Sub 9 hours in Ironman Kalmar – Kona, Hawaii next stop!

 

Yesterday’s inaugural Ironman in Kalmar was a great event in most aspects. I managed overall to complete as second Swede in my age group and overall 6th in my age group. For all age groups I was 12th Swede and 40th position of all, including PRO’s. Quite happy with that, but greatly disappointed with a disastrous running. Nothing for the faint hearted, but I had to visit the loo 9(!) times during the mid of the run. Sub 9 hours is a bit magical – before Ironman Kalmar, only 29 Swedes had done that.

Anyway, the preparations for the Ironman had been ok, but as always I was concerned with the limited long distance cycling and running I had managed to fit in. But I also had a very reassuring 6th pace overall in Vansbrot triathlon (half ironman) a number of weeks before. Then I did a great bike ride (average 39 km/h) and a fantastic run (21 km in 1:19 hours). The result actually gave me a qualification to start the ironman swim together with the PRO’s and 10 other swedes competing in the Swedish championship. But in fact this gave me (a mediocre swimmer) only a minor advantage.

However, the weeks leading p to the event was ok with training, but I became devastated when I 11 days before the ironman got myself a running injury – a plantar fasciitis! What a bad timing. But after some tests and some investigations, I calmed down. As long as the injury is not cronic it is only’ painful. I decided to run in my Ecco Biom A Mesh, providing great support for the foot, yet enables a natural running. The Dane Rasmus Henning has one of the fastest Ironman run splits in a pair of those, so clearly they are good enough for me. It’s just that my name is not Rasmus Henning.

Race day came, and I was just appropriately nervous.

I started race day with a decent breakfast. I had a 30 minute drive to Kalmar, a bit annoying, but ok. Came there and got my gear fine tuned, pumped up the pressure in my tubulars to 10 bars and got into my Sailfish One wetsuit – thanks tritahleten.se for supporting me with that one!

I was just a bit late to the swim start, so I just managed to hop into the water for 5 minutes before the check in. Took 2 gels to get a bit fired up before the start, which, again was together with the pros and other ranked swedes.

The swim part was overall just fine, I had problems with rhythm and breathing for the first k or so, as always in triathlons. The crowd, wrestling and water splashing into your mount when you try to breathe all ensure this. After a while I got into my rhythm and finally finished in 56 or so minutes- great for me! The T1 in the ironman format with plastic bags worked perfectly, and I was soon out on the bike.

The new bike course consists of 100 k on Öland and then 80 k on mainland side. Tis means that the Öland bridge comes after 3 k with a challenging hill. I sometimes have problems with cramps early on the bike leg, and also on this event I has some cramp feeling so I had to take it a bit easy. There was some fast bike guys that I just couldn’t keep up with during the first hour, so I had to let them go. Even though it is non-drafting, staying 10 meters apt provides both some physical advantage and certainly some mental. But nevertheless I let those guys away. But after some time of biking alone, I was passed by a cyclist with somewhat better speed than I had, and eventually we caught up the other guys that I let go an hour before. The speed during the first 100 k of the bike leg was super fast, back towards Kalmar, my average speed was 39.5 km/hour, but still I felt fresh. I had several gels and some energy drinks. On the Kalmar side, the remaining 80 k was not as good. The average speed decreased to 38.8, but I was happy with this and did not want to challenge too much, I knew I had a (possible) personal best swimming and definitely a personal best bike ride, so I thought I better save my legs for the running. After all, “tri” in triathlon means three disciplines….
During the bike leg, I took about 9 gels, 2 power bars, 5(?) bottles of energy drink. But even with all this, I had some tunnel vision – one of my clear indicators that I need more energy -fast.

Coming into the T2 was a great site. List time it was packed with bikes, but now it was almost empty. I don’t know for sure, but I think I came in about the 35th place to T2, overall.

T2 was also fine, I had a good transition, and I changed to my great socks from GoCoCo and my Ecco Biom shoes. Out own the run, I couldn’t keep up with the guy in front of me, but after completing the bike after 5:37, I knew it would be “a walk in the park” to complete the ironman in sub 9 hours – but how wrong I was…
I started having some stomach problems even on the first lap. I couldn’t get any water or gels down, but I realized that I could not run the full marathon with no gas. But I kept going the first 15 k or so. But my stomach became worse and worse.
The new run course is laid our through the city of Kalmar in order to maximize the experience for the spectators, but I personally prefer an out and back course.
Also I hate the cobble stones! And when passing the finish on the first and second lap of three, you haven’t actually completed the lap you are running on- instead you have 3 more boring and heavy kilometers before the lap is over….

In any case- 17 k went ok, not good, just ok. The first 10 was however fast, every k in 4.05, 4.10 and similar but at 17 k the “shit hit the fan”, not just metaphorically. I won’t go into details, but over the next 17 k or so I had to go to the loo 8 times. (totally 9 times during the run). I can tell you that this takes some toll on the average run speed, and i wasn’t really running like Gebrselassie between the stops either…. Only good thing with this was that I could at the same time on every loo visit force a gel down in order to get some energy to complete the run.

When passing my fantastic support team – Charlotta, Ludvig, Gustaf and Filippa, I could just about smile. They were fantastic throughout the day, cheering me and helping me!

The last 7-10 k was better- far from good but better. I checked my watch and calculate that I could just make the sub 9 hour limit. I struggled on and continued on, and actually passing some runners those kilometers.
Eventually, I completed the run in 3:21- far away from the optimum sub3 hour run I would like to do in an ironman one day. But thats just the thing with triathlon – the difficulty to get everything right on the same day. During the run, I managed to take only 5 gels, some very limited amount of water and maybe a cup of coke.

But I managed to sprint into the finish to my dear family in just about sub 9 hours- 8.57 hours, and very happy with that. But also very dissatisfied with a run far below my capacity.

I came in as 6th overall in my age group, and as there are 6 slots to Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii from my spot, I secured one of them! Very happy for that, and looking forward to racing on the 13 October!

I want to thank you all who cheered me on the race day, especially my fantastic wife and family.

Also thanks for all other support; Ecco, GoCoCo, triathleten.se/sailfish, Sportlife, Maxim, Duells, Continental, Hilleberg, [YOUR BRAND HERE].

The autumn will be packed; Midnattsloppet Göteborg, Ö till ö (www.otillo.se) and Ironman World Championship. 

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