8 hours 59 minutes 42 seconds

Posted: August 18, 2011 in Challenge Series, Iron Man, Triathlon, Uncategorized
Sport can be heart breaking.  You see it every day in sporting events when things do not go ‘your way’ after all the focus and effort that has been invested.  This can cause grown men and women to break down is tears with the disappointment just too much to handle.  Conversely, the ecstasy you feel when you achieve your dreams in sport is like nothing you can imagine.  This is why I love sport.  It is an emotional roller coaster and you never know where the ride will take you.  But one thing is certain, it is always one hell of a ride.
Over the last 15 months I think I have just about experienced every type of emotion possible.  The crash in Lanzarote started it all off and if I am honest I am not really sure what I was feeling.  I don’t think my mind was in any state to really ‘feel’ anything.  In the aftermath all I can recall is this intense anger and frustration.  My response to this was to channel all this raw emotion into my training and recovery.  I was solely focused on getting back to racing and this focus consumed me, to the point that I was missing the things that really matter in life.
I had entered both Challenge Barcelona and Ironman Mexico with the goal of going sub 9 hours in both races.
Challenge Barcelona was emotional to say the least.  Standing on the start line watching the sun rise I just felt happy to be alive and lucky, so very lucky to have been able to find my way back to full fitness.  I wish I could explain in words what crossing that finish line meant to me.  It was like I had been going through the last few months with a red mist blurring my view of things and the process of completing that race slowly allowed that red mist to lift.  Hard to explain.  The finish time (9hrs 26mins) that day was not really what I had been aiming for but I let it go.  Always next time.  Next time being Ironman Mexico.  But as is often the way in sport, things did not quite go to plan and while I was happy with the result (9hrs 23mins & a slot for Kona) I felt like I had not performed to the best of my ability.  This bugged me.  I knew I was better than that.  I just did not have the performance to prove it.

With Kona scheduled at the end of my 2011 season, many people might have expected me not to race much in the build up.  The thing is, I still had a lot of unfinished business and did not want to leave it to be put right in Kona.  I really want to be able to enjoy Kona and not worry about the result.  I know I am probably going to melt on the run and just want to go there, soak up the experience with no pressure on my shoulders.
Instead I put that pressure on both Ironman Switzerland and Challenge Copenhagen with the hope I might at least in one of the races do myself proud.  Things in Ironman Switzerland did not go to plan. I clocked 9hrs 33mins and was frustrated to produce another performance that I felt was below par.  After the race I spent alot of time analyzing why things had gone wrong and put together a detailed race plan for Challenge Copenhagen that hopefully addressed all those issues.
In my last four Ironman distance races I had clocked 9:34, 9:26, 9:23, 9:33 and I was beginning to loose faith in whether I would ever actually make it under 9 hours at all.
Going into Challenge Copenhagen I can honestly say that I was not thinking about breaking 9 hours.  After the last four races I just wanted to have a solid race and a result I could be proud of.  Things started well and I clocked a 52mins swim.  I had felt smooth, comfortable and happy with the pace.  The bike took you through Copenhagen centre and I took it very easy in this section.  As the route headed north I started to up the anti.

By the end of the first lap I was bang on the race plan of 280 watts average and feeling very comfortable.  Second lap went well, I picked the cadence up a bit on the climbs and with 20km to go the power had only dropped slightly to 273 Watts average.  At this point I made a big call. I was still feeling good but I backed the pace right down.  Freewheeling the descents and putting minimal effort in on the flats.
This probably meant I was 5 minutes slower into T2 but I was hoping it would allow me to hit the run with at least a chance of running well???
Out of T2 on the run I was feeling OK.  The 4m40sec/km pace I hoped to hold felt refreshingly comfortable but for some reason I was not in a great place mentally.  I think I was expecting to blow up at any point.  But as the marathon progressed to my surprise I was still holding pace.  Two laps down and I was still expecting to blow up but didn’t.  One lap to go and even then I thought, ‘things like this just don’t work out, I am never going to make it below 9hrs’.  5km to go and still I was convinced I would come home in 9hr 05mins.
Like I said my maths is rubbish.  I had 12mins and 3km to go!! I thought F**k it.  If I blow up now so be it, but I am going to ‘sprint’ at my very limit until I do.  The rest was a blur of pain.  I only knew I was going to do this when i was within 5 meters of the finish line.  That is how close things were!!
As I crossed the line I was consumed with emotion.  The culmination of the last six years training and focus was all there in that moment and it is one I will remember for the rest of my life.
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Comments
  1. Best of Luck Chris, have a great race. Proud to have been a part of getting you to Kona.

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