Speed Sherpa Nation

Prepared to embrace the suck...

Prepared to embrace the suck…

This past week has been a flurry of activity for me.  Work, Puppy, meal preps, laundry, school and sports for Courtney, preparing for Jake’s up and coming High School graduation and oh yeah, this seasons first 70.3 for me in Connecticut,  I am a hot mess. I decided to throw caution to the wind, show up and try to finish this race. I’m not sure, but I think my Mom is right. I AM CRAZY.

I am so underprepared for this race, it makes me nervous as hell.  I have been having intermittent bouts of mini panic attacks and full on freak outs, which are usually followed by an overwhelming feeling of nausea and “WTF am I doing this for” moments.  I decided two weeks ago, I am going show up and prepare to embrace the suck and all this course has to offer me and the other triathletes participating.

I went to my parents house last week after work, plopped myself on the couch like an overly dramatic teenager, kicked my shoes off and put my feet on the edge of the coffee table.  I threw my arm up over my head , leaned back and started to watch MASH with my parents. Now, normally this would be the part that my Dad would remind me that the coffee table was not the appropriate place to put my feet and to please remove them.  He didn’t. Weird. I could feel his gaze on my right side and slowly looked over at him and smiled, still waiting for the request to remove my feet. “Hi” I said. He reached up, scratched his head and said, “You know, Trace, You don’t have to do this race.”  “I do, Dad. I have to do this race.” Dad said: “But why? Why do you do this to yourself, it’s so hard!”

I paused for a brief moment, smiled and said “Because, even though I freak out, I actually love it, Dad!  There is a saying in triathlon that if it was easy, everyone would do it.” “I’m going to show up, give it the best I can give it and see what happens.  Even if I don’t finish, I still showed up”

“I guess that’s half the battle then…showing up.”

Yes, Dad.  Yes it is.

This past week, my Mom has helped me develop my on course nutrition (Almond Brittle, the recipe is in the helpful info links.)  I have trained with the Untapped Maple products and the brittle with zero problems and I’m confident it’s just one less thing I have to worry about.  I have watched all the videos on YouTube of the course and I’m mentally preparing to work really hard on the hills and not fall off the bike.  I have been swimming in my wetsuit in my parents pool, trying to figure out how the hell I can propel myself through the water with only one strong arm.  I have been doing my HIIT training and running intervals the best I can. I dropped off my bike at Cycles 54 this week for the pre race tune up and some new gear ( I actually bought more water bottles, GIGGLE.) . (http://cycles54.com) I did all of my food shopping and even finished most of my laundry.

Am I as prepared this year as I was for last year?  Absolutely NOT. Do I think I am going to finish? Honestly, I DON’T CARE.  I was able to coerce Ladybug and her Friend Ellana to come with me this year as my support crew.  Neither have been to a Triathlon before, sprint or otherwise, so what better way to introduce them then to a Half Ironman.  So, I purchased them some VIP tickets to give them the full experience. (I just might make a triathlete out of one of my kids)  They get to be up close and personal to all the athletes, the food and most importantly: THE FINISH LINE. I am so excited these girls get to experience the pre race electricity and see all these crazy talented athletes cross that finish line.  I want them to see for themselves that HARD WORK PAYS OFF.

Today, I pick up my bike after my Medic shift.  I go home, pack up my gear and go into decompression mode.  My taper blues is in full affect today and it’s making me a bit batty.  (I forewarned my Medic partner, Kevin today there will be no Shenanigan’s. FYI. There was nothing BUT Shenanigans today)  Tomorrow, we head up to Connecticut for our check in and enjoy the pre race festivities. Saturday, I buckle in and prepare to embrace the suck.  

I might have to conference Kelsey today to make sure I have my mental clarity, LOL.  (WWKD?) (https://www.kelseyabbott.com)

I will hopefully be able to blog one more time about my pre race adventures before Sunday.  Please think good thoughts.

If you would like to track me and the other Triathletes, upload the Ironman Tracker app to your cell phone.  My bib number is 2326. My Speed Sherpa Teammate, Jen Delaney is bib 121. (Jen is a legit badass. I can’t wait to see how well she crushes this course.)

Until then, stay safe out there and be good to each other.  T



D1F58585-EECE-4E4C-945F-5F06168F9D9C.jpg

and so it begins.....

and so it begins….

The beginning of another Triathlon season.  

Triathlon seasons are filled with finding the perfect race, getting the seasons coolest race kits, equipment preps, structured schedules, early bedtimes, even earlier wake ups, (o’dark thirty does not look good on me) race day nutrition planning and prepping, tapering, traveling, transition area set ups, pre race start jitters, crossing finish lines, medals, podiums and 5 months of relentlessly chasing your triathlon dreams.  

It is a season shared with hundreds of other triathletes who share not only their love and dedication for their chosen sport but their love and respect for their fellow athletes.  

Last year, while standing on my little towel in the transition area of the Lavalette Tri, I felt  overwhelmed and frankly a bit sad. There was a sea of people buzzing around me, sharing the collective vibrations of pre race energy, yet I felt completely alone.  

What a terrible feeling.  

I always considered triathlon to be more of single athlete sport, not a team sport.  Honestly, I am not sure why that was and boy was I wrong. The more events I participated in, the more I would see groups of athletes dressed alike, helping each other, walking together, laughing and supporting each other and I realized this is what I was missing.  

Last fall after IM, I was on the Medic truck flipping my way through Instagram (shocking I know), I came across this really cool picture of a triathlete in his blue and orange suit facing a sunset.  I clicked on the link and there was the application for new members and I thought they genuinely looked like great group of people. I filled out the application and patiently waited. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be accepted or if I was even good enough to be a member of the team; Speed Sherpa. (www.speedsherpa.com)

November 2, 2018:  “WELCOME TO THE SPEED SHERPA RACING TEAM FOR 2019!”  

See, now the thing here is, I don’t make friends easily.  Not at all. I can be really socially awkward and quiet if I don’t know you and I am not very trusting.  Immediately, I noticed that this team is different. Somehow, it just felt right from the very beginning.  (Not to mention I look really good in Blue and Purple) I was immediately welcomed in and made to feel as though I was a member of this huge family of incredible triathletes.  My Speed Sherpa family has athletes of all types and abilities, from novice triathletes like me to the Elite. They provided me with inside access to the best resources for questions and concerns, training aids, proper gear and most importantly to me:  CONFIDENCE Coaching.

Speed Sherpa introduced me to my fellow Sherpa and an all out fabulous human, Kelsey Abbott (www.kelseyabbott.com) Kelsey coaches our team on our individual confidence, the power of positive thinking and the bane of my existence: SELF SABOTAGE.  I was actually kind of surprised that I am not the only person who deals with this. Lack of self confidence has always been a huge problem for me, forcing me to get in my own head more times than I can count.  Why am I not fast enough? Why can’t I do better? Why can’t I be as good as that other person? Why is it so easy for me to want to quit something I love so much and want so bad? The worst of all was I wondered if I was even good enough to be doing triathlons? On my first webinar with our team I was one of the first people to have logged into the Zoom app.  It was nice to be able to see everyone’s face in attendance and like every other class or seminar I attend I did what I usually do and kinda sink into the background and observe. It’s what I’m good at: observation and sizing people up.

Well.  Let me tell you.  Miss Kelsey called me right out on that!  She zoomed right in on me but didn’t do it in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, on guard or threatened.   She made me feel like I was reconnecting with a bestie from college I haven’t seen in a few years. You know that friend, the one we all have. The one that knows all of your strong points as well as every chink and dent in your armour, the friend embraces all of your parts and reminds you what an amazing person you really are.  That is Kelsey.

She made me feel like she knew every layer of the Tracy “7 layer cake” and everything kind of made sense.  She said to me…”Instead of focusing on how your doing something wrong, focus on all of the things you ARE doing right” I had to retrain my brain to only focus on the positive things I was doing right.  That’s a lot hard work.

After I was given some confidence coaching homework, our zoom meeting was over and we were sent to finish winding down our day.  I stood in my dimly lit kitchen and stared at the dark screen of my phone for several minutes processing all of the things discussed between my teammates.   Then, slowly but surely, the proverbial light came on.

One of the primary reasons I started this triathlon journey was to prove to my kids that with hard work, anything is possible.  I mean, realistically, my kids see me getting up 4 or more days a week at O’Dark thirty and going to work 12 hours shifts on a Medic truck.  They know I work a lot. They just don’t know how hard, or stressful it is because they don’t see it. Training for a triathlon allows them to see COMMITMENT and FOLLOW THROUGH.  Jake and Courtney see all the stupid early wake ups, hour after hour spent on the bike trainer in the basement, endless miles of running and swimming. They see my commitment to my chosen sport, they see that improvements no matter how small are made with persistence, consistency but most importantly they see FOLLOW THROUGH .  No matter how hard I fall, I keep getting back up and starting over. That is in fact, Life. In life when shit gets wonky, warped and generally bent out of shape: find one thing positive and focus solely on that. “Did you show up when you didn’t want to?” Kelsey asked me. “Yes, yes I did”, I replied. “Then that is your positivity, commitment and confidence in yourself shining through.”  “You just have to redirect your focus”. Damn, Kelsey, you are a ROCKSTAR.

In January, I took a fall off the bike trainer again. (Admit it, you just either rolled your eyes or laughed out loud.)  Without getting into too much detail, I can say this. SO MANY BAD WORDS. ALL OF THEM. I jammed up my right wrist and shoulder pretty bad.  Did some rehab and tried to push through it the best I could. Then, I finally broke down and went to the Ortho. Torn labrum in my right shoulder.  FML. No swimming or heavy arm use for a few more weeks. Guess what that meant? No Ironman, 70.3 in Virginia. W. T. ACTUAL. F.

It’s hard to mentally regroup after this shit continually happens.  The bike, which used to be my best and strongest suit, has now become my absolute worst after my AID diagnosis.  I had to dig deep and focus on WWKS (What Would Kelsey Say), dust myself off, rehab and find at least one positive thing to focus on.  I found three. I believed in myself, my kids and family believed in me, but more importantly: MY SPEED SHERPA TEAM DID.

With my teams help and support, I worked harder than I ever have to build up my shoulder and try to be prepared for my next race: IM 70.3 in Connecticut June 2.  On race day, I will show up for myself, my kids and my team. I now know that when race day comes, while standing in a sea of Triathletes...I will never again be alone, for I am a Speed Sherpa triathlete.

C1096A12-05AC-473A-AADE-2BD3E74B134D.jpg

Team Work Makes The Dream Work....

I am back with a literal and figurative point to prove.  After a humbling medical DNF in Placid, I came home to nurse my injuries and wipe the slate clean.  I had nothing but time while laying in bed allowing my spleen and ribs to heal to read, research, watch videos, read blogs and take notes on everything triathlon.  

The first thing I felt I had to address was my diet.  I considered myself to have been eating the “right” foods for my Autoimmune Disease, cutting out all things Gluten as I was allergic to wheat.  I wasn’t a label reader by any means, the extent to which I would look was if the packaging said “Gluten Free” it was fine for me to eat. Lazy? MMMMM, Maybe.  For the most part, I’m like every other single parent working two jobs it was time, distractions and everything in my life was fit into a neat little compartment, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into structured shopping and meal prep.  I was a linear thinker when it came to nutrition and “diet”. I knew I had to follow the rules pertaining to the food pyramid. Eat your veggies, proteins, grains and dairy. This stuff is mashed into our lives from the time we are small. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s there were no water bottles at lunch for us.  We had trays stacked up outside of our classrooms of those little red milk cartons that make the fantastic bubbling sound with a straw. Admit it, you just giggled because you did it too.

I opted a few years ago to try various, internet and multi level marketing promoted shakes. What a learning curve.  Every product I tried or was suggested to me was made in a lab, compounded into a power to be consumed once or twice a day.  Are these good for some people? Yes. Are they expensive? YES. Were they right for Me? NO.

For each new shake trial, most days I felt worse than I felt better.  It became cyclical for me with a combination of good days and bad days, trying to find that perfect “shake”.  Daily I wondered what I was doing wrong and why it was working for all these other people and not me?? The more I read and took I notes, one thing kept becoming more clear.  Eating right is not a “one size fits all” thing. It is a thing that is specific to each individual person on a cellular level.

Because, you know...SCIENCE.  

In September, 2018 after Ironman on my follow up post Spleen injury I was 5 feet 5” tall and weighed in at 155 pounds.  I thought I was in relatively good shape and kind of just resolved myself to the fact that this was my “healthy weight”.  I thought my Hashimotos was for the most part managed as well as my asthma and other AID symptoms. (Prior to being diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyroid with Autoimmune (Celiacs) I was 5’5” and 124 pounds in October, 2010.  At my heaviest before finding the right dose of TiroSint (150mcg) I was 178 pounds in April, 2011. 54 pounds. In 6 months. Holy cow. I looked and felt terrible.

The end of September, I bought the book “The Plant Paradox” written by Steven R. Gundry, MD.  It was the first time in recent memory that everything that was going on in my body made any sense. I felt empowered.  Shortly after, I called my Mom, Joan on the phone. “Hi, Mommy!!” “Hi, Baby!!” (Our daily greeting for each other. ),  “Mom, I know you already think I am a crazy person with the Ironman obsession, but I need your help” “Sure, what do you need?”  I began to explain to my Mom in detail this super structured, daily food plan and diet I needed to try. I got the usual “Your Crazy” from Mom but surprisingly it was followed by a “I think this is fantastic and I’ll do what I can to help”.  

I first had to address my “vices”.  I don’t drink or smoke but, damn do I like my candy and potato chips. I had become dependent on their comfort food feel on a daily basis. Dare I say, I was addicted to simple sugars and starches.  I went through my house and purged it of any and all synthetic sugars and potatoes. (I cannot confirm nor deny that I cried a little). Next came the grains.  They all got packed up and stored into the bomb shelter in my basement, along with anything that contained any Soy byproduct. (I genuinely had no idea that Soy is in almost everything)  This was becoming a labor of love. I love my chocolate, however I had zero idea that most commercial chocolate has soy in it. I spent 45 minutes in my local health food store reading the back of every label of dark chocolate.  Know where I found the best one? Starbucks. As much as I love my dairy, that went too.

Then, I proverbially sat back and waited to embrace the suck.  The suck of withdrawing from synthetic sugar and grains. It was hard, but tolerable.  When it got bad at work and I was stressed, I would immediately have a thought pop up to grab for a comfort food.  I was crabby and a touch irritable but it was tolerable. I refused to get on the scale. (I do this every morning religiously to keep track in my upswing of maintaining water weight) I began to follow a daily, structured routine of certain foods and started to religiously meal prep.   My Mom helped. She would help me with my grocery shopping, reading labels with me. Everything became about “pastured” meat and dairy. Makes sense if your allergic to certain grains, to stop consuming things that consume grains. I would come home, Mom would have meal prep suggestions and find the best prices on pastured chicken and beef.  Courtney then jumped on board. “If your doing this, then I’ll do it too. Maybe it will help my Crohn’s”. It became teamwork.

About three weeks in, I noticed it.  My anxiety level decreased. My clothes began to feel loose and I genuinely began to feel like I had some energy back.  Initially, I thought it was a coincidence between my spleen healing and feeling better. But quickly I realized it wasn’t.  

Mid October, I went to Labcorp and had my annual blood work for my thyroid.  Dr. Fomin runs my Vitamin D, TSH, T3, T4, Cortisol and Thyroid Antibodies. I went to see Dr. Fomin on November 8th.  Dr. Fomin is a whirlwind of an Endocrinologist, her office staff is incredible. She comes buzzing in shakes hands, sits at her little glass computer desk and asks me how I am doing as she is pulling up my lab work.  I state that I am well, I now weigh 142 pounds, however my hair is falling out and my anxiety level has been a bit off the charts at night as I am not sleeping well. She looks up at me and back at the computer screen and asks what I am doing different.  I explain to her my diet and all of the changes I have made in the last two months. I talked to her about my training schedule and how well I have been doing with it.

She comes back from around her desk and says…”Well, these symptoms are due to you now taking too much Tirosint”  Wait. What?! She said “Your Thyroid antibodies have come down 60 percent, you have lost weight and your numbers show your taking too much, so we need to lower your dose.  That is what is causing your symptoms”. She told me it looks like I’m well on my way to “healing” my thyroid. Gave me a Script for more blood work in 6 weeks and told me to call her after I get it done.  

You know that feeling you get when you WIN at something?  That was the feeling I had walking out that door that day.  

Eating the right food initially was a labor of love, it turned into a love of eating right.  It made me more driven than ever before to be the best version of myself. I committed 100 percent to eating only the things I should eat to give my body the fuel it needs to succeed in healing.  Two weeks ago, after two really long training days (usually adds two pounds of water weight) and 5 12 hour shifts, I got on the scale. Unprepared for what I was going to see. 139 Pounds. Oh. EM. GEE!!!  This morning, I weighed in at 137.5. I have never been hungry, I have no gas or gas pains, I have zero joint pain, my anxiety level is almost gone (minus the one or two pucker factor jobs I have had at work), the brain fog has completely dissipated.   I am back to my 03:30 am wake ups and two hours of training before work. The most important part is I feel fantastic and have a positive mental attitude, which is palpable to all who know me.

Teamwork, has made my dream work and for that I am grateful.  

Here is a one day sample of what I eat on the Medic Truck:  (Most of what I get is from either Whole Foods or ShopRite)

Coffee is life.  Medium roast coffee with one teaspoon of coconut sugar and some Organic Heavy cream from Pastured cows and 1 tablespoon of organic MCT Oil.

1 tab of AltRed

Banana with shredded coconut, chocolate flax and chia seeds.

“So Delicious” brand Coconut milk yogurt.  (The Key Lime is crazy good)

Raw, unsalted almonds.

Broiled brussel sprouts baked with avocado oil and pink sea salt. (I love snacking on these while on the Medic truck)

1 pan fried then baked chicken breast, with organic pastured fresh shredded cheddar on top and ½ cup mashed red sweet potatoes with kerrygold butter and pink salt.  

½ avocado or broiled asparagus

If I really am in a jam and need something sweet, 1 teaspoon Manuka honey.  (Keeps the bad virus JUJU away)

For 2019’s Tri season, I am now a proud member of the Speed Sherpa Nation (www.speedsherpa.com). I have an entire, national Tri family who now has my back. They help me train, keep me motivated to help me be the best version of myself. Feel free to read all about them and their mission on their web site!

Next week Denise and I get in the pool for the start of our training and my cycling classes at Cycles 54 in Wall, NJ start January 3rd...can’t wait to tell you all about our training shenanigans!  Until then, stay safe and be good to each other! ~ T

IMG_5696.JPG