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

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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

KMD Ironman 70.3 European Championship Elsinore



It’s been a busy start of the summer in all aspects – work, training and race wise. Not a lot of time to reflect or write. But here is the bare minimum – a quick race summary from the half Ironman that I did about 10 days ago in our neighboring country down south.

PRE RACE: I signed up for the race a few months back feeling that it clearly was a bit cramped in between Ironman Lanzarote 21st of May and Challenge Roth 9th of July and after the limited running that I could do, due to the hip flexor injury, I thought I rather get a few long runs in than go to Denmark and spend time and money on a race that was not that important.

After talking it through with my coach Teresa at Uperform I decided to do the race after all, it would be a good hard training session on the swim and bike. All the way up to race I trained as normal and didn’t taper for this race – I even managed to miss read the training program for Tuesday the same week as the race and instead of doing a 10×2” MAX AQUAJOG in the pool I did 10×2” MAX at the track…. Good news is that it gave me a clear OK that my hip seems ready for training again.

Many Uperform athletes participated in the race, all with different ambitions – to win, to finish and to improve PB. (Note: Matteo didn’t race this year but said to me that he will race in a few years and challenge his dad Patrik Nilsson) 

I drove down to Denmark a few days before the race and registered and for the first time in a long time I went to the pre-race meeting. As I didn’t have time to ride the bike course I wanted to hear the walkthrough. It turned out to be a waste of time as the announcer Paul Keys basically said – “well, it’s kind of twisty and turny – but there will be volunteers giving you direction. It’s beautiful – enjoy”.

The weather was cold the days before the race and so was the water 15,5°C. As I have real problems with cold racing in all forms I was quite concerned if I was going to survive close to 30minutes in that water temperature – let alone get out and move after it. Even if I undoubtedly have the best wet suite on the market ORCA Predator there is no wetsuit made for such cold temperatures (at least when you are poikilothermic as I am). Not much to do but take the bull by the horns and try it out, said and done – on the evening before the race I jumped in the icebox together with Patrik Nilsson and I think we did one of the shortest swim I have ever done.

RACE: It was a beautiful sunny morning on race day I seeded myself to the middle of the swim-start as it was a rolling start and I had no intention of trying to lead the swim. The navigation was challenging to say the least as there were 15 turns in 1,900m. Whenever I looked up I just saw a sea of blue swim caps everywhere. Did a pretty lousy swim where I stopped and clean out my googles twice to try to get some visibility, swam alone most of the time as usual and got pulled out of the water like a giant seal by the helpful volunteers on the swim finish jetty – a much appreciated service when you are frozen like a popsicle.

”I can’t feel my – ANYTHING !”

Ran to the bikes and got on my way without any drama. Enjoyed an almost completely solo ride. After 30km I passed poor Patrik that was standing on the side struggling with a flat and realized that he had lost too much to continue in the race – technical failures are the worst as there in most cases is nothing you can or could have done to prevent it.  At around 60km a group passed me and I realized that the roads where to narrow for Marshalls and that’s why there were not around. As the group was basically riding at my speed (and working together) I had no chance of passing and dropping them so I just dropped back 20 meters and watched them continue cheating and last guy in the group looking back to spot Marshalls. I am proud of myself that I didn’t get upset and hit someone in the group but rather ignored it and rode alone 20-30meters behind.

Started the run and was surprised to see that I was running the first km at 4:15-4:20 and slowed down but maintain efficiency and cadence. I passed one of the draft jockeys that was now walking – I recognized him as he had a bright yellow, black and white race outfit and asked him if the drafting didn’t help save his legs enough for the run. No response.

MY FIRST WARNING BY A MARSHALL: As the day progressed towards mid-day it finally got warmer and as the run progressed I zipped down my race outfit to cool down. At one point, I meet a Marshall on bike that told me “Zip it up”. This is the first time in any race for any reason that a Marshall have spoken to me and it’s kind of funny to get a warning for showing to much skin in a race. I wonder what she would have said if I raced in Speedos as we did back in the 90’ties 😀

IRONMAN 70.3 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP ELSINORE 2017

”ZIP IT – ZIP IT REAL GOOD!”

First two laps felt easy so at the third I started to push the pace up to half Ironman level. By now the course started to become busy and I had to run sick-sack between people in the quite narrow paths around the beautiful Kronenbourg Castle. At an aid-station some disillusioned walker stepped on my heal as I was running past and tripped me so I crashed on my hand and knee. I got up right away and probably gained more time then I lost as I got a real adrenaline kick from the fall.

”Adrian!” Injured and bleeding heavily from the knee and hand – I battled my way to the finish line where a medical team was standing by… Not really – but it’s still kind of ironic to get knocked down in a non-contact sport 🙂

POST RACE: After the race, I hung out with Teresa, Matteo and Patrik and the other Uperform Athletes that had competed, then packed up my gear, checked out my bike and went to the hotel. Later, I came back to see the ”roll down” of slots for Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I had no interest in a slot for myself but wanted to see if people were eager to go. The room was almost empty and Paul Keyes asked how many actually wanted a slot out of the 50 and there were maybe 15 people who raised their hands. I stayed for a little while but it was such an embarrassing situation that I decided to go and have dinner instead.

Can’t help to ask myself why there was so little interest – is it because there is inflation of “Championships” as everyone and their mother arranges them ITU, Challenge, Ironman all have their own? Is it because they charge 450USD for the entry fee? Or is it that 2017 they have the Ironman 70.3 World Championships it in Chattanooga Tennessee – which at least to me is as exciting as traveling to the recycling station with your old bottles and newspapers – only difference is that you feel good after visiting the recycling station.

MY RACE RESULTS: I am happy to have raced and specifically with a very steady run that felt relaxed and good. To be 6th in my age group is not to bad I guess.

I would highly recommend the race as it was really well organized at a great venue. The swim and bike twists and turns are not that bad given the fact that there are volunteers giving directions and roads / harbor is closed off.

Now it’s time to do the final workouts before Challenge Roth which is just 10days away – the worlds biggest Ironman distance triathlon race with over 200.000 spectators, 4,000 participants and the race where I have set my personal best of 09:12 in 1996. A time that I will try to break next Sunday.

2015 Challenge Roth – Race Day

Safe training and enjoy the races!

Magnus

Ironman Lanzarote – A Mental Battle



Many people are drawn to Ironman racing for the opportunity to test themselves in what often called “the hardest one day race in the world”. Personally, I find that there are few things in life that are so fulfilling as when you have prepared well, race harder than you think is possible, able to ignore the pain, kick the nuts of the little voice in your head that sais “slow down” on the bike, and “walk” after 30km on the run. To finally reach the finish line completely drained is an amazing feeling.

To get that perfect race you really have to dig deep inside, and in many ways the Ironman is much harder mentally than physically (if you are physically trained for it and can “race” rather than just participate).

My race in Lanzarote was a different kind of battle. Leading up to the event, I had to learn to accept that it was highly unlikely that I would be able to race hard due to the hip injury I have been battling with (last post). It was also a battle during the race; to hold back and ensure that I under no circumstance would take any risk of tearing the injury up again. And a battle afterwards to appreciate the experience – with such a mediocre result compared to what I was preparing for during the winter.

Many of my friends thought that I would not start, but as I had payed everything and was able to do one (…) 2 hours run session in the weeks leading up to the event I thought it will be a good training day. I had also started a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and collected close to 10,000SEK which I felt I needed to do something for to all whom have contributed.

As always Ironman Lanzarote was extremely well organized in a location that delivers what you would expect going to Hawaii. In my opinion Lanzarote is a much better experience, more beautiful and a harder race than Hawaii and I enjoy this race more than Kona in so many ways.

The week leading up to the race was normal. The airline lost my bike and delivered it one day later, which forced me to sit in the hotel gym on a spin bike instead of riding the course ahead of the event. I decided to try out a new way of tapering – which was train rather hard the whole month leading up to the race (thankfully I have an understanding and open minded coach that approves my bizarre experiments on myself…).

Swim: A lot more crowded than when I last raced Ironman Lanzarote in 1997 when 390 people finished. This year it was close to 1,500. While I was out warming up in the darkness I didn’t notice that everyone was packing themselves in at the start and I had to squeeze myself way back behind a banner behind the AWA athletes and sub 60min. It wasn’t a problem as I was not gunning for any personal best in this race.

First 400m I kept an insane pace around 1:05-1:10/100m and got that feeling of “this is way too fast, I will die today”. After about 500m I could settle in to a 1:20-1:25 pace and stayed way out of everyone’s way as I didn’t want to get pulled in the feet nor swim after people who can’t navigate. It became a long first lap of around 30min and afterwards looking at the data I can see that I swam close to 4,200m due to my wide turn the first lap. Finished the swim in 57:51.

Bike: Out on the bike I took in as much Isostar energy drink that I could before I got to the first climb. Rode conservative keeping 10beats/20watts below my aerobic threshold that Aktivitus has helped me to set. Saved my legs in the climbs and tried to keep a constant load to get ready for “the sprint” home. The sprint is, after the last significant climb Mirador Del Rio, when you usually have the wind in your back and can make up a lot of time if you have strength left on the way back to Playa del Carmen. The wind was however not in the back today – it was from the side and made the ride from Arrieta to Tahiche painfully slow.

Felt the hip injury slightly on the climbs but nothing dramatic. Got of the bike after 5:57:28, the slowest bike time I have ever done in any race.

Run: By riding more conservative than I typically do I was also hoping that I would have fresher legs and be able to run the whole marathon even with the lack of long runs. But that was not the case and I felt as toasted as you typically do after 6 hours with hills, wind and sun. Started the run at an easier 4:45 – 4:50 pace and maintained that rather consistently until 21km where I started to feel the hip injury and reduced the speed to a jog/shuffle. After 26k I started to walk/jog and mentally prepare for the long walk ahead and the fact that I would be passed by many people. Finally made it to the finish line after 4:05:45. My second slowest marathon ever (walked Hawaii 1998 in a whopping 5:40:30 which still is my PW which I hope that I will never break).

Results:

  • Finished in 11:11 and 9th in my age group. Kind of ironic as I was 9th in my age group last time I raced here 1997 – in the age group 30-34.
  • Last year the Kona qualification time in 50 – 54 group was 11:14 but I don’t know if I could have gotten a slot this year as I did not go to the roll down.

My Key Learnings:

  • Taper – experimenting with tapering before this race was good and I think I now know how much training and what intensity I need during race week to have fresh legs without feeling swollen and tired.
  • The myth “Save your legs for the run” has once again been busted – at least for me. Either you have trained well on the run and can handle it or you haven’t. It’s not about saving the legs for the run. It’s about preparing them to run a decent marathon after 180km on the bike.

Expectations: Managing and setting expectations, appreciate participation as well as victory enables us to enjoy even mediocre races and results. There is no real benefit of mentally beating yourself up before, during or after  races and listening to the cliché bullshit like “no balls, no glory”, “go hard or go home”, “harden the fu%€ up” and “no one remembers a looser”. Think big – love the journey, develop an understanding why you want to challenge yourself and you will possibly find a much bigger reward and experiences on a deeper plane.

Venga, venga – apreciar la vida!

// Juan Pelota