You can't have a race report without the post race details......
With quads that were no longer working, I slowly hobbled my way to the big white tent with Karel (only athletes allowed inside) to grab my street wear bag.
Karel told me that there were showers outside the white tent for showering. I could not wait to clean myself up after racing for 10+ hours.
I walked over to the showers, thinking that there was only one set of showers but thankfully, there was a men's and a women's shower.
The line to the male showers was long and not only was it filled with men but naked men. Oh my - what a sight (when in Europe)!
When I opened the door and walked into the women's shower "cubicle", there was at least 8 individual showers (and curtains) and no wait!
With warm water, I cleaned myself up and it felt amazing. What a treat to have indoor showers right at the race venue after an Ironman.
After I got dressed, I met Karel and my mom joined us as we walked to the transition area to get our bikes (5:30pm or later check out).
I picked up my very dirty bike (see pic below) and then grabbed my bike and run gear bags. We went through several stations to verify that our stuff was actually our stuff and then we turned in our chips at the end.
We slowly walked to the parking lot to get our van and then we made our short drive home back to our apartment.
Seeing that it was 90 minutes or so after I finished when we arrived home (and over 2 hours for Karel), my body was starting to slowly shut down.
So, I did what every Ironman athlete loves to do at the finish of an Ironman.....lie down!
I crashed on the bed with Karel and still without much of an appetite (the food options post race were not your typical post race pretzels, pizza and banana options - they had all types of meats, goulash, bread and some fruit....and beer of course), I couldn't believe what had happened. I hadn't checked the Ironman website yet so it was finally time to actually see what I did to confirm that what happened during the race, really happened.
Aside from laying down, I also look forward to exchanging stories with Karel post race. While my first 7 Ironman events were with Karel on the sidelines, the past 5 Ironman events have been special as I don't only tell Karel my race recap but I get to hear his recap.
He still couldn't believe the race that he had and he was so happy with his result. Actually, he was shocked. He said he really celebrated at the finish line and soaked it all in.
We took some time to reply to our many texts and messages (thank you everyone for the support) but nearing 8pm, our brains were just as exhausted as our bodies.
Karel decided that he wanted ice cream whereas I was in no mood for anything with sugar in it but I thought it would be nice to walk downtown Klagenfurt and cheer on the athletes who were still racing and to let Karel satisfy one of his sweet teeth.
It was really neat to walk on the race course and to reflect on our day. Karel and I both shared our stories about how we felt "here" or what happened "there".
Not sure what Karel is more happy about - his Ironman performance or his ice cream??
I knew that it would be hard to fall asleep with the typical post race insomnia but I managed to fall asleep around 11pm but then I woke up around 3am - hungry!
I had snacked throughout the evening, after the race (mostly pretzels and milk) but at 3pm, I needed some substance in my belly!
I made myself a hardboiled egg, avocado and cheese baguette sandwich with farmers cheese spread. Yes, fat and salt please!!
After I ate, I went back to sleep for a few more hours but it was a restless night of sleep. Karel said that he didn't sleep at all but just tossed and turned in bed.....with every muscle in his body hurting. I could feel the pain!
Karel and I made the mistake of not getting any yummy post race food for our apartment so around 8am, we went to the grocery to get some food.
Karel picked up some chicken and made himself a schnitzel and had some potato salad (without mayo).....and a beer of course.
Breakfast of a champion....or of a 9:13 Ironman finish with a 3:06 marathon!
After we ate, we went to the expo to check out the finisher gear and purchased a few items and then went over to the roll down for Kona.
Although IM Austria was not Karel's key race to Kona qualify, he couldn't believe his time and overall place and thought that there may be a slight chance that he would get a roll down. With only 40 slots for Kona at IM Austria and only 5 slots in Karel's 40-44 AG (with 500+ athletes), we knew it would have to be a miracle...but we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
Deep inside, Karel hoped for the Kona slot here just so he didn't have to repeat the torture and pain of racing hard in 8 weeks at IMMT but he was also fine with whatever outcome was meant to be for him. He said that even if he didn't get a Kona slot, he was so proud of his race and he could not have asked for anything more.
Well, maybe 2 minutes more as that would have given Karel a Kona slot (it rolled down to 6th plave and Karel was 9th) but oh well.
I have no doubt that Karel will do what he does best and go into his upcoming training with tenacity and will race smart, once again, at Ironman Mont Tremblant to see if he can earn his Kona slot.
If you were wondering, there was only 1 slot in my age group (30-34) and the first place girl took the slot. But that's ok as my only goal was to podium at IM Austria and not to Kona qualify. I am thrilled that the one slot went to the athlete who is going to Kona.
After the roll down, we started to get hungry so we went to a restaurant in downtown Klagenfurt for a late but light lunch.
My dish - dressing on the bottom, cooked potatoes and salad.
My mom's dish - beef soup.
After lunch, we went back to our apartment to change and to get ready for the athlete post-race banquet.
I was getting a bit nervous in my belly to stand on the podium but equally excited to celebrate with the other athletes.
The tent was packed and it was fun to see so many professionals and age group athletes in one room....all walking kinda slow :)
They served us salad and bread to start and then two different types of pastas (a vegetarian dish and one with chicken). Mine was so good. They serve each table family style and you pass around the big dish and serve yourself. It's really cool to sit with other athletes, from other places in the world.
When they started the award ceremony, the called up the professionals and the male and female winners gave a speech. Then it was time for the age group awards.
I was surprised when they called my name as the fastest overall female swim as I wasn't expecting anything at the banquet.
The fastest male swimmer wasn't present so I walked up to the stage and received an award from Arena Swimwear.
Not too long later, they called up the 30-34 age group podium for men and women. They only award top 3 so this race was a really huge deal for me to be on the podium. This was my highest age group finish since my very first IM back in 2006 (when I was 23 and won the 18-24 AG) and my highest ever overall amateur placement in an Ironman.
What an honor to stand up there with so many athletes from all over the world. I was also super pumped to be the fastest American female amateur at Ironman Austria.
What a dream come true!
After the awards (which got more and more inspiring as they went into the older age groups, even a 70-74 year old male category!!), it was time for desserts and then the conclusion of Ironman Austria with a live band entertaining everyone until the after after party (which we didn't attend - those Europeans know how to party!)
Well Ironman Austria - thank you again for the great memories.
I really don't know how Karel and I can top this race experience.
We have raced Ironman Austria twice and both times, we left the race with a PR but also with the same feelings that we absolutely LOVE racing in Europe.
While traveling here is extremely stressful, time consuming and expensive and it seems as if we always have some type of bad luck before race day...... race day does not disappoint us and things just somehow work out.
Like many athletes, we have each had our struggles as endurance athletes (and I'm positive there will be more) and it can be very tough to live this lifestyle together (as a married couple) for it's tough when one of us isn't in a good place, physically or mentally.
But not only is that life but that's life as an athlete.
Be respectful to your body during the tough time and be grateful to your body during the great times.
With so many setbacks in my past, I can only encourage you to not give up during your low moments because the race of your life will happen - you just have to put in the work, believe in yourself, dream big and stay patient.