ÖtillÖ Race Report 2017 (by Hanna)

36858037406_219fd7f010_o

The journey to this year’s ÖtillÖ was a little bit more tumultuous than last year’s, but all in all we were well prepared on the startline even this year. Last year our reflection after the race was that the journey had been less difficult than we had expected, but this year struggle exceeded the expectation. This was in large part due to the weather conditions which were on the extreme end of the spectrum this year.

36238468423_5e0e6becdc_o

Usually Johan thinks that he is sick or injured the day prior to the race and on race morning, but this time it was me. My throat hurt, my stomach hurt, I had cramps. Looking back, all but the cramps could probably be blamed on nerves. Until race morning, I had felt quite confident in my form which had been improving at a drastic pace the last month and I felt very sure that I could handle the event just as well as last year if not better. However, the morning of, the weather and the competition built up the level of nerves to an unusually high level. Before the start of the race both of us were so nervous that we could barely talk to each other nor focus on each other’s eye contact. Both just wanted the whole thing to start so we could deal with the challenge as it came.

36866532702_f7e880c34d_o

The first swim was tough. We had been given advice the day prior that if the weather is very rough it’s better to not use a dragline, but since we always swim with the line we did the first swim with it. It felt like we were getting nowhere when I was pulling! It felt like every time you started to get momentum forward you would subsequently get pulled back. After a few hundred meters Johan came up ahead of me and pulled for a bit and I felt quite the disappointment not to have the power and flow in my swimming that I was looking for. After another few hundred meters I pulled up ahead and tried pulling again, but unfortunately it felt no better so after a while I turned to Johan and asked him to pull the last bit. I was disappointed, but decided to try my best to make up the time we had lost in the water on being braver in the cliff running than I typically am and to mine and Johan’s delight we were significantly more successful at passing people on these technical sections this year than last year.

36848539892_15902ecae4_o

Through the rest of the race we didn’t use the line on the swims, but had no problems staying behind each other’s feet and taking turns pulling. It was not the best swim day for me, but luckily Johan very well during the swims when the conditions are worse so we were near even in the water and divided up the pulling almost 50/50. Despite my sluggish feeling in the water and the rough waters, it was during the swimming that we gained the most time compared to last year. Last year Johan used fins on the swims and pulled all of the swimming. Turns our that without the loss of time in the transitions and by dividing up the pulling we are even faster without the fins.

36848539532_a0c1dbd632_o

During the first part of the race this year Johan felt strong and on the two approximately 8 km runs during the beginning of the race he pulled the flat sections. We had no idea which place we were in the mix category until we caught up to our good friends Anna and Johan whom we have a tradition of catching sometime in the middle of races. To our surprise they let us know that we were teams 5 and 6 at that point. Based on the startlist we had expected that there were at least 6 teams that would beat us without problems.

resultcomparison

The longer swim sections, the pig swim and the 1000 m sections shortly after it went well for us and we had much less problems with the cold than last year. After these it is on to the 20 km run on Onö. This is where we started to slow down compared to 2016. Johan stared struggling and I pulled most of the section. When you have finished this run, it seems mentally as if you are close to the end. Last year we caught up to two other mixed teams after Onö and the last hour of the race was truly a race for us. This year it was a slow struggle! The last swims are short, but were incredibly challenging due to strong currents and strong wind. They required coming up to max effort just to keep from washing out to sea. After 9 hours of racing, having to go up to max effort even just for a few minutes is a challenge to recover from. I had hoped that I would be able to pull all of these swims and Johan would be able to recover and come back and pull the last 3 kms of running as he did last year, but that was not the case. Both of us were exhausted and Johan cursed as he jogged behind me up the last hill up to Utö.

36860633952_5bdb474c2e_o

It was a tough day, but we are incredibly happy with finishing so high up in the rankings (4th mix and 21st total) and to come in under the 10-hour goal time (9:54:25). Now, just a few days later Johan only has positive memories of the events and wishes that he didn’t have to wait an entire year until next time 😉 I am making a strong effort to rest and keep training to a minimum for a month before making any plans for next year.

37031637215_846732efc7_o

Annonser

Tjolöholm Swimrun 2017 Race Report (by Hanna)

Just a little over a week until the big one! About a month ago I finally started seeing form on par with last year so as long as I avoid any illnesses for another week my body will be up for the 75 km challenge on Sept 4th. When the form is good, it is fun to race so since we DNS’d at Ten Island Swimrun last week in favor of a romantic weekend the Norwegian mountains, we were both keen on fitting in a last practice race.

There were three swimrun races within a one hour drive from our house this weekend, but we chose Tjolöholm Swimrun because it has a great reputation, was a good length (11 km), and proper terrain to prepare for ÖtillÖ. Johan wanted to do a race with his good friend Christian who introduced him to swimrun back in 2012 so I scrambled for a last minute partner and ended up finding the strong Peter Oom. We are both in simcoachen’s Fastlane group, but had never exchanged more than hello before meeting 45 minutes prior to race start.

21055134_10154746070046860_8668666790700061695_o
Peter and I before start

We both knew he was a much stronger runner than I, but we were unsure of who would be the faster swimmer. We determined that we both swim approximately 1:30/100 m in OW so it would be the day’s form that would determine who was faster, but though that it was best that we start out with Peter pulling the swim so that I could be rested for the run. On the first 540 m swim drag lines were not allowed so we decided to just go out each on our own and meet up out of the water. Peter took off with quite the speed in the mass beach start and my first thought was that he was going to have to wait minutes for me on the other end of the swim. I fought the best I could through a chaotic swim with lots of sea weed and testosterone even losing my paddle and having to dive down to get it. To my surprise I caught sight of Peter next to me with a couple hundred meters of swimming left and felt a huge sigh of relief. We got out of the water at the same time, hooked our line up and off we went into the forest!

21077389_10154747024776860_2838860721395683917_n
Peter flying during the start of the race!

Peter is a monster in the terrain, especially on the downhill. I had warned him ahead of time that I am timid on technical sections, but that he should just keep going unless I say otherwise. After the first run we just had Eva and Adriel ahead of us, but once we started wadding through the water we saw that Martin and Catariona were right behind us. Once we started swimming Martin pulled ahead of us with super speed and I got impatient as I often do and thought that maybe if I go up ahead of Peter and pull we can catch up to Martin. To Peter’s surprise (and frustration when he first thought it was another team tangled in our line) this is what I did, but even if it went slightly faster I had no shot at catching up to Martin.

21151668_1515098808548857_957350069303435164_n
Picture by Linda Dahlhöjd

We fought on as best we could through the next 3500 m run and then it was time for 500 m of wadding through shallow water. Here we could see all of the teams ahead of us, but my short legs and high pulse from the run didn’t allow us to come any closer to them. I asked Peter to pull the next 300 m swim so that I could rest and get my pulse back down. Then it was time for the parts that I had dreaded the most, cliff-running! I think Peter took it a bit easy on me (even retying our line while running!), but it went much better for me than it typically does on these types of sections. We kept the drag line in place so I had no choice, but to keep moving at the pace he set. My pulse was back in control so I pulled the last two swims and fought the best I could to close the gap to the other teams, even though I knew that I certainly wasn’t pulling us faster than Adriel and Martin were pulling.

21032750_10213966592818673_4877183627417877266_n
Coming out of the water on the last swim with one male team ahead and one behind

Last run was 2200 m and Peter took off with incredible speed and had many kilos of me hanging on the line! Especially on the downhills my legs were having to move faster than they have ever moved before!!

21077471_1515098881882183_7051960918746698800_n
Picture by Linda Dahlhöjd

We went into the finish in a solid third place mix (full results here). We discussed a little about the ifs of how we could have saved the 1:30 needed to come in ahead of Martin and Catriona, but nonetheless we put in a strong effort under the given conditions. It was a great race from every angle and one that I would highly recommend for beginners to elit. Varied and beautiful terrain!

21106582_1515107668547971_1808891843014005915_n
Picture by Linda Dahlhöjd

I love being a part of this west coast swimrun family! It is always such a treat to come to race starts and see so many familiar and happy faces. On Tuesday we all meet again for GBG Swimrun and then next weekend we even get to meet with our swimrun friends from the rest of the country and the world for ÖtillÖ weekend. Amazing people, amazing athletes, amazing experiences! This sport is an amazing lifestyle!

Öloppet 2017 Race Report (by Hanna)

20621227_10210989114137775_2108823960504314898_n

Öloppet is for many the definition of swimrun, it was one of the first and it is one of the biggest in terms of participants. It contains approximately 34 km of running, lots of which is through technical cliff-terrain and 6 km of swimming in salty and sometimes rough water.

DSC_1199

2015 we raced the sprint versions (23 km) which resulted in a win. 2016 we started the long course, but DNF’d about half way through due to illness. So this year we are very happy to have completed the full course and to finish on the podium! Our time of 4:35 was enough for the bronze against an extremely strong field (full results here)!

This year’s race was an eventful one! It included our drag-line snapping during the start, me almost crying in fear and frustration while running on the rocks, Johan’s legs cramping in the water, me pulling most of the running on the non-technical sections, plenty of yelling at each other, and a finale of Johan shitting in this wetsuit to save the team’s podium spot (more about that later!)!

20604318_10154864742338519_6694214945267859666_n (1)

While I am very happy that my body felt physically strong throughout the race, I am less happy with how frustrated I was at times. I get competitive tunnel-vision while I race and my already lacking patience sometimes goes to zero. This race was a good example of that. I was frustrated from start to finish with our decision to use fins. And my frustration over my fear of the cliffs made me even slower on the cliffs as I got more and more angry with myself with each step! However, I am happy to have had this race to remind me of the importance of keeping things in perspective while racing going in to ÖtillÖ. Those 10 hours of racing will be a lot nicer if the tone between us remains happy and calm.

20621292_10210988978814392_4917696027686349847_n

During the start someone dropped equipment and when they turned around to get it they ran right between Johan and I resulting in our drag-line snapping in half. So our complete focus during the first 500 m run was to try to repair the line. When we got to the water, we still hadn’t succeeded, but at this point during the race I was still calm so when we got to the water and Johan was putting on the finns I was able to place a knot that held the entire race. Johan did a monster job of pulling the first 1000 m swim. We flew by hundreds of people! Johan pushed so hard so that we wouldn’t have to cue behind too many teams on the first island as we have experienced during our previous times on this course. Unfortunately, this effort may also have been the reason that Johan struggled with the running throughout the race. Unfortunately, the fins only fit Johan so he is stuck pulling the swims, which means that I am well rested and ready to go for the runs, but he isn’t.

 

Throughout the race we fought over position with our friends Johan and Anna. They are much faster than us getting in and out of the water and on the technical sections, while we are faster in the water and on non-technical running. When Johan’s stomach started cramping during the 8 km run we knew that they were right behind us and if we stopped they would catch up. Generally, it is always better to stop in a bush if you are having stomach problems since you typically just lose a minute, but can then accelerate 10-30 sec/km in the running afterwards. In this case, Johan took alternative three, go while running! An experience that he does not hope to repeat! Please contact him if you want more details 😉

20604238_10210988922172976_8544773443132329722_n

By the time that we got to the last 1000 m of swimming, Johan’s legs were so cramped that he couldn’t swim with the fins anymore so I ended up wearing them and pulled the swim with my upper body and kept my legs still. The combination of him emptying his stomach and resting on the last swims, allowed him to be able to run the last kilometers without too much problems. Anything for a podium-spot, right!?!

20664726_10210989114257778_46490887675542731_n

I love Johan and I love racing! Despite what probably was quite the sight to observe, we had a great time racing together and Öloppet is a wonderful race in every way 🙂 Now time to mentally and physically prepare for ÖtillÖ in just 4 weeks!

Uddevalla Swimrun Race Report 2017 (by Hanna)

received_10155336669721068
Amanda Fischer and I at the top of the podium! And the great organizers on the left! Big thank you to them for an exceptionally well-organized race!

The week prior to the race had been busy with visits from family and the morning of the race I took my mother and sister to the train station and Johan was preparing to leave for a week long hiking trip with two young boys. I am not sure why I had gotten the idea to mix in a race to the logistics of this already chaotic morning, but I am glad I did 🙂 By the time I got in the car to the race I was feeling nothing but calm and ready to race, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been so calm before a race!

Amanda Fischer and I had talked earlier in the season about racing Utö together, but for various good reasons we didn’t. At Kustjagaren we both raced mix against each other (finishing 2nd and 3rd) and afterwards decided that we should make an effort to do a race together. Amanda lives in Kalmar, but it just so happened that she had already planned to be on the westcoast the weekend of Uddevalla swimrun so this time the puzzle-pieces fell in our favor.

Uddevalla swimrun is short compared to many swimrun races, with just 10 km running and 2 km swimming, but of course that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Rather it means that you need to push harder and keep high pulse throughout! It is also unique in that it is an out-and-back course so you know exactly what to expect the second half of the race, but even more fun is that you get a chance to cheer on every single one of the racers while you are racing! You know exactly how many are ahead of you and how many are behind.

Despite being so short the course was varied both in terrain and elevation. We carpooled to the race with Maria Johansson, who was a veteran on the course, so luckily we had been warned that there were some hills! The first run contained both asphalt and a technical hill section in the woods, the second and third run were short, flat, and non-technical, the fourth run was across an island of slippery rocks, and the last run to the turn around included a 1 km steep hill! Then you turn around and do it all over again!

Uddevallaelevation
Elevation profile for Uddevalla swimrun

Amanda is a very fast and experienced swimmer so our strategy was the she would pull the swims and I would pull the run. We stuck to the strategy and it worked great! The race was like an interval session for me, during the runs I pushed to 1 km interval effort and then during the swims I focused on relaxing and getting my heart rate all the way down so I would be ready to go again for the next run.

When the race organizers announced a 1000 kr cash price for the first team out of the water after the second swim we discussed if we might have a shot at it and while we realized the chances were slim (especially with Eva Nyström and Martin Flinta registering last minute) we had it in the back of our minds to go out hard to see if we had a shot. Turns our we didn’t, but we only had 5 out of 97 teams ahead of us for most of the race and none of them female so we got to stand at the top of the podium 🙂 We finished in 1:27, 9 minutes ahead of the next female team (full results here).

The roughest part of the race was the jellyfish which had the skin on my underarms, face, and back of knees oozing fluids the rest of the day, but one day later that is all forgotten and my memory of the race will be the great organization and wonderful teammate! Everything around the race made it so easy to enjoy. There was easy close by parking, changing rooms with warm showers a minute’s walk from the start/finish, grocery store near the start to buy a pre-race snack, great food at the finish, and to top it all off hot tubs with alcohol-free drink service at the finish-line! All for 800 kr per team! Doesn’t get much better than that!

FB_IMG_1501340392743
Amanda Fischer, Hanna Nilsson, Andrew McLean, and Michelle Nystöm enjoying the finishline luxuries at Uddevalla Swimrun 2017

Åstol Runt 2017 Race Report (by Hanna)

This was my third year in a row racing Åstol Runt. It was a beautiful day on the island with clear water and shinning sun! Today my form was good enough for a second place (full results here). I am very happy that my form is starting to come back and I am really enjoying keeping the racing season to mostly short local races.

IMG_4555

This year the swim was about 2100 m of mostly calm water with a few sections of more aggressive waves. There were some jellyfish, but they stayed a bit below the surface so I avoided stings all together 🙂 Before the start Johan and I decided that we would try to work together during the swim and take turns pulling each other. However, the start was rough and we quickly lost each other. I was able to find some good feet and felt like I had a good swim. To my surprise Johan’s things were still in the transition area when I got there. He had had trouble with sea sickness and dizziness during the swim and came out of the water about 1:40 after me. My little sister Julia is here visiting from the US and helped me to keep track of the rest of the competition on the women’s side. As I came out of the transition she told me that I was 3 minutes behind the leading woman. I knew that it was Ulrika Eriksson and that she is just as strong, if not stronger, of a runner as I am, but I still gave it a push to see if my legs would respond. 3 minutes in 8 km of running is just over 20 seconds per km, so it didn’t feel impossible.

This year the run was slightly longer than the original course and went over some technical cliff sections. I saw Ulrika during the turn-arounds so I could see how far ahead she was. I pushed hard on the first lap to see if I could get closer to her, but unfortunately, I only gained 20 seconds and realized then that the likelyhood of catching her was slim. I had also realized that I had plenty of time back so there was little reason for me to push like crazy. I also saw Johan during the turn around and knew that he was a bit behind me, but also that he has no problems catching 30 seconds per km on me. And indeed, during the final lap Johan caught me and ended up finishing more than a minute ahead of me.

I am very happy with my race and right now I feel that there is plenty of potential for me to develop both my swimming and running a bit more in the next few weeks. Johan was disappointed over his swim, but felt quite a relief that he was able to catch me and to finish in 7th place of the men which is a big improvement over the last time when he did this race in 2014. Thank you Johan and the rest of Team Åstol for another great event!

received_10155269353196066

Infinity Swimrun 2017 Race Report (by Hanna)

19222911_1705568263072747_8761323314719314373_o

This is the third year for us racing Infinity Swimrun, a race where you chose a time category (1, 3, or 6 hours) and swimrun as many laps as you can around the 2.5 km course during that time. The past two years, the race has gone the Thursday evening before midsummer, but this year it was moved to the Saturday before midsummer which turned out to mean more people and more sun! It was a beautiful day with sun and perfect water temperatures.

19222932_1705569903072583_2739408122345480886_o

Johan braved the new 6 hour version of the race and I stayed with the 3 hour version. Partly because I am not quite in shape for 6 hours yet, and partly because I have won the 3 hour version the other years so I wanted to try to defend my title. Check out official results here.

19221585_1705571593072414_7019802906499042386_o

Though there were only 7 participants in the 6 hour category, Johan had some tough competition with Alexander Koller on the startline. They kept together for the first 2 hours, but then Johan had to drop him and hope for the best just running his own race. In the end Koller was able to hold out and complete 20.5 laps versus Johans 20. Nonetheless, very impressive 50 kms of swimrun completed in 6 hours! Johan is in great form!

19221567_1705569679739272_8204391544843666917_o

As has been the case the last 6 months, I was unsure of how my body would feel and wasn’t sure what to expect from myself or the other competitors. The first lap felt very tough and I had 3 other women in front of me. I played a mental game of trying to convince myself that it was okay to let them go ahead and that I just had to be happy to be racing regardless of the outcome.

19144092_1705573279738912_2143912269562453265_o

However, when we crossed the 1-lap line, the time was faster than what we had averaged during the past two years and I felt better about how tough the first lap had felt. During the 2nd lap I was able to pass one of women, during the 3rd lap another one, and after the 4th lap I was in first place.

19144118_1705568049739435_2046422973368787056_o

The 6-hour racers started at 11:00 and raced on their own for 3 hours until the 3-hour racers started. Two hours after that, at 16:00 the hour racers started. Both of the last two years, I have finished the 7th lap right as the 1-hour racers are starting. This has meant that I catch up with them right as I get to the cliffs and get very stressed to get around them! I am typically not a very aggressive person, but when it comes to races, I can be a little pushy to get ahead so I apologize to anyone who may have heard me cursing as I passed!

19222827_1705571939739046_3544590491759206313_o

I was able to increase the distance back throughout the rest of the race and felt stronger and stronger as the time went on. I was very happy to be able to keep a steady pace and to finish the same amount of laps as last year (10.5).

19222710_1705569466405960_4866315067940502032_o

The course is a challenging one for me with lots of cliff-running, but I love practicing this weakness on this course where I get to race on my own and to repeat the same sections over and over again so that I get more and more confident on my footing and speed. The water was fairly tough on one of the two swims, but nothing extreme. The other swim on the other hand included some jellyfish which were much less pleasant than the waves!

19222759_1705569843072589_5953490652301372126_o

It was a great day out on Hönö and I hope that I will get the opportunity to race the 6 hour version sometime in the future! Thank you to the race organizers and all of the supporters along the course!

19221905_1705568139739426_664682089915550981_o

19222582_1705572673072306_2899482011509147395_o

 

May 2017 GBG Swimrun, etc (by Hanna)

The sun and endless opportunities for open water swimming certainly make life a bit more enjoyable this time of year 🙂 Not to mention all of the races! Since I wrote last, Johan and I have combined crossed 7 finish lines! First up was Göteborgsvarvet, the world’s largest half marathon. After Johan’s impressive new PB at Kungsbackaloppet a month earlier (1:20:31) he had hopes of a new PB at Göteborgsvarvet as well. I on the other hand, was unsure if I should even start because my body had been feeling so sluggish and unhappy with training. For the third year in a row Johan fought in around 1:24 and was not particularly happy. I decided to run, but took it easy, finishing in 1:40, a full 10 minutes slower than the previous year.

18813955_10154520114146447_1924738125799789804_n

Next up was Blodomloppet for Johan where he improved his 10 km PB by 30 seconds and finished in 37:01! Two days later we both raced GBG Swimrun, one of our favorite parts of summer! I love to push hard at this race and after having raced the course so many times, I know exactly how hard I can push and still stay strong to the end. It has been tough for me to get used to racing this year knowing that I am so far behind last year, but I am doing my best to keep steady with my training and believe that the form will slowly improve. I was very happy that my body felt good during GBG Swimrun, that I was able to push and that my body responded in a healthy way. My final time was 2 minutes slower than my PB on the course, but I was still able to take home the win on the women’s side and I think that with a few more months of training I will be able to continue to improve the time. Johan is in amazing form and came in with another PB even at this race! Third place on the men’s side and a time of 40:17.

After a very positive experience at Skatås Ryggar last year, we looked forward to racing again this year. It is one of the most beautiful half marathon courses according to us. Not surprisingly, Johan shaved a few minutes off of his time even at this race. I expected to be about 10 minutes slower, as I had been at Göteborgsvarvet, but unlike that race, I pushed a little too hard for my form at and even through my time was only 4 minutes slower than last year, I really struggled the during the last part of the race and it was no where near as enjoyable as last year. Nonetheless, a very good training run!

Now we have two weeks without any races before Infinity Swimrun, which is another of our favorite races. This year they added a 6 hour category which would have been right up our alley last year, but this year I am certainly not in shape for it and Johan has been focusing on getting faster at 10 km and half marathon distance so 6 hours is a long time in comparison! Johan is still debating which he will do, but my guess is that we will both race the 3 hour and Johan will crush his distance from last year 🙂