Mandy Seeley – RaceTri’s Athlete of the Week

Mandy Seeley - Triathlete of the Week

Our featured athlete of the Week
Mandy Seeley.  Mandy has graciously shared her amazing story and we are very proud of her.  GO MANDY!

“We’re calling for an ambulance to take you to the ER.” If my heart hadn’t already been pounding out 220 beats per minute (bpm) – fast enough to beat out of my chest and run back home to my freaked out kids in seconds, I’m sure hearing that announcement would have pushed it up into the 200+ range.ambulance

Everyone has their reason for doing triathlons. I have two. The first is that I have a heart condition called SVT, which means I have a circuit gone loco in my heart that causes it to beat too fast. The second reason is that for most of my life, I’ve listened to a couple of key people, and to the negative voices in my head, who tried to convince me I was stupid, ugly, and weak. My desire to overcome these challenges is why I do triathlons, and why I want to share my story with you.

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

 About a year and a half ago, I started having heart episodes lasting 30 seconds to my longest one of 11 hours. They happen at all times of the day or night. Sometimes I’m just sitting at work minding my own business. Sometimes it’s when I’m running or out for a long ride. If they last longer than 15 minutes, the pain kicks in and I pray with everything I’ve got that one of my techniques will make it stop. Caffeine, dehydration, bending over too fast, lack of sleep, and stress all make it worse.

The one I had last January was really bad, and landed me in the ER. The worst part was that because the EMT’s couldn’t find a vein to push some meds in the field (which is what usually happens), the ER doctors rounded up all their students to watch me when I came in so they could see what the meds do. If I hadn’t been so distressed by the pain, my first ambulance ride, and just wondering if my heart would ever slow down, having 20 pairs of eyes staring at me would have sent me diving under the covers. Once they had the paddles ready… just in case my heart didn’t restart on its own… the doctor worked his magic. It was the most uncomfortable 30 seconds of my life – but it did the trick. My heart stopped, and within seconds started back up at a normal rhythm. Within minutes, I was back to normal. Once the students realized they wouldn’t get to take turns yelling “Clear!” the room emptied faster than you can say S-V-T.

I’ve been on blood pressure medicine since then, but it hasn’t helped. My heart still acts up at random times. The longer episodes have been getting increasingly painful over the past few months. When I’m training, my heart has gotten up to at least 253 (but that’s as high as my Garmin has recorded). That and the medicine makes me really tired, and running faster than a 10-minute mile for an extended time is almost out of the question these days. It’s frustrating, and I hate feeling like I’m a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. I never know if this episode will be the last before my heart just poops out.

So I’ve decided to have an ablation surgery on April 4th. It’s not super complicated, but this is my heart we’re talking about. I’m nervous and scared, but also excited at the prospect of not having to worry about getting stranded on a run or passing out at the wheel or leaving my two kids motherless. I’m also excited to test the difference. I’m doing the Ice Breaker Triathlon five days pre-surgery and the Timp Triathlon nine days post-surgery.

Why am I doing this?

 Some may wonder why put my health at risk to do triathlons. There’s gotta be something easier right? Maybe. But for me, doing a triathlon is the first thing I’ve found that is helping me overcome the negative self-talk rumbling around in my grey matter at all hours of the day. From living with someone who constantly belittled me and made me feel like dirt for 8.5 years to just having the personality of constantly wanting to do better, be better, and never feeling good enough, it’s been hard for me to find a way to overcome this.

After three months of training, I overcame my fear of swimming – a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve done one sprint triathlon and have many tri’s scheduled this year. I have yet to find something that makes me feel better about myself than doing something I never thought I could do. I didn’t think I was strong enough to swim 750 meters, bike 12 miles, and run a 5k. But I did it! And that was enough to shut those stupid voices up. It taught me they’ve been lying. Because I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m not stupid, weak, or ugly. I am a triathlete.

So that’s why I’m not giving up. That’s why I’m having surgery to fix my heart. That’s why I’m training for my first Ironman in Cozumel in December. And that’s why I wanted to share my story with you. No matter what health condition you have, no matter what people – or your head – try to tell you, you can do it! You may not be as fast, or as skinny, or have the best gear as others. None of that matters. What does matter is knowing you’ve done something you never thought you could. And with that knowledge comes power – the power to make positive changes in your life. I am doing it. And so can you. Don’t give up. Just tri.

Mandy Seeley

Mandy Seeley - Triathlete of the Week

Getting ready for the swim at my first Tri – HITS Palm Springs sprint in Dec.


Finishing the bike


Crossing the finish line!

Moving From a Sprint Triathlon Distance to an Olympic Distance

Sprint distance triathlon to olympic distace

Sprint distance triathlon to olympic distaceBefore I start this article I want to be clear that doing a sprint triathlon is not easy and it can be more challenging that a olympic and even a half. Because participating in any triathlon is an individual effort, you make it what you want it to be. I know a few folks that all they race is sprint distances. They enjoying the feeling of going all out and their training regimen is focused on the that distance alone. That being said, this article is on moving from a sprint to an olympic distance.

When I began in the sport my plan was to do a sprint, then an olympic and eventually a half. I’m still mulling over moving to a full ironman, but the training time and cost are holding me back. I’ll make that decision around Jan 1.

I began training for a sprint by running and getting in the pool. I felt comfortable on the bike, so I need to spend more time focusing on my weak spots. As I trained, I knew I was going to do a full, so that’s what I was really training for so it wasn’t a big deal to move past the sprint distances. After two months of training I felt confident that I could do a sprint and survive. Instead of signing up for one and paying a bunch of money, I set aside some time every Friday to be my sprint days. I created my own sprint, swim, bike and run in one go the sprint distance. This was excellent, I was able to work on my transitions, and gained more confidence each time. If you can get a friend to join you it makes it even better as long as you set the ground rules – I’m not a competitive person, I like to run my race my way. If I’m feeling good I’ll put on the speed but I don’t feel like it, I don’t. So as along as my partner knows this and is cool with doing the same it works out great.

When making the transition, for most people its the longer swim in open water that holds them back. It’s true that there is a difference, but you can do it. Read our posts on open water swimming, attend a swim clinic, watch youtube videos, there are plenty of resources on open water swimming to help. As far as the distance goes, just spend more time in the pool. You don’t need to be fast, you just need to be comfortable and able. I’ve found that swimming in a 50 meter pool is a huge plus when changing distances. 16 laps feels so much better than 32 shorties. Breaking up your laps in to longer laps is also helpful, instead of taking a break every lap, take a break after two then four laps, this breaks up the swim into manageable segments that helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and eases the counting or remembering of laps. I have a hard time counting laps after 6, my brain gets all mushy unless I say the number out loud after each lap.
I was told once that -in swimming- after a mile its all downhill. I’ve found that to be very true. 16 laps or 32 laps, it’s just about time, not physical effort – this is a personal statement, when I’m going for distance, not speed.

The bike and the run, increasing your distance at the standard 10% rule is a good way to do it, I tend to go 20% on both, but to each their own. Doubling the bike distance isn’t that challenging, but take the time to work your way into it. If you feel absolutely wasted after a ride, you have over done it. Mentally keep in mind that you’ve got to run after that ride, so keep your reserves in check.

Running, on race day that 6 miles can feel a whole lot longer than your training days. Keep that in mind as you train. Run longer distances than your race as you train. Speed drills will help you know how much you’ve got and what your body can do if you need it to. Triathlons are all about the experience of knowing your body and being surprised that you can do more than you thought. Your running will speed increase slowly with time, you’ll get faster as you keep running.

You can do it, finishing your first olympic is amazing, beating your time from that first is even better.