1653 Martin Hybholt, DEN
Position in AG 35-39: 129 // Finish time: 11:01:07
Swim: 1:06:56 // T1: 9:33 // Bike: 5:18:58 // T2: 6:01 // Run: 4:19:40
Coach’s remarks: A great heart felt emotional report here from Martin. He did send me an email on top of this and I asked if he could share it which Martin was cool with however, looking at it again, it was personal and very heart felt. Your a great guy Martin, I respect you very much as a family man mate and friend. You are always part of the squad mate and your email to me was very special, enjoy the read team!
Aaaarh, finally a moment on my own. Not that I’ve missed it, I’ve loved every minute of my “vacation” back home. I’m “aaaarh’ing” because I can finally get started on this race report. I’m well rested and sitting comfortably in my seat on EK152 from Copenhagen. I’ll go ahead and write this on my iPad then. I LOVE that thing, but please have me excused if it fuc@s up the spelling/gramma now and then 😉
A few hectic and stressful months have finally come to an end, culminating in my race in Copenhagen. It’s been a test, a big test to get through the training-plans (well, aaaalmost, Jason), as flydubai haven’t always been that kind when producing my work-schedule. July was particularly shi€&y, with 9 through-the-night flights, amongst other duties. I hate those flights, as they ruin the following day as well. Little time for training and little time with the family.
Anyway, somehow it was suddenly August, and I had finished training and totally enjoying my taper-period. Suddenly time to watch a bit of movies (while NOT sitting on the home-trainer) and have a few more coffees with friends/colleagues 😉
I arrived back home in Denmark on August 4th, finally united with my wife and kids again. 5 weeks away from them… That will not happen again, if I can avoid it.
I got a swim in at my parents place, as they live close to the sea. Temperature up there sure is different. Having trained (in wetsuit) at Men’s College in water temp’s near 28C, then 15-16C feels rather cold. I also managed a swim at the race venue with a friend. That turned out to be extremely beneficial, as I got more used to the water temp., and all those “lovely” plants. Plants would be all over, as the swim was on shallow waters (no more than 2 meters), so you get caught up in the shi€ every now and then. Veeeery annoying and a bit disgusting actually.
About 5 days before the race, I went out for a ride on the course as well. On race day, it would be a ride out from the centre of Copenhagen, followed by two loops north of the capital, then back in for the run.
I didn’t feel any need to scout the running section, as I knew it pretty well by looking at the map. It would be mostly flat with a few (tiny) “climbs”.
I got checked in for the race two days ahead. After that, I would take care of the final adjustments on the bike. I wanted new tubes for the race, so that was done! Well, almost… I brought the tubes with me from Dubai, as the price was a lot more reasonable than back home. Rear wheel fixed and when I wanted to prepare the front tube, I discovered that the valve was “fixed”. I was unable to use the valve-extension, meaning I was unable to change the tube. Shit! Anyway, I’ll get a new… But – naturally – all shops was closed at the time of discovery. Brilliant. A moment of shear terror, then I put it behind me. I couldn’t do anything about it, except learn from my beginners mistake. Don’t wait until last the moment, when dealing with your bike. A good thing was, that I hadn’t been using that front wheel for quite a while. The last many sessions I’d been using another wheel. It’ll be fine…
The day before the race, I went to stay with a friend of mine, who was also racing. He lives close to the race venue, so I didn’t have to bother with driving in the morning (well, not as long as if I’d stayed at my parents place). A few movies and feet held high, hydrating and just relaxing. It was great… Unfortunately I couldn’t fall asleep. I didn’t feel nervous about the race all week, but now, at 9pm, nervousness hit me. I was in and out of sleep, watching tv, listening to music… 1:03 was the last time I looked at the clock.
RACE MORNING, 5am
Alarm goes off. My friend, Casper, and I get started with a cup of coffee and breakfast. Just my standard toasts with honey. They seem to do the trick for me. It seemed to become a chilling experience, so I made a final change to my race kit, throwing in a windbreaker for the bike-ride, juuuust in case I’m freezing my as€ off when getting out of the water.
We’re at the race venue around 6:15 for a 7:55 start. My bike is waiting for me, as it needs to get a bit of air in the tubes. It’s almost overcast, but temperature is reasonable. Some of the clouds are a bit dark, possibly hiding a few drops of rain. I decide to go easy on the tyre-pressure, as the roads are still wet. I don’t want an exploding flat tyre, when I hit the first couple of wet stones on the road.
At 7:30, I have to go to the start area. I’d briefly met up with my family and some close friends who’d shown up. It was very nice and calming to see them before the race. I wasn’t overly stressed out anymore, there’s really nothing I could do at that time, so I would just go with it. Jason had a plan for the race. I would follow it as much as possible, but my main objective was to have a great, nice and huuuge experience. I wanted my first Ironman to be a “fun” race.
7.55 the race is kicked off with loud music and the “standard” horn to signalize the race start. I had decided to put myself on the outside, midway in the field. The water felt freezing, colder than the other day when I went for a practice swim. At first it felt uncomfortably cold, but I very soon got dialed in. From swim start to swim finish, I tried to keep the same pace. I had a constant rhythm pounding in my brain, and I kept that. I kept telling myself not to go any hard, at all. I wanted the swim to be a gentle start of the day. I didn’t actually want to feel, that I’d gone for a swim. It was a quite uneventful swim actually. My position in the field was perfect, as I rarely had to “fight” with anyone. The occasional totally fuc&€d up navigation-guy, crossing my path – that was about it. Approaching the last buoy, I started kicking a lot more in some attempt to bring blood (and warmth) to my frozen feet. I’d aaaaalmost cramped up three times during the swim, it was too cold for me I guess? I hit the shore and quickly got up. I felt great except for being a bit dizzy, which is normal after being vertical for so long. My plan had worked and I didn’t feel as exhausted as I thought I would, so I managed to start jogging towards my bag and the T1 tent.
T1_(hmm, I forgot!!!!)
Aaaaah, so what happened in there. To be honest, I was surprised I used THAT much time. I have to say, that I knew I would take my time. No stress at all. Jason had plans for 1hr15min out of T1 and looking at my watch, I realized I was a bit ahead of that time. I slowed eeeeeverything down. At first it was a problem finding somewhere to sit, so I could get out of the wetsuit. I expected my calves would cramp up, when I was getting out of the suit, so sitting was necessary. While trying to get me legs out, the right calve cramped up. I immediately bend my ancle again, cramp gone (for now). Then I tried the left… Same thing. I couldn’t get my suit off at the moment. I pulled my tri-top on instead. I was a bit wet, so it was difficult, but I got some assistance from one of the volunteers. I tried my legs again. Cramps again… I got annoyed. Very annoyed, but I didn’t want to stress myself – so I spend some time with a GU and some water and then 30 sec of total rest, doing absolutely nothing. THEN my legs got loose. I packed my stuff and headed out of the tent. It felt nice, but hard when I started running towards the bike – but I was looking forward to getting in the saddle. My family was at the bike’s cheering me up, which was a big energy booster for me at this point!!
Jumped on and got the shoes on. I actually broke rule number 1 here. DON’T TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY… Well, having bike-shoes attached to the bike had been practised 5 times the day before (during my 15-15-15). So it wasn’t all that new. Being specific tri-shoes, it was no hazzle at all. I don’t know why I haven’t done that before?
500m from bike-start, I saw the first guy with a flat tyre. How unlucky is that… It got me thinking again. Damn it. I’ve changed my tubes several times before and it’s always kind of a pain in the ass. Just don’t let it happen today, at least not in the start of the bike-ride.
My comfortable swim and the slow T1 meant that I was on the bike at a generous HR of 62-65% for the first 90k averaging just below 36 kph, it popped up to 75% now and then, when I drowe across the countryside midway through on the 2-loop spin north of town. I felt really good, I got my nutrition-plan going, everything was fine. THEN starting the second loop we headed up along the coastline again, the wind had changed from a slight tailwind, to a crosswind. It wasn’t that windy, so still okay – buuuut annoying. On a normal summers day, the wind would have been a tailwind out here, but not today, of course… 🙂
Then it happened… I rode across some tiny dent in the road, and I thought I felt my front tube was lacking air. At first I thought it was something I made up. I wondered if it was just because I’ve initially inflated them less than normal. Anything to admit you’ve got a problem. I felt fine and I certainly didn’t want to break the rhythm now. I kept going, pushing the thoughts of a flat behind me, it was just because there was less air in there. Around the 110km mark I hit another (small) bump in the road. I felt and heard that the tube was definitely loosing pressure faster than normal. Should I stop now and deal with it? No, I wanted to go to the 120km mark, where there would be an aid-station (or so I thought), then I could use one of their floorpumps, in case I pulled a “Chrissie” (CO2 NOT in the tube, but everywhere else). It was mentally draining to accept the fact that I had a flat, but I got further into the ride. Passing the 120km mark (and now well into the rolling hills and tech turns) I realized that the aid-station wasn’t at 120km, but at 130km. I had to stop and fix it now. There was no way I could ride another 10km on this tube without wrecking the wheel totally or crashing in a turn due to the slippery roads and a flat tube.
Brain-fart again… In the country-side up here, there is normally trees or fences or “something”, right about everywhere. I managed to decide to stop in a spot where there was NOTHING to rest my bike against. I had to admit that my brain didn’t function the way I wanted it to. Prior to race start, I’d told myself that I would change the tube if I was far away from the bike-finish, and I would use an “emergency-spray” in case I was closer and not experiencing an “exploding flat”. I went for option no. 2. I held my bike with one hand and jammed the spray into the tube with the other one. I heard the liquids emptying into the tube as planned, THEN, when trying to readjust the spray the thing broke and my hands started to get covered in that white flat-fix stuff. I was shocked. Damn it. I had another spray, but didn’t want to use it now, in case I would get another flat. I felt the tyre and it was actually inflated pretty okay. I tried waiting for those 5 min as they prescribe before rolling off, but sorry, I couldn’t stay there more than 3 min…
I was still in the rolling hills, heading towards one of the mainroads, which would take me back into Copenhagen. I suddenly felt a desperate need for energy. Having dealt with this tube/tyre issue since 100km mark, I had managed to screw up my nutrition. Water/sports drinks/GUs where consumed quickly. I’d missed a few meals, which started to pay back now and turning onto the mainroad and realizing that the local winds had picked up quite a bit, I was reeeaally in a dark place. Half flat tube, lack of nutrition and increased winds didn’t feel great at this point. I survived by realizing that everyone was suffering, so even though I was going slow I was still doing okay on the day. Also, I knew my family would be waiting at the “Tour de France” hill of Copenhagen. Like Roth, this hill gathers a bunch of spectators and it is some 25 km from T2 (we go up this hill twice over those 2 loops, great for support). Having passed the hill, my plan was to go as fast as I could at this point. Unfortunately the tube was giving me problems (not as much as my general exhausted feeling of my body falling apart though!!), but it did slow me down in certain areas which was demoralizing. Cobble-stones through one town on a flat front tube, is not that much fun. I was seriously scared that I would crack my front wheel wide open. I must have looked like an idiot on those stones 🙂
4-5km from T2 I was back in the centre of Copenhagen. The taller buildings took care of the annoying headwind and I could relax. My pre-race plan was to take it VERY slow on the last stretch. I needed to check how good I felt. I needed to make my final plan for the run. I had no problem admitting that I would need to settle with some run/walk strategy. And so I did. About 1km from T2, I told myself that I would be walking through the aid-stations up to the 21km-mark. From then on, I would walk through the aid-stations PLUS another 300m.
T2 (hmm, hard time remembering that as well)
Damn my legs were heavy getting off the bike. I did however manage to start jogging immediately towards my T2-bag. I quickly found it and sat down to start changing. A sock on, and then a shoe, THEN realize that I was still outside the tent, next to all the bags. Your brain is weird on a day like this. I got my stuff together, and proceeded into the tent instead. I quickly found a spot and got the other shoe on. I was tired and drained, but I got through the bike without any major problems, so I was also very, very happy. I told myself that I needed something to drink. So I leaned back and ENJOYED one of my own drinks from my Fuelbelt. It was soooo good. Then it was iPod on, sunvisor on and finally my fuelbelt on. Bringing that Fuelbelt on the run, was a total waste of energy. There was so many aid-stations (every 2-2.5km), so I just carried my drinks and GUs for 42km’s without using any. Well, it did have some salt-tablets in there as well, and I did eat some of those. But no, the fuelbelt was another mistake.
I was trying to find a good rhythm on the run as well. As Jason had told me, I would check my time on those two first kilometers and aim for that. The first couple of km’s had to feel good then. I had a hard time judging my speed. After more than 5 hours on the bike, running always (I guess!) feels too slow. I desperately tried slowing down after the first km, as the time was reading 4.42 min/km. Second km was 4.48. I was going WAAAAAAAAY to fast. I changed into what I thought felt like a jog. It helped, but I was still over-boosting myself. I knew I would get into trouble, if I couldn’t get the speed under control. Weird, you’ve been swimming and biking for a looooong time, why is then hard to run slower??! Hitting the first aid-station I got into my walk as previously planned. Water, then Coke, then more water… Wow, walking sure is nice at this point. “If you have planned to walk, it’s okay. Don’t just start walking without a plan”. Jason’s words. I kept saying them to myself, so when reaching the end of the aid-station I was back into running. It seemed to work.
The run was 4 loops of 10km, so I was passing the finishing-shute 3 times before actually heading in there. That was perfect actually, as the finish-area was filled with spectators carrying you through the pain. Getting up there the second time, my family had also found a spot. It felt awsome. Every time I passed them, I got another big boost of energy. It might not show on the pictures/movies that I’ve now seen, but it was magnificient.
From the 21k-mark I treated myself with another planned goody. I was now allowed to walk a further MAXIMUM of 300 meters passed the aid-station. I have to admit, that it was needed. It was getting tough now and a time of 1.55 for the first 21km had started to hit me. This was too fast for me. The legs had been wasted for a long time, but I felt my entire core starting to shut down. Not quickly, but I was definitely getting closer to my limits for the day.
“Running”, at this point, had nothing to do with how many kilometers I where able to go, it was now all in my head.
I got closer to the finish-area for the third time, knowing I would soon only have one single, final lap to go. The thought was overwhelming. I knew I would make it, as I’d been running for at least 10km with totally “dead legs”, so there was nothing to stop me from making the last 10km. Just before turning around the corner, where I knew I would see my family again I started tearing up, almost crying. Still with 10km to go… Damn the feeling was great. My entire family (wife, kids, brother/sister, almost the entire family) was there, yelling like crazy. I was on the final lap.
THEN something happened. I felt a bit uncomfortable trying to breathe. My core was having problems, causing me to have difficulties breathing now and then. I slowed down even further. Then again, after 500m, another hit of that. I got spooked. What the hell was that. Coming out of another aid-station, I saw my best friend, Morten and his wife. I walked with them for a while. A laugh always helps at this point. I knew Morten would give me that! Then, 300m from the aid-station I had to say “goodbye, see you at the finish-line”. Aaaah, that felt so good. I jogged on, trying to stay warm (it had gone overcast and drizzly now). Luckily, I had decided running with my “arm-sleeves” from the bike-ride. So I pulled them back up. It saved me, I think. I was now down to about 5km to go. I’d kept my Garmin on distance and heart-rate only, as I didn’t want to push myself against any specific time. Jason had told me, it would be somewhwere around 11 hr 45 min, maybe even down to 11 hr 15 min on a good day. I didn’t consider having a flat, going dark on the bike, etc to be a good day – so I hadn’t felt the need to check my total time. It might actually make things worse. Aaaarh, I couldn’t help myself, I simply NEEDED to know what time I was holding at this point. I flicked it to total time. It was at 10.31-something. At first I didn’t understand what it was telling me. Something had to be wrong. I flicked through the modes again, and ended up on the totals page again. Still 10.31-something. With about 5km to go, a sub-11 hour finish was not unrealistic. That’s at least what I thought for a second… My other part of the brain said, hold on – think – you have a plan, don’t change it or you’ll suffer. I started analyzing my situation. On a normal day, it would be no problem to go those 5km in less than 29 min. I’d experienced 3-4 “breathing-problem-episodes” at this point. Hmmmm. There was no point. On the morning of the race, I had promised myself a fun experience, a huge experience. I did not want to waste my chances to achieve that. I decided to stick to my run/walk strategy. No changes would be done, I knew it would result in me crossing the line after 11 hrs, but I would make it. I would make it wearing a big smile and not end up on YouTube under the category “funny Ironman finishes”.
The rain had picked up a bit, meaning that quite a bit of the spectators had left the route. Understandable, as the majority were in their summer-clothes. I didn’t mind, I wasn’t that focused on the spectators anyway, even though I would probably not have made it without them. I was just really, really enjoying the last couple of kilometers.
Last stretch towards to finish-shute. My oldest daugter, Emma, was waiting for me on the course. She wanted to run the last 500m with me. Such an immense feeling. I still have a hard time explaining what went through my head. Hmm, not that much really. I was just so overly thrilled that I’d made it. More than a year of training finally resulting in one of my childhood-dreams being fulfilled. It’s just such an amazing and lovely feeling.