The third new addition to the Gear West Bike and Triathlon Development Team is Chaska resident Suzie Finger. 2009 was Suzie’s first year doing triathlons, and her ascension to the top of the rankings was one of the fastest I’ve seen. Not surprisingly, she won the MMA award for Rookie of the Year, in addition to recording a win at the Chaska Triathlon, a 2nd place finish at the Waseca 1/3rd Iron distance triathlon, and a 3rd place finish at the Irongirl Duathlon after crashing.
CW: Why did you choose to race for Gear West Bike and Tri?
SF: It will be a privilege to be part of a team affiliated with a high quality bike shop that supports the triathlon community.
CW: What’s your athletic background, and how did you become involved in Triathlons?
SF: I played competitive fastpitch softball for 17 years but I still have a need to compete and push myself. I did my first running race in May of 2008 because a few of my co-workers and my sister registered for it. Afterwards I was looking for more running races online and I found the Iron Girl Duathlon. I got a road bike in late July of ’08 to train for my first multi-sport race in September. It was way more fun than just running and I was hooked. June of 2009 I started swimming and did my first triathlon in July.
CW: You had quite the rookie year, and I hear you only started biking and swimming in June of this year. To what can you attribute your quick success?
SF: I actually started biking a summer earlier but it is true that I started swimming in June of this year. I can sum my success up in two words: Dan Cohen. He will be mad at me for saying that but I don’t care because it is the truth. Dan says that he will never take credit for any of his athlete’s success but I disagree.
CW: Any skills from softball that have helped in triathlon?
SF: Unfortunately not a single skill transfers over. Being able to throw a 60 mph fastball gets you nowhere in triathlon. Softball did teach me sportsmanship, discipline and gave me a strong work ethic.
CW: What would you consider the highlight of your season?
SF: 3 way tie:
1. Meeting Dan
2. Being asked to race for the Gear West Development Team
3. Waseca 1/3 Iron. It was the only race my parents could get to Minnesota to watch. I am blessed with parents who have supported me in every single thing I have ever wanted to do my entire life, so it was fun to have them there. I got to see my Dad six times during the race and hug my Mom at the finish line. It was also my first race on a tri bike and I enjoyed each mile of the ride.
CW: Chaska is quickly becoming the triathlon ‘mecca’ of the Twin Cities. (We now have fellow GW athlete Heidi Keller-Miler, age-group stud Nick Vanduzee, Most Enthusiastic rookie Paul Mollet, MJET standout and swimming stud Nick Madrinich, and of course myself:) What brought you to Chaska?
SF: I fell in love with a townhouse on 25 miles of running trails and some of the best biking in the cities that nobody knows about. I later learned there are some great triathletes in Chaska that I can’t wait to train with and learn from.
CW: Describe a ‘normal’ training week during the summer?
SF: My coach/boyfriend Dan tailored my training to the races I was prepping for so I was always doing something different and I did most of my training with Dan. The only ‘normal’ part was that I regularly attended Masters at SCS Multi-sport.
CW: Now that the race season is done, what are you up to these days?
SF: I am swimming 4-5 days a week. The water is still a very humbling place for me so I swim as much as possible. I’ve been watching a lot of movies and cooking with my boyfriend. I read about a book a week and I got a new Felt road bike at Gear West today that I can’t wait to ride. I just spent Thanksgiving in Seattle with my boyfriend and I have a Chihuahua who loves attention.
CW: What are your plans for next year in terms of racing? Any public goals?
SF: I am going to do a handful of MMS series races and 4 half iron distances races. I haven’t set my goals yet but I know I will be having fun.
CW: What’s your nutritional weakness?
SF: If you are talking about everyday eating I have a sweet tooth so it is a good thing I love to train. If you are talking about triathlon nutrition I am still learning. At Waseca I did the whole race without nutrition and learned my lesson. I got lightheaded, dizzy, weak, went off the run course, and crossed the finish line twice.