Sustainable Athlete, Jen Mahoney, has had an absolute stellar 2017 season.  A race report of Ironman Austria is as follows, just one of the highlights and fruit of the work she has put forth.  Jen embodies our passion for multi sport and is truly incredible in all she balances to race at such a high level.  *(Note:  Jen recently won her AG at Ironman Maine 70.3, 8th female overall!). Enjoy her race report and some insight for anyone considering this venue!

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My sister (Sarah Russell) and I decided to race Ironman Austria, after each having done an ironman, we thought it would be fun to do one together- Ha! Interesting idea of fun.  It was beyond fun. We traveled to Klagenfurt this July and had an amazing day. The venue was everything that we had heard and read about-  the lake was an almost mint green color and so, so clean, mountains surrounded us and so did delicious food.  We stayed right near the transition area at the Seepark Hotel which was a great spot. Our hotel room looked right out where you exited the water from the swim.  We spent the two days before the race adjusting to the time zone, eating a lot of food, chatting with some really friendly people, missing every important pre-race meeting and getting all of our stuff ready.  My family arrived the night before the race, which was awesome to see them before heading to bed.

Up at 4:30 on race morning- Sarah refused to get up earlier. I did not sleep so well, but at least I know that now, it just is what it is. I can never sleep before a race. (though having Sarah snoring peacefully beside me did not help the stress level…) There were lots of athletes at breakfast, we did not have a perfect pre-race meal, but good enough. We had picked up some apple sauce, but we could only find it in baby food, and we definitely got a few good looks and comments about that! We went to check on our bikes, ready our bags and then walked about 20 minutes to the swim start.  It is always a surreal time, the sea of people moving to the start.  A few more sips of water, wetsuit on, gu ingested we lined up. It was supposed to be a rolling start but the barriers all broke down and it became a chaotic mass movement to the gate. Sarah and I hugged and I followed her into the water, saw her for several strokes and then put my head down and swam.

It was a great swim, so beautiful and a great temperature.  My whole attitude about the swim is to just swim steady, avoid being swum over and try and draft if I can. The swim goes out into the lake, with two left turns, the sighting is hard because of the sun, but it’s totally manageable. The swim ends in a canal, which everyone is funnelled into- slightly terrifying and it was like being shot out of a cannon because of the draft. That part was great, the confined space was not. It was lined with people and I avoided most collisions. It was hard to pass and worse to be passed but I survived!  As I excited the swim, I saw my whole family which so fun!

The weather was perfect for the bike- good temperature, and no wind!! The course is truly stunning. It winds along the lake for about 10 miles and then you have several big climbs but the down hills are long and gradual so you really get some speed without having to get out of your aero bars. There were a couple of tight turns but they were well marked.  The first loop flew by with lots of spectators yelling “up, up, up” or “super! “ It was awesome to have a lot of cheering. The last 10k back into Klagenfurt are down and the second time around that is the best feeling. the scenery is spectacular, and I actually did have moments of appreciating it as I rode. I felt good the whole bike, I ate my gu’s, drank a ton and had no stomach issues. I did almost veer into the crowd at one point when I was waving to my family, but that was the only dicey moment.  I looked at my watch after the first loop and I was on pace for a @ 5:30- it is a fast course!!

I racked my bike, ran through transition and then the race really began.  I felt fantastic heading out, said hello to my kids and Sean, went right by my hotel room (that would get harder every time) and started on the 26.2 suffer fest.  The run is completely flat and two loops.(except for the ups and downs for the overpasses, which felt like very serious inclines the second loop.) It takes you around the lake and then back though town. You run through the park which is slightly twisty but it is packed with people and paths are narrow so at times hard to navigate around other runners. The first 13-15miles were ok, I tried to keep a steady pace, saw Sarah which was great, though its hard to be too chatty.  My quads started to pound by mile 18, sort of like a sledgehammer slamming into them every step. My mind at this point was even having a hard time figuring out the kilometers, I just wanted to be done.

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Coming into the chute is really one of the best feelings I have ever had, it is such a huge feeling of accomplishment crossing that line. Sarah came across and we cried, of course,  I think more out of total relief than anything else. We both had an amazing day- perfect conditions and a fabulous course. We ended up 1st and 4th in our age groups. I would almost say I would do it again :).

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