Monday, July 6, 2009

IM Austria Race Report ( How to survive)

Its the day after the race and the only good point is I finished IM Austria .
The time was 13.43.

In a nutshell I should have had a good race but from the start of the bike leg I was having lots of difficulties with cramping and despite the electrolytes I was taking I could not stop the cramps which just continued thru the run.

The swim started on a beautiful day but with 2500 plus atheletes it was crowded .It took 500 metres before I found any clear water there was lots of breast stroking whilst everyone just spread out abit.Otherwise despite the slow time I thought I did pretty well in the swim .The course was a 1400m swim out then a left turn for 400 meters and then back to shore and the last 900 meters in a canal.the canal section was amazing with the crowd at the side and over the swimmers on bridges .It wasn't deep at all and just got pretty congested with a bottleneck at the exit.I finished the swim in 1.32 but I was happy with the swim and got out feeling good.I think most people would have had a slow swim time . Transition was quick but there was a long run to the exit because of the enormous transition area.

The bike course was a 90km 2 lap course with a climb of 800 metres hence a total climb of 1600mts. There were two major climbs on the route with a gradient maxing out at 11 and 12 %.I had driven the course and it looked manageable. The course itself wound its way thru the Carinthia Canton of Austria and around the many lake systems in this region and has to be one of the most beautiful bike courses for an Ironman.It was onece a leg of the Giro D'Italia.(not sure how long ago but well before ironman Austria)

I started comfortably and felt I was making good time with the expectation of a 530 to 5.45 time .Unfortunately at around 60 km I started to cramp up badly and after that it was just a matter of survival. despite electrolytes I kept getting cramps and had to stop several times.The second lap was much slower and I finished the bike leg in 6.28 .There were a few crashes and saw someone being taken in the helicopter off one of the hills .Fortunately it was dry and going down the hills was great.
By the time I started the run I wasn't able to hold down much in the way of nutrition and my legs were just completely cooked. The weather during the day steadily got hotter and with the combination of my lack of being able to hold down much , the cramps and heat the run rapidly became one of jogging a few minutes and walking a few minutes.

There was some respite in the evening with a short shower . The crowds on both the bike and run course were amazing and there was horns and cowbells and cheering ,especially at every hill encouraging you on.It was truly everyone in the area pitching in and doing something be it on the aid stations or just sitting outside their home cheering .The run course wound its way to Krupendorf a village 7 km from the start and then back to klagenfurt town square where we run along the canal and then round the dragon in the square and thru the piazza. It was great to finish this race which was by far my toughest not for the course but just the level of cramps which I had not experienced to this extent .The finish area was amazing as always with a cheering crowd and strobe lights .I missed the fireworks in the end ...just too dead tired.

Many lessons to be learnt and I would recommend this race for the atmosphere .The bike course is challenging but not bad and one can post a good bike time . The heat took its toll and I ended up in the medical centre with 2 drips but otherwise Ok.There is always a first time .

It hasn't put me off Ironman races but I think I learnt alot from this race in so far despite all the preparation ,anything and everything does go wrong .Be prepared to deal with them as best as you can. There was no question of not finishing ...just what time I did.

In the end I was just too tired to laugh or cry.I do know that a year ago I would not have finished this course so I don't look at the training I did as wasted ,I am defintely better for all the training and the experience .Like life you can't always get everything you want .On the positive side of the trip as always I meet truly amazing people in the Triatlon family. It is universal and there is a sense of respect and commonality for the effort everyone who rocks up for a race had to put in .I wouldn't be here but for the support of the guys I train with , their cammaderie definitely makes all those lonely rides more tolerable , Ross Pedlow for the advise and balance , and most of all my family who tolerate the absolute obsession I have.