It was inevitable that I’d end up ‘going long’ one day. After all I like a challenge! Before embarking on the full Iron distance of 3.8km swim/112mile bike/26.2mile run one day. it seemed ‘sensible’ to do some Middle Distance events first (half the full distance).
I decided to make my middle distance debut at Ironman Norway 70.3 on July 3rd. I fancied this event as it would be a great chance to catch up with Guide Baard Grindberg, who had moved back to his homeland a few years ago having raced with me in 2009 and 2010…Apparently he couldn’t put up with me anymore:-)
I’d also visited Norway in 1999 for a week of cross country skiing and wanted to see more of the country. The 6 hour drive from Baard’s house to the race town of Haugesund took in snow-capped mountains. forest. lakes, waterfalls and fjords, which was all very picturesque.
After one practice swim, two short tandem rides and one short run we were set for race day. Given Baard’s experience both as an individual athlete and Guide, I felt confident we;d be fine even if neither us had perhaps done quite enough training for it.
We each had a finishing time in mind, but, only talked in ball-park terms. I had reckoned at best it would be 5 hours and worst 5:30, so 5:15 was my guess. The 1.9km swim and 90km bike would be fine, with the latter said to be relatively flat and fast – especially since the organiser had somehow got the local council to resurface most of the route! I was’t sure how well I would run the half marathon though…unchartered territory in Tri!
Here’s how things panned out on race day: –
Pre-race: Up at 4:45am. Attempted to eat and digest breakfast. No nerves as I felt confident we would fulfil our minimum large – Finishing.
Swim: The swim was cut a little short due to the low water temperature (15 degrees). The rolling start, with 5 athletes running into the water every 5 seconds, would be better for us than a mass start since we are tethered. Unfortunately it was still very busy, with lots of people seemingly over-estimating their swimming ability, causing several hold-ups on route. We got round OK in 30:51 minutes however.
T1: I had to remind myself this wasn’t an ITU race and that I could take more than 30 seconds! We actually took 6 minutes, but then due to the weather we put on arm warners and jackets. To be fair it also takes longer as you have to locate your kit bags and change in a tent rather than having everything with your bike but I dare say we could have shaved a bit off this.
Bike: This was tougher than expected. It had about 1,700 ft of climbing. Not too bad, but still lumpy. Up, down, up down and so on most of the way. This was quite draining on the tandem as it was hard to settle into a rhythm and big efforts were required on the acents. It was very wet and cold at times, with valuable energy used up just keeping warm (or not). Scenic, yes. Flat, No. 2:36 hours taken for the 90km’s.
T2: Again we didn’t rush, but to fair we had all those clothes to take off that we put on in T1! 7 minutes.
Run: Despite having feet like blocks of ice from the bike, we started the run well, hitting just under 5 min/km pace and going through 10k in about 50 minutes. So, rough 1:45 half marathon pace. Great as I’ve only done 1:40 without swimming/biking first. Only thing was I was feeling hungry/empty and it wasn’t long before the pace was dropping. In fact I resorted to walking a couple of steepish cobbled climbs and the aid stations (the latter just to make sure we got fluid/fuel on board). In-between we were still going OK, but it was feeling tough. Baard was doing a great job of encouraging me and employing humour as well as providing some impromptu Norwegian lessons. This was becoming a bit lost on me the further into the run we went. I could only muster the odd one word response, focusing mainly on just keeping moving. Clearly I didn’t eat enough on the bike, but I was fairly pleased with a 1:52 split when we thankfully saw the finish line.
Post race: Wow, my legs really ached. My shoulders too. My feet hurt…alot. I felt like having a little nap. However after a post-race burger, shower and rest I felt surprising OK. It was a bit hard getting out of the car following the 6 hour drive back to Kongberg! Thankfully I didn’t have to drive:-)
After finishing in 395th place from 2,000 athletes in a time of 5 hours, 12 minutes and 49 seconds it seems Baard also estimated we’d cover the distance in 5;15 hours – great minds think alike!
Results are here.
Photo’s are here.
Over-all I really enjoyed the event despite the weather. The crowds were amazing even out in the sticks with the rain lashing down. I think we got some of the biggest cheers of the day which was nice and also lots of encouragement from other competitors, so there was a nice feel to things.
It was great spending time with Baard and his family (Thanks Mona for lending me your husband for the weekend even if he does snore!) in stunning surroundings. It’s a superbly organised race well worth adding to the ‘to do’ list.
This trip has set me up nicely for more long distance ‘fun’ in the future!