Our Athlete of the Month, Tammy Powell has come back from an injury filled 2011 to get back to the top of her AG and she‚Äôs been, oh-so-close to winning a race or two this summer. We sat down with Tammy to get the inside scoop on her training and how her season has gone. Enjoy our interview with our Mix1 D3 Athlete of the Month!
D3: Can you tell us a little bit about your sports background? Which sports did you do as a kid and as you got older?
Tammy Powell (TP): As an elementary student, I played basketball in fifth and sixth grades. Living in a very rural area, there weren‚Äôt many opportunities for me to participate in much. I didn‚Äôt really get involved in organized sports until high school. During my freshman year, a friend of mine talked me into running track. I hated running when I started because it was such hard work! But I kept at it and with the encouragement of a fantastic coach ended up being one of our top distance runners by the time I was a senior. That coach has continued to be an inspiration to me because she believed in me from the get go even when I wasn‚Äôt really that good. (Okay, let‚Äôs be honest, I was usually at the back of the pack but my coach always had a ‚ÄúGood job, Tammy. Keep up the hard work!‚Äù). I have continued running since high school and only began competing in triathlons about 5-6 years ago as a means of cross training.
D3: What was your motivation to get started in triathlon?
TP: Being a runner for 25 + years has resulted in a lot of injuries. Over the years I had often heard, you need to cross train in order to reduce the amount/severity of injuries you are getting. I decided that was a great idea and a friend of mine and I decided to watch a local triathlon. As we stood at the race and watched friends of ours compete, we looked at each other and said, ‚ÄúWe can do that! Let‚Äôs ‚Äútri‚Äù (lol) it out and see how it goes.‚Äù We are both super competitive so it was great to train together. After my first tri, I was hooked. My friend and I both placed (which was icing on the cake) and we continued to train for the ‚Äúnext‚Äù tri.
D3: When and where was your first race?
TP: My first tri was a sprint in Erie, Pennsylvania. We swam in Lake Erie, rode around Presque Isle State Park, and then did our 5k, part of which was on the beach (I never realized how hard running on the beach was! It is a workout in itself!)
D3: What is your current profession and how long have you been involved in it?
TP: I am very fortunate to be in the profession that I am. I am a 5th grade teacher, and I absolutely love my job! I have taught for 21 years in the same grade. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the school I teach at was closed this year, and I will be moving to a new elementary building. However, the good news is, I get to remain in 5th grade! :)
D3: What services have you used at D3 to help you with reaching your goals?
TP: I use the D3 Quarterly Custom training plan. It has been a tremendous benefit getting a customized quarterly plan that fits my needs. Through the D3 plans, Coach Ricci has helped me raise my performance to a level I never thought possible! Having a coach and a training plan from D3 was the best decision I‚Äôve ever made in terms of triathlon training. I have really come a long way thanks to D3!!
D3: Have you done any races that you‚Äôd traveled for?
TP: I have traveled quite a bit for triathlon races. My husband and I like to plan mini ‚Äúvacations‚Äô around my races. One of our best ‚Äúvacations‚Äù ever, according to my son, was going to Oklahoma City for 1/2 iron man nationals. We stayed a few extra days and did some sightseeing, etc. Nothing fancy, but it was memorable for him. I have also competed in races in Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (my home state), North Carolina, and Germany.
D3: Best Triathlon moment?
TP: The ‚ÄúBest Triathlon‚Äù moment that is forever etched in my mind, is when I found out that I qualified to compete for Team USA in the long course world championships (2010)! I can‚Äôt even begin to describe the emotions that I felt that day! Excitement of course-I was on the way home from my son‚Äôs soccer game when I received the call and I ‚Äúseat‚Äù danced the entire way home! I know that anyone driving next to me probably thought I was nuts! lol :)
I was also very anxious about competing at that level. It was so intimidating for me to think that I would be in a race with the best of the best. I was worried about being able to ‚Äúcut the mustard‚Äù so to speak. I will say, though, that that anxiousness made me train long and hard. I found out how hard and how far I could push my body and what my limits were. I was also anxious about traveling to Germany to compete. There were so many things to prepare for, and I had never flown to another country. Everything went pretty smoothly other than the fact it was a 13-14 hour flight!
D3: What is your favorite race and why?
TP: I would have to say my favorite race was in Edinboro, PA this past June. This was the first sprint I competed in since recovering from a foot injury. Plantar Fasciitis and a stress fracture in my left foot had me out of training/competing for approximately a year and a half. I was a nervous wreck at the start of this race! I felt like I was starting my first triathlon all over again. I went into the race with minimal expectations. I honestly just wanted to compete again and whatever the outcome, so be it. (At least that‚Äôs what I was telling myself in order to deal with the butterflies.) This ended up being my best race ever. I somehow managed to finish 3rd female overall! The amazing thing about that race was, it was ‚Äúthe perfect race‚Äù. It‚Äôs hard to execute the perfect race, because it seems that something always happens or can be improved upon, but everything fell into place that day! I was so overjoyed to be able to compete again! I was on cloud 9 for quite some time after that.
D3: What are your long term goals in triathlon?
TP: Being a Type A personality, I already have the next 4-5 years planned out! I want to continue with sprints next summer( in order to keep the injuries to a minimum for now). The following summer, I would like to move back up to the olympic distance. Down the road, I would like to compete at the 1/2 iron man level again, and maybe even compete in another iron man. If it is at all possible, I would love to try to qualify for Team USA again. That is the biggest goal I have set for myself. I feel like I have something to ‚Äúprove‚Äù to myself. I had to pull out of the 2010 world championships in Germany due to the foot injury I had. That was the hardest thing I‚Äôve ever had to do in my life. I felt like I not only let myself down, but all my friends and family as well. But at that point in the race(10 or 11 miles into the 18 mile run) as I was having excruciating pain with each foot strike, I had to decide if it was worth permanently hurting myself. I decided it was not, but it was a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.
D3: If you could spend one day training with anyone, who would it be?
TP: Chrissie Wellington, of course! She is such an inspiration to me! Not only is she a great role model for triathlon, but she is one tough chick! When I watched her race Ironman last year with the injuries she had (from her bike wreck), I knew she was someone I admired. She laid it all on the line that day, and made no excuses! She pushed through adversity and came out a winner!
D3: What‚Äôs in your race future?
TP: I have a lot of long term goals for future races. One of which would be going to Kona, of course. However, in order to get to those future races, I need to focus on some short term goals now.
1. Become a better swimmer. I had to learn how to swim correctly when I started competing seriously. I started triathlons by swimming with my head out of the water, and that obviously did not work out well for me. I have learned how to swim the ‚Äúcorrect‚Äù way but want to continue to improve my stroke. I obviously want to get faster as well. I am planning on joining a Master‚Äôs group this fall which has me a little nervous not coming from a swimming background.
2. Stay injury free! This has been a real issue for me the past few years! ( I am currently dealing with a hamstring issue). I am trying to really stretch and strengthen so that I can compete without some lingering ache or pain.
3. Perform to the best of my ability whatever that may be on any given day. I am my own worst enemy, especially on days when I don‚Äôt perform where I think I should. I‚Äôm trying to take Coach Ricci‚Äôs advice and do the best I can on any given day. If that isn‚Äôt up to par, I can‚Äôt continually beat myself up over it. There‚Äôs always the next race.
4. Race, Race, and Race some more!!!
D3: What‚Äôs your favorite workout?
TP: Anything on the bike! I also really like brick workouts! Crazy, I know. :)
D3: What your least favorite workout:
TP: Swimming long intervals.
D3: Tell us something interesting about you!
TP: I am an adrenaline junkie! Seriously!I have cracked ribs downhill skiing trying to see how high I could jump! (BTW the jump was beautiful, the landing, not so much!) I have driven my husband‚Äôs race car in a powder puff race at our local race track. My son and I have gone on a ride at a local amusement park where you get strapped in and free fall about 200 feet. (What a fun way to bond!) My son and I also plan on skydiving sometime this year. (He is a bit of a daredevil himself!)
I love to be around people with a great sense of humor! Life is too short to take seriously! Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine!
My husband, Bruce, and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this past spring! He is my biggest supporter and fan!
I have an 18 year old son who is going off to college this fall! (Can anyone say Empty nest? I guess I‚Äôll have to train more! :) )
I have been blessed with an awesome family, great friends, and getting to do what I love (competing in triathlons)!
D3: Thanks so much for your time Tammy and Congratulations on being the Mix D3 Athlete of the Month!