ELEMENTS TAKE THEIR TOLL ON ATHLETE
Triathletes often push themselves beyond bearable levels of pain in the pursuit of glory — and then there are people like Rockingham Triathlon Club’s Tracey Schmidt.
After returning from the Ironman New Zealand in Lake Taupo earlier this month, Schmidt has been at home recovering from one of the toughest events she has competed in.
After staring down the barrel of a 3.9km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run, Schmidt told the Telegraph she suffered a hip stress fracture and serious hamstring impingement during the race.
Having twinged her hamstring a week-and-a-half before the event, Schmidt said she knew the race would be a struggle.
“Conditions were terrible; leading up to the event they were great but on the day the winds turned Lake Taupo into an ocean,” she said.
“It was the toughest swim I’ve ever done and there were points where I thought I wouldn’t make it.
“About 100 people didn’t make it through the swim.”
Gale-force winds made the long ride hard, before the marathon run at the end took its toll on Schmidt.
“The wind was horrific; it was a real struggle to ride through it,” she said.
“As soon as I started the run, I could feel the top of my hamstring.
“I pushed through it, but unfortunately about 17-18km through the race, it got worse. I was getting pain to the point I couldn’t run and my leg kept collapsing on me.”
Despite it being just her second major Ironman event, Schmidt was shocked when she was told she was in third place.
Determined to finish the race as best she could, Schmidt walked the next 2km before the agony became too much.
“I tried jogging but my leg kept giving out,” she said.
“I contemplated walking the last 20km but unfortunately that was the end of my race.”
An MRI scan on return from New Zealand revealed the extent of the damage.
Despite the long lay-off ahead on the sidelines, Schmidt remains optimistic about “getting back on the bike” and competing again.
When it came to the “addictive” nature of extreme events like the Ironman, Schmidt had some sound advice for those considering diving in at the deep end of human endurance.
“You’ve just got to break it down into really small segments when it gets tough,” she said.
“When you are struggling, it is hard to stop your mind going into the negatives . . . but I think of the people who have inspired me or motivated me through life.
“People who have done it tough; if they can do it, then I can do this.”
Rockingham Triathlon Club member Tracey Schmidt pushed through the pain barrier in New Zealand.