Friday, September 19, 2014

Ironman Sweden 2014 3 Ironman in 11 weeks...Not the result I was hoping for but still happy with my performance!

Ironman Sweden

For those that prefer the short version!

The things I really appreciated about Kalmar Sweden! 

1.Crowds of enthusiastic spectators. 75 0000 plus!

2.Safe,scenic  and enjoyable bike course.

3.Beautiful destination race.

4.Easy to navigate around around on a bike, cruiser or walking.

5.Most people speak English.
6.Wetsuit swim

7.Great finish line

8. HOT private showers at the end of the race and the biggest hot tubs you have ever seen.

9.Feeling clean while getting an unbelievable post race massage and not full of gel and sports drink.

10.Good post race food including Swedish candy.

11.Great post race awards including paying 8 deep. 

12.Spectacular fireworks at 10pm!

13.My wonderful homestay Asa! 

The longer version!

After a successful Challenge AC I took 2 solid weeks off and started planning the rest of the summer. 
My priority after my two Ironman in 2 months would be to head to South Africa to visit my family. 

But I could not resist looking at the Ironman schedule of races to see what races were within 4 or 5 weeks as my body was still feeling quite good.   I decided that a European race might work well. IM Sweden was the perfect race for me. 
It was flat and the weather looked ideal and I could race on my way to SA. I went into this race with very little training as I just really wanted to focus on my kids and making sure they were having the best summer ever.  So my training was definitely low and inconsistent and far from perfect but I have come to realize that sometimes you may be in the best shape ever going into a race and something out of your control happens. 

I headed over to Kalmar a few days before the race.   I would fly to Stockholm then onto Kalmar where I would meet up with my homestay.

Asa, a sweet Swedish cyclist greeted me at her apartment and graciously gave me the keys and maps and her cruiser to get around.   It was a sat race which only gave me 2 days to get situated and acclimated to the time change. 
This would prove to be my biggest struggle. I forgot my melatonin behind and somehow my body just did not want to make the 6 hour time change.  For the two nights before the race I would fall asleep at 3 in the morning (9pm) and then 
get woken 4 hours later to get on with the day. So by Friday I was feeling very run down with a slight fever.   
There is nothing I love more than exploring a new town and seeing how other people live. 

Kalmar is a quaint town of 65000 people. It was clean, with beautiful well kept houses, gardens filled with flowers , bike friendly, and gorgeous castles and lots of water everywhere. People are charming and most speak english.
 I managed to get one ride before the race on most of the run course.  I actually just used this ride 
to figure out where everything was. I later also rode my cruiser down to the swim start for the open water swim the day before the race.  I felt good about the race despite my lack of consistent training.

The day before the race I was getting a little nervous when I realized my fever was not letting up and I would go into the race with very little sleep, and not feeling well. 
I got out of bed race morning after zero sleep and went through the motions of getting ready to race. My fever seemed to have gone but my headache was still there and I had taken Advil every four hours leading up 
to the race.
 I wanted to just close my eyes and go to sleep but I knew I had come to race so I made myself a giant cup of coffee and took a mello ride down to the start. 
Race morning went smoothly and before I knew it I was waiting on that start line for them to call my name. I was so looking forward to racing and actually seeing the course but just wished I felt better.
I was not nervous at all. The perks of having done a few Ironman races.  29 to be exact!

They called me as first pro to get into the water and I treaded water waiting for the gun to go off.  I pushed hard at the start but my body felt tired trying to sprint.   But I just reminded myself that it was a long day and just to pace myself. 
At the first big turn the few girls I was swimming with spillt up. One managed to stay with the group and one dropped off behind me which meant a solo swim until 40 minutes in when the first age groupers started to catch up. This too 
was at the same time as we were going under the low bridges and crowds of spectators cheering us on. It felt like 100 age groupers passed me and by the time I swam into the finish chute for the swim I was surrounded by quite a 
few athletes.

Onto the bike and I regrouped. I was looking forward to seeing what lay over the 6 km bridge to Oland.  This was a 2 section bike course. One big loop on the island of Oland and a smaller loop in Kalmar.  Oland would be very windy but I
managed to keep a good speed going. I was not sure what position I was in but I knew I had passed a girl and that there was one ahead of me in the distance. A small pack passed me with two pro girls in it and I decided to ride off the 
back. Like 20 meters off the back. (to play it safe) By the second loop I was tired of some blatant drafting and lack of response from the officials so I pulled ahead and pushed way to hard for the next 30 min hoping to drop what was now just 4 of us.  But I expended energy I did not have and mentally drained myself and ended up coming into transition 30 seconds behind second and third place female.

As I ran out of transition I saw the 3rd female pro right in front of me but my stomach was not feeling good. So I found the first porto potty I could and despite a whole group of people telling me I was going the wrong way I made my first 
of many stops. The city was alive with thousands of people lining the cobblestone streets, cheering loudly.  I would run and feel ok and try work to catch the girls or to keep some distance from the girls behind but then my stomach would 
start to bother me again and I would have to slow until I could find another porto potty or a secluded spot in the woods.  This is my worst kind of racing as it just wears you down and depletes you. 

I however loved the run course and appreciated the kids cheering, the pouring rain that made things very humid,  the different music blasting from groups set up for the day. The city of Kalmer shuts down 
for the race and everyone comes out to support.  I loved seeing my homestead Asa out there and was very thankful to her for cheering hard for me. 

I was disappointed to let a few girls pass me in the last 5 miles without much of a fight but I was happy to hold things together and finish around 10 hours on the nose and I was really able to soak in the crowds and I enjoyed myself all the way to the finishline! 

Result : 7th Pro women. 

I then headed to South Africa to spend some good time with my mom, dad and brother and his family!
My dad is still fighting hard in his battle with cancer. It was great to spend his 74th birthday with him! 

The beautiful view from my parents house

Mom and Dad

Great to catch up with childhood friends Julie and Kerry

My amazing nephew Cole

 Gavin and his family!


John said...

Thank you for the report! Puts things into perspective (about enjoying the race no matter what). :-)

Jacqui said...

Thanks John!!! Yes you have to enjoy it!!! Especially Ironman!