The past two/three months has been a real emotional roller coaster. I have totally lost my mind after reaching my climax of happiness when returning from Copenhagen feeling like an absolute legend. Promising Bill to take a month off serious training gave me a lot of mindfulness and perspective about balance, consistency, recovery and some social and work prospects. Even though there were a lot of positives, I still managed to really fuck things up in my personal life that left me totally overwhelmed. I owe some people some honesty and an apology because they deserve way more than that and I am truly sorry.
I felt like this coming race really sums up my whole year. I was coming into this race with a little less fitness than usual knowing that I have worked so hard to crush IM Copenhagen (my A race) and podium as an elite Dead2Red solo rider. I promised myself for once to completely focus on what works best for me and to make use of all of my triathlon experience in order to crush my far fetched sub 5 hour IM70.3 bucket list goal. For this reason specifically, I was aiming to be extremely minimal in terms of my transition times and focus on being myself and being the most comfortable in order to keep things easy and simple.
(1) My Bucket-List goal total finish time of less than 5 hours.
(2) Swim Pace 1:50-1:55/100m or max swim time 37mins.
(3) Bike average power 210-220Watts while staying on top of my hydration and nutrition plan for a fast and evenly paced run.
(4) Evenly paced run at 5min/km without walking any pit stops.
(5) Minimal transition times, minimal options in transition bags.
Transition area opens at 5am and hence the alarm clock went off at 4. I had a really good nights sleep, opened my eyes desiring my morning banana, prepped my coffee, some good tunes and this slightly sweet “vegan” oatmeal that I bought from this fancy supermarket the night before. I sat down on my iPad read some random news and enjoyed the coffee flowing through the system in order before starting to lubricate my body with immense amounts of body glide. I got into the transition area everything was well setup. I hung up my water bottles and was pretty calm. I had to qeue for the potty which took some time but boy oh boy that’s always worth it. Triathlon essentials.
The swim was weird. The organizers literally did not care about anyone other than the professional athletes. We lined up randomly and it was kind of like a random scatter of abilities all jumping in at once. There was also a tiny staircase that you had to go down in order to reach the water which also didn’t make things easier. Unfortunately, at the first buoy which is probably about 100m out someone hit my left hand hard leaving my shoulder to pop out of its socket. It dislocated for about a min. It hurt so hard as I was screaming in the middle of the masses swimming through me but no one seemed to care at all. At that moment I thought my race was already over and I was quite sad given that I was mentally prepared to see how this race was about to really summarize my whole year. My shoulder magically popped back in, it still hurt but I just focused on going back on track. I kept swimming forward and I focused on efficient sighting with my new Zone 3 Tim Don edition goggles which I absolutely loved. I focused on not crossing the midline, keeping my hands on the train tracks, nice rotation and it totally worked well. Whenever I was hit hard again I just kept on going and retaliated with equally aggressive treatment. Some guy near the end kicked my watch really hard and I heard it start going crazy with all the beeps. I was so keen to check it and make sure everything is fine but I just remembered that today all I need to do is to keep moving forward and not to waste time on the stupid things like making sure my workout is getting uploaded on Strava/TrainingPeaks. As soon as we took a left towards the tiny staircase, the sunrise was looking absolutely stunning behind that crazy building with the windmills. The suns position really hindered everyone’s sighting significantly. I guess we were all in the same boat so that was fine at the end. Swim time 35mins, swim goal check.
T1 was great. 4 Mins. Blue bag was simple:- socks, shoes, sunglasses and helmet. No towel, no gloves and simply no bullshit. GU down the throat, a sip of miranda, grab the bike and go. Rule of thumb, no drinking on the bike first 10 mins to not loose water bottles while turning around.
Performance on the bike course was flawless. I focused hard as I knew this is where I can gain the biggest advantage. The bike course itself was a bit of a mind game as people always advertise it to be extremely tough with the winds and I had no idea what to expect. We started off with headwind for the first half and had some awesome tailwind coming back. I stuck to my aero position for the most part of the race and tried to be a cheeky bastard every now and then to draft but unfortunately I was too fast for these guys. It felt great to overtake everyone and I did not stop or take any aid from any of the aid stations as they were crowded and I had no time to waste. My nutrition was amazing. GU every 30 mins with water, one torpedos worth of sports drink and salt licks constantly to avoid any cramping as I was pushing hard.
230Watts Normalized Power. Bike goal check.
T2 was extremely motivating as the majority of the transition racks were empty! T2 took 3mins. 4GU in my back pocket, a sip of Miranda, shoes on and run straight out. There was a voice in my head that kept telling me “this is where the race starts and I have set myself up for a perfect run”.
This was the first time that I run in an IM race without a cap and sunglasses. This is how I prefer to do it but for some reason I always wear them because everybody does and peer pressure is a bitch. It felt so good to just run the way I love to run. I got out of transition feeling slightly fresh and extremely excited as I knew my bike split was amazing. I was never so focused on keeping a consistent strong pace. I kept promising myself that I will keep running no matter what and I will not stop at any of the aid stations no matter how much it will hurt. This is exactly what happened. I ran through all the aid stations without stopping once downing water, coke, sports drink whatever I find in front of me without slowing down at all. I concentrated on salt licks every 2kms as I knew that I will need it especially when I get deeper into the run. The sponges were really refreshing and I kept storing them in my chest or back and did not use them all at once but I was pacing them to spread the coolness around my body and concentrated on not making my shoes damp (they are also useful to wash your face when your sweat hurts your eyes sometimes). I did not eat any solid food or biscuits at the stations. A little after the halfway point was the first time things started to hurt and I was not comfortable… not at all… I knew I was doing great but I had no idea how well I was doing. I kept telling myself to keep going as at the end of the day the result will be recorded forever and I literally got this!! Surprisingly when I got the lap 3 band and started running towards the finish line I focused completely on my run form, salt licks and kept telling myself to keep moving. I managed to keep a 5:00/km the whole way and did not bonk once (4:55/km in the first half and averaged at 5:03/km for the whole run). Run goal check.
When I reached the red carpet I knew I was doing extremely well and I already assumed that I crushed my sub5 goal but boy oh boy I secretly teared up when I saw 4:37 on the board. Wow it was a crazy sensitive feeling. I always look back on my past when these things happen and I can never be more thankful of how triathlon and the people involved in my journey have completely changed my life. I am forever thankful.