Susie is thrilled and never imagined when she first began triathlons nine years ago that she would one day be representing Great Britain, “The reason I started competing was to get fit again after eight years of babies, toddlers and focussing on the success of CPD Solutions – plus it just seemed like a good idea at the time. I began with the sprint distance, which involves a 750m swim, a 20km cycle phase and a 5km run to finish. My supporters at my first ever event told me afterwards that they didn’t think I was going to finish when they saw me get off the bike and collapse due to getting cramp in both legs at once. However, I did finish and I haven’t looked back since!”
Having come a long way since then, Susie has successfully worked her way up the triathlon tree, completing varying distances including the ultimate Ironman challenge which involved a mighty 2.4 mile sea swim, 112 mile bike ride followed by a full marathon. “That was a tough but fantastic day – at least finishing was! At 10pm on a very wet and windy night in Wales, hearing the announcer say ‘Susie Coughlan you are an Ironman’ is one of the most memorable experiences of my life”, she describes.
So what does a typical week in the life of Susie look like? It’s certainly not a pretty sight by most people’s standards, involving a tremendous ten hours of training which regularly feature 5.30am starts, early morning sea swims and gruelling bike rides in relentless rain. A key session for all triathletes is the ‘brick’, which involves running straight after getting off the bike to get used to the dead leg feeling that is characteristic of every run in the actual event. However, Susie maintains that getting out of bed is actually the hardest part, “Once you’re out and about, it really is enjoyable. Plus, it’s a great way to keep fit and gives me some time on my own to think. My greatest tip for others struggling to find the time to get active would be don’t try to do everything – I don’t iron, bake or sew name tapes on children’s school uniform, I try to avoid housework and don’t watch much TV. There are probably some things that you can cut down or out without the wheels falling off.”
The European Triathlon will take place over the standard Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run) in Kitzbuhel in Austria on June 22nd, where Susie will compete in the 45-49 year old female category. This is the same distance completed by the Olympic medal winners, the Brownlee brothers at London 2012 – although Susie claims to go a LOT slower! Sporting the GB gear will be a great honour, says Susie, “Qualifying for the GB Age Group team for the Standard distance European Triathlon Championships was a super surprise and I’m especially excited about competing in the GB trisuit.”
Susie knows better than most that successfully balancing work and personal life demands can be notoriously difficult for members of the veterinary profession, “Helping vets and nurses make the most out of their professional and personal time is one of the chief challenges we look to overcome at CPD Solutions. Now I’ve got the ultimate challenge in having to practise what I preach if I’m to do Great Britain proud!”
To read more about Susie’s triathlon undertakings, visit www.susiecoughlan.com and watch out for the European Championships results in June. Good luck Susie!