Points and a nice win in Istanbul


June 29th, 2015 by



Lisa Norden wins Istanbul European Cup

Photo: Engin Kilic

 

I need points so I went to Istanbul to find some. 

I haven’t raced a European Cup for a long time and really enjoyed it.

A quick no fuss kind of trip with a well executed race and a body showing signs of adapting to training.

Exactly what I wanted and needed – and what coach darren asked me to try to achieve.

He wished me a really boring race, the kind without drama, concussions or strained achilles.

The swim was controlled and I swam in – or near the front for the full lap. A group of seven formed on the bike and with no major technical challenges or hills not much was going to happen during the 20k’s or riding. So I found myself having to do something on the run. A quite rare moment for me those days. I had a very average transition and had to chase for a little out on the first lap. Legs didn’t feel to bad and I got to the front just before the first turn around. Out on the 2nd lap I had some 15 seconds which then stayed for the reminder of the race.

Job done.

A nice hit out and test – and some much needed points.

Photo: Calle Friberg

Photo: Calle Friberg

Lisa Norden Istanbul European Cup

Photo: Calle Friberg

 

Bronze at European Games


June 17th, 2015 by



Photo: Sveriges Radio

It’s been an unexpected but terrific weekend in Baku. 

I went over to do the games mainly as general practice for me and my team, to be conformable with the format and make sure we work well together even when the pressure is on.

Training had been going better and better and the past three weeks with Darren and the D-Squad in Morzine showed that things were moving in the right direction. But with having dealt with all the interruptions and injuries in the past two years it was always going to take time before my run was back strong and fluent again.

Knowing the field – and my shape something special was going to have to happen to medal.

As things panned out my strong swim and early bike legs gave me the opportunity of the day. 

It was windy in Baku and the swim course had already gone through a number of changes before we finally got to the pontoon. Two laps with a beach start and a long semi shallow section before the actual swim started. I had a good start and got clear water early on. I could see the girls on my left, which with their better ranking also benefited slightly from shallower water and longer section using the sandbank. Close to the buoys I caught up, happy to find my training partner Aileen Reid sitting in third I slotted in next to her taking the wide line around the buoy. Once we got around and started to swim back towards the beach I realised there had been a gap opening up to the leading two girls – and I put my head down working hard trying to close it.

Maybe if I had been more aggressive around the buoys not being happy sitting next to Aileen I could have made it – but it was just a little too late and I couldn’t close it. I kept chasing and was swimming in third for the rest of the swim portion. A complete opposite situation compared to my last race in Yokohama… I enjoyed it. I felt really good in the water and could work hard but still be in control. Thats a nice feeling.

Lisa Norden exiting the water in 3rd

Up the beach I knew I had to push it, limiting the damage up to the leading girls – and trying to string out the line of girls behind me.

It’s a crucial moment, you either move forward or backwards.

And groups building at that time can be hard to dissolve. I caught up to Rachel Klamer and the Russian girl quickly without having dragged anyone with me. Check. We lost the russian pretty much straight away but Rachel kept working and we did have a little gap back to the chase pack.

A two girl breakaway could potentially work, but having Nicola Spirig and Aileen chasing behind us it was going to be difficult. The real chance came when Nicola went solo and joined us. Three girls – and the strongest three bikers in the field working together against an unorganised chase pack. Brilliant.

There wasn’t any need to talk – everyone just worked.

And the time splits reported back to us along the course was encouraging. 

I started doing the maths in my head. My run shape vs the girls in the chase pack. How much buffer was I going to need? I had been running more – but I was far from run fit. And some of the girls behind had proven themselves to be on pretty good form lately.

We ended up with 2,5mins in T2 – and I still wasn’t sure. I knew it was going to be Nicola for the gold – and me fighting the clock and the chasing girls from behind… My back was stiff as I came off the bike and it was a real uncomfortable first 400 meters of running. Eventually I managed to get my body to loosen up and get my legs underneath me instead of infront of me. By that time Rachel had caught up and I tucked in behind her to get some protection from the headwind. I figured out that if I could hang on through the less windy and flatter section (2nd half of the lap) I could benefit once more from her wind shield and that would save me a lot of effort. But I didn’t think I was going to be able to hang on for much longer. Rachel was in good shape with consistent high places in the WTS races. I needed to pace things well and make sure I didn’t blow or fall to pieces… But out on the second lap I started to feel better and I realised I just might to be able to hang on. Nicola had (as expected) put the gas on from the start and was not in sight anymore. The time reports to the chasers behind us were still encouraging and no one was really flying through the field. So maybe there really was a chance on that medal..?! Running did feel better and better and I could probably have run for a bit longer – but unfortunately no faster. When Rachel turned up the pace slightly I was hanging on a thin thread. The rubber band stretched and onto the blue carpet I was running in a distinct third. I tried to up the cadence and maybe find something special buried deep down. But there was nothing there that could help me across the line ahead of Rachel.

Rachel Klamer, Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden
But still – a BRONZE – and a very unexpected such won in a way I love to race. 

It was a great race and it was won on courage and willingness to try. Nicola and Rachel are great athletes and it was fun to be out there working hard together creating something special.

baku lisa norden
I still have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of running. I need to build on both the actual mechanics and form – together with strength and endurance. The injuries has created a lot of holes in the foundation which needs to be looked into and eliminated. But I’m in good hands with Darren and physio Sam – with Björn Sverre HjellödegĂĄrd (back home for advice) all working together to put me back in shape. And I have a long phase ahead of me on altitude in Avoriaz.

Lets keep working away.

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Baku 2015 Bronze medal

Roughing it in Yokohama


May 20th, 2015 by



Lisa Norden in Yokohama

It was not what I had hoped for. 

And it was worse than what I would have come up with if you asked me to create a “worst case scenario”. 

Yokohama has been good to me in the past but showed me that she wouldn’t do me any favours.

I had been training well, the shape ever improving since the first bunch of races in New Zeeland/Australia. I had a number of bike races behind me in Sweden, a win in a national road race and a couple of competitive crit races in Stockholm. There were some nice numbers coming out of the watt bike display and I was starting to feel quite confident on the pedals. The swimming kept in place by my club Polisen  in Stockholm who had pushed and challenged me through a number of fast, harder sessions. And the best of all, my running was returning and the rehab going smooth.

When the entry was confirmed for Yokohama I was over the moon.

Finally I was able to go to a race and hopefully make some good points. I wasn’t nervous for the swim and bike, I knew the level was where it needed to be. But I was seriously underdone on the run. It wasn’t going to be pretty – but I was sure that I could tough it out and hang in there somewhat.

But them hopes were quickly going down in the drains. 

In the past I have been pretty quick of the blocks and able to get a nice start. If you swim fast in the first 100m it means you get free water and don’t have to fight and shoulder your way together with a bunch of other girls. This time I just wasn’t fast enough. I ended up in the long row of girls all moving about the same pace in a space that got smaller for each stroke closer to the buoy.

Somewhere halfway to that buoy I got a hit to my head. My googles came off and there as a sharp flash infront of my eyes.

After that my race went backwards.

I struggled to navigate and get a grip of what was going on. At stages I swam of course, away from the group, realising what I was doing but not being able to correct it. One of my training partners, Jessica, was at that stage swimming beside me and told me afterwards she was wondering what the heck I was up to.

Somehow I managed to get up at the back of the second group, I had what my coach called “the slowest T1 in history” as I struggled to take off my wetsuit. No coordination or ability to tell my body what to do.

I got out on the bike thinking that I would ride myself back in the race. “You are strong Lisa, you can easily cover this. Just find your rhythm”. I couldn’t. I could barely hang on to the Belgian girl ahead of me who had the unfortune to crash out of the 2nd pack on the first lap. I bet she was surprised when I couldn’t come trough and help her chase…

Having suffered through the 9 laps and getting off the bike in T2 I realised my day was going to be over. Not only was I was behind the actual race – and out of any potential points. I was also out of legs, they wouldn’t carry me and my balance was actually not functioning properly. People standing in transition told me how I first veered left to then head over right and crash into the barricades. Legs folding. My day was over.

Probably suffering from a concussion in that first lap of the swim.

It was one of the worst* ever experiences I had in a race and I came back to my room deeply disappointed.

2014 was filled with disappointments and I had hoped to turn that all around in 2015. It started of good and I truly enjoyed being back into racing in NZ. I wasn’t far off great shape and a feeling that I could be competitive even in the WTS level of racing. The inflamed achilles came at the worst possible time and screwed up my plan to earn points and get back into the swing of racing.

Now I have no points – which means no starts in the WTS races – and I will have to do it the hard way.

Through earning points on a continental cup level.

But all of this basically comes down to one thing. 

A healthy body and a strong training block.

If that falls in place the points shouldn’t be such a big problem.

Avoriaz

I flew straight from Yokohama to Morzine/Avoriaz.

The place where I hope to combine the health and the hard training part.

It’s france, it’s altitude, it’s all good stuff.

Next up is European Games in Baku. Then after that there will be a slightly revised racing schedule.

Lets get back to where things used to be.

 

 

*yup there has been a number of experiences worth telling not showing the finest side of my career, but they deserve a blog on their own