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September Athlete Spotlight - Meet Tracy Schuleman

Meet our September Athlete Spotlight, Tracy Schuleman! Tracy is a determined athlete, team player, and ultimately the reason why Paragon Training has a great swim program. Tracy was integral in helping many of our team members join the Jewish Community Center (JCC) during 2020 when they were one of the only pools open in San Antonio. Our swim practices have flourished at the JCC, where Tracy is Director of Recreation & Fitness Services. At 66, Tracy also has the wonderful honor of being Team Paragon's most wise and seasoned athlete. She did her first triathlon 37 years ago and gives us perspective on how much the sport has changed. She has finished an IRONMAN triathlon and still finds time to train every day and compete a few times a year, despite her busy work schedule. Thank you, Tracy, for all your support!

Swim, bike, run, then fish!

Age: 66

Occupation: Director of Recreation & Fitness Services at the JCC, soon to have new title of RETIRED! On January 1, 2024!

How long have you been swimming, cycling, running, and/or doing triathlons? I competed in my first triathlon in 1985, the Tinman Triathlon put on by the City of Orange Parks and Recreation Department where I was an employee. I had taken up jogging the year before, but had never competed in any races. This triathlon was a run, followed by a pool swim (zig zag through the lanes, get out and jump back in at the first lane, repeat), finish with the bike. Needless to say I finished right before the last person, but I was hooked. Back then helmets were not required on the bike, no chip timing. When you finished, you were handed an index card with your overall finish place and you filled out name age, gender, and placed it in your age group box. I have been competing in triathlons every year since, including 21 marathons until I wore out the cartilage in one knee and had to cut back on doing the longer distances.

What aspects of triathlon do you enjoy most? Training and traveling to events with friends. Also, having lived in 3 different states, training for triathlons was a great way to find my way around, meet people and make new friends to train and hang out with.

What has been your favorite training or racing event, and why? It is hard to say, since I have done so many. Marathons: Big Sur - the scenery and the piano player in a tux playing a grand piano as you cross over the bridge, and one of the best finisher’s medals. Lake Tahoe - the women started about 30 minutes prior to the men to give the fast women a chance to cross the finish line first. It was really cool to have the top men race by you, the views are awesome, and when you finish you can wade into Lake Tahoe to soak your aching legs and feet.

"Lawdy, Lawdy, Tracy is 40!"

Triathlons: Gulf Coast (Ironman 70.3) - swimming in the Gulf, the flat bike course, and the awards party. They used to have the awards ceremony and pancake breakfast on the beach the next morning. My most memorable triathlon was the Ridgerunner in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 1996, as I neared the finish line, I saw my friends holding up a huge sheet with "Lawdy, Lawdy, Tracy is 40!" painted on it, and being sprayed with Champagne, as I crossed the finish line.

What is your favorite post-workout or race meal? Diet Coke, and then I am ready for food - chips, cheese and crackers, fried chicken sandwich.

What is one recent accomplishment you are proud of? Competing in Ironman Memphis 70.3 in 2021, I had basically retired from long distance events as of 2014. I decided to register for this inaugural event since I lived and trained in Memphis for over 20 years, and it would be fun to see friends and bike and run on the routes I had trained on for years. Needless to say, the pandemic postponed the event for a year, but I am proud I was able to mentally and physically continue to train. On race day, the weather didn’t cooperate. It started raining the night before and continued to pour, finally letting up the last half of my run. I finished and really enjoyed the nostalgia of riding and running the roads I hadn’t been on in over 15 years. Side note to Ildar: No, I am not doing another ½ or full Ironman, but I am happy to be a Sherpa and Cheer Squad for Team Paragon.

Tracy finishes IRONMAN Florida in 2002

What do you want to be when you grow up? Peter Pan – I don’t want to grow up. Too late, but I would like to continue doing triathlons and hopefully my body will hold up to be able to compete in the 70-74 age group.

What is something no one knows about you? Since 9-11 was this past weekend: I was actually in New York that day on a business trip, getting out of a cab when the first plane hit. At that moment, it looked like a small plane hit the building, since we were pretty far away. I remember it was a beautiful day, and looking at my watch as we exited the cab, it was 8:50am. Needless to say, as we were in our meeting, we found out it wasn’t an accident, and we looked out the window to see clouds of dust as the buildings fell. I was supposed to fly back home that day on an afternoon flight, finally made it home 5 days later.

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