I am already qualified for the World Championship in October since December. Hence, racing Ironman Austria was a „bonus race“ for me. Many friends already told me about the beauty of this race and I was keen to experience it myself. This year I started late into the triathlon season, having my first triathlon in June. With winning two half distance races that month, I had a good idea where my fitness was. I was looking forward to starting over the long distance. I knew that among the 20 registered professional athletes also three very fast competitors would line up as well. However, I also knew that I was a great shape and aimed for a podium finish.
Setting and pursuing objectives
When I decided to reduce my job as a sales controller and become a professional triathlete in 2012, I set several goals. Now the list has become smaller by another item! At Ironman Austria I crossed the finish line first in 9:00:32 hours. For the first time I won an Ironman after so many second places.
Making it into the first swim group
The race went really well right from the start. Lining up at the swim start I took a risk putting myself right in the middle of the field, instead of escaping the crowd at the edge. A beach start is good for me and the plan was to catch a couple of quick feet for the swim. And the plan worked out! On the 3.8 kilometers, which were swum in Lake Wörthersee, I stayed with the fast girls. This was the first time I came out of the water with the first swim group. And it was sometimes even so easy that I thought about leading the group and setting the pace. But I thought to myself: “Mareen, be glad that you can swim in this group and wait how the swim is going to develop over the whole distance.” Until the end I was never at risk of losing the group. A whole new situation in a big race – and a really good one!!! My mother was at the bike mount area and had the task to give me my placement and backlog. I had practiced with her the day before. As an example we took “Mareen, place 5, 4 minutes 30”. When I heard: “Mareen, place 5, 4 minutes 30”, I had to smile. Had she internalized the example of the previous day too much or is that the real backlog? I was optimistic that it was the latter.
Powerful on the bike
The Austrian Beatrice Weiss has left the water a few minutes ahead of me, but I pushed hard and after 80 kilometers I had closed the gap and took the lead. I did not allow myself for enjoying the beautiful bike route but set the pace at the front. I lead the race for the remaining 100 k and got a good lead on most athletes. A new power PB on the bike show that I am on a very good path for Kona.
A tactical Marathon
Starting into the marathon, I was only followed closely by Lisa Hütthaler. She closed the gap at k 4 and we ran together k by k. Emma Pallant had a 4-minute deficit in the second transition zone but was flying at the beginning and overtook us at k 12. She led by three minutes at k 25. I knew I would be safe for the podium if I keep focused and execute my run. However, I started developing a plan trying it to end up even higher in the ranks. But for this, I had to be patient for quite another while. At KM 32 I started to increase my pace. Pushing it from then on, I was able to open up a gap to Lisa Hütthaler immediately and overtake the leader Emma Pallant at k 37.
At this point I realized that if I continue to concentrate well, get the nutrition right,manage my body temperature and keep the pace below 4:30 min/k, I can really win this race. What a great feeling! I was happy, but not reckless and remained focused till the end. With one k to go my dad stood on the side and told me that I have enough lead to enjoy the finish. I high-fived him and smiled even more.I lined up the race without any pressure. The sweeter it is to take the victory. Especially because my parents were present and I could share the experience with them.
Many thanks to my sponsors, supporters!