Ironman Copenhagen 2017 Part 1

Weekly Wrap. Week 34

This week was all focused on collecting myself, my thoughts, my stuff at the appartment we were renting and going back home. After week and a half in Denmark, it was finally the time to come back to Vilnius. And after nearly two months of twice-a-day trainings, it is time to start thinking about the off-season and where do I go from here. I have done only few sports activities during this week, I mainly did morning 15 minutes bike spins and yoga. Now I am trying to switch the tides and assist Dovile as much as possible before her sprint triathlon in a week and half-marathon in two weeks. I hope that I can be the smallest amount of help she was to me, during my preparation.

Upcoming few posts, I will try give you an overview of how did my race go in Ironman Copenhagen 2017, what did I go through and what kind of battles did I fight. As a post-activity, I will share with you my learnings and thoughts for improvements for next races. 

Future is now.

On Friday, 18th of August, two days before the race, I visited the Ironman Expo, I have completed my registration, received my goodie-bag and was planning to rest and stay home at the appartment me and Dovile were renting, roughly 30 minutes from the start of Ironman. All felt good, I was not feeling stressed and seemed composed, I felt ready and eager to see how can it go. There was only one minor problem, my right quad muscle (specifically the part right above the knee-cap) had cramped up pretty bad during last week’s session and the same cramp and pain was coming up in bigger waves on Friday. Due to that,  I was actively massaging my leg and doing some “push-release” tension on the muscle itself. Even though it was painful as hell – I felt hopeful and it seemed like I can live with that. On Saturday, Dovile arrived (!) and I was eager to have her here. I had some nervous strings here and there and she was very helpful to help me collect myself and chose the right decision.

During Saturday, 1 day before the race, as usual I did a session of all the activities, with some active sprints, according to my race pace, during the session. So I biked for 30 minutes and everything felt well in its place, I was easily pushing optimal heart-rate and speed, then I quickly transitioned into running and it went even better than the bike. Somehow I easily managed to run at 3:50 min/km pace during the sprints with a very maintainable heart-rate and overall feeling. All I thought is that this has to be transferred for tomorrow, this is what I have now and I need this tomorrow. I am so close to tomorrow, to the race day. I would want for today, be tomorrow, right now be the race day. Myself in this moment, to be myself during the race day. On this high note, I placed my bike, checked everything at transition area and was planning to test the water, literally and do a quick swim workout. While we were at the beach, wind picked up and the weather went from “ok for Denmark” to “well this is shit, even for Denmark”. Wind was tearing everything apart, during my walk with the bike, it could easily tear the bike away from my hands. Dovile started checking weather for the race day and it stopped being promising and it became worrying. It is supposed to be cold, windy and stormy weather on the race day. The storms and rain are going to hit me during the bike and wind is going to be similar to today. And it is hitting 50-60 km/h, which is 16-17 m/s right now. Just do not be nervous. Nothing you can change about it. Whatever happens, happens. I have done all my preparations as much as I could, I can not change anything. I know what to do and this is where I should keep myself at.

Quick swim shows a new problem – my goggle, is leaking and is leaking badly. I can barely swim for few meteres, before my left goggle is filled with water. No matter how many times and how much adjustment I do – it still leaks. At this point, I get very nervous and anxious, nothing I do fixes the goggle. I lose my composure and am getting more and more nervous and angry. Luckily, Dovile brought her own goggles and I have a plan “B” if my goggles do not work. I calm myself down and we walk back home. Off to a dinner. We find this great indian cousine restaurant, eat one of the best paneer and come home early to get some rest.

Nor here, nor there.

Race day. I wake up an hour before the alarm clock. I try to simply lay down and rest. I get up later on, do my yoga routine, prepare breakfast for me and Dovile and try to be calm. I have waited for this moment so much and it is here. I try to be the best me I can and just be ready and participate.

On our way to the start. It was sunny, however cold and a bit windy.

I have checked through transition area, prepared my food on the bike, checked the tire pressure, changed into my swimsuit – all seems to be aligned for a good race. I do a quick warm-up on the shore with help of Dovile and some bands, to warm up the joints and muscles and get them ready to swim. Somewhere in the background I heard Foo Fighters – Best of You playing, it gave me little chills and reminded me of all those fantastic live shows we have been to of them.

Quick warm up swim, body feels great and hopeful. However the goggles gave up – I quickly go out, ask for the plan “B” goggles and test them out – all works out well. Good. One more swim to check how it goes. Then I go out to the shore and look at the pro women start. I am hoping to understand the best way to get through the first few turns. And I notice a strange thing, in a moment, that I spoke to Dovile, roughly few seconds – there is just one woman leading the race and rest are quite behind. I was surprised to see it. Within just few minutes, it seemed like the leader managed to get like 150-200 m lead on others, which in swimming is A LOT. After the race, I found this video from Michelle Vesterby and it made a lot of sense:

It seems that even professional athletes have troublesome moments in their races – this is a huge note to my future self.

Anyhow, I start to get very cold, but luckily my pack of swimmers is already being seeded to the start, I give my wife a kiss and get into the line. While standing there, I try to stand behind some people, to get warmer. The wind is blowing heavily and I am wet from the swim – bad combination for a pre-race feeling. Few more minutes and I am there, I see Dovile next to the start. This year start goes much smoother than the last year. I come to see the countdown timer, which was the most scary thing last year to me and it haunted me for until today. Today I know what to expect, today I am ready, today I want to start and see what I have made out of myself. Three. Two. One – I am in the water, swimming, thinking that it has already started, I am doing it and it feels comfortable:

I have a lot of energy and hopes, I am trying to draft around people, to get some “easy swimming”. I remind myself to not overdo it at the start, so I keep myself content and try not to push too much. 1 kilometer in and it all seems fantastic, I am ecstatic, all is going so well. The weather, the water temperature, the amount of people around me – this could not be any better. No cramps in my legs, nothing, just 3 strokes – breathe-in to the right, 3 strokes – breathe-in to the left. I feel that I can glide well, there is easiness to it. I am feeling more hopeful. I am getting close to the turnaround, at approximately 1500 meters. I am getting problems with sighting, due to so many people coming in from different sides:

This is getting hectic. I still have the same problem with my left calf during swims – it cramps up, especially if I pull it too fast and too drastically. So every time I anticipate that somebody is going to touch me, I have to mentally be ahead of that feeling and prepare to have broken into my personal space. I anticipate a touch, I release myself, I try not to be here, to have mind, separated from the body. And it works, all the leg catches I had, did not impact my left calf. It was cramping, but nothing tragic. Then, next to the turnaround, I get a massive hit into my goggles. I absorb the hit, however my left eye is covered in water, when I sight to the left side. I can see 50% now and I can’t breathe in to the left anymore. (Sidenote: this was one amazing hit to be honest, I am still surprised, not even mad at it. Somebody managed to get his elbow into my goggles in a very specific way: my right goggle got stuck to my right eye, like if it was glued by MacGyver and the left goggle popped off completely. Unique thing to happen). For the first time, I do not really understand where am I, whom I am swimming behind and where to go. For the first time, I notice that I swam into the opposite lane and I can crash into someone going into different direction. Panic. I collect myself, I do a harsh right, to even it out. I seem safe. I swim by the buoy and now half of the distance is behind me.

There is a lot to take in and to give out after this race. That is why I will try to tell the story in multiple sittings and with most important details, which makes it difficult to fit it into one post. Next one, upcoming Friday!


Song of the week: Black Sabbath – Ironman
Reading: This amazing book from Third Editions on “Metal Gear Saga”
Game: Life is Strange: Episode 2
Average Weight: 77ish – stopped measuring, as I did not have where
Average Suunto Recovery: Stopped measuring.

I wonder why not a single Ironman branded event I have been to does not play this amazing song by Black Sabbath. I missed it during this race. I should make it my pre-race activity to listen to it. That main riff is a killer. Gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

3 thoughts on “Ironman Copenhagen 2017 Part 1

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