05 Apr Success Story: Susie
Some people in life have an immediate impact on others around them. When I met Susie in Hawaii just a few days before racing Kona 2017, she blew me away. A mum of 4 (all Ironman triathletes themselves), grandmother, and the Managing Director of the KIDS Foundation, she has a wonderful, energetic perspective on life. She successfully completed Kona on a testing day, and this is her story of success…
Susie’s husband Brett was competing in the Australian Ironman in Foster 2000 and it was to be the race that changed her life. She thought Ironman seemed a ridiculous event, but as she stayed and witnessed people of all abilities crossing the line she realised that “if one could ever feel like a sporting hero, this would have to be as close as it gets”. She had the crazy idea that she would do Ironman too, and so a year later she was on the start line too.
The finish line of her first Ironman was more than Susie could imagine – she had believed she had no athletic bones in her body and never thought Ironman was even possible.
But there she was, 5th from last over the line but she felt like she had just won, and she was hooked.
A nasty car accident found Susie with fractured ribs and bone chipped off her spine, but not to be deterred she swam and cycled but couldn’t run in training. She competed in Ironman again, walking the full marathon and coming in 7 minutes before cutoff. Susie proved just how tough she could be, and a month later she had successful surgery to remove the fragments of bone.
Susie went on to have some memorable races, one of which was their whole family of six competing in the Australian Ironman Championships together at Port Macquarie. She suffered a broken ankle in a fall from a mountain bike, but again she managed to finish her next Ironman by walking the marathon. It seemed nothing could stop her.
One day out cycling with her GP friend, Susie mentioned that she’d had a higher than usual heart rate in training. Her referred her to a cardiologist and several tests later an aortic valve tumour was found. 6 months later another check revealed it had grown quickly, and Susie underwent open heart surgery to remove it. It was close to coming away from the valve itself, which could have resulted in a dangerously blocked artery. Susie credits Ironman training, being so fit and using a heart rate monitor for saving her life. 6 months later, Susie was on the start line of the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.
Susie’s dream was to get a legacy spot to Kona, and in 2017 she did just that, and says crossing that finish line has been her biggest achievement in triathlon.
Susie chatted to me about nutrition in the days leading up to Kona – all reports were that it was going to be a hot one – and she had been struggling with getting her hydration right. We decided (along with her GP friend) that she would use our sports hydration on the bike. She got through the day without feeling sick and finished without dehydrating when so many others were suffering around her. She says she felt great, and recovered well the next day, which has never happened before! Since then Susie has continued to use Bindi in her training (she loves the Zesty Lemon & Lime).
Despite not being born with natural athletic ability and poor time management (as she puts it!) she feels her success in triathlon has come down to one thing: determination. It is this mindset that has seen her through many tough moments in life and sport, and she is determined to keep competing in half Ironmans each year. She loves the healthy lifestyle and friendships that are so much part of this sport, and it is people like Susie that shows us that anything truly is possible.