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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Challenge Copenhagen Race Report

At the start of the year I entered to do my 3rd Ironman distance event - this time in Copenhagen
I had an aim of doing very well in it and improving on last years Roth time of 9.24

I was kidding myself !

10 weeks before the event and I had not swam in a year and my TT bike was lying disassembled on the floor
Runs had been good - but mainly were 30-45 mins with the dog in the woods, not exactly structured !

This summer has been a total write off for events - I have done nothing at all
Work has been super busy (thank you all) and then little Matthew (our first child) was born in May

6 weeks later my dad, who I was very close to, died suddenly after a short illness and that knocked me for six

At his funeral I gave a 15 minute eulogy - I am not a great public speaker but I found it therapeutic
I 'wrote' the eulogy on the preceding days - I would go out on my bike for 2-3 hrs and just think of things
I love how cycling (and running) is such a release for us

I am in my 30s, and dad was only 63 and was a tremendous support to me - the whole family would travel to support me in my previous 2 IM events and we would make a holiday out of it afterwards
I was determined, more than ever, to do Challenge Copenhagen this year, and in a decent time as a tribute to him

I came back from the funeral mentally exhausted and then jumped straight back into work and training

The lesson for the future will be to 'enjoy' an event - I think I put too much pressure on myself
So much so that when I finished I felt 'relieved' rather than 'pleased'

This was the first IM I did without the family there, but I did go with a good friend (the famous Brett Hedge) who was competing at this distance for the first time
His enthusiasm was infectious

The bike was going to be my strength, the run is what it is and the swim would be 'interesting'
I had only re-started swimming 10 weeks before the event, and then even that had been badly affected by everything that happened in the last 5 weeks

It got to the stage where I put my wetsuit on for the first time in a year only 6 days before the event. Madness. Never again !

Copenhagen is great - I love how everyone cycles everywhere !
The Saturday was a disaster weather wise as we had the worst storm Copenhagen has seen in years (we later found out Challenge were considering canceling the event as the roads would be flooded (more of this to come))
The Saturday would also have been my dad's birthday - so it was a strange day. My sister had gone to be with mum and I felt like I should have been there as well....

Race day itself:

The swim was fine - I did 66 minutes which is not great, but better than I could have asked for given my tardiness in the pool

The bike was 'interesting'. I did 4.48 on the bike in Roth last year and think I am in better shape this year (1 more year of TT'ing vs being on a road bike). I was also really happy with my bike position - it felt dialed: fast and comfortable

I was determined to break 5 hrs on the bike - the course was billed as fast and flat

This was harder than I thought - the course was fairly technical to start with (leaving the city on wet roads with white paint on road and lots of man-hole covers) and then we had a great section up the coast where you could really motor
But at the top of the course we went inland and this was on very small winding roads and there was standing water, and lots of flint/stones everywhere
I was constantly putting my fingers on my tubs to see if I could remove any debris

I have never seen so many punctures on a ride before, let alone an IM
I was in a constant state of expectation of the inevitable

Coming up to 40 miles and we were on a fast, smooth section again and I thought I was home free
Disaster strikes and I get a puncture.....

I start to panic - 'this cant be happening to me, this is for my dad' etc
I put a pit stop in and go again for 10 minutes but its obvious that its not holding so I pull over and swap the tub out

This is where I will learn for the next time - It took an age to even get the tub off
My spare tub is a Veloflex 22mm Servizo Corsa - picked because its small and supple and so packs well behind the saddle
But if a normal tub punctures what will this do?

I was now very worried that this would have to last 70 miles over a course I would have been reluctant to go out on a winter bike on !

I was feeling pretty low starting the second lap as I knew how bad the roads were up north - all I could think was that I was cycling further and further away from "help" and when I got my next puncture it would be DNF and I would be miles from T2

I tried to nurse the bike as much as possible and miraculously (maybe someone was looking out for me !) I had no further mis-haps

Actual time on bike was 5.07, SRM shows 4.58 which seemed about right

AP was 225, NP was 245
Ave HR was 138 - Brett (an excellent cyclist) was surprised how low this was and I did think it would have been more like 145 - maybe I did not push it enough as was scared of mis-haps?
TSS was 270 - supports fact I did not got hard enough?

I am not a great runner, but was really looking forward to this one
Especially so that I was off my bike and made it to T2 !

I needed a 3.40 run to break 10 hrs - it was do-able as I did 3.37 in Switzerland and 3.27 in Roth last yr

I was wanting to really hurt myself on the run, and get all the anger/frustration of the summer out of me

I started the run feeling great - seriously like I had not even ridden. If anything I felt better than for a stand-alone run as I was warmed up !

I started off fairly fast - I always do - and was doing pace for a c 3.10
HR was around 145-150

Despite my best efforts I started to slow, and was trying to think of my dad as inspiration to keep digging
Whereas at the start I was only over taking people, now I was over taking slow runners but quicker guys were passing me

Copenhagen is a 3 loop affair and only my last lap I knew I had c 70 mins of effort/pain to go and this journey would be over

I finished with a 3.19 run - my best marathon time yet, but it definitely felt the most difficult

Last year I did 9.24 in perfect conditions in Roth
This yr I did 9.39 on a wet Copenhagen

A step back in time, but I think it was a better performance

But whereas Roth felt a huge deal that I had gone quick and broken 10 hrs, here I felt simply relief that it had been accomplished
There was much less joy
Instead of having a beer with my ecstatic family like lat yr, this time I hobble over to get some food and sat down in a quite place and took it all in

Brett also had bike woes, but ended up with a 9.40 - including an immense 3.13 run
An amazing time on his first IM race

Its crazy how two room mates can end up 90 secs apart after all that distance !

Its been quite the journey - and I am very glad I have had this event to focus my energies on
Now that its over I dont know what I will do for the rest of the year

I have already decided I am going to work harder this winter than I ever have and go back to Roth in 2011 and leave it all on the course
I know I can break a certain time there - but dont want to say what time that is yet in case I jinx it !

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

New Team Saddles in White

These have just arrived and I am super excited, as they are the exceptionally rare Prologo Scratch TR
The Scratch TR is a proper Team Replica saddle, speced to the pros requirements and then offered to us lesser mortals !
The TR is based on the Original Scratch (like the black version we have in Team colours) but with the base of the TR is stiffer and the rails are set up slightly different.
These are the saddles all the pros use (as you can see from the assorted photos below)
I have to thank Prologo once again for thinking we were worthy of all the efforts that were made to get our own version of these wonderful saddles


The Schlecks

Bradley Wiggins

Ben Swift

Monday, 9 August 2010

Michael's TT bike

This is the bike that will take Michael to glory at the Cologne Ironman distance event this September !

Its a ML Parlee TT bike with the higher HT option, full Dura Ace 7900 but with the Zipp R2C carbon shifters, the new 3T brezza Aerobars and some cracking Zipp 606 Tubs

Michale came in for his final fitting this morning and was really pleased, as we are with the outcome