IRONMAN Copenhagen 2019 – Jo Lynch
Ironman Copenhagen – the one with the ferret!
I wasn’t supposed to do Copenhagen. I had actually signed up for Cork when it was first announced. However after getting drenched at Barcelona last year I questioned whether I really wanted to risk an Ironman in Ireland! I pulled the plug on Ireland a few months later and swapped to Copenhagen. Surely it wouldn’t rain there?!?
Fast forward through the usual months of long swims, bikes and runs and it’s race weekend. The first hurdle to deal with was Ship My Tri Bike moving their bike drop off. Copenhagen is a split transition race and our bikes would now be out at T1 and not in the city by the expo. Despite having to race from the airport to T1 on Friday afternoon to grab the bag that went with the bike, this move actually worked out well as I decided to not take my bike and instead leave it on the truck at T1, saving me the hassle of dragging it onto the metro into the city, only to have to drag it back out the next day to be racked. Another dash to get registered before it closed and I could finally enjoy the comforts of cheap Copenhagen accommodation! My hotel room could be described as an expensive cell. The clue is in the name. Cabinn city. But, it’s an expensive city and if you want luxury you’re gonna pay a big whack for it.
Saturday was spent racking the bikes and eating carbs. We were able to drop our T2 bags at T1 and they would be moved overnight. The transition area was out in the open and as it had been raining and was giving rain for overnight I had to double bag everything so that at least my gear would be dry. I was disappointed in Ironman at this. Copenhagen is not a sunny country so I don’t know why they couldn’t put transition in a marque. There must be cutbacks! Done a little recce swim. The swim is more like a lake than a sea swim. The area is manmade and the swim is in a lagoon that’s sheltered.
It was Pride weekend also and that night, I was treated to the sounds of fireworks outside my hotel until midnight. Just the prep you need. Up at 4.30, the usual breakfast and faff etc and Brian, Christine and myself and my sister shared a taxi to T1. (Note: pride weekend seems to be always the same weekend of the race. Something to bear in mind when booking accommodation.)
The usual faffing and stressing that always accompanies Ironman race morning. Pump the tyres. Check them. Check them again. Check your bag. Did I pump my tyres enough? Check them again! Make small talk with your neighbours. Fret internally about your tyres. Those who have been there know the drill!
A quick stop for a hug and last minute motivational speeches from my support crew and it’s off into the pen.
The swim: It’s a one loop swim, out and back. It’s a sea lagoon but personally I didn’t find it very salty at all. More like a lake or river swim. Very reedy and you could even stand up at the turnaround point! Got stung once, nothing dramatic, just felt like a nettle sting. There are 2 bridges you swim under and each side of the bridge has a giant sign on it showing the distance you are at, at that point which is very helpful. I found the IM buoys small and hard to sight. My previous IM experience has been with giant buoys. Anyway, it got a big crowded and confused near the end but I was out in 1.17. I was disappointed with my swim. Yes it’s a pb for an Ironman race but I felt I should’ve gone faster. I don’t really have an explanation as to why I didn’t. I had been swimming closer to 1.10s in training. It is what it is but I was bummed. Not the start to the day I had hoped for. Into a very congested T1, change and gone. T1 had a long run to the bikes. I actually checked my tyres again before heading out! All good and off we go.
The bike: whilst the bike course is fast it is also quite technical. The first 10k is through the city and the roads where shocking to say the least. I was very surprised. There was a lot of guys with flat tyres before we even managed to get onto the course proper. A lovely gentleman also tried to wipe me out at 4km by nearly cycling into me! His bike brushed off mine and I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped for a few seconds! Choice words were said, with a muted apology coming at me! Absolute ****!
More pothole victims lay at the side of the road! The route even had us hop onto a footpath at one point. This 10k out and coming back would be the death of a lot of people’s average speed. Onto the course proper and it is flat and fast out along the coast. Head down and the plan was to stay off the gas till 40km and then start to pick it up. Just cycle the bike. Peletons passed me. Absolute *****! Marshall’s passed, did absolutely nothing about the peletons. It’s just a joke at this stage. And of course, no one was going my speed so I couldn’t even join in on the drafting party. The route turns inland at 40km for about 30km through country roads. It’s technical and keeps you on your toes with a good few hills and tight turns. The route then turns onto a main road which is pretty fast but also includes the biggest hill on the course. Nothing major, think it was about 7/8% and there was a party atmosphere on it, which was fun and I enjoyed that. It’s pretty much downhill from there till the turnabout. Through 93km and back out for the second loop. Brian Power rolled up beside me and we had a chat for a minute or two before he went on. Back across the country roads when I’m just pedalling, minding my own business when a ferret decided he was gonna risk his life for his dinner as he shot out in front of me with a mouse in his mouth! He was clearly so impressed at my biking and speed he dropped his dinner, who then managed to escape back into the field. You’re welcome my little mouse friend!
Back onto the main road again where it was a very different story to lap 1. There was now a head wind and what should have been a fast section was becoming more work than I would have liked. Back up the hill for the second time and on the stretch back into the city I could really feel the headwind, as my average speed was dropping and there was little I could do about it. I really wanted to do a sub 6 bike and I was manically calculating speed and distance in my head. Back into the city for the slow technical last 10km, and I pedalled furiously to the dismount line. Off the bike…….5.59!!!! I’ll take that!
There were bike catchers at T2 which is a fantastic service and one I would love at all races. However, having already been racing for nearly 7.5 hours, I totally forgot about the bike catchers and started giving out to the poor lad who tried to take my bike after I dismounted. I was in such a rush to get going, why was this guy tugging at my bike?!?! It took a few seconds for me to cop!
Into T2, bikeless……straight to the gear bags, no messing, no changing, in and out as quick as you can go……and onto the run.
The run: The Copenhagen run is 4 loops of 10.5kms. My support crew were there to greet me as I started with Fi relaying instructions from Coach Dazz back in Dublin…..SLOW DOWN, EASY FIRST 10KM!!! Message received. The run course loops around the city and heads out towards the Little Mermaid statue. (You don’t get to see her though, and by the 4th loop, you don’t ever want to see her!) This is a b**ch of a section. It has hills! Not big ones, little lumps that over the course of the run, turn into Everest. You can run them if you want, I ran some, speed walked some, depending on how the legs were. First 10km down in just over the hour. Now I tell myself to lift the pace a little. Hmmmmm…….legs don’t seem to have understood the message. Pace lifts a little but feels like a monumental effort. I think to myself, I’m not sure I can lift it again at 20km. Right now, this feels like all I have. On the second loop, the first toilet break is required and it is here I discover that my watch (on loan from Coach Dazz) had autopause on it. So now, I had no idea of my overall time. Yikes! It was around this time the heavens opened. It started absolutely lashing down. I was sore and now I was utterly miserable. It must have rained for well over an hour or more on the run and at one stage I could feel myself getting very cold. Thankfully it eased off. On the 3rd loop I’m struggling. This is where your Ironman race really starts. 30km into the marathon. Your body is screaming at you to stop. But you’re still nowhere near home.
Pace keeps dropping and I can’t seem to lift it. Legs are not playing ball today. The support crew try their best to lift me. The message from Coach Dazz…….as relayed to me by Fi……BE BRAVE! I tell Fi to tell Dazz to F**k Off! The sub 12 goal seems to slipping and yet again, I think it’s not going to happen for me.
Heading onto the last lap and I ask Fi what the clock says. The message I get is that I will do an 11.58! I have a cry. I have to hold this pace for 10k and I only have a 60sec buffer to make it under 12! I absolutely can’t do it. Fi shouts at me again to be brave. Ok so…I guess I’ll try. There is nothing left to lose at this point. I didn’t look at my watch for the final lap. What was the point. It would only tell me one of two things. I was or I wasn’t going to make it. At that point, I didn’t want to know which one it was. I simply had to run as hard as my body would let me. Back to the hilly section for the last time. I try to run the hills but mostly I’m reduced to walking the final section of them. I can’t imagine how I look but a lovely woman racing beside me did ask me was I going to collapse 🙂
The final stretch. I pass the sign for 39km. Time to go! As I round the corner and take the turn for the finish line, I prepare myself mentally to see another 12+ on the clock. I tell myself there is no way I would have ran that last lap faster than the first 3. I see the support crew again and all I hear is Fi shouting 11.52! What??? She’s screaming now to keep going, that I did it! WHAT?!?!?!?! I just run. Surely she’s not right but she was! I cross the line….11.52…..and I’m down on my knees with a concerned volunteer asking if I need help. I just need to sit down…….
The post-race area was crap. Dazz told me I’d get beer and pizza. Liar! I got a chilli con carne and a Heiniken 0.0. Not impressed. Couldn’t find the showers either. Small irritations on what was overall a great day.
I made a lot of pre-race promises to people that I wouldn’t race a full Ironman in 2020 and I am a woman of my word, so this will be the last race report for a while on my adventures over 140.6miles. As always thanks to all my support, you know who you are, the crew that travelled with me and most of all to Dazz who coached and mentored me all summer.