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Ironman Austria, July 3rd 2005

Pre-race, me and Duncan74
Canal section
Quick pit stop to clean glasses
Andrew Smith, you are an Ironman
Job done

Up at 3am, had a quick shower then down for breakfast at 4am. The people at the hotel opened the restaurant at 4am so us wannabe-Ironmen could have a proper breakfast (they even offered pasta if you wanted it but I stuck to my usual cornflakes). Had a quick chat with the others then wandered down to transition to stock the bike up. I love the pre-race transition area and this one was more electric than any other I’ve been in and it was a lot bigger as well. 2000 bikes take up a lot of room. There were lots of people running the route through, others sorting their bikes out and lots and lots of tension. I put my energy bars on, pumped up the tubs, put my two drink bottles on then stood back and wondered why everyone else was taking so long! Decided it’d take up more time if I made sure my run and bike bags were still where I’d left them – yep, same as last night.

After months and months of waiting that last hour seems to go by really fast. I went to the loo then went to the water front and found Duncan and Jane going through their last minute routine. Duncan seemed very focussed (as he had been all week) while I was in my usual stupid frame of mind and still hadn’t really thought much about what was coming. I put on my wetsuit and said goodbye to Michele (and the rest of the crew) and went through the gate onto the beach. With 10 minutes to go I just stood there watching the crowds on the piers and took it all in. As much as I tried to focus I just kept feeling happy but without much of a plan past the ‘start at the back’.

“15 second to Ironman start – there will be no final countdown” (as The Final Countdown played over the PA!) – BANG, the cannon fired and we’re off.

Very calmly I wandered down the beach and into the water. I knew I couldn’t let the race feel get to me as I’d go too fast so I calmly got into the water and waded out to about thigh level and started swimming. I seeded myself at the back and this quickly proved to be a bit of a mistake. I know I’m slow but I’d seeded myself amongst the breaststrokers and I was getting kicked quite hard. A quick bit of sighting and some adjustments and I was in some clear water. The first section is 800m straight out into the lake to a floating platform so other than a little bit of manoeuvring around slower swimmers it was quite simple. At the platform it was busy as everyone was trying to turn left and get into the same bit of water but once around that its 400m to the next turn buoy, left again then a swim back to the beach, again, that went fine. I got stuck with another breaststroker but shook him off to find some more clear water, even managed a bit of drafting!

As I swam towards the beach I said to myself I’d be pleased with anything under an hour for the first 2km. Time is difficult to gauge when swimming in a pack and it felt like I’d been going for a long time. It also felt like I was right down the back but as I got out and had a quick look there were still lots of people behind me – phew! My watch said 42 minutes and I was very pleased with that, even a little surprised. The second loop is back out into the lake to a turn buoy then back towards the beach and up the canal to swim exit. For some reason the swim back out into the lake was very rough, lots of sizable waves but luckily it didn’t last long (as I get sea sick very quickly). Left around the buoy and to the canal entrance. That part was great fun, seeing all the people on the bank while swimming is great for motivation. It also felt really fast and more importantly I felt great, not tired at all. I spotted Michele and briefly stopped to make sure she’d seen me. It was part of her spectator plan, once she’d seen me swim past she walked down a long path back to the main road to watch me ride past on the first bike lap, if she didn’t spot me in the swim she’d miss the ride past and she’d worry for two hours until I came around again. So it was an important – yoohoo! Another few 100 metres along the canal and I was at the swim exit. Stage one done, excellent.

The plan was to do my usual T1 but with a bit less urgency. The helpers were great but confused me a little, I knew what I was doing and in their keenness it threw me a little! I put on my kit and started picking up my wet suit but they said “leave it to me” so I thanked them and ran to the bike. The race clock in transition said 1:30 so I’d done the swim and T1 in my target swim time - brilliant. Feeling very pleased I got on the bike and set off.

The first bit of the bike is the exit from the park and onto the road. The first section is along to the turn around point and they’d put pom-pom girls there and a huge PA, a big crowd had gathered and the atmosphere was great. I checked my heart rate (HR) and it was a bit high so I concentrated on bringing it down, passed Michele and Jane and gave them a big wave.

I settled into my bike pace with Redbikers “ride the first 80 miles as if you’re riding to the race – which you are” clear in my mind. It was hard to stick to my 135bpm limit as so many people were riding past me. I didn’t over take anyone in the first 30km and must have lost several hundred places. But I stuck to it and just took in the view and enjoyed the ride. The first trip up Rupetiberg was good with a huge crown gathered at the bottom. At the top was another PA with the most enthusiastic DJ you’ll ever come across. “I-RONMAN and I-RONLADEEEEE” over and over again. He’s a nut case. Over the hill and it’s along downhill section then some undulations back to the start of the next lap. I pushed it a bit going down hill as that’s quite easy to make up time.

Feeding was going well and I felt good. It still felt like I was going too slow but I stuck to it and kept reminding myself I have a marathon to do later on. Things settled on the second lap and I stopped loosing places. Crowds were now even bigger and the climb was packed with people. There was a small path up the centre of them and they’re all shouting, blowing whistles, cow bells, the DJ going nuts – it’s brilliant. After that it’s back to the down hill and then back into the pom-pom girls at the turn point.

Lap three was slightly different as people were slowing. The leaders had all gone through so the race was unwinding a bit. It was surprising just how many people were slowing, I must have made up most of the places I’d lost on the first lap. Crowds were smaller as they were getting back for the run and it was all a bit more serious. However, I still felt good and carried on at the same pace. Rather than pushing hard down the hill this time I took time to recover and gather my thoughts for the run. Got back to T2, someone took my bike from me and I collected my run bag. Once changed I set off for my first ever marathon.

The plan here was to run as slow as I could which is roughly 1 hour 10km pace. I stopped in the stadium section to chat to Foggo’s family and then again to chat to Michele. After that you head off around the side of the lake for about 5km. They say it’s a flat run but it’s not, it only goes up and down very slightly but I felt that in my legs. A quick adjustment to my plan and I decided I’d run the flats and down hills but walk the worst of the uphill slopes. These were only about 100m long so no big deal but I thought I’d take the rest anyway. I passed the first 10km point in 1:03 so pleased with that. Once through the stadium again you head off into town along the canal. Another nice scenic run but this section is a bit longer. There were a few more ‘hills’ and with the feed stations coming at 2km intervals I seemed to be walking quite a bit of it. I wasn’t really fussed and decided walking wasn’t so bad. The other end is the main town square, you run around the big statue of a dragon then back to the stadium to clock 21km.

Setting off for the second lap I seemed to loose motivation to keep running. I felt OK, legs fine and stomach still working but I just couldn’t be bothered to run. I seemed to be mimicking people around me, if someone stopped running and walked so did I. If someone started running so did I. I bumped into Morg and walked with him for a while, once the road looked like it was going down hill again I set off back to the stadium. Meeting Michele again I said I can’t be bothered to run so don’t be surprised if this next loop takes me a couple of hours. She said that’s fine, take it easy and I’ll see you around 9pm. ‘9pm’ I thought, that’d be a night time finish and I wanted a daytime finish photo! Once through transition and after a quick glance at the race clock I realised I’d better get running again. I ran most of the last loop (still walking the ‘up hills’) and had a great time counting down the final kilometres.

As I entered the final section I ran past the race clock and it said I had 9 minutes to run the last 1km to get under 13 hours. With a big smile on my face I ran the final section around the stadium, past the pom-pom girls and up the finish chute to the finish line.

I was ushered into the recovery area and offered food and drink. I didn’t feel hungry so settled for a large coke. I sat there for a moment sipping my drink and thought about the race, the supporters and spectators and it really is an incredible day. I sat there for about 10 minutes welling up and decided I’d better move on before I burst! They then ushered me into the next tent where I was presented with my finishers t-shirt and finishers certificate (with my splits and time on it). The following day they had finish line photo’s ready for collection and a medal engraving service.

Later in the evening they held the award ceremony at the lake grandstand. Sitting there looking out onto the lake with the sun setting and snow capped mountains all around it was, again, very emotional.

After that it was back to the ‘Irondome’ and party time and a well earned beer or two (or three). I’ll be going back for '06.

I've written out my build up to IMA05 and put it HERE, in case you wonder what it took to get there.

Swim: 2.4 mile T1 Bike: 112 mile T2 Run: 26.2 mile Total
1:25:46 4:43 6:24:39 3:24 4:59:43 12:58:14
Weather: Started clear, sunny and about 20°C and rose through the day to about 28°C and clouded over for the run. 1450th place.


First 2000: 43:39, Second 1800m: 42:07,
Total: 1:25:46, finished in 1679th position (2:15/100m average)

0km - 30km: 1:03:10 (17.67mph average)
30km - 60km: 1:02:24 (17.98mph average)
60km - 90km: 1:07:01 (16:65mph average)
90km - 120km: 1:02:23 (17.99mph average)
120km - 150km: 1:03:45 (17.51mph average)
150km - 180km: 1:03:53 (17.50mph average)
Total: 6:24:39, 17.47mph average, finished in 1602nd position

0 - 13.1 miles: 2:17:34
13.1 - 26.2 miles: 2:36:15
Total: 4:59:43 (11:26min/mile average), finished in 1450th place

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