Wow. I can not believe that the first week of this adventure has wrapped up and I’m into week 2 already! It’s been a whirlwind. After this first race I am already so glad I had made the decision to come over to Europe to race. With 15 Ironmans under my belt, it can be difficult to find ways to spice them up too much. When you go to the same destinations for a race that you’ve been to before, the comfort factor of knowing the ropes is nice, but, it’s easy to settle in and lose some of the adventure that is such a pivotal part of the Ironman experience.
Well, for anyone who is feeling that way, let me assure you: the adventure awaits in Europe 🙂
I’m also so grateful that triathlon gives me a purpose for all these crazy travels. Perhaps it’s a bit naïve or even selfish that I am able to travel to Europe without even a dictionary for language translation in my pocket, but not figuring it all out ahead of time is part of the adventure for me. Similarly to my epic bike trips with Leslie and Hillary – I like to figure out just enough so I’ll be safe and get to where I need to go. But, I want to figure the rest out as I go. This trip I actually attempted to be more prepared than usual by changing some money in the US airport. Turns out though, Euros aren’t used in Denmark. That’s what I get for trying to be prepared!
I have also been extremely lucky this trip to have perhaps the best homestay once again! Helle has been amazing at showing me all that Copenhagen has to offer – from a local’s perspective of course. Last week I was able to join her in her morning routines of running to a beach off-the-beaten-path where she jumps in for a morning swim. I was able to eat dinner at some great local spots with her help for the translating too! Of course, there have been the typical woes here and there where I’ve found myself lost and confused, being given a sandwich when I thought I ordered anything but a sandwich. Or riding around in circles as I try to get to a certain spot. Or just staring blankly at someone who did not speak English and apparently could not understand my charades acting out what I tried say. Nothing serious though and before I knew it I felt quite comfortable getting myself around here.
Being in a new country and a race venue I haven’t raced before means there were a lot of logistics to figure out. It has been a long time since I’ve been “stressed” about a race. Making sure I will be on time, finding the right bus to places, etc – all of this left me with the least amount of sleep I have had on a pre-race night in quite some time. While I had it all figured out on paper, the worry factor was definitely there. As you can imagine, it was hard to get anything done whilst I was feeling this way, let alone get a decent amount of sleep. It was at this time when I wished that I had access to a specific type of medical cannabis (learn more here) to help with these emotions and to help me get the sleep I knew I needed. However, I hadn’t packed this with me or even considered it before, so I had to find a way to calm my nerves as much as I possibly could in another way before the race. But, as things do, it all worked out well and I was at the race on time, feeling good. Of course though, it couldn’t go off without any snafu – as I pulled my wetsuit on, I tore a ginormous hole along one seam in the shoulder. OOPS. The way it ripped, I decided it wouldn’t affect the integrity of the suit much at all, so I opted not to tear the whole thing off for a “one-sleeved” effect. Instead, I just tried to hide behind the other girls as they photographed the start – I didn’t want to be the bum pro with a hole! Dead giveaway I wasn’t a swimmer though.
Race morning was also quite windy which was somewhat different than my other days in Copenhagen so far – though, definitely normal for Copenhagen in general. By the time we rounded the swim course, the buoys for the return had been blown around quite a bit leaving us with a bit more navigation that I think we wanted! The canal you swim in is quite shallow and very nice – it would be a great swim for a first timer, that’s for sure. I felt like this swim took FOR-EV-ER and would have bet my life I swam about a 1:10 — but I knew I was with at least one other pro female, and then when I saw 1:00 on the watch as I got out I was floored. Just goes to show how much you can be in your own head!!
I headed into transition – unlike in North America, there were no volunteers to help you change. Luckily for me, I was still able to get my bike shoes and helmet on all by myself!
Onto the bike! This allegedly “flat” course first takes you through the city with many technical twists and turns, but it definitely keeps it interesting. As we hit the coast, we felt that heavy crosswind that had been present at the swim. And onto the lollipop loop-well, anyone who says this is flat is most certainly wrong! It is fast since it’s just hills and they are definitely rollers, but this is no flat course! I loved every turn keeping things interesting, with just the right amount of climbing to give you a break from the strict aero position. As the second loop started, so did the masses of age group men flying by – I was pleased to see all the marshals out doing their absolute best – especially the ones who pulled over a pack of no less than 25 men who had BLOWN by me. C’mon guys!
There are great crowds on the bike course as well, and between them and the cobblestone sections it truly felt like the ultimate #Eurostyle riding experience. So much fun.
I had been passed by one other FPRO early in the ride, and had yet to see another, until finally, at mile 100 I caught someone in view! Whew. My power was good all ride so I knew that for me, this was an okay day on the bike – but I had no sense of where that was leaving me in the field, and I like to know at least some of that before the run.
I headed into the changing tent. Wait a minute…Apparently #Eurostyle is also a joint Male & Female tent! Cue the American blushing. Ha! No, they did have cubicles for people actually changing, but you can imagine how many men were taking time to go in there. Perhaps this helped me quicken my T2?
The run…..ah, the run! Weaving through the center of Copenhagen, crowds to what seemed like 10 people deep at the heart of the course – this, my friends, is a spectacular run. I was so pleasantly surprised to see how good my legs felt as well, meaning I could take in all the crowds on the first 2 loops and really soak in all that was there. By the second half, I was working for it, but it was one of those “I have a good feeling about this” types of days and I never doubted my ability to get it done. I also dearly appreciated the “U-S-A!” cheers I heard during those laps.
Coming into the chute it’s been awhile since I’ve had a smile like that on my face at the finish. I knew I nailed it and did what I had to do for part I of the double. A strong day of racing, a paycheck!, and all in tact for the week still ahead.
I was also so thankful to have planned a few of my extra in-between days in Copenhagen as there was much more to see and do: Christiania, dinner at Paper Island, a canal tour by boat, Tivoli, and of course the cat café! You can check out my pics from this adventure on Instagram (@agodesky) or my Facebook Album here!
More from France soon!! 🙂