Ironman Austria Race Report
Ironman Austria Race Report
We couldn’t have ordered a better day – weather wise that is. The rest was good and went downhill during the race but I finished with a time in between my last 2 finishes, not as good as I hoped for, but still OK – and it is fabulous to hear the screaming and cheering as you run down the finish chute and hear you name with “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.
The morning broke with cool but not cold weather and stayed great all day – high of 23C and overcast most of the time so I can’t complain about that or use it as an excuse. The race winner actuall did a world record time although every race course is different and you can’t compare them fairly. This is supposed to be one of the easier ones although I suggest that is just the run as it has no hills, unlike Ironman Canada. The bike course is more demanding than you think when driving it because there are lots of hills (only one big bad one you don twice) with a big cumulative effect that you don’t feel when driving it.
When they played my favourite training song, that I used a ton this year, at the swim start just as I entered the water I thought it was my day – Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” – “I wanna live while I’m alive”. My swim was OK but I had hoped for better – I finished it in 1:16:53 which is off my PB of 1:12 in Penticton last year. Because it was a beach start and we were contained within 3 piers you couldn’t get much open water or go easily to the outside, and it was hard to sight and fine a line in the middle of 2700 starters. I’ve never been bashed or swum over so much in a race before. As a result I lost time shen people were swimming over my legs as everything seemed to criss cross. Anyway In felt good and none of the bashes did any damage although a few head blows were worrying in case I might loose my goggles. The course is kind of an out and back with the last 800 metres in a canal (back to our hotel beach for the exit). On the return leg it was hard to sight and see the canal entrance as the sun was dead in your face. The swimmers were pretty wide spread at that point all facing the same problem and then having to “funnel” into the canal; where it again got quite congested. But this did create a noticable draft which was helpful. I think I probably swam an extra 200m due to all the congestion and sighting issues so this may also explain my time – I was 3rd in my age group of the 12 who registered and 10 who started. It goes down from there.
Transition to bike was uneventful and I was my usual slow deliberate self so as not to forget anything – over 9 minutes. My first bike loop was pretty good and I think I was about 3:13 for the 90K and averaged nearly 27K/hr. As I said there were a lot more hils than I expected and lots of curves on the downhill through little villages that you had to be careful and even brake a bit at the corners. And the Rupertisberg Hill is the big one – over 2K long and several parts at 10-12% grade. Hard on the legs and took my speed down to 8 k/hr in parts on the first loop. We do a turnaround back in town near the transition area and it was full of fans – really loud ones from Canada included.- as with over 60 of us just in our group there were also at least that many supporters. It gave me a big boost to go around again. Buit this time I faded a bit and was nearly 3:45. \Everything was tougher on tired legs and on the big hill I was slowed to not much more than a walk pace 6 k/hr – but I didn’t get off and walk (I did think about it though). There were a lot fewer fans and marshalls on the 2cd loop. With the leaders having gone through I guess they went home or over to the run course. And Marshalls don’t matter at the back of the pack as there is only pride at stake.
My second transition was slowere again as I was confused with the process. I coudn’t get to my bike bag as they has closed the area off and I tough I had to return my helmet, shoes etc, there. So I spoke to an official who got me in only to learn that I needed to put the bike stuff in the run bag after I got the run stuff out, The mind does crazy things under fatigue – I remember that from business somewhere. Anyway I lost about 5 minutes and took over 14 to make the turnaround change.
But the run which started out great got much worse. I did the first 4K running at a good pace considering. Then I walked a bit but was “picked up” by Christine of the Canada Group who I ran with for about another 8K, at an even faster pace. Too good I thought. My stomach started talking to me so I sent her along ahead – i think she finished mor than an hour ahead of me. I guess my stomach doesn’t like all the stress physically as I’ve had this problem before and despite making a lot of nutrition changes it still happened and even worse. Within 10 minutes of leaving Christine I stopped to throw up – much sooner than in my other races. And from there it was throw up about every 4K like clockwork for the rest of the race. This included once at around the 28K mark where I had to sit on a park bench for 3-5 minutes to recover as I felt quite bad when I started to try to run or walk again. But the IronWill kicked in and I was off again. Even running to a lot of cheering through the center of the city on the secon loop where I rang the bell in the city square twice (you have to jump up to do this on really toasted tired legs). Then I fell for the second time about 1K from the finish as it was really dark and you couldn’t see the course very well and an uneven curb go me. I also got a bit lost in the park after dark and had to ask some spectatores where the route to the finish was as it was really dark at a few of the crossover points were. I could hear the music at the finish but couldn’t figure out how to get there – plus I threw up again twice about 500m from the end. I decided to stop and get it out and not loose it crossing the finish. I finished the run in 6:45 tuing my personal worst. But when you get to that last 500m with the really screamiing crowds and cheerleaders (they looked better than the Dallas Cowboys ones at this point) you think you are flying and get really strong – a feeling everyone should experience, really emotional. I raised my arms as strong as I could stopping on the finish line for the photo, and then did the “John Blais roll” over the finish line for my longtime good buddy Len who is seriously sufferring from ALS, the same thing that got John Blais who many of you might know did this rollover the finish line when he did his Ironman while suffering from ALS.
Now to reflect on what’s next. I have registered for the Cedar Point Full Iron in September to support my training buddy Brian doing his first Ironman. And I have registered for Ironman Mont Tremblant next year in August. And I may register for Ironman Arizona 2012 when I see the race that my buddy Derek is doing this fall. No decisions now as you don’t want to make these is the heat of the moment after you are dog tired at the finish or elated the next morning. I think I’ll wait until after the Steehead half iron with all my buddies in August to sort out how many Ironman races this 67 year old body can take and if there are more than 6-7 in me. After reading Jim’s book “Younger Next Year” the message is that all this training keeps you younger and should sustain you to keep on going like this until your 80’s and beyond barring some serious illness.
Well that’s it. I need a shower and I’m really hungry as my stomach was too upset to eat after the race. I’ve already boxed my bike and have to deliver it to the shippers ikn a couple of hours – and then it is off to the “finishers tent” to look over the merchandise and pick up any race photos that are whorthwhile – I’m looking for 2 for sure I think they got – plus the post race dinner and party where I can have a drink again after 2 days of abstaining, plu some mmore greasy food as a reward.. Then our 2 week vacation in Italy and Vienna.