I met Tracy at an Army (West Point) Football game back in the Fall of 2016 at Michie Stadium. Tracy's husband and I are Academy classmates (USMA '01) and we were all back at school for our 15-year class reunion. It was a home game. The sun was high and we crushed Lafayette 62 to 7, which, back in those days was somewhat rare! Today it's our team's going rate! Go Army Football!
I've kept up with Tracy through social media over the years and as soon as I learned that she successfully completed her first triathlon (a sprint triathlon - 1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and a 3 mile run) I knew I had to share her story! I was inspired and I knew you would be too!
What (or who) was your inspiration to compete in the 14 July 2019 Tri for a Cure event?
I was inspired by the fact that I finally had both my kids in school (my youngest started Kindergarten last fall) so I knew that I needed something to do with my time that was for me. After being a stay at home mom now for 8 years it is hard to all of a sudden not have your children need you 24/7. I thought having something like the Tri for a Cure to focus on would be a great goal both physically and mentally. I needed to prove to myself that I am not just mom but I am a person with goals and ambition. This was also a great example for my kids to see me doing something to better myself, even if it was completely out of my comfort zone!
Is this a dimension of yourself you’ve exercised in the past or was this the first time?
I have never done anything like this before in my life. I have run 5k's and 10k’s but nothing longer. I have always been a person that liked to exercise and be active but never thought I would be able to complete in anything like a triathlon.
When did you make up your mind to go for it and make it happen?
I had to register and be put into the lottery by last February 1st so I signed up and paid my fee and held my breath until they sent the email that I made it into the race! But I had probably made up my mind to throw my name in around December 2018 or so.
I'm sure readers are wondering how long you trained for a competition as rigorous as your first triathlon.
I started training seriously in April as I had a formal 12 week plan to follow that one of my friends put together for me. He is a certified Ironman coach and has completed several Ironman competitions himself so I thought he would be of great help! But I would say that I started to work out with this goal in mind probably around January or February 2019.
What did your training involve?
My training involved lots of swimming, biking and running! I would do spin classes in the winter and spring until it got nice enough to bike outside and then I would go for short rides down a paved bike path near my home. I slowly worked up the courage to go longer distances on the road and then eventually did the actually 15 mile bike course a few times before the race.
For swimming, I would do laps at our community center pool and then eventually swam a few times in open water on the course in a wet-suit right before the race. I have always been an okay swimmer but thought I needed some help in my stroke so I signed up for a few private lessons with one of the swim instructors at the South Portland pool and then a 6 week stroke refinement clinic after the lessons that got in me in much better swimming shape to tackle it on my own. I would then go every Thursday evening to open lap swim at the pool and follow my 12 week plan. For the open water training (which is quite different than swimming in the pool, by the way!) I signed up for some clinics offered by the Tri for a Cure that provided me with support and “swim angels” who were experienced triathlon swimmers there to swim with the triathletes through the course and offer guidance and encouragement.
I don’t think I would have made it through my first open water swim if it wasn’t for my swim angel! As for the running....well...I hate to run so that was the worst part for me but I did the treadmill in the winter and then slowly went longer distances outside. I also signed up for the run clinics through the Tri for a Cure that way I could run the entire course before the race. Basically I would sign up for any and all clinics I could to get ready. Some were even basic Tri101 classes that taught about transitions and what to wear for the race.
Towards the end of my training I also did a lot of BRICK workouts (back to back biking then running) to get ready as well. Those are not fun but necessary!
Ok, so what is a BRICK workout? Is BRICK and acronym?
Brick Workout just refers to doing 2 different workouts of different disciplines back to back with minimal interruption. So it could be a swim then bike or a bike then run etc. People say that they are called Brick Workouts because you are stacking workouts back to back like bricks or because your legs feel like bricks after, but it isn't an acronym for anything.
Who were your training buddies?
I mostly trained with another mom friend of mine (Mindy) who would meet me for bike rides and open lap swim on Thurs nights, but I also had a lot of support through the Tri for a Cure Facebook group. This was a page where people could post about workouts and where and when they were meeting up to train as well as ask questions about the tri.
Did you have a time you wanted to complete the course in?
I just wanted to be under 3 hours. This seems long, but for me doing this for the first time, I knew it wouldn’t be fast so I was just hoping to be under that time and I was!
Tell us about your favorite part of training.
My favorite part was just feeling like I was getting in better shape because of all of these amazing workouts I was doing that I probably would have never done if I wasn’t training for this great race! For example, I love to swim but never swam for exercise in my life until this race and it has opened up a whole new exercise door for me!
I've never competed in a triathlon. I'm guessing every event would be challenging for me. I can do each event, but not with much endurance let alone back to back! Ha! I'd certainly need lots of conditioning! What was the most challenging part of this experience for you?
I would say the most challenging was trying to fit it all in! Moms never have enough time and since my husband has a very unpredictable work schedule, it really made it difficult to plan workouts. I really needed to make a plan and stick to it but also be a bit flexible with the schedule. If I couldn’t get the run in on Monday I needed to make sure that I was able to do it on Tuesday!
What advice would you give to someone else who may be hesitant to “live outside the box" and try something new or get back into something they haven’t done in a long while?
I would say just go for it! Stop saying “I can’t” or “I will never.” If you want to make it happen then do it. Sign up for that race or that new class whatever it is and figure it out as you go. Doing something new like this for me was very scary. I knew nothing about being a triathlete and this world was very foreign to me but I asked a lot of questions and signed up for all the clinics I could to help me. Soon I started to feel more and more like I knew what I was doing and more comfortable in this environment. I guess sometimes I am a fake it until you make it person! Ha!
The surprising thing to me too when I first signed up was how willing people were to help me and how I needed to get comfortable asking for that help. Doing something completely out of my comfort zone like this really helped build my confidence and showed me that I am way stronger than I ever realized.
So, what’s next? Will you compete again?
I will be definitely be doing the next Tri for a Cure, July 19, 2020! This was the most positive, supportive, uplifting race and we ending up raising (for the first time ever) $2 million for Maine cancer research!
Connect with Tracy
Follow her on instagram @Tracy.Robin.3 and find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Robin.3
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