Overall time: 11:45:13
Overall rank: 766 / 2463
Age group: 170 / 393
Alarm went off at 3:45 am. I hadn’t really slept all that well. Was awake on and off during the night. Had mom’s homemade bread with honey roasted peanut butter (I brought it with me from the US) and banana. Also downed a Zico Chocolate Coconut water. I’m rarely all that hungry on race day morning and I also want to stay away from overeating and getting too full.
Left the rental house at around 4.20 and in order to make it over to the transition area by 5 am when they opened. On the drive over we started hitting some of the road closures but was lucky and managed to get past 3 of then anyways so we didn’t loose all that much time.
Got to the transition area pretty early but it was already pretty packed. The first thing I did was to pump the tires on my bike. Since the bike was sitting in transition for part of Friday during the day in the sun I had let out some air in order to not blow the tires. Then double checked some of the nutrition in the bags and also added the (for me) obligatory Snickers bars to eat on the bike.
I sat down and gathered my thoughts for a while and mentally prepared for the day ahead. Many others were warming up. I remember thinking to myself that I should probably do that too but for some reason never really did. I specifically remember one guy that looked extremely professional and spent lots of time warming up. I also very specifically remember running past him towards the end :) I’m not saying that warming up is unnecessary, just that looks can be deceiving.
Made my way down to the swim start that was about a 10 minute walk from the transition area. Time went by fast here and before I knew it I was in my wetsuit and swim cap and goggles in hand and it was time to drop the street bag on the truck. The street bag is where you put the stuff you want access to after the race (clothes, towel, shoes, etc.).
The swim had a self seeded rolling start. The gun went off at 7am and the athletes that had seeded themselves to finish the fastest were in the front and went into the water first. Then in a steady stream athletes kept entering the water. I seeded myself in the 1h20m group and I think that was a pretty good choice in the end. Started to get a bit emotional when I got closer to entering the water. The spectators in Kalmar where like something I have never seen before. Thousands of people cheering with where the swim start was and people where right next to you as you were walking down towards the water. Absolutely amazing!
Swim – 1:26:05
Hit the water and found a pretty good rhythm quickly. Then bam! A heal right in my goggles. Got a bit stunned but didn’t loose the goggles. Kept on and the shortly the waves started to grow bigger. During the first section of the swim we would then have a pretty strong headwind and approximately 5ft waves. I remember thinking to myself that this is kind of fun but its hard to sight to see where I’m going. Turned the first buoy and then had a straight long swim with the wind coming in straight from the right. Couldn’t find a good rethink in breathing on both sides but managed to swim really straight anyways. Another left turn and then some tailwind for a short while and then another left turn. Now is where the only mistake I made during the swim happened. After a while on this stretch I found myself alone and couldn’t really see many people around me. Stopped for a sec and saw a bigger group to my right. At this point I also couldn’t see the buoy that I was supposed to aim towards. So I decided to head towards the group and follow them. Mistake! A few minutes later lifeguards on jet-ski’s where pointing in a completely different direction trying to get people to see where to swim. This little detour is very noticeable on the GPS plot of my swim and probably cost me a few minutes. After this stretch of the swim course things started to calm down a bit. We entered the harbor again and the water was much more calm. It was a bit more narrow here and got a bit more crowded but that didn’t bother me too much. Under a bridge and a left turn and we entered the canal. The course made a long left turn and we passed under a second bridge and then the home stretch.
T1 – 00:04:10
I barely managed to get the top part of my wetsuit off before I had to grab the bike bag. The distance between the swim exit and the bag was really short. Grabbed the gab and headed on to the changing tent. Sat down to get the rest of the wetsuit off. I had a small towel that I could dry my feet with and then put on socks, shoes, sunglasses and the helmet. Grabbed all the nutrition I had in the bag and the bike gloves and started running to the bike. T1 all in all was pretty uneventful.
Bike – 05:44:23
I like biking, I like biking a lot. I had some pretty aggressive goals for the bike part of this race. At first I just tried to establish some rhythm and sort of get going on the bike. However that was bit tricky, it was really crowded. We quickly hit the bridge (between Kalmar and Öland). I knew that we would have some serious headwinds heading out to Öland. The first part of the bridge is a climb and I’m a pretty decent climber. So I kept passing a lot of people at this stage. However my heart rate stayed pretty high so I started to get a bit concerned about that but figured it would slow down as we descended on the other side of the climb on the bride. Right when I hit the top of the climb on the bridge it was like I hit a wall of wind. I had to fight pretty hard to even keep the speed at around 15 mph going downhill and so my heart rate did not slow down. Not until I cleared the bridge and got in to Färjestaden. This is also where I started to feel like I had found my groove on the bike. Kept pushing and started to eat some solid nutrition (PickyBars and Gu Chomps). After about 1 hour of biking I hit Mörbylånga. This is also where I passed my buddy (Johan) who obviously swam faster than I did since we started at the same time. The rest of Öland was several flat miles with lots of crosswinds and some head and tail winds. We first headed south on the island and had crosswinds, then headed east to hit the straight on headwinds, went back up north with more crosswinds and then west and slightly downhill with tails winds. After completing the loop on the island it was time to tackle the bridge again. Much more pleasant this time with strong tail winds. I was able to push close to a 30 mph average on the 4 mile stretch on the bridge.
At this point I started to get a bit tired of biking. Tried my best to keep the moral high and stay mentally strong. After several miles on the mainland I stopped to pee behind a barn. Kept pushing and the race course here got somewhat more interesting with some turns and rolling hills rather than dead flat and straight.
The last few miles all I wanted was to get off the bike and start running. I tried my best to mentally forget that I had to run a marathon, but I still really wanted to run.
T2 – 00:04:52
Racked the bike and headed straight for a bathroom break. Then headed over and grabbed the run bag. In to the changing tent, helmet and bike shoes off. Run shoes and visor on. Grabbed some of the nutrition and headed out. Was imedtialy told to turn the race number to the front.
Run – 04:25:43
Headed out on the run feeling pretty good. I was definitely very happy to be done biking. The first part of the 3 loop run course was really fun. We were running through the streets of downtown Kalmar where the streets where lines with tons of spectators. What was less fun was running on the cobblestones. After a while the course takes a turn out of the city and up north through some neighborhoods. I kept pushing on and walked fast at every aid station. I think I made some good time on the first loop but started to fade after that. I had some serious problems holding down water and had to stop to pee about 10 times during the run in total. Things got better towards the and that was probably due to the fact that I started eating salty cucumber and salted potato chips at every aid station. I did also start feeling a little bit of my knee pain (IT band issue) towards the end but nothing serious. It probably helped that I walked every aid station also.
The spectators along the run course where amazing. People lined the run course everywhere and it looked like everyone were basically having a party. Towards the last lap some kept thanking the athletes for the year and saying that they hoped to see us next year.
I did try to ramp up the pace a bit towards the last 2k of the run. Heading down the red carpet I did have a person in front of me but purposefully slowed down a bit so I would get a nice picture of my finish. I did and I’m pretty happy with that.
All in all I’m happy with beating my previous time with about 90 minutes. Its difficult to compare since the courses are really different and the conditions for a given day is always a factor. However I think I can do better. I know what I need to work on and I will. I’ll do another one some day but will take some time off form this long distance for a while now.