Ironman Austria Triathlon 2011

Ironman Austria Triathlon 2011


Hi Everyone,

Its Claire here, I never write race reports so for the one and only - make yourself a cuppa and read on.


Wow, and I mean Wow! I actually can't believe that I did the Austrian Ironman - Whoo! Hoo! Hoo! I have spent months diligently training from the book that Tim is about to enjoy burning and not once deceived myself that I could be as amazingly fit and strong as you girls/guys.


I joined the Mid Sussex Tri Club in May 2005. I was treating Andy Heath and I am not sure if it was a recommendation of his or if I plagued the life out of him during the pain of having his hamstrings sorted that he mentioned he was part of this great club. From the minute I arrived at the club I was surrounded by lots of friendly faces and lots of encouragement. I am so glad that all those friendly faces are still my dear friends. For those that are new to the club beware of drinking and or being caught in the (Steve) Alden or Mac magic of entering any races..


So before you read this, I ask you do just one thing for me ...I very genuinely ask that you will not judge me and my efforts on my time. I am highly aware that those before me on their IM quests (even double IM quests) have gone faster and those that will follow after, will again go more speedily! So as the first woman in the club to have ever completed an Ironman, you might wonder why?


13 years ago I had a lifesaving/changing operation and after the celebral aneurysm my life has been a whirlwind of taking every single minute and enjoying it. I had to learn how to talk, walk and build up from a non-existent memory in the multiple months that followed after leaving Hurstwood Park. Tim and I had only been married for a few months and for this I am glad we had a great honeymoon as the shock of this operation and the next few months and years were going to be hard.


My first challenge arrived when I wanted to go back to work and was eventually allowed to go back to something nice, enjoyable and easy. I joined a gym and loved being the first face members saw on reception. I started getting into fitness again and managed to get friendly with a group of women that had just been running. Up until then I hadn't run - I wanted in! So I starting running with them, then in Sept I entered the London Marathon for the following year and despite huge concern from my parents and my brothers and sisters, I ran it and finished. That day was magnificent; my face ached for days from smiling so much. I had at last got back a little bit of me. Illness takes away your independence. and within the 5 hours that it took - I had this back and a bit more confidence ..


My IM time: 15 hrs 4 minutes 42 seconds. (1:18:17/ 7:27:13 inc T1 /6:01:53 inc T2).


For me, I did what I set out to do. Which was start at the beginning with a big smile on my face looking out over the lake (Rach where are you), and finish many hours later looking utterly exhausted and smiling still (now .where did I put that lip-gloss) knowing that I would still be loved by Tim. I truly believe that you can do whatever you want if you work hard enough. I only found the strength to do this IM by what I have learnt from you all in being part of the Mid Sussex Tri Club, so Thank you. The advice, kindness and friendship will never be forgotten.


We are at Stanstead Airport and waiting to check in for our flights, the other travellers are evidently not your usual bunch, its like bike box envy with stickers over the cases showing different events over the world. These pretty awesome athletes are all wearing compression anklets and T- shirts from previous Ironman comps. Wowsers, I really think I have the wrong queue!

We fly into Slovenia and the coach takes us into Austria. Austria is beautiful, and I mean breathtakingly beautiful it's so alpine and lush. I love looking at all the chalets and the lakes are the most beautiful colour of jade.


We have booked with Nirvana and it seems to be a very well organised succession of coaches and we eventually arrive at our destination. The following day we eat early and go into Klagenfurt, there is another coach that does a bike recce. I am worried about this. It's great that Tim can see the bike course however I can't change what the route is going to be like and thankfully the coach only struggles up one of the mountains. The rest of the day goes so well with registration and racking and before too long we are back on the coach.


A long, long night. I really need to sleep, however the tiredness in my body has lost its fight to my active mind that won't allow my body to sleep. All I keep thinking of is did I train hard enough, I will let so many people down if something goes wrong, I am just me, will Tim be ok. So much is rushing through my mind.all the pleasure I have had from seeing different parts of Sussex and Surrey on by bike, the nasty occurrence of my restless legs that has worryingly spread to my arms, with the endless hours of training to achieve my IM dream. My doubts that the results of my EEG and CT scans will come back as abnormal and that I have indeed driven my body to face some sort of self-destruct mode. Then more doubts will my ankle behave - two weeks ago I thought I have a stress fracture in my ankle, so a quick visit to see Steve Bendall and lots of money later a diagnosis of a heel spur and no running until the day (ekkk). again I wonder whether I have misused my body and if I should be doing this ...       I work such long hours and getting up hideously early and going to bed very late there is no wonder I look about 90..


3rd July in Austria


My watch alarm goes off and Tim and I head for breakfast - does anyone enjoy eating at 4 am? I don't and today even though it is the day I have trained so hard for it is impossible to eat there are knots in my stomach and I just can't eat. I get the 'eat' look from Tim and eat enough and wander down with Tim to the coach. A small journey takes us in to Klagenfurt and we follow everyone else and some newly found friends that are also doing their first IM. The music is pumping out and we all start to feel like this might be the day of our dreams.


I am standing at the front, looking out over the lake. I can't see the other 2900 competitors that are in between the two pontoons, and the smile is spreading across my face. I am here and this is going to be the day I hoped I believe...


We start by walking into the water and wait for the starting clacton, I don't hear it, everyone starts swimming, and I start swimming I still can't hear it and carry on swimming. Its one loop into the centre of the lake and then back through a narrow canal, which gets a bit cosy. The swim goes really well and I love every minute of it. I get out and see that I did it in 1:18 so not my best time and not my worst time.


T1 is quite a way away and the minute I am out of the water I run along. The route is packed by so many supporters screaming and applauding their loved ones along that I leg it. I just have to remember that the finish line will only come to me if I keep moving forwards...OMG at T1 you have helpers. No other event will ever be the same! I get changed and it's a pleasing T1 time then I am out on the bike, this course is beautiful and an enormous part of it feeds around the lake and then up into the mountains and then back around again. I am so pleased that I did 7 lots of 100 miles pre this race as it means apart from any failing mechanics I can just focus on pedalling around and taking in the view.


T2 comes along very quickly and again, although not my best time for my 112 miles. I am pleased that I enjoyed all the descending and climbed the hills and got my nutrition right.


T2 has me forgetting my number as I search through the hanging bags - doh! So I am grateful to the helpers inside the tent that I decide not to waste time and getting changed and before I know it I start the run. I have seen Tim quite a few times now and I feel good. My smile is still in place and a huge amount of relief that the next part is down to the strength and determination to finish.


I have again lots of advice whizzing through my head, stop at every feed station and let the crowd spur you on, keep positive and Tim has some pictures that are of some very special people in my life. I have had so much water and the right amount of gels that it's wonderful to find some yummy watermelon on the course and as the weather has been kind so I don't hang on to the sponges for long. I run for the first 6 miles and then my ankle feels very sore. This isn't good. I keep running and think about the time left. I have 5 hours to do this in.


I can and will do this.


I start walking and I mean power walking, my walk is fast and I can see Tim. His support has been unreal. I continue to walk and it's a now a race against time. I am not going to ruin my ankle and run, this walk is faster than my Ironman shuffle and every so often I can hear the tannoy announcing that someone else is an IRONMAN. I keep going, everyone is showing the signs of determination and I think of you all, my family and Tim and start running again. This isn't for long - my ankle is very tender and swollen now, and it is the final lap of 13 miles. I am willed on by everyone and there is a strong connection between everyone racing that we are all Ironmen all that is to be decided is our times. I keep going and I can hear music. The carpet leads the competitors along to the finishers stadium and the IM podium is 600m away.


Its such an emotional experience, everyone is lining the route, all you can hear is the smacking of the bang bangs, everyone singing and dancing to the music, screaming your name and I run I have never run before and then I hear the most magical voice... Claire from Great Britain you are an ...IRONMAN.


I know that my reign in being the first girl to do this distance will only last one week, and then I hope along with Kate's amazing efforts at Switzerland and Jade at Outlaw (wishing you both the very best of luck) Perhaps some more women will follow in my for this reason only Tim..perhaps don't burn that book yet.. I think that I have at last found at last my distance

Yours as always a very tired, skippy and happy IronMan Claire

Author: Claire Cresswell