6/28/14

Race ready for Ironman Austria!


After another good night of sleep, I woke up around 5:45am and had a good pre workout snack of WASA + PB + Banana slices and granola/raisins and water and coffee and then we got our bikes ready for our last warm-up ride. 
We drove to the race venue and parked before things got busy for there were two athlete meetings that morning (9 and 10am) as well as the Iron Girl race at 11am (run). 


We rode about 50 minutes total on the back part of the course (headed out first backward on the course) so that we could see the last 5 or so miles of the course. After the bike we did a short 10 min run to wake up the legs and then walked to the athlete briefing (in English). 
I always encourage athletes to go to the athlete meeting before a race for you never know what information you will need to hear that is important for your race. I always want to be prepared and many times, attending the race meeting can ease many pre race nerves (always good to control the controllables). 


After we came home around 10:30 (after a quick stop at the grocery), we had a good morning meal and then officially packed up our race bags. Since we can access our bags on race morning, we can put our race nutrition in our bags (and on bike) on race day morning. 
For my bike bag:
110% Flat out compression socks
Giro attack helmet
Commit sunglasses (Oakley Women)
Bontrager cycling shoes
Race bib (required on back) w/ belt (and safety pins attached)
Hand towel

For my run bag:
Brooks pure flow run shoes
My dad's favorite Corvette hat (Karel will be wearing my dad's other favorite hat)


We were told no ribbons on bags so even though I brought them I was unable to tie them on my bags to easily locate my bags.
There were designated times for checking in our bikes so I checked in my first, followed by Karel. 
Karel and I are both All World Athletes (award given to us and many others from Ironman) which allowed us to check in our bikes at 12:30-1pm with the pros but we decided to wait to check in our bikes when we could see a crowded transition area to help us visualize for race day. 


The volunteers checked our bike to make sure it had all necessary parts and was race ready with numbers attached. 
We then walked through a tent (men's changing tent) and a volunteer took a picture of our bike.
Next we racked our bike and run bags in the designated areas according to our numbers. There was no order to racking the bags, just in the range of bib numbers. 


After racking my bags, I located my bike rack near the end of the transition area (what a huge transition area for 3000 athletes!!) and found a spot in the middle of the rack. 


After I racked my bike and covered her up with the bike bags that were given to us (in case it rains), I waited for Karel. 


As I waited, I mentally walked through the swim to bike, bike to run transition over and over, including getting my bag, going into the changing tent, etc. 


Even though this is Karel's 2nd Ironman, let me tell you that even with 7 Ironman's behind me, it is still a bit overwhelming to put everything together for 140.6 miles of racing in just two bags, the day before the race. But it always feels good when you walk out of transition area with just yourself and all you have to do on race day morning is arrive with your swim gear and anything extra for the bike/run. 


I was totally jealous of Karel's end of the rack bike spot but when we walked over to my bike to let out some tire pressure due to the heat today/tonight, I noticed there was a free spot that just opened up on my rack!


YIPPE!


We can not thank you all enough for your continued support with our international IM journey. I still can't believe that the day is finally here for it feels like so long ago that we registered for this dream race. 
So much has affected us in positive and negative ways over the past year and we could not be more grateful for the ongoing kind words and enthusiasm as we continue to love life and to make great memories together. 

It was only 32 days ago that I said good bye to my dad. 
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my dad and wish he was still here with me, enjoying life and making the most of every day.  He was always so proud of me and my "real athlete" husband (Karel earned that title from my dad after he finished his first IM.) :) 

I know that if he was still here, he would be loving all my amazing pictures in beautiful Austria and we expect daily Facetime calls with him and my mom for they always got super excited when it came to my triathlons, especially the Ironman.


Back in 2011 I was able to share my Ironman World Championship experience with my parents and this was the last Ironman that my parents were able to physically be at with me. 

However, even with IM Lake Placid and the IM World Championship last summer, it was still great knowing that I was able to speak to my parents before and after the race and know that regardless of how I did, they were super excited to track me and to celebrate another amazing accomplishment with my healthy body. 


The Ironman journey is different for everyone for we all have our own reasons for committing to the journey of training for a 140.6 mile race. I know that for some people, it is to do the impossible but for a large number of people, it is for a greater reason than just earning the "Ironman finisher" title. 

There is always a mix of emotions on the day before an Ironman and many times, it is a mix of nerves, excitement, uncertainties, fears, worries, relief, happiness, joy and positive energy. 
One thing I have learned throughout the past 7 years of Ironman racing (starting at the age of 24) is that there are no certainties on race day and a lot of things out of your control. There are guarantees as to how the day will turn out for the IM day is all about constant motion and overcoming obstacles. 
My dad never wasted a day of his life and even when he was diagnosed with an incurable case of cancer and battled this horrible cancer for the last 10 months of his life, my dad continued to celebrate life with me. 
Despite uncontrollables in his life, my dad never ever gave up. He continued to fight when others would have probably given up. 
I know tomorrow is going to be a special day for many reasons and I look forward to racing with Karel and celebrating my dad's amazing 67 years of life. I have only lived for 32 years and have already created mountains of memories.
I look forward to everything that tomorrow will bring to me, knowing that my dad will give me strength when I need it and he will have the best seat in the house for 140.6 miles. 

Swim 2.4 miles
Bike 112 miles
Run 26.2 miles

Thank you body. 

Marni bib #857
Karel bib #1598

Live Stream TV: CLICK HERE

Ironman Austria website (Athlete tracking, photos, live coverage, finish line video, etc.)
Race start: 7am local time (1am EST)

Two more sleeps before Ironman Austria!



After a good night of sleep, we headed to the swim start/race venue (about 5K away) from our flat and got in our last pre-race swim before race day. Friday is typically a "day off" for us (and our athletes) before an A-race so we reserve this day to be incredibly lazy before the big event day and to attend to some pre-race to do's. Also, with our 3 hours of training on Thursday, we finally woke up our body and Friday felt great for just an EZ 25 minute swim to get more comfortable in the water and in our wetsuit. The water feels great and the weather is amazing!






The finish line area is like an arena with a huge big screen TV and stadium seating. Of course, we pass the finish line area at least 3 times while we are running so this finish chute will be super exciting when we finally get to end our 140.6 mile journey here on Sunday. 



How exciting to meet Faris!


We are huge fans of this professional triathlete super star! He was super nice. 



I am so excited for this bike course - it has a bit of everything I love in a bike course - fast sections, climbs, beautiful views and well, 112 miles of being on my bike!

We do 90K, two times while passing by the transition area in between the two loops. 


After stretching, chillaxing and packing my transition bags, Karel and I decided to go to the pasta dinner to see what it was like in another country. Typically I use the two nights before the race as my pizza night before an endurance race but instead, I had a small dinner before the pasta party so I didn't arrive hungry and so that I could eat familiar food for my two nights before the race meal.


The Irondome was packed with people and the evening was great with a lot of chatting with new people, pasta that Karel enjoyed a lot (meat on the left side, meat-free on the right side) and sharing the pre-race excitement with everyone in the room. 




I just LOVE the mineral water (left) in Europe! 


I'm really enjoying this entire Ironman experience in Austria and I can't believe that I will be sharing my 8th IM experience with 3000 other athletes on Sunday and making memories with my amazing hubby Karel!


Here are some stats for our race:
3000 registered athletes
12% female athletes 
61 nations represented 
99 Americans
100,000 spectators planned to be on the closed race course
2500 volunteers
54 women in 30-34 age group (my AG)
475 males in 35-39 age group (Karel's AG)



6/27/14

Ironman Austria race course (pics)


Some of the most memorable parts of traveling are enjoying new sight, smells and tastes. Because I am super camera happy, I just love capturing memories of beautiful sights when I travel. I really try my best to soak up every moment when I travel but for me, pictures help me tell a story. Not always do the pictures flow like sentences in a paragraph but more often than not, they help the reader want to turn the page for more. That’s how I see life when I travel. I just love sensory overload in a new place!
After my first two Ironman’s (IMFL and Kona in 2006 and 2007 respectively) and 3 consecutive half IM’s in Orlando Florida (Disney half ironman at the time, now Ironman Florida 70.3),  I welcomed my first Ironman race after Kona in my home state of Kentucky. I really enjoyed the journey of training for the Ironman but the added excitement of traveling for a race really made my Ironman experience extra special.
Since 2009, I have continued to follow two passions of mine – traveling and racing. And lucky for me, I have not been alone in my traveling adventures.
Although Karel just recently turned “Ironman” triathlete last July after nearly two decades of bike racing, it was a no brainer that we would search for a beautiful and challenging course for our first Ironman experience together. Ironman Lake Placid was our decision and the nature did not let us down!
After an amazing experience traveling to Czech in May last year (about 10 weeks or so before IM Placid), Karel and I tossed around the idea of combining our love of traveling and racing with our first international race. With Ironman Austria just 4 hours (without delays) from Karel’s hometown of Znojmo Czech Republic, we decided to save our money, make some plans and sign up and train for our first international Ironman.
With any vacation (or racecation for us), you don’t really know what to expect when you go somewhere new, until you arrive to your final destination.
I could not be more excited about the opportunity to race 140.6 miles on Sunday and to be cheered on by 100,000 spectators along the race course. And, how cool that Karel and I get to race with 3000 other athletes from over 61 nations! I am also proud to be one of the 99 USA athletes and one of the 12.5% of females racing on race day!
Because the right words are hard to describe this beautiful course, here are some of my best pictures of our day of training on the course yesterday.




The weather looks good for race day! The sun starts to rise just before 5am and the mix of clouds and sun makes for a very fun experience while racing. 
The temperatures are just perfect for racing and the water temperature feels around 70-72 degrees so it should be wetsuit legal on race day. The water feels great - not too warm, not too cold. Plus, the duckies are always happy in the water so that brings me comfort that we will be happy too. Most of the swim is in the lake, a very easy to navigate rectangle where we swim out, turn left and head back to shore. Although, the last 1000 K is in a cannal which will be lined with spectators. 
The road quality on the bike course is great. Well, anything is better than St. Croix 70.3 which we raced in May. 
There are a few rough patches here and there but nothing that would be too concerning, especially on a descend. 
There are a few climbs on each loop (two loops) of the bike course and the course is very well marked. We rode about 2.5 hours yesterday (with one wrong turn so we didn't get to see some of the end of the course) and enjoyed every mile (or kilometer) of it! The course  is not technical and the climbs are followed with long smooth descents. The course has views of water, the alps, valleys and runs from town to town. There is always something to look at so this may make "racing" this course hard for me and Karel!
The run, unlike the bike, is fairly flat so this will be a first for me to do my 8th Ironman on a hilly bike course with a flat run. This should be interesting for my legs for they do like to climb in a triathlon. 
The run features views in downtown as well as lot of spectators on the course. After two loops of the run, we will finish with a stadium-like feel of screaming spectators and cheerleaders down the finish line chute until we reach our 140.6 mile finish line!