When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come True

by Tanya L.

Tanya fridge magnet croppedIn 2010, I volunteered at the Ironman Oceanside 70.3. What a fun experience! I decided that day I wanted to complete a 70.3 race. So I bought myself a 70.3 magnet for my fridge and wrote on it, “T’s next goal ½ Ironwoman.”

Coach Suzy and I started working together in 2010 after a failed attempt at completing my first half marathon. I told her during our first meeting that my goal was to complete an Ironman 70.3 race.  She asked me to trust her, follow my workouts, and she would help me achieve my goal. Last year at our planning meeting for 2013, she said the time had come. Approaching my goal to complete an Ironman 70.3, I completed the NYC Triathlon, the Miami Half Marathon, the Chicago Marathon and many other races. Along the way I also lost 160 pounds.

After many months of training, Ironman Racine 70.3 race weekend was finally here. I was thrilled! I had experienced a few panic/anxiety attacks. I had even questioned my sanity on numerous occasions. Each time, I had to take a deep breath and recount the countless hours spent training, which relaxed me and reminded me I was ready.

On race morning, I got an early start, which was made easier since the day before I had checked my bike into the transition area. That morning when I arrived at transition, I got body marked and set up my spot. I was so early and my car so close I was able to take my bike pump back to my car.  After getting hugs from Coach Joe and Coach Suzy, and of course some last minute race tips from Coach Suzy, it was time to start the 1-mile walk to the swim start.

Lake Michigan was very choppy. It looked like we were going to have a rough start to our morning. After another hug and one last swim tip from Coach Suzy, we finally got started.

There were really big swells. I definitely understand now how someone could get seasick while swimming. It was impossible to sight. The waves were large and most times I found myself looking at a wall of water while trying to find the buoys that marked our course. I was able to power through and finish the swim. I came out of the water feeling great. I survived a really rough swim. It sure was great to see and hear the ET cheer crew as I ran to T1. That always puts a spring in my step! I grabbed my bike and set out to conquer the bike course!

Biking was thankfully uneventful. 56 miles of rolling Wisconsin countryside. The residents cheered for us as we rode by so it felt like we had extra fans. The sun was out and it was warmer than anticipated. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be racing my first Ironman 70.3. I followed my nutrition plan from Laurie Schubert, our team dietitian, and I felt great on the bike. I had enough fluids and bars, which helped get me through. I made one pit stop on the bike course and made it to the 2nd transition still feeling great!  Now it was time for the run!

As I left T2, I saw the world famous Experience Triathlon Cheer Crew. They have a way of putting a smile on your face when they high five you and shout your name. I definitely needed their cheering. My legs were barely cooperating with me and I found myself doing a lot of shuffle jogging and walking. What made the run course difficult was the two loops you have to do to complete it. Beginning the second loop was a turn-around right by the finish line. I saw the cheer crew and they provided that boost I needed to start the second loop. Knowing they were there waiting helped me keep putting one foot in front of the other and shuffle my way to the finish.

As I passed mile marker 11 I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. I seriously thought I was suffering from heat exhaustion. Walking towards me was an ET uniform worn by someone who looked a lot like my coach. OH MY! It was Coach Suzy! She had come out to run the last two miles with me. This is so remarkable to me because Coach Suzy had raced, finished, and came back to encourage me and give me the push and support I needed. Yep, you heard right. She was making sure I had enough left in the tank to finish. It definitely made the last two miles fly by. That really meant the world to me that Coach Suzy remembered my original goal was to finish.

As I passed the ET cheer crew one more time, I was overwhelmed and choked up by the number of friends and teammates who were able to stick around and see me cross the finish line. It was definitely an emotional moment as I heard my name called and had the medal placed around my neck. What a fantastic way to end my race day!

Tanya and Suzy at Racine 2013

Finishing the Ironman 70.3 could not have been a better experience. These past three years with Coach Suzy have been the best for me. She has molded me in to a triathlete and a runner, which I never thought was possible. Now it’s time to start thinking about next year’s race plan!

Enjoy all the photos from our amazing weekend at Ironman Racine 70.3 on the ET Photo Gallery!

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