On Sunday 26 June 2016 I crossed the finish line of Ironman Austria Kärnten with a big smile on my face and a feeling of pure joy in that accomplishment. When I signed up for the race a little over a year ago I had two goals for myself. One was to cross that finish line and hear the words “You are an Ironman” with no other time aspirations than to finish within the time limit and to enjoy a beautiful race. And both transpired.

The training that I had estimated I would realistically and consistently be able to do was on average around 8 to 10 hours a week for the months of August through February and then for March through June move it up a little with also more possibilities for longer bike rides outside and include two half marathons, the Prague marathon and a half triathlon in preparation during those months. During the first few months of training I had a feeling that I was not putting in the hours, but I was not sure since I was not logging anything. I finally started logging my training activities as of around October further to the repeated advice of Roef de Ruiter and I found over the months to come that this feeling did not reflect the reality since I was doing well in terms of consistency. So when race morning arrived I was tense with the feeling of anticipation that I should be able to reach my goals for the day.

The swim is my most beloved first leg of the race. I love being in the water and on hot days I imagine that there will be a second swim leg after the bike before the run. This day, however, would give me more swim mileage than usual, since I somehow managed to swim an extra 500 metres. I came out of the water at the Seeparkhotel after 1.5 hours and 4300 metres.

I changed to bike gear and then set off for the 2 loop bike course. The first loop was tough, but I got through it reasonably well. After about  50k the lead men passed me and I shouted my support to Marino Vanhoenacker. I am convinced that this helped him in securing his win ? Towards the end of the first loop rain started pouring down and I like everyone on the course got drenched. I was careful on the descents and the rain was actually not that bad for me since although wet through I was not cold and it did take the heat out. The second loop felt very tough and I got to T2 with some time to spare to the swim/ bike cut off.

I changed to my run clothes and felt pretty good. I set off on my two loops of 21.1 kilometres with a run/walk strategy.  That then became a walk/run strategy and the last 12 kilometer a very brisk walking pace strategy. In the last 2 hours I got increasingly euphoric since I knew I was going to meet my goal of finishing. At 12 kilometers before the finish Roef was there at an aid station and it was great seeing him once more before going the last part to the finish. Those last 12 kilometres were marvelous! The other athletes still on the course and I were greeting each other and spurring each other on for the last effort towards the finish line.

And then came the last few hundred metres! When I turned the corner for my finish Roef was there so I stopped to hug him and then went the final metres. I was so happy and with a great big smile amidst a lot of noise from the crowd I crossed the finish line in 16 hours, 17 minutes and 30 seconds.

With my journey so far I have set my benchmark. My goal now is to venture forth and improve. And it promises to be such an adventure since there are so many things that I can improve on! ? I cannot wait! And with that, this is not the end of a cherished dream but a new beginning. I hope to see you  at a start line and finish line of a race somewhere in this world!

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