I raced last Saturday in Challenge Norway, which was arranged for the first time. The race was held in the beautiful city of Tønsberg, a bit more than 100 kilometers from Oslo to south. Tønsberg, also Norway’s oldest city, provided with a very beautiful but tough course for a half distance triathlon race. For me, it was the toughest half distance triathlon by far. Weather was sunny and warm, but unfortunately also windy. Probably the coolest and strangest thing was that organizers had included some 200 steps’ climb to the run course. It was at the same time horrible and fun!
Here is a short recap to my race preparations and the race day.
As I have in all social media already told several times, I will race in Ironman Mallorca at the end of September. Thus, the entire August has been full of long-distance training. The last two weeks weren’t an exception. I have completed regularly 20 hour training weeks and focused on long intervals and on the distance. So, preparations for this race weren’t very optimal. I ran long intervals (1x4km + 2x2km + 2x1km) 1,5 weeks before the race and completed an IM-paced bike-run combo just week before the race. Last Saturday’s bike-run combo was 5x20min IM-paced bike reps (total 4:15h) + 40 min IM-paced run (4:30/km). On the race week I concentrated more on swimming, I swam 3 times before the race, and cycled and ran a little less than on normal weeks. On Tuesday evening’s short race preparation bike and run reps legs felt super good, and so did my race preparation swim feel very good on Thursday morning. I was very eager to race again. I felt much stronger and faster than before IM70.3 Haugesund!
The swim was in sea. This time I wasn’t scared of it! I really enjoyed the swim leg. My body felt strong, but still I concentrated on one thought: don’t do anything stupid, just swim with good technic. My Garmin showed time 33:10 and pace 1:45min/100m. For me it was a normal swim in a slightly wavy sea. I had hoped for a sub 31 min leg, but luckily noticed that most of the bikes were still on the racks, when I entered T1.
I had some problems taking my wetsuit off. It took around 10-15 seconds extra to struggle out of the suit. I really have to learn to make a faster T1.
I bought a power meter a week ago and was using it for the first time on a race. I was happy to see how much power I can produce. (I don’t my watt limits yet). When the power meter showed on the first up-hill 300 watts, I knew I was going far too fast. I slowed down and noticed that this will be a tough cycling day. Legs didn’t feel the best, they were a little powerless. However, I was still able to push almost 200 watts, which I’d thought would be too much for me. Challenging bike course (all the time up and down, no flat parts) and rather strong wind made cycling feel extremely though and made me mentally tired. On the half-way when I noticed too many men passing me and watts going down, I got myself together and passed a group of men and decided to keep them behind me. I succeeded there and could do a little better last part of the bike leg.
Time: 2:36. Avg speed: 33,9 km/h. Avg power: 181 watts. Avg HR: 165. Climb: 800 m.
Feeling: little tired and extremely slow, but a good day’s HR.
I was a little worried about the run leg, since in Haugesund I had stomach problems on the first three kilometers. I had come to a conclusion that in Haugesund I didn’t drink and eat enough during the bike leg. So, this time concentrated very much on drinking enough and taking a gel every 30 minutes. I drank two bottles of energy drink and some water, and could keep all stomach problems away! I was extremely happy to start running and to notice that both legs and stomach worked very well. All running intervals with tired legs apparently start to pay off now! :)
I hadn’t made a pace or HR plan for the run. I had just decided to run by good feeling and see how far that brings me. First eight kilometers went mentally very quickly and with good feeling (avg pace 4:08/km, inc. 2 kilometers on slowish sand) until I started the climb to the “mountain” for the first time. It indeed was a leg killer. I noticed it’s better to run the stairs with high frequency and not to push super hard, to keep lactic acid away. After the 100 stairs I though the climb was a peace of cake, but I was totally wrong. There was still two hill parts to come – and the deep downhill, which was even tougher on the second lap. On the second lap, my pace slowed down a little, but I was still able pass people and enjoy the feeling of finally be able to enjoy my running background – or tough run trainings done this year. When being on the top of Slottsfjell for the second time, I realized it’s not going to be a 21,1km run leg, but longer. And so it was. My Garmin showed 22,6 km. I can tell those extra 1,5 kilometers felt long!
I think without the “mountain part” I could have easily run a PR in a half distance race.
Time: 1:39:11. Distance 22,6 km. Avg pace: 4:23/km. Avg HR: 167. Second best running time!
Feeling: very good legs. I lacked mental toughness during the 5 last km. I should be able to push with higher HR in the end. I also lacked people to compete with. While running, I knew I was first female age grouper. Pro girls on the same level as me had started 5 minutes earlier, so I could not enjoy their company.
Total: 4:52:11. 4. place, AG win.
Lessons learned: 200 watts is still too much for me in a half distance race. Mental toughness trainings are also needed, since I noticed I had too much energy after finish line. I didn’t leave all there, although I had planned that. In addition, I really need to learn to swim faster! Although I left 4 pro women behind me, they all swam faster than me. I have improved my swimming, but not enough to be able to step in pro starts yet.
Other things: It indeed was a beautiful course. Vestfold is a nice place ;)
Finnish triathlete living in Norway