Congrats to TriForcer Rune Dahl who qualified for Kona in his first ever Ironman race at IMNZ.   Rune worked his butt off and (just as importantly) meticulously dialed in his nutrition and pacing over the course of several key workouts and rehearsals.  His metabolic testing indicated that he was basically burning way too much carb vs. what he could take in at his Ironman goal power (bonk city), so we had to (a) try several nutrition strategies to help him increase his carb intake; (b) dial back his goal race power on the bike to one that he could fuel; and (c) improve his fat burning by cleaning up his diet (cutting out sugars and excessive refined carbs) pre race.  Few athletes are willing to dial in these details (and that’s why few make it to Kona!)  

rune and ken glah

Photo with Ironman legend (and multple Kona top 10 finisher) Ken Glah.  Also in his AG was Ironman World Champion Scott “The Terminator” Molina.

Enough from me.  Enjoy Rune’s report– it’s a rare combo of “first Ironman” and “first Kona qualification!”

Results and Summary

This was my first IM race and first Marathon, so a bit of a challenge despite having done many HIM and shorter races.  Note that I started a low carb diet 3 weeks before the race as an experiment, which I mostly followed.

153 athletes started in my age group, out of 1617 age groupers.  I took 7th in my AG and got a Kona slot.  The picture attached is the slot award ceremony where Andrew Messick gave me the Kona slot.    Official race photos of me here.  Results are here:  Finishers pics here:

An official summary of the day here:


41F air temperature at start.  69F in the water.  I was cold and slightly shivering before I got inro the water about 10 mins before the start.  Felt better as soon as I was in the water.  Had 2 scoops of UCAN 30 mins prior to getting into the water.  A breakfast of 1.5 cups oatmeal with milk and yoghurt and 2 eggs 2.5 hrs prior to the start.

I started about 3 rows of people from the start line and stayed on somebody’s feet about 65% of the way.  After 15 secs put my head down, felt comfortable, found a nice steady effort level and rhythm and sighted every 10-15 strokes.  No need to sight much due to the crowd.  Never swam hard.  Just a comfortable steady pace.  Tried to focus on a good catch and good form.  Smooth sailing except the 1.2 mile turnaround where too my surprise it was bunched up.  Felt good towards the end of the swim and picked up the pace a bit.  The straight line course allowed for easy sighting on a foothill in the distance on the way out.  Out of the water feeling good.  Happy with swim time when I looked down at my Garmin and saw 1:13 or so.

T1 (swim to bike)

48F at swim finish.  It was still cool but starting to warm up.  Still decided to play it conservatively and put on arm warmers.  That took more time than I had anticipated.

Transition was a 400m carpeted pathway and up some steps into T1.  Was slowed down by a bunch of women walking next to each other and hard to pass.  Some guys forced their way through, but I decided I had a long way to go and took it easy.  Probably could have saved a minute had I run more this section.  As I entered T1 and bag pickup I heard 1378 being announced for the bag-handlers and being a bit woozy from the swim told the volunteer handing out bags that was my number.  The bag was gone and some confusion ensued until I slapped my head and told them 1373.  Probably another minute wasted.  Sent into the tent, saw nobody stripping wetsuits so proceeded to get out of it on my own.  Then put on arm warmers.  Both of which took at least another minute or two.  Should probably have skipped arm warmers given my long sleeve try suit.  Could have saved 3-4 mins in transition.


Felt cold on the bike and a bit stiff, so focused on good cadence and tried not to push hard.  When cold I have a tendency to push hard until I get warm.  The bike ride started with a slight downhill for a mile, then a mile long somewhat steep hill.  Went a little harder than I should the first uphill a mile into the ride to warm up while at the same time eating a 1/2 a bar.  In the sun after the hill it was better.


Felt a bit cold for first 30 miles or so, but not too bad, and started warming up after having passed a 100 people or so.  After the first hill we hit the chip-seal, the infamous NZ road surfacing as of later years.  Horrible stuff reminiscent of gravel held together by tar which slows down any bike and causes a lot of vibration.  Slight downhill most of the way out, then some slight rollers, and uphill on the way back against the wind.  The wind picked up quite a bit for the second loop, but was a strong factor even on the first loop.  It payed to stay in aero bars most of the time, which I did.  required self discipline to get out of the aero position to eat and drink, since the rough road and wind made it way too dangerous to do so in the areo bars (other than water from my front bottle).    There were locals cheering us on out in the middle of sheep/cow pastures and at the turn-around point.  That helped, because this bike ride was a lot tougher than I thought from just viewing the profile.


Peed shortly after turnaround point after finishing 1 24oz bottle of drink.  Then again before the 1st loop completed.  Peed in the beginning of second loop and again after turn-around point, then not until I was off the bike and on the run.  I.e. 4 times on the bike and 1 just off the bike.  In a 1/2IM I have never had to take a leak, and was probably a bit dehydrated, but tried to stay well hydrated in this race.


Ate regularly the whole way and tried not to front-load the eating.  No issues with the UCAN/Osmo solution (8 scoops each for 720 + 360 kcals?).  Eating solids (bars) became harder after 4 hrs.  Left ½ bar uneaten out of 3.  Hammel gels in bottle (5 ½) leaked into my suit.  Squeezed it out of the pocket into my hand and ate it.  Gels seemed a little easier to eat than the bars.  Each gel had about 90 carb kcals, each bar about 200.  Took 2 bottles of water + 1 bottle with Horleys Replace in it (probably 100 kcals).  Totally ate 1000 + 2.5 * 200 + 7 * 90 +100 = about 2200 kcals.


Hamstrings felt more tired than expected after first loop.  Focused on not pushing hard on downhills, just spinning easy, and pushing a bit more on uphills saving myself for the run on the second loop.  It started to get warm (72F) on the second loop, but was pretty comfortable.  Rolled down armwarmers towards end.  Close to turnaround a race official on the back of motorcycle pointed at me with a gesture as I was weaving between 6 people I was steadily passing up.  I was not sure if that meant a penalty (it did not) and stopped at the next penalty box and wasted a minute or so.  15 mins later I saw an older dude wipe out on the worst section of the pavement of the whole ride.  Really rough chip-seal surface and a bad fall.  It looked bad, but 4 people stopped, so I kept going.


At this point I watched my power and noticed my heart rate seemed a tad higher than usual and the power lower than it felt I was putting out.  I was moving faster than everybody else and felt fairly relaxed and not stressed, just a little fatigued and rather uncomfortable from being in aero position for so long (sore neck, sore lower back).  Not sure what was going on but tried to save my legs for the run and decided to ignore the power meter and not push harder and just go by feel.  Note that the 2nd loop was slightly longer than the first one due to a different path at the beginning of the loop.  Looking at my time compared to the winners in my AG, I was 5-15 mins slower.  Not sure why my power was lower than in my training rides (10W or so).


Was in aero bars almost entire ride due to strong winds, except when eating or during short breaks.  Stood up to vary position a few of times.

T2 (bike to run)

Flying dismount in my socks, helmet on, into tent, almost forgot and handed arm warmers to volunteer as he was about to take off with my t2 bag.  T2 went well.  Got sprayed with sunblock in face, neck, legs before heading out.  Legs felt fatigued by the bike ride, but the different motion of running felt good.


Run had rollers on the way out, and was more flat on the way back of each loop of about 8.5 miles.  All paved/cobblestone surface.  Lined all the way by spectators commenting in a positive way on our decreasing running form.  All I heard was I was “flying”, which was encouraging when muscles felt tight and stiff.


Run started with slight downhill, hence the 7 min/mile pace, combined with an urge to pee and kept the pace until the aid station (2 miles into run).  No way I will ever take a leak while running, which I have heard suggested.  With the locals everywhere even more so.  Nobody in the first toilet, so jumped in without pause, but probably took 90-120 secs due to Octane suit.  Probably kept the high pace too long to make up for lost time afterwards, but was still feeling relaxed and not like I was working hard.


Coke tasted good.  Drank full 24oz bottle first loop. Probably stayed slightly dehydrated as it was now feeling like 80F or so in the sun.  Refilled with 2 cups + ice twice per loop.  Probably drank 3 24oz bottles in total for the whole run, including 2 cups water.. and 3 cups ice

I noticed my heartrate being unusually high on the beginning of the run, but felt good and relaxed so ignored it.  That was probably a mistake.  My heartrate started out high then declined throughout the run.  It did not feel like my HR was as high as it showed, but looking at my speed I may have been running much faster than I thought at just over 7 min/mile.


First loop felt good easy and relatively fast.  Second loop it was harder to maintain the pace, but not as bad as I had feared, and I was now nearing the furthest I had ever run distance wise and was a bit nervous.  I tried to run at the same perceived effort and pace based on effort rather than speed.  At about mile 14 my left knee felt really sore.  At mile 18 it was fine again with no issues, and this is where I was afraid I would bonk as I have heard so many do.  During loop 3 my muscles felt stiff, but no issues with cramping or anything else.  I felt happy knowing I would surely finish with a good time.  I still tried to run with easy and good form, but felt stiff and walked the steepest hills and through support stations.  Actually was surprised I had no major issues pushing through it.  Painful, yes, but was able to maintain high turn-over and drink coke till the very last with a strong finish.  Counting down ½ miles on the last loop playing mentakl games to get through it and was encouraged by the possibility of beating my stretch goal of 10:30 hrs.

Felt great when crossing the finish line.  Awesome actually.  Mike Reilly was there as usual (I guess) announcing my arrival.  I swore around mile 16 I would make this my first and last IM.  2 hrs later when talking to Kyle Welch and learning a Kona slot was a real possibility, I decided, perhaps I could muster one more …

Post race

At the weigh in it seemed I had only lost about 4 pounds in the whole race.  I felt fine and had a light 10 mins massage, ice-cream, a couple of pieces of pizza and some sports drink.  Then showered, changed, had a big steak with potatoes and a small salad and went back to cheer on my friends who were finishing late.


I seem to be recovering OK.  Very sore the evening after the race.  Immediately after the race could not stand up without pushing myself up with my arms from sitting position.  Felt less sore 1st day after race, but with some abdomen soreness and severe neck soreness, along with right shoulder soreness from holding water bottle mostly in right hand.  I did not notice the abdomen/neck issues during the race, but did eventually start switching arms that held coke bottle due to shoulder soreness.  Very sore 2nd day in neck, right shoulder (held bottle of coke) and in quads/hamstrings. Better towards end of day;  3rd day hamstrings are almost completely recovered; quads a little bit sore; neck still tight on both sides; right shoulder is fine again.  Had somewhat of an upset stomach (perhaps from carbs or latent stress effects), 2nd and 3rd day after race.  On the 5th day I did a 5 mile hike with 1200’ of climbing and legs felt pretty good.  Still sore tendons/muscles in neck when turning my head and looking up, which was worse on the right hand side (where I carried coke most of the way).  The neck issues may have been made worse by the rough roads.  Neck soreness substantially better and almost gone 13 days after the race.


Did not sleep so well first few nights.  Hot-cold flashes and slight feeling of a brewing cold (sore throat), perhaps due to low immune system, made me slightly uncomfortable.  Head felt a bit heavy first 2-3 days after race … almost like a slight hangover.  Much better after the 3rd day.  On 4th day I was sleeping well and felt mostly recovered from muscle soreness. By 13 days my running form feels good again.


Eating a lot of carbs again.  Plan to cut back simple sugars after I return.

Low Carb Diet Effects

I have been off the low carb diet for the remainder of the vacation.  I wonder if the diet resulted in lower water retention, since I had to take a leak much more frequently since I started the diet 3 weeks ago.  I am not sure what effect the diet had on my race performance, or the fact that I did not bonk.

Getting my Kona slot from Ironman CEO Andrew Messick (picture by Kyle Welch)Going to kona

Hanging out with Ken Glah, Kyle Welch and others in my Age group accepting their Kona slots