Its Monday today and I have the race fresh in my memory, a totally amazing experience. Its been a fantastic weekend, and one of the best moments in my life. I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to do this, its extremely long and anything can happen. So I am very humble. A lot of competitors didn't complete the race because of cramps, bike failures, energy loss, colds.... I saw them everywhere. One guy didn't make the 16 hour deadline. He had 16.02. But in my heart they are all Iron men. This is my story.
We left Stockholm in the morning around 8. Bags packed and all the gear we needed (Almost, I forgot my pulse band so I had to buy a new one). We picked up Ignacio (An amazing athlete, he is so cool and analytical its hard to believe he is so fast) on the way to Kalmar which is a 5 hour drive. Once we arrived in Kalmar, the first thing we saw where Ironman flags. Thats when I realized, oh my God, this is what I have been training for, for almost 2 years. Unbelievable. Madeleine my partner in crime, was hospitalized one week before the competition so she couldn't carry though with the race, which still saddens me, cause I know she would have loved it. I am real happy that she was there to support me though. I will always love her for it, and when she goes to Barcelona to do her Ironman, I will be there.
First registrations. This is when you get all your race info, bibs and bags... and the Ironman back pack. Oh I wanted that back back so bad.... Thing is, can't use it if I don´t complete the race.... ahhhhh....nervous.. Pre race meeting, a tennis hall full with 2 700 athletes and 1 400 that have the ambition to accomplish their first Ironman. What a party, damn, music, hug screen, Ironman logo... very American and very very fun. I met so many friends and other triathletes, and everyone is so excited and wishing each other good luck. Its a very humble sport, and everyone is so encouraging. Just love it.
Friday, the day before race day.
Today is final preparation day, do final gear check, pack transition bags, check-in bike. Sleep, rest, eat. My coach Andreas was in Kalmar as well as my swim coach, Jeff, which felt really really good. Andreas made sure that I had good wheels on my bike, both Jeff and Andreas mounted them. Early bed, had a hard time falling asleep, I was a bit excited
Saturday race day, 04:00
Alarm goes off, Björn my husband got food poisoning and had been to the john, like 5 times, and I was almost certain that he wasn't going to make it. But he ate like 4 Imodiums (he is probably not going to do anything for a week) We filled all of our water bottles, and did our final preparations, breakfast at 4.30. At 5:10 we went to the transition area and checked the air pressure in our tires, mounted our water bottles and checked that everything was in place. 6:00 back at the hotel, put on our wetsuits and left the hotel at 6:30.
Swim 1.49 hours
Rolling start this year, the pros started at 6:55 am. Age group competitors where placed in different groups depending on estimated swim time. Björn and I started in the 1.45 group. I was scared shit. I was happy to have my husband by my side. Swimming has been the part of the race that has worried me the most, Its like my swim coach told me (after the race), when you started your lessons, you sucked. I know, I am still not good, but much better. I entered the water at 7:16 am. The water was luke warm and calm. Warm outdoor weather. The first thing that hit me was that I forgot to check which color buoys where supposed to be on my righthand and lefthand side. So I swam in the wrong direction, after a while I noticed that everybody else where going somewhere else... hahahaha... well I got my act together. The water was nice, lots of jelly fish and the thought going through my head was extend and glide, extend and glide... just like my swim coach instructed me. My swimming was slow but it went well, I never lost my breath and I was calm. When I finally got out of the water, I was so happy, It felt like the worst part of the competition was completed, even though it was the shortest part. After a 10 minute transition, I was ready to bike.
Bike - 6:17 hours
The biking was completely amazing, since I was one of the last people out of the water I had loads of competitors to chase. I had a great bike day. It started with the Bridge of Öland, a 6K Bridge, and on the other side I saw Happy, mom, Åke, Lilian and Kalle (part of my support team) It gave me loads of energy. The Island is beautiful, and the support along the road is amazing. I was strong, and my legs kept going. I had an energy intake every 15 minutes, just like coach Andreas instructed me to do. I was smiling constantly and I felt Happy and free. I passed a lot of cyclists, I felt like I was in a nintendo race game. my mind was empty, waving at everyone on the sidelines that encouraged me. I just focused on going forward. After Öland it was time to take the bridge back to the main land and we had a head wind that was quite tough, on the top of the bridge it started raining and a local thunderstorms with lightning. I just wanted to get off the damn bridge. The rain was intense but short. After 122K I met my other support team, Madde, Johanna and Anna. (The best girls in the world, I luv them to death) I stopped for a short moment to fill my bottles, Madde told me that I was 10 minutes ahead of my dream time. It felt good. So I continued my journey. 20K left to goal, I felt that okey, this has been fun, but its enough now.
Run - 4:56
Oh, this is when it gets tough. The marathon. Three 14K loops. The first thing I see, is my girlfriends siting on the sideline drinking Rosé... hmmm.. Evil... hahaha.. My first 6K, my mind was like, damn... I can't do this .. my legs are killing me... But why?... What keeps me going is that, I know its going to feel like this in the beginning, but I know it passes. After 6K I was good. I kept a pretty slow pace, and walked at every aid station. The run is fun, Its social and everyone is helping you every step you take. (A lot of people fart and run and the same time.. its like .. gunshots) The audience is amazing, they call your name and in the city it was crazy. (Denise) My legs didn't like the cobble stone, but who cares, with happy people everywhere. Personally I liked the part outside of the city better. The habitants of Kalmar sat in their gardens praising you, they sang, played music and told you what a hero you are. The first loop was quit good. (I got to kiss Happy) but when It was time to start the second loop it gets hard, 14K is quite a distance and I knew I had 2 loops to go. In my mind... oh no, not two more of those... I had to quickly change my mindset, thoughts like that don't help. So I tried to keep going. After the second loop, I was still a little low until I started talking to a women that I passed, she said. ( Man I envy you, I still have two loops to go), and then I realized, yes I only have one loop left, so after 30K I got my energy back. All the people I met through out the course the encouraged and helped me on the way. My support teams, my Norra Stockholm Endurance team mates, Utbrytarna, competitors, the audience... So many family and friends that I don't want to name them cause I'll forget someone.
When I only had 2 K left, I Knew that I would make my marathon under 5 hours, my goal. Thats when I realized, damn.... Soon I'll be an Ironman. When I entered the homestretch, the people where cheering, It was sooo unreal. Desiree, your an Ironman! Family, friends, my coach, and most touching of all my daughter Happy in tears, "mom, I am so proud of you". To hear those words from a 13 year old, who had to spend most of this summer on her own because I had so much training, meant the world to me.
This was my first Ironman, hopefully not the last one. It was amazing.
My Ironman Pack back! yeayyyyy!!!
Pre race meeting
Gingerpower fixing my bike, my brakes had to be fixed
Evening before race day
A happy couple, I think we smiled through out the race
Coach Andreas and Jeff, you guys are amazing, could never have done this without you
My girls, missing Anna W, one more family member
My bike, isn't she a beauty?