Stikkordsarkiv | Triathlon Race Report

Race Report – Aurlandsfjellet Xtreme Triathlon (AXTRI) 2012

August 18. 2012 it was finally time for my big goal this season – Aurlandsfjellet Xtreme Triathlon! Ranked among the top 6 hardest triathlons on http://triathlon.competitor.com/2010/03/uncategorized/10-hardest-races-on-earth_7699, I knew I was preparing for a huge challenge all year. Being a traditional half-Ironman distance with1.9km swim, 94km bike and 21km run course it does not sound so bad, but adding over 4000 altitude meters into the mix and you get a race that is so much more of a challenge in every aspect than a traditional race.

Before the race: I set my goal’s for the AXTRI race late in 2011: Total time below 8h (which would earn me the red finisher t-shirt, only won by 9 last year), and a 4h bike split with swim below 40min. Arriving at Østerbø (which is a beautiful mountain village of cottages and a resort) two days before the race with my father as my trusted support, preparations where perfect: I took a short run on the course, drove through the bike leg (in a car obviously) and was actually feeling great. Accommodation at Østerbø is really recommended, as the finish line is right at your doorstep.

Weather forecasts were not the best, but that was not really worrying me at the time; I was trying to focus 100% on what I would do during the race; swim calm, and then eat, eat, eat 🙂

Swim + T1: Being new to triathlon (AXTRI being my second ever), I was seeded at the back of the swim field with a white swim cap. I was peering jealously at everyone with a red swim cap, and hoped I would have one of those next time. It was crowded on the sides, so I placed myself smack in the middle. When the start cannon fired I was running for life into the already churning waters. With 200 on the start being forced through a narrow gap in the rocks, there were som fighting, but surprisingly little. The first bouy was placed 200m from shore, and I was already feeling I had started to hard when I reached it. Even with a (for me) hard start, I was only somewhere in the middle of the pack. Trying to forget I was in a race, only focusing on stroke mechanisms, I slowly got to the transition having the feeling that several hours had crept by. The swim time was 34:40, over 5min better than my expectations and meaning I was nr. 73 overall out of the water. As usual I did not waste any time in the transitions, giving me the 4th best split in T1.

Bike + T2: After only 100m of flat, you go into the first climb on the bike. 13km with 8% average grade! Sticking to my race plan I avoided eating anything the first 20min, drinking only water to settle my stomach, and settle into the ride. I was steadily picking places, but watching my pace and keeping my effort in check. The overall race winner Olav Johannes Hovland passed me early in the climb, but I saw that his pace was to high and would likely have ruined my race if I tried to follow.


Full concentration in one of the tight corners on the first climb.

The climbs on AXTRI are quite social: You are allowed to ride side by side, and I talked to several of my team mates from Trondheim Triatlonklubb on the way up, wishing each other good luck for the rest of the day. After about 700 altitude meters I was catching up with the group behind the leaders. I used a long time to catch them, creeping in slowly checking my effort. Close to the top I was with my team mate Øystein Høgsand (who finished 4th overall), and we talked and rode side by side the last 300 altitude meters to the top, and formed a group with two other riders on the descent to Erdal. Max speed on this stretch was 87km/h on my computer 😀 On the top I felt really freash, but our small group rode past the drink statation, which later on proved to be a fatal mistake. After turning in Erdal on the 42k mark, there was a new climb of 15km to the top, with ascents close to 11%, but 8% average. I rode away from my group, but sticking to my race plan effort. Half way up the climb I faced problems for the first time: I was out of water and sports drink with still 700 atltitude meters to the drink station. I had only gels, and did not dare to eat them without water. I was slowly starting to feel drained, and I really needed energy. When I finally got to the top I was in 4th place overall, but I was paying the price for missing the drink station: 40mins without drink or food.  Trying to make up for it I started to push in gels and sportsdrink, ultimately starting to feel quite sick and nauseous. This gave way on the descent back to Aurland, and I reached T2 as nr. 5 overall, with a bike split of 4h2min. Spot on my target 🙂

Run leg and Finish: I was looking forward to the run leg; Exploring Aurlandsdalen, which is known as one of the most scenic 1 day hiking routes in Norway. With 1000 altitude meters I knew it would be a challenge (which proved right). First 6k of the run leg is flat, and I started in a good pace feeling some cramps in my calfs, but no problems yet. Then suddenly I hit it: The famous wall! I could barely walk, let alone run. When Øystein and his group went past me I was shocked at the pace they kept, with me moving almost backwards. I pushed in two packs of liquid gels with caffine, and some of the trance lifted.


Slow but steady going on the easier parts!

Being now able to run extremely slow on the flat bits (which were few) I made som progress, although only stumbling along on the up-hill sections (which were many). I hit a new wall about 5km later, but pushed through it with effort and determination, clinging to the hope that my good bike leg would be sufficient to see me below 8h. As my pace was so slow, I could enjoy the scenery; dramatic waterfalls, calm lakes, narrow paths overshadowed by the mountain side – this route really has everything! When the tourists cheering on us along the route started to feel sorry for me, I knew I was in a bad shape, but checking my watch gave me hope for the 8h barrier. With 2km left I saw Lars Ursin, one of the strong runners from Trondheim Triatlonklubb coming up from behind. With a desperate sprint I held him back until there were 400m left; We came to a gate, and I held it up for him wishing him good luck towards the finish. I knew he would have run past me anyway, so why not be a gentleman? 🙂 Finish time was 7h:48min51sek, giving me the red finisher shirt and 23nd place overall.

I made it, finally! I’ve never crossed a finish line so glad, but at the same time so tired before.

So why was I so disappointed? I reached my goal, but still I felt more disappointment than joy – I had not sticked to my race plan, and failed on the nutrition and hydration part. My run was 20min slower than the worst case run time I had set up before the race, and 30min slower than the likely run time of 2t40min. The feeling wore off during the evening, and spirits rose steadily as we discussed the race afterwards. Congratulations to my team mates Øystein Høgsand and Ann Kristin Lien who finished 4th and 3rd overall for men and women. Nothing less than impressive!!!:) And also congratulations to everyone else finishing this astonishing triathlon, and to the arrangement comitee in Bergen Triathlon Club (BTC) for making it all possible.

Pretty happy about getting the Red Shirt after all 😀

For race information, see http://axtri.no/Home.html and pictures from the race can be found at:

http://flamphotogallery.zenfolio.com/axtri. Here are the pictures of me, not looking particularly fresh close to the finish line 😉 http://flamphotogallery.zenfolio.com/p668132254

The mountain may have defeated me this time, but I will be back to claim it next time! 😀

Race Report: Trollveggen Triathlon 2012

I think triathlon, after all being an international sport rather than a national sport here in Norway (yet), demands race reports written in english 🙂

So, July 14. the day had come at last: My debut as a triathlete! And my God was I looking forward to this day! The praise I had heard for this route leading up to the competition was enormous: The arrangement was supposed to be tip top, the sea crystal clear (but cold), and the scenery breathtaking with steep and winding mountain roads up Trollstigen and a grueling climb on the run/walk part up to the finish at Trollveggen. They where right in every aspect of this description. Trollveggen Triathlon is a custom distance triathlon, with 1200m swim, 34km bike and 5.7km run. But don’t be fooled: 1500 altitude meters makes this a challenge, despite the short distance.

Before the race: After enjoying a good nights sleep (except for the fire alarm going off on the school we were sleeping at about 12AM), the anticipation and excitement levels where running high as me and the others from Trondheim Triatlonklubb were biking down to the start line. After lining up all the T1 gear and sending away the T2-box to the top of the mountain T2 zone, I felt the nervousness coming when pulling on the wet-suit: I had really no idea what was in store for me this day. Despite a felling of uncertainty, I was also feeling confident that if I stuck to my race plan, avoiding any stunts on the swim and focusing on technique, I would be fine once the bike leg started. The swim warm up was basically a swim cool down: 13 degrees celsius! That is extremely cold, even with a wetsuit. But the cool water cleared my mind (although taking away my breath); I felt ready to start!

Swim leg and T1: I positioned myself somewhere at the back on the right side of the start field. I had really no idea on how my at best average swimming skills would stack up in this field. BANG! suddenly we where off in a sea of arms and legs kicking in all directions. I kept my focus, avoiding rushing the start, and got around the first buoy after 100m quite well. Because of the cold temperature the swimming was reduced from 1200m to 800m, in 2x400m laps. I was struggeling to keep my face in the water, and saw a lot of other swimmers having the same problem. After about 200m I settled into my swim, and focused on techinque only. Climbing the field steadily, I was somewhere in the middle of the back after the first lap, and got out of the water as nr. 29 of the about 120 competitors on the start line. I was really pleased, and felt extremely awake as I ran into T1. I could see some of my team mates there, the strong swimmers like Cathrine and Morten. The best swimmer from our club and the fastest overall, Magnus Bru, had already left T1 several minutes ago. T1 was fast and efficient, providing an excellent start to the race.

Picture from the swim start (for more pictures see www.facebook.com/pages/Trollveggen-Triathlon-2011/)

Bike Leg and T2: With my trusted Cervelo S5 bike, I was soon powering up the field steadily picking places. I said hello to Cathrine as I cycled past, knowing that she would be in the race for one of the top spots in the female competition today. At the turning point I was around 15th place, and was getting help from Matz to keep the pace on the flats (he was riding with aerobars, which seemed to be quite smart on the flat bits). I was trying to eat, but kept loosing my food out of my tri-suit: Not something to be recommended if you want to go the distance 🙂 Suddenly it started to climb, and I saw the 9km left to T2 sign, and I knew that 750 altitude meters was ahead of me. My legs felt really fresh, and I kept a stady pace continuing to move up the field. Before we started on the Alpe d’Huez part of the climb with tight twisting corners, I looked up and almost fell of the bike: The fog had lifted so you could see every part of the winding road until it dissapeared into the fog again 1km before the top. I could see Henrik Oftedal in the lead several bends before me, and knew that there was work to do.

Photo: Leker turist

This is the famous Trollstigen, the picture is taken from the platou where T2 was. What a finish to a spectacular cycling leg!

I kept up an even pace, but could see no more cyclists in front of me. There where a lot of people cheering in some of the corners, which was motiviating. When I got to T2 I was notified that I was in 4.th place! I changed quickly, grabbed some food and started on the climb towards the top.

This is me in one of the Tour-de France like corners. I was really loving it!

Run (walk) leg: The first part of the 5.7km run course is quite flat but with some rocks and some bogs. I settled into a steady pace, not really knowing the challanges that lay ahead. I reached the first steep and rocky climb, and suddenly I felt a new type of pain: My lower back kept giving in, forcing me to crawl up the hill like an animal! I could do nothing about it, and it frustrated me so much I was actually screaming out in frustration and pain a couple of times.  I talked to some of my team mates after the race, and they described this as a normal condition in this race. Maybe som more abs and back strenght training can cure it? After the first steep part I could stretch out a bit on a really rocky path, and also there was some soft snow to run on.

The signs indicating the kilomerts krept by in snale pace: was I even going forwards? I kept imagining hoards of people catching me from behind, but no one came. The tourists along the route was cheering me on, and I tried to be brave. Still I could see no competitor in front of me, but was told that he was not far ahead and just as tired and bent as I where. I kept pushing forwards, and as I saw the 1km left sign, I could do a bit of running on a nice flat stretch of snow. Gritting my teeth I managed a final sprint up to the finish, 750 altitude meters above T2. My legs gave out on the finish line, but a cold Cola and some coffee quickly cured that. And still better: I managed to keep the 4th place on the run, and could not have been happier with my triathlon debut! I stayed at the top for a bit cheering on my competitors and club mates running in to strong overall results.

Piercing the fog. This is from the steepest (and of course) most rocky section of the climb. The band keeps you on track!

Things are not feeling fast when you are going 4×4 🙂

To sum up, this was a really happy ending to my triathlon debut! A big thanks to Richard Merlid and his family who are the creators and organizers behind Trollveggen Triathlon, and of course all the volunteers also. You are all doing a fantastic job! If you want to know more about the race, visit http://trollveggen-triathlon.com/.

Have I signed up for next year? OF COURSE!! 🙂

FULLFART LINGSOM

Det viktigste er å delta, men det er lov å komme først.

Marthe Katrine

Trening, erfaringer og opplevelser mot min første Ironman

Cathrines triatlon

Trening, erfaringer og opplevelser mot min første Ironman