suzalcatrazrun

Escape from Alcatraz, 2006

Coaching & Athlete Results

  • 2014 Duathlon National Champion, Standard Distance Female
  • 2013 USAT Female Amateur Triathlete of the Year
  • 2014 Tennessee State Pro/1/2 Womens Time Trial Champion
  • 2013 Women’s Age Group Overall Winner – NYC Triathlon
  • 2013 Hyvee National Champion – Female
  • 2013 Best of the US Overall Women’s Champion
  • 2013 World Record Holder, Marathon Swimming, Lengthwise Crossing Of the Sea of Galilee
  • Kona Ironman World Championship, 2x Qualifiers & 3x Finishers
  • 2014 Ironman Louisville, 35-39 Female, 1st Place, 4th overall (inc. pros)
  • 2013 Ironman Arizona, 25-29 Men’s 3rd Place Finisher
  • 2012 Arizona State Champion, Women’s Mountain Biking Pro/1/2
  • 2012 Arizona State Champion, Women’s Cyclocross Pro/1/2
  • 2012 Arizona State Champion, Women’s Criterium Pro/1/2
  • Women’s Elite Age Group Competitors
  • Men’s Elite Age Group Competitor
  • Overal Women’s Winner, Dirty Dozen, Pittsburgh PA
  • USA Triathlon All-Americans (Male & Female)
  • Personal bests for athletes at every distances including 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, sprint, olympic, half-iron & full iron distance races
  • Boston Qualifiers Men’s 20-24, 25-29, 55-59

Background

I feel that my background and education provide me with a unique perspective on physiology and performance. I am a board certified Emergency Medicine Physician   I started coaching team sports & skills (volleyball & soccer) as a junior in high school in 1986, and continued coaching intramural team sports in college.  As a former Outward Bound instructor (1992-1995) I taught complex motor skills such as white water canoeing & led wilderness expeditions. I began coaching endurance athletes including triathletes, cyclists and mountaineers in 2006 and continue to expand my learning with ongoing mentorship and continuing education opportunities.

At Outward Bound School, I had some of the country’s best experiential educators as my mentors.  I learned how to teach technical skills such as rock climbing, white water canoeing & kayaking and expeditioning to teenagers and adults including youth-at-risk.   In addition, I learning the ‘softer’ skill set of managing groups under stressful situations and leading individuals as they struggled with challenges of environment, fatigue and cumulative physical & emotional stress.

I completed my first triathlon on a whim in 2002 (the Endless Mountains Triathlon in Wilkes-Barre, PA). In 2004, during my Emergency Medicine Residency,  I suffered a back injury resulting in permanent nerve damage to my right leg.  While recovering from back surgery, I began swimming as part physical therapy, and it was at this time I first discovered Total Immersion. Four months after surgery I competed in the swim relay of an Olympic Distance triathlon.

With cycling added to my exercise routine, my leg strength quickly improved.  I began trying to run again about 6 months after surgery. My first runs consisted of two 30 second jogs which wiped me out, but little by little I was able to sustain 5 minutes, then a mile, then 3 miles of running at a time. At this point I decided to train for a triathlon using a basic plan I found on the internet, and in April of the following year, completed the Pine Barrens Olympic Distance Triathlon (1/2 mi swim, 24 mi bike, 4 mi run).

I hired a coach in 2005 in order to prepare for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon (1 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 8 mile run).    At that point I was teaching fitness classes for the Explorer’s Club of Pittsburgh’s Mountaineering school and realized that the physiology I was studying applied not only to mountaineering, but to all endurance sports.  With the encouragement of my coach Brett Daniels, I obtained my first coaching certification through USA Triathlon in the fall of 2006, and Steel City Endurance, LTD was born.

Since then I have  continued my coaching and exercise physiology education through both USA Triathlon and USA Cycling, and currently hold Level 2 certifications from both organizations.  I have also taken masters level courses in Exercise Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh, and have experience using Parvo metabolic carts for Vo2 analysis. I have been using power training for cycling since 2007 and am confident in performing field testing, computrainer MAP tests as well as lactate threshold testing using a handheld lactate meter and standardized testing protocols.

In 2008 I founded Steel City Endurance Racing Team, the first dedicated women’s bike racing team in Pittsburgh. In 2009 we expanded to a mens team as well.  The team has bike racers from Cat 2 through Cat 5, and we sponsor annual women’s intro to racing clinics to continue to encourage women to take up the sport of bike racing.

In the spring of 2010 I became a Total Immersion Teaching Professional & subsequently a master coach, traveling to England, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands to coach at open water camps and train new Total Immersion Coaches.   I had the honor of Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion naming me the “Director of Coaching Education” in 2012 which has allowed me to continue to teach and evolve our training with Terry as a direct mentor.

In the summer of 2014 I apprenticed with Bobby McGee at his first ever “Run Transformation Camp” as one of only two assistant coaches, leading other athletes & coaches through drills & running exercises under his direct guidance and tutelage.

Favorite Race Experience:

Swimming from Alcatraz Island in the San FranciscoBay. The morning started out sunny and half-way through the swim I heard the fog horns blowing. Looking up, I had lost sight of my landmarks, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco! I had mentally prepared myself for exactly these conditions and finishing the swim has been my best triathlon experience so far!

Education

  • Doctorate of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Masters Level Coursework in Exercise Physiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Exercise Science
  • Bachelor’s of Science in Earth Science, Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing & Cartography
  • Minor in German, Christian Albrechts University of Keil, Germany & The Pennsylvania State University

Certifications, Mentorships & Associations:

  • Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician
  • Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians
  • USA Triathlon Level 2
  • USA Triathlon Elite Mentorship
  • Total Immersion Master Coach
  • USA Triathlon Coaching & Business Innovation Retreat
  • Triathlon Research Master Coach
  • USA Cycling Level 2
  • Physician Member American College of Sports Medicine

Training Camp Experience:

  • Total Immersion Weeklong Open Water Swim Camps (Big Island, Maui, St. John USVI) x 7 (2010-2014)
  • Triathlon Skills, Triathlon Training Camps, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico (2012-2013)
  • Steel City Endurance Triathlon Training Camp, McKenzie TN (2014)
  • Bobby McGee Run Transformation Camp, Assistant Coach to Bobby McGee, Boulder, CO (2014)
  • Total Immersion Coach Training Camps, Camp Director & Lead Trainer (Florida, London, California, Hawaii, North Carolina) (2010-2014)
  • Triathlon Research Triathlon Training Camp feat. Mark Allen, Bobby McGee & Terry Laughlin, Head Coach, 2014

Personal philosophy:

“We are capable of more than we think we are.”

Working with Outward Bound Wilderness taught me that we can push ourselves far beyond our preconceived physical and emotional limits.

I start your training plan with a personal evaluation of your current fitness, previous training and future goals. We work together to help select the races or events that are most important to you. I design your plan to help you reach your peak fitness for your most important event.

Taking your other obligations into account, such as work and family, we decide on how much time you are able to devote to training and then maximize that time. We all have a limited amount of time to train, so making those training hours productive is my main focus. Whether it’s 2 hours or 20 hours a week, I can work with your schedule.

I use a variety of intensities in my plans throughout the year and approach a periodized training plans as a chef may plan a four course meal.  Each component services a specific purpose in your development as an athlete.  The ingredients for each phase of your training plan are customized based on specific goals for that period.  I do not share the traditional view of spending the off-season doing “base training”, but rather mix a variety of intensities from recovery through VO2 max throughout the year, and from season to season maintaining a progressive plan that can be sustained lifelong with ample physical, emotional and spiritual recovery time.  The specific mix and duration of each intensity is customized depending on the time of year and the athletes response, creating a unique recipe for your success.

Racing Experience:

  • Endless Mountains, PA (02, Sprint)
  • Wilkes-Barre International, PA, (04, 05 Olympic/swim leg)
  • Pine Barrens Sprint, NJ (05, Long Sprint)
  • Great Lake Escape, OH (05/06, Olympic)
  • Escape from Alactraz, CA (06, Unique Distances…closest to Olympic)
  • Yellow Creek Sprint, PA (06, Sprint)
  • Month of Mud Mountain Bike Series, PA (06-2010)
  • Allegheny Cycling Association Criterium Series (07-2010)
  • Boulder Racing Short Track Mountain Bike Criterium Series (07-2010)
  • Western PA/Eastern OH/Northern WV Cyclocross Series (08-2014)
  • Betsy Ross 1 mile Cable Swim (Aug 2010)
  • Betsy Ross 2 mile Cable Swim National Championships – 6th in AG (August 2013)
  • English Channel Team Relay (Planned 2016, Dover England)

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