Karel waited almost an hour for me to cross the Ironman Austria finish line. But not to worry because the Ironman Austria post race buffet was filled with many European eats and treats.
Karel didn't rush right to the food but when he was ready, he enjoy goulash with bread, meats, beer, croissants, watermelon and pizza.
He said the goulash was good but the pizza and beer was not. This was Karel's first beer since we arrived to Europe so it was a total disappointment for him.
I managed to find some strength in my legs to chat with my friend Kelly Fillnow who had a fantastic race in the professional women division. It's always fun to see familiar faces during a race and the chat after the race (when the suffering has stopped).
I was quite surprised that I had absolutely no GI issues post race. Typically, once the heart rate drops and the blood returns to the gut from the muscles, I am typically spending a little time in the restroom letting my system get back to normal (which is not abnormal for many athletes, especially athletes who race at high intensity).
But this was the first Ironman that I can remember that I had no GI issues and I contribute it to the comfortable temperatures that we experienced on race day, coupled with a flatter run course after a hilly bike. Digestion of sport nutrition went extremely well for me and Karel but like usual, I was in no rush to eat solid food. It typically takes me a good hour to have any type of appetite post race (or for any solid food to digest) but I have to be careful of dropping blood sugar so alongside sipping on Hammer Fizz for electrolytes post race, I typically enjoy fruit, pretzels/crackers and bread (of some sorts) as the first options that enter my digestive system. And lots of water.
I received my finisher tshirt and found a clean restroom to change clothes. I forgot my Wet Ones singles to clean off after the race, as well as a towel, in my "Street Clothes" bag but I couldn't wait to put on dry, clean clothes so I just wiped myself off with paper towels.
I was moving extremely slowly and my right foot had a tender area on the bottom of it (which started to pop up around 2 miles to go) so I was not enjoying walking that much in my sandals (that I brought) so thankfully I had a clean pair of Brooks Pure Flow run shoes that I wore pre race (same style of shoes that I race in) so I put those on. I didn't have the strength to put on compression yet so I just put on normal socks.
Karel and I slowly made our way to the transition area to get our bags and bikes. I'm always so amazed how my body can move so fast for so long until I cross the finish line and then all of a sudden I am moving at snails pace.
As I walked to the transition area, I could not stop thinking about our day. It was absolutely perfect from start to finish. If my mind was in another place during this race, I do not think I would have been able to execute like I did. I was a bit surprised that I was in better shape than I thought I was in but I the most important thing was making sure my mind was in the best place possible to tolerate the 140.6 mile stress that I needed to survive to finish strong. I could not be more proud of Karel as well and sharing these experiences together is incredibly special for me. Because racing comes with a mix of emotions before a race, my favorite part of racing with Karel is post race when the racing hype is over and we can relax and share stories of how the race went down (hubby and wifey insider details).
We grabbed our bikes from our respective racks and then our T1 and T2 bags. The security was extremely tight in the transition area and after we turned in our chip (which was scanned on a computer to make sure it matched our bike and wrist band) we then went to another line to make sure our bags matched our bikes and our wrist band.
Karel and I walked our bikes and bags the 1/2 mile or so to the car, unloaded our gear into the gear and then drove home.
At this point, I was getting super tired and could not wait to get inside our flat to lay down.
We finally arrived to our flat, shuffled our way up the stairs and I crashed on the bed as I called my mom to give her the run down of the race.
I was also welcomed home with many emails and facebook messages and I was so excited to see that so many of you tracked us during our day in Austria. Thank you for your support!! We felt it on race day!!
After a well needed shower (which was rather uncomfortable when I discovered a bit of chaffing under my air pit where I forgot to put on body glide where my jersey rubbed my skin) I put together some leftovers as I typically do post race.
Pretzels, pizza, milk (which I always have post race after an IM after my tummy calms down), banana, chocolate, bread. There is absolutely no creativity or balance to this post race meal for it's all about what looks, tastes and feels the best in my body. Sometimes I think something will taste great and then I take a bit and don't want any more. I have learned over the years what sits the best post race but I still have to be careful not to overindulge post race. Typically, I crave more salty/fatty foods in the 24-48 hours after a race vs. sweets or salty carbs which are more cravable in the first 24 hours.
It was nearing 9pm and Karel and I were getting a little rest in our legs by laying down in bed in our compression gear when we heard a loud thunder outside. Oh no!
The final hour is what I love the most about Ironman racing and I have only missed one finisher line from 11pm-12am. Sadly, it was pouring rain and thundering on and off in the last few hours before the finish and we decided to stay put in our flat for we knew the finishers needed us to cheer them on but our broken down bodies were in no shape to cheer in the rain and thunder. IMWI - we will be there in the last hour for sure!
Another surprise post race was sleep! I always suffer from post Ironman insomnia, often for 2-3 days which leaves me incredibly run down and exhausted. However, I managed 5 hours of sleep (11-3) which was incredible for my body. Karel woke up around 2 and was super hungry so he was eating sandwiches in the middle of the night. I woke up around 3 and had a bowl of granola with milk and then played around on my iPad and then around 5, I feel asleep again for about 2 hours (on an off).
By 7am, Karel and I were both up and ready for some real food. Real European food!
We went to the Euro Spar around 7:45am and had fun shopping with our post Ironman, glycogen depleted bodies making the choices.
Karel had a lot of choices to make.....
Lots and lots of choices.
Our grocery shopping experience was delicious. We did not eat everything right away but boy oh boy, do eggs and salty potato chips, watermelon and danishes taste great after an Ironman!
A few hours later, Karel and I were ready for some exploring. There were a few things that we wanted to do in Austria before we headed back to Czech and we were told to visit Pyramidenkogel.
What a sight!! The drive to the top of the mountain was filled with twists and turns and despite two bodies that were extremely tired and sore, we both kept saying how fun it would be to bike up this mountain to the top...that is with a fully recovered body.
After we bought our tickets to visit the top, Karel came up with the brilliant idea of walking up the 441 flights of stairs (in the middle is a slide you can slide down if you meet the height requirements and for an extra charge). Here I am, hobbling to walk to the top of the hill where the bottom of the tower stands and Karel suggests a walk up flights and flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator.
I didn't want to be left out of all this fun and pain so I joined Karel on our walk to the top. As for walking down, we both agreed our quads would not handle that walk down (unless we walked down backwards to take the pressure off our quads) so we took the easy way out - thank goodness for elevators after an Ironman!
The view from the top was incredible! We were worried about the view because it had been raining all morning but we managed to time it just right. Talk about lucky - the day before our Ironman it was blazing hot and the day after it was pouring rain and cold.
This is part of the lake that we swim in for the Ironman.
My partner in crime who loves to suffer with me. Although I think he can suffer much more than me.....did I mention that Karel ran a 3:11 marathon after biking sub 5 hours on the IM Austria bike course?? Crazy!
After our workout (anything after an Ironman feels like a workout) we enjoyed cappuccinos and poppyseed cake. Yum!
We were not alone in our yumming for the restaurant downstairs in the tower was packed with triathletes enjoying fat, sweets and alcohol. Nothing atypical about that post race, even in Austria!
We packed up our flat for we were leaving Austria on Tuesday morning to head back to Czech.
However, on Monday evening we attended the athlete post race awards party which was followed by an after party, then followed by an after, after party and fireworks (which were supposed to be at the finish line on Sunday but due to rain, it was cancelled).
Those Europeans known how to throw a post race party!!
Not only did we get to see two incredible professional athletes receive their awards for their record breaking day, but the award ceremony for the top 3 age groupers was incredible. It was the best award ceremony I have attended (next to Kona) and the night got better and better as the awards flowed down to the 65-69 and even the 70+ age group! Talk about inspiration!!
It was so great to meet Lindsey Corbin! She is super sweet and she even asked about how my race went which was so thoughtful. She's a rockstar!
The food was great (Every section of the long table was served large platters of food so no waiting in line). There was lasagna, veggies, rice and of course, lots and lots of drinks (water and beer).
The buffet of desserts was incredible and Karel and I tried a little of everything (we like to share).
Thanks for the memories Klagenfurt! You were great to us!
On Tuesday morning we made our 4.5 hour drive to Czech and although we had so much fun in Austria, we could not wait to get back home to Karel's mom's flat. Of course, we had lots and lots of food waiting for us!
Homemade veggie and potato soup with homemade pasta noodles.
Potato salad and fried zucchini (Karel had Schnitzel).
Although I do not understand anything, it is so special to see Karel and his mom chat. It's so sad that we can not visit more often for Karel has only been back to Czech twice (last May and this year) since he came to America in 2000 to pursue his American Dream.
And of course, no meal is complete with dessert. Homemade apricot bars with apricots from Karel's mom's garden.
Karel's mom gave me chocolate covered hazelnuts because she was so proud of me for my Ironman finish.
Karel's dad traveled by bus, to a small town and walked 1K to get me these well-known Cannolis. What great in-laws I have!! (even though they do not speak English, I can feel the love.)
And to cap off our evening for our first night back in Czech post Ironman....
The long awaited "real" beer for Karel.
Heaven in a glass for Karel.
Karel made sure to make up for his 8 days in Czech without a beer at the pub that sits behind Karel's dad's flat (very convenient :)
Thanks Ironman Austria for helping us make our trip to Europe extra special!! We are now super excited for the next journey....Ironman Wisconsin on September 7th!!
Is it just me or is Karel now picking his Ironman races based on the beer selections? :)