Two years ago I pushed my body too far, and the once 42km Swimrun race in Kalmar was too much after back to back races the two weekends prior.
The past two years has been a long uncertain period in my life. But I never gave up the hope that one day a doctor would give me the OK to compete again.
At the end of March I got that “OK”. I feel great, even though I’m 10-16kg over weight. But as last as two weeks ago Fredrik and I decided to give this race a shot. Our only goal was to finish the race running the entire time, but it would be nice to finish under three hours.
I wrote earlier about my new Swimrun suit. Last week Fredrik and I did our first test swim and Thursday our first Swimrun workout in the new suits. Both the swim and Swimrun felt good.
Saturday morning I was up around 05:15 to start my day. After breakfast and reading the newspaper, I left to get Fredrik. We managed to leave Växjö just before 07:00. We get to Kalmar and stop at COOP to get bananas and a small water bottle for the first run.
By the time we get to Kalmarsundsparken there are already lots of other teams there as well. 09:05 is the pre-race information. By the time the meeting is over the bathroom lines are long. Starting to feel nervous about how my body will react to the first and longest run of the day. My original plan was to run with my suit up, but Fredrik was ok with the extra time I’d need to pull it up. So we decided to run with tops down. At 09:50 we make our way into the starting area. 130 teams of two are registered. Only a few have their suits pulled up. So it feels even better that we didn’t start with them up.
The start sound goes and we rush off like a cow release. Dust from the trail up in the air, faster teams in the back navigating their way forward, and Fredrik and I trying not to run faster than we know we can. The first km flies by at 06:10. But we manage to hit a better 06:30 pace by the second km. It was also around this time the field was spread out. We were three teams pulling up the rear. The six of us wound up running the first 6.7km together. At the first livestock gate I went around while the others went over. This out us dead last but it felt better to follow someone’s back than to try to hold that pace on our own. Along the way we catch up to a team where one is throwing up or trying to (sick or heat exhaustion). With less than a km left to the first swim we catch another team, they decided to pull up their suits before the swim.
As we arrive to the first swim we drop our equipment and quicker than expected we manage to pull up our suits, cap, goggles, paddles on and we head out. I pull my zipper all the way up. We pass a few teams during this swim. With our new suits we lose no time going out on the second run. A simple pull down the zipper, goggles around neck, cap off, rotate paddles. A few teams fly by on the run. We get to the second swimming and can see lots of teams ahead of us, we quickly prepare for the swim and jump in the water. Again we pass a few teams. Swimming was really recovery for us. The third run was really short so we didn’t take off our goggles or caps just ran over to the next swim. The third swim was the start of the channel. The two teams that passed us on the run where quickly behind us again. The water was warm and smelly. But we quickly find our pace again and move up the field again. This time having to actually swim really close to a few teams that didn’t swim straight through a tunnel. The exchange to the fourth run was nearly vertical but we are up quickly, this time we take a gel before we swim. During this run a few people comment about our speed in the and joked about being a motor boat. The fourth swim is nearly a km. This is where we made up most of our lost time from the first run passing teams left and right. Since there were no split times we will never know how many we caught up to. But by the end of the day we moved up roughly 50 spots. I guess we moved up over 25 spots here.
During the next run we don’t see a lot of teams, but manage to pass a few on the next swimming. As we head out for the next 2.2 km run I’m starting to get hot. But luckily we run mostly in the shade of trees. During this run only 2-3 teams pass us. But once again we swim fast enough to pass even more teams. Now we have the second longest run of the day just over four km. I keep repeating in my head “just keep moving”. I did not want to rest or walk. I just wanted to make it to the next swimming. Luckily for me there was a bonus energy station so I got some water over my back and coke in my belly. With about two km left another surprise. A man with a hose ready to shoot us with cold water! That was just the kick I needed.
We got passed by 4-6 teams on this run, but we saw Fredrik and Pia at the one place we had a chance to see them. It gave another boost. A quick drink stop before we get to the next swimming, quickly pass the first two teams that just passed us and even swim pass another three teams before we go up. Our quick exchanges allows us to run to the next swimming with out being passed on the run. The second to last swim was about 500m and again we cruise past other teams. Fredrik and I are so even in the water today that he took the left side and I the right and after we passed 5-6 teams we met in the middle again. The second to last run, a short run over an island and the two teams that passed us on land are still going into the water. We manage to pass them and another two teams as we make our way to the last run I get goose bumps. Flash backs to how things played out two years ago. I get goose bumps but shake it off. We take a few extra seconds so we both can have another drink before starting the 775m run to the finish line. Five to six teams pass us on the way, but we finish the race just over 3 hours and 9 minutes.
So happy, so tired, but SO thirsty!!
Another team came up to me and jokingly told me that they thought we were a kayak when we passed them on the second to last swim.
Not everyone can run fast I think to myself. There are three other Växjö teams in the finish area.
It takes 20 minutes or so until things start to feel normal. We get our bag and head to the showers. After a much needed shower we find Jonas and head to Grilleriet for burgers.
It’s been a long time since I felt like this. And I miss the feeling. I’m hoping to find another Swimrun for Fredrik and I, but I am so glad I signed up for Vidösternsimmet (21km) in August to help keep me motivated to keep training during my four week vacation.