success is rarely a straight line
I want to break limits, inspire, motivate and prove that almost everything is possible if only the will is strong enough.
After a 2017 season with three not completed competitions, it would normally be described as a failure. However, I am still incredibly proud and happy - because I have come back – come back after My lower back rupture that made me partially paralyzed in my left leg - This happened in the winter of 2015/16
However, success is rarely a straight line and below I have written a brief summary of the last few years of struggle to reach the absolute world elite.
I have had a Pro license since 2014 - where I started training triathlon and initially I had a goal of qualifying for Hawaii in the Pro field but had no idea at the time that it was a completely different qualification system than in the AG's (Age Groups) and how hard it really is. In the last 5 years only one Danish professional has qualified.
But I became smarter!! It did not scare me - on the contrary. It just increased my burning desire and stubborness as I love sports and challenges, and I thus stuck with my decision that it had to be possible for me to make my way in the Pro field.
I finished 2015 with a few good results on the half-distance in Lanzarote and Turkey, but my miserable swimming performance meant that my results ranked just outside the top 10, but I am confident and think to myself that I have a whole winter, where I can work to improve my swim skils. But one month after the Turkey 70.3 Ironman something happens that change my life in many ways - I get a slipped disc in my lower back. It happens during my work as an electrician, and I become partially paralyzed in my left leg. My calf muscle is completely lame and I could not activate it at all - I could not run - bike - swim - and in fact I could almost not walk.
Fortunately, I have a health insurance and I am examined. I am scanned at the Danish private hospital Mølholm where they can confirm what I knew – that I had an rupture in my lower back - I decide not to be operated, I will try to train it away - expected healing time on a slipped disc is 6-18 months. So triathlon competitions are far away and everyone around me advise me to to stop, but no!! That is not going to happen!!
When I set a goal, I finish it, and a slipped disc is not going to stop me from doing it.
On top of it all, I discover that I cannot get sick pay since I am a professional triathlete with my own company, getting my income from my sport in the form of cash sponsorships and equipment. So if I want help from the public, I would have to shut down my company and sell my bikes - clothing - equipment - etc....
My stubbornness with respect to the Danish health system and that it is so categorical - that I could not receive help just because I have a company and have got some equipment and a limited amount of money back in January causes me to get furious, disappointed and also very sad - so my decision not to close my "company" was probably not well thought through - but I thought F *** the system - I can manage on my own!!
But I could not really, because I could not work and I could not train either - so I was, to say it mildly, in a really bad situation!!
Like everyone else with a slipped disc, I get some exercises that I can do on the living room floor - I do them 5-6 times a day and start up with some small walks of 500-1000m
Swimming is the first thing I start doing, and my first swimming training after the injury I remember very clearly. Just dressing was a big problem. I only swam 6 lanes of each 25m - I swam very slowly one lane, grabbed onto the edge, turned gently around and swam 25m back - but after 150m I simply had to stop due to pain. I was very upset and felt that my goal of the World Championchip in Hawaii as a pro was very far away ....
Running has for sure been the worst for a paralyzed calf muscle. There was no suspension in the left leg so all shocks went straight up the back.
After approx. 8 weeks I could walk 2 km and started adding some small 10 step runs – approx. 2x10 step runs – as part of the walk - it was a slow process and one day my girlfriend said to me, you will never be doing triathlon again, and I could tell she meant it honestly!!
I was laying halfway down in the couch where I had spent most of my time for the last 4 months, but her statement was like pouring gasoline on a fire that was going out - I got up and went straight out and put on my clothes and shoes. I would show her that I could run!!
I decided to run around the block as I call it – it is a 1400m run - but already after 400m I could feel my left leg just hit the ground without any kind of control - my will made me keep going for 1100m before I had to give up. Crying I walked the last 300m home and because of my little stunt, my rehabilitation was now set back 4-6 weeks. At that time I had to agree with my girlfriend. Everything did look very bad.
I continued the rehabilitation and slowly increased the amount of running and in March 2016, I was able to run 10x100m with a 300m break in between - in May I could do 800m runs approx. 5 times on a trip.
My Coach Sheala Pedersen has played a large role in that I am now closer to my goal than ever before.
Back in May 2016, when there was no progress in my training, she made me visualize myself running 1 hour a day - it had a very positive effect, and after only 5 days of visualization I could run 5km continuously for the first time in half a year.
Exactly at that time, I really got the belief that I was on my way back, but success is not a straight line and I have really got some set backs along the way - most recently in the Kalmar Ironman where I had to leave the race after 22km of running. At the time of leaving the race, I was at an overall 8th place in the race.
The cycling has not been quite as difficult, but I waited until 14 months after the injury before I started driving on my tri bike. Otherwise, biking has just been a steady rehabilitation where I have accepted that my left leg was half "dead" and that, initially, I could not get up on the bike because I had no strength in my one leg.
In fact, I felt good on the bike because the back curvature meant that there was more room for the nerve, but of course everything in moderation, so it was small trips of 1-2 hours.
August 19, 2017
Many have asked me what went wrong in Kalmar - So here's a short race report
I would like to turn it around and say that a lot went well in Kalmar, and when I look back at the race, it was really the culmination of almost 2 years of hard work with rehabilitation. And even though I left the race, there were a lot of positive experiences, I could bring with me back home from Sweden.
My goal in Kalmar was, of course, to get a top result, but the most important thing was to relax - enjoy it - be in the moment - and feel myself. So my coach had forced me to race without any measurement aids, such as watt measurement, pulse watch or GPS.
It was very scary to be in an ironman without knowing how long time had passed, how fast you were biking ......... but at the same time also a huge relief that you were not guided by "NUMBERS" but really needed to feel and listen to your body.
The swim goes pretty well and I come out of the water after 58 min (3860m), but not only that - I enjoyed myself during the swim, and for the first time ever I manage to get in a group.
At one point I feel that I can take the lead in the group. After leading the group for about 5-600 meters, I swing out to the side and take a few strokes on my back just to see what is going on behind us. I discover that the group has been halved - and even without really having pushed myself. I however decide to stay in the group, now that I finally managed to join a group - with 800m to go, we are overtaken by the fastest AGs who have started 5 min after us – I decide to join them, and then it gets pretty tough, but I stick with them and just think to myself that this is really cool even though I have just been overtaken by some AGs.
Cycling ought to be easy for me with my background as a professional cyclist - but nothing comes without an effort, and I have also had to train a lot in this discipline to reach the needed level, but I also feel that I am very close to being where I would like to be. In Kalmar, I rode the 4th fastest bicycle split with about 40 km/h in average.
When I got out of the water with some other Pros, I had expected and hoped I would be biking in a group but it did not happen and pretty fast I ended up driving alone - again again
Running has all of a sudden become the discipline where I am most challenged although it has previously been the area in which I was strongest.
As I get off the bike, I do not feel particularly tired, but of course you can feel that you have just biked 180km.
But I get a good start in the run and sense which pace feels good, since I do not have a watch to help me. It is going to be 3 runs on a 13km circuit and the first round goes well, but as I start on the second round, my leg muscle starts giving up which is a sign of that the back is becoming tired which causes an increased pressure on the nerves.
It also causes major nerve pain under the foot pad of the left foot. I try to be positive and motivate my mind with positive thoughts and words that have helped a lot during my running sessions, where I often experience the same symptoms.
But it does not work today and the pain in the bones underneath the foot continue to increase to a level, where I have to give up and leave the race.
Disappointed but at the same time very happy and grateful that so much went well.
I just have to accept that there is still some way to go before reaching a good running shape and the joy of running - but now I know how I will be spending the winter.
So the journey does not stop here - I want to be the world's best at the Ironman distance - among the Professionals.