It's hard to even start this post because I just don't even know how to tell the story of how proud I am of one of my very best friends, Tracey.
Tracey is the mother of 3 children (10, 8, 4) and she still managed to train for a half Ironman. In case you don't know what that is, it's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Yeah wrap your head around that for a minute.
I know it was because of the love and support of Tracey's husband that she was able to accomplish this awesome goal. Without his love and support, I don't think Tracey would be where she is today, and he deserves props for that.
We met up with Tracey about 40 minutes before her start time. They had changed the location of the swim due to high winds and riptides so that kind of put a wrench in things. Tracey took it in stride even though it meant she would have to run .6 miles to the transition area, after swimming, to get her bike.
Tracey seemed very calm and reserved as we waited for the start. I couldn't believe that she didn't seem nervous at all. I was in awe of that alone. Pretty soon it was Tracey's time to start and we waited at the water's edge to see her. With so many lavender swim caps, it was so hard to tell which one was her. We'd point and say, "maybe that's her" or "oh wait, that's her." As it turns out we were wrong. After thinking we had probably missed her, Tracey pops her head up out of the water and waves to us. it was so funny. I cracked up laughing. I'm glad she did though, because we saw her get off to a great start.
We headed over to the shoe area to wait for Tracey. Because of the new long transition run, the race officials allowed the racers to bring their shoes to the swim out area. They grouped them in groups of 50 by race number. No one seemed to have trouble spotting their shoes at all. I know I found Tracey's right away, and knew just where to stand to see her come out of the swim.
Pretty soon, Tracey was out of the swim and looking very happy. I was so happy to see her happy.
We all shot across the parking lot so we could see her on the bike out.
She was still all smiles, but I knew she had a long road ahead of her. 56 miles in no joke.
We sent her on her way with the hopes of seeing her at mile 40.
Charlene (Tracey's and my friend) and I were planning on getting our long run in while Tracey was out on the bike, but the logistics became a nightmare and we also didn't want to miss Tracey out on the bike course. We VERY quickly scrapped the idea of running and went to breakfast instead. GREAT choice.
Shortly after breakfast we parked ourselves at the 40 mile mark and waited. We originally thought we'd have about a half hour until we would see her. After checking the website tracking, we realized she'd be a LOT sooner than we thought.
Nate (Tracey's husband) pulled up with the kids and literally 30 seconds later we spotted Tracey.
We couldn't believe that Nate almost missed her, but were happy that Tracey was kicking ass on the bike course.
That would be the one and only time we saw Tracey on the bike. After seeing her on the bike we planned to head to mile 2 on the run course.
All the spectating made us hungry and we had some time to kill so we decided to take a DQ break. It was the perfect treat for the kids and not bad for us either.
The tracking for Rev3 was kind of confusing, but if you could do some mental math we could anticipate about the time we'd see Tracey. Sure enough, just when we thought we'd see her she came smiling down the road having just started her run.
She was blowing kisses to her babies....
... and even stopped for some hugs.
The kids were so proud of Tracey and I know it meant a lot to her to see them out on the course.
I mean, who can't use a high five to tell you you're doing a great job?
But high fives for moms just aren't enough. A kiss was needed!
It was nice to see Tracey for a longer period of time. Her spirits were up and she joked that the bike (the wind really) was a bitch. Again, I was happy to see her happy. You never know what state of mind you're going to find someone in out there on the course, but Tracey was happy and that made me feel relieved.
At that point Nate and the kids headed back to the finish line because Rev3 is a great family event and they allow family members to cross the finish line with the athletes. Nate wanted to position himself to be at the finish with the kids.
Mile 2 of the course was also mile 11, so Charlene and I decided to hang out and wait. I knew at mile 11 Tracey might need a little pep and I thought it would be helpful for her to see someone one more time. Just the push she needed to make it to the end.
We set up right by the mile 11 water stop and saw Tracey coming in getting her water and gatorade. Her spirits definitely weren't as high. She was less than 20 minutes from finishing, but after a long day, I'm sure that seemed like an eternity.
She managed a half smile and told us, this was the hardest thing she had ever done. At that moment I wanted to run for her, but I know Tracey and I knew she would finish strong.
Charlene and I got in the car and hightailed it out of there. We actually passed Tracey and honked obnoxiously to show our support. That time she really smiled and I knew she was going to be just fine.
It was incredible to see her run with her kids by her side. It was an amazing feeling for me, so I can't imagine the emotion Tracey felt.
And just like that 70.3 miles was done. Tracey made it look easy.
Tracey, I hope you felt my love and support race day (and throughout your training) and know how amazing of a woman I think you are. You're an incredible athlete, mentor and friend and I thank you for continuing to be a HUGE inspiration to me.
Now what's next? ;) Sniff, Sniff, I smell 140.6!