Ironman Copenhagen

Goal - to complete a sub eleven Ironman with a sub four hour marathon.

I knew from my training stats that I was in a good position to make this happen ..... providing luck was on my side on race day.  However, as often happens with full distance races, there is so much that can go wrong and this makes it hard to predict the outcome. All you can do is work hard and put yourself in the best position possible to achieve your best time on the day.
For me this race was a quick turn around, I flew out of Manchester after my breakfast show on the Friday to Copenhagen, this gave me one day to prepare myself before the race.  I met with my four mates in Copenhagen who had already arrived and settled in. We’ve been doing races together for a little bit now and for anyone thinking of giving a triathlon a go I would really suggest getting into it with a group of mates, it’s a great way to share knowledge and also have a laugh. (After all a bit of competition never hurt anybody!) On this note, I did struggle with my training a little more than I had previously and although working early mornings is good as you can get a fair bit of training done in the afternoon/evening it can feel fairly secluded and lonely. Triathlon and endurance training can be a 'brutal game' and sometimes it can feel like you are grinding monotonously!

I was feeling much more confident this time than my first iron distance race.  I remember in 2017, on my first registration day, that I felt incredibly anxious and even a little bit sick at points but this time my nerves were accompanied by excitement. I'm sure to a lot of people it sounds weird to say I was excited to put myself through a 2.4 mile sea swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full distance marathon, but to me the achievement will always outweigh the pain! Saying that, I’m always scared for the swim, petrified most of the time in fact. In June I raced the Challenge Championship which is a middle distance event with half of all the Ironman distances.  I completely talked myself out of the swim and ended up dropping a terrible time, even by my standard!  

For me the only way that I can calm my nerves before a race is to get some time in the water, thankfully we were able to squeeze some time in on the Saturday between registration and briefing.  This really helped me chill out and for the first time on a race day I quite enjoyed the swim! It was a different start than I was used to, staggered by ability rather than age group! This meant that the other boys who are all better swimmers than me actually started the race twenty minutes before me. The only distraction I could find to fill this time was to wait in the portaloo queue! Once I was swimming it was all good and after a few hundred meters I managed to get a rhythm going.  Despite getting kicked in the face a few times I managed to get a five minute personal best and come out of the clear blue waters in just over one hour and fifteen minutes before a very quick transition onto the bike.
I knew that I needed to focus more on my nutrition this time around as I had estimated that I would burn about about seven thousand calories on the bike.  I wanted to replace as much of these as possible to hit the run in my stride and give myself a good chance of breaking a four hour barrier.  I knew that I'd been pushing a lot more Watts than the previous year in training and had invested in a Time Trial bike (admittedly second hand).  During the race I was averaging just over 21mph before I PUNCTURED just after the 20 mile point!
I ALWAYS worry about tech issues on the bike, it keeps me awake nights before race day.  It’s something out of your control;  you can make sure your bike has been serviced and is in good racing shape, but what you can’t do is know exactly where there will be a hazard on the road! I was both lucky and unlucky; unlucky to get a puncture but lucky that a motorbike on the course, who are able to supply help, past me right as the incident happened.
With a little assistance I managed to get going but this did take around ten minutes! For the next ten miles I wallowed in the fact that this had RUINED my race but then I decided to stop being negative and try and use it as a positive. I told myself that I had to get my average MPH over 20mph, and it had to be up there come 112 miles or else I’d failed. Reading this may sound a little strong willed, but trust me, at this point in a race your are in full mental warfare with yourself! The rest of the bike ride went fairly smoothly aside from a wasp stinging my ankle at around mile 90.  I managed to hit an average pace of 20.3mph coming back into the city centre to lace up my trainers!
Unlike my bike ride I wasn’t 100% sure where I was up to with the run, I’d had a couple of bad runs in training. For me this tends to happen towards the end of my training block and I think it's down to pushing myself maybe a little too much and not allowing my body to recover enough. There was a particular run I did about a month before the race in London, the weather was definitely not my friend and trying to get a lengthy run in when the temperature was topping 33 looking back was probably not the best idea! This really made me evaluate my recovery.  Since then, in my last month of training, I used the sauna a fair bit and made sure I had a weekly sports massage. This helped a lot!
The Run itself included four and a half loops of Copenhagen city centre, it was flat and quick. I managed to find my rhythm fairly quickly and settled into a pace that I found comfortable. The first 13.1 miles seemed to fly by, as I hit the half way point I was a little worried that maybe I had pushed it too hard and that I was setting myself up for a rather brutal second half of the marathon. At mile 17 my legs had started to 'go' slightly but I kept pushing on up and into the twenty mile mark.
Hitting the last lap was an amazing feeling and I knew that my goal of sub 11 with a sub four hour marathon was basically there (even after the technical problem on the bike).  As long as I didn’t completely explode during the last lap I knew that I could achieve my goal.  I just kept reminding myself of this by saying it over and over in my head like a mantra, "sub 11, sub 4, sub 11 sub 4".  In all honesty it was like I was in some sort of trance, even after hitting the 1km to go marker I didn’t really acknowledge to myself that I was about to finish!  During my 2017 Ironman in Germany my only regret was not taking in the finish line as much as I could have.  So, this year, as soon as I hit the edge of the Ironman carpet I decided to walk the last twenty metres and take the crowds and the final moments in!

So many people have asked me "why do you do it?". The feelings in that final moment are so difficult for me to really put on paper, the realisation that the months of sacrifice, hard work, sweating, hurting and feeling isolated were all worth it.  You know that feeling when you achieve something you've worked so hard for?  That's why I do it.

I crossed the finish line in ten hours and thirty one minutes, a massive personal best from my previous time of eleven hours and nineteen minutes.  In this time I’d also run my fastest ever marathon at three hours and thirty seven minutes.

So then, what's next ....

I also took a camera with me for the first time on this trip, if you want to have a little visual look just click on the link below,