8/31/16

Behind the scenes - IMMT


Travel: 
-Traveling to and from Mont Tremblant was fairly easy for us. We flew from Greenville, SC into Montreal (Newark layover going, Dulles layover returning), rented an SUV and drove 130km (~1 hour and 40 minutes) to Mont Tremblant. There was a little traffic around Montreal but around 40 minutes into our drive, the scenery changed to trees and hills and it was a beautiful drive into the village of Mont Tremblant.

-It's very easy to rent a car at the airport as the rental car kiosk is right across the street, in the parking garage. I would strongly advise to rent a car from the airport and not off-site - it's just too easy to get the car right there, even if you save a few bucks off site.

-The customs process did not take long for us when we arrived, however returning home, the customs at the Montreal airport (to fly into the US) took us over two hours to get checked in, go through customs, go through security and then to arrive to our gate (and the airport is not that big).

-If you do not have a US passport, review the requirements for getting into Canada. Karel is a US permanent resident (not US Citizen) so he had to get an Electronic Travel Authorization (he paid for it before our trip). 

-We had a few athletes drive to Mont Tremblant from the East coast and they did not experience any issues.

-You can exchange your money (ex. USD) to Canadian dollars (with a service charge) at the airport as the kiosk is right by the baggage pick-up. You can also use your credit card but be sure to check if you are international to see if Canada accepts your credit card and to review the fees for international use.

-I started making our travel arrangements in October of 2015, specifically for a house that could accommodate our large group (13+). I reached out to Francois at Experience Tremblant (email: info@experiencetremblant.comand he was great to work with. Most of the houses are up on the hill, surrounding the village (it's only about 1-1.5 miles from the race venue but get your climbing legs ready) so if you want to make your race experience extremely simple, book a hotel at the village (there are plenty). There is no parking at the village and it can be tough to drop off athletes near the race venue but the shuttle service from the houses (our street had a shuttle service) on the hills and around the area runs often and they are very timely and easy to access. There is also off-site parking with a shuttle service.  

-Depending on your cell service, data rates may apply. We have Sprint and we were able to use our phone as normal except call were $0.20 a minute. We left calling to emergency situations as text worked just fine. 

-Everyone speaks French in the Québec region. Although many people speak English, you will find that depending on where you go, some people would prefer if you speak their language of French as they do not want to speak English to you. Many people switch back and forth from English to French. We found Mont Tremblant to be English-friendly but in route to Mont Tremblant, in Montreal, they would not speak English to us at the gas station.




Race Venue


 -Comparable to IM Lake Placid, the village is very cute and it's easy to get around. You really feel like you are in a story book with all the brightly colored buildings. There is only one transition which makes it easy on the day before the race to drop off all gear. If you plan to eat at restaurants and stay in a hotel at the race venue, you really don't need a car during your stay (try to carpool to get to the village if not renting a car).

-There are plenty of places to eat and shop and the town is also very kid-friendly and pet-friendly.

-There is a lot to do for your non-racing friends/family members and you'll find it easy to train on the race course on the days leading up to the race.

-Expect to walk if you want to get anywhere because it's hard to get around by car in/around the village. 

-The race venue is incredibly spectator friendly. Just be sure to review the race courses ahead of time as the logistics of getting to and from places are not easy due to the barricades and crosswalks on the streets and sidewalks. While this makes for a safe race for the athletes, it does make it hard to navigate your way around, easily, during the race.

-The town 100% welcomes the Ironman and supports the triathletes. Karel had so many congrats from the spectators after the race - they made him feel very special after the race, which is something that you DO want to see at an Ironman race venue.

-The race course is challenging. Expect that you can't expect what the weather will be like on race day. But the experience of the race venue is worth the challenge of racing in Mont Tremblant. 

Food: 

-There are plenty of places to eat at in the village. As to be expected, some restaurants do raise the prices on the menus on race week.
We ordered out pizza for our team dinner from Yaoooo.
We ate at Casey's grill Bar after the race (burgers, fries, beer, salads)
We ate at La Diable on the day after the race.
We didn't eat at the La Maison de la crêpe due to long waits but it looked amazing.
For great ice cream and pastries (croissants), we went to Oh La Vache!

-You will need to drive to the grocery store, which is about 15 minutes away (IGA grocery). There is an in-town grocery with a small selection of items. The food prices (Canadian dollar) are comparable to what I would pay (USD) in Hawaii (as a reference). Since we had a big house, we split the groceries among everyone in our house which helped to save a lot of money. Aside from ordering out pizza, Karel and I didn't eat out until after the race.


I put together a video from our trip at IM Mont Tremblant. It was a special trip for us, not only because Karel qualified for IM Kona but we were able to share it with so many of our athletes, who raced and cheered.
We absolutely love seeing our athletes in action and spending time with those who are closest to our athletes (family members, spouses, friends). This is why we offer Key Trimarni races to our coaching team, so that we can share race day experiences together, as a Trimarni family.


8/30/16

IMMT race recap - running to a Kona slot



In the short time that we were back in our team house, I was doing a lot of calculations, with the help of a few tracker apps (thanks Ryan), to determine where I needed to be, and when, to cheer for our athletes on the bike. Luckily, our house was close to the 12-mile out and back section on the bike  which made it easy to walk to where I needed to be.


Karel starting the bike before the rain started.

However, once I got changed into dry clothes and ate some food, I realized I needed to hurry up to get down the hill to see Karel coming back from the out and back, before starting his second loop.

I ran down the hill with my umbrella, in the rain and sprinted my way up the hill to a spot where I could see Karel coming down the hill to my right, but also I could asee the other Trimarni's starting the out and back to my left.

Despite the pouring rain, there were spectators out cheering for the athletes.




Knowing Karel's riding style, I spotted a flash of orange and knew it was Karel.  I gave him a big cheer. He was stretching his back, out of the saddle, while slowing down to make a right hand 90-degree turn before heading to the 180-turn to start the 2nd loop. He later told me that he didn't hear me, even though I was cheering loud.

My first thought was that his back was bothering him and just like in Austria, he would not be able to feel comfortable on the bike for 112 miles. But then I remembered that Karel knows how to deal with situations when they come about so I just hoped for the best that he could get through the bike and do some damage control on the run.





It was hard to tell how Karel's race was going due to the rain but more so, because the tracker was not always updating in a timely manner.

Karel later told me that he was very cautious to not take any risks in the rain (as there were several crashes on the bike course) but he was giving the best effort he could, on that day, for all 112 miles. Seeing that Karel rode the entire loop of the course on Thurs, he said that knowing the course was extremely helpful as he knew where to take smart risks and where he should stay controlled.
Of course, all of this was dependent on how he felt, in the moment as he is very in-tune with his body when he races.

Karel didn't mind the rain, except for when it rained so hard that it felt like needles on his skin. Oh, and there were times when he couldn't see because his dark visor was covered with water. But other than those instances, the air and rain temperature was not too cold for Karel and with the effort he was pushing, he felt comfortable all day. Sure, the rain was a bit annoying as it rained the entire bike ride but Karel loved the bike course and he wasn't going to let the rain keep him from trying to reach his race day goal of Kona qualifying.



Karel consumed 5 bottles of sport nutrition on the bike (each with ~250-280 calories, he started with 3 bottles on his bike and then grabbed 2 in special needs). Karel would have used on course nutrition for the 2nd loop of the bike but he does not like the Gatorade Thirst (it makes him thirsty - go figure) which was offered on the race course. Karel doesn't mind Gatorade Endurance but it is not sold in Canada, thus not on IM race courses in Canada.

Karel consumed a few Clif bloks ("gummy bears"), an Enervite sport bar and a Hot Shot on the bike - all items that he had in his fuel pouch, mounted on his bike. He didn't grab any extra water on the bike that he can remember.
Aside from his liquid calories, Karel does not have a set fueling strategy for the "extra" nutrition that he consumes on the bike. He just take in what he thinks he need, when he thinks he need it - no overthinking needed.

Karel said that he felt good on the bike and pushed it from start to finish. Even though Karel comes from a cycling background, he has learned that his strength is running off the bike. He is extremely good at managing his effort on the bike, with great cycling skills, holding an effort that is at the tip-top of his endurance threshold, where it is uncomfortable but sustainable for 112 miles. The other thing is that Karel can never push as hard in training as he can on race day. Although he doesn't use gadgets for pacing in training and on race day, after he reviews his files from an Ironman, he sees watts much higher than what he sees in training. It's true to say that Karel always saves his best efforts for race day.

Karel does not go by any metrics, like power, when he races and he doesn't wear a HR monitor. He doesn't like the idea of having a pacing strategy when he races as he never knows what the day will bring, at each mile of the race course.
No expectations needed.
Karel is a true racer.

When Karel races, he knows what he wants to feel and he remains present. Even though he is competitive, he's not out to beat athletes but to bring out the best in himself.
Through the high moments and the low moments, he is focused on giving his best effort. He always hears his pre-race music and he is laser focused on being in the moment.

Is Karel capable of biking faster with his extensive cycling background?
Perhaps.
But what he is doing right now IS working and he doesn't overthink things or expect more out of himself at this point in his development.

After cheering for all Trimarnis out on the bike for the out and back section, we made our way back to the house to change out of cold, soaking wet clothes, before making our way to the run course.



This was my last time back at the house and it only lasted about 20 minutes - enough time to dry off and change into dry clothes.....before the rain came down again on the run.




Trimarni athlete Angela looking fashionable in her rain gear


Rain or shine - we will cheer!

All the Trimarni spectators from our team house made our way to the first hill on the run, about 1/2 mile from the transition area. This was the perfect place to see the Trimarnis from a distance but also, to give them a boost of energy in the early part of the run.



Thankful for a portable cell charger (we never travel without it - it's perfect for race day situations when you are without a plug), I was able to track all of our athletes as they made their way to T1. I was so relieved to see bike splits for everyone...which meant everyone was still moving forward, on their bikes!


After watching the pros come by, I made sure to notice the male age groupers ahead of Karel and by how much.
The first place guy in Karel's AG (Stefano from Italy) passed by me and he looked good. At that point, I started my stop watch.
Five minutes went by.....10 minutes went by....no Karel.

This had me a little worried but then again, I didn't want to make any assumptions as the Ironman gets real around mile 20 of the marathon. That's where races are typically won or lost.

I waited and waited and waited as I knew Karel would be in transition soon and finally, after a refresh on my phone, I was super excited to see that he finally entered T2 AND was in 5th place off the bike.

Karel passed 17 guys in his AG , 101 males and 140 total athletes on the bike.

We guessed that there would be 4 Kona slots in his age group (Karel's 40-44 AG was the largest AG with 400+ starters and there were 5 slots at IM Austria with 500+ starters in his age group) so all he needed to do was to move up a few slots (Karel knew that 3rd would secure the slot but 4th may be a gamble).


OK - time to commit Karel!!!

With this being my first time spectating Karel for an entire Ironman, I had to decide what information I would give Karel in the 10-20 seconds that I could run with him up the hill. I also had to think, what questions he ask me in the start of the run.

I guess it takes an athlete to know an athlete.






Here's how our conversation went on the hill.



Karel - "How far am I behind first place"
Marni - "14 minutes and 56 seconds"
Marni - "But don't worry about him, there are three athletes ahead of you that you can catch"
Karel - "What place am I now"
Marni - "5th place age groupu - you are doing amazing, just stay steady."
Karel - "Oh wow, ok."



I was relieved that his first question was about 1st place in his age group because it confirmed to me that Karel was on a mission. Knowing that he has no hip/back issues when he runs, I knew that he could get himself into that metronome-style running that works so well for him - he simply becomes numb and just runs with his only focus on form.

Although Karel never paces the run according to his Garmin, this time around, he had no splits because his multisport function got set-off in his warm-up (jog and swim)  so in the end, he had 140.6 miles of swimming (haha).
This run was 100% by feel.

Going by RPE as always worked really well for Karel. He doesn't like to have expectations or anticipated paces when he races. Never has Karel said "I'd like to hold x-mph or finish in x-time".
Karel likes to stay in the moment when he runs so when he starts the run, and for every mile thereafter, his only focus is on his form and taking care of himself to maintain energy.

Karel always runs with his 4-flask fuel belt (3 flasks filled with different sport nutrition powder and 1 flask with 3 caffeinated Enervite Cheerpacks) and then uses coke/red bull and water when his flasks are empty. The great thing about having a hydration belt is that he can drink when he wants to drink.

Not always does your mind/body want nutrition at an aid station and depending on your running pace, you may only hit 5-6 aid stations per hour whereas faster runners can hit 7-8+ aid stations per hour (thus more opportunities to pick and choose what and when they want to drink, to get in calories and fluids).


Around mile 22 of the run, Karel felt a sudden loss of energy. He couldn't feel his feet on the ground and he was starting to get shaky. All signs of a bonk in the making.
Luckily, this happened right at an aid station so Karel stopped to take care of himself, drank some coke and then restarted the run when he felt normal again.
If you were tracking Karel with an app, you'll notice that this bonk incidence caused a slow down in his pace but other than that, he maintained great tempo for the entire 2nd loop of the marathon run.

Because Karel has always suffered from muscle-related cramping (well before his triathlon days, when he was racing bikes), he has found great relief with Hot Shot.
Karel took a Hot Shot at the start of the run and then around mile 18 of the run (he took a total of 4 Hot Shots throughout the race, with one consumed before the swim and one on the bike).

Our spot on the hill was fantastic as we could give a big cheer to all the Trimarni athletes as they started the run. None of them expected us to be there so it was so fun to see their faces.
And I could give out free hugs - like to my friend Ange, who I had not seen in several years but we have known each other for 9 years. She dominated her 45-49 AG by winning with a 10:25.1 finish time and placed 10th overall female!

The rain continued to fall but it was on and off.
For many athletes, this made for heavy shoes and lots of sore feet.

I continued to track Karel and the 4 guys ahead of him. Stefano (the first place guy, nearly 15 minutes ahead of him) and Karel were running the same paces. My eyes were on David, Tim and Adam (based on the tracker) who were ahead of Karel coming off the bike.

I paid close attention to the bib numbers (which were mostly turned around to the backside of the athletes) as the body markings had washed off many of the athletes.
Apparently, everyone who was watching me had a good laugh as it looked as if I was checking out the male butts (for bib numbers) and calves as the athletes ran by me.


Just doing my job of "checking out" the athletes ahead of Karel.
 I know ladies, it's a tough job :) 


I saw Stefano and then the bib name "David" who had passed by me so at this point, I knew that Karel had moved up into third place after 13 miles. I walked up the hill and spotted Karel.
I ran back to our spot and found a good place where I could communicate with Karel on his place.



I told Karel that he was in 3rd place and I could tell that he was relieved that he was moving up as he was in a world of hurt. I could tell from his face that he was giving everything he had and leaving it all out there.
This time around, no questions were asked by Karel and he gave no feedback. I think I got a slight head nod that he was still committed.



The course had several hills but it was a great course for Karel to find his rhythm. He had his music playing in his head throughout the entire run and he was able to put himself into that deep dark, painful place, where he is able to get the best out of himself.

We continued to give a lot of cheers to the Trimarni athletes who were passing by in each direction and as Karel was coming back, I knew that this would be the last time I would see him before the finish.


Karel running through the crowd to start his 2nd loop.
Although I know that the marathon is long and in an Ironman, anything can happen in those later miles, I always stay very confident in Karel's ability to run off the bike.

He is remarkable at not slowing down and he is great at suffering. Many times, he gets stronger as the run goes on. This is not because he runs a lot or runs fast or runs long in training (there's no magic formula) but because he saves his best effort for when it counts and he can put it all together - swim/bike-run - on race day.
(But to be honest, he does train hard - he keeps his easy sessions easy and his hard sessions are hard)

It's truly incredible watching him run and I was so happy to be on the sidelines to watch him at Ironman Mont Tremblant....running to qualify for his 2nd Ironman World Championship




I started my watch when Karel came by and gave him a big cheer before he quickly passed by us. Based on his run splits, I figured I had about 50 minutes before I had to make my way to the finish line (I wasn't sure about the crowds and how long it would take me to get to the finish line bleachers)


GOOOOOO!
I was having so much fun cheering for our athletes but when my watch told me that 50 minutes had passed by, it was time for me to make my way to the finish to see Karel.



The Ironman Mont Tremblant staff did a great job with the race course as it was extremely spectator friendly but it made it tough to get places quickly (or at least for me to hurry my way to the finish to see Karel).

Although the athletes received lots of cheers as they ran through the village center to start the 2nd loop, the downside (for the athletes) was running right next to the finish chute before starting the 2nd loop.



The rain was still on and off but it cleared just in time for Karel to finish.

Fist pump! 


6x Ironman finisher!!



After Karel finished, he told me that he hurt so bad...from the effort.
After a few minutes, he asked what place he was and I told him 2nd AG. Instantly, he felt better :)
I also told him his run split was 3:08.21 and he was shocked - he said he couldn't believe he ran that fast on that course.


Karel ended up passing Stefano (who had a 15 minute lead on Karel) and only David was ahead of Karel...by just ~2 minutes.



Pure exhaustion. 



After Karel collecting himself and got in some calories and fluids at the athlete food tent, Karel changed in the registration bathrooms (and put on dry clothes) and we waited around the finish line for Trimarni athlete Adam to finish (he was next to finish, in 11:08!).

Yippee! A medal well-earned!


The rain was on and off but eventually, it did stop!


We found the perfect spot to eat and to cheer on the other Trimarni athletes to the finish.
Karel happily enjoyed his post-race burger and beer.


Let the celebration begin!
The hard work paid off!


Karel is off to his 2nd Kona in 6 weeks!







8/29/16

IMMT race recap - pre-race and swim



Karel came to Mont Tremblant with one goal.
To Kona qualify.
This wasn't a goal that came after his 9th place at Ironman Austria but instead, this was THE season goal, which was established last November, when we planned out our 2016 racing schedule.

Although Karel had a phenomenal race at Ironman Austria, just 8 weeks ago, Mont Tremblant was always the race where his training would lead him to peak appropriately on August 21st, 2016.

Ironman Austria was a bit of a shock for Karel, in terms of his overall time and place, especially considering his back and hip issues in the weeks leading up to the race. Additionally, his coach Matt Dixon did not structure his training to "peak" for IM Austria so he was still in the early phases of his development, without getting into the meat of IM specific training.

Karel is not one to make excuses or assumptions when it comes to training or racing, and although he was carrying great momentum from his previous 3 overall race wins in April and May, Karel has been dealing with some body niggles, requiring some modifications in his training.
Unless you are a very close friend of his, you will likely never hear from him that something is wrong or that things are not going well because Karel loves to train but even more, he absolutely loves racing.
Of course, as his wife, I have all the insider details on his training and like any athletic couple, we both have our share of good and bad days/workouts. But I will say that Karel is not one to complain.

Although yes, setbacks are frustrating for him, he always has a great sense of calm that either everything will work out or he will do the best he can and if things happen, he will address them when they happen.

All things said and done, after we went to the roll down at Ironman Austria, when Karel realized that he missed qualifying for Kona by 3 places (it rolled down to 6th place and he was 9th) and it was only less than 2 minutes separating his 9th place finish from 6th place, Karel told me that he had no idea if he could go through the pain and suffering that he felt in Austria. As much as he was looking forward to IMMT, it was a bit of a let down knowing that he was so close to Kona qualifying at Austria.
In all honesty, at that point, he just wished the Kona qualifying was accomplished at IM Austria so that he could race IMMT without pressure.  

Well, it didn't take long and after a few weeks in Czech with his family, filled with lots of beer, momma's home cooking and pastries, Karel returned home to Greenville, motivated to achieve his season goal of Kona qualifying at IMMT.

There were some setbacks and niggles along the way but with a great coach, a hard working mindset, patience and a controllable ego that never gets in the way of smart training (flexibility is key to consistency), alongside frequent massages and PT to keep his body in good shape (we learned that Karel's body needs help in this area), Karel found himself arriving to Mont Tremblant with several weeks of quality training behind him, a healthy body (minus a few niggles requiring kinesio tape, epson salt baths and manual massaging) and excitement to give it his all, once again this season, for 140.6 miles.


I'll cover all the details on traveling to IMMT, and showcasing our amazing Trimarni athletes in action in IMMT (and all of our fun workouts, yummy meals and pictures from our huge team house) but for now, I'm skipping to the insider details of Karel's race.
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On Saturday morning, I rode with a few of our athletes for their 45-75 minute bike warm-up and then continued on with Trimarni athlete Elizabeth (not racing) to give us 2 hours on the bike.

Karel went out in the morning for his own for a pre-race swim and bike and before he came home, I started on his first of three meals for the day (I prepared all his meals on Saturday), which was French Toast, eggs and fruit. He had that with coffee (of course) and a recovery drink of milk and Clif recovery powder. I knew our athletes would need a satisfying carb-rich breakfast after their pre-race workout so I made enough for everyone. 

We could not wait to watch the women's Olympic triathlon so we all crowded in the TV rooms (basement and upstairs) to watch the coverage (a mix of English and French as we were switching the channels during commercial breaks).


The morning was very low key which was good for our athletes. Everyone just did their own thing and relaxed until it was time for bag and bike check in.

 Around 1:30pm, our athletes made their way down to the race venue (only ~1 mile from our rental home, but this walk/drive includes one long hill to go down/up but the hill sits directly on the bike course (near the overhead walkway).

Karel packed his gear bags after the conclusion of the women's triathlon race (way to go Gwen!) and I made him lunch as he was resting in bed, listening to his pre-race play list.
For his second meal of the day, I warmed leftover pasta (from our team pizza/pasta party on Friday night) with some diced chicken breast, cheese, marinara sauce, tomatoes, a few bread slices with butter, from a fresh baguette.
Karel only ate half of his lunch as he was still pretty full from breakfast.
Although, he did have room for 1/2 of a chocolate stuffed croissant after lunch :) 


Karel rode his bike and gear bags down to transition and I walked and met him down. He was "in the zone" so there wasn't a lot of talking by Karel. Although it's hard for me at times because I like talking with Karel before a race, I respect Karel's pre-race routine and I let him do his thing and I am just there if/when he needs me.
Of course, when we both race, Karel is certainly more available to me as I need him much more than he need me. 


At the mandatory pre-race meeting on Friday evening, the race director discussed the possible 3 situations that may occur due to the predicted storms, rain and fog. I commend the race director for having this plan ahead of time and discussing with the athletes. Although many athletes were concerned about the 100% chance of storms all day, this made for less stress and anxiety for those "what if" situations that may occur on race day. The biggest fear was cancelling the swim (or shortening it) due to fog on the lake (which luckily, wasn't an issue come Sunday morning). 


Karel was able to bypass some lines as an AWA athlete which made it very smooth for getting himself in and out of the transition and transition tent.
Ironman did an incredible job with the race set-up, this race venue was not only beautiful but easy to access (you can either walk from your hotel in the town, take a bus or walk from a house up on the hills surrounding the town). 


After Karel finished his to-do's at the race venue around 2:30pm, we walked back up the hill to our team house.

Karel used the rest of the afternoon to relax and to continue to get into his zone.
To help enhance his race day performances, Karel does a lot of visualization before his race. Not only does he see himself succeeding before the race but he also needs a lot of time, visualizing, to get himself ready for the hurt that he will feel on race day. He puts himself IN the race before the race. This requires a lot of alone time and good music but it's a critical part of his pre-race routine. Incorporating this visualization into his pre-race routine has really helped take his performances to the next level this season. 

For Karel's last meal of the day, consumed around 4:30pm, his pre-race dinner meal, I made him a plate of basmati rice and a chicken breast (small one) and tossed it together with marinara sauce and cheese. It's a simple meal and easy to digest, and it's a typical meal for him on the night before his races.
Of course, there were a few cookies and a glass of milk consumed after dinner to satisfy his sweet teeth. 


As for me, the Trimarni spectators and a few Trimarni athletes, we sat outside, told stories and laughed a lot until it was time for dinner. 

Occasionally, Karel would pop out from our bedroom door, on to the balcony and make us all laugh (he has a great sense of humor!).
Here's one of the songs that had us laughing - it was not on his playlist but just a funny tune

Although Karel spent a lot of time alone before the race, he was also very available to our athletes, as we had course talks every evening, we ate most meals together and we socialized together throughout the day.
Karel even did some bike mechanic work to make sure our athletes all had good mechanical luck on race day.


I just love these moments with our athletes. Trimarni family time. 

Every evening, I, along with Elizabeth, Taylor, Amy and Angela, we would prepare  a meal for our athletes (and us). This made it easy for our athletes to feel nourished and fueled but it also took the stress away from "what should I eat." Food was always ready and our athletes didn't have to worry about pre or clean-up. 


And Taylor (Adam's wife), who is also a great photographer (along with Trimarni athlete Ryan - thank you both for so many great pictures!), made our house smell incredibly yummy with these M-dot cookies.

Of course, a few "accidentally" broke so a few of us had to take care of those pieces before the race (including Karel.)


Karel went to be very early (around 7:30pm) but I stayed up to watch the Olympics, until 10:30pm. It was a different feeling for me to not be racing so although I was nervous for my athletes and Karel, I wasn't able to fall asleep until around 11pm. 

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The athletes woke up around 3:45am to start the coffee and to eat their pre-race meals. I woke up around 4:20 am to start my shuttling services at 4:30 am, to take a few Trimarni's (and spectators) to the bottom of our hill to cut back on walking time.


Karel had all his bottles ready (3 on his bike, 2 for special needs on the bike and 4 flasks for the run) so all he had to do was eat and make his morning bottle to sip on in transition.

For breakfast, Karel had a few sips of a Bolthouse protein drink (vanilla) along with his typical pre-race meal - a fresh croissant topped with jam. He also had some MUD, along with coffee.
For this race, Karel did almost everything the same as his prior races as it worked before, so why change it now.

Karel wore my dad's favorite had for good luck and continued to listen to his music throughout the early morning hours. 

I gave Karel a big hug and a kiss and told him to be safe and to enjoy the day. Karel has never had a bad Ironman performance so I never worry about his race performance but instead, I just always hope that he can race to his full potential -it's a long day and anything can happen. 


After everyone was out of the house, Elizabeth, Ryan and I walked down to the swim start (and met up with Trimarni athlete Mike, who was not racing and his girlfriend - who both came to cheer on his teammates).



So far, the weather looked good but with the dark clouds moving quick, it was only a matter of time before the rain came down. Thankfully, no fog on the lake, so the race was to go on as planned.
The weather was comfortable (air and water). The pros had a non wetsuit swim and the age groupers could swim with wetsuits. 
It was an incredible sight to see all the athletes and spectators walking to the swim. 





We met up with everyone (all 7 Trimarni athletes) at the swim start for a few last minute good luck wishes. 





Elizabeth, Taylor and I made our way to the swim start to see our athletes in the corral, before crossing the chip mat to start the swim. 


I was able to see Karel one last time which made me relieved that I could give him one last hug. I was SO nervous for him and all our athletes but I knew everyone was ready.





We found the perfect spot right at the fence to see the athletes so we were able to cheer for every Trimarni athlete, in his/her wave.




I was not able to see the swimmers start in the water so after we did a head check of all 7 Trimarni athletes, who we saw in the swim corral, we made our way to the swim exit.


Because of the extremely long run from the swim exit, to the transition tent and then to bike out, 
us Trimarni spectators split up so that we could see the Trimarni athletes at various spots from swim to bike. We set up a group chat (via text) on our phones ahead of time so that we could let each other know when x-Trimarni athlete was coming. 

I had predicted my athletes swim splits ahead of time just to have an idea of when they should be finishing the swim but when I didn't see Adam (first wave) and Karel (5 minutes after Adam, at 6:48am) in the times that I had predicted, I figured it was a slow swim.

Although we swam on Thurs in very calm water, race day provided very choppy water for the athletes, which resembled the waves you would experience in the ocean.

Karel told me that he felt great the entire swim and felt extremely strong in the water. When he saw his swim split of 1:06, he didn't get worried that he was going to have a bad race because of the slower than anticipated swim time (we were thinking he would swim 1:03-1:04)  but instead, his first thought was "well, I guess it was a slow swim for everyone."

Although the swim time may have been "slow" for Karel on paper, this was actually his best swim placement in an Ironman (22nd AG, 155th male). Typically, he is is at least 60+ place in his age group after the swim (in Austria, he was 63rd AG out of the swim and 319th male).

This is why we always tell our athletes to never make assumptions and to not let a swim time affect the rest of your race - when you see your time after the swim, it's time to forget about it and move on (a main reason why I don't wear a watch for the swim when I race - my swim time will not tell me how my race is going). 



After seeing all 7 Trimarni athletes, it was nearing 9am when we started to walk back to the team house. Elizabeth and Ryan were by the round-about to catch the athletes to start the bike.


Karel told me that he was determined to go through T1 as quick as possible. He wasted no time and transitioned from swim to bike in less than 5 minutes. He said he treated it like he was on the track and ran as hard as he could from the swim to the changing tent, in order to pass as many people as he could.
Transitions are free speed!

While walking back, we felt a drizzle of rain which eventually turned into a rain shower by the time we got back to the house. We knew the rain would be coming and my only thought was that all Trimarnis would be able to safely finish the bike with good mechanical luck. I knew the bike times would be affected because poor weather conditions don't reward great fitness levels but instead, those who are smart and avoid taking risks.

After a quick breakfast (my spectating diet consisted of several PB and J sandwiches, fruit and Mojo, Clif nut butter filled bars and Kits organic Clif Bars) I changed my clothes for the cooler temps and rain, grabbed my umbrella and made my way down to the bike course, out and back section, with Mike, Erin and Taylor to cheer on the Trimarni athletes in action.