While most of the kids in Susan Kleiner’s high school algebra class couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, Susan would have been happy to just keep doing equations. It wasn’t that she was a math whiz, it was that she dreaded what came next: Gym. Susan was 40 pounds overweight and the idea of running laps made her want to run and hide.

Weight is a battle Susan has been fighting her entire life and something she takes to heart. Her struggle with her weight never held her back from anything else -- not from dating, not from the school plays, not from extraordinary success in her career as an attorney -- just from becoming the athlete that inside, she was yearning to be.

I’m not very good at athletics to begin with," Susan said, "but worse yet, I thought people would look at me and laugh. I could overcome just about anything with my sense of humor or my intelligence, but none of that helped on the athletic field.

And by the time she was approaching 40, after having two children, she felt even further away from that goal. Susan was now 100 pounds beyond where she wanted to be.

"I had all these dreams of what I could do when I lost the weight. I had it in my head that when I lost 50 pounds, I’d do a 5K. My brother and his wife do them. The cool kids do 5Ks. And I wanted to be one of them. I still wanted to be one of the cool kids.

It wasn’t just her cool brother and sister-in-law who ran -- lots of Susan’s friends did too. And a couple of them were training for the SheROX Relay Triathlon in Asbury Park. So when they mentioned they were looking for someone to do the swim portion, which was a quarter of mile in the Atlantic Ocean, Susan wondered -- could it even be possible? Swimming was the one athletic endeavor she had loved, way back in elementary school.

I asked how many laps in a pool that quarter mile would be," Susan recalled, "and they said 17. So I went to a pool, in my ruffled swimsuit, you know, the kind with the skirt that hides things, and I got in that pool and I swam and swam. I think I swam 25 laps. I was kind of amazed that I could do it.

So she signed up for the race.

My mantra became Float. Roll. Stroll. Finish." she said with a smile. "That way I couldn’t fail. I just wanted to finish, even if I finished last. I called the organizers and asked what time they closed the course –- what if I’m really slow? And they said 'We won’t shut it down. We’ll wait for you.


My daughters were waiting for me and my youngest was so excited that she was telling everyone, 'My Mommy is a triathlete and she never gives up.' It was so important for them to see me not give up -- that I could do something that was so hard for me, because I wanted them to know that we don’t have to win at everything. We just have to try our very best.

Since then, Susan has stayed in the game. She’s completed two other triathlons and right now she’s training for races that will take place in August and September.

I’m never going to be in the Olympics. "I may never even come in the top third, but I can be happy with getting out there. I don’t need to be perfect. Float. Roll. Stroll. Finish.

If you'd like to follow Susan's journey or learn more about the triathlons she's competing in, you can visit her website at www.susansway.com.

[source: Huffington Post]