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 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.



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 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 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!

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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.





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 !





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!




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.




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.

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