Last year when I was deciding where to race my Half Ironman for 2013, the gals on the Up & Running Alumni forum mentioned that I might want to consider what the medal looked like. Pescara was yellow and Aix en Provence was orange, so it seemed logical to go for the green medal in Zell am See!
I knew months in advance that my husband wouldn’t be able to come since he’d be working, so I asked my friend and teammate Lucia to come with me… girlfriend road trip!
Austria is only a four hour drive from my house and it took us another two hours to get to Zell am See. Sometimes I forget that there are so many wonderful places to go to within just a short distance.
I booked a double bedroom at Pension Gudrun right in the center of Zell. It was clean, quiet and inexpensive but most importantly it was only a five minute walk to the Ironman Expo center and finish line. That in itself was worth gold!
We found a parking spot right away and the proprietor had left the key to our room in a nook. I was zonked from packing in the morning and the six hour drive so we found something quick to eat and then went to bed and slept a delicious ten hours…
The next morning at breakfast we discovered that the Inn proprietor was Scottish! He laid out a beautiful breakfast buffet and served us eggs and coffee and I knew I wouldn’t have problems with race morning fuelling.
We went to the expo to pick up my race packet and at 10:AM they had the race meeting for the athletes. They did a really excellent job – thorough explanation of the course, rules and regulations and times we had to be in each place.
While I picked up my race packet we noticed that there was a women’s race that afternoon. Lucia has been running really well this summer so she decided to sign up. Her start was 3PM so now we had a full schedule. We went back to the Pension, ate, set up all my bags and bike to drop off later in the afternoon and then went to the Iron Girl Race start.
It was just a quick 4.2 km but Lucia warmed up for about ten minutes and then did a few strides. I told her to get a good position in front of what looked like about 200 women. They had some sort of aerobic warmup which seemed to drone on forever. There was a big crowd of people watching and when they signaled the start there was a lot of cheering.
It was an out and back course and as the first runners started coming in a counted them… 1… 2… 3… until no. 15 came down the way in a burning 17:53! That’s 4:11 per kilometre!
Lucia was really happy with her race. And the free celebratory beer.
After Iron*Girl we went to the expo and bought a few Ironman souvenirs, gels and t-shirts. I also bought a cheap pair of amber coloured sunglasses. I’d seen the weather report and it was supposed to rain on race day. My bike glasses are really dark so I thought that if skies were grey I might not be able to see too well. These glasses saved my butt as you’ll later learn… €15 well spent!
The transition areas were at the other end of the lake so we gathered all my bags and bike and walked down. Lucia was my Sherpa for this trip, so generous about dragging all my equipment around…
I got in line to check in my bike and the day after the race they sent me the photo for my scrapbook or something.. .or my blog!
Knowing that it was going to rain but not knowing how cold I was going to be when I got out of the swim, I put everything but the kitchen sink into that bike bag. A heavy jacket, a light jacket, long sleeves, just sleeves, two different pairs of gloves, two sunglasses, separate pairs of socks, a head warmer for the bike. Even though I’d packed everything I knew that I’d need to decide as I exited the water what I was going to be putting on so that I’d waste less time.
With both transition bags in place and my bike under a Power Bar tarp, we walked back to the center of Zell to find a nice restaurant for dinner and then an early bedtime. Nighty night!