Race day weather called for no rain and a high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I mixed my bike nutritional drinks in the morning after having my pre-race breakfast. Breakfast was the traditional toast with peanut butter and banana on top.
Upon arriving in the transition area race morning I placed my drink bottles in my bike cages and mounted my Garmin Edge on the bike. Also, I made sure to add the necessary air pressure to my tires, and went with 100 PSI for both front and back tires.
I made sure to wear my ankle brace on my left foot as I was experiencing Achilles issues for the last few weeks of training.
Even toeing Copenhagen was very much up in the air for me as I haven’t done a traditional long run of 20 or so miles in a single session. My longest run for the season was a 14 miler along with a bike in between then a 6-miler to conclude.
Mentally having done two IRONMAN full distances and a virtual IRONMAN during the pandemic allowed me to at least have the confidence that I “should” be okay to push through on the marathon.
Swim 2.4 miles (3.8 Km)
I would normally have swam some of the course the day prior to race day but with a rainy Copenhagen day and commuting back and forth between Malmö, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark I was exhausted, and my main priority was to get back to the hotel for much-needed rest and pre-race dinner.
At the swim start, I opted to not run into the water but just again manage my Achilles, so I casually walked into the water for the swim.
Swim sighting was pretty adequate with my choice of clear goggles (I need to practice using tinted goggles in OWS training on a more regular basis). The sun was mostly on my back and only became harder to sight on occasion.
I admit that I do miss the draft of mass swim starts. As with most IRONMAN races now the norm is to self-seed as participants go into the water in rows of three or so which makes for a much more relaxed and safe swim. It was the same self-seed start at Copenhagen.
The swim takes place in Amager Strand Park and is a perfect venue for spectators as participants encounter three shallow bridges along the course. My wife, Anh, was able to see me multiple times throughout the swim leg.
As I practiced in training my swim strategy was to keep long strokes and a 75% effort for the swim. Towards the 3000-meter mark, I pushed a bit more towards 85% perceived effort.
My swim goal was an hour 20 minutes and I finished 2 minutes over, which I’m surely satisfied with on the day.
I came out of the water again not aiming to run to transition but to ease my way through.
Video Caption: Gave a wave to Anh, who I hoped would get a great view of me from the bridge above
In transition, I put on my compression socks and my ankle brace over the socks and did not attempt to tinker trying to put on KT Tape for my Achilles (I’ve tried KT Tape multiple times only to have it come off from my high sweat rate). I definitely wasn’t aiming to rush out of T1 as with 112 miles of biking ahead I needed to make sure I had all the right pieces in place for a successful bike and Achilles-free pain as much as possible. My arm warmers were already on during the swim so I kept them on as it would be a bit chilly in parts on the bike as I did find out from the countryside winds.
Bike 112 miles (180 Km)
I mounted at the start line and started my Garmin Edge workout for the 112 bike adventure of Copenhagen. The first 10 miles or so where we make our way out of the city were very technical with lots of turns and not-so-perfect road surfaces contrary to the smooth roads we would encounter outside the city.
I made sure to stuff an extra inner tube and CO2 cartridge in my tri suit along with the three CO2 cartridges and a spare inner tube I already had in my saddle bag. In my experience, there are not too many SAG vehicles or help out on IRONMAN courses and with such a big race I didn’t want to rely on outside help if I was to encounter an unfortunate flat.
The countryside and seaside towns provided the most stunning views and ride experiences on the course. At times I only wished I had a camera to capture the scenery or my GoPro mounted on my bike.
I kept my power output goal of 220 watts on flats and less than 280ish on the climbs close as possible to what my predicted wattage should be.
As per nutrition I mostly used course-provided gels and liquid on the course.
Hint: use bottles you’re willing to toss out on the course in exchange for IRONMAN-provided bottles to take home. 😀
The crowds on the hill at around the halfway point and towards town were absolutely amazing. Though this particular climb topped at 12% and was quite short it definitely provided a boost of energy on the bike.
A caveat heading into town, if you’re looking to gain any speed during the last 3 miles or so this won’t happen here, as a matter of fact, the contrary will happen. It is a slow and single-file bike ride to transition 2 on the bike as there are lots of turns, and narrow roads that make it unsafe to pass so you are left with an unfortunate slow ride to the finish.
I almost forgot about bike handlers at the finish. They quickly grabbed my bike from me right at the dismount area. Thanks, handlers. Don’t forget to install your head unit lanyard in case it may fall during the handling process. More on installing a Garmin Edge lanyard.
Run 26.2 miles (42.2 Km)
Yep, the big unknown on the day was whether I would be capable of running the 26.2 miles off the bike with my Achilles issues up late.
The first few steps on the run provided me some much-needed comfort mentally as there wasn’t any apparent pain or signs of tightness. If anything I was running at quite a faster pace than I imagined on the day early on, especially at mile 2 with a pace of 8 minutes.
Upon seeing how great I felt I kept trying my best to manage any upcoming nutritional issues or such proactively by making sure to walk every aid station taking in nutrition and wetting my body to keep my core temperature down. It was also a hotter race day than I hoped in Copenhagen this time of year.
The run in Copenhagen is a four-loop course. Colored bands are provided after the completion of each of the four loops.
Through the first 20 miles or so of the run, I was running pretty well given my lack of run volume in training. I also credit this performance to the flat Copenhagen course. My Achilles would surely have to work harder on a hillier course.
Where the wheels started to fall off was on the final loop (last 6 miles) when my body was surely overheating and I needed to stop at an aid station to cool off and rest for a few minutes while absolutely drenching my body in water. I also ducked my head in a water tub provided at the aid station. This helped quite a bit and my core temperature was able to dip down to a comfortable level.
The next obstacle that showed up was sore quads and calves. This was a sure sign again of lack of run volume. This last loop threw everything at me so I needed to exploit the run walk strategy even more beyond the typical aid station walks. It would be a mental game of let’s walk for 3 minutes and run for 5 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes, let’s run for 7 minutes. This mental chatter continued until I was able to fully do the IRONMAN shuffle all the way to the finish.
With the support from Anh and friend Helen at each of the turnaround loops and the awesome cheering from the Copenhagen crowds the run atmosphere was absolutely amazing.
Video Caption: I make an appearance at 1:10 in this official IRONMAN video
I am very happy with my performance on the day especially being able to run most of the marathon given my lack of training volume. I am especially ecstatic with my IRONMAN bike personal best of 5 hours and 30 minutes. All clicked at the end and I had a solid IRONMAN performance at Copenhagen.
Huge thanks to my wife, Anh who through her full support and love I was able to complete my third official IRONMAN. ❤️
- Scott Plasma 10 2015
- Wheelset: PowerTap GS HED Jet 5 Wheelset
- Continental Tires: Grand Prix 5000 700 x 25
- Continental Race Inner Tubes: Race 28 700×20-25 S80 Presta Valve 80 mm Bike Tube
- Bike Head Unit: Garmin Edge 530
- Saddle Bag: Dark Speed Works
- Contents of Saddle Bag: Tire levers, 3 CO2 Cartridges, 1 spare inner tube, Allen Key Set.