Ready for Hawaii assault
EMBRACING the emotion and atmosphere of Kona inspires Tracey Bell.
Joining the undie run and having a caffeine hit at the coffee boat will be just as important as getting to the finish.
Just qualifying for the Ironman World Championship was a surprise for the 50-year-old Sunshine Coast Private Hospital nurse.
Tracey earned her spot after an impressive race in June. It was supposed to be her last Ironman.
“When I went to New Zealand (in March) I was hoping to do well,” Tracey said.
“I literally hated every second. The finishing line pictures look like I was in mourning.
“I didn’t want to finish like that on a really sour note.”
That led her to Cairns in June, where she finished third in her age group with a time of 11:30:05. With two Kona slots in the category, the second-place finish didn’t take it, and Tracey immediately took the position.
“It was a difficult decision whether to go as I had made the decision Cairns was going to be my last one,” Tracey said.
“But it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. There was no hesitation and I put my hand up.”
But after relaxing post Cairns, her preparations for the world championship faced an immediate stumbling block. During her first easy run Tracey tore a soleus calf muscle.
That meant no running for six weeks and no pressure while riding the bike.
“I had to do all flat riding, no efforts out of the saddle,” she said.
“I’ve been back running three weeks and the furthest run is 20km. I’m hoping the body knows what to do on the day.
“I have positive people around me. Scotty Farrell my coach and I saw (podiatrist) Vanessa Ng, and they were very positive. They were saying this isn’t an issue. Otherwise it would have been a spiral into the depths of despair.”
Taking a glass half full approach, Tracey was swimming every day.
Typically her weakest leg, she has seen big gains in the swim following the extra workload.
Unsure whether she’ll ever return to Kona, Tracey is looking to focus on one sport after October.
Coming to Australia from England about a decade ago, she was originally a runner. From the age of 35 she started running as part of a weight management plan, and it was also some much-needed energy release away from three young children.
It wasn’t until she started swimming and undertook her first triathlon at Noosa in 2007 when she became hooked on the tri-sport.
Racing Olympic-distance events for a few years she was talked into talking the Gold Coast half-Ironman in 2009. With the support of coach Leanne Southwell, Tracey went on to successfully complete Ironman Australia at Port Macquaire in 2010.
She then took two years off racing due to cardiac issues, before making a comeback to compete in the 70.3 world championships in Las Vegas in 2012, then Melbourne Ironman in 2012 which was followed by Busselton in 2013.
For now she is looking forward to the experience of Kona, watching the likes of Rachel Joyce and Daniela Ryf first-hand.
Post Hawaii, Tracey said she will see how the body holds up before concentrating on trail running while she completes a masters degree in health care leadership.
Mountain Creek 50-year-old Tracey Bell will attend her first Ironman World Championship on Sunday.