MEST LÄSTA
G’day from the bottomless hole

G’day from the bottomless hole


I have been thinking about writing something for quite sometimes but have found it hard – to do anything actually. It’s easy to lose motivation and enthusiasm when what you thought was a little set back (broken clavicle) turns out to be the beginning of a descend into a bottomless hole, along slippery slopes of pain, infections, doctor visits, surgery and antibiotics.  Hopefully I have now landed on rock bottom and can start the climb up. Here is a little update on what has been going on in my glamorous life over the past 3 months and my plan moving forward.

 

Started to just move after the surgery 18thof July and tried my best to adhere to the doctor’s order – not sweat into the wound – which was quite difficult as it was the warmest summer since we started to measure temperature in Sweden. Seven or eight days after the operation the wound “erupted“ during the night and I woke up with a pillow full of blood and ”guck”.

Visit to the emergency, new bandages and a 10 day batch of antibiotics later, the wound started to become less painful and swelling started to go down. Started to build up training again and 8 weeks post-surgery I had another x-ray that showed that the clavicle was healing. Finally, the doctor gave me ok to start swimming and I basically had 4 weeks to get ready for Hawaii. After a week of swimming and a few little harder and longer sessions two boils started to stick out at the top and bottom of where the plate has been installed. I went back to see the doctor that looked more concerned than I was. We scheduled another visit with blood samples and x-rays and while I was running – the day before the visit – one of the boils broke and there was no doubt what was going on in there. New tests and we had two days before departure to Hawaii. The doctor said that he was certain that it is a staphylococcus infection that is residing on the plate and that it will not be cured until the plate is removed. Picked up the largest dose of antibiotics I have ever heard of – 200 tablets just for the next 30 days.

 

I was told that they would contact me in Hawaii and let me know the results but strongly advice against racing with this kind of infection in my system. They actually recommended that we should stay in Sweden – but I would not have the heart to tell my daughter who has been packing her bags for the last 3 months that we are not going.

Still a ok place to be in even if you can’t train and race

 

Not much to do but to take a raincheck on the Ironman Hawaii race and suffer on the sidelines looking at everyone having fun and racing. But actually – it was not too hard to stand on the sidelines as I really feel sick by the side effects of antibiotics and low energy level that comes from a stomach that is killed  by all the medicine.

On the way back to Sweden my doctor calls me up while we are in transit in LA and ask me to come in as soon as we are back. When I come in, she says that the plate needs to come out as soon as possible and tells me that the initial infection has been on the plate the whole time. The staphylococcus bacteria can’t be killed as they attach themselves to the plate and build a mucus to protect themselves from the body’s immune system. She can’t understand how I have been able to ramp up training to around 20hrs / week again with this infection in my system. She also told me that I have been really fortunate that the infection didn’t spread to the heart and/or blood stream. Hearing that I understand why I have felt more tired than normally after the crash and even had to skip a few sessions, not getting the quality I usually would get.

Now the operation to take out the plate is set for 5thof November. It’s not ideal as the clavicle is a very thin bone with poor circulation and slow healing and should have the support of the plate preferably a year – but I hope it will hold.

I can only hope that there will not be other complications. Unfortunately they will cut the muscles off to get to the plate and the 13 screws and after the removal they put them over each other which makes them tight and the neck feels like a to tightly strung violin.

I am trying to see what I will gain or learn from this experience , it will take a while before I can. A long while.

I will catch the next one

 

Do I feel doubt to continuing my quest – yes, have I been thinking about quitting – sure.

Will I be back racing next year – I am planning on it, but first I need to get my health back.

It’s easy to take basic things like health for granted and complain about how your last race was not perfect or the lack of motivation to train when it’s cold and dark outside. Until you are truly down in the hole. Perhaps that is the most important take away. Who knows.

I can assure you that I will appreciate every hour of training that I will get in the future without medicine and broken bone pain – a lot.

 

//Magnus


Keep the sport clean!


Many people who just see Ironman as a thing on the ”bucket list” might not care about if the sport if clean or not and will perhaps never reflect on the fact that testing athletes is very unusual (except among the professionals) but for those of us who have been in the sport for a long time and are ”somewhat more passionate” it is really embarrassing and frustrating that events that are called ”World Championships” don’t even have mandatory testing for the age group winners. 

I have written before about my own experience and disappointment with doping and there are many articles about people getting caught one way or another. The fact is that there is a real issue here but it seams that Ironman Cooperation (WTC) are not really interested in taking the problem seriously. It’s easier to cater for the transient participator who just want a finisher medal and sell Ironman labeled stuff rather than deal with the issue.

One of the long term ambassadors and protectors of the sport – and a legend to many of us – is Belgian Triathlete Rodolphe von Berg. I first met Rodolphe in Hawaii in 1996 and he was already then a legend that had been racing almost since the beginning of the sport in 1978. He usually win his age group then as now and has since then also brought up a family of successful triathlete, his son a top ranked professional and daughter a successful age grouper. 

Yesterday Rodolphe won his age group (again) at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa, now 60-65 and given our common interest in getting this sport clean I asked him if there was any drug testing of the age groupers – and of course – there was no testing.

Rodolphe has started a great initiative to fight this situation which is a Petition for AgeGroupers who wants Ironman to clean up the sport and AT LEAST test age group winners at world championship events. Please follow the link and sign the Petition – it only takes 30seconds and you don’t have to donate any money if you don’t want to – what is important is that we can show WTC that we want a clean sport and more serious activities than some silly poster to sign at registration.  

Please go in and sign and let’s put some pressure on Ironman to clean up the sport.


Down and Out


Heading down one of the last long descents at Ironman Jönköping 70.3 I was staying low on the aerobars, taking in the last sip of energy that I had in my frame bottle when I hit the pavement, shoulder first at 60km/hr. I have no idea what actually happened and what caused the accident but all of the sudden I was on the pavement in a lot of pain running the normal “crash diagnostics” to evaluate if I would be able to continue, it seemed possible until I got to the shoulder and felt the sharp piece of the clavicle bone, almost penetrating the skin. I realized that it was broken and that I wouldn’t be able to complete the race today. As I like to race fair and follow the rules I always keep 15-20meter to any other cyclist so no-one else was affected by my crash.

 

Leading up the race: After Ironman Lanzarote, my “A race” 2018, I have been taking it a bit easier. Ironman 70.3 Jönköping was going to be a training race to wake the body up and start the build to get in shape for Hawaii in October. I had promised to help Unitedcycling at the Öster Cykel stand and represent Argon18 on Saturday as Martin had to drive down to Germany that afternoon.

It was really a different and fun experience to help stressed out triathletes with last minute hydration systems, spare tires and valve extenders instead of resting and recovering the day before a race. As my bike was on display both Friday and Saturday, I had no chance to go through it other than stick a spare tire and CO cartridge in one of the bottle holders and put on the race number. I was over an hour late to check in and was really lucky that there still was someone in the transition area that could give me the race chip.

 

Race morning & swim: After putting my bike in order, I met up with an old friend that used to race in the 90ties and we had a really nice time until it was time to get in the water. I took it quite easy on the swim and stayed by myself as I like to. Finished the loop in around 28minutes (apparently 6thplace in AG).

 

Photo by Mario Dahlgren

Bike: Long run to the bikes and I felt a bit rusty to get going. Someone had told me that there was a long climb early on and I took it quite easy as I wanted to have a good steady training session above normal pace but not maxing it out today. It is really a beautiful bike course with rolling hills and fantastic crowds along the way. After 30km my whole bottle cage holder fell off from behind the seat post, I was able to turn around and pick it up. I placed it in my other cage holder between the aerobars and rode on. In a downhill at around 50km it fell out again in a bumpy section and flew into the woods. I decided to just leave it this time. Apparently, I gained positions on the bike even if I had some problems and was in the lead of AG 50-54 when I went down.  

Emergency care: It took me approximately 20-30 seconds to realize how bad shape I was in and during this time a couple of spectators ran over the road to help. They took the bike of the street, made sure that I didn’t jump up to quick and called the ambulance. I lost a lot of skin to that road and were bleeding from the road rashes and my left side shoulder and ribs hurt like hell.

Ambulance came and took me to the emergency. They cut up my race suite to be able to brush the gravel out of the wounds and sent me of the x-ray. When the doctor came in after a few hours and said that “we will let you go back to Stockholm tonight” I was both relived and surprised – so many questions, are you not going to operate straight away so I can start the rehab as soon as possible? How will I be able to sit in a car for 4 hours hurting like hell? How will I find someone that can do the operation in Stockholm?

Fortunately, my family was with me on this race and my wife drove us safely back to Stockholm. Everyone was fine emotionally as they (unfortunately) are rather used to see me with the bruises you get in sports.

 

Not feeling my best – stopped at MAX around 20:00. 14 hours after last meal.

In the morning I started to call insurance companies, orthopedic surgeons trying to get a time for operation as soon as possible. It didn’t work at all as the private insurance care givers (the supposedly faster alternative) all are on vacation and closed for surgery during the summer. I had to go back to the emergency room, this time at St Görans hospital and sit in the waiting room for 5,5 hours just to get them to take a new ex-ray and conclude that the diagnosis that they had made in Jönköping was right and that I needed a time for surgery.

Ten days later I had the operation when most of the road rashes were healed, perhaps this is why they prefer to operate the clavicle later in Sweden than in other countries – to avoid open wounds that will increase the risk of infection.

 

In surfing we call those kind of skin deep injuries ”souvenirs” 

And those kind of injuries are called ”trophies”….. 12,5 cm metal plate with 13 bolts.

Now it’s almost a week since the operation, the swelling is going down, I am not allowed to train so that I sweat as it increases the risk of infection and complications in the open wound. Exercise without sweating is difficult when it’s the warmest summer in decades with 28-30C°. I have been taking walks to stay in movement, but I am not feeling good and get extremely tired. The plate feels strange and creates some kind of cramp on the left side of the neck which I really hope is temporary. The Doctor said that 50% who has this operation take out the plate after the bone has healed and I am really hoping that I am one of the ones that can leave it in without and complications. I have phased out the painkillers 3 days post operation, as I want to feel what is going on in my body but occasionally have to take one when it feels like someone are hammering a 15cm nail into my shoulder.

 

Hawaii plan: The plan remains to go to Hawaii but to participate rather than to race for a new PB. I’m however really uncertain if I will be able to recover and get back in shape in the little time that is left. The different parts of the injury will heal in different time; skin in 2 weeks, tissue in 4-5 weeks, bone 6-8 weeks. I have large black and blue hematomas areas (blood from internal bleeding) that are affecting mobility in the knee and hip and I don’t know how fast they will dissolve and if they will affect my running.

Training outline (optimal recovery without complications):

30 – Current week, walks and easy strength training

31 – Allowed to train again (run & bike easy, getting body back in motion)

32 – Build up to 10-12hrs/week (endurance, some “one-arm” swimming)

33 – Build up to 15-20hrs/week (endurance, some “one-arm” swimming)

34 – Big Training Block

35 – Big Training Block

36 – Big Training Block

37 – Allowed to lift left arm over 90° – start swimming again, easy week.

38 – Big Training Block

39 – Big Training Block

40 – Big Training Block, taper later part of the week

41 – Kona race week

 

Reflections: I have received many well wishes and nice words from close and remote friends all over the world when I posted the information about my crash on social medias. For that I am truly thankful. The reason I write this long story about the crash and plan forward is not to get sympathy and encouragement – but to share my view on the situation. It has taken me a lifetime to learn how to deal with the fact that one second you are feeling great and the next you are down and out and don’t know if you ever will be able to do what you love again. If I can share some of my experience it might actually help someone else deal with a situation where everything seems hopeless and dark. It’s really easy to lose motivation, hope and energy. It’s easy to give up. Equally it’s easy to ignore the pain and jump straight back into training – to be “tough” but actually just delay the recovery.

 

Here are my top five recommendations how I deal with crashes (pretty obvious but always good to repeat).

 

  1. Perspective: For most of us Age Groupers it’s really not so important if you make the podium (at least not if you have some perspective on life and realize that being the fastest in your AG in any race is really not going to have any impact on anything or anyone else in the world than your ego). Accepting yourself for who you are not what you accomplish is much better and will also make sure that you are nice to others. If you need to prove yourself it’s perhaps better to see a shrink or get platform shoes or hair implants. 
  2. No regret: It is very unusual (….) that you can change the past and un-do a crash that you have been in. Quickly conclude what went wrong and make a note to yourself how to avoid it in the future and move on. Dwelling over the past and what you should and should not have done is a waste of time and energy.
  3. Accept the statistics: If you ride a lot of bike you will sooner or later be involved in an accident, I used to have one every 1-2 years but since I ride more indoors this is the first crash from when I got back into serious training (3years). If you can’t accept the statistics – go and play golf or some other recreational activity in which you are sure to be protected from any accidents or adrenaline.
  4. Be happy that you are alive: One of the worst crashes I know in triathlon was when the Belgian super talent and pro triathlete Marc Herremans had an accident training in Lanzarote. He fell and hurt his back so bad that he has been in a wheelchair since the accident. But with his amazing attitude he continued to train and race and completed Ironman Hawaii again 3 times using hand-cycle and wheelchair http://marcherremans.com/about-marc-herremans/ If you are alive after a crash – be thankful and happy no matter in how much pain you are in.
  5. Get back on your bike: It’s going to be painful for a while and you will feel really weak and crappy. But this too will pass. Make sure to enjoy every little bit of progress and repeat 1-4 to yourself when it feels shit.

It’s as simple as that!

 

Now I will go and enjoy a 10min ridiculously easy sweat free ride on the trainer followed by a 20min sweat free strength exercises that will make a Kundalini Yoga class look like a Paratroopers boot camp.

Leave a comment if you found this blog useful and good luck with your training!

May the force be with you and keep you away from crashes!

 

//Magmoose

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ironman Lanzarote 2018


Last year I had a really bad race at Ironman Lanzarote so after the race I decided to go back and try to get it right. To race here, with my physic, is as logical as how bumblebees can fly. I’m just to heavy, don’t climb well on the bike and typically the guys doing well here are half my length and weight – but I can’t help it, l love the race and keep coming back to be brutally murdered.

My goal for the race was to do a <55min swim, 5:45 bike, and a 3:30 run. Most important was the run. I have not been able to run well in an Ironman since I started racing again 2015. My goal was to be able to do a 3:30 after one of the hardest bike courses of all Ironman races (hard gusty winds and >2,500m climbing over +180km).


Swim was a complete mess as it is with 1800 running into the water at the same time – 3,850m of fighting off people who tried to get a free ride on the Swedish dolphin. Swam much slower than planned and even slower than the easy practice swims I did on the course the week lead by up to the race. 57min.


On to the bike – no bang bang in the old legs at all, cold, miserable and a feeling that the legs would explode at any moment even at low pace/watts/hr. After 100km, they started to feel better and I abandoned my thoughts of DNF and thought – “let’s roll through this shit ride and practice marathon running today”.

Finished the bike in about 6hrs.

Got out on the run and did exactly as planned and apparently passed a lot of people in my age group. I didn’t know my position at all until after the race as I was just focusing on the plan and not other people’s plans and goals.
Run: 3:32 which I am really happy with!

Overall time 10:39:16 which is a ok time considering the conditions we race in on Lanzarote. only two people went under 9 hours, you could compare that with Ironman Texas a race without marshalls on the bike and 11 people came in under 8 hours. That is just one of the reason I love this race – it’s brutally honest, you simply can’t cheat and draft to get a better PB which nowadays seams to be the main purpose of for many athletes.

I realize that I probably will not be able to beat my best time here from 1997 of 10:08:16, but at least I improved my time from last year.


Overall I was 111th (out of 1,594 finishers) and second in my age group 50-54 (out of 221 finishers). 

So I guess I qualified for World Championships I Kona Hawaii again (4 slots in the age group 50-54) – I didn’t collect it as I already have a slot from Ironman Los Cabos, Instead I was out biking during the ”roll down ceremony”. Would have been fun to see that happy someone who got the slot. Congratulations to everyone who finished and also those who had a bad day – now you have a reason to come back to this magical place!
Hang Loose !

Electrolyte Testing


In my race nutrition plan I have always calculated to get 250-300kcal of energy per hour. Typically; that means carrying a bottle of my own mix on the bike (15 Isostar gels, a few boosters  with BCAA and some water mixed in to make it easier to drink). For the run, I carry 6-8 gels with me and that’s pretty much it. I take the provided sports drink every second bottle / cup at aid stations and usually trust the organizers to provide a quality isotonic drink that contains the necessary electrolytes. Unfortunately; I have realized that this can’t be taken for granted anymore.

I have done plenty of Ironman races in what most people would call extreme hot condition, not extreme cold as I would NEVER expose myself to racing in cold conditions if I had a choice to avoid it (anything <+25C° in the water or air is just not for me).

When I saw the Ironman Lanzarote photos I remember thinking – “that’s a lot of salt on my sleeves”. I guess the arms were the only area that did not get drenched by water at every aid station so my loss of salt was clearly visible.

As you have probably understood, I really love the heat and have never had any (…) problems racing in +30C°, sure – I have ended up in the medical tent hooked up to a few pints of IV after seven or eight races – but for me that has been part of the race; you cross the finish line, get an IV, the medal a finishers t-shirt and then ride your bike back to the hotel. But, I never liked the IV part so at the last race Ironman Los Cabos I was extremely happy and proud that I didn’t get an IV – even if I was cramping and was sick as a dog after the finish.

In retrospect; I realize that there might be some room for improvement with regards to my race nutrition plan. I have never really reflected on the importance of electrolytes and the effects it can have if you are depleted of it as I never experienced any problems during the event – until this past race. As I started to read up on the effects the lack of electrolytes can have, I realized that I likely have reduced my possibilities to race fast, but also could have ended up in a much worse situation than getting an IV. Apparently, you can end up in a condition called hyponatremia that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. When you are in this condition the body can’t absorb water and there have been cases where the resulting “over-hydration” that happens when the body can’t absorb water has caused deaths. Ops….

Once I got back to Sweden I talked with Johan Hasselmark at Aktivitus and he recommended that I should come in and do a sweat test where they would see how much electrolytes I loose and from that be able to suggest a hydration / supplement plan for my long training days and for racing. I’m not interested in just buying stuff and without understanding what my individual needs are so it sounded like a great idea. I really don’t like to take too much or too little electrolytes in relation to what I loose.

Micke Hanell – set up for testing.

I booked a time and was met up by Micke Hanell at Aktivitus. He is using a system from Precision hydration who are on the leading edge with regards to analyzing your sweat and prescribing the right amount/concentration of electrolytes that you should take.

 

Micke hooked me up to a system that stimulates the lower arm to get just enough sweat into the collector and enable analysis of the water/salt mix.

I was surprised to see the results that I was on the very high side. Apparently, I have the second highest value that Micke has ever seen and he has done hundreds of tests. I guess that means; a) it’s a miracle that I have been able to race Ironman distance races in hot conditions without supplementing electrolytes b) I will see significant improvements to my racing once I start to add electrolytes during the race.

 

Next day I got a personalized plan for what I should take before and during hard training and racing and I look forward to getting back into the heat and race again and see if the additional electrolytes will make a difference – I am certain it will.

//Magnus