Thursday, March 07, 2013


Last year, Suzie Fox started her season of at the Meet of Miles and finished with Ironman Wisconsin. Along the way the 29 year old Chaska resident qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii this October by winning the 24-29 age group with a time of 10:38:43, including a 3:30 marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles. You can read the recap of her race HERE on her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter @SuzieFoxTri.

First off, congratulations on qualifying for Kona on your first Ironman attempt. Was that the goal going in and were you surprised to qualify?
Thanks! Qualifying for Kona was never on my mind. I decided to do an Ironman to enhance my coaching career so I could coach Ironman athletes and then I obnoxiously begged and pleaded my two best triathlon girlfriends to register so we could all do our first one together. I got hit by a cyclist at a half Ironman in Iowa three weeks before the race and was really banged up so I felt lucky to even be at the start line and never dreamed I would be in contention for a Kona slot.

You were able to do a lot of your training last year with those two girlfriends, Heidi Keller Miler and Ann Snuggerud. All three of you had terrific Ironman debuts as Heidi finished in 11:03 and Ann in 11:12. Are you going to be able to convince them to train with you this summer as you prepare for Kona?
Ann loves long runs and swimming so I can always count on her. Heidi gets very busy coaching swimming in the summer but can regularly swim very early in the morning with me. Very early means before 5am but she is worth the wake up call. Last summer Heidi even agreed to do a 29 x 200 birthday swim with me on my 29th birthday which actually meant 29 x 225 for her since she is so much faster than me in the water. That is a true friend! I was crushed that both of them just missed a Kona slot, it won’t be the same without them in Hawaii. Luckily I am weird and I thoroughly enjoy a 5 hour bike ride or a 3 hour run all alone just as much as I enjoy training partners.

Team Chaska; Ann Snuggerud, Heidi Keller-Miler and Suzie Fox (left to right)

That race isn’t until October. What are your other plans for the year leading up to that?
The TC 1 Mile and Get In Gear 10K are my can’t miss spring Minnesota running races, I love both of those. All my favorite local triathlons and duathlons are in May and June so I am racing an Olympic distance or shorter event almost every weekend those two months. Then I am taking all of July, August, and September off to train for Hawaii but will do one half Ironman in both July and August at venues notorious for being hot (Racine, WI & Palo, IA). September will be strictly a very disciplined high volume Ironman training month.

Your bio on the OptumHealth Performance site says you played fast pitch softball for 17 years. How/why did you switch from softball to endurance sports? Was there a particular endurance sport that came first between swimming, biking and running or did you just start with triathlons?
After collegiate fast pitch softball ended I still had a burning desire to compete and push my body mentally and physically. In 2008, I started running and instantly loved it. My sister and I signed up for a half marathon the week before the race, without training. It was very stupid and I was very sore, but hooked. Biking followed and was the easiest for me to pick up, which led to duathlons that fall. Swimming came last and I started doing triathlons in the summer of 2009. The swimming motion still feels very awkward after throwing a softball overhand for so many years. I could throw both right and left handed so my arms still want to throw a ball on the swim recovery from muscle memory. But I loved triathlon so I much I wanted to make a career out of it. I am addicted to the intense physical challenge of triathlon and the people I have met through the sport are fabulous.

In addition to your own races, you are also a coach. What types of coaching do you do and how can people find out more about your services?
I have been a personal trainer since 2005 but my love of triathlon inspired me to become a triathlon coach in 2010. In addition to personal training I do triathlon coaching for corporate employees of United Health Care and Optumhealth and also for anyone else in the public (kids and adults) who want a personalize triathlon, duathlon, running or general fitness plan. You can find out more about all our services at OptumHealth Performance. We do coaching, testing, form analysis, and much more for athletes of all levels and abilities.

What one piece of advice do you give to your athletes the most?
Do not compare yourself or your race results to others, only compare yourself to your past times. Triathlon is your own personal journey, other people have been doing this sport longer, have more free time to train and have faster/fancier equipment. Doing your best, having fun, enjoying a healthy active lifestyle, sportsmanship, friendships and challenging yourself to improve your own personal records are what racing is all about.

Can you tell us a little about your nutrition, which on your blog you describe as a juicer, raw food, Kombucha tea and green smoothie enthusiast?
My nutrition is centered around fruits, veggies, and raw nuts. My brother-in-law got me started juicing daily in 2004, I bought a Vitamix in 2007 to make green smoothies, and my aunt who lives in Boulder got me started fermenting my own Kombucha tea in 2009. I think nutrition is very personal and I feel the best when I eat mostly plants. This is not for everyone. I have completed grad level nutrition coursework but I am not an expert or a registered dietitian. Food is fuel to me, I eat to recover from the workout I have just completed and to have energy to complete my next workout. Very sparingly when I am away from my own kitchen I eat meat and/or diary and I always feel sick after. I have the most energy and recover faster eating plant based foods but never push my beliefs, make suggestions to or judge my friends, family, or clients on their eating habits. People are quick to pick on vegans but that is how I eat the majority of the time and I feel great and eat a delicious variety of foods daily.

What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
Swimming and bike handling are my weaknesses. My work ethic, bike power, and mental toughness are my strengths. I will never be the best athlete out on the course but there is not a sole that I would trade my drive, heart and love of the sport with. A quote I love is, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

What is your fondest memory from tris?
Ironman Wisconsin was the most fun I have ever had racing. People ran up the hills on the bike course with me like the Tour de France. We got to run a lap around the Badger’s football field which was interesting. Seeing my dad’s smile all day behind a big camera lens, having my mom there cheering too, and hugging them both at the finish line. The energy and crowd support on State Street during the marathon was electric. I smiled the entire bike and run, chatted with volunteers in transition, gave high fives to little kids throughout the run, and really enjoyed the day to the fullest. I didn’t want the race to end. Everything just made sense when I crossed the finish line and watched my training partners cross the finish line, things just clicked like all the sacrifices I made to train were worth it, I had picked the right career, how supportive my parents are, how much I love this sport, and that I have pretty amazing training partners. I couldn’t stop smiling for days after!

Proof that Suzie couldn't stop smiling during Ironman Wisconsin.

Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
We are really spoiled in Minnesota and Iowa because there are so many well run triathlons and duathlons with great competition. The Gear West Duathlon has to be my favorite duathlon because I love trail running, so the combo of two 5K trail runs with an all out 17ish mile bike on roads in the middle is a blast. I could probably change my favorite triathlon every weekend as there are so many, but right now I would have to say Ironman Wisconsin is my favorite triathlon and national race because it was my first IM. I will be back in 2014.

If you could swim, bike or run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
Can I count Kara Goucher and Scott Jurek as Minnesotans? Scott’s book Eat and Run makes me proud to be an endurance athlete eating the way I do. I would love to pick his brain during a run about eating and running. Kara Goucher has it all in my eyes, she is a mom while living her athletic dreams. I want to be a mom someday while still working and seeing how far triathlon will take me. I would love to ask her questions over a run about her running career, running during and after pregnancy and much more. I think she is a great role model for women.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started doing triathlons?
Swimming is actually fun! I think an open water swim keeps some people away from trying the sport. It almost kept me from attempting triathlon but it can really grow on you if you work hard, stick with it, and find a group to push you or a coach to give you a variety of structured and helpful swim workouts. Don’t give up, just keep swimming! You will get better! As Heidi reminds me all the time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, just keep swimming!

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