3 september 2018 – Knysna South Africa
It’s the day after the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa that, on a very rainy day, I am sitting in my hotelroom dreaming about future goals and decide to send my coach an email “I am ready to train for a full distance triathlon and try to qualify for the world championships in Kona Hawaii”. I signed up for Ironman Kalmar 2019 however in winter leading up to this race I got a knee injury which kept me from running almost the entire year. Because I already paid everything and couldn’t cancel anymore I decided to do the race anyway and gain some experience so I swam & biked in Kalmar and walked 14km. A bike- & shoe fit after the race solved all my injury problems, should have done that earlier! After this race I felt very motivated to keep training so decided to signup for IM South Africa in March 2020. I did all my long training rides indoors and felt very fit for this race… however Corona happened and a few days before we were supposed to travel to South Africa all the lockdowns started so time to make new plans. I could defer my registration to IM Portugal in November so that was the new goal. Again an IM build for this and I felt very fit and more or less on the day my taper started (about 10-14 days out from the race) they canceled the race…. time for new plans again. IM Copenhagen in 2021 then maybe? Close to our home in Sweden so if it would be canceled I wouldn’t have to book a big trip for this. So a long introduction to how I came to race in IM Copenhagen!
Swim – 58:48 – 1:33/100m
The swim was in a harbor with calm salty water, I didn’t explore the swim course but heard it was quite cold. It was a rolling start and I picked a spot at the front of the race. Before the start I felt calm & confident, not nervous at all actually. I knew how much & hard I trained and that I was prepared for this distance. The start of the swim is always just all out for a few 100m and then settle into a group with good pace. The pace felt slightly slow in the group so I tried to overtake the group but the effort to do this was so much higher and I didn’t really go faster so decided to just stay in the group and enjoy the swim. The water wasn’t that cold actually, I don’t know the temperature but it felt just fine. It felt like the swim was done very quickly.
Bike – 4:43:58 – 38.03 km/h
The bike was 2 loop course with a fast flat section along the coast and a hilly section on the way back. The first part through the city was a bit tricky with bad road surface, many turns and bumps, really had to pay attention. When we where out of the city it was just head down and push controlled power. The first 90-100km I overtook a few guys but was mostly biking in no man’s land, there was no athletes in front or behind me. A few times I actually doubted if I didn’t miss a turn somewhere because it was so calm. The second lap this changed a bit when some athletes overtook me and I started overtaking athletes who were still in their first lap. On the second hilly part I was struggling a bit to keep a good rhythm. This part was either high power to overtake people or quite slow biking sometimes to not draft. I decided not to worry too much and just stay in the moment, focus on my nutrition and hydration and try to stay relaxed. After 140-150km my neck and shoulders were sore but my legs still felt very okay and I started overtaking people again who overtook me earlier in the bike so this gave a nice boost to finish the bike strong. Overall the bike was tougher then I expected on forehand with about 1000 meters altitude difference.
Run – 3:10:23 – 4:31 min/km
After a quick transition onto the run, 4 laps through the city center of Copenhagen. The first km went fast but felt very easy. I just went by feeling and the first lap was flying by with an average of about 4:10/km. At this point this felt very okay but I also knew that it was probably a bit fast and I might die at the end of the run. On the other hand I was gaining on the leaders of my AG and was running around the position good enough for a Kona slot (I thought there would be 4-5 in my AG, it turned out there was 9). I decided to slow down just a little bit to about 4:20 kilometers and see how long I could hold this pace. The second lap also went fine and the first half marathon went in almost exactly 1h30. The third lap was starting to get tough, the bridges/hills in the course felt like they were getting bigger and bigger and I needed to start pushing hard to keep the pace. I could keep the pace quite okay until about km 30 and then my pace dropped a bit more and at km 32 both my hamstrings fully cramped so had to stop stretch for a while, at this point I thought Kona qualification was gone. I could start running again but after this cramp I don’t think my running form was very pretty anymore and every fiber in my body was screaming to just walk instead of run but I kept running. I swore to never ever do a full IM again (it’s even recorded on video). Lots of support from family & friends helped enormously in this last lap, many thanks for this!. Every lap I also got very detailed updates from Sander van Kammen with my position in the race and the pace of the guys in front and behind of me, really appreciated this. The last km I saw it would be close to get under 9 hours so I increased the pace a little bit and just finished under 9 hours.
I finished in 4th place in my AG and knew this would be enough for a direct qualification for the World Championships in Kona Hawaii. I also finished under 9 hours which is not to bad for my first full distance. Still the feeling was a bit double because I couldn’t keep my pace flat in the last 10km but if I looked at the results of my competitors my run was actually the best compared to the other splits. So guess it was not that run bad after all. Now start making plans for IM Kona, if travel restrictions allow it go to there. I know it’s still a big gamble to try to go there in February but I can not pass on this opportunity.