Lysekil Swimrun Camp 2017 (by Hanna)

This weekend Katarina Åström, Eva Nyström, and I organized a swimrun camp in Lysekil, Sweden. We started the weekend Saturday morning with a meet and greet at the wonderful conference center where we stayed. The whole weekend we had access to a great meeting room with coffee and snacks. There was even a special room for drying wetsuits since they regularly host divers at their hotel! Perfect for a swimrun camp!

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The whole gang minus Katarina outside of Strand in Lysekil ready for swimrun!

After getting to know each other in the morning we headed to the indoor swim center. We had rented the entire place to ourselves so we had plenty of space in the pool! The first workout was focused on swimrun equipment testing. It was an opportunity to try out feeling, effort level, and speed with many different types and sizes of paddles. Thanks to TriSpot Göteborg we even had lots of different swimrun wetsuits for all of the participants to try out and swim in.

After two hours of swimming we headed back to the hotel for a great lunch followed by a presentation from Eva about her impressive athletic career and the development of swimrun.

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Eva Nyström presenting about her career and the development of the sport of swimrun.

Saturday afternoon treated us to a beautiful run on the cliffs of Lysekil followed by a great dinner at Havets Hus and presentation by me on my involvement in swimrun.

Sunday morning started with a short run and some running technique drills by Katarina who has lots of experience helping people to develop their running technique and prevent running injuries.

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Participants flying forward thanks to great running drills by Katarina.

After a delicious breakfast buffe at the hotel we put on our warmest swimrun gear and prepared to face the 10 C degree water on a swimrun loop course marked out by Katarina. The loop contained about 50 m of calm swimming followed by 1.2 km running on mixed terrain. The participants were amazing in enthusiasm and worked hard round and round the course before being satisfied and heading to the sauna!

After a great and much needed lunch we wrapped up the weekend with a discussion about tips and tricks for training and racing swimrun! Big thank you to all of the participants and sponsors Trispot, Umara, and Gococo.

Bin Swimrun Morocco Race Report (by Hanna)

The location of the race was in a lake, Bin el ouidane, at the base of the Atlas Mountains about a 4 hour drive from Casablanca. The course was varying and challenging, but not too technical. The view was constantly breathtaking and the water was clear, warm, and calm. The distances were approximately 23 km running and 7 km swimming. There were 23 transitions with most of the running near the end of the race with one 8,5 km section and one 10 km section. The rest was mostly 500-1000m swims alternated with short runs to get around an island and then on to the next swim.

I raced with Eva Nyström as Team Thule Adventure. She received the invitation from the race organizers already in the fall and I was very excited when she asked me to race with her. As I have written before, my training during the winter was minimal and as the weeks went on I became more and more nervous that I wouldn’t be ready to start the season with a race like this already at the end of April so I am incredibly happy and a bit relieved that my body has recovered and was able to handle the race without problems.

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Eva and I running along the water

This was my first time racing swimrun with a partner other than Johan (although for most of the race he was less than a hundred meters away from me ;)). The days and even hours before the race it was a bit unclear to us how many teams and the level of competitions that would be racing with us. Thankfully Eva is an experienced racer and helped me to keep my nerves and expectations in check. She reminded me that we had nothing to prove and just needed to run our own race regardless of what the others were doing. We ended up being three teams fighting for the top three spots the entire race. It was Johan racing with a new Moroccan friend, Said Moujed, as Happy Swimrun, a French mixed team, Be Love, and us. All three teams knew early on that we had the win in our respective categories, but that didn’t stop us from racing for the overall win. The French team was very strong in the water and quickly took the lead. The expectation was that Eva and I would be faster swimmers than Johan and Said and they would be faster runners, but Johan was able to pull his partner to stay at our feet through most of the first swims. A few times they ran faster and entered the water before us, but we ended up catching up with them in the water and they followed at our feet. A lot of the runs followed the coastline and the terrain was very rocky and muddy so it was much of an advantage for Johan and Said that they run 10 km on asphalt faster than Eva and I. For the 8,5 km run we had the other two teams ahead of us at the beginning, but to our surprise we ended up first at the aid station because the other two teams had made a wrong turn and ended up running some extra meters both in distance and height.

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The three teams fighting for the overall win. Here we are going in to the last timing mat with Team BeLove in the lead

From that point we held the lead until the last run where all three teams ended up collaborating and checking the map together to make sure that we were going the right way. We all arrived at the last time-mat at the same time. The others hurried through while Eva and I took our time refueling and getting our wet-suits down. Knowing how limited my running has been the last few months, I had expected that this would be where the others would take off and we wouldn’t have a chance, but to my surprise we first caught up to Johan and Said as they were having a tough time and then we were able to slowly catch up to the French team and passed without too much effort. We were both feeling strong and it seemed that we could keep the pace the last 3 km of the race. Then we made the mistake that we had avoided earlier in the race, ran the wrong way! I saw a mark off to the left and we followed, but soon realized that there were no more and that this must have been a marking from the first part of the course. By the time we found our way back on the right course the other teams were a few hundred meters ahead of us and the mental energy that we had 5 minutes earlier had faded with the frustration of the mistake. We kept a decent pace the last couple kilometers and happily ran to the finish as the third team overall in 4:14. It would have been a great win to finish such a duel first, but more than anything I am happy to feel strong again and to have confidence back in my form. It was a good feeling to know that if there would’ve been another hour of racing left we would’ve been able to fight back to the front again.

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Accepting the award for 1st womens team. Great organizer HB Baraka in the right of the image.

Overall, the trip was a great experience. Traveling through Casablanca and the Moroccan countryside is not something that I may ever have done if it were not for this race (link to race fb page). It was also a great experience to race with such a strong female partner. It gets a little tiresome racing mix sometimes because the assumption is usually that the man drags the woman around the course. Not only is Eva stronger and faster than most men out there, she is a great racer with a calm and strategic focus. I am of course looking forward to my next race with Johan, but I would love to race with Eva and other women again.

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Hugging a very happy Johan at the finish line.

 

Swimrun Training Camp 2017 Part 1 (by Hanna)

Sun, wonderful sun! What a difference a little vitamin D can make. We have been at Wolff-Wear Swimrun camp for just 3 days, but have managed many more kilometers already than in a typical week. It is amazing how much the body is able to recover between sessions when you don’t have the stresses of everyday life on top of the training.

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Erik Froode and Hanna running along the beach in swimrun gear.

 

It has been such a joy to watch Johan doing a great job leading running sessions and providing swimrun guidance to all of the excited beginners. The other coaches at the camp are the incredibly strong mixed-team Helen Maalinn and Andrew Maclean, who fought side-by-side with us at the end of ÖtillÖ last year. A lot of the focus of the camp is helping the participants find comfort in their swimrun gear and in open water. The beautiful weather and calm waters have certainly helped to make it a pleasurable start for everyone.

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The participants of Wolff-Wear swimrun camp 2017 enjoying working on open-water swimming drills.

As I have written before, the winter has been pretty tough. I had symptoms of over-training during the late fall and took all of January off to let my body recover. Trying to get back in the flow of training in February and March was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Even if my body had rested, I was still feeling far from positive towards training. As a result, my form has improved at a snail’s pace despite support from a great coach and lots of others around me (especially Johan). I was nervous and almost a little sad about coming to the training camp again this year knowing that my physical form was so much better when I arrived here last year. I wasn’t even sure if I should join in on any training or if I should just take a week on the beach to work on my tan, but it has thus far been what I needed to find some joy in training again.

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Wonderful to swim in outdoor 50 m pool.

 

On the first day, the two-hour pool session felt like the most fun thing I had done all year. For the first time I ran intervals and forgot about how fast I used to be able to run and instead just enjoyed running. I woke up on day two expecting to feel exhausted, but instead felt strong and was able to do it all over again. Today is day 3 and despite that I feel good I have taken a rest day to make sure that I don’t over-do things. Plus, my feet are quite sore after lots of running in the sand! I know from experience that this heals quickly if I let it and becomes a painful inflammation if I don’t.

 

I am nervously looking forward to what the next few days of training will hold. After so many months of negative feelings surrounding my training I am still not ready to trust that my body is ”back”, but am very happy to see a glimmer of strength and joy in training again. I also know that it is much better for me to go to a new place with my training rather than to go back to where I have been for so many years; pushing through session after session without adequate rest. Time to see what my body can do if I focus on recovery and put my training goals in perspective with other priorities in life!

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Johan looking so handsome and so happy is his Orca swimrun outfit 🙂

The Season and the Sun are Near! (by Hanna)

It’s been a challenging winter season with lots of colds, focus on work, and a move, but in just two weeks we will be in Mallorca as trainers at Wolff-Wear Swimrun Camp enjoying the sun and outdoor pool!

 

Compared to this time last year, I have had drastically fewer training hours and have instead focused on recovery and reflection. I am hoping that I am learning to make smarter decisions about my training that will allow me to balance life and racing for many more years to come. I am not expecting 2017 to be a particularly fast year, but I am curious to see how it progresses and how my body will respond to the increased amount of recovery time.

Regardless of how fast the season will be, it is increasingly near and there are lots of exciting things on the agenda. We are already signed up for a number of great races including Morocco Swimrun, Kustjagaren, Åstol Runt, and ÖtillÖ. We will also continue our collaboration with Orca and are excited to test the new RS1 swimrun suits.

Last, but certainly not least; join me, Eva Nyström, and Katarina Åström for a swimrun training weekend in Lysekil May 13-14! It will be a great way to start off the outdoor season on the West Coast and get top-class coaching. More info on facebook 🙂

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Join me, Eva Nyström, and Katarina Åström in Lysekil May 13-14 for training weekend to kick-off the 2017 season!

 

Reflections for ÖtillÖ 2017 (by Hanna)

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We were very happy to wake up this morning to the news that we are one of the teams who earned a merit spot to ÖtillÖ 2017! Open water swimming and some sun seem like a dream after many months of cold and dark. The fall has been filled with a lot of great changes for us (new job for me and a house purchase) so swimrun has been further away from our minds. I also made the mistake of not resting enough after the race season so my body has forced me to do it now with several long-lasting colds. For me the focus for the upcoming year will not be as much on giving it my all, but rather to learn to give only so much that I can continue to race as part of an otherwise balanced life for many years to come. I want to work on finding the joy in every workout (or at least most ;)) and learn to let go of the workouts that are planned, but become less beneficial because other things in life take priority.

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I have always run my life in a straight line: I have set ambitious goals, created ambitious strategies to reach the goals, and then forced myself to have the discipline to follow through regardless of what has stood in the way. This has been an incredibly efficient way to achieve.  The price has been that I have created habits that make it difficult to slow down and to forgive myself and my body when I need a break. Breaking deeply ingrained habits is a much scarier goal to set than to run an ultramarathon in a specific time. But that is my goal this year; to create new habits regarding the thought patterns that I have about my training and my racing.   

I am so thankful for the journey that we have made to be here, soon starting our third season together as Team Happy Swimrun! I am excited for a new season with new adventures, but as long as it involves swimming and running with Johan and meeting the great people of the swimrun community it will be enough! One thing in particular that I look forward to is meeting friends by the lake to swim around the islands after work. In fact, it was by the lake that Johan and I met for the very first time, appropriately dressed in our wetsuits 🙂 And now we have bought a new house as close as possible to this lake to make it even easier to spend more time there in the years to come 🙂

ÖtillÖ 2016 Race Report (by Hanna)

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This was the big one! The one we had been excited about for a whole year; to transport ourselves the classic 75 km distance from Sandhamn to Utö. And the weekend certainly lived up to the expectations! What could be more fun than spending 48 hours together with 120 of the world’s best swimrun teams!?! Great video summary of the race can be found here. We can be seen at 0:13 and 1:05 🙂

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As far as the actual race, we are very satisfied with a sub 10 hour finish (9:49) and 7th place mix, 29th total. We are even more happy to have felt strong throughout the race and to have been able to finish without problems. But there is definitely room for improvement!

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The race is divided into 26 swims and 27 runs. In total 10 km swimming, most of which is in the first 2/3rds of the race with the longest swim at the very beginning. The longest run section is 20 km and towards the end of the race.

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Our strategy was to take it easy at the start and not get stressed by other teams around us. Since it was our first time racing this course and this distance we wanted to err on the side of too slow. We had also written down the split times of Team Orca from last year, who then finished in a time of 9:42. We used their splits as a guide to help us know where we were doing with our goal of finishing under 10 hours. I am happy to say that we stayed with this strategy and it had the result that we wanted, we were strong all the way through and were able to rise in the standings throughout the second half of the race. Looking back now, we think that we could’ve pushed quite a bit harder during the first half and still have been able to finish strong. Next year 😉

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The first part of the race was problem free. About 25 km in I had a little stomach problems, but that was quickly fixed with a 2 minute trip in the bushes. However, after the famous 1400 m ”pig swim” Johan had a bit of a dip. The water was nice this year, not too many waves and currents, but the temperatures were pretty chilly and Johan started having problems with the cold. He was mentally completely out of it and was confused about where we were. It got worse during the 1000 m swim that came up just a short while later, and he was too confused to swim straight and we were almost 400 m away from the buoy despite that I stopped him several times and tried to get him to go straight. Since he had finns and I didn’t, he pulled almost all of the swims during the first half of the race. Usually we take turns or I pull most of the swims, so the fact that he had to do so much pulling this time may have been a contributing factor to that he had a dip and I didn’t.

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Luckily, even with the dip, he was able to keep a 5 min/km pace during the 20 km run. During that run we were able to pass many teams and at the end of it we came up on the two mixed teams ahead of us. We battled with them back and forth for the last 5 swim sections. All in all, we rose from 51st total to 29th total, and from 12th mix to 7th mix. During the very last 3 km run of the race Johan came back in full force and I had to fight to keep up with him.

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Right away we felt surprised by how well we felt when we finished! And have continued to be amazed this week at how well and quickly we are recovering! OtillO was all-around a great experience for us and an event that we hope to be able to be a part of again in the future!

10 Island Swimrun 2016 Race Report (by Hanna)

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Over and over before the race I told Johan and myself, ”we are going to focus on having fun.” We’ve had several races now that haven’t been ”fun” and we have had to go back and remind ourselves that we are in this sport because it makes us happy. If we win, that’s a bonus, but it can’t be the primary goal.

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Unfortunately, Johan didn’t feel 100% since he’s still got the end of a cold, but since we focused more on enjoying the race it felt fine to slow down a little bit. I enjoyed this race much more than I have the last few races because I took the pressure off and just worked on the things I needed to work on without worrying about the teams around us.

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Even so, we managed to win the mix and finish 4th overall team with a time 12 minutes faster than last year which felt very nice. Complete results here. This course features quite a bit of technical running and lots of short swims making it a challenging one for us, especially me. Since I was feeling strong I could keep a quicker pace than Johan on the flat sections, but as soon as we got to cliffs, and especially rocks he caught up to me. He says he can keep up with me when he walks on the rocks and I am running as fast as I can! :p Really need to work on that! The swims were very nice, it was a calm day, comfortable water temperature, and not too many jellyfish (although Johan managed to get stung once). Because of the technical running and short calm swims we decided to not use a dragline which I think worked very well. It saves quite a bit of time when going in and out of the water if you don’t have to worry about timing it perfectly with your partner. At this point, we are also so used to swimming together that it was no problem for Johan to stay right on my feet the entire time even without the line.

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Foto: Eva Fridman

We are happy that we managed to end this last race before ÖtillÖ on a good note and are now trying our best to have a successful taper period. Thanks to a quite bit of work travel I will have an extra challenge to make sure that I eat, sleep, and train properly.  Two week count down begins today! We are very excited!

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Foto: Emma Belforth