Announcing my retirement before arriving in Kona for the final race of my professional triathlon career was a good move. It allowed me to speak freely about my decision and was one that was well received by my sponsors, fellow athletes and the media. It was good they respected the way I made my announcement, knowing that it was good time to say goodbye to the sport, rather than be forced into it. As a consequence I received a wonderful farewell and one that I could be part of and enjoy. I couldn’t have wished for more.
What happened before and after this race reconfirmed my love of the sport and the people involved. I will miss the sport and the people dearly, but I know my inner drive to hurt when it’s most needed in a race and in training is no longer there to allow me to compete at the highest level. Having such a good reception to my decision made it easier and reinforced that the time was right.
I enjoyed my time in Hawaii, but never once had second thoughts about my decision or wished I could come back.
I am looking forward to my new life and nothing is going to make me change my decision. I might get sentimental about it in the future but now it feels right. I hope to miss training enough to make me do some exercise, though, but at a different level.
I certainly have no intention of becoming a couch potato.
I really enjoyed the days after the race and had a fantastic time. I enjoyed my time partying with my fellow athletes and friends.
It was such a positive experience and a great way to say goodbye. It was by no means a sad farewell, but more a sensation of enjoying time with all the wonderful people I have met through the sport over the years. Since returning home I have enjoyed some downtime with my family, but now it’s time to go to work on my new project Tri Nordic that I spoke about last month.
As for my race in Hawaii the swim was pretty much perfect. I swam behind Marko Albert for the first kilometre before I lost his feet. That was the longest I have been able to stay anywhere near him and Andy Potts. From there I held my own in the front group.
Out on the bike I felt the best I have in Hawaii. I rode with the front group and never felt out of my comfort zone. I was surprised when I looked back and found myself at the back of the group after so many had dropped off. Unfortunately I received a drafting penalty. It happened at the bottom of a hill and I moved a little too close to fellow purplepatch athlete Luke Bell. It wasn’t deliberate. It was just one those situations where he was slowing and I was carrying speed. After this I took it steady up to Hawi and ended up riding back with Ronnie Schildknecht and Andi Boecherer after I stood my four minutes in the penalty box in Hawi. I felt stronger than ever over the last 40K.
I came off the bike in 13th or 14th place and went out easy on the run at a conservative 4:00- 4:10 kilometre pace for the first 10K. I felt good after this and over the next 10K or so I speeded up. In doing so I passed Craig Alexander, who was kind enough to shake hands and say, “It’s an honour to run with you in your last race. You’re a legend of the sport and it’s a pleasure to race with you”. Having raced Craig over the last decade, and as someone I look up to in the sport, it was special for him to say that.
It wasn’t long after this I started to fade and the lack of long run training started to show. My pace gradually slowed as I left the Energy Lab. From there all the way to the finish I just focused on sucking everything in and enjoying the moment. I knew I would never have this level fitness again and should enjoy my last professional race. I took a lot of energy from this and the age groupers who high fived me and wished me well. In the last kilometre I high fived and hugged people truly enjoying the moment.
Finishing my race in this way holding the Danish flag was truly special and it meant a great deal to me. Tom Lowe was running in fast behind and backed off to let me enjoy my final 1 00 metres of the race. It was a special gesture and he later told me he’d never pass me while I was enjoying my last finish line experience. Tom is a true gentleman.
This is my final column for Triathlete Europe and I would like to say it has been great to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with you. I hope it has been interesting and something to help you learn from. I wish you all the best with the off-season and your year ahead. Thanks for all your support and good wishes – Rasmus.