It’s Thursday morning and I have a rest day that only consists of a run in the afternoon. I have already trained 18 hours in three days this week including hard bike sessions in the hills and mountains Monday and Wednesday, hard run Tuesday and hard swim Monday. So it’s been a good week so far. Next week I’ll turn down the intensity a notch before two hard weeks again the weeks after when the Danish national triathlon team returns down here.
I’m having a very consistant period of good training. My biking is on a good level again after all the work I have put in riding the hilly Fuerteventura and I can feel I have some of the same power on the bike as I had in the Olympic distance days and that was one of my purposes for moving down here in the winter period.
First non wetsuit swim for 2 months
The Olympic pool in Playitas has finally been fixed so it is heated again after that heavy flood we experienced back in late November. First the pool had to be emptied because of all the mud and then the heater had to be replaced. That means that I have had my first swim in two months without my beloved Blue Seventy wetsuit!
It does feel good to be able to swim in the pool in nothing but trunks and a blue sky as the scenery, though.
After two months of wetsuit swimming I just need a couple of sessions to find the rythm again. In a period like that I can clearly feel how much effect a wetsuit has on your swimming even when you are at a high level like myself. In the suit you are a little faster, don’t use as much energy and you can get by with shorter breaks during the sessions and feel less tired.
When I started doing triathlon 13 years ago the quality of the wetsuits were not the same standard as now where they are very comfortable. I have really enjoyed my Blue Seventy Helix suit these two months where I have been forced into the suit in the cold water! You don’t really think too much about swimming technique when are you swimmer, but these wetsuit sessions have shown me how important it still is to pay attention to those little things and how important it still is to keep the technique sharp. A piece of advice to all triathlon AG’s out there is to keep trying to work on your swim without a wetsuit. You never know when you need to do a race without it!
A group of Denmark’s best swimmers from Elite Swim Esbjerg are in Playitas at the moment and I swam with them on Monday. Most of them kicked my ass but it was fun. One of them was participating at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the breast stroke, Chris Christensen and also one of the best open water swimmers is here, Mathilde Riis Sørensen.
My equipment is getting ready for season start
Right now I’m in my annual and difficult process of getting all my gear ready for the start of the season and this involves a lot of emailing with my sponsors. E.g. I have to order at both Specialized (my bikes), Zipp (wheels) and SRAM (components) and I’m having all the parts sent to Denmark to get it all put together by the mechanics at Heino Cykler. I have a set of bikes both in Playitas and then in Denmark for when we move back. It makes it easier for future camps that I can just have bikes stored in Playitas so I don’t have to take the bikes with me every time.
Ecco is working on getting my bioms ready for Abu Dhabi in the Danish red and white colors so it matches my red/white race setup all the way. I’m also looking forward to seeing the Craft boys complete my race suit in Danish style! Specialized will be present at the competition in Abu Dhabi and that is great news for me as I’ve been working my Shiv hard these past months in training in the mountains, so it will get a good make-over before the race by the Specialized mechanics.
Q&A with 2nd and 3rd in Hawaii
Wednesday night Andreas Raelert (2nd, Ironman Hawaii 2010), Marino Vanhoenacker (3rd in Hawaii 2010) and myself were in a Q&A-session in the sports bar at Playitas. The bar was packed and it was certainly more popular than the regular Wednesday night karaoke. In the picture, its Marino left, Andreas in the middle and a guy named Rasmus to the right.
It was a nice hour of Q&A’s where we answered individual questions as well as sharing our thoughts on different things. I was asked about many things; why my race in Hawaii went so wrong, what I did right in Challenge Roth and where I like to train in Playitas. And then of course they wanted to know our thoughts on why each of us will win in Hawaii in 2011.
Competitor TV and Triathlete Magazine have had a couple of guys working here the last days and they taped the whole thing, so hopefully you guys will be able to see it at some point. They are also doing other stuff with me and the rest of the elite athletes currently residing in Playitas so be sure to tune in on Competitor TV the following days.
Star field at Abu Dhabi
The last four years winners of Ironman Hawaii, Chris McCormack (2010 and 2007) and Craig Alexander (2009 and 2008) have announced that they’ll race Abu Dhabi International Triathlon too. This makes the field the strongest (by far) outside of Hawaii. All of the 2010 Hawaii top-10 (minus Raelert) will be there, and so will fellow Dane Martin Jensen and myself. I think it’s good to have this strong field of class athletes and that makes this race very interesting. You just can’t predict who will end up on the podium in a race that is the first in the season for many and that has this distance of 3 km swim/200 km bike/20 km run.
Last year Eneko Llanos won the inaugural race with Bockel placing 2nd and a guy named Rasmus Henning 3rd. There was hardly any wind in 2010 but they say it might be windy this year and that will probably mean a hard day at the office with a 200 km bike ride. I just can’t tell who will do well because the pre race favorites may not be able to perform well this early in the season.
Last year the überbikers didn’t have the advantage everyone thought they would so at the end of the day, the one breaking the tape will be the man who can handle the tough bike course best and still run very fast. My favorites a month before the race would be Chris McCormack, Eneko Llanos, Marino Vanhoenacker, Dirk Bockel and myself. We are all capable of running fast after a long and hard day on the bike. Well, it will be very exciting to see who will run of with the USD 50,000…
Until next time – be well!
My family and I has moved to my favorite training resort Playitas on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) for the next six months. We moved on November 1 and we have not missed life in Denmark yet. We will stay here while our new house is being build in Denmark.
There are several reasons for this choice, and other than the obvious that it is much better to train here during the Danish winter, we will have more time as a family and we all need that very much. The first month here have exceeded all our expectations and we really like it down here.
The kids, Caroline (5) and Emilie (3) have done well on the big move and have not complained about missing ‘back home’ yet. I could feel that I was happy to go here and not Denmark after Ironman Arizona and we really enjoy the nice climate and the nice apartment we have here. I don’t think I have been wearing long pants since we got here (don’t worry I DO wear shorts).
We don’t have the same packed schedule as in Denmark because Anita is on a leave of absense and does not work here. We have been able to get up in the morning when we want and then plan the day. The girls have some good friends to play with at our neighbours who also live here on a regular basis and we have already had many visits from people we know.
My good friend Brian Dåsbjerg (World Military Pentathlon Champion) was here with his family where 20 people celebrated his birthday on our terrasse, so we are enjoying it very much here.
If I’m training a lot our nanny Tanja will look after the kids if Anita has other plans so we are well covered when I start putting in the long hours in the pool, on the road and at the trails again (I have trained a minimum since Arizona, my second ironman race in 6 weeks.)
The kids might start school soon but it is in Spanish so there might be some challenges here in the beginning even though kids have the ability to quickly adapt into new languages. When they feel safe and secure in their new environment we will look into the school option.
Anita and I have startet taking Spanish lessons and have a private teacher two hours a week, where we do excercises (language ones), talk a lot (in Spanish) and get homework for the next lesson. I myself try to use it as much as I can with the staff here at Playitas and I can enough to make my self understandable – I guess. I’m sure I’ll quickly progress and then Spanish will be my 6th language after Danish, English, Swedish, German and French.
Team Saxobank-Sungard was down here for the annual training camp and I had a chance to chat to mainly the Danish riders. Among them Brian Vandborg who just joined the team and who I haven’t met before. He seems like a great guy and is very interested in triathlon and might want to do an ironman at some point.
In late November Fuerteventura and Playitas was hit by heavy rain and floodings at some parts of the resort. A couple of apartments was trashed when the water hit, leaving the interior knocked over when the water breached through the ditches.
The olympic pool, receptions, fitness gym, bars and restaurants was also somewhat flooded but we weren’t hit at the hotel.
Those living in block 7 where the apartments were flooded had a big scare and was evacuated but the most of us weren’t in any danger to our health or belongings. The worst case for the most guests was that they might get a little less out of their vacation.
I saw a really positive thing when all this happened: Everyone helped bringing it back to normal. The solidarity with the staff who couldn’t be blamed for this force majeaure was amazing. The morning after practically all the guests on the resort was ready to help mopping out water and cleaning up. It was nice to feel everyone backing the resort up when something like this happens that no one can expect and it actually brought everybody close together. And it was to the benefit of us all that things got back to normal as quick as possible.
Parents startet cleaning up the children’s club and even our girls on 3 and 5 years started cleaning the isles with their little beach shovels. I helped in the sports bar, pool bar and the gym and on a positive note it meant that I got to know the staff much better, which is nice when we stay here for that long.
Everything is back to normal now except for the Olympic pool which was emptied after the rain and mud. The pump was ruined and until it is fixed or they get a new one we swim open water at the beach.
I finished second to Timo Bracht in Ironman Arizona on November 23rd – only 6 weeks after Hawaii – in the time 8:10:58. Swim was 47:58, bike (including a 4 minute penalty) 4:30:35, and the marathon 2:48:35. I was a little under 4 minutes after Timo Bracht, who finished 6th at Hawaii this year, at the finish line. My race went according to plan – except for that 4 minute stand down penalty on the bike…
On the swim I got away with Matt Redd as I had hoped. I had decided to put the hammer down on the other favorites in the swim and I/we managed to split up the field and at T1 me, Reed and a few others had a 3,5 to 5 minute gap on the other favorites Bracht, Rapp and Lieto. This was perfect for me. The gap was bigger than in Hawaii and similar to Challenge Roth, where I got away with Pete Jacobs and Eneko Llanos. I had hoped for an advantage of 2-3 minutes, so it was a great swim for me.
Out on the bike Reed and Everett was – in my book – riding a bit too hard in the first 20-30k. I kept in the back and held their pace and after 30k they dropped the pace a bit so it suited IM pace much more. It was the first ironman race for both, so they were eager to get out there and have a good race.
At some point the pace dropped a bit too much for me and I took the front and pushed a little harder to make the strong bikers Rapp, Lieto and Brac
ht work some more to catch us.
They caught up on us after 100k and they set a solid pace dropping Reed and Everett. My plan was to stay in the back and get as easy a bike ride as possible, and I could ride with them without getting out of my comfort zone. I felt good on the bike and felt that I was able to outrun them on the day.
It was good to see Jordan Rapp back racing after his serious accident in March where he was hit by a car and he seemed pleased to ride in the front as he probably didn’t think he could run away from me and Timo anyway.
4 minute penalty for drafting
Rapp also had the advantage of less trouble accidentally riding into the draft zone when he was out in front. We rode three loops of 60k each and there was a LOT of AG-traffic on the second and third loop: Only one lane each way and 2,500 athletes out on the course makes it very difficult riding when you have to pass a lot and ride in and out of both motor cycles with cameras and officials and large groups of age groupers.
None of us in the front are drafting on purpose but with that amount of traffic you can easily be sucked into the draft zone unintentionally if the athlete in front sits up straight – which means a bit of slowing down – or if he reaches down to drink. You might not react in time to fall back and accidentally end up in the draft zone for a few seconds even though you do everything you can to avoid it.
It was bad luck that I received a stand down penalty with around 20k to go on the bike and had to stop just before T2 to serve. I didn’t think it would be that critical for me because I felt good on the bike and the others had worked hard to catch us. I thought that I would be able to run the four minutes in anyway and I used the time to stretch and get my body ready for the run.
Good running performances
Timo had a really good day and was running very good. Even if I hadn’t got that 4 minute penalty it wasn’t sure that I would have beat him, but it would have been fun to race him shoulder to shoulder. I had a good run on a cool course. It got very windy and rainy during the run but I managed a solid 2:48 on the marathon. I’m satisfied with that when you think of my form 6 weeks after Hawaii and the fact that only two weeks prior to Arizona I was about to call it a season with all the mental challenges I have had after my bad race at Hawaii.
On that note I think I gave a really good performance and it was actually close to being an overall near perfect race as I had when winning in Roth, had I not got that penalty. If I was in my best shape and the weather had been better this is clearly a sub 8-hour course. The course record in Arizona before was 8:13 and all of top-3 beat that record. Alone the weather might have been a factor in the 7 minutes Timo needed to go sub-8.
Tom Lowe was the big surprise to me with his 3rd place finish. I never pictured him as other than being Chrissie’s boyfriend before Arizona. It was his ironman debut and he rode 8:11, so I’ll keep my eye out for him from now on. He even passed me on the run but I was running smoothly at my pace and thought I might catch him later on. I kept focusing on myself and passed him again and ran away from him. It wasn’t easy and he was pushing me all the way to the finish line being only 20-30 seconds behind me on the last part of the run.
I reached my goal of finishing the year with a good performance, I probably have the points I need for Hawaii next year and I showed that I’m a good ironman athlete.
All the best,
This will be the last blog before the big day on Saturday and I feel ready for a shot of the Ironman World Championship title. My training has been pretty ideal the last many weeks and opposed to last year I’ve been able to follow my schedule 100 percent without interferrences. My bike has still not been optimal but after my physio Bjørn came to Kona and got to work on me it’s been better. I’m sure I will reach my level on Saturday. My swimming and running is still according to plan and I feel as well prepared this year as I was last year before my accident with the broken hand. The big difference this year is that I have been able to train all the way up to the race.
Training with the rivals
I have been training over here in a group of fellow Dane Martin Jensen and Dirk Bockel – a long time friend and training partner, but the group have also on occations teamed up with Macca, also a Specialized athlete, and Terenzo Bozzone from New Zealand.
We randomly met some of the other pro’s down at the swim start one day and Dirk asked Terenzo and Macca if they wanted to join. We have trained a little with them and also crossed paths with Crowie during swimming but the past week everybody minds their own business and puts on their poker face. Everybody looks really lean and fit so I think it os going to be a really cool race on Saturday.
High expectations after Roth and Hawaii last year
I usually perform well in the heat and I know that many expect me to do well this year and I feel fine about the pressure. Most of it comes from myself anyway as it is my dream to win here and I think I have it in me to be the Ironman World Champion. Everybody who dreams of winning this must be able to cope with the word ‘favorite’ sticking to them and if you want to win you deal with it automatically. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and race my very best and to show that I’m capable of doing what I and others expect me to do.
During the race my Facebook fan page will be updated by my press agent Brian Martin Rasmussen, both with comments, links, videos, pictures and stories from the people around me on race day in Kona. I’m sure that many Danish and international triathlon fans will be there to discuss and comment on the race, the tactics, the contenders and so on. My website will also be updated during the race.
See all the information you need to be able to see the race live in the press release on the website and on Facebook. Game is ON on October 9 2010 and I’m ready!
All the best,
I just arrived for Kona, Hawaii for the last two weeks of preparation for Ironman Hawaii. Two weeks of getting used to the heat and humidity and train on the course as well as getting the body into that 12 hour time difference from Denmark.
I was at home for a week after my two week training camp in Playitas Fuerteventura – a really good camp where I trained for about 40 hours a week.
It was great to see my family again, but it is difficult to get home for such a short period of time after two weeks of being able to focus completely on training 6-8 hours a day and my recovery. And eating.
The weather also turned from sunny and nearly 40 degrees celcius in Playitas to only 14-15 degrees in Denmark with lots of rain. It was back to reality and not the optimal situation, so next year I’m thinking that I’ll stay in Playitas for last week and then go directly to Kona and then bring my family down to Fuerteventura the last week.
Lots of happy training
I really entered the zone and had a nice rhythm in training from morning till evening. In my few rest days (where I only did hard swimming and core/fitness training) it was difficult keep my good focus from the long days. The less hard days obviously have a physiological function, when you put your body under such intense pressure as I do. But it is hard to keep motivated on the rest days as I felt they interfered too much with the good flow I felt on the long days.
It is actually quite interesting that you enter a zone where it feels good to train hard for 6-8 hours a day. My recovery was working well during the night so I felt ready the next morning. The demand for being fully focused on the long days is big and you need to be on top of your game mentally. The demands are smaller on rest days, the intensity and motivation drops and it gets harder to concentrate and thus more difficult to get through these days.
Especially last Monday, which was the last rest day before two long and hard days and then departure, was tough. I felt it did more harm than good. In the big picture it will probably the best to have those rest days, but my legs weren’t too good on the last two days of the camp and I felt it was more difficult to get back into the zone with training long days.
Luckily I finished off with a good brick run. No matter what I know that I got that brick run down at any time. We biked 200 km pr day the last two days where I felt tired and with heavy legs. The temperature also reached nearly 40 degrees Celsius so it was good Hawaii specific training. My bike level was not too stable and of course we had to drink more that last couple of days so we were hydrated and ready for the run sessions. Out last brick run was a good Hawaii specific exercise.
Brick run in Hawaii conditions
Fellow Dane Martin Jensen who will also compete in Kona, trained with me the last week and fellow Specialized athlete Jimmy Archer joined me both weeks. Jimmy and Pete McCrory from Trips4tri assisted Martin and me on the last brick run of the camp so that we could train fluid intake under very warm conditions.
We had arranged an aid station on our 1,4 km lap (a little less than a mile) where we had first energy drink, then ice and then cold water handed out to pour on ourselves. It was a good exercise in receiving and effectuating fluids quickly as well as feeling the cooling effect from ice and water and putting the ice in the cap and in the ice pockets on the race suit. It was nice to test it and as it was warm and the aid stations are located at every mile in Hawaii, it was very specific training towards a quick entrance and fast exit at the aid stations in Kona.
I learned last year that it is imperative for me to lose as little speed as possible going through the aid stations. I would rather be able to get as much in me as possible without losing speed so I will grab one cup with my right hand, make a swift pass to the left hand and drink it while my right hand grabs another. Then I will be able to grab 2-3 cups every time when you go through fast as I do.
Can perform in competitions even when training is a little off balance
Even though my biking hasn’t been optimal in training I know that I can perform well in competitions. In Challenge Roth I had the second best bike split and my training has been pretty much the same as leading up to that race. And I’m not one of the über bikers like Chris Lieto is or Torbjørn Sindballe was.
I know that many has to feel they reach their top level in training to be able to perform well when the gun goes off, but I know by now that I can race really good without feeling I hit my highest level in training.
My race mentality is very strong and I can always mobilize what it takes in the races so I’m not letting a non-optimal training get the best of me. As long as I train the kilometers I need to and I get my time in the aero bars, that’s the most important thing. I know my strength isn’t to train fast to be able to race fast, but as long as I can race fast when I need to I’m happy.
Overall it was a really good camp. The feeling this year was the same as last year, where I was in pretty good shape until I broke my hand in a bike crash. My body feels good and I’m able to absorb the many hours of training. I can train hard and still be ready for the next day
I had a good run in Challenge Roth and I continue to have faith in my running abilities. My swimming is also at a good level and I have been swimming a few times in my new Hawaii Blueseventy suit and it’s great. It is a non-sleeve suit with short legs. It is made of textile as the rules for neoprene has been altered in triathlon as well as in swimming. It is really cool and it feels great swimming in it.
I will return with another blog before the big race with the latest updates on training, my competition and where to follow the race live on race day.
All the best,
See the cool running/video blog here.]]>
It’s now been a week since the Challenge Copenhagen ironman distance race – an absolutely great race in the heart of Copenhagen. I was very proud and delighted to be a part of it. I did not participate at the full distance but I swam as a relay athlete in the morning and then I was in the finish area for a big part of the afternoon greeting a lot of people that I know, watching a lot of happy faces. It made me really proud and shows that this sport is something people can really enjoy. There were so many spectators out there that must have had a great day – the official number is 125,000 at the marathon course alone, and this is absolutely fantastic.
A good day for the sport and for Copenhagen and Denmark.
Now I have started the serious build up for Hawaii which is 7 weeks away now. I just got my Specialized Shiv TT bike ready last week so I have been out doing the first rides on it and it feels great and gives me a lot of motivation towards Hawaii that I have even some slightly better material than before and it’s just enjoyable to ride so I think it should give me a little advantage on the bike.
My training is going really well too. I’m definitely feeling better than I was 7 weeks before Challenge Roth which ended up quite well, so I’m guessing that I should be on the right track.
In 10 days I’ll be going down to Playitas on the Canary Islands where I also did my Hawaii preparations last year. I know that it is an ideal place for me to be. It’s a vulcanic island just like the big island of Hawaii, so it is very similar terrain, a lot of hard wind and crosswinds and it is quite hot as well in september, so I should be well prepared after a couple of weeks there.
Then I will be back home for a week and my primary objective there will be NOT to fall off my bike and break my hand like I did two and a half weeks before last year’s Hawaii. I need to stay healthy this time because I feel I have a good shot at one of the top spots in Hawaii so I shouldn’t blow it this time.
I’ll go out and enjoy being in Kona two weeks before the race and hopefully being ready when we get to race day!