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!
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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

Ironman Los Cabos – Fun in the sun



As I jump off the bike and hand over my precious to a volunteer, my bare feet hit the black asphalt on the street that is temporarily closed off for the race. I don’t know what causes the intense pain under the soles of my feet, the extreme heat of the pavement or the fact that I have just completed a 180km bike ride in a little over 5 hours, with sandy feet, in cycling shoes without socks. I can’t find my red run bag on the racks even if I (as always) have memorized the position, I’m dizzy, overheated and I helplessly shuffle around the racks on what now starts to feel like a barbeque.

Finally, I find my bag and manage to find the well-hidden entry into the changing tent. I quickly assess the situation and realize that they didn’t care to brush of the 5x7meter part of the street that we are on now in the tent; any small chance to put on running shoes without more sand and dirt is gone. Nothing to do, just ignore it, put socks and running shoes on, sun visor, 6 Isostar gels goes in back pocket, one energy boost shot inhaled and it’s lift-off. I think to myself; “this will hurt in the morning – but it’s only 42km – Run Forest Run!”  

I think the fact that the Ironman races are done over such a long-time period makes the experience feel like a life time of emotions, ranging from pure rage to absolute bliss. That’s part of why I keep coming back to do yet another Ironman race – to experience that day of contrasts, to become a little better at dealing with the doubts, the pain and once again get that little piece of heaven every now and then. Because that’s what it’s really all about – seconds vs. hours – just as with life in general. The majority is grunt work – meat and potatoes vs. champagne and caviar.

Those are just some examples of moments we go through in an Ironman race. Moments that are so intense that you think they will etch themselves onto your very soul and never be forgotten – but they don’t – fortunately. Those of you who do Ironman races can probably relate and identify with it and for those who don’t race – perhaps this post will give you a little glimpse into the one day journey that an Ironman race is. You might even be inspired to take on the challenge to live one day in your life to the fullest, who knows.

It was the last time they arranged Ironman Los Cabos full distance, having a 70.3 that starts 60min before a full Ironman is perhaps a good conceptual idea but showed lots of challenges for those of us participating with a target to go fast on the tough course. For those of you who are eager to race in tropical and wonderful locations, Cozumel is a hundred times better in every aspect so you will not miss out on a full distance race when they now close this one down.

Perhaps the close down is partly the loss of participants in the race, due to the increase in violence and the recent incident on the actual beach where we started; which left 3 people shot dead by a group of men with automatic weapons. I noticed that there was something strange as there was frequent attendance of masked camouflage dressed military police with automatic weapons which is quite unique attire around the Ironman circuit. 

Course: The fact that this was the last time the full Ironman was arranged in Los Cabos was displayed in many parts of the organization, including the poor quality of the athlete’s guide and course description. Fortunately; I arrived a week in advance and could familiarize myself with the construction site on which we were going to race and try to find where we were actually going to race. Los Cabos was hit hard by the hurricane “Lydia” just two month ago and this was the sad unavoidable reason for all the construction works.

Race day: Woke up early and felt like shit – a good sign. Had 6 cups of coffee before breakfast and ate the oatmeal that I had made in the coffee brewer the night before. That didn’t taste like caviar that’s for sure, not Champagne either. Caught up with the Australians that I had got to know in the hotel and we caught the shuttle to the start. When we came down to the start we found that they had not put out any carpet for the long distance triathletes (as they had said they would) so we would have to run first in sand and gravel to get to our bikes. No problem, I was there early so I spent some time to pick out the sharpest rocks and stones from the path so that no-one would cut their feet up running to the bike. By this stage I had come to accept that it was a DIY kind of race – even if they charged full Ironman fees.

Swim: 1 x 3,850m loop – nice relaxing rolling start on the swim, I took the long way as usual and swam on the outside completely alone. At one point someone caught up and wanted to give me a foot and calf massage but a few 6 beat kicks took care of that harassment and as the water turned red behind me I could see that the sharks were fast to attend to the leftovers and get a triathlete for breakfast.

I felt ok on the swim, I really like when it’s wetsuit free swim. I didn’t push it as I rather wanted to have a relaxed swim and put the hard work in on the bike and run. It was really choppy and difficult to get into a good rhythm on the way out and navigation was almost impossible as they had orange buoys and to make it a bit more challenging all the volunteers out on boats, kayaks and paddle boards had the same orange shirts.

Swim: 53:40.

Bike: 2 x 90 km loops, close to 2,000m climbing. The bike leg was new for this year and proved to be quite challenging due to temperatures of up to over +36C°. Compared with Kona this course has almost twice the climbing on the bike.

The ride started with a climb out of the resort where the swim start is held. Got out of the resort and on to the highway, knew that Mark (the Australian) would be ahead of me, as he is a former swimmer, but that I might be able to catch up on the bike. Caught up with him after 25km and thought he would hang on (as they allowed 12m draft free distance) but he later told me that I was going a bit faster than his planned speed. Tried to keep a steady pace on a very varied course and follow the advice of my friend Bernhard and stayed around a 235-240W normalized power for the first lap. My legs where burning as I spent far too much time over 300watts the first 60km. Finally, after 60km, I started to find my pace but at this stage I in retrospect think I had done quite a lot of damage to the legs. Trusting my volume of training I slow down a little and continued at a decent speed.

Started to pass 70.3 competitors after 30km. When I first started to pass old ladies; I thought I would only pass the real “back end of the 70.3 race” but then I started to pass younger people. I felt so sorry for them to be passed by a +50 man who have started one hour later on the swim and who have swum the double distance.

The bike ride was a real frying pan where the only time I felt the wind was a strong side wind as you rode along the ocean but as you headed up the mountain the wind was in your back and core temperature going through the roof for most participants. I loved it! During the last climb I must have passed another 75 people from the 70.3 and finally came in for transition.

Bike 5:09:18

Run: 4×10,5km loops. “A flat 4 loop course” according to the athlete guide. No-one I spoke to after the race had found the flat parts but rather the opposite and a miserable rock and cement based road surface. Perhaps they changed the course at the last second – what do I know.

During the week leading up to the race I had to work quite a lot from my hotel room with a project that has a tight due date but still managed to do the run loop several times. That is always good but once again proved to me that the marathon in an Ironman is more about just putting your left foot in front of your right foot, right foot, left foot, right foot as Lionel Sanders said after his epic performance in Hawaii this year – it’s less about planning your race in detail and more about pain management and just fight it out.

You can spend eons of time and money analyzing your stride, gate, frequency and still do a shit run if you are not ready to dig really deep and face your demons, physical pain, cramps and possibly physical shutdown. You have to put some skin in the game and be ready to catch the ambulance home if you really want to test you own limits and not just dick around for the t-shirt around midnight.

What I find difficult is to save some juice on the bike, for the run, since I love putting the hurt on during the bike leg.

This race was about more or less the same story – ran a decent first half around 1hr45min I think, then faded and did a 2hr second half marathon where I had some interesting motivational conversations with myself and eventually convinced myself that; falling as rapidly forward as possible and preventing an actual impact of my face onto the pavement by placing a foot in front of the other was an adequate strategy at this stage. Spectators probably didn’t notice that I had fallen apart (unless they watched my splits) as I tried to maintain form but I was descending into the “slow Ironman shuffle hell” running at 5:30 – 6:00min pace/km.

Run: 3:43:14

Finish line: At my advanced age, I have actually learned NOT to think about how far I am into the race or how far is left, as this easily becomes counterproductive in the process to find your flow and rhythm – but around 38km into the run I realized that it was time to have a look around. I remembered that at 160km into the bike; someone shouted “14th“– I figured that I was in place 14th.. At 38km into the run I thought that 4-5 people had passed me so I should be in pretty decent position.

I pushed the last 3-4km to make sure not to go over 10hrs and came up to the finish line. Unfortunately; I had been struggling with cramps from around 26km and the little incline up to the finish line was enough to make me cramp up so bad that I folded over the finish line and basically fell down the other side. Not a very graceful finish, but I appreciate that the announcers comment was “here comes our fastest older competitor” instead of “you are an Ironman”.

Total time: 9:54:28. #1 in Age Group 50-54. #20 overall

No-one went under 9hrs in this race, winning time was 9:03 only 3 people went under 9:30. A really tough race in brutal conditions. Just the way I like it!

After party: It took me a good hour in the medical tent to get back in gear and back on my bike to ride home to the hotel. This time I could get back on my feet without IV which I am happy for. Two hours later I was knocking down a few with the Australians in the hotel bar.

Awards and qualification for Kona: Anyone who have read anything on this blog knows that I am highly disappointed with the whole Ironman corporation and the way that they exploit the sport at the cost of fare play –their complete ignorance of the face that it is impossible to enforce the 12meter draft zone rule if you have 2,400 athletes coming out of the water around the same time is giving me sleepless nights! It would be so easy to fix but now one has any interest to address the issue as they are all in the pocket of Wanda (the new Chinese owner).

I had mentally prepared myself to turn down the slot and enjoy the feeling to see some very happy person get it instead but after talking to my wife and knowing that my 11 year old daughter really want to go to Hawaii I thought “WTF”. We can rent a place far away from “dig me beach” (nickname for the Pier in Kailua-Kona, the week leading up to the race) stay away from the expo crap and I can see it as a challenge to ignore the drafting and just cruise the course as a ride down memory lane.

So, I folded – I took the slot and actually look forward to having a nice time in the sun with my family. After spending so much time in Hawaii in that past, I still know some really good surf spots where there are only locals and I am looking forward to hear if the mechanic in the bike shop still remember the Swedish I taught him, if the surf shop “Pacific Vibrations” will rent me a board again, even if I dinged the last I rented in 2001 (I paid for the repair!)

This became a super long post and for that I am sorry (I am flying home from LA and can’t sleep), hope you have enjoyed it if you have read this far. 

Keep safe and happy training!

Der MagMoose

Getting ready for my last race of 2017



In just four weeks, I will be heading over to Mexico and Ironman Los Cabos for the last race of the year and I must say that I am looking forward to it as 2017 has been a long season.

When I signed up for the race and started to train I took two things into special consideration; that I have a pretty solid volume year but that I didn’t really feel great and strong at either of the two Ironman distance races that I have done so far in 2017.

I decided to do some significant changes in the last 3 months of training leading up to the final race of 2017. This blog is about those changes. 

In my training leading up to Ironman Lanzarote in May, I had problems with my left hip and was not able to do enough running to run even a half decent marathon – it was a walking disaster.  

At Challenge Roth, things were a bit better and I had been able to get the running back a little but felt generally “flat” and could not really push myself, my heartrate would not go up and it became more of a training day than the balance on the edge of my own capacity that I like to have in races.

Even if many of my supportive friends are pointing out that my performance and results in those races are almost back to where it was 20 years ago, I am not satisfied.

It’s not about place in age group /podium/results as I have no desire to get into the “general competition” – where so many people have completely lost their minds and are taking performance enhancing drugs, using anesthesia and painkillers – basically anything to get faster than the other guy at any cost. Not sure how winning your age-group can be so important that you are willing to risk your health (as well as cheat).

For me it’s about finding my way back to the FEELING and FLOW that I remember having in some races in the nineties, to once again get the feeling that I am fast and strong and having to hold back in the race rather than trying to force myself. When I find my way back to that I know that I will really enjoy racing and beating my old times will happen by itself.

Training program:

I have adjusted my training and created a blend of “old school” and new “high intensity low volume”. Basically, a very repetitive weekly program with smaller increments in volume and intensity during the base phase and adding quality once the body is used to larger volume. I have also tried to be more diligent about polarization in my training and put emphasis on really going easy on the recovery days, stay under aerobics threshold during endurance training to ensure that I really can get to the higher loads and sustain when I work VO2 Max and anaerobic capacity. 

A typical training week (except Monday, rest day is every 10th day so day of the week varies)

Strength/core training:

Like most people, I have been doing a pretty standard strength and core program 2-3 times per week. But after Lanzarote I decided to start going to a new physiotherapist that works with a lot of professional track & field athletes in Sweden. Johan Lind at Friskvårdskollen treated the hip injury and got me through the first part of the race season but after Challenge Roth he said, “it’s time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, see why you get the injuries and aches and address the cause rather than treat the effect”.

We spent a session in their gym and discovered that even if I am quite in good shape for an old man and train +15hr/week – my core muscles and stabilizers are not even at the level of an average jogger. I got instructions and exercises of which I could initially barely do 6-8 repetitions of. Now, after 4-6 weeks with them I have started to add weights and I am able to do 2 sets with 30 repetitions.

At Friskvårdskollen with Johan Lind – getting specific exercises for my weak spots !

I feel much better running and can maintain a good run form even after a hard ride. Can’t wait to see the impact this training have had come race day. I’m not sure I will run faster from strengthening the hip area and core – but running now is less taxing, much more efficient and I recover much faster and hurt less the day after.  

Time to get on the bike again. I wish you all a great autumn and enjoy your break from hard training if you have one – if not – perhaps you should if you want your body to last a long time!

//Magmoose

10 tips for Ironman Racing



In only a few days thousands of fellow Scandinavians will start at Ironman Kalmar or Copenhagen. Some will do it for the first time and some will be repeat offenders that have caught the bug and that again want to test if they can go faster, stay focused and deal with all the things that will happen in an Ironman race. Quite a few people have contacted me with a lot of different questions for their race this upcoming weekend and as many of the questions are similar I thought I could share some experience that I have gained over the years – perhaps it will help someone to have a better preparation and race day.

My top 10 tips:

  1. Use lists. There are a lot of things to remember before the race and what to bring in your red/blue/white/green bag. Use one of the 100rds of lists on the internet to remember to bring your stuff but make sure to keep it to a minimum.
    1. Blue bag (Bike) – empty (helmet and glasses, race bib, shoes on the bike).
    2. Red bag – socks, running shoes, Vaseline (between toes and armpits), cap if you use one, a few Isostar Gels).
    3. Green bag – not needed.
    4. White bag – flip flops and a hoodie.
  1. Get your stuff ready early. Register as soon as possible and go back and get everything ready and check it in so you can relax and rest. There is nothing worse than having to get things fixed and serviced 15min before check is closes or trying to find some lubricants for your neck 10min before the swim-start. 
  1. Stay out of the expo. I have done it and I am sure that most other people with +10 Ironman races have done it – waist time, energy and money and buy crap that you know that you will not have time to really test but still will use on race day…. Don’t.
  1. Try out your gear before race day. I don’t know how many times I have seen people drop their shoes, water bottles, repair kits and ride into barriers – just because they never take the time to learn what they will do on race day. If you are not used to riding with your shoes clipped in and put them on as you cycle – don’t try to learn it on race day (but make sure to practice it in every training session next season!), if you have a hydration system or repair kit that you typically don’t use in training – use it in a few of the last rides and ride hard over bumps to make sure that it stays in place even when you ride race wheels hard over the bumps.
  1. Sleep well – two nights before the race. I have never slept really well the actual night before the race as you always have to get up so early and I have a hard time to sleep at 8PM…. The most important night is actually two nights before the race and then you should make sure that you can have undisturbed sleep for at least 8-9 hours and not get stressed out to go and swim at 07:00 just to simulate race conditions. 
  1. Plan your nutrition/hydration well. I switch to oatmeal porridge at lunch the day before race and have as much as I can that afternoon and a bit less in the evening and morning which keeps my stomach clam as a clam. During the race I try to get 250-300ckal/hr which is the right amount for someone my size (83kg) and I get that from 2-3 Isostar Gels + ½ bottle sports drink/hour. If it’s a warm day I try to drink 1,5 – 2 liters / hour. Keep in mind that 2% dehydration can reduce performance up to 20%. Don’t go crazy at the aid stations as stomach problems often are due to over consumption rather than the opposite if you are putting in more than your body can handle then you will get sick – for sure! 
  1. There is no perfect race! When Jan Frodeno broke the world record last year it’s easy to imagine that he had a perfect race. Well, he made the best of it but the truths is that he actually went of-course and almost crashed into a barrier on the bike. What he did however is something that is good to learn from – he got his stuff up on the road again and went full speed ahead. Things will happen, you might drop the chain, have a flat, even crash, throw up, get cramp, etc, etc. What is important is to look at those things as part of the race – they are challenges that happens to all. Your job is to  overcome them and the faster you do the faster you can get back to being in the flow and feeling great.

 ”Get Back On It!” – Jan Frodeno out of the forrest again and back on the bike to break the world record. 

  1. Don’t be so serious! If you are not making a living from racing and must make top ten as a pro to pay the mortgage – relax! You can do this for fun, what a treat!! There are many “high performers” in this sport who think that extreme sacrifice and suffering will make them faster – but when you meet the absolute best in the sport you quickly realize that part of the reason to their success is that they don’t see training as a sacrifice and are extremely good at taking it easy when they are not training.
  1. Expect nothing and don’t let peer pressure affect YOUR race! Putting pressure on yourself for a certain finishing time is counterproductive. It is impossible to produce a result in the future if you don’t feel good and perform in the moment. What will happen is: if you are going slower than your plan you will start beating yourself down for not making the plan, if you are going faster – you will slow down to avoid blowing up. All of this without really experiencing and listening to your body. When you listen to people who have broken world records and had the race of their life – you will never hear them say ”I was afraid of being slow and I didn’t want to let  club mates, coaches and my mommy down” – but you will often hear: ”I thought of nothing, I was in the moment and was unaware of what was happening around me”. There is much more to learn mentally from Ironman than the physical challange – and you have the opportunity to practice for over 8 hours! 
  1. Smile! Even when it hurts.

 

Have a great race and enjoy!!!

Returning to Roth



A week ago, my swim/bike/run down memory lane brought me back to what can be considered the cradle of long distance triathlon in Europe – the city of Roth in the South of Germany. It was over 20 years since I last raced in Roth and it was amazing to return and see how the organizers have further developed this phenomenal event even further. It is without a doubt one of the best races in the world and it’s no surprise that the close to 5,000 slots are sold out in under a minute when they are released. In this blog I first want to give you some background to the event and secondly a quick summary of my race and results.

Background: 

In 1982 the 38 year old Detlef Kühnel from Roth participated in the fourth Ironman Hawaii and was (as many of us) infected with the triathlon bug. He was extremely creative and productive and over the next few years he not only established the first version of the German triathlon federation but also established an agreement with Valerie Silk (then leader of Ironman Cooperation) to become the first European Ironman qualification race in Europe 1988. The race grew quickly and became the largest full distance triathlon race in the world with over 5,000 athletes and over 250,000 spectators.

In 2001 Detlef returned the Ironman license in view of unacceptable demands of the then WTC President but Kühnel’s successor, Herbert Walchshöfer had a brave plan to continue to run the race under a new name and the CHALLENGE brand was launched. The race was an instant success and Challenge Roth is still the largest race in the world and Challenge has grown as they continue to stay true to the sport and focus on the athletes (rather than private equity and bankers). Currently the Challenge organization organizes 44 full and half races in 26 different countries around the world.

ROTH, GERMANY: General view of the stadium during Challenge Roth on July 20, 2014 (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images)

Fast course: Even if it is hard to imagine that this course is fast, considering the close to 1,500m elevation on the bike, it is one of the fastest full distance course in the world.  In Roth, Lothar Ledar was the first person to break 8 hours in 1996 and in 2016 Jan Frodeno set a new world record in unbelievable 7:35:39. This year they have changed the rather flat run course and added more hills but also more shade. Bavaria can get hot in July and temperatures over 30°C is quite common on race day so any shade is appreciated. The swim is done in a canal that is closed off for boats during the event and is one loop and as there are so many participants they have divided it into multiple start groups – starting the whole morning every 10minutes.

Other activities: 

Challenge Family really stay true to their claim to cater not only for the athletes but also the families and spectators. Leading up to the main race on Sunday there is a wide range of activates with bike races, run races and other fun activates. The expo area is so large that it makes any other race that I have been to look like a tailgate flee market. As this event is organized by Germans with a lot of experience – everything is perfect and running like a high-end German automobile.

The days leading up to the race:

Leading up to the race was not ideal as we had decided to drive down from Sweden and stop along the way and enjoy some vacation with the family. This meant that we arrived late to the Roth area, spent too much time in the car and when we finally arrived I had to run around like a madman the days before the race to get everything ready and checked in. We stayed in Schwabach that is situated 14km for Roth and 25km from the swim start which was a bit too far away considering that my group started at 6:40AM and I had to drive there and find a parking together with the other 150,000 people.

I would advice anyone who are planning to participate in the race to stay in Roth or Hilpoltstein and that way avoid having to get up at 3:00 in the morning on race day. 

Race Plan: 

As this is a fast course and I have done my personal best time on the distance in 1996 (9:12) my ambition was go faster this year. I have been training good leading up to the race and decided to go hard and not race strategically or keep under a certain heart rate or watt. I have enough experience to know how hard I can push without blowing up with out to much technical support and devices. 

Swim:

In the 90ties we used to start in age groups after the pro’s but now they have added two groups after the pro’s with those who are attempting to break 9 hours and ”fast age group athletes” I started in the first of those groups which was great as many were very capable swimmers who seeded themselves well and didn’t swim like windmills. As I like to swim alone I swam out on the right side but didn’t feel that great in the water unfortunately. Came up after 57:31.

Bike: 

I had only ridden the first 15km of the bike course ahead of the race but as this is a important section I had noted that there was some bumps in the road and some tight corners in during the first decent – I decided to take it easy here as I expected trouble here which was good as a cyclist in front of me dropped his repair kit from the holder behind the saddle going over a bump. In the race I could not  get my power and heart-rate up and felt kind of flat for the first 60km.

Riding up Solar Hill is probably the coolest feeling you can get in the sport.

Tried to drink and eat but it didn’t change – I felt like I was stuck in second gear and when I tried to push the accelerator the only thing that happened was that the engine rpm went up but there was no effect on speed or power. For a while I had very dark thoughts – as you have when you realize that you are not having a great day, but decided to do the best of it, enjoy the atmosphere and not make my happiness dependent of end results and times . I decided to appreciate the fact that I was racing again in one of the greatest races in the world in a sport I love – after 21 years – what a blast! Came in after 5:04 on the bike.

SMILE! You are living a dream !

Run: 

The first steps of the run felt like they normally do after 180km in aero position – only a lot worse as you at 51years are slower to adapt – or perhaps I just forgot how bad it feels for the first km always feel…

The course was very gentle for the first kilometer with downhills rather than up-hills and I could get into a good rhythm. It was starting to get quite hot but I could still not get my heart-rate up. I was running at 125-130bpm at best which is 15 beats bellow my normal race pace. Had to walk around 34-36km as I started to feel the hip injury pulling but picked up the running/jogging again to get to the finish line in somewhat decent time. Came in at 3:42 and a total time of 9:49:05.

Results and evaluation: 

I did Roth for the first time in 1995 – I had trained well and was hoping to qualify for Kona. It was a hard day and I ended up with a 10:17 finishing time (104th in my age group and far away from a qualification slot). 

In 1996 I started to train with Jean Moureau in Belgium and realized that my training 1995 was perhaps enough to finish a race but not qualify. When I came back to Roth in 1996 I was better prepared. 1996 I crossed the finish line in 61st place overall in 9:12 (19:th in age group) and that was enough to get me a slot to my first Ironman Hawaii.

2017 I finished in 9:49:05 – 7th in my age group and 202nd overall. My time 2017 was faster time than 1995 but slower than in 1996. 

Am I happy?  For sure! I had a great time and got to run over the finish line once in my life together with our kids – before they get too old and they don’t even want to go to races anymore.

Everything in life can be compared to something and depending on your point of view you can compare and judge yourself in a way that makes you miserable – some say that a good way to get better. I think judging and comparing one-self in a way that makes you feeling miserable is pure stupidity.

I’d prefer to see things positively and appreciate the fact that I am healthy, can race again at +50. Of course, I would have been disappointed if all the training this winter didn’t at least get me under 10 hours – but as I really enjoy my training as well so I don’t see it as a sacrifice and something that I try to minimize. 

Now it’s time to get back on the bike and find some more races for 2017 !

Have fun and race hard !

/Maggi