6/25/16

Ironman Austria - one more sleep



It's hard to believe that it was almost 10 years ago when I was packing my transition bags for my very first Ironman.
Now 10 years and 10 Ironman triathlon events later, I have the privilege of racing for 140.6 miles with my body for the 11th time in Klagenfurt, Austria.

I've always felt that the Ironman distance was a good distance for me. Over the years, I have enjoyed the mental and physical challenge of training for and racing long distance triathlon events.

There have been a lot of high moments, PR's, Kona qualifications (4 of them) and great memories but I've also had my share of low moments with setbacks, struggles and injuries.
When I overcome those low moments, I always gain more of an appreciation for what I can do with my body as a triathlete.

Although I feel honored that I have the fitness to be competitive and to "race" (not just participate) for 140.6 miles, I never take the distance for granted. I respect the long day that I have in front of me and I can not thank my body enough for letting me push hard for 10+ hours.

Thank you for the continued support, safe wishes and good mechanical luck.

For tracking:
Ironman Austria
Marni - Bib number 672
Karel - Bib number 342



Swim gear


Bike gear


Run gear


Special needs


Escorting my mom to her volunteer duties at Registration. 


We'd like to send a big thank you to Triasport for special ordering me a new right side brake lever from Germany on Wednesday, overnighting it for it to arrive on Thursday AND for giving us a great euro discount.
Sadly, my basebar Di2 shifting stopped working in route to Europe (cause unknown). But all is good now!
Also, I realize I could have still raced just fine with my right side aero bar electronic shifting but to make me feel more comfortable, I'm incredible grateful and thankful to the best bike mechanic in the world (seriously, he's that good) who also happens to be my husband for going out of his way to find the part, order the part and then install the part. I'm also grateful that Karel is a perfectionist and very patient.
I played bike stand as Karel installed a new brake lever and rerouted all the cables. This was not an easy job so I'm thinking I'll need to make Karel extra proud on Sunday by riding extra fast and using my gears a lot....and getting him a few Czech beers nd get him a few Czech be 





Walking in Europapark to the pre-race athlete welcome banquet. 







Athlete pre-race banquet






6/24/16

Ironman Austria swim and run course preview (in pics)



The Ironman Austria swim course is an easy-to-navigate course thanks to the simplicity of the layout of the course and to the clear blue waters of Lake Worthersee. The only downside is that the sun will be in our face after the 2nd turn buoy. Karel and I have swam in the lake twice, with once being at a similar time as what we will experience on race day. We specifically wanted to see if we could find a landmark(yellow house and trees) instead of looking for buoys to help us navigate our way into the canal in the direct sun. Although, we have a 90-100% chance of rain and thunderstorms on race day so who knows what the sun will look like on race morning.

In 2014, we had a mass swim start at Ironman Austria - if you look at the swim picture, you can see three red docks - I started after the furthest dock away from the swim course and happened to swim my fastest swim time to date - 1 hour and 10 seconds. This year, we will be starting with a rolling start, which I absolutely love because you are able to swim with athletes of a similar swim ability. We I am not sure where on the course (between which docks) we will line-up based on predicted swim times but every 5 seconds, 10 athletes will enter the water. This should take about 20 minutes for the entire field to cross the swim start line. I plan to start with the 55-59 swimmers in hopes of finally breaking that 1 hour swim time that I have been chasing for the past 10 Ironmans. 








The water is clean, fresh and cool. I can't think of a better place for open water swimming as Lake Worthersee is like a big pool with great mountain views. 



Loving my fast Xterra Vengeance full wetsuit!

As for the distances on the swim course, we swim 1230 meters to the first turn buoy (buoys on our left), make a left turn, then swim 470 meters to the next turn buoy and make another left. Then we swim 1100 meters to enter the canal and then 1000 meters in the canal, which spans about 20 meters wide. 




Although the lake is clear and fresh, the canal is an entirely different open water swimming experience. Perhaps it's nothing out of the norm for a "normal" lake but there's nothing normal about swimming in Lake Worthersee.

Above is a pic of the canal on a normal day.
Here's a pic of the canal on Ironman race day.  



Although the canal continues on toward downtown Klagenfurt, we exit the water behind the Hotel Seepark. We have a very long run to the transition area and based on years past, you are not allowed to remove your wetsuit until you enter the changing tents in the transition area.



As for the run course, I just love this course. Two loops, lots of changes in terrain (sand, trail, cobblestones) and a few "bumps" on this flat course to wake-up my climbing legs. 



The run starts through Europa Park which is lined with spectators. We then make our way toward the lake and head on a sandy trail (which then turns into a paved bike/run trail/path) to take us to the town of Krumpendorf. The run course includes a lot of turns which makes things exciting as there are only two stretches of road which require us to run for more than a mile without a turn. On race day, there will be fans everyone and many of them enjoying a cold beer while cheering us on. The aid stations are located every 2-2.5 K which is about every 1.2-1.5 miles. 







This course is super spectator friendly as we pass through the same place (near Europapark) 4 times. Well, 5 if you include the last pass through as we make our way to the finish line. 



The 2nd long straight section that I mentioned is along the canal as we head to the town center of downtown Klagenfurt. We have a good 2 miles on this road with only 2-3 "bumps". Overall, it is mostly all flat. 




We go through a tunnel which is nice if the sun is shinning. Based on the predicted weather, this tunnel should keep the rain off our backs for a few seconds. 




We then enter the beautiful town center which will be packed with fans - who will likely be dining outside and cheering us on. I remember in 2014, there were crowds of people but all I could think about was the yummy smells of food!



While I can see how this downtown section may throw people off due to the constant change in terrain (cobblestones) and a lot of running up and down curbs, through building, etc. I absolutely love this section and can't wait to run here on race day - twice!






We run around the 16th century dragon fountain around mile 10 and then around mile 22. 



After exiting the town center for the 2nd time, we have one last run back to the lake before making our way to the finish line (left turn by the water). It's a long straight away to the finishing chute and finally, we can make one last left hand turn to enjoy the party at the finish line.


(2013 Ironman Austria finish line)



Can't wait to cross this line on Sunday!
Although this will be my 11th Ironman, every Ironman start is worth celebrating.
The finish is just the reward for a body that stayed healthy enough to train and race for 140.6 miles.



6/23/16

IM Austria bike preview (in pics)



It's hard to describe this course in words so I thought I'd use pictures to show you what you get to see in 112 miles on the Ironman Austria bike course.

When leaving Klagenfurt, there is a quick out and back section when leaving the transition area and then we head to Maria Worth, which is in route to Velden.
As you can see in the bike course map picture, the first part of the course is filled with water views. And not just any water views - the fresh and clean, aqua blue waters of Lake W├Ârthersee (also our swim course). 
There are a few rolling sections but the course starts out fast. There is also a nice view of the Pyramidenkogel (highly recommend to visit if you are in the area) which is on a 2,703 foot high foot mountain in Carinthia, Austria. 









After passing through Velden, we approach a round about and then head straight for several miles, with longer rollers (climbs and descends) and our first real views of the alps.
The course remains fast until we approach our first climb near Faaker See, just after 30K in the bike course. 


















It's really neat to pass through so many small towns, which will be filled with fans on race day. 



There are two climbs in our first loop with the first climb is not so significant and the next climb is steady, and the first time where your overall pace really slows down. But, this course is filled with long descends so if you can pace the climbs (3 major climbs) appropriately, you can gain a lot on the downhills. 







Although the next 15K can be a little frustrating as the wind can be at your face as you ride on a wide open road with the alps on your right, followed by a section on a small road packed between houses and farms (hello cows!), the views are breathtaking. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the course.
Overall, the road conditions are great with just a few sections of bumpy roads (mostly patched).












Around 50K into the bike, we finish our loop section and then head back to Rosegg to make a right at the round about, up a short steep hill and then to start our next big loop, before repeating the course one more time.
I just love all the bike and walking paths along the course and I can't wait until race day as the course will be filled with fans, especially on the big climbs. Not every IM race course has a DJ on the course (Riebnig climb). 




While there are few technical sections in terms of descending (they are mostly long descends where you wind gradually either right or left and do not have to break), it's the passing through the towns which is fun but you also have to be alert as the roads are tight. 







The course is just beautiful (did I say that already?) and I love how the alps are always in sight. 





Above is a picture of the big climb nearing 70K which is long. Of course, on race day there will be a DJ and about 4-5 deep of fans so it will be a lot of fun. Plus, guess who loves climbing - ME!



This is one of those climbs where you can't see the top and it keeps on going. There is a false flat section in the middle and then it keeps going up. But what goes up, must come down...and boy, is it a fun downhill! There is one left hand turn on the bottom of a descend but other than that, the next 10K is fun. 








Karel and I had no trouble staying on course (minus one turn that is not marked) as the course is permanently marked with Ironman M-dots and signs.  







The last section is fast - although there is one technical area through a town but for a good 10K, you are gradually going back down into town. You can either gain time (free speed) or lose time depending on bike handling skills so I hope mine have improved enough for me to ride confidently on the back half of each loop.
Before the descend, there are a few areas that are filled with tall trees, almost like a Lake Placid type feel. This course has a little of everything for the nature lovers.

In total, we have about 5500 feet of climbing but IM Austria still remains one of the fastest IM bike courses.

Well, there you have it - the IM Austria bike course in pictures. 
Here are some of the pictures that Karel took of me as he patiently waited for me as we were previewing 1-loop of the bike course yesterday morning.