In my last post, I talked about prepping for my upcoming Olympic-distance triathlon and, in light of this new adventure, I thought it’d be fun to revisit a previous interview I did with my friend Terra Castro, a retired professional triathlete (although don’t let the ‘retired’ fool you; she just won a recent race in our hometown).
I had the pleasure of running alongside Terra during our high school track and cross country days in Michigan, and when she wasn’t leading the team by example, we’d inevitably find her cheering every last person across the finish line. So it was no surprise to any of us when this unparalleled display of work ethic, dedication and heart allowed Terra to achieve her dream of becoming a professional triathlete and racing around the world.
But even though she closed that 16-year chapter of her career last year, Terra shows no signs of slowing. She continues to teach Team Luna Chix clinics and coach track and cross country, which no doubt will allow her to mold, motivate and inspire generations of athletes to come. Below is an excerpt of my chat with this all-around amazing lady.
Kinetic Fix: What is it that you love about triathlons, so much so that you made it a career?
Terra Castro: I love the challenge that is triathlon: How mentally tough it makes you, and how there are three sports so you always have stuff to work on and improve. I love that it brings people together from all walks of life. I was able to make a living at it, which was a blessing, but even as professional triathlete it was so cool to race alongside other age group competitors, including my mother and grandfather.
KF: What, in your opinion, are the benefits of multi-sport events?
TC: The variety of the three sports keeps you motivated, and you don’t get bored because there’s always a challenge ahead. It promotes endurance development; you become really fit due to the demands of multi-sport races. It’s beginner-friendly, and there are all types of distances and race options for everyone – from sprint distance to Ironman, aquathon to aquabike – everyone can compete!
It’s also a great way to meet people and have fun, plus you learn about yourself and become much stronger and more focused in the process. And, last but not least, finishing is a huge achievement; it never gets old seeing someone cross the finish line in their first race. The moment is priceless!
KF: You’re on a gluten-free diet – why, and how did that factor into your training?
TC: I found out in 2000 that I have Celiac Intolerance. I wasn’t recovering from training, and had huge GI issues, a weak immune system, etc. Since then, I have focused on being gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free. In training, I just planned more specifically my meal menu and layout – especially on training days – because I couldn’t just grab a bagel or a sandwich (I need the gluten-free version).
KF: How do you pass the time during workouts?
TC: During training I am focused on the skill in the session – the task at hand – so I don’t use music. Unless I am on the treadmill or riding the bike on my trainer inside…then I must have jams to keep the energy high!
KF: So what’s on your iPod right now?
TC: I have an iPod, but I don’t know how to use it, which is sad because my brother works for Apple! I use Pandora on my phone; I LOVE Mumford and Sons, but I still keep to Detroit roots with Eminem.
KF: Back when you were in full training mode, what did a typical day look like for you?
TC: It depended on the day; triathlon is three sports, so on bigger days I’d wake up early and start with coffee, a snack and morning bible study before I headed to the pool. I’d be in the water at 6am for an hour and 15 minutes, and then head back home for breakfast and onto the bike for a few hours.
I live in Arlington, Va., so I’d head out to Maryland past the National Monuments (never gets old!) before going home to refuel and nap (recovery is key to training!) in my Recovery Pump. The evening workout was usually a run of an hour through the hills of Arlington, then I’d have dinner by 7pm, and I’d be in bed by 9:30. Wake up and repeat!
KF: One last question – what’s your advice for beginners who are hoping to tackle their first triathlon this season?
TC: First, remember the key is to have fun, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Tackle one thing at a time, focusing on the process and not the big picture because it can be overwhelming. Next, take the time to train properly, but keep it simple – even if it means getting your ride in as commuting to work or your run as chasing the kiddos around the track. Finally, find a local training group or friends to hold you accountable and keep you motivated when you want to just sleep in!