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.