Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kona Profiles: SUTC Superstar Diane Tracy

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") are a mere two weeks away, taking place Oct. 8th. As you all know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. We'll be catching up with a few of our local Cinderellas in the coming weeks... getting to know them better as a tri community and seeing how they're feeling as they get ready for the ball!

Thanks for the time, Diane! You've got this!!

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

I played sports from junior high through college. After that I started running to lose weight and after a few races was hooked on running. I ran everywhere, to work, up canyons, trails, roads and in every town I visited. My first marathon was the Deseret News Marathon in 1977. I ran road races and marathons from them on. After graduate school racing started again. 1994 was the start of my St George Marathon streak. This year will be my 23rd St George Marathon. 

How I got started in triathlon...

When St George hosted the Ironman in 2010 and 2011 I was excited to go out and support the event and was in awe of the athletes. Like many others I had watched the NBC coverage of the World Championships in Kona. I never really thought I could complete this event. When I saw a marathon runner from St George complete the Ironman in 2011 I made the leap and signed up for the 2012 St George Ironman at age 61. I started training in November of 2011 and completed my first sprint tri in the spring of 2012.

Where did you qualify for Kona, and how did that race play out for you?

I qualified for Kona at Ironman Texas which was epic. I was nervous going in because they kept changing the course, the swim was changed, the bike course was not set until about 2 weeks before the race, and I still had not figured out my nausea on the run. Race preparation at the site went well. It was comforting being with many people from my tri club.

The day before the race I checked in my bike and looked to see how many in my age group were there. Two had dropped – maybe because of course changes. One in my age group won our age group last year at Kona. She is a phenomenal athlete whom I admire.

Race day morning I felt good. Always cautiously optimistic. The swim went well. I am a slow swimmer and always have to come up through the pack in my races. While I didn't have my best split, I felt comfortable, sighted decently and came out of the water at 1:50. Okay for non-wetsuit.

It must have been about 82 degrees or so. I am not sure of the humidity at that point. The course had over 90 turns, so I was always focused on turns and caution. During the bike the heat and humidity climbed. I did fall off of my projected time. My nutrition was not working so I had to improvise and opted for some of the trial items I got in my race bag. Happy to be done with the bike and with a split of 5:37 I ran sock footed the long way to the transition tent. I felt decent and was not too nauseated. I saw friends coming out of t2, they cheered me on and said to run steady eddy on the run.

I was running and happy for it. The heat was full on and I said to a spectator who was dancing – "is that a rain dance?" That worked... not 3 miles later the clouds moved in and we were warned of heavy rains and lightning. About 6 miles in the heavens let loose and lightning was very close. On the plus side I started to feel better and better in the cooler weather. Racers were told to take shelter. At its worst all were wet through, shoes and socks. In the wind and hail I was fighting to stay up right. After that initial storm the rain rolled in 4 more times; it would lighten up then get bad again. Spectators were amazing, staying out there and cheering us on. 
It was as usual a tough last 6 miles but I was happy not to be too nauseated and finishing. Run was 6 hrs which is an hour longer than I wanted to be.

The next day I was told Cullen (who won our age group) had already qualified for Kona and the slot would roll down. It did and I was thrilled to be going back to Kona for the second time.

How has training gone throughout the summer and how are you feeling now, only a couple weeks out?

Unlike other years, qualifying for Kona in May meant I had all the summer to concentrate on Kona. Now I could do some fun events, hike, and trail run. I changed my nutrition plan to help with the nausea and it had worked well. I also incorporated more weight lifting to help with my osteoporosis. Good health is my main goal and having fun. I don’t feel over trained, I feel strong and eager to test the course. I have no injuries.

Where did you qualify that first time, what year did you go, and how was your overall experience?

I qualified at Coeur d'Alene. That is special to me. That was where I completed my first full Ironman and I love the town and the people there.

2013 was the year I qualified. I was like a wild eyed child when I got off the plane in Kona. Everything was mythical to me. Here I was in Kona, swimming at the swim start, running in the energy lab, and biking along the Queen K. I was star struck to see all the elite athletes. My friends from St. George surprised me and we did the underpants run together. Turning in my bike and gear bags was fun, we are treated so well.

Race day was actually fun. I got fatigued on the swim but it was so nice to swim in the ocean. I found out later a pod of dolphins swam with the elite men a little. The bike went well and then I found myself on the run dealing with some nausea but going along fine. I was tired when I got to the energy lab. It was a push from there. As I was coming down Pulani hill to the finish a spectator saw my shirt that said BOOYAH, (that was our triclub remembrance of a triclub member that killed while training.) About every 20 steps he called out giving me a booyah. I kept answering back, it was great. The finish was wonderful and tearful thinking about Braydon and saying Booyah. My brother had to laugh because I was celebrating on the race side of finish. He said next time finish, then celebrate. What a wonderful experience.

What’s the atmosphere like during race week, and how will your previous experience will come in handy this time around?

Race week can be as nervous or calm as you want. First year I got caught up in all of the gear, vendors, snorkeling, and prerace events. My crew spent Friday before the race last time looking all over Kona for sport beans. This year I will take it more easy. This time I have everything I need and don’t plan on shopping so much. I will concentrate on prerace nutrition, relaxation, and workouts. I will do the underpants run again.

You’ve been described by Ryan Duckworth as “our [SUTC’s] super star.” How has SUTC helped you though with your progression in the sport?

I was totally self-coached in my marathon years. But triathlon was totally new. I relied heavily on club members for information, coaching, training partners, and race support. They gave us workouts, helped us with preseason training and offered many clinics, open water swims, and practice bricks. I hope I am useful by giving back to our club members that are new or have questions.

What motivates you to continue tackling Ironman when many of your peers have long since “retired” from various activities?

I honestly love the training. I like to bike long hours, love to run, and have a fondness for swimming. Blessed with good joints, I have no injuries and am not in pain while training. Getting a Kona slot motivates me and I will be attempting to qualify again at Ironman Arizona this year. Our club also motivates me. Running was a lonely sport, all those hours of training. Triathlon can be social, training together, racing together, and talking gear. So when the club has a lot of members going to a race that motivates me to do that race.

You worked for Intermountain Healthcare, is that right? What did you do there?

I did work for them over 30 years. I am now retired. I started in cardiac rehabilitation and wellness and moved on to analyzing clinical data for our doctors. I enjoyed my work and tried to always do some work in wellness.

What does your family think of your triathlon lifestyle? Any other triathletes in the fam?

My parents were not athletes, nor my brothers but they admire my commitment and support my triathlon life. All have come to my races and support me. My brother and sister in law come to Kona and help with race support. I have a nephew who is a gifted athlete and we share triathlon and running.

Anything else you want to share?

One week before the St. George marathon last year I found out I had osteoporosis. My mother has healthy bones and I never expected that. So I started taking calcium and nursing an injury in my hip. It was not healing though 5 days before I was to do Ironman Arizona last year... I had an MRI and found out I had a stress fracture. Research in the subject revealed that many young cyclists have osteoporosis. So I like to share with athletes my story and get them thinking about getting a scan to see if they have osteoporosis.

I have heard many triathletes express thanks for support received with racing and training. I agree with this. There is no way I can do this sport without support from friends, family, and fellow triathletes.

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