Originally I had planned to write a post for Tamsyn’s blog after IM Copenhagen but things didn’t go quite to plan and following on from that I wasn’t feeling what I thought I should be feeling so hopefully this post will also help me explore that a bit.
Firstly, I entered IM Copenhagen back in September 2015 as I wanted to have a challenge for myself ahead of my 40th birthday at the end of this year. At that stage I was reasonably confident about the running and swimming but had never ridden over 65 miles. Those regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t have a great injury track record and at the time of entering I was recovering from a torn calf muscle which happened the week before IM Dublin 70.3.
I realised I needed a bit of help with my goal and after not being able to find a local coach I signed up to online coaching via Training Peaks (Carson at Fascat Coaching if anyone is thinking about a coach) in November.
To cut a long story short, I completed around 450 hours of training in the build up to the race with the support of friends and especially Tamsyn who took on more housework to help me have more training time and put up with me being tired and grumpy a lot. There were a few bumps on the way with niggles and illness but this was probably the best training block I’ve ever had. Good to go for race day.
The short term preparation was badly hampered by our bikes being stolen – not really an impact on training but very stressful and time consuming trying to obtain a race bike and deal with police and insurers. Thanks to Darren at Estrella Bikes http://www.estrella-bikes.com/ I was lent a road bike to race on although I wasn’t able to get any long rides in ahead of the race. I managed to get a last minute bike fit from Garth at Vankru http://www.vankru.com/ so was confident I would be OK with the position despite that lack of time on the machine.
Copenhagen is a great city and whilst expensive, I’d recommend a visit and the race to others. A few days here getting registration, racking etc. done with a bit of light tourism and I was ready to race.
The swim went pretty well – it’s a fast route being in a lagoon with the benefit of salt water but not having waves or strong currents to worry about. Age group athletes get set off in groups of 6 every 5 seconds so there is nowhere near as much stress at the swim start as many other races.
It did get hard to sight at times with fog but I was really happy to come in at 58:05 with around half without any drafting and having done an extra 200m as a result of sighting issues. Transition was fairly standard and out onto the bike course.
I got about 3k into the bike when another rider swerved in front of me trying to correct themselves after going onto the wrong side of the road and nearly head on into a bus. I took a bit of evasive action but unfortunately caught a pothole which then resulted in me clipping the kerb.
I was probably riding around 35kph / 22 mph and went down. Nothing spectacular but a bit of a shock all the same. Some spectators helped pick up the bike and walked me down to some nearby marshals. I could definitely feel the road rash down my right side but of more concern was a gash in my wrist. At the time I was struggling to move my fingers a lot (which subsequently is absolutely fine) and I was not confident it would last the vibrations of another 175k and be safe and enable me to brake.
Another factor was a crack in my helmet which meant I was likely in trouble if anything else happened. I was looked at by the race doctor who confirmed I would need stitches in my wrist and arranged for an appointment at a local clinic. I rode there having no other transport and after that back to the hotel.
I knew Tamsyn would be really worried as around 90 mins had passed since the crash and I hadn’t been able to contact her.
What the big surprise for me was the realisation that came to me waiting for the doctor – despite the hours of training, emotional investment and cold hard cash required to get me onto the start line in the best shape I have ever been in, I wasn’t devastated, angry, frustrated or anything I would expect to feel. It’s hard to rationalise this and I’m not sure I understand my own feelings on this but in hindsight I had no doubt I could complete the race and the only question was how quickly. I had hoped some months ago for sub-11 hours but actually sub 10:30 was realistic on a good day. I’m not competitive with others generally and really just with myself and my own abilities so maybe I had proven to myself what I needed to.
These, combined with more important things in life (looking after Tamsyn ahead of our baby being born later this year) left me feeling that it was ok. I have no regrets over the decision made on course – it was the right one.
The only disappointment I have is not seeing the bike course and more of Denmark and feeling the support of the crowd on the run route through the centre of Copenhagen.
We went to spectate and the support was superb. I’d really recommend this race – the course is beginner friendly and fast as well as having good support on the run.
I’m not sure what the next step is for me – I could look to race long distance again in a few weeks or alternatively may call it a day for the season or just race a marathon. I’m going to take a few days to decide whilst my body heals.
I never though I would say this but I just DNF’d a race I’d spent 8-months training for and I feel fine.