What an amazing weekend!! Not only did I finally get to start in my second IM, but I also got to follow 11 club mates from 3CT and 3 other friends at IM Kalmar the day before my own race and see just what an amazing group of friends and athletes I’m surrounded by every day! But lets start at the beginning…
Going into the race I had a very ambitious dream of finishing my second IM sub 11 hours (10:59:59 would have been great), which would mean an improvement of 2 h and 16 minutes from last year. I knew very well that the chances of actually reaching that goal was small – but possible if absolutely if everything worked out and fell into place (which of course in itself is quite rare). In the last three weeks I had really begun to doubt my abilities on the bike though, and I felt far from confident for the race.
I went down to Copenhagen on Friday. My parents were great and drove down this year as well. So very nice of them! Came to Copenhagen after lunch and then we went to registration site. I also had time to burn some money in the expo on more Ironman stuff (can you really get too much of that stuff anyway?? If so, I still have not reached that point). Then headed back to the place where we were staying. Checked the last things on my bike and went for a small training session on bike followed with a short run. The bike felt ok. On the run I felt my left foot, which has been bugging me a little in the last couple of weeks. Felt a little stressed but hoped that the foot would just hold up through the race.
Saturday I started with a short swim. Then I was basically glued to the computer all day to follow all my friends in Kalmar. It was really, really exciting – sat frantically and tried to do a live report on Facebook, trying to keep up with how everyone was doing. Got even more nervous and stressed out about my own race when I saw how great everyone was doing in Kalmar… I just have to highlight some of the achievements of the day.
Markus Nymark (recently qualified for the WC IM 70.3 in Tennessee next year) did an amazing race and finished in 9:03:29. Ended up in 7:th place in M35-39 and 17 in total! Insanely good! Turned out that it was enough for a ticket to Hawaii. The first club member that manages to do a double WC qualification in the same year – moreover, in just six weeks! So impressed by Markus and his ability! Talk about having high reference frames in the club ….
Kristoffer Jidetoft who has started training more now just last year after having dealt with injuries and not having done an IM since 2012 basically crushed his class M30-34 with over 260 starting athletes and finishes 9 at the time 9:22:48 . Was out of the water as No. 10, took four placements in T1 and came out on the bike as number 6! No doubt which one of us has the greater chance of getting a ticket to Hawaii next year ….
Erik Olsson also made a fantastic race in M35-39, finishing 15 with time 9:21:12. Got his long-awaited sub 9:30, which he certainly deserved! Awesome determination!
Eva-Lott Elefant did an incredibly good race and finished 10th in her class! Torbjörn Claesson debuting at the IM distance made an unbelievable race and finished as No. 14 in M45-49. What a debut! Nils Stenvold, Olov Olsson, Mikael Andersson and Sophia Kay also did incredibly well. My team mates are just outstanding athletes!
It was so much fun to follow the race in Kalmar that I almost could not tear myself away from the computer to pack my race bags and head to bike check-in. Unfortunately I had to check in very late on Saturday (at 17-18: 30), and when we reach the center of Copenhagen there was a Pride demonstration in the city and complete traffic chaos! Took almost 2 hours to get to the check-in. By then I was stressed out to say the least. Got checked in anyway, but it felt fast and sloppy. Had I not done the race last year I would definitely not have been satisfied with the preparation. I did at least felt pretty confident that I knew what I did. I knew the swim course and how the transition area looked and worked. Preferred to get home and get a good dinner and would rather get up early in the morning to check through everything one last time. Lucky for me who has done the race before since race briefing misinformed about the availability of race bags in the morning. Since T1 and T2 are located at different sites the red race bags for the run are transported from T1 to T2 after check-in. At the race briefing they said that you would have access to both bags the morning before the race, but because we didn’t have that last year, I did not rely on it but chose to ensure that all energy etc were in the bag already on Saturday. Lucky for me – otherwise I would have been standing there with a run bag without energy on the competition! The only advantage to be have been so stressed out the day before the race was that I was so tired that I fell sound asleep 21:30, which I do not usually do the night before the race. So despite an early morning I got some decent sleep.
The alarm clock rang at 3:55 am Sunday morning. Got my racing clothes on and put on the bib tattoos (Have been waiting for a race where I get to wear Bib tattoos since I started with the sport!) And 3CT tattoos on my arms. Prepared breakfast that I ate in the car on the way to the starting area (the advantage of having a driver ..). Arrived at the competition site at 5 am. Fog and drizzling rain in the air, but about 17 degrees so still pretty warm. Just as awful as it felt the day before, just as wonderful it was in the morning. The atmosphere in T1 a few hours before the start when it is still dark, the music is playing and a lot of excited athletes fixing the bikes and wishing each other good luck is unbeatable! I love to compete, love the sport and love everything that has to do with this life!! Had plenty of time to get ready, fix bottles and energy on the bike and check out the swim course, etc. Felt good. Decided not to have bike shoes on the bike after all. It is about 350-400 m long run from swim exit to bike mount and because of the rain during the night the ground was significantly wet. Had no desire to ride the entire route with the wet and muddy socks.
When the clock was approaching 6:30, I jumped in the wetsuit. A short swim warmup and then down to the start. The water temperature was officially 17 degrees in the morning, which is almost perfect swim temperature! New this year was that they had self-seeding in addition to rolling start at the swim. 4 athletes were released into the water every 6 seconds and you seeded yourself into starting groups with a 10-minute span. Last year I swam at 1:22. I knew that I should be faster this year, but the question was how much. Had a dream goal of 1:12:50 before the start. Seeded myself to start group 1: 10-1: 20. Got in the water at 07:21. Immediately felt that I seeded myself into the right group. Fortunately, the swim course in Copenhagen is really easy to navigate. You basically swim in a large rectangle-shaped path. It was lucky this time since there was pretty thick fog that made it impossible to see the next buoy until it was about 20 meters away. The swimming rolled on well. Felt strong. Stayed at a comfortable intensity and was allowed to keep my pace most of the time. Sometimes I was disturbed by swimmers who absolutely could not navigate for five cents. Not that I always navigate perfectly either, but I rarely swim across the supposed lap! Also got a really good kick in the stomach by a guy who had the worst leg kick after about 650 meters. Made me loose my breath briefly, but on the whole the swim felt ok. However; it’s so difficult to get a sense of time in the water when you do not have a clock. I completely lose track of time! Came out of the water and pulled the wetsuit down and paused the clock, had a time of about 1:13. Really satisfied. Official time after the race showed 1:12:46 – that is, four seconds faster than the dream goal and an improvement of 10 minutes from last year! Not bad! Was out of the water as number 22 in my class.
Made a quick change in T1. Due to the relatively long distance to the bike mount it is difficult to get the time down to 2 minutes, or near it, but came through T1 at 4:03, which still was 2 minutes faster than last year. Perfectly acceptable development even there! Got on my bike and set off. So very nice to ride with power meter so you know how much effort you put in! Overall, I must say that it is amazing with all the decisions you do not have to make when it comes to competition. A fixed energy plan, power meter and a solid plan from the start means that you can put all the focus on the actual racing instead. Began to get energy in directly on the bike. I know that energy intake is my big problem and was afraid to be behind from the start. After 5 km of cycling you get into central Copenhagen which means a 5 km stretch with a lot of 90-degree turns, a lot hanging on the brakes, no-passing zones and at times really poor road quality that pulls down the speed significantly. After 10 km you will head up on the road along the coast line and get approximately 30 km along the coast. Almost no wind and perfect temperature! Had to put in some extra watts at times to overtake competitors, but I made sure not to average above anticipated effort in total. Passed the first timing mat after 30 kilometers with an average speed of over 34 km / h. Great start! Managed to continue to keep a nice and steady pace. The legs felt fit and fresh – that’s how it should feel when you are rested, which I have not been since October last year!! Completely forgot the feeling.. 😉 After 40 km the route turned inland. After that waited 50 km of more rolling hills and a few steeper parts. The bike course is quite a technical. During the first 70 kilometers I was only overtaken by three girls – and only one in my class – but I overtook eight girls in return. Because of the rolling start it’s just impossible to know how you are doing and the likelihood that those who are better than you lies ahead already when you start cycling are significant as they are likely also to be faster swimmers. But at least I didn’t feel like a lost a lot during the bike. Road the first 100 kilometers in 3 hours flat and turned up the coast for the second lap. The energy intake worked all the way! None of the old familiar nausea which was really nice! After 150 kilometers I started to get a little tired – but I mean a little tired and not at all like last year! Felt a little as I did by 70 km last year … chose to hold back a bit the last not to be too tired for the run. Rolled into T2 after 5:38:39! A cut by 66 minutes (average speed, and that was over 5 km / h higher) than last year – and a full 7 minutes faster than my dream goal for the day! I had also climbed seven placements on the bike and got in to T2 as number 15 – which obviously I also didn’t see until after the race.
Jumped off the bike and ran into T2. The legs felt good. Got my running shoes on and made a quick pit stop to pee. Passed the timing mat that indicated the start of the run at 6:59 h flat. Had my dream goal for sub 11 within reach. Knew I could run marathon in 4 hours if I had a good day. Felt absolutely fantastic! Had an ambition to try to start out at 5:20 pace the first 2 laps (21 km). If I managed to do that and then ran third lap on an hour flat, I would have 10 minutes to spare for the last lap. The plan was fine up to 6 km. My legs felt good. No problems with my legs foot. Pushed a gel at 5km. At 6 km I got a stomachache. ”It’ll probably pass” I thought. It did not! Had to slow down to 5:45 pace. Then my stomach stayed pretty calm. Thought it would still provide an acceptable finish time so was not terribly upset right then and there. The stomach was out ok up to 15 km when I pressed my 3rd gel. Then I got a stomachache that hurt like crazy. Was forced to walk for a while. Growing nausea that only got worse. Between km 23-28, it felt like I had a knife in the stomach while I was so sick so it felt like the worst stomach flu. Was absolutely sure that I would throw up any second. Could not keep myself upright because of the stomach pain. At the same time, I got cramp in my right leg due to the lack of salt because I did not get anything down. I started feeling terribly bad and limped forward. Could barely put down the right foot in the ground. At 30 km I was veeery close to DNF. Still had 12 km left and barely knew how I would take me 100 meters ahead. Was also terribly disappointed to not get the strong finish I had waited so long for. But then I scolded myself a bit. Told myself that I could not give up now after having done an outstanding good swimming and bike! Coming home without a medal with a DNF after that start was just not acceptable. Had to dig really, really deep inside me to find the strength that was needed to proceed. This quote from my last blog post ”When my body’s tired my mind says, this is where winners are made. When my mind is tired my heart says, this is where champions are made” made me continue. Started running carefully and felt that the cramps in my leg actually seemed to have calmed down and the stomach remained reasonably acceptable as long as I didn’t try to eat or drink anything. The last 12 kilometers I ran all the way. It wasn’t fast because I was low on energy, but I don’t think I walked once. On the last stretch to the finish line I did a pathetic attempt for a sprint and passed the finish line at 11:34:33. I did not cry after my first IM, but this time I could not hold the tears back. Most of all, I felt pride and joy! I had cut exactly 1 hour and 42 minutes on my previous results! I had done an outstanding swimming and especially bike which was even better than I thought possible in the best of worlds. The run was not as planned, but I proved to myself that I have a mental strength that can take me far, and it’s a really good experience to take with me for my next season! You can always only hypothesize, but if my stomach had not bothered me, I think realistically that I would have finished in 11: 15-11: 20. Yes, I was a little disappointed with the run, but it was undoubtedly overshadowed by everything that went well during the day! Got my long-awaited proof of how much I developed in swimming and cycling in just one year, managed to keep a good energy intake on cycling and refused to give up at the end! I did feel horrible for the first hour after crossing the finish line, but after that I was already talking about next season and longing for a chance to give it another go! There is absolutely nothing in this world than can keep me from continuing with this sport!
A big, big thank you to Magnus Johansson for amazing great coaching! Without his help I would never have managed to get so far in such a short time. Not only has he provided excellent coaching during the year – he has also been a great support along the way. The genuine concern he has for my development makes it even more fun to train! It has been such a rewarding year and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in the year that lies ahead.
Also, thanks to all the amazing friends in 3CT for your support and friendship – you are absolutely wonderful and I feel so privileged to have such awesome friends and sources of inspiration! Thank you for believing in me – it means so very much! Thanks to all my other friends and colleagues for their support! The interest you show for my training / competing and for my blog means the world to me and make it even more fun to do what I do. If I can be an inspiration for others it is half the fun of the sport!
And thanks Christopher! You know what you mean to me and to share my life and the sport with you makes my life absolutely perfect!
What then, is my plan going forward? Lets start by noting that the famous ”post-ironman blues” never hit me. Already one hour after the finish, I was ready for next season. I can hardly wait for next season and already have a preliminary long-term three-year plan in my head. Took the opportunity to stop by Lund on the way home to buy a used BMC cyclocross to be used for the winter season to increase cycling volume. From October, I am going to decrease my working hours to 80% to be able to increase training volume. Hopefully I can get over 600 hours of training in the coming year. Magnus and I will work hard to raise my shape considerably for next season. The biggest goal next year will be the European Championship in Frankfurt in July. The dream and the hope is to get as far in my training that I manage to get a ticket to Hawaii. In addition, there will be at least 4-5 other competitions including Göteborgsvarvet and Boras middle distance (would of course be stupid not to take advantage of the free starting place, I won there in years;)). Most likely it will also be an entry to either IM Copenhagen or Kalmar on the schedule – if things don’t work out in Frankfurt I’m going to make sure that I have a second chance to get it right! My additional plans – including plans for 2018 I keep to myself for now. But keep your eyes on the blog and it will most likely pop up sooner rather than later …;)