Lynn – one of my athletes – competed in her first Ironman race at Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt on June 30, 2013 and finished in a fantastic time of 14:28 hours. She crossed the finish line with a huge smile on her face.

Below is Lynn’s story of how the day went:

“After a nervous few days in the run up to Ironman Austria I woke up on the day of the race feeling very calm. All I had to do now was swim, cycle and run. A lovely day out in the beautiful Austrian countryside. The months of training with coach Karl’s steady guidance (that man has the patience of a saint!) gave me confidence as I stood on the start line. Everything slotted into place consistent training, nutrition planned and practised, kit tried out and shiny new wheels on Minnie my bike.

I stood on the beach start line taking in the atmosphere thinking ‘I’m doing an Ironman who would have thought it?!’ I was 50 in April but feel the fittest I have ever been even though I have been into running for the last 20 years.

I spotted my husband David as I walked into the lake and jumped up and down so he could spot me as it would be impossible for him to see me amongst all the identical wetsuited bodies! I knew he would watch the washing machine start and be concerned for me so it was great for him to see I was having fun!

The swim plan was to stay out of trouble, not get kicked or panic and enjoy the experience. All of these I managed due to swim coaching from Karl, and our coaches at Edinburgh Tri club John and Andrew.

In transition I put on my short sleeved club cycle top and white arm coolers as practised at the Outlaw Half Ironman a few weeks earlier as even though it wasn’t as hot as I had feared it would be I thought it’s better to avoid sunburn and possibly heatstroke. So sunscreen on the back of my neck and legs and off I went. The first lap was amazing with huge support on the hills with cries of ‘Hop hop’ and cow bells ringing making me feel like a real athlete. I had set my Garmin to beep every 20 minutes to tell me to take on some nutrition, either energy drink or energy bars. I also had a bottle with isotonic drink to sip from too. David was waiting for me at the turn around which was brilliant, he could report back to Mum and Dad that I was doing okay! The second lap was quieter, everyone probably gone home back to bed after their early morning exertions. I really had to dig deep on the last hill, the camaraderie of other potential Ironmen encouraging me, also thinking it would be downhill all the way back, looking forward to seeing David again and getting off the bike and onto my favourite bit.. the run!

After a quick change into a running top and my favourite running shoes a swig of energy drink and a gel and I was off out into the run. More cheers and a quick kiss from David and I put my mind to the marathon. A friend had told me to sing a mantra as I did the run ‘I’ve done the swim, I’ve done the bike’ and my cadence settled into the beat! The first 10k I struggled with a crampy stomach, in retrospect I should have drunk a bit more on the bike to wash the bars down. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to take on proper nutrition on the run but eventually it settled and I had bananas, orange slices and 4 or 5 gels. As I ran over the timing mats I imagined everyone tracking me online at home giving a loud cheer. The route went through a park by the lake 4 times so I knew I could break up the run into David spotting! He kept me entertained jumping out of bushes with his video camera and jogged along side me a couple of times encouraging me and reading messages from friends and family. The last lap and I knew I could do it and possibly in not too shabby a time! My marathon plan was to speed walk through feed stations and keep to a 5 hour marathon pace which I got spot on. In Karl’s plan I had only ran up to a 21/2 hour training run but he was right about having lots of cycle training which translates into running fitness. I crossed the finish line feeling amazingly good. And so to that finish line. The thing that kept me going through some tough training in the Scottish Winter and Spring when I wanted to stay in a cosy bed… was the thought of going over that finish line, the sense of achievement will stay with me a long time.

14 hours 28 mins and 49 secs.

Key things to take from Ironman experience:

  • Get a coach if you can especially for first timers. This gives you confidence and was crucial in keeping me injury free so I could train consistently.
  • Cycle, cycle, cycle bike fitness is important to finishing the marathon well.
  • Practise, practise, nutrition, what to wear, trying out kit, do some practise races.
  • Remember everyone is different, take advice but also be confident in what works for you.
  • Above all remember you are able to do this, some people can’t!

Good Luck

Lynn Hanley”

Lynn drew inspiration from people at home, from others she was racing with and the charity she was running for at the time. Her preparation for the race was meticulous and meant she was able to have a mostly trouble free day enjoying the event, the Austrian countryside and the spectator support. Well done on your first Ironman finish Lynn!

Lynn has in the meantime entered the Outlaw Iron Distance Triathlon 2014 with an aim to improve on her Ironman Austria performance.

Related links:

One if Lynn’s regular training partners for the Ironman was Angela. Read Angela’s race report here.