We had a great 2016 swimrun season! The season opened with Borensberg Swimrun at the start of May and included 13 swimrun races in 4 months! As Team Happy Swimrun by Orca we completed Borensberg Swimrun, Utö Swimrun, Stockholm Swimrun, Kustjagaren, 2XU Island Challenge, 10 Island Swimrun, and ÖtillÖ.
Going into the season we were well prepared physically and had trained specifically for the season that we had planned. We looked at all of the early races as preparation for our A-race, ÖtillÖ. And boy was there a lot of preparation and learning to do that finally got us to the finish line of ÖtillÖ! Last year, 2015, was our first season racing together and we had few expectations other than having fun, but when that resulted in an undefeated season our excitement and expectations for the 2016 season were sky high. That led to a 2016 season full of ups and downs. There were lots of podium finishes, but also sprained ankles, a DNF because of a cold, and plenty of other small setbacks that rattled us.
Here is a short review from our Ö till Ö-report:
“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.”
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.
We realized early how much more difficult it was to stay unfazed and unaffected when things started going wrong during a race when we had expectations of finishing at a certain spot on the podium. Many times we had to go back and re-work the mental strategy, to drill in our heads that we have to run our own race and not worry about what people around us are doing. Luckily, by ÖtillÖ we had this down and are very happy to have finished the season off in a race where we felt good and were very proud of each other.
Looking forward to 2017 we hope that we will once again get to cross the ÖtillÖ finish line. It truly was a special race and a highlight of the season. As for other races, we will prioritize our favorites and save our energy and skip the ones that are less ideal for us. We also hope to get to a few races outside of Sweden, perhaps Engadin and Rockman, to experience some new spectacular places to swimrun.
As far as goals with our training we are both focusing on getting some speed in our legs first and foremost. We have missed running shorter asphalt races and both have some ambitions for new PBs in the 10 km and half marathon distances for the early spring. I am also planning on going back to the drawing board a bit with my swimming. During the past spring I increased my swimming volume to 20km per week. The result was that I got strong enough to swim with large paddles and had great endurance in the water, but my threshold speed didn’t increase at all. So for the next season I am taking some help from some swimming experts, Simcoachen.se, and am going back to work on my technique to see if that’s what’s missing for me to get faster.
To wrap, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us and cheered for us throughout the year. It has been wonderful to hear all of your encouragement and love regardless of how the races went for us. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my incredible partner! Johan is an amazing man and athlete and I feel so lucky that I get to race by his side. Perhaps there are other people that we could race with that would bring us to the finish line faster, but that’s not the point. The point is to spend time together with someone you love, while doing what you love, challenging ourselves and each other, and learning every step of the way. Happy fall and winter training! We look forward to seeing all of you out in the waters again spring 2017!
Text: Happy Swimrun
Photo: Nadja Odenhage, Jakob Edholm and Nic (world of swimrun)