Ironman Austria 2019 – Andy’s perspective
The build up to this race took a looooong time.
“Oh you do triathlon” people would say, “Have you done an Ironman”? would come the question “No” was my answer.
I had done all distances including sprint, Olympic and 70.3 but not the full distance so that had to change. But getting your head around actually doing one was not a quick process. It took many conversations with friends and family to convince myself that I could actually do one. Finally, after much deliberation my Optima club training partner, Kamal, and I finally signed up even though we were both still not at all sure we could actually do it.
The first big date prior to the race was ‘12 weeks to go’ when the full training program starts. Kamal and I were following the tried and tested James Beckinsale plan to Ironman glory – or put another way – get me to the start AND to the finish line.
The training was great and it was made so by having a pal to chat about things and having a coach to reign you in when needed (not often). The training was a progressive mental and physical build up. I never thought I’d find 20×800 a fine thing to do on a Wednesday evening. In the end it was normal.
The Race, Klagenfurt, 7th July 2019
Supported by my wife and kids we got ourselves to the beautiful region of Karnten in Austria. As a bribe to get the kids there and to take my mind off the build up we all went paragliding (won’t do that again). The main talking point that Kamal and I had to fret about was whether it would be a non-wetsuit swim due to the warm water. It was. Gulp.
A quick visit to the Ironman Expo and my wallet considerably lighter I owned the essential swimskin that no self respecting superhero can be without.
Come the day, after a terrible night’s sleep, all was fine except for the threat of torrential rain forecast for later in the day. Kamal (looking decidedly worried as his zip had just broken – see photo) and I walked over to the 1hour-1:10 swim pen for the wait to go as we were set off 4 at a time every few seconds, like lambs to the slaughter.
Off we set. I felt I was battling through other swimmers constantly but it took my mind off thinking about how bloody far I had to swim. Felt good. Goggles didn’t fill with water. Yay. On the leg back to shore I could see nothing as the sun was low and directly in our faces. I followed some feet and made it in 1:13 only a minute behind my faster pal. I’ll take that.
I’d said to myself before the start that I’d smile, wave and take it all in to enjoy the experience – and that is what I did. Kamal appeared to approach it differently (see earlier photo).
Onto the bike supposedly a strong part for me – but it didn’t feel that way as I was overtaken by almost everybody out there. Mmmm. Stick to your plan Andy. Wonderful support out there “Hup, hup, hup” was the Austrian cry most of the way around punctuated by the sight of the Hindley family supporters which was greatly appreciated. ‘How did they get there’? I wondered – which was a good distraction.
However 5 hours 30mins into the bike after what seemed like way more climbing that I imagined and having passed Kamal twice (still struggle to work out how that happened as I didn’t stop) – the heavens opened right on cue. It. Was. Biblical. Rain. And. Wind.
The storm slowed us all down as just staying upright became my priority. It did cross my mind that the race might be stopped – it was that bad.
As I arrived at transition there were barriers strewn across the road but the rain and wind had passed and I was onto the run. A marathon, yes after 6 hours on a bike! I still can’t believe it’s possible.
Anyway it all started off so well. I felt quite good. Breaking the distance down in my head, Counting my steps. Both strategies to get me through it. I was still smiling when I saw a camera or heard my name. Kamal caught me quite early on and we ran together for the first 20k, which was nice. But my training partner then left me in his wake as the run started to take its toll. By the end it was more of a grimace than a smile but I achieved my second target of sub 12 in a time of 11:55. As the announcer said “Andy, YOU are an Ironman”. Cool eh.