2013 Ironman Copenhagen

343 Damien Byrne IRE
Total 11:29:03 | AG35-39 | Placed 228
Swim 1:06:08 | T1 6:05 | Bike 5:36:37 | T2 5:07 | Run 4:35:12

Coach’s remarks: Here is Damo’s Copenhagen race report. I love all the different kind of race reports the team come up with. Damo really nails this report as far as how important it is to follow the targets in training leading up to the event. His 8 weeks build up here was as good as anyone I have worked with. There were days where it seemed Damo was off pace…he wasn’t off pace, he simply followed the HR markers I set out. A superb result and it all came down to Damo’s discipline in training and belief in what he could achieve. He smashed the 11 club, the question is, does he want 10? Very cool report and thanks Damo for your very kind words to the team and myself.. Cheers Team and enjoy the read, CP.

Damos Race Report.
KMD Ironman Copenhagen, 18:Aug: 2013

Man I am hurting today! I actually started writing this race report whilst I was 1.5km into the swim. It is strange where your mind goes after 30 mins of ‘catch and pull’. This report is written with newbies in mind, in the hope that they can take away a little something to help them through their event one day. This is my road to Ironman.

I have a current wife and 2 kids. No triathlete has enough time to do the training they really need so all we can do is work with what we have got to suit our goals. Coach took this into account and set me a plan that was manageable, a plan that I stuck to best I could. My goals were first and foremost to finish and if possible to sneak into the 12 hour club. My training was mainly low heart rate endurance orientated in order to ‘build an engine’. At times this training was tough, trying to stick to a 120 bpm bike ride goes against what you want to do, you feel you could press so much harder and that pressing harder is the way to go, but I was building base fitness and 120 was the medicine for me, stick to the heart rate plans coach had set me. I do feel that this was to play to my advantage come race day as you will read later on.

6 weeks to race day.

6 weeks before my Ironman, I raced the London virgin triathlon ‘Olympic plus distance’, 1.5km swim, 80km bike and 10km run. I did this race as a training session to identify where I can improve and what mistakes I need to be aware of. Doing this warm up race was a great idea, I realized my nutrition plan was a disaster and I identified many ways I could improve overall. It gave me confidence too.  So if possible find a race (Some call it a B or C race I think) and use this to iron out any cobwebs and identify any chinks in the armor.

Taper was 1 week of very little if no training. I felt that this week made me feel ‘heavy’ and all I wanted to do was train. I didn’t train; I just watched my diet and did the odd stretching session mixed in with visualizing my race day and to imagine how I’d be feeling at certain points of the race. Where would I be hurting and how would I get through the hurt. Taper was over and time to register.

3 days to race start.
Race is Sunday. We register Friday, check bike in Saturday and race the Sunday. For 2 days I was on my feet, walking around the ironman village, going to briefings, checking out the course etc. etc., by the end of it my legs were so tired. If possible take rest off your legs where you can.

I don’t get too flustered at the race start. I have raced many different sports from motocross, moto endurance, saloon cars and even done some worm charming competitions. I try and use the pressure to my advantage, I remind myself that I have done my 150km bike rides around Camel Track at 2am in 40 degree heat, I have swallowed more than enough Hamdan water and I have sweated my way through 2 hour runs in the humidity we get in a Dubai summer. I’m ready for this, this is me against me and I’m ready. Lets do this.

TARGET: 1.15        ACTUAL: 1.06        PACE:1.44/100m

I never saw a 1.06 for a swim. If I had hit 1.15 I would have been happy. Swim went well. I made sure I was away from the washing machine and then went hunting for some feet. I must say a huge thank you to some dude whom I drafted for about 1.5km. This was pure luck, he did the navigating, the swimming and I was just there for the spin. I did lose him at 3k or so but that was fine as the finish line was in sight. I started to think about my swim exit and what I needed to do for a smooth transition. I had swum within myself and was ready for the bike.

Colleen met me at T1 and said “1.06 swim, awesome work Damo”… In my head I felt wicked, I have ‘banked’ 9 mins from target, don’t give it back through a crap transition!

No issues, not the fastest but controlled. –  6.07

TARGET: 6 hours       ACTUAL: 5.37      PACE: 32kph       AVG/HR 151bpm.

From London I learned not to hammer out on the bike. Get heart rate under control and settle in to race plan based on heart rates. (145-150 BPM). At 20km I saw my heart rate at 160bpm  and speeds were 35-40kph due to a strong tail wind. No doubt this tail wind was to bite back at the turn so I pegged it back a tad ready to battle the wind. A dropped chain at 27km, this was a minor detail. If this is the worst for me then I’d be happy. At 90km my nutrition plan was going well and my time read 2.45, quick calculation saw another 15mins ‘banked’ on target (3 hours). Coach had sent colleen messages which were relayed to me. I would slow when I saw colleen and we had a quick chat.

Coach “take it easy and make sure nutrition is getting on board”

I started to enter the hurt locker at 120kms. To get through this I had taped 2 photos to my handlebars. 2 x passport photos of my little boys. A quick glance down at them made me chuckle, a few emotional thoughts and Boom I was back in the driving seat.

All in all the bike went great. Good / simple nutrition plan, and relatively controlled pace. 5.37 finish and a further 20 mins banked.  Heart rate averaged 151 BPM – 32 kph.

T2: No issues. – 4.15

Target: 5 hours        ACTUAL: 4.35        PACE: 6.31/km      AVG HR/ 134 Bpm.

I got through T2 and off on the run. I was feeling fresh, I’m sure adrenalin was pumping and I recalled some wise words from the team members Andy Veal, Mike Obrien and of course coach. Take it easy out of T2, hold back. I heard a quote from Piers Constable “Get to 20km of the run in the best condition possible”. I was on a 15 mins run, 5 mins walk plan. I started off with this for 10k until my ankle injury flared up.  This injury was nothing serious according to the physio, “just give it a rub, stretch out the calf and go again”….. I wasn’t able to run for 15 mins straight. So change of plan, move to a 10 / 3 plan. This started to work a treat and for the next 20k I stuck to this.  Colleen had some update from coach for me “stick to the plan and the 11 hour club is there”, I knew I had ‘banked’ time and my run was ahead of plan so yes I could make this into the 11 hour club. At 32k I was feeling fine, coach had said to hammer away with 10k to go and so I did. I was loving it, 11.5 kph, flying past people who were deep into the hurt locker, I was loving ironman, loving Copenhagen and this was my canter home to collect that medal and tick off a dream on my bucket list.  I’d done myself proud, coach proud , family proud and hell I was going to be an ironman. Through 40k, feeling great, bouncing along thinking of the finish line. Suddenly I got a stitch… this was cruel.. No way was I going down the finish line with a stitch, I had worked too hard for this little bstard to interrupt my final moments of Ironman. I slowed to a walk, let the stitch ease, lifted my head and enjoyed every second to the finish. I made sure I had space from other athletes, I was not going to cross the line until I heard the words we all love … “… YOU ARE AN IRONMAAAAN”

Colleen handed me an Irish flag, and some really crappy hat, I was on my way down the shoot, and I got to hear those famous words.

I have never framed a medal or a trophy. I’ve done some things I’m very proud of such as spent 8 weeks with the Seashepherd in the southern ocean of the Antarctic fighting the Japanese whaling fleet, but I do think this medal is one that will remain with me in a special place.  A medal I’m proud to have.

11 hour Club.
I have tracked many friends from T2A on their Ironman races and I know the chat that goes on on the web sites. I didn’t think anyone would really be watching my race as I was the only one from the team racing. When I saw the FB thread I was moved. To know the team are there following you, actually interested in you and how you are doing is something special. At times through the race I did imagine what coach was thinking, “shit Damos about to blow up”, “this kid needs to slow down” , “don’t do anything silly Damo” or whatever, but I also know that coach was sure I would follow his numbers. Coach has trained me for 2 years now and I do stick to the plan and heart rates in my program, and the race was not a time to divert from his plan. Trust coach and I’ll be fine.   To have made 11.29 was never part of my plan and I still cant believe it, I wont be back for a shot at the 10 hour club, but I may just stick to the shorter stuff and train hard to avoid being ‘chicked’ by my sister colleen!

The event itself.
It’s a great Ironman event as usual.
Swim course (sea) is always going to be calm due to sheltered location and has great support as you swim under bridges along the way. Not that you can spot who is on the bridge. Swim is shallow too so worst case you can stand up and rest in parts.

Bike course is fast and relatively flat. Can get windy as was on my day. Good support throughout the track which ends in Copenhagen city centre.

Run course is 4 loops through the city and along the canal. Fantastic crazy supporters. Again the run is flat with a few bridges.

So all in all the course suits the weaker swimmers, power houses on the flat bike course and the run would suit everyone.

I stayed in the Park Inn Radisson at Amager. Right at the swim start and on the metro line. Would for sure stay there again for sure. It also has a pool.

Thank you.
Well thank you coach, thanks for taking my family into consideration and for building an engine that sent me to 11.29, every drop of sweat was worth it. I ticked an item off my lifetime bucket list and for that I am super happy.

Thank you to the team. I have such a laugh training with the team, before I used to have a laugh dancing on tables at Yalumba but these days seeing James Cresswell doing lassie impersonations at Hamdan seems to have taken place.

Thank you to my family.
Knowing your family is out there for 12 hours supporting you all the way is hugely motivating. Its not easy to chase an athlete around the bike course for a few seconds of “keep going “, “you are doing great” etc. So massive thank you to them.
Thank you to my sister Colleen, she kept the family informed about ‘things triathlon’ and any questions they may have. She even carried a spare front wheel to T1 incase I wanted to change out from my front 808 due to the wind conditions, thanks for all your help and support.

My current wife
Our little boys are both under 4 years old. To commit to the training required for an ironman is so tough on the family. Early mornings, long training sessions, no weekends, diet restrictions and so on.  You all know the commitment required, so a massive thank you to Malene for understanding that this meant so much for me. Brownie points for you. 🙂

Thanks to Suz Newton for lending me her bike box and for giving endless amounts of ironman support advice.

Thank you to my training buddy Marty for getting dizzy with me on 150kms of Camel Track loops at crazy hours of the day. Im with you for IRONMAN UK. Also thanks to Suzy for her continuous smiles and support at any tri event she can make it to.

Now its back to my Pizza and cider 🙂