Motivation,  Wellness

Meet Tracy, The Ironman Body She Didn’t Know Existed

Hey friends, the August Feature is here! Today I want to introduce you to my friend Tracy. I have known Tracy since the 6th grade. Her story is such an inspiration, I get goosebumps every time I read it. Dive on into her story, and read how she found the Ironman Body, she didn’t know existed!

Tracy, the day before her first Ironman

“If you have ever met me or seen photos there is one thing that is apparent, I’m not skinny. I’m not even what you would call “athletic build”. But I am an athlete. More than that, I am an IRONMAN! For those of you who do not know, an Ironman is one of the toughest endurance races in the world. It is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. All of which is complete in less than 17 hours. How did I get here? What drove me to do this? If you ask me on a normal day, I will jokingly tell you I do it for the all you can drink Red Bull on the course. But to really get to the true why, you must go back about 3-4 years ago.

After I had my son, I weighed 260lbs. Yes, one 5’1 little person could carry that much weight. As much as I wanted to lose, I just couldn’t. No matter how many times I struggled into my size 22/24 jeans, I wasn’t motivated. Until… traffic!! I started a new job in February 2015 in another county. On a normal afternoon it could take almost 2 hours to get home. What does a salary employee who says “damn the man! I’m not working for free!” do? Well, you use the free gym in your building. And that is how it started.

A co-worker who was a runner convinced me to run with her one morning. I ran cross country in high school, so that was easy. Except I made it about 100 feet before I was cursing and gasping for air. I was so MAD! How could I let this happen? Not only was I obese and miserable, but I couldn’t run 100 feet without being winded. Something needed to change. I continued running. The same co-worker convinced me to do my first 5k, then 10k, then half marathon. I dropped weight so quickly that my clothing budget couldn’t keep up!

Tracy on her bike

Another co-worker told me about this thing called triathlons. Triathlons range in distance from very short to the full Ironman and even beyond. It is a race where you swim, then you bike, then you run. I swam in middle school and early high school, so I was a solid swimmer. Biking? Come on, I was a kid once! And obviously I could run so noooooooo problem! Well, it was hard. It was more than hard. It HURT! I did the shortest distance of triathlons (sprint) and I thought I wouldn’t finish. But it lit a fire in me I never knew existed. Suddenly I was home.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. And unfortunately for me, medications cause side effects that do not outweigh the benefits. I suffered from debilitating migraines, severe drowsiness, weight gain, etc. So, I learned that early on that medication was not an option. When I found running and later triathlons, I not only gained amazing friendships, but confidence in myself and fitness I never thought possible. I learned how to manage my anxiety with healthy activities, instead of drugs.

Tracy during her first Ironman, transitioning to the Bike portion of the race

It wasn’t until a few months of triathlons that I learned about Ironman races. And even then, it wasn’t an option. I wasn’t one of those people. I wasn’t an athlete; I didn’t have a “athlete body” and I just wasn’t strong enough. I volunteered and spectated at the 2017 Ironman Louisville and that all changed. I saw athletes of all shapes and sizes finishing. The look of pride and accomplishment on their faces made me realize that was a feeling I could not live my entire life without experiencing. A few weeks later I completed my first full marathon. I trained hard and the entire time leading up to it I imagined myself crossing the finish line crying and overwhelmed with joy. When I finished I felt nothing. To be honest, I felt like something was missing. Apparently it was the rest of the race!

So that was it. I signed up for my first full ironman. I got a coach, a new fancy bike and I started training. Unless you have woken up at 4am, 3am, and once 2am to train, you haven’t even experienced life! Imagine waking up every single day for a year with one thing on your mind. Every time you eat, you ask how this will affect your training. Going to bed early and missing nights out with friends. You miss a lot, but you also learn who your friends and support system truly are.

I finished Ironman Louisville 2018 in 15 hours and 36 minutes. The conditions were brutal at 40 degrees and raining. Sounds great for a run but when you get dunked in the ice-cold Ohio river and thrown on a bike moving 15-20mph, it hurts. Something like 25% of athletes did not finish that day including half the pro athletes who raced. But I did it! I wasn’t the skinniest or fittest athlete to run down that red carpet, but I was one of them! I am not an emotional person and I am certainly not an emotional crier, but when I crossed that finish line I collapsed in the arms of friends and sobbed uncontrollably. This was the most incredible solo accomplishment of my life. My body carried me that distance. My body that I once hated, that I avoided mirrors because I just couldn’t look, it did that!

Tracy crossing the finish line and completing her First Ironman!

I haven’t stopped since. I am doing another full Ironman in Texas in April 2020 and I can’t wait! I feel like a veteran. I can finally have fun with the race. I know I can do it which has given me so much grace in my training. While training in 2018 every bad workout was the end of the world. I questioned every single day if I could do it. Others questioned if I could. I am proof that you can have an Ironman body no matter what, as long as you fight.” -Tracy

Wow Tracy, your story shows that you are more than Fiercely Fearless. You are an inspiration. Friends, never let fear or the unknown, hold you back. Never give up on chasing your dreams, and going for what you want in life. Even if it scares you a little bit. -Chasidy