Race, Triathlon & Lifestyle Training


Blog 23: Question & Answer with Tracie Chan

FC: You have a very unique background! How did you transition from being a professional ballerina to runner?   

Well, I didn’t actually transition from one to the other.  When we moved to Charlotte in 2008, I had already transitioned from a full-time professional dancer and was mostly teaching dance full-time and doing some freelance work with regional choreographers and companies on the side.  I wasn’t taking dance classes regularly and I was only rehearsing sporadically.  Shortly after moving here, I remember driving to the NODA YMCA one Saturday morning and getting held up in the Thunder Road Marathon traffic.  I sat there in awe of the runners, and was just so amazed by the idea of running 26.2 miles!  Later that week, I tried running in my neighborhood – keep in mind I had not ran since my freshman year in high school – needless to say, it didn’t go very well!  I could barely make it to the end of my street!  But everyday, I tried to go a little further – and when I was finally able to run a 5k without walking, I told my husband that I was going to run a marathon.  He laughed – I didn’t! 

FC: Are there any similarities between the two sports?

I haven’t found a lot of similarities between the actually physicality of the two, but the approach to training and the mental tenacity required are very similar.  When you are rehearsing for a performance, the overall goal is that with continued practice, you will create a more aesthetically pleasing product and with each rehearsal, it becomes more beautiful.  With running, at least for me, it doesn’t happen that way!  It usually gets really ugly before it gets better – and even when its “better” its still pretty ugly!   I have to come completely undone to perform well in a race –  hahaha!

FC: How did you decide to go over to the darkside and become a triathlete? 

Almost exactly three years ago, I fell down the stairs at my house and broke 5 bones in my right foot and suffered a lis franc fracture. It took me a long time to get back to running and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to run like I did before the fall.  I was super sad and didn’t really enjoy running very much anymore.  Realizing that I needed a new challenge and one that would keep me from injuring my foot again, my husband surprised me with a road bike.  I hadn’t really ridden a bike since college so once again, it didn’t go very well at first!  I figured the best way to get better was to sign up for a 70.3!  So I signed up for Augusta and realized that I also needed to learn how to swim – you know, without a noodle and a margarita!

FC: What inspired you to race an IRONMAN?  

I’ve always been fascinated with the limits of the human body.  As a teacher, I stress to my students all of the time that when you’re working with the human body anything is possible – both good and bad – and we have to make split second decisions sometimes to course correct.  I was intrigued by the challenge and mystery of the Ironman – it felt like something I HAD to do – I HAD to know what it felt like, if I could do it, and how I would cope with the training.  It was just one of those things, deep inside, that I had to experience. 

FC: How was your first IRONMAN experience?

Amazing!  I was absolutely terrified!  No matter how much you read, or talk to those who have raced an Ironman, nothing can prepare you for the reality of the day.  It’s a long day, and you’re dealing with the human body and mother nature – so many things can go wrong and so many things can go right.  Things will not always go as planned, but again, its a long day and there is time to course correct.  For me, it was about trying to make smart decisions and not wimpy decisions!  Throughout the day, I laughed, I smiled, I cried, I frowned and I’m pretty sure I snarled a few times.  But as soon as I crossed the finish line, I pretty much knew, that I had to do it again.

FC: So we hear you decided to do another one!?

I thought you were one and done? What changed your mind? Yes!  Now I’m going to be “two and through!”  But seriously, I learned so much from the training and the racing yet I feel like I have so much left to learn.  I’m pretty sure that I can push my body even further.  I like to think that this will be the last one, and maybe it will, but honestly, I will always want to continue to push the boundaries.  And until I feel like I’ve reached those limits, I won’t be satisfied.  

FC: Explain a typical day in your world!

My day always starts with feeding our four dogs!  They will not let anything happen until they eat!  I’m an adjunct professor so my teaching schedule varies from day to day and changes each semester.  I usually get one workout in before my first class, then I teach, then I get my second  workout in, depending on how long of a workout it is, either in between my afternoon and evening class, or I do it after my last class.  When I’m not teaching, choreographing, rehearsing or training, I like to nap!

FC: What are some of your favorite workouts?

I always look forward to the Tuesday night Fillnow Coaching run class!  I’ve been attending for years, but still get nervous about the workout as soon as I pull into the parking lot.  Not only do I love Meghan’s workouts, but I really enjoy the awesome people!  I mostly train alone, so it is a nice treat to have a day to train with a group!

FC: Besides cupcakes, what are you passionate about? 

Yep!  I definitely have a sweet tooth! Maybe that’s why I wanted to do an Ironman?? Just kidding… kind of.  Twenty years ago, I adopted my first dog from the Wake County Animal Shelter and from that moment on, I became very passionate about animal welfare and rescue.  We currently have four dogs, two of which are rescues and since living in Charlotte, I have volunteered with Humane Society of Charlotte.  I recently learned about a running with shelter dogs program that CMPD Animal Shelter sponsors – can’t wait to get involved!  One day, I’d love to have a farm where I can give old shelter dogs a home to live-out their senior years.  And I’ll probably have a goat or two!  

FC: Anything else you want to add?

I’m about to celebrate my six year anniversary with Fillnow Coaching – so thankful for Kelly’s expertise, patience and caring personality.  I’ve accomplished so much over the past six years, can’t wait to see what the next six years brings!