6/30/14

Ironman Austria FINISHERS!

 

Preparation
The activity or process of making something ready or of becoming ready for something.
Things that are done to make something ready or to become ready for something.
A state of being prepared. 

We all have our own definitions for being/feeling prepared. For the athlete, it may be following an arbitrary training plan and for others, it may be putting all your trust into a coach to design the perfect plan for you to peak and taper properly and execute on race day. 
I'm sure we can all think of a time when we felt prepared and things didn't go as planned.
And of course, the times when we didn't feel prepared and it showed. 
 But then there are those times when we didn't feel prepared and we surprised ourselves. 



Some say that preparation is key to success. Failing to prepare is like preparing for fail. 
When it comes to carrying the human body for 140.6 miles, preparation is certainly key. There's always that person who can wing it but without preparation comes fears, uncertainties, doubts and negative "what if" thoughts. 

However, how much can one actually prepare for an event that involve 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running without risking injury, burnout or extreme fatigue as well as balancing life with good nutrition, proper sport nutrition, stretching, quality sleep and everything else that goes into "preparing" for an Ironman

Despite this being my 8th Ironman here in Austria, I went into this Ironman with a mix of emotions, including excitement and nerves. 

I have completed 7 Ironmans so far (three on the big island) and I still woke up on race day morning thinking to myself "can I do this...again?"

I've learned so much about Ironman racing over the past 8 Ironmans, including 3 Ironman World Championship races. 

And one thing that I have learned is that 140.6 miles is a long way to go and even those who feel they are best prepared, still must have the right mindset to start and finish the 8-17 hour journey that lies ahead. There is so much training that goes into a one day event so on top of doing the "work" that you may feel is needed to prepare the human body to perform the demands of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles, that training is no good without the right mental toughness on race day, combined with pure enjoyment for the sport and appreciation for the human body.And of course, the ability to overcome whatever comes in your way while racing for 140.6 miles (no race is ever "perfect", it's just how you overcome situations that will determine if you perfectly executed your day.)


I am proud to say that Ironman Austria was a great success for Karel and me. As for feeling prepared going into this race, we certainly did not follow our "ideal" training plan with everything that has been affecting us in our life over the past few months so I guess you could say that we didn't feel 100% prepared. I am not one for excuses and I find that with Ironman training, it's very rare for a person to give 100% for 6+ months to prepare for an Ironman. Ironman training requires a lot of time, money and dedication and for us age group triathletes, it is a fine line of training for an Ironman and still feeling balanced in life (and being able to still function well in life).

In our case, we had two half Ironmans (HITS Ocala in March and St. Croix 70.3 in May) which included some good "short distance" stress on our body before we started our IM build. 
However, our move in May coupled with the passing of my dad left us with our minds on other important things in our life. Nevertheless, we both have thoroughly enjoyed our new home in beautiful Greenville SC so we applied the most training stress on our body with ample recovery to prepare the best we could for Ironman Austria in just 5 weeks. Of course, we do have years of endurance training under our legs but this should never be a good reason to purposely over or under train. 

This means that we carefully overloaded our body with higher intensity workouts that were of moderate volume (even though we do no believe in large weekly volumes of training or "long" training days on the weekend). We each carefully stuck to our own taper regime (we both have our own 2 week taper routine) and then appreciated our time in Europe and considered this Ironman as a chance to take a few risks and to race among a very high caliber of athletes. Since we both were not racing for Kona slots (we are saving our Kona-qualifying race for IMWI in 9 weeks), we wanted to see what we were capable of with our current level of fitness on this fast, beautiful yet challenging course. 

On June 29th, 2014, we both raced the best that we could considering all circumstances that had affected us over the past few months. 

Every athlete will toss around the thought of feeling as if they could have done more prep work before race day, especially in the taper period and race week that precedes the important race day. 

Because every athlete is going to feel and not feel prepared at certain times in a racing season, it is always important that you follow a few of the following suggestions to ensure a positive racing experience: 

-Race only with your current level of fitness - minimize the risks that you take on race day so that you can finish the race with minimal setbacks.
-Consider your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to executing your race day plan.
-Be sure you have a race day plan that is flexible. 
-Trust the training that you have done and if applicable, your past fitness/racing experience.
-Don't confuse your concerns/worries about not feeling prepared with hating the racing experience. I promise that even if you don't feel prepared, you are going to figure out a way to get to the finish and enjoy crossing that finish line. 
-Never stop loving what you choose to do with your body and with your free time. Your ability to train and race is a gift. 
-Enjoy the race day experience. Maybe you aren't having a good day but someone else is and you can help them out. Don't worry, that favor will be returned when you are rocking your course and others who aren't having a great day, are rooting for you to finish strong. 
-Never stop believing in yourself. 10% undertrained is far better than 1% overtrained. 




The day was not easy for us and after eight Ironman races, I can assure you that I have never felt as if the Ironman day was easy. This is one very important thing that I carry with me as I am racing for 10+ hours...it is NOT suppose to be easy!
The Ironman does not just hand out that medal to anyone, you have to earn it!

Karel and I gave our best effort and left it all out on the course. We love to train smart but we also love to race smart. This means that we are OK to take some risks at times but we also have experience in how to overcome situations when the risks do not work in our favor. We are also ok with our ego's in that if the day does not turn out as we planned, we are still going to fight to get to that finish line. Run, jog, walk, crawl...unless it is medically related, neither one of us our quitters. 

We both respect the Ironman distance. Feeling prepared is great but there are many uncertainties on race day and that is why I feel virgin Ironman athletes should not go into an Ironman with overly ambitious goals. Of course, this statement is coming from someone who wanted to qualify for Kona after her first IM and then I ended up winning the 18-24 age group by almost an hour....but still, I dealt with a lot of "new" things on race day that I somehow was able to overcome. 

The Ironman requires experience, good mental strength (you will realize this when you get to the marathon if you are currently training for your first IM) and the ability to overcome obstacles all day long.

But above all, the Ironman day is to be shared with many people and not just yourself. It requires a lot of people, friends and support to help you start and finish the race. 

I'm incredibly greatly to 110% Play Harder and Oakley Women for helping me race in style but also with quality gear to support my active lifestyle. 
My mom, brother and close family and friends, thank you for supporting this crazy lifestyle that Karel and I enjoy with our free time and disposable income. 
To all the Trimarni fans - thank you so much for your ongoing support. I am so proud to live my life so that I can help others reach personal goals and dreams.
Thank you Gloria for always having the right thing to say at the right time. It's the thoughtful, yet appropriate emails that I get before a race that really make a positive difference in how I approach my race day experience. 
And thank you to the Trimarni coaching and nutrition athletes who inspire me and Karel with your ongoing commitment and dedication to your sport as you balance work, family and life. 

The race reports will be coming soon once I gather the right words to talk about our perfectly executed day with two bodies that didn't feel 100% prepared BUT were super excited to race. 

The Ironman Austria140.6 mile course was filled with lots of cheering spectators, great weather conditions (even with the rain on the bike) and endless spectacular views. 
Ironman Austria, thank you for a perfect day of racing! 

Thanks everyone for your support, we channeled all the positive energy from our amazing friends, family and Trimarni fans!

We would also like to thank my dad, who is not with us, but loved the Ironman day when I raced and we both proudly wore his favorite hats and felt his presence all day (especially when we both needed his strength on the run!).

Final stats:
Karel: (2nd Ironman)
1:07:10 - 2.4 mile swim (PR)
T1: 4:10
4:56:23 - 112 mile bike (PR)
T2: 3:51
3:11:17 - 26.2 mile run (PR,wowzer- 9th fastest AG!!!)
Total: 9:22:51
22nd AG/439 starters, 124th overall
41 minute PR!! So proud of you Karel !!! I just LOVE sharing the excitement and pains of racing an Ironman with you! So sorry that you are way too fast and have to wait for me for almost an hour 

Marni (8th Ironman- thank you body!)
Swim 2.4 mile - 1:00:13 (PR....err, still so close to breaking that hour mark!)
T1: 5:18
Bike 112 miles - 5:29:07 (PR)
T2: 3:48
Run: 3:39:09 (BIG PR... Yay!)
Total: 10:17:35
7th AG/57 starters, 31st female, 18th amateur female
21 minute PR!!


And lastly, thanks to the best furry child ever! 
We love that you approach life with unconditional love and excitement every day!
Every day is a winning day for Campy!



Also a big thank you to INFINIT nutrition for keeping my tummy happy and my body fueled during my training To Trek Bicycles for making safe, speed machines for me to drive with my body. To 110% Play Harder for helping me play hard and recover harder. To Brooks Running for keeping my feet and hips happy and to Oakley Women for knowing how to help a woman in motion look stylish and sporty with quality gear!!!! And to Gloria for helping me stay mentally strong in life and in sport.