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Ironman Austria 2016 Race report
We arrived into Klagenfurt, Austria in a blistering heat of 35 degrees, although we both like racing in the heat this would be really tough as we haven't trained in any and are used to the rain and grey!!
Gary's first worry was a non wet suit swim, the lake temperature would be up. We registered and the sweat was pouring off us. I wanted a new wetsuit but the thought of pulling on a suit was not worth thinking about. So we strolled down to the lake and saw the finish being constructed, an exciting thought that we would go through there in 2 days. The lake is in a beautiful setting, mountains all around and the water a sparkling turquoise and 23 degrees!
Back to our spacious apartment - 4 miles out but worth it - stickers, bike and race preparations were under away. The race briefing brought a few comments on Brexit and of course the weather or more importantly the lake temperature. There was a massive cheer when a wet suit swim was declared!! We were told the swim up the canal would be fantastic and we would think we were all Michael Phelps. Race notes digested and then bike racking, walking through transition making mental notes on entry, bag pick up, changing, bike location and exit, so much to take in.
Sunday - race day and although storms had been forecast there was only a calm wind and the sun was coming up. Fingers crossed for fair weather. We drove the car down and parked up in a side street and walked in with other athletes to transition. It was alive and buzzing, music blaring out and cheering, everyone helping each other pumping up tyres, there were 2 tyre blow outs, it made us jump and then relief it wasn't our bikes, lots of nervous conversations and plenty of good support and well wishes all around.
It was a rolling swim start, I went into the pen 1.10-1.20 knowing that was the correct swim time for me but everyone else was way too slow. I started my swim and was overtaking all the time and no-one came by me. Note to self - be brave and go forward a pen or 2! Same for Gary, he needed to be forward as after his swim he was struggling to get through the cyclists. The swim should've been fast but it wasn't, it had waves on the turn round points and then sighting for the canal was hard with the sun in your eyes, unfortunately the canal was not as expected, the flow was quite strong against you and again trying to get by others was hard especially as some were now doing breast stroke. I did enjoy the swim as it was technical and that suits me, the compère said the pros were 6 minutes slower on the swim than expected so well pleased with my time.
Out on my new bike and the clouds were coming across as I set off on the 112 miles. The route was 2 laps with some hills and is a fast course. I did find some of the hills hard and not being used to my bike did a few rookie errors like trying to change gear with my brake levers! The heavens did open and we had a soaking, safety was number 1, slowed down, avoided the white lines and the massive man hole covers and took the sharp corners at a gentle pace. Gary overtook me on the 2nd lap and he was going well but had to slow down for the weather conditions as well. He was trying not to let his back problem affect his race.
Back into transition and I was wondering if I would be able to run as my knee was painful on the bike (cleats need adjusting) - hobbled through transition put my running shoes on to see how it felt and after a few strides, no pain, yes, I was good to go. Only 26.2 miles left. The run was 2 laps and I had a target in mind. Gary's run started slowly until he got into his running pace, usually takes him a couple of miles! His plan was to stay as close as possible to 8 minute miling, he went through halfway around 1 hr 50 mins, felt good with none of the usual calf pain! He pushed the last 3 miles as he wanted to finish inside the 3 hr 45 min mark, which he did! His fastest Ironman marathon so far. I was really enjoying the flat run through parkland, along the lake side, canal and back into the town and did my predicted time for the half but stomach cramps thought they'd scupper my time and they did. Never mind - managed to put in a good effort for the last 3 miles too and a finishing time of 13.57. Gary finished in 11.41.
A very well organised race in a scenic country with good support. Definately worth doing.