Essential Sports Nutrition

7/11/18

Ironman Austria '18 Race Report - 26.2 mile marathon



I was really hoping to write a run race report about a stellar run but that’s not the case. Another marathon run off the bike where I felt like I ran far below my potential. However, this is racing. If it was easy to improve, I probably wouldn’t do this sport. My fire for a faster marathon run still burns strong and I know I’ll get it done in one of these races. Nevertheless, the most important part of Ironman racing is managing what’s given to you on race day. A strong mind can power a tired body.
If I gave up every time an Ironman was hard, I would not have 13 Ironman finishes behind my name. I was given a very tough marathon run to tackle, with an empty mind and body. While the marathon fatigue is normal and expected, I just didn’t imagine it would hit me so hard and so early in the marathon. While I wanted to quit so badly as the fatigue and empty feeling was so intense that I thought there was no way that I could finish, somehow, I found deep inner strength and a soft voice in my head that helped me fight until the finish. It was a tough fight and one I hope to never have to repeat again but I’m happy that I never gave up and even on a bad run day, I was still able to put together a strong race and land on the podium in a strong, competitive international field.

After just a few minutes, my legs responded well to running off the bike which was such a relief. With every Ironman, it’s always a big question mark as to how the legs will feel running off the bike. I’ve had Ironmans where the first step was painful and then other races, when I felt like I was floating off the bike with no effort. I was really looking forward to the crowds so once I got about a mile into the course, I felt a lift of energy from the cheers. With the aid stations spaced out every 1.5K, I focused on breaking down the race one aid station to the next. Within each aid station I was focused on my form, rhythm and fueling from my hydration belt.

The first few miles went by fairly quickly. I found a good rhythm and I was holding a steady but sustainable pace. As I started running toward the town of Krumpendorf and received my lap one bracelt, I saw Karel and he didn’t look too speedy. He even cheered for me which he rarely does when he is racing. I was happy to see him and I gave him a smile. I was happy that my stomach felt good and I wasn’t worried about nutrition issues as the first few miles usually give me signs of how nutrition will sit for the marathon run and I wasn’t getting signs any signs that my tummy would be off during the race which was good.

The first two miles of the course really suit me as the terrain changes from the sidewalk trail to packed sand to cobbles/wood and then back to the trail and then sand again. I also loved the new addition to the course where we literally ran next to the finish line (but in the opposite direction) and the noise was intense from the fans – what a boost in energy! But then, around mile 3 or so, we just run on the road and a path and to be honest, my mind doesn’t really like the section in Krumpendorf as it feels really long to me. So I just focused on making my way around the town so that I could get greeted by the loud crowds again. I will say, however, there are spectators everywhere on this course so you never feel lonely. Once I got back to the “hot spot” it hit me hard – really hard. My body suddenly felt empty and I had no energy in me. I have never had this feeling come to me so early in an Ironman and as hard as it hit me and all I could think was that I was super low in energy. At the moment, I didn’t feel bonky but I just had nothing left in me. Ugh, this is going to be a long marathon.

I kept up with my nutrition in my hydration belt between the aid stations and then tried some coke at the aid station. I stopped and walked through and took me time to try to get my energy up. It helped a bit and found myself running again, feeling a little better. At this time, my mind was struggling – part of me wanted to quit and get this horrible feeling over with and the other part of me was trying to tell me that I didn’t come this far to quit. This conversation in my head went on for several more miles as I made my way to the downtown section of Klagenfurt. I shut up the voices in my head when I got closer to downtown as I love this part of the course as it’s a quick out and back in the downtown and running on the cobblestones with spectators around eating and drinking is such a cool feeling. I even rang the bell which gives money to charity each time it is rung. I even liked the slight down/uphill (the only terrain change on the course) right before/after downtown as it was nice to change up the rhythm in my legs. Since I naturally do better running on hills, I strategically did more of my training on the Swamp Rabbit Trial which is flat, in prep for this race. But I know that my body prefers hills – and oddly enough, I am typically faster running hills than on the flats.

Because the course is marked in kilometers, I was finding myself not getting wrapped up in the miles completed or how many more miles are left to go. I just focused on one aid station at a time and tried to use those as my check marks to remind me that I was making ground on the course. I started to walk a bit longer at the aid stations and continued on with coke from the aid stations (along with water and sponges) and my fuel between the aid stations from my hydration belt. It was warming up just a bit and when the sun came out, it felt rather hot so the sponges were really helpful. I avoided running through hoses as I didn’t want my shoes to get wet so I used the sponges to keep me cool and I held on to them between the aid stations and got new cold ones at the next aid station. I spotted Karel once more, as well as my athletes Natalie and Justine and I’m sure I looked far from my normal self as all my energy (whatever was there) was focused on moving myself forward as I had little energy to give to anyone else. It was just one of those days where I didn’t want to be racing but I had to convince myself that I did want to be there – this took many many miles.

As I was nearing the end of the first loop, I thought to myself that there was no way that I could finish. But strangely, even as my body and mind were giving up, I kept moving forward. It’s almost like my mind knows that I am not a quitter and it was keeping me going even though my body had nothing left. The good thing was that my running form was still good and even though my walk breaks at the aid stations were longer, I was still running OK between the aid stations (considering how I was feeling).

There were times when I found a rhythm and had a bit more energy but it never lasted long. I just tried to hold on to that feeling as long as I could and when it went away, I just hoped for it to come back. After making a quick stop at special needs for two new flasks (pre-mixed with powder and water) before grabbing my wrist band for loop two of the course, I spotted Karel’s friend Roman from Czech who gave me the best and worst news possible.

“Marni you are in 1st age group and 2nd is 2 minutes behind you.”

While this information was great to hear and told me that I was leading my age group on a day when I wasn’t putting together the race I had hoped for, I now had to commit to the race for if I gave up, there would be no possibility that I could be on the podium……and all this pain would be for nothing. For anyone who has raced an Ironman and has been in this position, it can be very exhausting to know that you have to commit to being competitive all the way to the end. But I also know that the race is never over until the end and a lot can happen in the last few miles so even if you find yourself in a position that you feel is no longer competitive, never ever give up for you never know what will happen in the last few miles.

At this point, my sub 10-hour and 3:35 marathon goal was far out the window so I had a new goal – stay on the podium for my age group. In order to do this, I had to stay mentally and physically strong. I still wanted to quit and stop the pain that I was feeling in my body but to keep myself going, I started to make really small goals for myself. The first goal was to finish the loop in Krumpendorf. I continued to walk the aid stations and take care of myself but my only focus was on the next 6 miles. My mind wasn’t focused on how many miles I had ran or how many was left in the marathon but just one this one section of the race. Once I completed the loop, I felt like I had finished the race because my mission was accomplished.

OK, next goal was to get to the aid station under a bridge which is close to the downtown section of Klagenfurt. Around this time, I was passed by the girl in my age group who was 2 minutes behind me. Since we are not body marked at Ironman Austria, the bib numbers tell you what age group you are in (written out and by color). I didn’t attempt to chase her as she was running really strong and I didn’t want to do anything silly and potentially not finish (how funny – I made this assessment after wanting to quit for a good 10 miles!). I continued to focus on myself and I was OK with 2nd age group. But this kinda worried me as I didn’t know where 3rd was and how close she was to passing me. I thought to myself that I’ve come this far, I really want to stay on the podium. I no longer cared about my finishing time and didn’t look at my watch as my focus was on my nearest competition.

Once I got into Klagenfurt, I felt relieved. I can do this! It was the craziest feeling to suddenly have energy. It was like all of a sudden I had convinced myself that I could finish when I spent a good 2 hours trying to figure out how I would get to the finish line with an empty body. After leaving Klagenfurt for the last time, everything became “the last time” for me. Passing this aid station for the last time. Passing this KM marker for the last time. Passing this destination for the last time. This gave me a lot of energy and although I wasn’t running any faster, it sure felt easier. My legs were so tired and my body was empty but I was still able to keep good form, despite not being able to move forward very quickly. Nonetheless, I was still running and I was going to finish this race!

As I was nearing the last mile, I was so excited to be so close to the finish line. Still, a long way to go in an Iroman as anything can happen in those last 10 minutes. As I was getting closer to the finish line, I couldn’t believe that I saw the girl who blazed by me in my age group – she was suffering, very badly. I was shocked that I caught back up to her, even though I knew she would win our age group since she started behind me and there was no more room in the race to gain 2 minutes back from her. But at this point, my body had one more fight in it and I ran passed her and “sprinted” to the finish line. I had to be careful as my legs were exhausted and there were a few turns to negotiate in the last quarter mile but I was so happy to have overcome one exhausting IM marathon to finish on the podium. I even heard Karel and his mom cheering for me from behind a fence.

I zipped up my tri top and high-fived a few spectators as I was nearing the finish line. Oh what a relief to finally cross that finish line on the magical red carpet at Ironman Austria. Although I was ready for the pain to stop, I really tried to enjoy the finish line as I worked so hard to get there.




Once I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe the day I had and how bad I wanted to quit. Once I met up with Karel (and his mom who was so happy for us both – this was her first time watching a triathlon), he told me that he didn’t have the day he wanted either and it was a really tough day for him as well. He also said that he felt really low in energy and it just wasn’t good day for him. Although we were both bummed about our performances – which we felt didn’t reflect our current fitness – it was still a performance to be proud of for a finish is worth celebrating. Plus, I was able to stand on the podium at the awards ceremony (they only do top 3 at international races) and Karel placed 5th in his AG which is the highest he has ever placed here at Ironman Austria.


After taking a well-needed indoor shower in the athlete area (what a treat – a total highlight of the race!) and cleaning up (and enjoying ice cream and coffee from the local café), Karel and I went back out to the course to cheer for our athletes/friends. Although a tough day for us all, I’m proud of my body for fighting this one out and it was special to share the course with Karel, his mom, Justine and Natalie.




When I was on the run, I told myself that I was done with Ironman racing. No more, never again. I had enough with this pain and I never wanted to experience it again. Ha!

Well, it only took about 24 hours for me to feel the itch to race again. Thankfully, I have Ironman Wisconsin on my race schedule (Ironman #14!) and I can’t wait to tackle one of my favorite courses for the 3rd time! Thank you body for letting me pursue my dreams and for letting me race for 140.6 miles! 


2018 Trimarni Supporters and Affiliates

We would like to send a BIG thank you to our Trimarni sponsors and affiliates for supporting the Trimarni team:
  • Run In - for helping us with our running gear/shoe needs
  • Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
  • Clif Bar - for quality, organic ingredients in quality sport nutrition
  • Carborocket - for providing a quality bike and run nutrition in tasty flavors
  • Base nutrition - for making delicious bars and a variety of products to meet the needs of endurance athletes. And for being all around awesome. 
  • Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
  • Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition with safe and effective ingredients
  • Levelen - for helping athletes optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
  • Hot Shot - for boosting neuromuscular performance and preventing muscle cramps
  • Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
  • KLEAN for making quality products, tested to be clean and safe for athlete consumption.
  • Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
  • Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear and for helping our athletes race in good-looking kits
  • Amrita bars - for making the most delicious tasting, high-quality plant-based protein and energy bars. 
  • Xterra - for the fastest, most comfortable wetsuit ever.
  • Alto cycling - for engineering the fastest race wheels
  • Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
  • Ventum - for designing a cool-looking bike that has been backed by research and top-notch engineering. And for supporting athletes whe