Becoming 140.6 Mile Suzy

Becoming 140.6 Mile Suzy

Suzy-before-and-after croppedby Coach Suzy

Two weeks from today, after many months of training through blood, sweat and tears, I will toe up to the starting line at Ironman Wisconsin.  This is a tribute to my Coach and the love of my life, Coach Joe LoPresto, for getting me ready to start and finish 140.6 miles in one day.

My journey began about 16 years ago.  I started running for weight loss in between the birth of my 2 beautiful daughters.  I joined a local running club and began my regiment of running about 3 miles 3 times per week.  Over time, I became proficient in the art of talking while running, which eventually earned me the position of Social Director of the running club.  I made lots of new friends, including a guy named Joe.  Joe used to affectionately refer to me as “3 mile Suzy”.

During our runs and socials events, I remember listening to the stories the other athletes told about their marathons and triathlons.  I thought it all sounded crazy and like something that I would never even consider doing in a million years.  I thought, “I’ll stick with my 5K’s, thank you very much.”

In the early dawn hours of September 11, 2005, I found myself in a car heading north to Madison, WI to watch this guy named Joe compete in this race called the Ironman.  Other than knowing that I’d see Joe and the other athletes swim, bike, and run (a lot!), I had absolutely no idea what was involved.  What I saw that day changed my life forever.

I saw smiles, I saw tears, I saw determination and I saw pain.  The emotion of the day was completely overwhelming.  I knew I didn’t even begin to completely understand what was going on that illustrious day in Madison, yet something deep inside me told me that I needed to pay attention.  Something deep inside me told me that I needed to follow this path called triathlon and this leader who came to be known as Coach Joe.

What an amazing ride it has been since that illustrious day back in 2005 when I watched Coach Joe compete in the same race that I will embark upon in 2 weeks time.  What an amazing ride it has been since I crossed the finish line in Racine 2 short years ago.  He can’t call me “3 mile Suzy” anymore, and I have him to thank for that.

Racine Ironman 2013 291

Thank you, Joe.  Thank you for pushing me out of bed (literally!) when I didn’t want to do that morning workout.  Thank you for pushing me to keep up my pace when I was getting fatigued after 5 hours of riding.  Thank you for shuttling my kids around so I could get my training in.  Thank you for knowing exactly what to do when I tweaked this or that during my training.  Thank you for everything.

Push” by Madonna

You push me to go the extra mile
You push me when it’s difficult to smile
You push me, a better version of myself
You push me, only you and no one else
You push me

All I wanna do is cry
You push me
When it’s hard for me to try
You push me
When I do it for myself
You push me

Without you, I would not be the athlete, the coach, or the person that I have become.  Without you, I would never have had the courage to begin this journey of preparing myself for one of the greatest endurance events in the world.  Without you, I would never have been able to break out of my “3 Mile Suzy” mold and Become “140.6 Mile Suzy”.

Borrowing from one of your favorite lines when you talk about me, “I couldn’t have done it without you, Baby, and I wouldn’t want to!” 🙂

My 2013 Ironman Journey Articles by Coach Suzy:

8 months and 8 days

4,223 Yards..Oh My!!

The Hard is What Makes It Great

What a Ride

Becoming 140.6 Mile Suzy

All You Have To Do Is Choose

Suzy Cerra is a USAT certified Triathlon Coach with Experience Triathlon.   As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Suzy and the Experience Triathlon staff help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life.  Learn more about Coach Suzy and Experience Triathlon at


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  • Emily Erickson

    LOVE THIS post Suzy!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • michael

    I always knew you would one day be an Ironman. Looking forward to seeing you out on the course. Love being out there with first timers – reminds me of the thrill and excitement of my first time! You got some pushups in you after crossing the finish line?

    • Thanks, Michael! I’ll never forget the day that we watched Joe do IM in ’05 or the day that he and I watched you do it…hopefully I’ll see you in Madison!! As for the pushups…we’ll see?!

  • Cathy B

    I hope to be there to cheer you on! Never once did I not think some day you too would do this…going to be a great day for you!!

    • Thanks, Cath! I remember seeing you right before you went in the water last year and how exciting it was to watch you…can’t wait!!

  • Jim R

    You got this Suzy !!! What a fantastic journey you’ve been on. Looking forward to seeing you out there on the course.

    • Looking forward to sharing the “BIG” day with you, Jim! It has been a pleasure training with you!!!

  • TanyaL11

    You are the best Coach Suzy!! It is going to be great sharing this AWESOME accomplishment with you, as you have shared, pushed and guided me to mine! Onward and upward!!

  • Flecky

    You are going to ROCK IT Suzy! I only wish I was in this country to watch you do Ironman Madison but I will be looking forward to coming home and hearing all about it! I will be anxious to see the pics too! It has been quite a journey and it is about to pay off! Best wishes always!

  • Pat Carlson

    May the Ironman gods be with you. It will be a momentous day. Hope you enjoy every minute of it!

  • Coach “140.6 Mile Suzy,”

    YOU? Talk while running? YOU? The Social Director of the running club? Imagine that! Your bubbly personality was evident even back then.

    Wishing you God-speed on your race. What an exciting day it will be. I wish I could be there to cheer you and the other athletes on, but I’m helping at a charity golf outing that day. I’m looking forward to hearing about your race and seeing pictures. May the road rise up to meet you and may the wind be at your back throughout the entire race. You’ve got this!

    • I know, super surprising on the talking while running thing, huh, Nance?! Didn’t take me long to master that!! 🙂 Thanks for the well wishes!!

  • Bob H.

    What a journey you have taken! Pat and I can’t wait to be there to support you on this leg of your triathlon journey! You are going to so ROCK Ironman Wisconsin!!

    • Thanks, Bob! Thanks again for being one of our biggest cheerleaders through many of those LOONNNGG training days…it has really helped a lot!!!

  • Oh my, you took my breath away Baby. Your journey is so vivid, so colorful, so emotional to me. It’s like being in a dream state. To be hand-in-hand with you along this path has been an amazing experience, a true blessing. It has changed my life in so many ways.

    I so remember the early years and the look in your eyes after seeing the Ironman for the first time. I could see the fire ignite within you and I knew that someday you would walk into the waters of Lake Monona. That the world would follow you, cheer for you, cry for you and pull you to that most famous of finish lines. And that I would be there waiting for you and call you 140.6 Mile Suzy.

    • Ok, now I’m crying…again. 🙂 Looking forward to sharing another momentous day in our history together. Thanks again for getting me there!! xo

  • Sarah F

    I love ya, Coach! Every arm stroke, pedal stroke, and foot strike will be a reward for all the hard work you’ve done to get to that starting line in Madison on Sept 8th….I can’t wait to hear that awesome announcement over the loudspeaker when you cross the finish line that day!

    • Thanks, Sarah!!! You and me both can’t wait for that announcement!!!

  • Laura Cabage

    I’m so excited for you, Coach Suzy!! Your big day is almost here and I know you are going to do great and have fun while you’re at it. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring all of us! I’ll see you at the Finish Line! xoxo

    • Thank you, Laura! I’m sure you’ll be watching the race with a different set of glasses this year, just like I was last year!! 🙂

  • Drew Repoza

    I remember joining that running club and meeting you and Joe way back when. It’s been an absolute delight watching your progression from casual runner to triathlete to USAT certified coach and now to Ironman! You are an inspiration to so many people, and I consider myself lucky to count you as a friend. I can’t wait to cheer you on in Wisconsin!

    • Thank you, Drew!! It has also been a delight for me to watch your journey as an athlete unfold, and I look forward to supporting your future successes too!!

  • Kristin B

    Good luck Suzy!! So excited for your big race!!