I am an IronMan.
First of all I want to thank my wonderful wife for all of the support not only during race day but during the entire preceding year leading up to this event. She has been putting up with me being gone for numerous weekend mornings when I’ve been out riding my bike. As you can imagine the IronMan race has also been on my mind for a while and hence a lot of conversations have been around this topic. Thanks for everything Abbey!!
There are a few other thank you notes also. To my parents for joining the weekend in Coeur d’Alene to cheer on. Traveling all the way from Sweden to Oakland, CA and then onwards in an RV up to Cour d’Alene. The Swedish flags made you guys easy to spot and helped the motivation.
To Becky & Ryan for telling me about this race (I originally planned to do IM Madison) and also for sharing tons of tips and including me in your training group. It’s been lots of fun over the past few months training together and I am looking forward to doing it again sometime in the future.
To Jerrod for more training/racing tips and for giving me a nudge and a push to try out biking that then lead to swimming and triathlons. And also for the ZIPP wheels, I was fast on the flats!!
Finally to all other friends and family that have supported in different ways. I have several people in Sweden that are always up for a run or biking (Jonas, Claes, Jesper, Johan). That certainly helps training when traveling. All the readers of the blog, comments mostly becomes encouragements that leads to better, more and harder work.
So to the race.
The water was cold, not freezing cold but cold. I was actually not entirely prepared when the gun went off and had to quickly situate my swim goggles. The first half or the first loop of the swim course was pretty brutal. Lots of hitting, lots of people dragging your legs and hitting you. However I made it without any problem or injury (unlike several others with fat lips and lost goggles). We came out of the water very briefly to then start the second loop of the swim. During this short walk/run my calf’s cramped. I tried to stretch it out a bit but that didn’t work to well so I set off for the second loop anyways. Since I basically could not point my toes out I couldn’t use my legs much and was forced to swim mostly with my arms. In addition to this the swell got crazy on the second loop. The winds must have picked up a lot. Sighting was extremely hard and I felt like I got knocked around by the ways. I made it out of the water in 1.30-ish and that’s was ok for me I think. I could do better, at least 10 min better.
T1 wasn’t much to talk about. I was taking it pretty easy in order to not mess up the cramp in my calf’s more. I could probably also be a bit faster in transitioning and getting dressed and all that.
On to the bike and it felt good. I managed to get rid of the cramps pretty fast while on the bike. However I did get some GI problems at an early stage and had to stop. That took some time as there were lines to the restrooms. The GI issues gradually went away but I was probably somewhat over-hydrated and had to stop a total of 4 times to pee during the bike ride, loosing even more time. I was happy with the first loop, 3h10m and that included stops. Less happy with the second loop. I guess it got warmer, I definitely got more tired and I think I could have pushed it harder on the second loop but my mind also started thinking of the fact that I needed to run 26.2 after I was done so I purposely scaled it back a bit.
The first part of the run I focused on holding back the pace a bit, again with my mind of finishing rather than blowing up. It’s a long race and it’s easy to feel really strong early on and with all the excitement and all the people cheering on when you get out of T2. I felt pretty good the first few miles. After about 5 miles there was a big hill. Ran up and down the other side only to turn around and to the same but reversed. I kept pushing and used every aid station to walk. The first loop of the run was ok. However just like a “normal” marathon, when you start getting to around mile 17 or so it started getting pretty tough. I had somewhat of a hard time keeping the pace I wanted. I pushed myself to at least run to the hill but had to walk up. At this point my goal of 12h was out and so was the one for 12h35m, the goal left was to finish. The last part was mostly pain. I tried to force myself to run all the time but it was hard, I had to walk a couple of times.
However when I got close to the finish, about 9 blocks left. The crowd got thicker, people kept saying that it was just around the corner, just a few blocks left. I got around that corner and the streets were lined with people. 9 block left to go, all downhill. At this point I felt great, I had no pain anywhere at all. I kept pushing on past another athlete thinking that I wanted a “clean” finish shot. I’m not going to lie, I did flip my sun glasses down as my eyes started to water when it dawned on me that I was actually going to finish.
At the later part of the final stretch I also started to look for those Swedish flags. Just before the finish chute I saw them on the right. Ran over, gave my wife a sweaty kiss, grabbed the flag and ran across the finish line.
I felt ok afterwards. My legs were sore and the rest of my body also. I wasn’t all that hungry but I had to slices of pizza and chocolate milk. The rest of the stuff they offered was the same stuff they had at every aid station during the run (cookies, pretzels, coke, chips, fruit) so I didn’t want to see any of that.
Eventually got back to the RV site. Stretched and then went to stand in the cold lake for 10 minutes. I thought I wasn’t going to sleep all that well after because of the body being so exhausted and achy but I was wrong. I slept like a baby.
This was my first IronMan. It’s originally why I created this blog. However I don’t think this was my last IronMan. I had lots of fun getting to the IronMan and lots of fun doing it. Some probably think that’s strange, to pay all that money to go through something pretty painful. Join me for a couple of bike rides and a few runs and you’ll understand. I will keep on being active and so I will keep blogging about it. The next goal is currently not an IronMan but it will be again someday.
Speaking of the next goal, I’m taking some time off to recover in Hawaii. Then I will attempt to re-focus and will have to switch from extreme endurance to more explosive and fast for the Stockholm Triathlon on August 26th.
Keep on reading, it inspires me that you do and hopefully in return I can inspire some of you out there. Remember that it’s a lifestyle change, not just training for one specific thing!!
More pictures from race day will follow.