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Ironman Austria - TriathlonFull Ironman
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I am warning you now - this is a REALLY long race report. :)
The swim was was the part of the race I was most nervous about, but I knew I could do it. My plan was to let everyone start, wait a minute, then just start swimming - focusing on being relaxed and smooth. In my trial swim the day before, my wetsuit was not sitting well and breathing was strained. I took a TON of time putting on my wetsuit this morning, getting it as high up my legs as possible. I hate putting on my wetsuit, it makes me feel very claustrophobic. :)
I never really heard the canon go off (although I saw it on TV later), I just saw everyone running forward. I walked slowly into the water, wading in to mid-thigh, and tried to stay calm. I didn't have a watch, so I'm not sure how long I actually waited, but there was only a few people left where I was (probably with the same swim plan as me) and plenty of open water in front. I decided I had plenty of room and started swimming, with lots of praying as I swam. Wetsuit felt good (yeah) and I tried not to think about how long I was going to be in the water. Started passing people pretty quickly, but it was fairly thinned out, so I just adjusted my line whenever I saw legs and went around them. I don't feel like I wasted too much energy swimming around people though, there was plenty of room. I eventually caught up with another girl swimming about the same pace and just swam next to her for a while. Before I knew it, I saw the first turn buoy and was done with the first 1400m.
Made the first turn - a little crowded, but stayed out the outside. Kirk and I had talked about the crowds and I would rather swim a little farther than fight with lots of bodies. After the first turn, they had told us we could sight off a castle on the shore (easier to see), so I did. How cool is that - I sighted off a castle! :) This was a pretty short section, so before too long I saw the next turn buoy and headed back toward the shore.
The sun was right in our eyes after we made that turn and I had no idea where I was going. There were plenty of people in my area, but it felt like none of us knew where the buoys were. Swimming felt a little harder through here, so I don't know if there was a bit of a current or it was just my imagination. After what felt like AGES, I finally saw the canal entrance and knew I had about 900m to go.
The canal was awesome!! When we walked past the canal before the swim, it was completely calm (maybe a tiny current going out toward the lake - opposite the direction I was swimming). With all those bodies swimming up the canal, it turned into a flume ride! You could have just floated and made it to the exit, but when you actually swam it felt like you were flying. The canal was jam-packed full of people (much smaller space) and I had to do a lot of swimming around/through people, but I was having so much fun it didn't bother me. As I passed under one of the bridges, I actually saw Kirk on the shore and waved to him - how many people can say they saw someone DURING the swim. :)
A small right turn to the swim exit and I was out of the water. I felt really good and jogged all the way to transition. Swim was done - yipee!! Not sure how far the run from the swim to transition was and not sure where the timing mat was.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing - followed my plan 100%!
Not allowed to take our wetsuits off until we reached the changing tent. Grabbed my bike bag from the hook and headed into the tent. They had a women's area, but it was small (only about 4% of the race was women) and we had to walk over this rock bed in the middle of the tent. No worries - not trying to break any speed records today. Stripped down, dried off a bit with my hand towel, put on some Aquaphor, pulled on my bike shorts, sports bra, tri top, arm warmers, socks, and bike shoes. That sounds a lot faster than I did it, of course. Put everything back in the bike bag and handed it to a volunteer. Jogged with my helmet through transition (a nice long jog) to my bike near the exit. Grabbed my bike off the rack and headed out. Saw the clock as I exited transition for the first time - 1:31 - holy cow! I had expected to get out of the water closer to 1:30, so I was pretty happy with that time. :)
What would you do differently?:
Nothing - not trying to do this quickly, focus on comfortable.
My plan for the bike was to ride based on Power - staying under 108. Yes, I know that's a small number, but I'm a small person and I'm not a strong cyclist (yet). :) My norm power was 107 for the first 120K, with a final average of 104 - so I'd say I followed my plan pretty well. I got passed by the entire world, but I did a good job just letting them go and riding my plan.
The first 30K were really nice, you're by the water for a majority of the time and it was just gorgeous. A photo guy on one of the motorcycles rode by me forever, so I got some nice bike pictures from this stretch. We rode through a ton of cute Austrian towns and people were set up at restaurants, bus stops, houses, wherever to cheer us on. Water stops every 15K or so, where I grabbed a bottle and refilled my aerobottle. The only problem I had at the start was that I had to pee really bad! I actually had to pee through the whole swim, but couldn't manage to do it. For some reason, I decided against the port-a-potty in transition and then regretted it soon after I was on the bike. Also didn't stop at the first station - no idea why - and was pretty desperate by the time I hit the second one at the top of Egg (climb #1 - around 30K mark).
After that, the rest of Loop #1 was pretty uneventful, just watched my watts and enjoyed the scenery - I was riding my bike in Austria! I had expected the last 30K of the course to be downhill/flat, so when I passed the 60K mark I was a little confused. I guess the big climb I heard about was overrated, I didn't even notice it. Imagine my surprise when I saw the arch at the base of a hill in front of me. Huh, guess I read the map wrong, here we go!
As you start the Ruptiberg climb, there are spectators with mics cheering for everyone. Remember there aren't very many women in the race, so they would get really excited when they saw that an "IronLady" was coming and cheered about that, which was fun. I finished the first part of the climb seated, "that wasn't so bad". But it wasn't over - back up again. This climb was long and it sucked - several long stretches you HAD to stand up, it was steep! At the top, I thought "this is really going to suck the second time". The view from the top was amazing though - I was actually a little disappointed I didn't have a camera.
At this point I really expected to have the rest of the loop downhill & flat for sure. Nope. There was a nice stretch where we got to fly downhill, but there was definitely some climbing left to do. So much for the easy last 30K I was looking forward to. :)
Starting the second lap, I heard Kirk yell for me at the turnaround and headed back out. Ugh - another 3 & 1/2 hours on the bike to go. Stopped at special needs and traded out my bottle for a new one. No water here to mix with my Infinit, but the volunteer did have sparkling water, so I tried to use that. Mixing a nutrition bottle with sparkling water doesn't work very well though - it gets very fizzy. I got it about half-way filled and decided that was good enough. It tasted very fizzy & grainy, so I was happy to finish mixing with regular water at the first 15K water stop.
At the top of Egg, I saw Kirk - yeah! That was a nice surprise and I told him the bike course was really hard. :) Grabbed my water and started refilling my aerobottle. This is where things went wrong. I saw a guy coming over in front of me (I had moved to the left to get out of the way) and I tapped my brakes to slow down (while the other hand was holding the water & refilling my bottle). He kept coming and I tried to slow down and get out of the way - then I hit the curb. I remember yelling "Nooooooo" and I think I tried to grab the barrier on my left to support myself while falling. Next thing I know, I'm on the ground under my bike, "No,No,No,No". Kirk was still right there, so he got to watch the whole thing. :( Kirk told me I was fine and I got back up. I used a water bottle and rinsed off my leg where I had fallen, then finished refilling my bottle. I checked out my bike, which looked fine. My left leg looked fairly bad and my right hand stung, but overall not bad. Kirk rinsed off my leg a little more and said to go catch the guy who cut me off. :)
After I rode a little further and calmed down a bit, I noticed my front brakes were rubbing and my left brake lever was twisted a bit. I pulled over and fixed the brakes (nothing to do about the brake lever, it worked fine though). About this time my leg really started to hurt though. I had to slow down a bit, especially on the uphills, because it was bothering me. I stopped at the next aid station and washed off my leg a bit more and they tried to bandage me up - using masking tape to wrap around my leg to get the bandages to stay. I waited until I got out of their sight and took the bandages off, because I couldn't really bend my leg that way. The last big climb up Ruptiberg was painful and long, which I figured it would be. By this point, most of the spectators were gone, which made it a little harder. I had to stand up a lot more on this climb and I actually took a short break at the top of the hill to catch my breath and motivate myself to keep going. Around this time I realized I was also out of nutrition and started to get a little nervous about running out of energy. I did remember that they had gels at a few stops, so I was able to grab a gel at the next stop to keep me from getting hungry. I coasted more on the way back into town, whenever possible. I was so ready to get off the bike! My bike computer showed about 7 hours of moving time, so I wasted about 15 minutes between the crash, stops to rinse off from the crash, and bathroom break at the start.
What would you do differently?:
Don't crash on the bike. Pee in transition, so I'm not desperately trying to find a bathroom. Plan my nutrition better - planning for the worst. I had only brought along 2 x 3 hour bottles of Infinit, which didn't make sense since I expected a 7 hour ride, stupid.
I was so glad to be off the bike, but I was also very tired and not really moving fast. It was wierd to just rack my bike and then walk away from it without anything - so I know I started at it for a few seconds, felt like I was forgetting something. Made my way to the changing tent, grabbing my run bag and crossed over to the women's changing area. Decided just to keep on my tri top and change into my run skirt. I took some time to wipe off my knee and face with moist wipes I had packed, which felt nice. I put my shoes on and was ready to go before I remembered I didn't put on my calf sleeves. Did waste some time taking my shoes back off and putting those back on. Really had no issue with the extra time here though, just wanted to regroup and get ready for the run.
What would you do differently?:
Move faster next time and not waste time taking shoes on and off and on (calf sleeves).
As usual, started out running too fast and spent the first 2 miles staring at my Garmin and making myself run slow. The first stretch we ran through the middle of Ironman city & it was amazing - so much energy and screaming spectators everywhere - it was crazy!! It was a little warm, but the shade was everything they advertised and I was very excited about that. I wasted some time searching for a port-a-potty (again?!). I waited outside one for a while and finally gave up, ran to a public WC and that was full too, finally found an empty bathroom around 3 miles or so. After the quick break, my stomach started to protest. I had grabbed one gel from the course and I could feel it sitting in my stomach. I grabbed a second gel from my special needs bag around mile 6, but that didn't seem to help. I could feel everything just sitting in my stomach, but couldn't think through what I needed to do to make it better. I saw Kirk toward the start of the second 6 mile stretch and told him what was going on. He asked if I'd had enough electrolytes and I remembered I ran out of Infinit on the bike and knew I hadn't. He suggested I get some Iso (sports drink) at the next station, but I was worried about how that would sit in my stomach (since I wasn't able to train with that). He reminded me it couldn't make things worse, so I tried that. It worked! The Iso sat really well in my stomach and things started to process through again. I adjusted my plan to running from aid station to aid station (which I figured would happen). With every aid station, my stomach settled a bit more and I was able to run - yeah!! I passed a million people during this stretch and I was just focusing on a mile at a time.
The third 6 mile stretch the spectators and athletes really started to thin out. Between mile 14-16 I started to slow down again, having trouble keeping up the run between the aid stations. I passed through Ironman city again and WHAM, I ran straight into the "wall". This is my 6th marathon and I thought I had hit the wall before, but I've never felt anything like this. I could barely walk and I was really afraid I was going to pass out. For some reason, I was convinced that if a volunteer realized how I was feeling, I would get pulled off the course and I really wanted to finish the race. I was shaking, dizzy, and very labored breathing. Remember those millions of people I passed earlier? They all passed me back here. :)
I passed an aid station without taking anything, because I was afraid I didn't have enough energy to ask for something and wasted my energy trying to look normal. I did the math and knew it was going to take me about 2 more hours to finish if I couldn't get moving again, I was so frustrated. I passed another aid station and made myself try some coke & a banana. Then I found Kirk, sat down on a bench, and started crying and telling him I felt horrible and it was going to take me forever to finish the race. He got me up and started walking down the path next to the course with me, as I started to feel a little bit better. He finally convinced me to try running again, which I was sure wouldn't work, but I was able to jog slowly. I grabbed some more Iso & Coke at the next aid station and really started to feel better. I picked up the pace a bit and told Kirk I was okay and I'd see him in a bit. For the rest of the race, I made myself drink Iso & Coke at every aid station. I focused on cheering on all the other runners good distraction). It was more complicated than normal, because first you had to read which country they were from (so you knew which language they understood), then try to read/pronounce their name & some type of encouragement. It was a really good distraction, since it took a lot of concentration. :) I made it back to the spot I had left Kirk earlier and he was surprised to see me back so soon. Around this point, my knee from the crash started to hurt pretty bad. It hurt just as bad running as walking, so I figured I might as well run and get to the finish line faster. He reminded me that I only had a few more miles to go and I focused on running as much as possible the rest of the way. I tried to minimize stopping at the aid stations, because restarting running was getting really painful.
The last 1K was awesome - I was in a lot of pain, but I could also hear all the cheering at the finish line and was so excited to be so close. I started running faster and it seemed like the faster I ran the less my knee hurt - okay then! I had the biggest smile on my face as I crossed under the last arch and turned the corner for the finishing shoot - woohoo! They had cheerleaders lining the start of the shoot and I celebrated with them as I ran down the line. One of the wheelchair athletes was right in front of me in the chute and I thought it was very poor form to pass him at the end, so I took my time and jogged really slowly as he rolled down the line. The actual finish line is elevated (you go up a little ramp) and he was struggling to make it up the ramp. I didn't know what to do, does he get a penalty if I grab the chair and try to help him? Am I a terrible person if I don't help him? Ah - what to do? He couldn't make it and rolled backwards. I decided it was okay to pass now and I ran up the ramp - I AM AN IRONMAN!! Then turned around and helped cheer up the awesome wheelchair guy who did make it up the ramp on his second try - woohoo!!
What would you do differently?:
Looking back, nutrition is what I think got me again - darn! Poor planning on the bike made me about an hour behind on nutrition starting the run. It wasn't a hot day, but it was pretty warm through several hours on the bike and start of the run, so I just ran out of juice. On the run, when I couldn't stomach the semi-solids of the gels as planned, I think I was probably running mostly on sugar from the Iso. I am pretty sure I skipped Iso at an aid station or two right before I hit the wall. When I started taking in some sugar & calories again I was okay, so I need to make sure I don't skip an aid station when I know nutrition isn't going according to plan anyway.
Oh, and Pee in transition, so I'm not desperately trying to find a bathroom (sound familiar?).
Found Kirk, limped my way to the athletes tent, ate a few pieces of pizza-like stuff and grabbed a beer. It was TERRIBLE beer, so I left that on a table. Walked over to the massage area and was surprised to see a really short line - probably waited about 2 minutes before I got on the table. Had an awesome post-race massage on my legs and went back outside to find Kirk. Walked back to transition, got my stuff, walked back to the finish line area and found a cab that would put my bike in his car.
Overall - the race was AWESOME!!! The scenery was amazing, I can't think of a better place to do your first Ironman, it was exactly what I wanted! Even when I was miserable, I knew I was going to want to do another one. I had hoped to be closer to 13 hours than 14 hours, but I'm still pretty happy overall!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Crash on the bike & Poor nutrition decisions on the run. If I had been able to hold it together on the run, I could have gotten that 4:30 run I had hoped for. Next time!
This was an amazing course - the scenery is unbelievable on the swim & bike & half the run. The bike course is hilly, but gorgeous. The first half of the run loop (south of the city) is less scenic, but the second half is really fun through Klagenfurt. Lots of FAST competitors and an amazing finish line! Less spectators than advertised, maybe the cooler weather kept them away?
Last updated: 2010-12-31 12:00 AM
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73F / 23C
Overall Rank = 2151/2781
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 64/70
Bread (Roll)with PB & Jelly, Espresso, & Tea at the hotel. Went back to transition and moved a tube of Aquaphor from my run bag to the bike (just in case), filled up bike water & Infinit bottles, then walked to the swim start. Hung out with Kirk and took in all the excitement, hot air balloons, & Ironman stuff - really awesome!
None - 3800M is enough of a warmup for me, this was not about going fast today.