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IronMan Austria - Marc Daniels

Ironman Austria Adventure

Thanks all for the kind messages, wishes, and support. I nearly didn’t do this but after some gentle prodding I at least took myself to Klagenfurt and I’m glad I did, because to not do so would have been the wrong choice.

I lucked out by getting into the first AG swim wave. I’m not a blagger and I really didn’t say I could do the swim in 70-75 minutes, so how that happened I don’t know, but it at least meant I was on the way before it got too hot, which has hurt me before. Swim was great. Amazing lake to swim in and finish in a fast, slightly chaotic, canal, quite narrow with a sharp turn to exit, where I managed to injure myself by slipping on a mud step and bending all the toes on my left foot in a direction they are not designed to bend, which, let’s just say, contributed to my hilariously long T1 time (that and the 500m run/jog/walk/hobble from swim exit to transition).

Other than toe mangling, I felt great out of the swim, and ready to ride. Whatever magic recipe the Austrians have for road surface, we need it. Are they perfect? No, but for the most part the wheels just roll with so little resistance, which makes the long ride a pleasure, not a chore, and the climbing, mostly, a challenge to be taken on with confidence rather than anxiety and exhaustion. Two different loops. First 95km is fast and so much fun.

By the end of the first loop my toes were killing me. I stopped at the Personal Needs station, got into shade, pulled off my shoes and socks, and found toes that really should not be that colour. How lucky was I then that the volunteers on the station were a bit sloppy with taking drinks out of their cooler and dropped ice all over the floor. Got the toes iced, took some pain killers, woofed a banana, and got back on it.

Next 85km was hard though. I don’t believe there was more climbing on this loop, in total elevation gained, but it came in shorter, harder, lifts, and I’m not too ashamed to say that I just had to walk one of them. Could I have ridden up? Possibly, but I didn’t want to find out at the expense of having nothing for the run, so I walked it. It had also got hot, and windy, and at one point Lanza like windy, so of course there were several verses of “I hate this so much” and “f**k off, Paul” to get me through it…still works. On long rides I often have a tendency to sit back and go off a bit, but I didn’t have that here and the last 20km to T2 was such a blast nothing was in the way of getting on the run. Except for needing some Ibuprofen.

Oh, and the views. Worth doing the bike just for the views.

There’s nothing particularly complicated about the run. Two laps, generally flat (save for a few subway ramps), mostly good quality surface, and really well supported, even into the night. My first half went to plan, 14 mins on, 1 min off. Took me generally from station to station, and was sustainable. Second half I was really into unknown territory and so adapted on the fly to the point where the last 7km “power” walking probably delivered in a way that attempting run/walk wouldn’t. Stuck to my nutrition and hydration plan and it worked for me. I never felt undernourished, or dehydrated, and didn’t get the nausea I have recently faced on longer runs off the bike.

And then finished. OK, I still had the presence of mind to manage the finish. There was a couple of runners ahead that were almost tripping over each other. With no one clearly behind, I backed off with a few hundred metres to go to let them get on with it so I could run the finish chute alone.

It’s better at night too.

Anyway, I did that. Can I do better? Probably. Will I do better? Absolutely.

Of course it goes without saying that I owe huge thanks to Chantel Coetzer Bierbaumer for being the gentle prodder to get me there, and being a great companion through it all, making it seem less difficult and a lot more fun than I had any right to expect it to be. Great teamwork. And well done to her for the PB(s) and for the AG 3rd Place…even if it doesn’t magically get us free stuff from Ryanair.

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