Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stockholm Marathon 2011 race report

Stockholm Marathon 2011 on Saturday turned out much better than I feared. The weather was perfect +15C with a solid cloud cover. There was a record number of starters (16,131) and finishers (15,471) - and huge crowds of enthusiastic supporters as always. My result was 3:35:23, which is great considering my plantar fasciitis, hamstring issues, and the flu virus that has kept bugging me for a fortnight.

They say that you should never try anything new on a race day, but I couldn't resist trying the following new items (that's new to me, these products have been available for some time already):

  • I wore 2XU Compression Calf Guards for the first time ever on race day - they were possibly helpful, or at least not harmful in any way. I saw many runners wearing them.
  • I took a couple of 60 ml SiS Go gels during the race - I've never tried them before, but they went down well (they don't require water), and there was no issues although I mixed it with a wide range of stuff: a cup of sports drink at every aid station, a cup of vegetable bouillon, and a cup of coke, as well as a heavily salted gherkin. 
  • I wore Merrell Quick synthetic socks with anatomically mapped merino wool cushioning - I have trained, but not raced with them before. There were no blisters or other issues. I thought the wool might help if it rained, but it didn't rain.
  • After the race, I used BetterYou Magnesium Oil spray for recovery - mainly for my legs, to avoid cramps and stiffness. It was a gift from my mom and it seems to help. It contains Zechstein magnesium, which I believe is the best in the world.
However I didn't wear my new Hoka OneOne Bondi B.-shoes - I'm not that crazy. I ran with my trusty old Brooks ST Racers, which I believe was the right choice, although I also considered using Brooks Green Silence. I had installed elastic Lock Laces for all of my shoes a couple of weeks earlier, and had no issues with them during the race.

I started from Group B, which is an honor that I earned with my last year's 3:06 Stockholm Marathon result.

There was a bit of drama after the first km, when a faster runner overtook me forcibly and stepped on my shoe, making me lose my balance for a moment. I didn't fall down because I hands hit another runner, who weirdly enough then apologized to me. I felt sharp pain in my previously injured right hamstring once again, and I knew right there and then that I'd better take it very easy if I wanted to finish at all.

I wasn't going too slow initially, because my 5K split was 21:32 (4:19 min/km), and I was 786th. However after that my pace and placing kept on dropping until the last 5 K, which averaged about 5:50 min/km. My half-marathon split was 1:38:28, so the second half was much slower.

As mentioned above, I finished in 3:35:23 (2,869th place overall). I was very happy with my 5:07 min/km average pace, although this was the slowest of my five Stockholm results. It was actually fun to run slowly and pay some attention the scenery, sights and people around me. There were lots of runners and enthusiastic supporters around at every point of the race. I made absolutely no effort whatsoever to run faster than what felt light, easy and smooth. There was not too much pain, as long as I kept going slow.

The sea cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm and back was great with lots of good food and good runners. The luxury passenger ship took us to a harbor that was located about a mile from the marathon start/finish area. We were able to leave our luggage in our cabins and simply walk to the start and back in about 30 minutes with our running gear on. I left my track suit and mobile phone in a plastic bag in the starting area, and I got it handed back to me after the race.

The race organisation worked very smoothly and efficiently, which I guess is one of the main reasons runners love Stockholm Marathon and run there year after year.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just say no to crappy stuff

A great blog about how Steve Jobs taught Nike to get rid of 'the crappy stuff', ie. just about everything that is not absolutely necessary for your success.

According to Steve Jobs, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

UTMB mandatory kit update

There has been a few minor changes in UTMB mandatory kit list. Like often with the French, the regulations can seem a bit confusing at times for us foreigners, due to different language and culture.

For example, why the roll of adhesive elastic tape has to be 6 cm wide, but only 1 meter long - wouldn't the standard 5 cm wide and 3-5 meter long do as well, if not better? How can you keep your phone switched on for two days, if the battery lasts only one day? And do you really need a 'tri-band' phone to be able to use it in all three countries involved (France, Italy, Switzerland) - I don't think so.

They demand long trousers, but then hasten to add that 'a combination of leggings and long socks, which cover the legs completely' is ok - so probably any clothing that covers your legs (like over-the-knees tights and calf sleeves and running socks) would be perfectly acceptable?

In any case, you are still required to carry a waterproof jacket with a hood, waterproof trousers, waterproof gloves, and a warm hat at all times, in addition to your normal running gear.

The main thing is to get the best equipment possible for you. Test it in bad rainy weather well before the race. In the mountains you better be safe than sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Whitfield blows up the competition

Simon Whitfield figured out a clever way to play with his kid while working out on a LeMond Revolution trainer. This enhances my belief that triathletes tend to be more creative than other endurance athletes. - "Yeah but can Cavendish do this?" (@markcavendish) from swhitfield on Vimeo.
MUSIC by Gonzales - Knight Moves
Simon Whitfield

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Congrats to 20th Ironman Lanzarote

Congratulations to Ironman Lanzarote, which is certainly the toughest triathlon I've done. This 2011 edition was already the 20th challenge where 'Normal limits do not apply'. I did the very first one, but I still remember it like yesterday.

The waves may not be that bad on the swim, but it will almost always get very windy on Lanzarote when the sun gets up. The mountains on the bike course can be devastating and some of the descents like the one from Mirador del Rio are possibly dangerous. Finally the heat during the marathon run will really test you beyond your limits.

If you decide to go for it, consider travelling there a month before the race to get used to the conditions on the island. There are plenty of tourist hotels available, but  if you are serious about training then Club La Santa (the race HQ) on the north side is the place to stay.

You can take part in the Volcano Triathlon there, which is an Olympic distance event three weeks before the Ironman. Nowadays they also provide an official Ironman Lanzarote Pre-Training Camp. The start/finish area is on the south side, and they will provide you with free transportation there and back on race day.

20 years ago I remember helping RD Kenneth Gasque to put together the first race. I was cycling around the bike course with some fellow Finnish competitors equipped with paint cans. We were marking the course so no one would get lost on race day.

On race day the local dude who was in charge of turning on the showers after the swim slept in, and everybody had to start cycling with a salty skin - ouch! It wasn't always perfect then, but it was lots of fun and I'm sure the race organisation works like a charm these days with all the experience it has gathered over two decades.

Congrats also to Timo Bracht, who won his 6th Ironman title on Saturday with 8:30:34 and smashed Thomas Hellriegel's 16 year old course record by over five minutes!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Redsockfriday Cape Town to Comrades Marathon 2011

Four South African dudes are cycling 1730 km from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg in ten days. Then they are going to run Comrades Marathon, which is is 89 km road race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on May 29. Check out for more info about their charity project.

This is the video from Stage 1.

John McInroy, who is one of the recksockers, was interviewed in Marathon Talk episode 71.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TNF 100K Australia

Kilian Jornet seems to be in good condition, smashing the course record in The North Face 100 km trail running race in Australia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Macca @ Slowtwitch

Macca may not be very modest, but he sure seems honest. His interview and book excerpt are featured at Slowtwitch to make 'I'm Here To WIN' a bestseller.

I'll get the book soon and read it asap, because I believe even us age group triathletes could learn a thing or two from a pro winner who tells it like it is.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Barkley Marathons according to Charlie Engle

Runner's World May 2011 features Charlie Engle's race report and videos of The Barkley Marathons 2010.

Notorious? Yes absolutely, but also extremely hilarious - at  least when safely experienced sitting in a comfortable armchair.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Polar RCX5 look and feel

Polar RCX5 look and feel by RunningWilli, the fastest Austrian runner with six kids!

Dean arrives in NYC

Dean Karnazes ends his 3,000 mile run from Disneyland to NYC on 'Live! With Regis and Kelly' show.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Self-supported half-ironman

Did my first ever self-supported 113 km half-ironman triathlon today. The weather was perfect but my fitness was questionable.

The purpose was to perform a long workout without stressing my injured right leg too much. It has been troubled by plantar fasciitis since the first snows fell in late November. In the spring it gradually got better, but then I pulled my hamstring while running on ice in April. It's seems to be a mild hammy strain only, but it effectively limits my top running speed. My leg hurts almost all the time, no matter what I do.

The 1900 meter swim was ok. The pool was a bit too crowded, so I took it easy: 33 mins. I didn't time any of the transitions in this training exercise. In a real triathlon race the transition times would be added to the total time of course.

I decided to do the 21.1 km half-marathon run next, and leave the 90K bike last. This was my own thing, so I changed the rules as I went on. It took 1:49, which would normally be a slow time for me. Last year my best half-marathon was 1:28. With the bad leg, it's an acceptable result I guess.

I rode the 90 km bike with my Tacx Bushido in 3:17. It's so much more convenient to ride indoors that I didn't feel like going out. If you need something to drink or eat, you can simply take a break and get it from the kitchen.

So the whole 113 km half-ironman took me 5:39, not counting the transitions and other breaks. It was a lot of fun, although not like a real race by any means. I didn't wear a heart rate monitor, but I'm sure I didn't go too hard at any point.

Now I can feel pretty confident about being able to finish Stockholm Marathon, which is three weeks away. However there is no way I can beat my last year's course PR 3:06 in this condition, so I'll just cruise through it with whatever speed feels most comfortable then.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Marshall Ulrich: Running On Empty

Running On Empty by Marshall Ulrich is probably the best running book since Born To Run, and it  appropriately features a Foreword by Christopher McDougall himself.

If you wonder why this balding guy (he looks a bit like Emil Zatopek) is called Endurance King, this book will go a long way towards answering your questions. He is not just an ultrarunner, but also a mountaineer with Seven Summits under his belt and one of the most experienced adventure athletes out there.

The book mainly focuses on the story of how he ran across America in 52 days, but it briefly discusses various other issues and topics as well, including people like Charlie Engle.

The comprehensive Appendix reveals several interesting facts, like that he didn't drink any water at all during his epic transcontinental run, but he did pop several medications like statins for high cholesterol, asthma prevention, antibiotics, prescription sleep aid and an anti-inflammatory injection for his plantar fasciitis. Yes, he suffered from tons of issues, but he didn't quit - what a tough dude!

In a recent interview, Mr. Ulrich who will celebrate his 60th birthday on July 4th 2011, mentioned planning new adventures like a circumnavigation of Death Valley with a friend, and a secret project involving "long HARD days of another discipline covering mega distance." (RAAM?)

Get this book and read it now, you won't regret it - highly recommended.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Swissalpine trailer

Swissalpine has come out with a new trailer, shot in July 2010 event, which I participated in. I won't be there this year though, as it's perhaps too close to my Trail Verbier Saint-Bernard.

Anyway for K78 and K42 races they'll test a special alternative route which is similar to the route I ran in the 1995 event. It's going to be slightly higher with tougher uphills, and with magnificent mountain lake views.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Well-oiled Time Machine

Rush kicked off the European leg of their 2011 Time Machine tour in Helsinki last night. The band seems to be in great shape and the humorous steampunk stage theme is brilliant. To get a good view in front of the stage required about four hours of standing in place (no seats there in that area), but it was well worth it. Luckily the 3-hour show included an intermission to allow us elderly people to walk around and get a bit of exercise for our tired legs. The setlist included my favorite album Moving Pictures, which was released 30 years ago.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Training Day: Raelert brothers

K-Swiss has promised Raelert Brothers 1 million dollars if they both can finish in the top 2 in Ford Ironman World Championship in October 2011. Andreas did finish in second place last year, but four years younger Michael has never raced in Kona before. Last year's winner Macca as well as Lance Armstrong have announced they won't be there, so the German bros have a chance and will go for it training seriously like the video shows.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Polar RCX5

The latest Polar gadget RCX5 seems really interesting to me. I'm seriously considering if it might become my next everyday training device for running, cycling and swimming. Better check the prices first though.