really seem to care. Sometimes I put my running clothes, sit on my couch, and stare at the treadmill or my bike for a while. But then I do it anyway. It’s okay if you’re not digging that day’s workout. I used to hate it when people said this, but the cliche is true: nine times out of 10, if you can force yourself to just start, you’ll quickly get into the groove and wonder why you put it off.
Favorite energizing meal:
At the moment, I’m kind of a smoothie freak. One of my writing jobs is for No Meat Athlete, and I’m constantly playing around with ingredients in the site’s Perfect Smoothie Formula. Some combinations are prettier than others (I seem to make a lot of brown smoothies – Julia Child, I am not), but fortunately they’ve all tasted better than they’ve looked.
What’s your favorite way to chill post-workout?
After a long ride or run, my boyfriend, Neil (also a triathlete), and I seek out the greasiest, saltiest Mexican food we can find while we swap battle stories from that morning’s training. My idea of happiness post-workout is a pair of compression socks on my feet, a plate of enchiladas in my belly, and a cute boy sitting across the table.
What is your top kick-ass workout?
My coach, Mario Fraioli, who is also one of my bosses at Competitor Magazine, is the master of the ass-kicking workout. One of his favorites (and mine!) is the Sisyphus session: After a 15-minute warm-up run, you run up a hill at 5K effort for 30 seconds, then walk or jog back down. Repeat, but this time run uphill for 60 seconds and jog back down; then repeat with a 90 second climb and recovery, then close it out with a two 2 minute climb and recovery. It’s like hill repeats on crack! Do this, and your 15 minute cool-down run will feel effortless in comparison. Follow up with massive enchilada consumption (that part isn’t from my coach, obviously, but a critical element all the same).
Where is your favorite/most unique place you’ve ever exercised?
I recently did a trail run through Muir Woods, near San Francisco. Neil and I ran 4.5 miles to the beach, soaked our legs in the ocean, and then 4.5 miles back back. It was so beautiful, and so much fun! On the way back, though, I realized why we only saw hikers with big hiking sticks, and not other trail runners…holy hills, Batman! I was a little sore the next day.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through sports?
The human body is capable of really amazing things. The mind wants to convince us otherwise – It’s too hard, I’m too old, I could never do that–but the mind is a liar. After I finished my first Ironman, I wrote a piece stating Anyone Can Do an Ironman. I stand by that assertion. Anyone can do an Ironman–it’s just that most people won’t. It’s just as true in sports as it is for everything else in life: Can’t and won’t–there’s a HUGE difference between those two words. Use them wisely.
Photo: courtesy of Susan Lacke