Thursday, August 22, 2013

KMD Ironman Copenhagen - Kona Bound!

So, after IM Couer d'Alene and the cramp-hell on the marathon, I was very pleased to learn that while OOB's partner YWC got bought by WTC (Ironman Corporation), this meant that already from this year, the new KMD Ironman Copenhagen would have 50 slots for Kona - the World Championship in Hawaii. Racing on home turf was already in scope and I could hardly have dreamt of a better setting to finally stamp the ticket to the Big Island in Copenhagen, with friends and family cheering all day.

The 5-6 weeks leading up to the race, was probably the hardest period I have ever come through training-wise. First off, the mayor business projects in OOB that kept me busy during time had been concluded succesfully. Hence, I had more time to train and focus. Further, training in Barcelona in July & August, means that temperatures are brutal around 35-40 degrees and humidity was insane - so even a brief jog was a mean source of dehydration, not to speak of the long bike rides, bound to collide with the mid-day blaze from the sun. I kept a steady training volume and high intensity, but most weeks summarized well above 22-24 hours, swimming more than ever and getting really comfy running hard for longer periods of time, than ever before.

Come race day, a bit of sun, but mostly cloudy and some rain. The amazing in-sea lagune was all calm as always, water temp fair around 20 degrees and the wind was indeed present (breeze) but from a good and fast direction.

I am beginning to realize that this is the beginning, not only of a great race, but also the best day in my professional life. OOB has almost 90 athletes racing today and I am accountable for coaching and helping close to 30 of these in their preparations for this (for many their first) Ironman race - needless to say, its a immense joy to see the nervous smiles of the team and pass on some confidence and calm words that its gonna be all fine.

Find the front line with OOB colleague Vladimir, who I knew would be a pair of fast feet in the water. From the start I felt really well and that I could push hard (though I lost Vladimir quite early) all the way through the swim. All time best swim in a bit more than 57 minutes, which is what I hoped for so happy with that.

The organization of KMD Ironman Copenhagen is fantastic and flawless - simply everything is in its right place for optimal race conditions.
Currently biking through central Copenhagen is a bit dogdy - many road constructions, patches on the tarmac, enormous potholes, but its invaoidable as Copenhagen is being dug up these years with the construction of a new Metro line. And its just a few kilometers, so once out on the road leading north, I have a fairly strong tailwind, hitting some 42-44 km/h and I am passing 5-6 bikes until I am quite alone.

For the remainder of the bike, I am almost all the time riding solo, execept for Irish Martin, who I switch places with a few times during the 180km, but not really enough to benefit from the same pace, so I just stick the the plan and 220 watts. Though the weather is not just top-fine for Danish August there are still thousands of Danes cheering on the roads and of course seeing my whole family, friends and Coach Aleksandar on Geels Bakke is a real boost. Enter Copenhagen a to the roar of the massive crowd at T2 after 4h50m on the bike - some 10 minutes of par, mostly due to a strong head-wind that has picked up in the later ours of the bike leg.

The run is simply just unrealistic, fantastic - 200.000 people are cheering on the 4 loops in the center of the Capital. Seeing so many known (and unknown) faces, shouting my name & cheering is undescribable, I will never forget. I know my swim better than ever and I know I had a good bike split to, so definitely hope to be in top5 in my age group at this moment in time. Around km 5 I see Blanca and Anders who gives me the first real update on standings in my group and at this moment in time I am 10th. Normally I will loose a at least a handful of places, as there are stronger runners who will go below 3h10m for the marathon - so my first thought is "no way Hawaii is realistic now" - there is initially only 6 slots in my group, so I need to place in top6 to be sure to qualify. However I am running fine at 4:30 and I decide to just do my best to keep that pace, first until 10 km, then to 20 km and the eventually keeps this pace all the way during the day. Along the way I sometimes pass other participants in my group, and other times I get passed. To be honest, I kinda loose track of counting - I am dizzy and I just push to stay on pace. Again, its a great motivation and joy to see friends and athletes running well on the course and giving my feedback that they too are having a great day in Copenhagen.

OOB/Irunmen's Kasper Ougaard exhausted on the floor after a tough race.
My legs looks like a mess as always... 

Blanca, Anders and colleauges Aleksandar & Morten are great helping on splits and I advance to 8th then 7th. Eventually, around km 34, I have only 30 seconds to number 5 in front of me, where he stays until the end. So I secure the 6th place with 3h11m on the run and greatest feeling of accomplishment ever in an Ironman race, an all-time best at 9h04m. Vladimir enters some 8 minutes in front of me in 4th - so, so good. There is great rejoice in the post-race area with all our friends and atletes coming over the line.

I feel like this was a very well-balanced race, especially on the run, where things worked so much better than in Couer d'Alene or ever before. Eventually both Vladimir, myself and more than 6 other OOB athletes qualified for Kona on this fine sunday. Read all OOBs  stats from IM CPH here: 

Thanks to all who cheered and those who supported me;  De Soto Sports, Triatech, OOB Coaching, Argon 18 Bikes, Fit4Bike, I AM ID, SIS Nutrition  

Wish y'all a good recovery. Love fron Hanoi, Vietnam! 

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