IRONMAN Copenhagen - A 4:30am alarm but we managed to get a few hours sleep. Kit on, Vanderkitten tattoos applied (important!), breakfast bolted and off we walked to the metro. Shoved in like sardines with a mixture of triathletes and locals coming in from a night out made for an interesting mix! Then a mile walk to the start as the sun rose over the water and the tunes from T1 came within earshot. This was the first time I felt butterflies. The water looked cold and vast and uninviting. Went to make sure my bike had survived the night, re-pumped tyres for the millionth time and faffed unnecessarily with my nutrition some more. After the obligatory loo queue it was time to get into wetsuits and line up. Kisses and good lucks with hubs then off he went as he was in an earlier wave to me. Alone with my thoughts I stood in the warm up area expecting to feel terrified. But I didn't. I felt ready.

Swimming argh, I hate swimming. Well no I don't actually because as soon as I signed up to this race I made myself get in the lake once a week along with twice weekly pool swims. I've suffered horribly with panic attacks in open water before and was determined this wouldn't happen anymore. I chose Copenhagen because it has never been warm enough to be declared a non-wetsuit swim. Happily this year was no exception. I love my wetsuit enclosing me in its floaty warm secure cocoon! The swim was so well organised with a rolling start, crossing the timing mat as you get in so each individual has their own 2:20hr cut off to complete the course. A sheltered salt water lagoon, clear water and blue skies above I soon got in my rhythm and whilst I'll never be quick I was settled very quickly. The odd fight as bodies converge on the buoys, I was kicked a few times and swam over once but by this time I was calm and focussed. From non-swimmer to Ironman. 1:18hrs and out I got, wetsuit peeled off to my waist and trotted off to find my bike.

Wetsuit off, helmet, sunglasses, socks, bike shoes, race number on. Can of red bull in. Clip clop clip clop, find bike, clip clop clip clop, mount bike, two garmins running and off I go. Snaking through town for the first few miles free from the water and with the sun still shining I feel amazing. Until I decided to completely mishandle a corner at mile 3 and smash sideways into a high kerb at 20mph...thank god I managed to get along side it and not hit it at an angle or both my bike and I would have been written off. Suitably reminded I am not in fact Peter Segan, I settle down, thank my lucky stars, and we head out of town along the coast to the countryside. Remembering all the advice about fuelling on the bike to prepare for the marathon I eat and drink like I'm in an all inclusive resort. I never bonk, I never have dark thoughts. Not even in the biblical rain which sat above my head at about mile 70 and had me pedalling through rivers. I pass another Brit and we squint at each other through our rain soaked glasses and laugh. I don't puncture or have anymore incidents. The rain however contributes to some epic chafe which I notice later. At 100 miles I ride though a huge party with people lining the road and huge bass speakers at full volume. I look at my watch - I'm on for a sub-6:30 bike!! I can't believe it. Fast down hill back into town for the second time, into T2, someone grabs my bike and I dismount to the relief of my backside. 6:23 bike done.

Helmet and bike shoes off, cap and running shoes on, gels stashed. I have a little pause and sit down and assess how I feel. I feel okay! This marathon is all about keeping it real. No heroics, time doesn't matter. Just tap out the miles. I set off, first 2 miles 8:51, 8:48- oh no! Way too fast, this is going to get really ugly really quickly. I see and high five hubs as he passes me the other way on his way to the finish - I think he is relieved to see me as he had no way of knowing I was still going until then! I tell myself to slow down and manage a consistent 9-9:10 minute mile which felt fine, I didn't feel like I was working too hard, I walked the aid stations. Sponge, water, coke, water. Run to next one, repeat. The crowds are epic!!!!!!! The music, the noise - amazing! The run was 4.5 laps around the city, picking up a coloured band at the end of each one. Once you have four you turn towards home. I well up with emotion a little thinking about it and quickly focus inwards again. I glance at my watch and do some maths. For the first time in the race I realise sub-12 hours is on!! Sub-12!! I check my maths over and over again. I was hoping for anything around 13 hours. Sadly this means for the first time during the race there is pressure to make a pace! New goal set I grit my teeth. Miles 14-18 are always dark for me in a marathon and this was no different. Not because I felt I was going too hard but it's such a no mans land I find. At mile 20 the heavens open. It was bouncing of the ground!!! The wind was whipping it into our faces. I like it, it makes me feel fierce. I continue to pass people. I begin to believe I'm not going to bonk. I've tapped out a consistent marathon at the end of an IRONMAN, I NEVER thought this would happen. I expected it to be ugly but running is where all this began for me and with each person I pass I get a power up. I get my fourth coloured band. A red one. The man says congratulations. I cry. For the first time I allow myself to cry. 3 miles to go. I ignore aid stations. I'm all in now. Later I discover I ran myself from 27th to 16th in my category.

Rounding the corner onto the red carpet the pain disappears. It's a magic carpet. The beats from the speakers, the crowds, the big screen. I savour every moment high fiving outstretched hands. I begin celebrating, arms reached high waiting for those long dreamt of words from the commentator and he doesn't disappoint "LINDSEY. YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN". 3:57 marathon. 11:53 overall. My one and only IRONMAN completed. My training paid off and I'm writing this in blissful agony knowing that when I'm 90 years old I can tell my great grandchildren that grandma was an IRONMAN once (for them to ignore and go back to their space machines or whatever 😂🤷🏻‍♀️). A very good day out.