"Racing through a postcard" was how the organisers put it at the race briefing. Nobody at the finish line on Sunday would question the validity of that statement. The 113km they’d just pushed themselves through were some of the prettiest you could hope to swim, cycle and run in. Yes it was hot, and yes it had been challenging, but the challenge was all part of the fun!
I qualified for Ironman 70.3 world championship Zell Aim See in Austria in May 2015 completing a race that every triathlete should do al least once in a lifetime: St. Croix Captain Morgan.
Here in Zell we are staying at the Feinshmeck hotel! Very charming hotel in the middle of the lovely town, close to the finish line and so close to all bars, lake, restaurants and clubs.
Therefore every day we saw athletes racing starting from Thursday Iron Girl run, Friday iron kids tri, and Saturday the regular 70.3. In addition there were parties every night here in town , just down the hotel! I loved the location especially because we could walk everywhere!
The director offers OWS of the entire swim course 2-3 days prior the race.
The swim start and transition are all at the same place just a mile from the town, which made race-day logistics easier.
The lake swim was a straight line out and back, with no currents of course. The first wave started at 10:30am. My wave was at 11:46am. I liked the late start!
I let everyone start before me! The swim Is not my strongest leg anyway, but once I warm up, I can pass some swimmers. In fact, I peacefully swam through the 1.2 miles passing several pink cups (this was the color of my cup).
As I finished, I ran to get the blue bag, entered in the changing area and then to the bike.
The start was easy and fast. For the first 10 miles I avg. 23.5MPH. But when I started that devil climb my avg. dropped big time!
Yes! There is just the one real climb on the course – but it’s a big one. From an altitude of around 650 meters, you climb straight up to 1292 meters all within 10 miles of twisty road. Of course you’re rewarded, not only with a quick descent (if you are not scared), but also with a stunning alpine view if you can take your eyes off the tarmac for a few moment.
I got into a rhythm, I paced myself climbing the top of the Alps (for about an hour) and enjoyed the scenery when I could. I even chatted to many athletes. Many were walking pushing their bike up on the last stretch of the climb. Phew!
The descent was terrifying. It was very technical and twisty, some curves were a 90 degree. I gritted my teeth and kept my legs moving of course I did plenty of brake, brake , and brake. So I couldn’t build any momentum.
I can say that this was the second toughest bike I've ever done after St Croix. Climbing to top of swiss alp and then several panics attacks while descending..
It was intense.
The last part of the bike course was not that challenging. It was pretty easy!
I was a bit sore but feeling remarkably fresh when I arrived at the finish for the cycle. Time to grab my red run bag. And of course It was a long way to the bag! Phew!
The run took us up towards Zell am See where we began a two-lap route following the edge of the lake to a small town called Thumersbach (looks like ‘turn back’ to a weary triathlete) and back twice. The scenery was stunning: alpine lakes, lots of swans and mountains!
The run is relatively flat and hot! Yes that was another surprise for me! We had to climb 2 times a mile up to a pretty Austrian town and temperature was 90 degree! But we had lots of vocal support.
I felt great at the run start. I truly did. The secret? I stayed well hydrated during the bike portion (I drunk 5 bottle of fluid) and I did not push as I usually do when I train.
There were hydration stops with bananas, oranges, sponges, coke and Gatorade. Well, on my first loop anyway I went easy. I carried sponges and every 5-10 min I was pouring water on my head. Then came loop two. That was the part I hated because I had to turn back while I was there close to the finish line! Luckily, I was still feeling great.
As I approached the finish line.... Unbelievable! Million of spectators cheering.....music and entertainment! I was happy to see my lovely husband Mike who was waiting for me! This meant a lot to me!
In summary, I had fun. I truly did enjoy the entire race. When you race at your pace only to impress yourself, the pressure is nonexistent and you can truly enjoy the sport! Even if I did not train specifically for this race because I had 3 months of vacation, I finished strong because of years of experience in endurance sports.
Yes endurance will never be lost in just a couple of months!
This is another unique course!
It was beautiful and challenging!
It was like "Racing through a postcard"
I want to send special thank to my wonderful husband Mike Elbooz who came to support me here in Austria and always support my crazy training schedule!
Remember that your training is to help you execute on race day. To reach your full potential as an athlete at your upcoming race, it's important to use every training session to perfect your nutrition, pacing and mental strength as well as to discover what gear/equipment is going to give you the best race possible.
As I tell my athletes for race day:
Trust your training, trust your plan, trust your nutrition and trust your gear