Run My watch was preset to a 3:1 run/walk which, before the event, I thought I’d be able to maintain even given my lack of run training. That delusion lasted about 5 minutes. Kept walking while I changed the setting to 2:1. Nope, can’t even manage that so turned off the run/walk setting just walked. Through the park thinking I’d get a boost from Happychap and Toucs who were bound to be on the lookout by the hotel. Passed the hotel and not a sign of them. Cue a mix of uncharitable thoughts and hoping they were both still in one piece and keep on walking.
First feed station, lovely refreshing watermelon and some coke. Keep walking and start trying to calculate what pace I need to maintain to beat the cut off. Faster than I’m going at the moment; brain to legs, ‘run’. Legs to brain, ‘fur cough’. Keep walking. Next feed station, perhaps something savoury. Take a small, salty looking cracker, take a bite and wish I hadn’t as it instantly absorbs every molecule of moisture in my mouth. Slurp water and keep walking. There’s a pirate ‘arrgh, Pugsley’, brief chat, go pirate. Keep walking. Greet pirates, chat to other walkers. Finally reach the turn around, check time and decide it’s time to try to speed up a bit. Try 30s/30s run/walk; that works so stick with it. Reach the hotel and hear a shout. Relieved to see Happychap and have a brief shouty exchange to hear brief version of her story. (Last member of team Run to Live so now I have to keep going). Counting repeatedly to 30 kept my mind occupied and eventually I reach the town centre. Around the square and back we go again. Half way and time is looking better. The run/walk strategy had improved average pace from over 16:30 m/m to a more acceptable 15:15m/m which meant I should finish within the cut off, as long as I could keep it going.
Slow and steady out to the far end of the course, round the loop and head back towards town again. Then it started to rain, light and refreshing at first, then proper wet rain. Turned down the offer of a poncho by one of the water stations on the way into town ‘cos I was still feeling quite warm but about half a mile further on, as the rain got heavier and the thunder started rolling around overhead, I wish I’d taken it. Fortunately, in anticipation of maybe feeling cold as I got tired towards the end of the day, I;d tucked a buff and armwarmers into the pocket of my monaco so I put these on which improved things slightly. Shortly after going through the town centre for the final time my brain rebelled and said enough and I physically came to a standstill. No point standing in the rain so started walking again and was joined by a cheery Irish volunteer who escorted me along to the last feed station where I stopped briefly to pick up a poncho even though I was wetter than I’d been when I got out of the lake and trudged onwards. Finally back through the park and the turn along the lakeside towards the finish. Tore myself out of the poncho and dumped it before summoning up just enough energy to jog down the red carpet.
6:37:45 – I’ve been slower!
And all that added up to 16:15:30 which was about 40 minutes quicker than I was expecting
T2 Rack bike, waddle, deep breath and hold, visit portaloo, breathe, waddle to bag racks. Not many there so should be easy to find mine. Hang on. IT’S NOT THERE!! Double check the few bags still hanging there. Nope. Check numbers on the end of the rack to make sure I’m in the right place. Yes. Look again. It’s definitely not there. Shit.
Someone emerges from the change tent heading towards the racks clutching a bag and I can see my number on it. Sorry she says. She’s number 1084, I’m 1074. Panic over. Into tent where this time there’s plenty of space. Sit down and take a deep breath. Brain is telling me it’s had enough now. Shut up brain. Change shoes, switch cycle shirt for monaco, visor on, take a quick drink and head for the ‘run’
Bike Ooh, lovely smooth roads. But remind myself that I’m not iron fit and energy management is the order of the day. Settled into a comfortable pace as the first of about 600 hundred crap swimmers started passing me, some on bikes which sound like they’re about to fall apart or haven’t been lubed for months.
Some undulations but nothing too worrying and I remember that Happychap is prone to exaggeration. Onto the western loop waiting for the first feature hill which came and went and wasn’t too bad and was followed by a nice bit of down and a nasty little stretch of upflat. Joined for a while by Farm Boy who apparently had taken 30 miles to realise his rear brake was rubbing before stopping to sort it out. We had a bit of a chat before he realised how slowly I was going and off he went.
Started to wonder how long before Toucs would pass me up. More fairly gentle ups and nice sweeping downs, onto the eastern loop and eventually spotted the little sign which warns that you are about to meet Evil Rupert. Through a couple of nasty little uphill bends, look up and see a ribbon of road disappearing up into the trees some way ahead. Keep spinning and up we go. Reach the top, phew. Through the trees and OMG another steeper looking section ahead fortunately preceded by a short slightly downhill bit to catch your breath. Start climbing again and realise that the mobile disco towards the top of the climb is blasting out one of the favourites from the spin shed; great. Couldn’t get onto the beat though. Finally reach the top and it’s pretty much downhill from there. Except for the little climb through a feed station; who thought that was a good idea?
Still no Toucs; hope he’s made it out of the swim. Finally see the turnaround ahead. Hooray! Half way and feeling okay. 200m down the road my brain registered the music which was playing at the turnaround. ‘Let’s go round again ….’ Good grief!.
Brief stop at special needs station to top up nutrition and off I went for lap 2. Target was to ride as far as the Evil Rupert and then take a walk if necessary. Crossed paths with Pugsley on the out and back bit between the loops and exchanged ‘Arrrghs’ which seemed to amuse the spectators. Still no Toucs which likely meant he’d either not made it out of the swim or had a major mechanical. Short rain shower was quite refreshing but the wind seemed to have picked up a bit. Not that it was very strong and mostly from the side. Keep pedalling. Happychap should catch me soon though, as long as her back, which has been in major spasm for the past few days, isn’t giving her too much gip. Keep pedalling. Finally reached Rupert and surprisingly still feeling ok so set myself little targets. Pedal the first section and walk the worst of the second. Passed a few people walking, dug in and kept spinning. Little breather on the flatter bit and onto stage two. Pedal to that bend. Good, keep pedalling. Wonder if can actually make it to the top. Ooh, yes, it seems I can. Maybe all those sessions in the spin shed were actually worth the pain.
By this time I had expected Happychap to have caught me cos, even though she’s a crap swimmer, she is a bit of a demon on the bike. Mentally cross fingers that she’s not had to withdraw as well. Started to feel a bit weary over the last few miles through the outskirts of Klaggenfurt but finally reach the end and mange to dismount without falling over.
Swim. Not too keen on the washing machine effect so as usual started towards the far right and took my time getting into the water and off we went. For a long while it felt like I was going nowhere largely because I thought that the person in a fluorescent jacket who I could see every time I breathed to my right was standing on the pontoon: he wasn’t, he was standing on a paddle board. By the time I worked this out I was pretty much at the first turn buoy which was a bit of a scrum with people just stopping and treading water waiting for a space to get around it. Never felt really relaxed but the rest of the swim was fairly uneventful except that I, along with many others, headed for the wrong set of boat masts to get to the canal entrance and ended too far over to the right. Shortly before reaching the canal my chip slipped out from under the leg of my wettie and was flapping around on my ankle so I used that as an excuse for a quick breather while I tightened it up a bit. The canal was an interesting mix of excellent drafting and frustration as there wasn’t a huge amount of space to pass people. Finally hung right towards the exit, was hauled out of the water and jogged off towards transition.
1:19:24 - slightly disappointing
T1 Actually, that’s not hugely accurate. I might have jogged for 50 yards before remembering that today was an exercise in energy conservation and slowing to a brisk walk. Grabbed bag, into change tent, not much space. Managed to get wettie off without falling over, dry feet, socks and shoes on, cycle top on, helmet and gloves on, pockets stuffed, wettie etc into bag, dump bag in drop zone. Quick visit to portaloo just for good measure, brisk walk to bike and exit. Thought I’d been quite speedy. Apparently not.
I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike to produce a witty and interesting race report but it’s just not going to happen so you’ll have to make do with the following.
Preamble The plan for IM Austria wasn’t to break any records but merely to stand on the start line better prepared than I’d been for any of my previous IM attempts. To be honest, that shouldn’t have been too much of a challenge. However, despite the best intentions when I signed up, as usual, I struggled to actually motivate myself to get out and do the work. I managed a few longish rides, one century and a few 60-80 milers plus lots of shorter sessions but very few significantly hilly rides. I’d also suffered through a weekly spin session pretty much every week since September. My running started from an all time low and never got much better. A succession of minor injuries made me slightly paranoid about damaging myself and resulted in my longest run being about 10k. I did put in a 15 mile walk though, just as a precaution! The only thing I was happy with was my swimming which is, in my opinion, the easiest part of any triathlon.
The journey to Klaggenfurt was stress free given that my bike was being transported by road by Happychap and Toucs. Heathrow to Vienna then a quick change for the short leg to Klaggers. The hotel was very conveniently situated just across the road from the race village, lake and finish line. Wednesday dawned grey and drizzly so I decided not to tempt fate by riding part of the course and just went off for a bit of a walk instead. On return found Happychap and Toucs in the hotel bar after driving around the course. Their report of ‘OMG far more hills than expected, particularly on the way out to the first loop and the Rupertiberg had us in hysterics’ was just what I didn’t need to hear and almost had me packing my bags.
Didn’t stop me registering for next year on the Friday though.