My race season ended to Ironman Mallorca. I was at the same time happy and a little sad. This season had felt at times quite long. At the end of August I was already ready to do the Ironman and take it easy after it, to have a little break from 20 hour training weeks. But I still had to keep going for one month. On the other side, I was very happy how well my entire season had gone. I enjoyed being able to make a solid performance in every race (except DNF at Finntriathlon Joroinen in stomach flu) and become stronger and faster during the season. As I got a flu four days after the Ironman and am sick now, my body apparently wanted already some rest. I am really happy it took all the pressure well until here.
I would like to write a recap of my entire season and own thoughts of lessons learned from races as well as training. As we all are individuals and I am not a triathlon coach or experienced athlete, these things should not be taken as granted.
18.3. Fredagsbirken (54 km ski race)
3. place with time of 3:41. To be honest, I had hoped for a faster time, but with my horrible cross-country skiing technique I was quite happy with the result. Every race that is tough long enough, like this time 20km up-hill skiing, fits me. I could “run” the up-hill and enjoy skiing down from the mountain.
I will definitely participate in cross-country skiing races and events next winter too, also Saturday’s Birken. I think cross-country skiing in hilly tracks is very good triathlon training. I like to think that I built up my endurance in Nordmarka last winter, not by cycling indoors or running on slippery roads. I skied many times so long and fast that I was tired enough to go home.
23.4. Sentrumsløpet (10 km road race, running)
37:47 and 14. place. I had hoped for a top-10 placement, but apparently Norwegian top runners were far too good for me. A sub-38 in a hilly course was however quite okay result after coming back from tough cycling-focused training camp a week before. I think I am still able to find a gear for sub-37 times – with triathlon training! Let’s see next spring.
22.5. Nordmarka Rundt (150 km road race, cycling)
1. place. It was rainy and cold, but it was still fun and easy until 100 km. During the last 50 km I was freezing and just wanted to go to toilet. I was very happy to finish and to my surprise be the fastest women. I crashed on the way to home, so I either became tired or cold.
12.6. Hove Tri (olympic distance)
1. place. Hove Tri was probably my worst triathlon this summer. I won, but I wasn’t happy with my swimming and cycling. I lost time by swimming too much on the left of the course and my legs felt powerless while cycling. Luckily my running speed was enough for the win. I remember being quite sad on Tuesday after the race, thinking how bad I had swum and cycled. Motivation was pushing hard on that point of season.
Lessons learned: Always be (a little) happy after a win. Be positive, but learn from mistakes. Learn to swim straight!
18.6. Styrkeprøven Lillehammer-Oslo (191 km road race, cycling)
3. place in 125 ladies’ mass start. I had never cycled that long. I was afraid of the race. I wasn’t afraid of being able to finish, but being able to push hard to the end. I was also afraid of sprint finish, since I suck in cycling sprints and would very probably loose to stronger cycling girls. And my head doesn’t let my to loose, although it is “only cycling”. Luckily it didn’t end to a sprint finish for me. I couldn’t hang with two other SK Rye ladies after 140km, but I could drop other 120 girls. I liked this one a lot. It was my third ever cycling race.
3.7. IM 70.3 Haugesund
5. place, F30-35 win. This race hurt the most this year. I swam slowly, but I had a very good cycling day and I ran for the (age group) win. Running felt tough the last 10 km, but I also enjoyed the pain. I think I couldn’t have been faster in cycling or running. I loved the course, and will come back next year.
Lessons learned: the cycling split in half ironman isn’t that long. Pushing hard all the way is the key. Swimming a sub-30min requires from me pushing hard, not swimming in comfort zone! I need to drink enough, although it is raining.
16.7. Finntriathlon Joroinen (half distance)
DNF in stomach flu. I hated the race from the beginning, as my stomach had been cramping the entire morning. Not normal Heini. Since I knew the reason for the bad day, I could gather myself very fast after the DNF and forget it. I felt mentally strong already week after the race.
Lessons learned / decisions made: I won’t race in Finland next summer.
13.8. Oslo Triathlon (olympic distance)
2. place. Although I didn’t win, I had a much better day than in Hove Tri in June. I had my best swim pace this season, although water was cold. Cycling legs were a bit powerless due to training a lot for ironman, but my running was still good, best of all women. The course in Oslo is quite tough and especially running course hilly, but it is still a very nice race. A lot of people came to Sognsvann to see it, including friends and club mates. I will definitely participate in Oslo Triathlon next year too.
I was picked up to doping control for the first time ever, which actually ended up to meeting many new good triathletes also in the doping control. :)
27.8. Challenge Norway (half distance)
4. place, best age grouper. Ok swim, slightly powerless bike, very good run. If I could run this fast on rather flat half distance courses, like in Haugesund, 1:25 half marathon is not far anymore, I think. Sub-1:25 is a good target for next summer. Although the bike course was tough, all the time small hills up and down, and didn’t fit me, a small girl, I liked the race. I wasn’t able to push hard enough on the bike, but probably that is why I ran rather fast.
Lessons learned: I really need to learn to swim and cycle faster. I lost far too much for the pro girls in these disciplines. My aero position sucks.
24.8. IM Mallorca
9. place, F30-34 win. It was my day. I loved the distance! Swimming my best pace in the entire summer, powerful legs in the bike, head telling me all the time “this is a long day, don’t push too hard too early”, passing 12 girls and in total 38 people in the run, although it wasn’t easy for me either. I was also very happy how my mind was clear, and I wasn’t panicking at any point. Unexpected things happened; I dropped the chain, I needed to pee and I got calf cramps (first time ever in a race), but I solved them and kept going. I guess some of the problems were solved with beginner’s luck and my big desire to make a solid performance, not to risk anything. However, I am sure that in my next ironman there are things, which can go much better. People should learn something from each race anyways.
My goal wasn’t the Kona slot, but to be happy with my own performance. I was just doing my own race. My goal times were 1:05, 5:30, 3:20. As I was a little faster in every discipline, I should be happy! Well, three days after the race I was already thinking why I wasn’t faster. Motivation for 2017 is already there! :) And of course I was extremely happy about the Kona slot and didn’t think at all of not taking it!
Lessons learned: My aero position and downhill cycling skills suck. There are many free minutes available! With proper cycling training and coaching I am able to win a lot of minutes, I think. I also need a swim coach and company to find a new gear for swimming. I think it is possible to get at least 5 minutes off my swim time. I had it hard between 25-33 km of the run. I need more mental toughness to overcome those hard kilometers faster, not to start jogging. The ones who can handle the pain in the run will place high in ironman.
I liked all the nice messages from friends after the race. Thanks! Some mentioned how much “sisu” I had on the race day. I think you can’t do well in an ironman race having only “sisu”. Being able to participate and perform well in an ironman race, you need hundreds of training hours, dedication and self-discipline. It is a reward to be able to stand on the start line of an ironman race and feel confident.
I had trained 650 hours between 1.1.2016 and 23.9.2016, while doing 37,5h work weeks. I think it is not only sisu. It is a decision, but it is also to high extent passion and love for endurance sports life and triathlon. My life has been basically mainly triathlon, but I couldn’t have it any other way at the moment. It makes me happy, it makes me feel special and it allows me to meet people that are similar to me.
Of course training hours are not the whole thing. It is also all the weekend trips not done, wine classes not drunk, parties not participated, movies not seen, TV series never heard of, burgers not eaten, and so on. I think skipping all “unnecessary” and sleeping more is many times the key to better performance. For sure, positive attitude to training and own doing is also very important.
I trained and competed this season without a coach. All training days were planned by myself, while I shared some of them with other triathletes. That means, I have definitely learned things with a more difficult manner. However, I feel that I’ve at the same time learned a lot from myself, listening to my body and trying things that would fit me. Whether it is good or bad, hard to say.
I think I will change this thing for next season. I feel that I need help to my swimming and cycling training to be able to make an improvement faster.
I love how my family supports me in my triathlon life, although they live in different country. My dad has travelled this year quite a lot to see my races and help me with race preparations. My mom on the other hand almost fainted after my ironman. :D
Now I am looking forward to get over this flu and start training for 2017!
Finnish triathlete living in Norway