My top 5 advice – Personal Be@st at 53

My top 5 advice – Personal Be@st at 53


The challenge ”faster +50” continues and 2019 was a semi successful year. On the negative side; I didn’t manage to do a faster overall Ironman race. On the positive side; I came back racing after 15months of operations, antibiotics and illness and I managed to do a personal best in the swim and run disciplines. After reflecting a bit on what I think was the most important factors leading up to the results, I want to share my conclusions and hopefully some of the advice might be useful for others.

Ironman Mexico 2019 – Swim:

49:24 (no wetsuit) previous PB was 21 years ago in Ironman Australia 1998 – 51;41 (wetsuit).

My 5 top advice:

  1. DRILLS: As I still hurt after the broken clavicle I have not done much speed work – but more drills and more focus on getting the best position in the water and efficiency. Anytime you swim with former swimmers you will note that they do drills almost every session – even if they have been swimming for +15years.
  2. FEW BUT GOOD ADVICE: One of the best swim coaches I have ever met gave me one or two pointers that I have focused on for the past 6 months. That has really made a difference. Anyone can point out lots of things to work on but a really good coach can identify what really will make a difference for you specifically.
  3. TRUST ENDURANCE: I was a bit worried that I would become slow from only doing distance training – specially when you see all people (Triathletes – not swimmers) mainly doing intervall, high intensity stuff. Never felt better in both Italy and Mexico and had two races under 55min in choppy conditions.
  4. BUILD INTO IT: Finally, I have realized that most Ironman races has quite a relaxed start with ”rolling start” and you don’t have to sprint the first 400meters anymore (except Lanzarote which still is a beach/mass start). So I have started to take it a bit easier the first 1500m and then increase towards the end.
  5. DO YOUR OWN SWIM: Sure you can gain by drafting on the swim and it’s allowed – but I think it really sucks to have to follow someone who is not swimming at the exact pace I like – so I rather go on my own and enjoy the solitude.

Ironman Italy 2019 – Run:

3:23:55 previous PB was 22years ago in Ironman World Championships, Hawaii 1997 – 3:26:02

My 5 top advice:

  1. EFFICIENCY: I was injured during the summer and had to take a few months off from running. Once I started again my main focus was to run as efficient as possible – I was not able to do any intervalls and high intensity as the injury came back as soon as I tried.
  2. LAND, PUSH AND REPEAT: Similar to swimming I have the benefit of the best advice from my physiotherapist Johan Lind at Friskvårdskollen. The reason I got injured was likely due to a slight misalignment in how I land and with his long experience and knowledge in running we made two small adjustments that took away a lot of discomfort and made it possible for me to increase my running distance up to 75-80km/week.  The adjustment also made running so much more fluid and the calf pain that I always have had after my +25km runs disappeared.
  3. PACING: In most my races I have done what most triathletes do (at least what we used to before GPS watches and heart rate monitors). I would jump of the bike and run ”as I felt” for as long as I could. This typically means running to fast until 28km, blow up and struggle the last 14km to finish line. My good friend Bernhard told me before Ironman Lanzarote 2018 to decide on finish time instead and run every kilometer at the speed that would deliver that time. That worked really well and is exactly what I did again in Italy.
  4. CADECE: Berhard have also identified that my cadence is a little slow and over the past 2 years I have gradually lifted it. Changing fundamental things like cadence takes time and focus – just like Berhard said, a few steps per minute might take a year to become comfortable with but reduces impact and stress over time.
  5. STRENGTH: I have been religious about getting my core and stability training done twice per week (prescribed by Johan Lind at Friskvårdskollen). Its boring as hell but it’s much worse to skip it for a few weeks and feel how the body starts to sag back into poor posture and the soreness you get after running on a weak core. After 50 I doubt it’s even possible to get up to 75-80km/week running on top of 10hours biking and 10,000m swimming without core/strength training – at least not if you are a ”full grown” (82-83kg/191cm). Perhaps guys who weigh 55 kg can handle the impact – but when your build like a moose it’s a different story.

So how’s the overall ”faster +50” challenge going?

It depends how you want to look at it: I’m more or less back racing at the same pace as 20 years ago. If my challenge was to beat others I would be happy as I now place on the podium much more often than I did when I was 25-30. But I am really not interested in how I place against others. There is nothing to be gained racing against other who are +50 (other than perhaps ego-boost for those in need of such things).

My goal remains; to become faster – in actual finish times, by being smarter than I was 20 years ago, to train better, have more patience and gratitude for the fact that I can. This year was one step towards the goal. I am getting older and will really need to have a perfect preparation and race to be able to beat my old times. Next try will be Ironman Lanzarote 23rd of May, 2020 in 1997 I did that brutal course in 10:08 and it was the only time that I didn’t get ”chicked” by  Paula Newby Fraser (8 x Hawaii winner). 2018 I did 10:39 and ran only 20seconds slower than 1997. Will need to find 22minutes on the swim and bike…..

Happy holidays – I will be on the bike!

 

Dry run – Ironman Cozumel 2019

Dry run – Ironman Cozumel 2019


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

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

”The mind is stronger than the body” 

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

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

 

Getting ready for the race

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

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

Project clean (parts of) the beach:

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

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

Race day – swim:

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

Bike:

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

Run:

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

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

 

Finish with a smile:

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

The hangover:   

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

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

Summary – key take aways:

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

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

 

Will I race Ironman Mexico again:

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

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

//Magz

Ironman Italy Emilia – Romagna

Ironman Italy Emilia – Romagna


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

FINALLY – Checked in and ready at Ironman Italy

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

 

Training – Leading up to race:

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

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

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

 

Race Site and Conditions:

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

650meter bike rack

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

Nutrition and prep – for race day:  

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

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

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

Oatmeal – Italian style

 

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

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

Bike Lunch 

RUN 10 x S2 sportsgel. + water.

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

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

 

SWIM:

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

Positively surprised with a sub 55min swim.

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

 

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

All Alone – the way it should be!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Enjoy your winter training!
/Magnus

7 weeks to race

7 weeks to race


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

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

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

  1. Polarization.
  2. Injury Prevention
  3. Efficiency

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

//Magz

 

 

Neopren without limits

Neopren without limits


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

Here are a few of the highlights:

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Happy swimming !

Magnus

 

 

Riding the rollercoaster of life

Riding the rollercoaster of life


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

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

 

 

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

Have a good and safe training and racing year!

Magnus

 

 

G’day from the bottomless hole

G’day from the bottomless hole


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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

I will catch the next one

 

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

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

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

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

 

//Magnus

Keep the sport clean!

Keep the sport clean!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Down and Out

Down and Out


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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Photo by Mario Dahlgren

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Training outline (optimal recovery without complications):

30 – Current week, walks and easy strength training

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

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

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

34 – Big Training Block

35 – Big Training Block

36 – Big Training Block

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

38 – Big Training Block

39 – Big Training Block

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

41 – Kona race week

 

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

 

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

 

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

It’s as simple as that!

 

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

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

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

 

//Magmoose

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironman Lanzarote 2018

Ironman Lanzarote 2018


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

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


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


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

Finished the bike in about 6hrs.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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