Alex Bradley Ironman Copenhagen

Ironman Copenhagen race report from Alex
photo (5)
Pre-race: the weeks building up to copenhagen had been far from ideal; exams at the end of June 
and starting full time work meant had meant limited training. My last race was the English
 middle distance championships, which, although I won my age group, included a dehydration
 induced collapse, half way round the run and I'd been struggling with a trapped nerve in my
 back, so, as you can imagine, I was apprehensive about this latest challenge.

I traveled to Copenhagen on the Tuesday of the race with my mum and girlfriend, Rebecca; 
travelling on the ferry meant none of the stress of building the bike and also meant I could
bring as much stuff as I wanted. After blindly choosing a Copenhagen hotel, I was pretty 
pleased when it turned out to be about 1000m from the swim start, another load off my mind on
race day. An 8.05 race start meant I got a decent nights sleep before the race. 
The hotel was serving breakfast from 4am especially for the race and the nervous energy in the
 room was incredible; I could only stomach some porridge, but forced an energy bar down as
 well. The next couple of hours are a blur- everything was ready the day before so I found
myself wandering around transition checking out all the bikes!!
I was confident about the swim - I'd been swimming every morning before work with some guys
 from the Grimsby tri club who had really pushed me hard - and got myself near the front for
 the start. After the klaxon, there was the usual washing machine of arms and legs, but I soon
 found a good rhythm on the back of the front back in my age group. Even in the water, you
 could feel a great  atmosphere, as you passed under 3 bridges, each of which was packed with
 people. Out of the water in 56 mins and into a packed transition tent, but I was careful to
 remain calm and ensure I took on some water and a gel.

photo 1

The bike was flat but windy. Starting in the last wave meant I had a lot of people to pick off
 which helped to keep me alert and also gave me a little draft effect as I passed them. I had 
worked hard with the aero gurus at university on my position, so I focused on holding it, as
well as keeping my power constant and sticking to my nutrition plan. Off the bike with a 4.52
 split, I knew I was on to smash my 10 hour target, so long as I didn't blow up.
T2 was an odd experience- I'm used to marshals being incredibly strict when it comes to
 exposing ones body, so I was pretty surprised when the Marshall pointed me to the unisex
 changing tent    when I asked her where I could take my trisuit fully off... A change into
 shorts and t-shirt (which I'm much more comfortable running in) and I was off. 
photo 2I planned on holding 8 min miles for as long as I could, which would give me a 3.30 marathon
 split; the adrenalin caused by the crowds naturally caused me to go out a little too hard,
 but I was careful to reign myself in. I felt good on laps one and two (of four) around the
 spectacular course, which took in most of the famous sights of Copenhagen and even had time
 for a joke with  Rebecca. By lap three, I began to struggle - I couldn't face any more gels
 and switched to coke  and red bull - now there was no joking. I'd never run anywhere near the
 marathon distance so I was just waiting to blow up, but it just never came; I somehow found
 myself able to carry on putting in 25 minute 5kms and, as the end got closer, began to enjoy
 myself - I knew the next guy in my age group was 10 mins ahead and that I wasn't going to get
 caught so I relaxed and allowed myself to take it all in in the final couple of kilometers.
 After taking a detour into the spectator area, only to be wrestled back on course by a
 Marshall, it was down the finishing chute to be told that 'I was an IRONMAN!'. I saw my name,
 with 9.25 next to it- I couldn't quite believe I had done that time. The next bit is a blur,
 but I just remember walking around with that semi-drunk euphoric finishing feeling still
 inside me.
It wasn't until I'd showered and eaten that I found my mum and Rebecca, who told me I'd
 finished 3rd in my age group. I hadn't even considered qualifying for Kona at Copenhagen,
 but suddenly it was a possibility - I knew pre-race that there were 3 slots in my AG, but
 this was subject to change based on number of finishers- this is exactly what happened;
 three slots became two and I was left at the first to miss out.
It was, however, a bittersweet end to my first IM, as I picked up one of those famous M dot
trophies!! and joined Robbie Whitaker and Steve Clark to become only the 3rd Lincsquad member
 to ever go Sub 9 hours 30 mins.