Embrunman 2012

Wednesday August 15th 2012

Result: Nr. 11 overall (nr. 9 Senior women)

Wednesday August 15th 2012

Then it became early morning (3.55) and time to get up ... a short jog followed by a very light breakfast (2 spoons of muesli and milk was all my nervous stomach could take in)

The other three triathletes were also up early and it was nice to all be in the same situation. This morning is always filled with a very special atmosphere. 4.30 Bo tok me to the transition zone; this year a bit earlier than the other years so I got in very easily, and could prepare the bike and all my stuff. My position in the transition zone was in the first row which is a huge advantage when you get out of the water. I was right next to Bella Bayliss who has won this race several times. I chatted a bit with her. She thought that the Hungarian Erika Csomor (winner last year) would be her strongest competition.

Marcel Zamora was also there in the first row; and he could very well win the men's race.

My wet suit was on, and I had time to get in the water for a bit of warming up.

At 5.45 I went to the start line with the other around 60 girls, and we were ready to GO.

The start went while the huge crowd was chearing on us, on this unusually warm morning - it seems like it will be a very hot day!

I had a fairly good start on the swim; sometimes the orientation is pretty difficult because it is still dark at 6 am.

I was fighting the best I could on the swim, and thought I would get a good time - sadly it was only 1.09, but like last year I was out of the water in 16th position, which I was satisfied with, and exactly the same as last year.

T1 is a bit difficult. It is hard to pull on sleeves and jersey while being soaking wet from the swim, but I mounted my bike and took off. The bike course go directly from the transition zone up in the sky!

The first climb is quite long - around 10 km; so it is hard to get into a good rhytm at this point. I did not feel that my legs had quite as much power as I did last year; but I managed to take 6 positions, so after the first 40 km I was in 10th position. From here we start ascending towards Col d'Izoard, that really starts at km 80. i was pushing hard ans had the same split times as last year (which was good because that was my best race ever). I concentrated on drinking and taking in energy and salt. It is hard to do that when we start climbing up 10-12%...

Up the Col d'Izoard I had to work really hard and made it to the top 20 km later in same split as last year. I did not spend any time in the aid station but just continued downhill towards Briancon, a very long descend where we reach really high speed and have to stay very cncentrated.

In Briancon we turned towards Embrun; and hell began. 70 km in very strong head wind and heat! I really had to push hard to keep the speed, and that took a lot of my power. In addition to that we have three more mountains to pass...among them the Pallon, 5 km with a 10-12% gradient. At the plateau it was very stormy. At some point a group of men overtook; they pulled in right in front of me, and at that point a referee came by, and gave me a black card, which means a 6 min penalty. That really sucked! All that hard work, and then some stupid incidence that gives me 6 minutes where I have to sit and wait before I can start out on the marathon! That was a tough time, finding the motivation again and the will to continue pushing hard on the bike.

Well I finally made it back to Embrun; but before reaching the transition zone we have to climb the Chalvet, a really nasty 5 km with 7-10 % gradient. On a normal day it is quite easy, but after 180 km it is almost impossible to pass. The descend is very dangerous; with holes in the tarmac, lots of gravel and it is very narrow. Back in the transition area a referee vcame to me right away and forced me to the penalty box, where I had to sit for 6 min. At that point I was more dead than alive - felt like I had already done the marathon, which I obviously hadn't...I more or lessfainted several times, and tried to concentrate and tried to drink some energy drink. I was feeling so miserable that I seriously considered stopping, but then I somehow pulled myself together and tried to start out on the run. The first 5 km I was feeling extremely bad; fortunately I am quite stubborn, so my new strategy was to continue running until I faint. If I make it to the finish line it is perfect, and if it happens earlier then at least I tried my best...

The aid stations on the run course would this year not give us plastic cups to take with us - instead you had to carry your own cup or bottle throughout the run and at the aid stations you could get a refill! What a shitty system. I started out with my bottle and my gels. Fortunately I could see that there actually was cups on the aid stations; you just couldn't take them with you, but had to stop and drink. But that was better than running with a heavy bottle. I nearly passed out several times at the aid stations, but tried really hard to drink a lot and get energy (coke, gels, oranges...) and salt. After 10 km I felt a bit better and found a solid rhytm.

I made it through the first 21 km and started out on the second half. At that point the run course looked like a battle field with fallen soldiers all over. Most of the athletes received immediate treatment, and the ambulances nonstop transported the athletes to the medical tent. The 37 degress (in the shade) really cost a lot of suffering out there. I saw Bo once in a while and that was a great help. Finally I got to the last three painful kilometres; and then the cheering crowd really helped me through.

I could cross the finish line as nr 11 - and was simply so happy to have made it to the finish line, on this very very tough day.

I met Nicolas (our friend from the hotel) when I was nearly finished. At that time he was just starting the second half marathon, and looked more dead than alive

I crossed the finish line in 14.07 and shortly after my legs just collapsed and the paramedics carried me to the medical tent for intravenous fluid therapy!

After about half an hour I was allowed to go, so I could get out to Bo and get my bike and all the stuff out of the transition zone and could go back to the hotel.

Indescribably tough race today; like all was saying: like being at war. It is the Ironman distance race that I am proudest of having made so far although I have done Embrunman twice before and other races too.

Finally back home at Christines house I had a shower (lovely!), a glass of water and 3 cm of bread before falling asleep helped by some muscle relaxants etc...

Tuesday August 14th 2012

The day before the day!

After breakfast I went out on the last 10 km of the bike course, mainly to see the descent from the Chalvet. It was unfortunately as bad as always, only new tarmac on 1 km.

After checking the bike I checked it in in the bike park. Then a few hours of rest before the race briefing. Now I just wait to be tired enough to go to sleep. Nervous!

Monday August 13th 2012

Today is rest day, meaning that I only have to swim 10 min. I did that after breakfast and some shopping. In the afternoon I relaxed in the garden; the weather being quite stabile now, and the weather forecast says that it will be 31 degrees and sunny on Wednesday. I hope that is true.

I am getting more and more nervous as time is passing by, although it helps a bit that I have tried it twice before here in Embrun. I hope I will be able to sleep well tonight!

Sunday August 12th 2012

After a good nights sleep I had a lovely breakfast outside in the garden. As always our host Christine is spoiling us with delicious food!

I then went out on the first part of the bike course; the climb to Les Vignes and the descent to the lake. I was then picked up by my brother to avoid riding on the main road back to Embrun. We passed by Crots and saw there was a flea / fruit market. We stopped and took a look at it; there was actually many fine items to find there.

Back home again I went running for 20 mins, and then we had some lunch in the garden. A french triathlete, Nicolas, arrived and we put his bike down to mine. He was here in 2008 as well; he did the raced while I decided not to start that year due to very very bad weather.

In the afternoon dark clouds came and we had some thunder and rain; hopefully it will be the only rain we see here!

I went to Le Salles des Fetes to pick up my number and to register. This year I am number 17. I noticed some very good names on the start list; Bella Bayliss (winner 3 times), Isabelle Ferrer (last year 2nd) and Erika Csomor (last year 1st) are just some of them...

I went swimming at Plan d'eau; water seemed cold at first; but I guess it is quite alright; it's probably only me who is used to 28-30 degrees warm water!

Now we just had a nice dinner down the town; and it is bedtime!

Master bed room

Saturday August 11th 2012

Arrival in Embrun after 18 hours drive from Andalucia, Spain. We are staying at our Chambre d'hote, Le Pigeonnier. We had breakfast and then we unpacked the car and organised it with the stuff that Gabor is taking with him to Denmark when he leaves later today. He has to go to DK to go to work on Monday morning.

Gabor took ower and a nap while I took the dogs for a nice long walk on the mountain Mont Guillaume. They loved it and now they are tired and relaxed for the long trip in the car to DK. I bought some food and Gabor and I had a late lunch in the garden with the dogs before he sadly had to leave for Denmark. Right now I am waiting for my support team from Denmark to arrive. This year it consists of my brother Bo:-) who is taking the long way down here to help me before, during and after the race.

16. august 2011

After a good nights sleep we enjoyed another lovely breakfast. After that we packed the cars and sent Gabor alone off to DK, he has to hurry back to work. The rest of us are staying for a few more hours because we are attending the award ceremony at 10.30.

After the award ceremony where the top 10 were celebrated, we had some lunch before taking off towards DK, on my behalf after 7½ weeks stay in Spain and France.

15. august 2011

Pia finishes number 7 ..... 12.59.33


Shortly after finishing

Race story:

The day started terribly early, getting up, putting on the race suit, 5 min of jogging to get the morning stiffness out of my body

It was a mistake - I don't want to do it anyway :-)

"Ready" for 5 min of jogging

The weather looked fine, the rain from the day before had finished, and the sky looked more or less clear. Had a bit of breakfast - Christine had prepared it for us the day before. Our french friend from the hotel was driving with us to the bike park and we left the hotel a little before 5 a.m.

A light breakfast

I ended up being quite busy because it took a long time to enter the bike park.

Putting wet suit on

Now I hurried to inflate my wheels, putting my wet suit on, a quick warm up in the water and then it was time to start.

The start went and the race had started! It was an okay start, not too much fighting. I joined a small group (3-4), and we swam together on the first lap. There was a bit of zig zagging, because of the darkness it was difficult to see the buoys. After the first lap, the faster men overtook me, and I found a pair of feet swimming in a perfect pace for me, and I followed him the rest of the swim. Now it was not dark anymore, and that made it somewhat easier to locate the buoys. I think it was an okay swim, a was pushing as hard as I could but I had no idea of the time; so it would be interesting to get out of the water and look at the watch!

1.05 and new Personal Best on an ironman swim distance. What a great start!

Then find my bike, which was easy. Due to my low number (24) my bike was at the end of the bike park. I put on a cycle jersey and sleeves, because it was only 7 am. and still pretty cold. All the way up to the Izoard you ride in the shade of the mountains so it does not get hot until you get to Briancon. The bike course starts with a steep ascent of about 8 km! A tough start on the bike!

200 m from the bike park, already on the ascent

I get out of the water in position 16, which is not that bad. Already on the first climb I catch up with and overtake 4-5 girls which brings me in position 11. The descent has improved since last time I was there, with a new surface on part of the road. I have improved a lot going downhill, so before long I am down by the lake again. My supporter gives me some information some time during the first loop, he says that I have been riding really fast, with an average speed of 27-28 km/h after the first mountain (700 vertical metres). He is worried that I have been pushing too hard, but I felt it was very easy. I try to slow down a bit, but I a still riding very fast.

After the first 40 km we get to Embrun again, and after that the ascent towards Col d'Izoard slowly starts, it is going up and up for the next 60 km now. At that time I am in position 10. I reach another girl in front of me, but when I overtake, she starts riding aggressively, riding up front of me again, and I decide to back off a bit, because I can easily follow her, and I think that when the ascent really starts she will be tires from pushing so hard now. I still feel great, with a good rhytm, drink a lot, and take a banana when possible at teh aid stations, and supply with my PowerBar wine gums. 7 weeks of training camp in Andalucia has made me very strong.

It is very exciting racing like this; fighting for positions because I am in the top 10. Last time I was here (2009), I was in position 13 for most of the race and ended up number 11, and with ½ hour up till number 10.

When we get to where the Izoard climb starts for real, and where I start to enjoy it, the girl just in front of me cannot follow me anymore, and then I am number 9. Gabor says again that I am pushing hard and that the guys that I catch up with, cannot follow this speed on this very steep mountain (more than 10% most of the way up). I am still in my blue zone and feeling comfortable.

Up and up the Izoard

We get to Arvieux and the climb starts for real, 15 km to the top (2360 m). I am in my ckimbing rhytm and I feel great. I can hear the photographer (Gabor) is having a hard time today on the mountain:-)

At some point here, in a very steep curve I can see a girl in front of me, who is lying at the side of the road. The road has been too steep for her, and zigzagging too much she has obviously ridden out of the road and has crashed, bad luck for her, but I am now number 8.

We continue up and up, and eventually we meet Team Pia (Pia's father and brother) with a large Danish flag, cheering at me and taking photos. They are also present when I reach the top of this magnificent mountain, where there is a control point, aid station etc.

Col d'Izoard

The top of Col d'Izoard

I grab 1 bottle, and start flying down. The descent is super, some hair pins in the beginning, but later with straight roads which makes you ride really really fast. In no time we are in Briancon, and now I am heading for the Les Vigneaux and Pallon climbs. Especialy Pallon is a nasty steep business app. 3 km with 12-13% ascent. Without too much difficulty I am up, and the descent towards the small air field is waiting; it has very narrow roads and numerous hair pin turns. This year the decents are much easier for me, and I notice that the guys that I follow or ride away from on the way up, cannot, as they used to, overtake me on the way down.


After the air field we start heading back towards Embrun. It feels like it is never ending, and still has a lot of uphill. This is the time where you can easily loose focus, but for me it helped that I caught up with the girl in 7th position, and we were competing all the way back to Embrun. When we finally get to the last climb, Chalvet, I ride away from her, and I can climb the Chalvet in 7th position. Now there is the very dangerous road down to Embrun, it has large holes, loose gravel and is in a terrible state. I decide to ride conservatively down, not wanting to risk a crash now. I maintain my position 7 and can finally after nearly 7½ hours biking, put my bike down at the bike park, make a quick transition and start out on the marathon.

So I start out as number 7 after a swim+bike split of 8.35. I am really pleased of that position, because I think a few girls will run up in front of me; and then I can still end up in the top 10, which is one of my goals. The other one is to go below 13 hours in total.

Before long 2 girls have overtaken. I am having a small crisis, feel that I am running really bad and not feeling good. This is after 9 km. I am now afraid that I will not be able to maintain speed all the way through. After having kept number 8 company for a while, I have to let go, but all the time I keep her within visible distance.

I try to focus, drink water and coke, cool down with water, taking my sugar gels etc, and that is actually giving me quita a kick, and I feel much better again. I increase speed again, and am able to maintain a stable rhtym of app. 10 km/h. I get to km 21 in 2.02, which is as I hoped for. I continue and feeling more optimistic again. However I fear for the steep climb up towards Embrun, that is reaaly a tough one. After that I fear for the long road going to Baratier, which also has some long long hills and no aid stations with drinks. In the middle of Embrun town, my wonderful friend Christine is waiting for me, cheering for me; that is a lovely surprise!

But how are the standings at this point: at the halfway point I am in position 9, number 10 is 18 minutes behind, so if I maintain speed I will be sure of my position. Number 11 is 24 min behind me. However, the girl who is number 8 at the halfway point, and in visible distance from me, suddenly disappears, and then I am number 8 again, and running faster than the 2 girls behind me. Somehow I make it through the Baratier part, and can now start the last 6-7km still without major crises, injuries etc. (of course I have a lot of pain in feet, thighs, legs etc, but that is normal). Now I try to focus on finishing sub 13 hours, which is just about possible, as far as I can think of.

Very steep part

There are no more ascents, now I just have to run from Baratier to Embrun, pass under La Clapiere and enter the path round the Plan d'Eau. To much surprise I discover number 7 right in front of me at La Clapiere, she does not look good. I position myself just behind her and we continue together, somewhat slower than my previous pace, round the lake. About 1 km before the finish line she signals to me that I can go, she is finished, and I overtake her, using my very last power, and advance more than ½ minut from her on this last part, and I can cross the line in 12.59.33

50 m before the finish line

I have achieved both my goals and I feel fantastic. I run my second half marathon in 2.14, which is slower then the first, but it is not that bad I think. Finishing in Embrun with a marathon of 4.16 is OK for me although I still dream of running below 4 hours.

After a bit of cheering and a confirmation of the 7th position, I took my bike and all the other stuff and put it in my brother's car and we went home to the house. While I was running the last 17 km Gabor had fetched the two dogs from their "prison" and they all came down to see me finish.

I had the most wonderful bath ever, and enjoyed it while drinking (or sipping) a glass of cava, being in a hurry though, to make it to our dinner reservation. I had a pizza though I suffered from a great deal of nausea.

It feels SO GREAT to have finished this race just the way I had hoped for. A Great day but a very, very tough race.

>> Resultatlisten

Pia finishes nr 158 over all out of 989 athletes.

3,8 km swimming: 1.05.10

188 km bike: 7.31.46

42,2 km run: 4.16.42

Total: 12.59.33

Position women: 7

>> video

Bubbles...and bubbles

14. august 2011

As always we started the day with a delicious breakfast in the garden with Christine spoiling us.

A classic picture the day before the race in Embrun

After breakfast the first task was to see the dogs in the kennel. They were happy to see Gabor, but unfortunately they were only allowed to take a walk for 15 min (the reason is still unknown) so they all ran to the river, bathing and eating some Pâte before running back again.


Unhappy dogs being left again

After that we biked up the Chalvet and down towards the transition zone. The roads on the descent are now in a terrible state! Have to be careful there tomorrow! After that Pia went running for 10 minutes.

Pia on the way up the Chalvet

After that we made the last check-up on the bike and ate a bit of Chinese food.

Salud - on the way to put the bike in the bike park. No turning back now!

Then it was time to Gabors long afternoon dog walk, while the rest of us went down to put the bike in the bike park and attending the race briefing. It was nice to once again meet our friend Sharon, who, as always, does the race briefing in English.

Nr 24

Iiiii how exciting

Pre-race nerves

Father Ole og Brother took the car and went out to check Col d Izoard today before having a beer in the garden.

Izoard and Ole


Col D'Izoard 2360 m.a.s


Another classic picture

13. august 2011

We woke up because someone was hammering on the gate to the garden, and when we came down, we met Pias brother Bo, and outside the gate Pias father Ole. They had been driving all night from Denmark and were now here to see the race. It is very nice that they are here to support me.

The guys relaxing in the garden, notice the local drinks on the table
Dinner at Hotel de la Mairie

During the morning Christine had found a place for the dogs, she felt so sorry that they were going to live in the car that she arranged for them to stay in a combined shelter / kennel nearby. They are used to take care of people's dogs out there, so no problems, other than that we did not like to leave our dogs in a kennel. But fortunately it is very near Embrun, so we will be able to visit them twice a day.

Pia has just ended the first climb on the bike course and now has to do the descent to the lake

Pia at km 30 on the bike course

Kutya out of prison

Kutya and Machico playing in the river

12. august 2011

Finally we arrived at Embrun and our lovely hotel Le Pigeonnier and our very sweet landlady Christine. We arrived at about 4 pm, and therefore we did not have time to do any training because we had to take the dogs to their dog sitter at 7. So the big resting day tomorrow is cancelled I guess.

We had a long time ago arranged for a family to take care of the dogs while we are here; but to make a long story short, the family was too concerned about taking care of Machico, who does not actually like strangers, so we ended up taking the dogs back with us; to let them sleep in the car, and then we must take them out as much as we can during the day.

We strolled a little around in town, bought something to eat and drink which we enjoyed in the garden.

We were out with the dogs until 10 pm, and after that we went straight to bed in our lovely room.

3. august 2011

Today Gabor and I had arranged a time trial on the Palomas climb. I hoped to go below 50 minutes and Gabor would like to go below 40 minutes.

I had a really good day, and I managed to reach the top in 47.13, which was an improvement of approx. 3 minutes. This was really good for my self confidence here 12 days before the race. Gabor managed to make a new PB in 41.18, but will have to try again if he wants to go below 40.

27. juli 2011

New PB on The Boyar climb 55.26, my condition is still improving. We have both started hoping for a good race in Embrun! I am starting to feel in race mode and have started dreaming about the race at night. My race suit has been tested and chosen (if the weather is warm).

11. juli 2011

Today I made a great time on the Palomas climb (50.09) only 6 sec from my PB, and nearly half way up I was only riding in my blue zone. The time has been approved by Gabor as qualification for Embrun. Maybe I can still make another attack on Palomas.

24. maj 2011

I have now signed up for the EmbrunMan on Monday August 15th. My training is going well and according to schedule. We are looking forward to go to Spain for 7 weeks.

15. januar 2011

Gabor has now been approved my new attempt in Embrun, on following conditions: I must be able to climb Palomas in 50 minutes, and I must be able to run 5k in 20 minutes. That way we have some measurements of my shape, which should be at least as good as in 2008 before we will go to Embrun.

Rooms are reserved at Le Pigeonnier, and we have booked a boarding kennel for the dogs.

1. oktober 2010

I have decided to make another try with the EmbrunMan on August 15th 2011. Hopefully we will have a long summer in Andakucia with perfect training conditions for this race.

Swim 3800m - Bike 188 km 5000 vertical meters - Run 42,2 km

Saturday August 15th 2009 - Start 5.50 am (females) og 6.00 (males)

Pia Anne Nielsen - HareTri

>> jernmand.dk

Diary from Embrun


Embrunman at last. It is totally satisfying to wake up here the day after the race knowing that I have finally reached my goal. It took me 2 years from the day I made the decision to do this race.

Pont Neuf, here we passed by twice on bike and twice on the run

I wonder how many couples that can call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Embrunman. Not many I reckon? Anyway, we can do that now. We think that Gabor was the first Danish man to do Embrunman and that I am the first Danish girl. We still need final confirmation though.

Haven't got much sleep last night..the body is one huge inflammation and every little movement is painful. There is also a mental proces to do after such a race. Little episodes pop up in my head, episodes that I have registered during the race but that I haven't had time to react upon. It is quite funny.

We woke up to another sunny day. Christine is spoiling us; last night we had got thick bath robes and slippers to hop in to after the bath. This morning there is a wonderful breakfast for us, with delicious bread and ham, fresh yoghurt, home made marmelade, lots of cheese (though we don't eat cheese!), and newspapers where we can read about yesterdays race. James, our friend from Singapore came in as nr. 37 in an impressive 11 h 41 min. So we could sit over breakfast and tell stories.

During the bike course he came blowing past me, slapping my b.. while shouting Go Pia, go, go, go...We also met on the run, he was looking as if he was doing fine. He and his family are very sweet and we hope to meet them again some other time.

James and I checking in our bikes at the bike lot

After breakfast it was unfortunately time to say goodbye to everybody. We really hope to come back soon for holidays. It is a fantastic area with huge possibilities of various outdoor activities!


It is 4.00 am, and I have just gotten out of bed. It is hot and the sky is clear, the stars are shining outside. Have just been out for a little wake up run and I am heading down for breakfast now - and then we must go and get ready for the swim start.

Pia at 4.24 am

15 minutes to start

The warm clothes stayed on until after the descend from the Izoard

Here you can se the bike course

>> Video af Pias sidste meter op til Col de la Izoard

Climbing up the very steep Pallon ascend after approx.140 km


Finally I became Embrunman - in 13 h 49 min. My swim split was 1.10 which was personal best by 2 minutes. The bike split was 7.59 and very intense and the run was 4.30 - which was slow, but at least I was running every step. Overall nr. 272 and I finished 11 among the senior girls. I am so happy about the result and right now I am so so tired!

Detailed race report follows tomorrow.

Race report:

After a busy morning where I was ready only 5 minutes prior to departure, all us girls (around 40) were sent off to the swim at 5.50, in the dark. We only had the enlighted kayak to follow, but before long we were able to see the buoys. There were some very fast swimmers, so they were soon well ahead. I was first in the second pack, and during the first 1,9 km I had no one to follow, but could feel somebody at my tail.

On the second loop the fastest men came blowing past me, and the fight with the men started. The swim felt good, but I could feel my shoulders tiring towards the end. To my surprise I saw that my time up of the water was 1.10, which was more than 2 minutes faster than before. Really nice!

The transition took me a few minutes, because I chose to wear extra bike trousers over my tri pants, and wore an extra bike jersey and arm warmers. It was going to be a long day on the bike, and a bit chilly here in the early morning too, and I would certainly like to avoid any saddle sores.

The bike course starts with 20 km up - just to get you started! After yesterdays thunder speech from the chief coach regarding my downhill skills (if I was too slow on all the downhill parts I would have to push really hard to get to the Izoard before cut off which is 13.15) I had been doing a bit of mental work and must have decided to put my fear of downhill biking away. I went very fast down to the lake - and chief coach noticed it and said that it was really good! It was a difficult descent due to poor condition of the road surface and due to the sun coming up and shinig just into your eyes.

After the descent there is a flat part, and after that it slowly starts to go up towards the Izoard. We are going through deep gorges, cut through by the river - it is amazing and beautiful, but today I don't have the time to enjoy such things. Every single turn of the pedals demands absolute focus and I have to concentrate on every single turn, leaving no space for "relaxing" in the head.

We reach the Izoard after 100 km, with "just" 88 km to go and two ascends and various other hills.

i did not know the condition of the descend from the Izoard, but it turned out to be a positive surprise - wide roads, large turns, also some hairpin turns, but due to the wide road they were not bad. There was no upgoing traffic which was a great help. So I went down full speed, it was great fun actually. My new "lady" brakes were very good, they gave me no cramps in the hands. Before I knew it I was down in Briancon and could begin riding back towards Embrun. On the way we had to climb up Pallon, a nasty climb of about 3 km and with no turns, just a straght long mountain road that is very steep. It almost broke me down, but after a little competition with one of the other triathletes (I won! - never saw him again) I found the courage and focus again and went fast down, while taking care of the melted road surface, it was that hot!

Down on some flat terrain I was the leader of a group of 6, big healthy men driving at my tail for kilometres! Do I need to say that my coach was shocked.

Suddenly it became very windy and it was blowing just towards us - as if we were not tired enough already! The last hour I had been extra focused on drinking a lot and eating some energy to be prepared for the run the best I could. During the bike course I ate 3 energy bars, 1 banana, 7 g of sodium chloride and swallowed liters of fluid, coke, iso and water. Already on my way up the Izoard I had started wondering how I ever was going to be able to run as much as a single step after this bike ride. But then I said to myself: we will face that problem when we get there!

After approaching Embrun - being very close to home - we have to do the last climb, the Chalvet. After 180 km on the bike it is a tough one, with very steep parts. Puuuha...The descend is the one with the very poor surface and a lot of gravel. I wouldn't risk anything, being so close to home, and I was told to be careful. I went a lot faster than yesterday though, but was careful in the turns. The descend actually ends in the bike lot, so a quick transition and off I went on very stiff legs...

I usually say that I feel that when I put my bike back and start running, I am practically sure that I will finish the race, because the risk of technical defects is gone. I do know that during 42 km run all sorts of unpleasant things can happen. I think the greatest risk here was to get a heat stroke, being a very hot day. Fortunately I like it hot, but it is very important to keep as hydrated as possible and to keep the body wet at all times to ensure the cooling effect of the evaporation. At every aid station (at times more than 3 km apart) I made sure to get wet sponges and a bottle of water to keep in my hand while running. I brought 6 gels for the marathon, and it turnes out to be just about sufficient, because when I finally made it to the finish line I was not in such a bad condition that I needed medical attention.

During the first 6 km on the marathon my legs were feeling very bad, but after that i actually felt good for the next 25 km. I was cheered a lot by my coach who was riding around on his bike taking pictures. He said that as long as I kept running it was going to go fine, he said that I would make an okay time. First ½ marathon in 2.06, not fast, but still running. On the second loop I got even more support from my coach, which was also very necessary, especially during the last 10 km where I was suffering from very sore legs and a bit of gastrointestinal problems. I overtook a lot of athletes, running, walking, lying next to the road etc...it really IS a tough race! It is not a flat running course and it is really tough to run up and down!

But I am proud to say that I did not walk one single step of the marathon. The support from the spectators were fantastic throughout the race...and the girls got extra attention I can say!

And finally after 13 hours and 49 minutes I finished and can call myself Embrunman. I am happy and proud about my performance, also the one leading up to this race. I could not have done it a minut faster I feel, I did what I could and was totally focused all the time!

Now it is Sunday morning and we unfortunately have to go home to Denmark now. Over and out from Embrun for now!


Breakfast was served outside on the veranda, and it was wonderful. I must say that Christine is spoiling us!

We made a check-up on the bike after breakfast - which was a good thing because we found that the cassette was loose. We put the number and the goodie bag (packed with energy bars and sodium chloride tablets) on. After second thoughts we took off the clip-on bars since most of the bike course is either uphill or downhill, so we didn't see much use in carrying the extra weight!

Todays training was the Chalvet - the surface of the road is, to put it gently, very poor and with a lot of gravel and big holes! I didn't ride very well today, so I hope to get more courage before tomorrow!

Lunch, which is my last real meal before the competition was a bit of pasta with pesto and 6 pine seeds and a coke.



Some tips and tricks before an Ironman:

Remember to get a good nights sleep before the race!

Remember to set an alarm clock (or preferably two!) - it is very early to get up at 4.00 am and you don't want to be late

Put a piece of tape on your feet where you are in risk of getting blisters

At 4.30 pm I had to put my bike in the bike lot and get my number (39 just like last year) painted on arm and leg. That went very smooth, my space in the bike lot is easy to find, second row of bikes when you get out of the water.

After that we had the race briefing, which as is often the case, arises more questions than those being answered! Well, it is probably going to go fine, just have to follow those in front of me:-)

Race briefing next to a man with a box on his head - what is going on???

After that we went back for a very light dinner on the veranda, together with the family Middleditch from Singapore. James is also here to do the Ironman tomorrow, so we shared some memories of other races. His wife and children are here also, they are very nice people and we hope to be able to spend some more time with them later.

Race suit for 30+ degrees Celsius.

Just before bed time I packed the last stuff for tomorrow. The weather forecast says HOT and DRY, yeaahhh!!!

Out travelling again....yeaahhl (Jacaranda tree made from a seed picked up in Funchal, Madeira, december 2007. Now 3 months old).


We are living in a castle!!! Amazing to wake up after 14 hours of sleep!! - go down to breakfast at 8 am, where the hosts are serving us a lovely breakfast, really tasty bread, fresh fruit, yoghurt, various cakes and croissants! Sharon (the lady of the castle) joined us and we heard the history of the castle and it was very interesting. We were invited for a guided tour round the castle this morning, which we would love to join. We could just make a quick ½ hour on the bike before that, so we did that. The tour round the castle was popular, with a lot of visitors coming. It was very interesting to see the film about the restoration and wonderful to see this fantastic old building, restored with a magnificent taste and respect to how it was before. We did not understand it all since it was in French, but Sharon is originally american, so she kindly translated some of it for us.



Our annex

The view from the downstairs room

View from the castle towards the lake

"Lady of the house" in a peaceful moment

Breakfast is served here

After this guided tour we had to leave...with promises to both ourselves and to Jacques and Sharon that we will come back soon for an extended stay....without having to think about an ironman!

"Our" other lovely house in Embrun, Le Pigeonnier

I went for a short swim - the water is fine, 23 degrees and very clear.

Then we went to Le Pigeonnier, where we stayed last year, and we got a warm welcome from the owner, Christine. She showed us our room, The Lilac room, on the first floor. It was magnificent! I will let the pictures tell their story...and just mention that after the ironman I am looking forward to sink into the large bath tub in the luxurious bath room.....




View from the bedroom towards the garden


The afternoon was spent relaxing in the garden while Gabor went for an extra bike ride - the weather is beautiful and very hot. We hope it will last!

Bla bla bla it is probably not so bad!!

A little like our usual training course in Denmark.....!!! (no!)


We have been driving non stop since yesterday at 3 pm. At 12 am we reached our destination, Chateau de Picomtal, Crots, Embrun. Here we will be staying the first night. It is a genuine old castle with 4 towers, situated with a view of Embrun, the mountains and the lake. Incredible. we were welcomed by Jacques, the owner, and his wife Sharon. They bought the castle some 10 years ago and has since restored it completely. Now it serves as a hotel with 4 suites, 3 double rooms, a single room and the annex, where we will be staying. The annex is actually an apartment with two stories, and is situated just next to one of the towers. It is very lovely and cosy, and also quiet and private.

The weather is perfect, over 30 degrees Celsius and sunny.

After a quick visit to the supermarket it was time for a nap, we are both very tired after the long drive. Gabor went for a few hours on the bike, which he regretted; he cannot remember when he last had such a terrible ride, his legs were painful and so tired, and his feet were swollen and did not fit into his shoes, so it was not much fun. At 6 pm we went to bed and slept like babies!


I have just ended the last intensive training session before Embrunman. I have started tapering, which means no more long, slow rides or runs, now I am just doing some shorter but very intensive training sessions and then I am swimming every day. My swimming has improved I feel, have just made new personal best on my 200 m intervals, so it feels good!

Now I just have to do the last preparations (it takes a lot of gear to do an Ironman!!) and then I will pack the car tomorrow and we will head for southern France during the afternoon. According to our plan we will arrive at the Chateau de Picomtal approx. 20 hours later.


3 days to departure for this years EmbrunMan...still doing full training schedule, but from tomorrow, Sunday, I will start tapering, in order the recover fully before the competition. After we came back from summer holidays I have felt tired and my legs have not felt good yet.

The most important things are already packed in the suit case, I have to bring a lot of clothes, because the weather forecast says unsteady weather the next period, and we know from last year how bad it can get.

The Pinarello is at the mechanics to get the last tuning, it is not going out here in Denmark before leaving. I have a new cassete, chain and tires, that I don't want to get cut.

"Ironman mode" has made its way into my head a few days ago, meaning that mentally I am preparing myself for the race, thinking different situations over and over, writing lists, reading notes from previous races etc.

Pia is riding with start number 39

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