You know, as an athlete (a term I use loosely in relation to me) and sports fan, there are a wide variety of athletes that I hold in high regard. Some of these athletes are famous and are in the newspaper, on ESPN, or online literally daily. Others are athletes that fly under the radar. It seems like it might be fun for me to write occasionally about athletes that have inspired me for one reason or another. To showcase their performances. Or their character. Or their mettle.
And with that introduction, I’d like to start this on-again, off-again series by introducing you to one of my Team Rev3 Tri teammates, Susan Haag.
Susan may not be the speediest athlete at a triathlon, but she may well be the most experienced one. She has done a mind boggling array of events: More than 70 full iron distance races. Countless marathons and ultramarathons. She did more than 75 events in 2012 alone! I don’t know if I could even keep up with the overall number of events Susan has done in her career (and I’m not sure if she could even tell you). Just a week or so ago, Susan ran in a 55 mile ultra to support the Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. In two weeks, she will be racing the Florida Ultraman (which, by the way is an iron race on steroids: 6.2 mile swim, followed by 261.4 miles on her bike, then a double marathon – 52.4 miles).
The sheer distances and volumes this woman races are staggering and mind boggling. I frankly don’t have any clue how she trains and races, all the while managing a career as a local assistant district attorney.
Susan also volunteers considerably. She’s on a variety of boards. She is the Florida Region representative on USAT’s board of directors.
In a nutshell, this woman is B-U-S-Y.
But quite honestly, it’s not the prolific miles and number of races that inspires me about Susan. Rather, Susan’s approach to triathlon and endurance sports in general is what really makes this athlete stand head and shoulders above others. Not a race goes by where Susan doesn’t stop to pet dogs, great children or chat with volunteers. For Susan, a triathlon or marathon is not just about the race; it’s more about the experience. She epitomizes what endurance sports should be all about. Togetherness. Fun. Loyalty. Conviction. Inclusion.
As an example, Susan shared an experience she had when she ran in the recent Ultra on behalf of Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. This year wasn’t the first year she had participated in this event. In fact, last year, she met a young man who was frankly pretty sick at the time. This year, she came across him again – only this time he was competing as part of a relay. He was struggling to run very far or very fast. Susan connected with him and his mother – and ended up running and walking with him for an entire lap – lifting his spirits and confidence and mood the entire way. It didn’t matter that Susan had several additional laps of her own to run; she selflessly gave of herself and made a lasting impact on another athlete.
It’s like Susan that I aspire to be. To be able to participate in events, have a blast doing it, and making memories with others. To me, that’s what I’d like to model each time I toe the line at a race.