The Jump

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Following on from the Outlaw on the 1st July I had 6 weeks run in to Challenge Copenhagen.  Not a lot of time!  Factor in 1 weeks recovery after the Outlaw and 1 week taper that left exactly 4 weeks in which I was hoping to get some quality training.  History has shown that I always perform better in my second Ironman distance race of the season – In planning out my 2012 race calendar, I took this into account and the plan was to use the Outlaw as a spring board to jump off.

The final training block leading into Challenge Copenhagen went as well as I could have hoped.   One week after the Outlaw and I was feeling awesome.  I was like a horse chomping at the bit.  I know I recover quickly but I was careful to wind things up slowly over the next 4 weeks.  Building each session on the last, I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger.  But more importantly, with each session, I could feel the “BELIEF” inside me growing.  For me, that last 4 weeks training was a much about convincing myself I was good enough to make this jump into the pro ranks as it was about anything else.

Standing at that start line along side all the other pro’s I honestly believed ‘I could do this’.  No doubts, no fears, just focus and a lot of pride.  To be even standing along side all these awesome athletes was the best sporting achievement of my life and the gun had not even gone off yet!

The swim went pretty well.  A few guys shot off the front pretty early on.  As it happened I settled into the second group of swimmers at what felt like a very comfortable pace.  After about 1000m the pace settled down and I found myself swimming a bit slower than I would have liked.  However, by now the gap to the guys in front was just too big to bridge, so it was either swim solo or stick with the pace in the group.  I opted to stay with the group.  I had made the call not to wear a watch for the swim so I had no idea of my swim split.  To be honest I did not even give it a seconds thought.  I just got my head down and went through T1 as fast as I possibly could.  I was surprised to find that having come into T1 in a group 8-9 strong this quickly spread out.  Leaving T1 I could only see 2 other riders.  I had either been super quick or super slow?!?

The bike was very strange territory for me.  Normally, I am solo for the entire bike leg in Ironman distance races.  I knew going into the race and starting with the pro’s it was likely that other bikers would be around me.  My biggest concern was about staying 10m or more behind the bike in front.

How do you gauge 10m?  To solve this problem I had practised spotting points in front of me and then making sure those points were 11 long strides or more away from me.   I did this while walking to the race briefing and was relieved to find that, with a bit of trial and error using this method, it was actually very easy to gauge 10m 🙂

I love the bike course out in Copenhagen.  It starts out winding through the city before you head north along the coast on a fast stretch of road.  By the time we had reached this section of road I had passed 4-5 riders and a speed line had formed behind me.   The course then heads inland and onto some smaller roads with a bit of climbing and some more technical sections.  As the 1st lap went on things changed around a bit.  A few riders took their turn at the front of the speed line and a few riders were dropped.  As we hit the second lap the group had whittled down to three riders.

This all changed at the 150km mark.  We had just hit a short incline.  This is where you have to be really careful not to enter the 10m exclusion zone.  I was at the back of the speed line and the pace dropped much more than I was expecting.  So much so that I had to put the brakes on quite hard to avoid entering the 10m exclusion zone.  The rider in front of me did not.  He must have only been closer than 10m for just over 30 seconds and the motor cycle came up along side him to give him a yellow card and a 4 minute penalty.  I had been riding in and around this guy most of the day and it must have been the first time he had got closer than 10m, from what I had seen.  Gutted for him, but rules are rules I guess.

At that point I made the call to put my foot down and push for the last 30km.  I was still feeling strong and thought this would be the perfect time to break away from these guys.  It seemed to work 🙂

As I entered the edge of the city I could see three riders in front of me and by the time I entered T2 I had caught them up.  My bike split was 4:41:00 and was the 4th fastest of the day.  What really surprised me was what happened next.  All three guys in front got directed into the penalty tent to serve a 4 min penalty for drafting and I found my self leaving T2 4th in the race!!!

I was running with a bounce in my step and feeling good.  Only problem was I desperately needed a loo stop!  I really did not want to stop, but when nature calls, it calls.  So I found my self in the aid station toilets counting the seconds down.  It felt like the longest loo stop I have ever had!!

Back on the road and I was running well.  Nothing amazing, but a solid 2:55 – 3:00 marathon pace.  I was passed by a 2-3 pros over the first 20km but that really did not phase me.  I was running well, really well.  They were just running better.  Simple as that.  Around the 23-24 km mark the pace started to drop.  This happened to me in the Outlaw and fundamentally the reason why I was unable to win that race.  I was expecting this drop in pace to happen in Copenhagen.  At that stage of the race I have come to believe that holding pace is as much mental as it is physical.  I knew I needed to find something to mentally hold onto that would pull me through that dark patch when it hit, I just did not know what it would be.  With 13km to go I could feel the race slipping away from me.  What really upset me was the thought of failing to make this step up into the pro ranks after all the sacrifices Carli (my fiancée / wife in two weeks!!) has made in order that I could achieve my dream.  She has gone through so much, from sitting at my bed day and night after the crash in IM Lanzarote, to putting up with my relentless drive to get back into a sport that almost killed me.  Putting up with the never ending hours of training AND listening to my drivel about power, heart rate etc…..  Coming to watch every race I do.  In this instance she was up at 3am to make an early flight on Saturday morning.  She then was up with me at 4am on Sunday and flew home at 9pm after the race.  The thought of that all being for nothing was just not an option.  As all of this was going through my mind, Carli’s face just popped into my head and simply said ‘just run faster’.  So with 12km to go, I did just that with Carli ‘pulling’ me along all the way to the finish.

I had no clue what my overall time was going to be until I turned the last corner.  With 20m to go I saw the clock.  It read 8:46:xx.  It was all a bit to much.  As I crossed the finish line I could feel the tears starting to well up and the bottom lip starting to shake.  Good thing I was still wearing my sunnies!  I went straight through the finish area to find Carli.  I gave her a massive massive hug and said ‘we did it babe’ 🙂

In 2011 I crossed the finish at Challenge Copenhagen in 8hr 59mins 42 seconds.  At the time I remember thinking ‘it does not get any better than this’.  Well, it just did!


The final break down:

Swim 51:13   Position 8th

T1 2:35  Position 14th

Bike 4:41:00  Position 4th

T2 1:46  Position 8th

Run 3:10:34  Position 9th

Overall Time 8:47:06 Final overall position 8th

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Comments
  1. James cape says:

    Great effort Chris, love reading the trials and tribulations. Inspirational

  2. Steve Lumley says:

    great work Chris 🙂 V chuffed for you…

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