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IM Copenhagen & 70.3 Weymouth (17.09.17)

It seems I didn't quite get round to the blog about IM Copenhagen that happened in between the last blog on Gdynia, and Weymouth (yesterday) so I'll briefly touch on that before the Weymouth recap. It's not been intentional to stay away from racing in the UK for so long, it was more a case of where in the calendar the races are and whether or not that worked with my schedule. It's been a 6 year hiatus and Weymouth was a wonderfully British experience for my return race. But first to Copenhagen.

Denmark in a nutshell: 2nd place finish to Michelle Vesterby and 3rd was Sofie Goos. We lined up at the swim start in the same order and perhaps we could have shook hands and gone straight to the podium from there since there was very little change in position all day! Photos from @robholdenphoto here. It was great to race another IM and I was very much aware that it would be my last experience at the distance until Kona. Totally recommend the race and the sponsors KMD do an excellent job of making it spectator friendly for people who are following from home, with good trackers and an app that shows you video clips of your selected athletes at strategic locations around the course. I've seen this used on the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc as well and it is a great feature for making the race more accessible to followers. The organisers also did a good job pre-race with video clips of parts of the course and the transition area which I liked. Given that I wasn't arriving until later on in race week, it was a great way to help the athletes familiarise with the course beforehand. Two thumbs up to racing at IM Denmark. 

So Weymouth; a lovely British seaside town on the south coast of England. Complete with town clock, a pavilion and bunting, pedalos, beach huts, an esplanade, and of course not forgetting the tea shops. It also had the added bonus of my Mum and Dad, my friend Johanna and physio Alex (Drummond Clinic) coming to watch and support. So that was fab! IM Wales the previous weekend had something akin to Biblical weather, however I think we were lucky with a stiff North-Easterly breeze and early morning temperatures of ~4*C (think wind-chill factor) but dry. I count my lucky stars that it was dry because I was already absolutely freezing on the bike course. I'm also glad that I made the decision to race 70.3 Weymouth rather than Challenge Davos, because there they had sleet and snow. As as brief side note, congratulations to my PEWAG racing team mate Thomas who won the Davos race - sleet and snow didn't stop him getting to the finish in 1st place!

Unfortunately the same can't be said for me. No excuses and the conditions are the same for everyone, but I was frozen on the bike. Swim was 16*C, choppy and there was some current. My feet were numb coming out of the water, which made for interesting 'running' through transition and they were still numb through T2. I took time in T1 to put on arm warmers and a long sleeve jersey, as well as two pairs of gloves, but I didn't stop shivering until the last 15-20km on the bike when there was a tail wind and the sun started to come through. Being tense with cold, my bike 'skills' were also somewhat lacking and did manage to crash the bike on a corner and rode into a hedge bank somewhere after the top end of the course. I pulled my sorry ass out of the stinging nettles, left my pride in the ditch and dragged some brambles along the road for the next 5k or so. To be totally honest, I was driven to get to the finish of the bike as quickly as I could since the fastest way back, was forwards! 

And so to the run. I decided that I would now be too hot with sleeves and a jersey on for the half marathon, so stripped off a couple of layers to run in my race vest. I kept the gloves on, at least until the end of the change tent where I realised that I needed to get a stone out of my shoe. Shoe off, brushed foot, tipped shoe, shoe back on, stone still present, stone in sock. Shoe off, sock off, emptied beach out of sock, tried to get sock back on, gloves not helping, gloves off, sock on, shoe on. I decided that I probably didn't need gloves after all rather than faff about trying to get them back on, but transition bag was at the other end of the tent, so tucked the gloves into my shorts and finally exited transition. Normally my transitions are some of the fastest in the field, but not so in Weymouth! I ran better in Weymouth than I have in previous races this year; Not as fast as in Poland, but I was faster and smoother in the initial kilometers and ran a much more evenly paced half marathon. I was too far back to run myself onto the podium but I did make it from 9th to 5th which was good forward progress.  

Next stop Hawaii! 

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