So this past Sunday I participated in my first official Ironman 70.3, in Jönköping. I had done the Vättern Challenge, the same distances, but slightly different course, and this time the race was under the Ironman flag, which really helps draw a larger crowd to the race.
Friday after lunch at Pizza Hut with my wife I pack up my car and drive 130km to Jönköping. It was the first time my Scott got to ride inside the car instead of on top 😉
I arrive to Jönköping, and the city center is completely covered in Ironman signs, and I am starting to feel the reality of how my Sunday was going to be. I check in to my hotel, and then head over to the Expo area to register. Amazing how small triathlon Sweden really is. I mean it felt like home walking around a city that was 130km away from where I live. Tons of friends already there and more on their way. I get in contact with a few friends that made it to the 1600 pre-race meeting, and find out there was nothing new or surprising for those of us that have done this before, so I decided to skip the 1700 and have dinner with Christopher and Jane instead. In Kalmar Ironman, and other races that I have been at where we get dinner before the race, it was been pre-made food and we ate in a big hall or out and around the race area. But Friday we had a choice of 6 restaurants to use our meal ticket. We tested La Gordo I think it was called. Chicken and pasta with an alcohol free beer. It was a small portion, but it was good. After dinner I parted with Christopher and Jane, bought myself a Ben & Jerry’s, Pringels and water and headed back to my hotel room. I sorted out my stuff and packed my bike and run bags and then laid in bed watching TV and Gods of Egypt. Managed to fall asleep around 22:30.
Saturday morning I am up around 06:45, for the 08:00 swim session. Decided quickly not to eat breakfast, but to stay in my room and relax until 07:40, then I head out to the swim start. Not at all as many people as there were at the Kalmar swim session, but around 20 or so. I swim around the course in about 30 minutes. nice and relaxed, felt good.As I come up out of the water the crowd as increased, I say hi to a few friends and then make my way back to the hotel for a shower and a much needed breakfast. The breakfast hall at the hotel filled with triathletes and their families.
After a nice long breakfast, I head back to my room, make a quick check over my bike, bike bag, and run bag. Verify I have what I need for the swim start and finish line bag off to the side and just after 10:00 I head over to bike check in. I wasn’t first at site, but it was easy to get in, set up my bike, reduce the air pressure, hang up my run bag, and bike bag, get my timing chip and then leave the transition area. Several friends & teammates around the transition area, so spend a few minutes joking with them, before heading back to the hotel.
I was not 100% sure that my car was parked in an area that would allow me to leave Jönköping before 20:15 Sunday night, so I pack up what I can in my room, go to my car and move it to a parking garage about 100m from the transition area, but outside the course. Making my get away so much faster and easier, since it was about a 1km walk from the finish line back to the transition area. Once my car is in place I pick up a sub from Subway and head over to the Expo to see what’s going one. I use the extra time to get a 15min massage before going back to my room to eat and stay out of the sun. Around 18:00 it’s time for dinner. Several of us had decided on pizza so we met up at Prima Pizza.
Back in my room I do what I can to relax, this time with the help if “I am Wrath” and manage to go to bed just after 22:00. Since my only real goal with Sunday was to finish, I have no nervous jitters, or anything keeping me awake.
Sunday morning, the start of a very long day. Breakfast around 6:15 with a few others at the hotel, around 07:00 I checkout of the hotel, bring my stuff to the car, and pump up my tires, before heading over to the swim start. Super early. it’s barely 0800 and the race starts at 0900, but what else could I do, I had already checked out of my room. At 0830 they open the channel to the lake for warm-ups, so I swim 100m or so, and feel ok. I get in line for the swim start and stand between the 28-30min signs. 30 minutes was my goal, but in the slight chance I swam faster I didn’t want to have to swim passed too many others. 0855 the pros start, at 0900 the age groupers start, 4×4 we start, every 5 seconds or so they send a group of 4 swimmers out to the swim. it takes about a minute before it is my time to start. I jog down the ramp, and dive in and swim away off to the right of the course. after 300-350m I have to stop, my wetsuit was too tight around my neck causing me to breath funny. I fix my suit then continue to swim relaxed. The swim is really uneventful I come up out of the water at 30:14, 9th in my age group, 102 overall. Not bad for a relaxing swim.
There is a 500-600m long blue carpet we have to run/walk on to get to T1. This adds to my T1 time, but around 7 minutes is ok considering I spent more than 4 minutes running to get there.
Off on the bike, the one part of the day I was most nervous for. I have only riden twice since August last year, and they were back to back rides for around 200km at 25km/h pace. My first practice ride I died after 90km and the other lasted just over 100km but then laid on the soffa for hours afterwards. So today’s challenge was to bike steady and have energy left for the run. The first 10km I take really slow, keeping my pulse down, I slowly make it up the long hill side. Once I get to the top, it is rolling hills for about 70km, my speed going from 20-50km/h. As I get to 70km I realize that 90km will not be a problem, I’ve eaten 3 gels and drank about 1.5 liters of water and sport drink. The final 10km down hill and through the city back to the transition area were mentally tough. I didn’t want to get a cramp, or run out of energy before the start of the run. Just minutes before T2, I see a person getting medical help on the side of the road, I don’t see a bike and think, Heart attack”? Scary, not only for the person on the ground, but for us still on the bike course. the volunteers, race officials and medical help had blocked off about 2m away from her into the road on one side and on the other side of the road a huge fire truck, leaving only 1.5-2m for us to bike through. I manage to bike the 90km in 3:07:31, 28.8 km/h, about 7 minutes faster than my goal time, but really 23 minutes faster than it took me just 3 weeks ago in training. The only difference was this time I couldn’t crash on a soffa 😉 By this time I am now 172 in my age group, and 923 overall.
As I get off my bike and walk into the transition area, I can feel the burn of my rub burns under my arms from last weekends Kustjagaren. Crap, how the hell am I am going to run 21km if I can barely walk 200m. I quickly find a red cross medical volunteer and get her to help me put a bandage under both arms, feels, great, so I thank her and jog over to the tent and get my run bag. Quickly get switch my shoes, take my visor and head out for the run. T2 took also just over 7 minutes. But well worth the extra time to protect my arms.
Run run as fast as you can, haha, kidding, my mantra was just keep moving, just keep moving. The first 4km go really fast, in my mind. but the bandages keep coming off, the tape was no match for my bulging biceps, so I stop when I see an ambulance team and ask them for more tape, but get something better. They wrap both my arms, and then I can continue to run the race. to the left is the tape and to the right the wrap. Much more comfortable with the wraps.
There was an aid station every 2.5km or so, and that became my goal, do what I could to keep jogging between aid stations. no matter how slow, just keep moving. I managed to do so with three exceptions. there was a slight hill around 6km and 14km that I walked up to avoid a cramp in my hamstrings, and then once when there was only 3km left and I really had to pee. All of my friends in the race and around the course did a really good job cheering me and the other on. I get to the finish line and the crowd is cheering thanks to a great speaker Björn Mortensen and Paul from the Ironman company that get the crowd going for every single finisher. I finished a half marathon in 2:41:59 with a 7:40 min/km pace. Considering my best 70.3 run is just over 2 hours at 85kg, 2:47 at 105kg is good enough.
final time 6:34:35. (90 minutes slower than my last half, but only 5 minutes slower than my goal time for the day.) I finish 224th out of 237 in my age group, and 1330 overall out of 1800 registered.