Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kona Profiles: Interview with Tracy Campbell

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") are a mere two weeks away, taking place Oct. 8th. As you all know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. We'll be catching up with a few of our local Cinderellas in the coming weeks... getting to know them better as a tri community and seeing how they're feeling as they get ready for the ball!

Thanks for the time, Tracy, and best of luck!!

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon?

My dad was a distance runner in college and he shared his love of running with me. After a few years of track and distance racing, I got injured. This led me to swimming and water polo in high school. I didn’t participate in any racing through college, but I was always into fitness. After my fourth child, I decided to enter my first triathlon in 2007, the Echo Sprint Triathlon. To my surprise I finished 14th overall and 3rd AG. After having the triathlon fire lit I took a break and I had another child, our fifth and last, and then returned to the opportunity to race in 2009 competing in the Echo Sprint Triathlon and the Kokopelli Olympic Triathlon. I managed to fit a few marathons in there and have been fortunate to run the Boston Marathon a few times. From 2009 until now, I am passionately addicted to the multisport world of triathlon and am thrilled to be competing at the Ironman World Championship in Kona this year.

How would you sum up your season so far?

This season has been the culmination of innumerable hours of sacrifice and work. After Kona, I will have completed 3 Ironman distance events within 12 months. It has been exhilarating setting out, after IM Arizona, to make it to Kona. I have been supported and helped along the way by so many people. I can’t wait to walk into the water at Kailua-Kona.

Which is more stressful / pressure-packed: attempting to qualify for Kona or the thought of actually racing Kona? How are you feeling now, only a couple weeks out?

For me, the stress of qualifying was greater. IM Arizona was my first full Ironman and I missed qualifying for Kona by 1 spot. But, I wasn’t really expecting to qualify on my first full IM. There was a lot of pressure to qualify at IM Texas because we anticipated more available Kona slots. I had been training so hard for with no break and my family had been supporting me through all this craziness. We told our kids that if I qualified, we would take them all to Hawaii. I do feel a certain amount of stress getting ready for Kona, but really I’m just excited and I am feeling pretty good about my training and confident in my abilities.

Ironman Texas was such a unique day, I never get sick of asking people about it (for example Jen Johnson, Sam Hobi, & Amber Blair)… can you give us a quick synopsis of your experience?

Texas was one of the craziest races that I’ve ever experienced! The bike course was wild with over 85 turns, but that actually made it fun. It was very hot and humid, but I was hoping for a hot race because I do better than most in the heat. The clouds rolled in on the 3rd loop of my run and the cooling air was such a welcome relief. At mile 22 of my run the rain became extreme. I almost didn’t notice because I was in finish mode. Finally, I realized how close the lightning was and there was actually hail at one point. One mile from the finish line I was pulled off the course! I debated just running around the officer that had stopped us and sneaking past the barrier. But, I figured I might be in a Kona spot and I didn’t want a DNF. I gathered in a parking garage with other athletes where Jen Johnson and I found each other. She had been stopped 0.2 miles from the finish and was also in a possible Kona spot. I was so confused and disoriented to have all the adrenaline you get at the finish and not be finishing. Finally, they let us return to the course and there was a collective cheer from the athletes as we all left the parking garage. I ran so fast that last mile. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from finishing. As, I ran toward the finish line, there were no crowds, no voice announcing me and no clock. There was just Mike Reilly in a poncho to give me a high five. Of course my husband and coach Andrew Stasinos were there! It was kind of an eerie finish line.

Do you have specific goals for Kona or will you be more, as many people put it, “happy to be there” your first time?

Definitely, I will be happy to be there. But, I want to race well and feel good. As mentioned, I tend to do well in hot climates.

How was your experience at 70.3 Worlds in Austria last year? Does competing on that stage give you confidence going into Kona or do you think it will still be pretty overwhelming?

I’ve competed in two 70.3 World Championships (Austria and Las Vegas 2013). Those were both amazing experiences. I think Kona will be different, but I feel confident in what I can do and wherever I end up against the other athletes is just where I end up. I would absolutely recommend to everyone that if you get a chance to race in the 70.3 Worlds…DO IT! The experience of being with the best in our sport doing what we love is fantastic.

Tracy in Austria - 70.3 World Champs 2015
What’s your best distance, and rank the 3 disciplines for strength to (relative) weakness.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I think my best distance is the full Ironman. I’m not really that much faster as I drop down to the half distance. Running is definitely my strength. It’s kind of a toss up between swimming and biking. I would list biking as my weak link because you spend the most of the race on the bike. But, I’ve been working really hard this last year to try and change that.

Rumor has it you and Jen Johnson were exchanging elbows and obscenities in the final miles of the Brineman Half. Are you prepared to call Jen out as the dirtiest competitor in the state?

Oh, yes definitely!! I think she even tried to trip me at one point. Ha ha. As you can see from the picture, we were having a lot of fun at that race. We ran the last 3 miles together and came in across the finish line together.

Speaking of local races, what’s your podium for top 3?

Echo is definitely a favorite. I do that one every year. I would have to mention St. George 70.3, but if we are sticking to more locally run then I would say Kokopelli. Brineman was a brand new race this year and I would add that to my favorites.

synchronized running team showing excellent form at Echo
Any thoughts for 2017, or too soon? Another run at Kona? Chattanooga? Local?

Right now, I’m looking forward to the off season. I haven’t really had a break for about a year and a half. I’m sure I will be racing. I don’t think I will do a full next year. Maybe I will just stick to 70.3’s and local races. But, never say never.

coach Andrew Stasinos and husband Mick
Any advice for people like you balancing family/work/training, and are there any current or future triathletes among the Campbell kids?

Balancing family/work/training is always a big challenge. My husband is a huge support. He travels a lot but, when he is in town, he is always committed to helping me get my training in and even some extra rest sometimes. I plan all of my training around my 5 kids’ schedules (they are busy) so I can be there for them. I schedule all of my training in my calendar like appointments at the beginning of the week so I can see how it’s going to be accomplished. Mostly, I have cut the ‘fluff’ from my daily schedule meaning that if it isn’t necessary then it isn’t happening. My son is a swimmer. He has dabbled in triathlon and really enjoys it. I think he will be joining me one day.

Anything else you want to share?

I think one of the biggest strengths to me this time around has been having a group of other athletes to train with. You really get a boost from training with others and it is so helpful to have talented people around to give you strength when you are feeling weak. The BAM athletes have all been so supportive and FUN! Regardless of where you find yourself in triathlon, one of your best decisions will be to connect with BAM,

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