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.

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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!

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Infinity Swimrun 2017 Race Report (by Hanna)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 🙂

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!