Challenge Copenhagen 2012

Challenge Copenhagen

On the 12th of August of 2012, I’ve been through my first Full Ironman distance triathlon, after 10 months of hard training focusing on this event. I had already participated in a Half Ironman distance and I have been also running marathons for ~2 years, but I had never done anything close to this.

The event was on a Sunday and I checked in my bike on the Saturday. Checking the bike was a breeze, really fast. I have only good words to the organization – really professional.
The race day was perfect, the sun was shinning and the temperature was quite good. The race start is in Amagerstrand, a famous beach in Copenhagen.
Since I was going to start on the 3rd heat and 7:15AM I woke up really early. It is a crazy feeling when you are heading to the race and you see so many people, the sun raising, that tension in the air.

Once I got to the start I placed my bike bag in the right place in T1 and checked in my after-race bag. There was still time to check my bike and have a good look in the T1 zone so I would not loose time trying to find my bike.
I put on my wetsuit, and head to the start. My girlfriend was there waiting for me.
Suddenly you start realizing that you are about to put all that many months of training and dedication to test – and that you have MANY hours in front of you before you will cross the goal.

The swim starts and I feel great. The heat was huge, ~400 people, which was good in one side because you get so much drafting by staying in the middle of the group. Swimming the 3.8km was not that hard and I exited the water after 1:07:46, which was better than I was expecting.

In T1 you have to change inside a small tent and you have to do all inside there, meaning that after you leave the tent you can only run to pick up your bike. I didn’t know that and I ran to my bike barefoot with my bike shoes in my hands. Because of that, I got a small 10sec penalty (and no card).
The bike course was a 2 lap circuit crossing Strandvejen. My intention was to do it below 5h, but I had pain in my back after the 100km and could not really keep the aero position anymore. So my speed went down as a consequence of that.
I planned my nutrition well this time. I brought with me:

  • 6 gels: I use SIS because I think that they are really easy on the stomach. They weight more since they have more water, but I can absolutely not tolerate more concentrated gels such as HIGH5
  • 3 sport bottles: I use 1 aerodrink Aqualite bottle in front, which feets exactly the amount of 1 sport bottle (~750ml); and 2 bottles in the back of my bike. To hang the 2 bottles I use an XLab Turbo Wing and 2 Specialized cage ribs (they are the best cage ribs for the price). I mixed HIGH5 4:1 in all the bottles. I really like the combination of carbo, electrolytes and protein of this drink. The protein really gives a mental boost. My plan was to drink a full bottle + 1 gel per hour. So I’d have to pick up 2 more bottles on the way. This would give me ~70g of carbo per hour.

I finished the bike leg in 5:15:36 and I was quite tired because of the pain in my back, it really exhausted my motivation (I need a bikefit I think). I am satisfied with my bike time, although it was not under 5h as I wanted. By this time I new I would not arrive under 10h, so I decided that I would enjoy the race as much as possible and not put so much pressure on the time. Therefore, I sat a bit in T2, had some food and then started running.

Running is where I know my body best. So it was not problem finding a comfortable tempo. The running leg in Challenge Copenhagen is absolutely amazing! So many people cheering! Many friends from TRI4 (my triathlon club), my friends, and my girlfriend that followed the WHOLE race!
I enjoyed every bit of the run. My marathon time was 3:47:52, which a good deal slower than my marathon PR which is 3:09:39 as of today. I am not entirely satisfied with my marathon time, and maybe I could have done it better if I had pushed myself very hard – but I decided not to and I am glad for that. Because I could enjoy my first Ironman race fully. There was time to smile back to people, stop to kiss my girlfriend and clap back to the audience. I was fresh the whole run and I guess I would be able to just keep running.
I crosses the goal line after 10:19:39, which I consider a pretty good time for my first Ironman – and I’m 100% sure that there is a lot of room for improvements.

This was by far my best sport event until the moment and the most challenging one as well. I had a great race and I was really fresh after it: no pain, not even on the day after. So It seems that the training was well done :).

Now is just a matter of time until I find another Ironman race (I want a real Ironman race now) and do it all over again, hopefully in a better time.

© 2012 – 2013, fbastian. All rights reserved.

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