triathlon

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

My "Do Over" September 28, 2018

September 28, 2018 was a new start for me.  Well. Not really a new “start” per say but more a “do-over”.  After my DNF at IM 70.3 LP on Sunday, September 9th due to a Spleen and Kidney injury I was allowed to start training again.  


I have to say, there is not much I am afraid of.  Legitimately. But this day, I was afraid. I have determined to this point that the bike has been and will continue to be My primary nemesis and now the pain it has caused me has made me afraid of it.  AGAIN. Well, I’m afraid of the pain, not the bike. I love my bike. The pain, I don’t love that.


After much discussion and back and forth with Michael for both the positive and the negative sides of triathlon, the decision was made to start training again.  Once I made the commitment, the fear set in.


I consider myself to have a super high pain threshold, especially after the break to the bones in my right leg in 2010.  The pain I experienced with this most recent injury is the most intense, relentless pain I have ever experienced. Relentless. Every minute of every day, asleep or awake, I was reminded that my Spleen was angry.  I had swelling on my side that was pronounced enough that you could see it under my white uniform shirt. I lovingly referred to it as my “Spleen Baby”. I was tired, sore, swollen, short of breath and generally crabby.  


To my fellow EMS providers that had to put up with me for those two weeks, I’m sorry.


September 28th, I suited up, stretched and headed out with instructions from Michael.  Start slow. 30 seconds on 30 seconds off, see if you can tolerate it and only do 20 minutes.  So I did. One foot in front of the other. Right foot, Left foot. Right foot, Left foot. Right foot, Left foot.  


Zero pain.  Like a child on their first day of school, off I went. Within a minute all of my fear and anxiety began to dissipate and I smiled and continued on. I finished, came into the house mildly short of breath and Michael asked how I did.  ZERO Pain!!


Then it sank in.  Eventually, I would have to get back on the bike and ride outside. Well, SHIT.


On October 2nd, that is just what I did.  I don’t know who was more leary, Michael or I.  Well, I think Michael may have showed it more than I did.  I hydrated, suited up, pumped up my tires and went through my gear to make sure I would have everything I needed.  Then just like that, I clicked in and off I went. At about the first half mile, the fear started to take a back seat to being hyper vigilant to my surroundings (at work we call it Situational Awareness).  My train of thought began to focus solely on the traffic, bumps in the road, animals and the smells of fall in the air.

At mile 5 I looked down saw how far I had gone and I smiled.  It was glorious. The wind in my face and the quiet solitude of just me and my bike, My little green monster.  


I’m not really sure at what mile exactly it happened, but it did.  The fear completely went away. When I returned home after 15 miles, it was clear to see that it had left Michael also.  It was like a breath of fresh air had entered our home.


So in the process of me attempting to finish my first half Ironman this past September, I learned a lot of new things and made a lot of new friends.  There is one in particular who I am especially thankful for coming into my life. You know that one friend who comes into your life when you most need it, like a giant hug from the Universe saying: “Here, I made this just for you!”.  Her name is Denise, she is Friends with Michael, they were training buddies for IMLP in July 2011, she had been following my progress all along and had a vested interest in my success.


Denise is an Ironman.  She has completed 5 full Ironmen over the course of 8 years.  Her resume also includes 15 marathons, two 50K’s, one 50 miler and a 212 mile bike in one day.  


Denise is a legit BADASS.  (if you ask her she uses the hashtag #usedtobeabadass.)  Denise has become my go to girl and my biggest support system next to Michael.  She is a Nurse, She is my Sherpa and I love her. Denise and I signed up to do a 70.3 together and train for it.  Our choice? The newly acquired IM 70.3 VA on May 5th. The rooms are booked, the entry has been paid for and away we go!  On a daily basis now we compare notes, training, equipment, diet but mostly, Denise shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences with me.


So, Denise and I have decided that we will set aside two days a week with our rotating schedules for our long runs/rides with one of the two being a rain date/alternate training date.  We may or may not have Michael convinced to do one with us!


WE will keep you posted!!  


Denise, Jaker, Ladybug and Myself will be participating in this years “2018 Stomp the Monster Almost 4 Miler” in Manasquan, NJ on Saturday, October 20th if you want to join!  No timing chips, just a great group of people running for a great cause and post race hanging out at our local go to place, Leggetts!

https://runsignup.com/Race/Events/NJ/Manasquan/StomptheMonsterSpooktacularAlmost4Miler#event-245946


Until next time, Stay Safe out there and BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER!!  - T



IMG_4919.JPG