Dry run – Ironman Cozumel 2019


Sometimes you have a great race, sometimes a decent and sometimes you find yourself in the center of Shitsville with nothing left to give and the choice to be a coward and redraw or pull your socks up and finish however embarrassing and humiliating your finisher time will be. I’m talking Age Group participants here – not PRO’s – who can be strategic and redraw from a race that is not going great to save the legs and pick another race 2 weeks later. Ironman Cozumel became my trip to Shitsville a struggle to finish and the worst aftermath that I have experienced to date.

NOTE: My disappointment is based on the simple equation of my individual Invested training time + Recent performance at races + Recent performance in training = expected outcome/finishing time. The result can not and should not be compared with other peoples equation as their factors likely are different and might include additional components and substances. I’m not judging or comparing my results to other participants – simply reacting on the delta between what I should be capable of and what I actually was able to perform in this race. My disappointment is by no means meant to judge the actual finishing time which for someone might be a real achievement (again – based on THEIR PERSONAL equation).

”The mind is stronger than the body” 

After Ironman Italy I was really excited to finally – after 1,5 years of operations, antibiotics, rehabilitation and frustration – be back in a race. My goal at Ironman Italy was just to complete a race again and I was quite surprised to run a 3:23 marathon and set a PB – not that I didn’t think it was possible, but I was not ”going for it”. When I signed up for Mexico I did it with the intention to finish with a similar feeling and result as Italy – not overextend, not pushing the limit – but to have a controlled and decent execution of the distance. The time to push and go for the limit is in Lanzarote 23rd May 2020. For someone with my training motivation and discipline this was a difficult balance and in retrospect I realize that a week of reduced training before I started to train for Cozumel was a bit short – in all honesty, I probably need to admit to myself that I’m not 50 anymore and perhaps need to have bit more recovery.

Training build up from July to Ironman Italy (September) and Ironman Mexico (November)

 

Getting ready for the race

Even if I am very comfortable racing in hot condition I flew in to Cozumel 10 days before the race and had a great time on the island leading up to the race. I have got to know some really wonderful people on the Island and it was great to catch up with them. Bike arrived one day later than me with the usual TSA tag in the bag that shows you that they have been messing around in the bag. Nothing damaged and all in good condition for once. I did a few rides on the course and ran the run course several times. Swam once in the ocean and got stung (as usual) so I spent the rest of the week in the local pool.

”Taken to school” by the Swedish triathlon superstar Patrik Nilsson (he made me look like a drunken manatee in the pool, I can’t understand how he – who is half my age – can be so much faster).

Project clean (parts of) the beach:

Walking back to the hotel after the morning swim I saw all the garbage on the beach. I can’t ignore it so I start to clean up with three purposes:
1. Make the cruise ship tourist walking by to think about where their plastic cups ends up when they let them/throw them overboard.
2. Inspire others to join (which actually happened – got two Mexican cleaning friends).
3. Clean a 50 meter stretch of beach today – fill two garbage bags.
It didn’t change the world or have any greater impact – but at least there is a 50 meter stretch of beach that is now clean. And maybe, just maybe someone other than the American woman, who asked if I was picking corals – when I was picking up styrofoam plastic – actually GOT IT. I’m no extreme environmentalist but I believe in action and even small actions can give reactions!

Second clean up – perhaps not the best thing to do the day before the race – but very satisfactory to contribute and show the locals that not all Ironman participants are ignorant assholes that just come to the island and care for themself and litter the environment with gel and bar wrappers. 

Race day – swim:

Great morning with a bit of chop and wind but mostly currents in a favorable direction. Got in and had someone on my feet giving me a foot massage for the first 1500m, don’t care anymore. Swam mostly alone as usual and enjoyed the clear water and wildlife.  Finished the swim in 49:24 which is a new PB. Course might be short and I don’t really care – all courses are different. In Hawaii they recently had to adjust the anchors for the swim turning point as they had drifted over the years.

Bike:

Got out on the bike with 2 x 750ml bottles with Sports2 electrolyte mix and a 500ml bottle with 15gels. First lap was in accordance to plan and I felt fine and on target pace. Second lap I noticed that I never dried up – my legs where constantly wet from my own sweat. As I had the amazing ORCA RS1 speed suit – I felt cool and comfortable – but, I made a mental note to increase intake of water to ensure that I (as I usual do) drink so much that I have to pee at least once before the bike leg was over. Unfortunately the aid stations were getting really busy (3 lap course) and many were not ready with water and in some bottles there was more ice than water. As I have been training a lot in the heat and don’t really suffer from it, I didn’t really care just kept pushing on and thought – ”I’ll get water on the run – there will be an aid-station every kilometer so it will be easy”. Unfortunately that is not the body works and as soon as you start to really get dehydrated – your performance start to slip and it’s not something you fix ”on the run”. Finished the bike in 5:08.

Run:

As soon as I got out of T2 onto the run course I felt that it was over. Usually I have to hold back for the first few kilometers to keep the planned pace – but today I could barely move forward. I caught up with the young triathlete Cooper Bates that I had got to known before the race and I spent a few kilometers convincing him to stay positive and just focus on one step at the time. It was his first Ironman distance and I really respect how he whole heartedly invested in the preparation and spent the whole summer in Spain training for it. It’s refreshing to meet young guys that share the old school values.

After 10km I had to let Cooper go and start to walk as the street was starting to wiggle too much. I knew that if I didn’t slow down and got my hydration/nutrition in better shape – it would be ambulance rather than a slow finish. Walked and force-feed myself until I couldn’t get anything more down. Tried to run again but with liters of fluids in my stomach (that could not really absorb it) made it impossible. Finally after 32-34km, I had absorbed some fluids and the sunset made it cooler and I could jogg the final kilometers to the finish. ”Run” time: 4:24.

 

Finish with a smile:

Well, not really. Once I got over the line I started to take in everything that was available – water, pepsi, pizza. I felt in pretty bad shape but really don’t like to have to get IV’s after a race – it’s just not right. Felt a little better and went for the massage. After about 10minutes I started to cramp really bad and felt that I was getting really hot again and dizzy as hell. They had to get a wheel chair and get me over to the medical tent and after two IV’s the fever went down and I was in better shape again. My friend Sally who heads up the medical team looked at me and said ”you really don’t look ok at all” but as the doctor had cleared me I left, took taxi back to the hotel. Once back in the room I continued with electrolyte drink. After about 20min I stared to feel really bad again and realized that I was on my way to unconscious city – so I took two bottles electrolytes with me and went down to the reception where I asked the receptionist to keep an eye on me and call a taxi to take me to the hospital if I ”checked out” on the sofa in the reception. 10minutes later I was out and carried/supported to a taxi which took me to the hospital. Don’t remember much of the first hours in hospital but apparently I had high fever and they gave me 8 x IV’s (4 liter). New PB in IV’s – which I hope I will never break. The doctor wanted to keep me for observation for 24 hours but once I started to regain consciousness and strength I convinced them to release me after 6hours at 04:30 in the morning. I had to sign all kinds of documents to accept liability and that I understood that I left agains doctors advice. I don’t like hospitals.

The hangover:   

Completing a Ironman in very hot conditions and instead of dinner getting a high fever and IV’s, staying up all night listening to the beeping of machines that you are connected to is not something I recommend. I was a wreck next day and didn’t make it out of the hotel. Sally took a pix of my friend Cooper who finished fifth in AG 18-24 -really happy for him. I heard from my friends that it had been a busy day in the medical tent and one case of death – that put things in perspective in many ways, both that you should be thankful for every finish but also that sometimes it’s better to listen to your body than your mind.

Cooper Bates (22) – 5th finishing at target <10hrs. Well done my friend!

Summary – key take aways:

I live to race another day, Cozumel was a bonus race and I had a great time with my friends. Here are the notes that I wrote down afterward (to remind myself) what to think about next race:

  1. Drink until you pee on the bike, take salts and electrolytes to ensure absorption – but  don’t trust that certain volumes of liquids will be sufficient – it’s much better to use the built in measuring system (peeing) to ensure that you are hydrated.
  2. 3 x Gels per hour (330kcal) is probably a bit on the low side for someone my size (83kg) and I will try if I can get up to 440 or even 550kcal/hr before next race. The way to do it is to try it out on a long hard ride and see at what point you get that feeling of ”it’s coming up”.
  3. Do a heart check up – the Brazilian triathlete who died was only 44 years old and very experienced. Even if you are training and keeping healthy it is worth while to check the pump once in a while.
  4. Get the salt levels dialed in again. Read up on the tests that I did a few years ago and make sure that I actually get enough from the gels or if I need to supplement more – you CAN’T trust the cheep garbage energy drinks that IRONMAN provides at races as it doesn’t even contain salts and electrolytes in most cases.

 

Will I race Ironman Mexico again:

The friends I made in my two times in Cozumel are really great people and it’s likely that I will come back again and do Ironman Cozumel as a bonus race – for fun, for the sun and to hang with great people. I much rather do Ironman Cozumel as a season ender than Kona as it’s more relaxed and so much nicer training conditions around Cozumel compared to the awful Queen K Hwy on Kona. Can’t understand how people want to go to Kona more than once or twice, there are so many exciting and beautiful places to go and race in.

Now time for a few easy weeks and then the build up for Ironman Lanzarote 2020!

//Magz


Ironman Italy Emilia – Romagna


Finally! I made it to the start and finish line again after nearly 1,5 years. A crash at Ironman 70.3 Jönköping ended my 2018 race year as complications with the broken clavicle ended up in a downward spiral of antibiotics and new surgery. Early January I was given the green light to start training again and build towards Ironman Lanzarote in May. Too eager to come back is a classic formula for failure and instead of a steady built – it became a rollercoaster of flues and antibiotics.

FINALLY – Checked in and ready at Ironman Italy

While sick at the hotel during Ironman Lanzarote I booked Ironman Viktoria – Gastein, in Spain 12/7 as a family vacation/race. But once I got back and started to train again, I hurt my heel and had to stop running. Fortunately Ironman now allows you to move your entry (for a fee..) to another race in the same year and region so I picked a race in Europe that was available and late in the season Ironman Italy 21/9.

 

Training – Leading up to race:

SWIMMING: Mainly endurance and drills as it still hurts in my clavicle “dig site” to swim faster sets. Did just a few intervals the weeks before the race. I have come to realize that I can do 56-58min swim with 6-10,000m swimming per week – if I want to come down to the low 50’ies again, I would need to do 20-25,000m/wk again and I don’t have time or energy for that unfortunately.

RUN: Heel got better with the help of Friskvårdskollen and I could carefully and gradually build my running back up from 20km to 70km/week in the six weeks leading up to the race. Didn’t do any track or intervals only endurance with some tempo according to “level of pain for the day”.

BIKE: I did most of my biking leading up to the race during the time my heel prevented me to run (June-July) and got it in decent shape, rode unstructured outside with many nice long rides. Tried to maintain the shape with less biking in the 6 last weeks as I increased the stress with running.

 

Race Site and Conditions:

Cervia is a typical Italian, sixties beach town which really shuts down after the Italian summer vacation in August. Ironman has been able to extend the towns season a few weeks by putting on their biggest Ironman race weekend in the Europe. On Saturday – the full Ironman, on Sunday a half (70.3) and an Olympic distance – which in total means over 7,000 participants.

650meter bike rack

September is a risky month with regards to weather – even in Italy. We who participated in the full Ironman on Saturday got clear but cold conditions and the participants on Sunday got rain and humid conditions. The days leading up to the race there was very strong winds and they even canceled the test swim, so we were really fortunate to have a sunny clear day with offshore winds.

Nutrition and prep – for race day:  

After a year of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines my stomach is like an un-predictable volcano. Sometimes just gases and ash clouds, sometimes real eruptions with devastating consequences for residents in the area that has not evacuated in time. To get such an area secure and safe for race day was a challenge.

I decided to follow my old protocol – oatmeal from lunch to breakfast day before race day.

The only problem is that they don’t eat oatmeal in Italy. After long discussions and google translating at the local restaurant I managed to get it for dinner and breakfast (take out for the breakfast). Served on a flat plate with knife and fork the waitress asked if I wanted parmesan cheese or olive oil on it and when I could not hold back a laugh and asked for a spoon some milk and a deep plate – she took the plate out to the kitchen and came back with a double portion. I just love her – 65 years old, have worked there all her life and still does not know one word of English.

Oatmeal – Italian style

 

BIKE: 15 x www.Sport2.be gels loaded in bike bottle. Rudi Stroobands is an old friend and Ironman triathlete who I used to train and race with in the 90’ties. We always used to complain how bad the sports drinks and energy was at races and after he stopped racing he decided to do something about it. He has developed a range of really thought through products that works really well. When I asked him about this 2:1 that a company are marketing as their unique formula – he just laughed and said that most real research is public and that Sports2 has been using that formula since many years.

Had 1 energy bar with me but did not need it.

Bike Lunch 

RUN 10 x S2 sportsgel. + water.

What also helps is that the S2 gels have the right amount of salts and are in a more liquid form than some other brands. This makes it easier to have them in bike bottle and also to “drink them” on the run. Sticky gels are lighter to carry but you better time your intake perfectly before an aid station with water or you will hardly be able to open your mouth.

FINISH LINE: 1 x S2 sportgel + water. After every race it has taken me months to even want to look at gel again. Not anymore – good to get some energy down right away.

 

SWIM:

Rolling beach start with shallow water for 30-50m out. Decided not to warm up as it was too difficult to get a place in the <60min section. Started easy and build into a good pace. After 400m checked out the crowd and got on some feet – but as usually got fed up after 200m and went solo the rest of the course. Stayed close to the buoys and watched the pack drift out to sea – towards Albania as they just focused on the feet’s in front. Swam 54:54 which would be a 58-59min in my 2015 version of the ORCA Predator. Really impressed with the 2019 version – so many improvements.

Positively surprised with a sub 55min swim.

T1: 650m was the length of just the bike rack! Now that was one long transition area. No drama, just find bag, put helmet and race bib on and start running towards the bike. 350meter barefoot concrete run….and then another 300m run with bike….

 

BIKE: When I woke up at 05:30 on race morning it was +9C and people were already freezing their asses of in the transition area. After the swim it had warmed up a bit to +13-14C. Out on the bike I went into some kind of hibernation (which is normal for cold blooded reptiles) blood is maintained to heat the vital organs like heart and brain but not legs. After 90km we finally got to the climb and after that it got better, and I could feel my feet and hands again. In Sweden I would stay on the indoor trainer if it is +13C as I don’t get any quality training in that temperature. I hate the cold. As a decent swimmer I always expect to get past by the fast bikers after 40-60km and this happened as usual – 10-15 strong bikers passed working alone hard and honest. Then came the packs.

All Alone – the way it should be!

I knew it would happen and I had made it my mental challenge not to yell, not to throw water bottles at them and most importantly – not waste energy on overtaking them as you really can’t win against a pack working together. Joining the pack and justifying it to myself with with “well, that’s what’s everyone else does” is out of the question for me – I race clean and honest and I am proud to have never got a warning, card or penalty.

No podium in the world is worth compromising my values and ethics and staying true to the sport.

So; I just let them go, even the Swedish guy at the back of a peloton who tried to encourage me to join, sat up – I dropped back 20meters, and waited for the next, and next until I lost count. After about 90km I finally got in no-man’s land and rode pretty much the rest all-alone.

Johan Hasselmark at www.aktivitus.se has helped me a lot during the last year and said that based on my data I should keep 192watts avg, 195watts NP which would give a 5:11 bikes split (note: this is based on my very conservative FSA power meter). I went a little harder and ended up with 202avg watts and a 5:08 bike split.

There was one climb on the loop that we did twice – a bit difficult to stay aero when climbing 13,5%

During the summer I have realized whatever training I do; I will never win over the aging process and the gradual decline of power. So, I have decided to spent more time focusing on aero position and efficiency – rather than “post big watts on Strava”. I simply want to get maximum speed at the minimum cost of heartbeats and power to ensure the best possible legs for the run.

 

RUN: Got off the bike and ran the 650meter barefoot leg to the bags and didn’t stress to get out on the run course. After 2-3 km I passed a guy and decided to do something I have never done before in a race – say something other than “thank you” to as many volunteers as I can. I said “long day at the office” and he responded “only 39km left. I thought to myself – this guy is in the hell hole already, but it’s an individual race. After 1-2 more kilometers I see him again in front of me so I realize that we must be running in the same pace. So we start to talk and spend the next 20km running together talking work, family races, Sweden, studies, the development of the sport etc. We agree that if one of us need to say goodbye it’s  ok and after 25km Andreas drops back and I take on a new challenge that I invent to keep myself occupied – not think about the anything else than cadence and pace.

The marathon starts after 28km – so why not enjoy the first 25km 

The challenge is now to live in the moment, to experience every step, the pain and breath without knowledge or awareness of distance (where I’m at in the race, which kilometer and how much remains – which typically dominates your thoughts during the latter part of an Ironman. All I focus on is what www.trimastercoaching.se has told me about the importance of steady pace and cadence.

Completely in the zone – fourth lap of four. Setting a Personal best at 53 is kind of cool.

 

Get to the finish line and get information that I placed 5th of 369 in my age group. This is completely irrelevant as my objective was to have a good training race and ”take stock” on where I am at.

Swim: 54:54 is my 5th fastest time (2nd in 50-54 AG and 49th overall)

Bike: 5:08 is my 6th fastest time (49th in 50-54 AG and 434th overall)

Run: 3:23 is my fastest time (8th in AG 50-54 and 211th overall)

Finishing time: 9:37 is my 4th fastest time in 16 Ironman races over the past 25 years. 

 

Good to race a fast and easy race – but I don’t like to watch the sport go to hell so in the future I will continue to focus on smaller races that preferably are hilly and windy so people without ethics stay away.

The happiness with having a decent race day is overshadowed by the way our sport is getting commercialized and destroyed, the spirit and camaraderie that was there before is replaced with Ironman merchandise and the single minded focus of getting a slot to Kona at whatever cost. I get reminded that many of todays ”triathletes” don’t really like training and the lifestyle – it’s strange.

Enjoy your winter training!
/Magnus


7 weeks to race

7 weeks to race


It’s only 7 weeks until Ironman Lanzarote I am trying to convince myself that I am as ready this year as I was around this time last year. Of course it’s a lie – but I’m trying really hard to believe in it.

Training has been going ok for the past months without injuries or sickness but I am still struggling with pain and limited range of motion in my pectoralis muscle as a qonsequence of the two operations on my clavicle bone in July and November 2018. Not much to do but to continue the quest for improvement and focus on the areas I can improve rather than dwell on the past.

The tree areas that I am focusing on right now are:

  1. Polarization.
  2. Injury Prevention
  3. Efficiency

Lost 20 seconds on the Ironman Lanzarote Marathon between 1997 and 2018 – hope to find them 2019.

Polarization: Consistency in training is probably the most known (and ignored) fact about training – to improve your fitness and performance you need to do it regularly. What most of us typically do (myself included) is to follow some sort of program that covers the ”consistency aspect” – but as our fitness start to increase the difference between the easy recovery sessions (Z1) or endurance sessions (Z2) starts to move into tempo sessions (Z3) – with the result that when it’s time to get the Z4-5 sessions done you can’t get your heart rate to that level or you are dead for 3 days.

Since end of 2018 Johan Hasselmark from Aktivitus help me as coach and we regularly test out the zones with structured lactate testing. As a result I am spending more time in the right zone and adequately develop the different areas of fitness rather than spending enormous time in Z2-3. Still have a problem to ride slow / easy enough – but will focus the remaining 7 weeks on this.

 

Injury prevention: I continue to do the exercises in the gym that I got from Friskvårdskollen and go there once or twice a month to get the shoulder back in movement and keep alignment. At one of the occasions Johan Lind said that I should try their Pronatos treatment – which basically restores you feet back to the way they are supposed to work. At first I thought it would just take time and that I have no problem but agreed to give it a go.

I have to say that it is quite amazing to get your feet restored – all of the sudden everything moves the way it should again and running feels so much more efficient. I noticed that I now run 5-6sec faster per kilometer on my ”bread and butter runs” than before as I now can push off and extend the leg in the way you can when the feet works the way they should.

So what is this ”Pronatos”; it’s basically a work through of your lower legs and feet that removes stiffness and accumulated tension. After the treatment it felt like I was walking / running on air.

It’s all pretty obvious when you think about it; you get some tension and inflexibility from running and hammering your feet for years. The feet are the first point of contact with the ground when you run and if they are not working 100% and you are landing or pushing off in a compromised was – you will develop a overuse and pain in the weakest link of the ”running body chain”. It might be the foot, the calf, the knee the hip, back etc.

It’s really cool to be able to run more at the age of 52 than I was able to do when I was 30, back then I couldn’t run more than 50-60km per week before I started to hurt. Since I started with injury prevention training and regular adjustments I have many weeks when I run over 70km / week.

 

Efficiency: After looking at the data from Notiokonect and seeing first hand how much of a difference staying low and aero will make, I am trying to spend much more time down on the aerobars – even while doing hard intervals on the trainer. In the past I have preferred to move around more, stand up etc to make sure that lower back and hip flexors are relaxed and loose going into the marathon but now I will try a new strategy.

Last year around this time I did my training out of motivation but this year I have had to dig deep into my key talent – discipline.  We will see if it works on the 25th of May at Ironman Lanzarote, stay tuned.

//Magz

 

 


Neopren without limits


Had the pleasure to visit ORCA Nordic and see the new things they bring out 2019. Must say that I am really impressed. I didn’t think that anyone could come up with new things and innovation when it comes to wetsuits that has been around for so many years but I was blown away – especially by all the innovation with regards to the swim-run gear. The fact that ORCA Nordics is a substantial contributor to ORCA’s global sales gives them direct contact to the R&D team and a lot of the ideas from Swedish swim-runners have been implemented.

Here are a few of the highlights:

ORCA S7 – High quality at affordable price. Many of the benefits that you get when you buy from a quality manufacturer with high quality neopren and no cheap crap. I am not sure I heard right when they said it would be priced under 2,000SEK – that basically means that anyone who just want to try triathlon or open water swimming can by a brand new good quality wet suite (that no-one else has peed in) instead of trying to find secondhand gear that don’t fit.

 

My favorite wetsuit Predator has also received several upgrades after input from Ironman World Champion Sebastian Kienle. CLS system that keeps your hips straight – even when you are getting fatigued, Yamamoto neopren, Nano Ice Coating that provides the worlds fastest glide in the water. Improved collar and protection against chafing due to a thinner and softer fabric around the neck.

 

Next up was two new swim-run Perform and RS1 wetsuits which really display the innovation that results when you have a sport where the regulation on what is allowed is ”anything you want to carry”. Very impressed with all the smart thinking that has gone into the design – so impressed that I almost consider doing a swim run race just so I can get the gear 😂👍

Great event and inspiring to see the innovation and new products.

I’m really looking forward to get my hands on a new Predator so that I can use my old for training – it’s only 4 years old but the improvements justifies an upgrade! I will also get the awesome transition bag – I am so fed up with all crap backpacks you get at the Ironman races.

Happy swimming !

Magnus

 

 


Riding the rollercoaster of life


2018 was a challanging year with the crash at Ironman 70.3 Jönköping broken clavicle followed by operation, infection, 450 gram of antibiotics over the course of 3 months and finally a DNS at Ironman in Hawaii, followed by another operation. Many friends have asked me how I deal with the setback and the fact that I basically lost most what I have built up in fitness over the past years. It is easy to loose faith and feel like a victim but I chose to try to look at it as the reality of life – it goes up and down. It has been a hard period but now I am on the path to recovery and have been able to start training normal again (more or less).

The first couple of weeks after the doctors ok to start training again has been difficult physically and mentally. Trying to get the stomach back to normal condition after the massive dose of antibiotics takes time and getting the body used to regular training was much harder than it usually is as I still healing.

 

 

To get better structure and even more important an external view – I have decided to work with Johan Hasselmark at Aktivitus and the first week of base training is just about to be completed with the last session of the week. My target is to race Ironman Lanzarote 25th of May but I will wait to sign up for another couple of weeks just to make sure that the pain in the shoulder continues to be reduced even as I have started to swim again.

Have a good and safe training and racing year!

Magnus