Friday, December 27, 2013

Morib International Triathlon 2013

As I plunged my head into the water, all I could see was this murky, brownish water. Complete with yucky smell most likely resulted from the.. you know.. nearby livestock farm. I tested few strokes in the shallow water and immediately realized there was a strong current pushing left wards.

I then returned to the beach, to join another 400 triathletes who were there to compete in the first triathlon event held in Pantai Morib. The race consisted of 1.2km swim, 35km bike and 8.5km run.

The last time I did a triathlon race was back in 2010. After three complete years of hiatus, now I'm making a slow comeback.

The Swim

Wave start is much better than mass start - obviously due to the size of the crowd.

So, right at 7.45am, the first wave or participants in the age range of 16 to 29 were released to the open water. My group was second to be released, some two minutes later. The beach was so shallow that we couldn’t even swim for the first 150m. Fortunately the swimming crowd was not so big so I managed to avoid any physical contacts with others. Sighting in the water to make sure we swam in the right direction surely broke my swimming rhythm.

The hardest part was to swim against the current. And when once was not enough, we had to do two loops to complete the 1.2km distance. I finally made it to shore after 38 minutes, which I though was slow. Later on after the race when some friends with GPS watches said the distance was more than what it should, I felt slightly relieved with my timing.
I always feel relieved upon exiting the swim leg of a triathlon race.

Coming to the first transition (T1) was something that made me excited. Why? Because it was my first time to try ‘fly-mounting’ on the bike. I’ve watched how the elite triathletes secure their cycling shoes on the paddles and hold them in position by means of simply using rubber bands (hook the rubber band to the rear tyre quick release so that the paddles do not turn or spin). So, I gave it a try and thank goodness it worked!

So, I guess I had the quickest T-1 time in my book so far. Previously I had to sit down, dry my feet a bit before putting the cycling shoes on, and slowly walk-push my bike to exit T-1. But last weekend, I quickly put on my shades, helmet, race belt and run-push my bike out. Enough said, I was smiling when I started cycling.

I think this was the fastest T1 time I've ever clocked.

The Cycling

The biking course was flat with a fair share of cow dungs aroma. Triathletes need to make one turnaround at 17.5km. At the moment, cycling is yet to be my strongest discipline simply because I lack the training. Therefore I took the first half pretty conservatively. I didn’t push hard, just hovering around 30-32km/hr. I even rejected two invitations to join their drafting groups since I know if I pushed hard in the beginning to keep up with them, high chance I will get my quads cramped up.

So, basically I was just riding by myself, until when it came to the turnaround point where a group of about 10 cyclists came through me and I decided to stay with them. My speed immediately picked up from then on, where we were cycling around 35 to 39km/hr at most times. The headwind was picking up too.

Out of the ten cyclists in that group (can’t really tell as I was way at the back), I noticed only two of three of them took turns to be at the front. At one point, one of the guys dropped out and slowed down while giving signal that he had some cramps. At another point, somewhere about 3km before reaching back to the transition, a few guys in front of me slowed down and that caused us all to be dropped out from the main group.

Making my way after being dropped out from the big drafting group.

As the sun shone brighter, and the strong headwind intensified, I made my own way, solo again this time. My speed has reduced significantly, not wanting to push more than I should because I wanted to save more energy for the run. I finally made it to T-2 after roughly 1hr6mins cycling.

The Run

I felt so grateful upon dismounting from my bike without any cramps in my legs. Quickly, I  changed to my running shoes at the T-2 and made my way to complete the 8.5km run.

The sun was already at full blast by then. Knowing that the run route is also flat lessened my apprehension. I started my run with a steady and comfortable pace. Even though 8.5km is not a far distance to run, anything can happen down the road. Fatigue, bonk, overheat, just to name a few.

I felt strong during the run when I realized I started to pick up some speed and overtaking some fellow runners. I only took some walk breaks during the water stations that served ice cold drinks. So far all body systems were good – heart rate, energy level, pace.

After making the turnaround, there were few moments where I had to slow down a bit as I noticed a slight increase in my heart rate. It might be due to the ambient heat, or I might have pushed up my pace unintentionally, or it might also be a sign of fatigue creeping in. I made quick walk breaks, making sure for no more than 20secs each time.

At the final 1.5km of the run, I was really relying on the endorphins to keep my pace steady. It was getting hotter, and my legs were getting slightly tired.  I kept looking at my watch, trying to trick my mind into thinking “it’s ok, just 10 more minutes to go… keep running, keep running…”

Giving my best shot to finish the race strong.

Soon, I saw the entrance to the finishing line. With a big smile on my face, I made bigger strides, raised up both my hands into the air and with so much happy feeling I crossed the finish line as I heard the emcee called out my name as I was given the medal. Not that often I managed to finish a race feeling as strong as this time.

So yes, it was a good race for me.
I was happy, but not entirely because I finished this triathlon in a good time (in my own book lah).

But, I was ecstatically happy to know that my hard work in training so far is starting to show some good results.

Official result:
20th placing in Men 30-39 category, 60th placing overall.

Swim time: 00:38:14
Bike time: 01:05:57
Run time: 00:56:19

Total time: 02:40:31

P/s: All credits go to the respective kind-hearted photographers: Elaine&Victor, Tri-Stupe, Shanaz, Mohd Noor Izman, Zoe Chan, Arlan.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Anticipation is over

It was last held here in February 2010. I was there too, though only on the sidelines. Supporting some friends, and witnessing their courage and determination to get to the finish line in 17 hours or less.

I haven't done it myself yet, but I always wanted to do it.

To become like one of them.

The good news is, it is coming to town again - in September 2014.
The long wait has finally come to an end.
Official announcement has been made, and friends are busy talking about it over FB day and night.

Registration fee is going to be an issue for some, if not for many.
Though transportation and accommodation may not be so much of a deal for some, they still involve a good sum of hard-earned-money to spend.

Some will even have to train without hi-tech gadgets in the names of GPS watches, heart rate monitors, let alone power meters like some others do.

Some will spend even more time tweaking their training plans, scratching heads in the middle of the night thinking how could they balance the 24 hours into work time, family time, social needs time, own time, and training time.

Some others around them who are yet to understand the passion, will continue to ask questions of which they won't be able to comprehend the answers given.

But to live a life without dreams, is almost similar to not living a life - some say.

At least I know mine.

"M-dot dream", is one of my dreams.

InsyaAllah...


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SCKLM 2013

Seawal pagi keluar berlari,
Penat berlari naik lah teksi,
Cerita dah lama dah jadi basi,
Baru sekarang sempat di kongsi.

You’ve trained hard for months – long distance runs, speed intervals, you name it.
You’ve sacrificed lots of time being away from family on many weekend mornings.
You’ve done what is possible within your capacity.

All you want is to be able to perform well during the marathon, and hopefully finish it with a new Personal Best (PB) timing.
Well, that’s my goal anyway.

I did my first KL Marathon in 2009, and then in 2010 and 2012. I skipped the 2011 edition for the lack of motivation to train back then. Initially, this year around it was supposed to be held in June, but due to bad haze it was postponed to September.

This year, I came with the same ambition as last year but with a different approach. I’m still eyeing for the 4h30m finish time. I know it’s doable, and I also know it’s not easy (well, for me at least). I decided to seek some assistance from the official 4:30 pacers which the organizer has provided.

According to the pacer’s action plan , we were to run with an average pace of about (preferably) 6min/km for the first 21km. The strategy was to bank in some time in the first half, to allow some slagging in speed in the second half. Knowing the weather here, there’s no way you can escape the heat towards the later part of the race. Pace for the second half was planned at below 6:40min/km.

So, right at 4:30am on last Sunday morning (30th Sept), thousands of marathon runners were released from Merdeka Square. 20 seconds after the gun off I crossed the starting line. Carefully keeping up with the pacers with yellow balloon I made my way through the crowd in the cool breezy morning.

The first 5km was done in 29mins. Right on track. We had to skip the first water station (WS). Massive crowd there. The cool breeze gave some sort of energy refreshment.

Getting to 10km and 15km points, we were still within pace target – 59mins and 1h30m respectively. So far so good, I told myself. But still long way to go.

I believe they changed the route slightly after KM18 up to KM20, because Masjid Alam Shah where I planned to stop for Subuh was not in sight. My legs were slowly feeling the fatigue upon running for 2 hours, which explained why at 20km split point I already fell behind target by 5mins.
Still in hot pursuit - pic by Chuah Sakura

I made a quick diversion into my office building at around KM22 for Subuh prayer. Fortunately this time around my tummy behaved pretty good so I did not that much time during the quick break like the previous years. 6 minutes was all it was. Happy. Fast mind calculation would tell me that I was about 1km behind the pacers. If my engine was still fresh, I would be able to catch them up after 10km.

However, coming out right after that stop the fatigue in my legs started to creep up. Though my energy level and heart rate were still within green zone, I just couldn’t maintain pace. I started some walk breaks as early as KM24.

From then onwards, I was just forcing myself to run more than walk. I kept my walk breaks for 20 to 30 seconds maximum. I knew I can’t spare much more time to recover the fatigue in my leg muscles by walking as it would damage the targeted pace too badly beyond repair.

Amazingly though, unlike previous years, the heat and the long stretch boredom of Jalan Kuching and Jalan Ipoh didn’t intrude and dampen my spirit to keep moving. I kept my mind busy counting the number of seconds I took to walk and to run. I didn’t want to give up yet although I knew target finish time of 4:30 is already elusive. I crossed KM30 at 3h13m – 7minutes behind target pace. How disappointing that was.

From then onwards it was all about making sure my legs did not give up on me. I kept overtaking people when I run, and yet to see them overtake me again when I started walking. At KM35 I was 10 minutes slower than target and with that kind of fatigue accumulated I was pretty sure I couldn’t recover the time lost.

Struggling face of a marathon runner - pic by TKB


With 7 kilometers to go, I only had roughly a mere 40 minutes if I were to achieve 4:30 target timing. With fresh pair of legs – yes, very doable. But not in the state I was in. Each KM felt longer and longer. Energy was draining with every steps I made. Nothing much was in my head other than to tell my feet not to walk so much. Pressure started to build up. I may not get the 4:30 timing, but at least I badly wanted to get a new PB timing.

New target made: time to beat is 4h37m which I get during SCKLM2012. Reaching KM40 I already clocked 4h21m, which means I had less than 16 minutes to cover the final 2 km. I told myself if I could reach KM41 at 4h30m then I might have the chance to break PB.

For some weird reason, similar to how I felt during previous years of KL marathon, KM40 to KM41 always feel like the longest stretch in the whole route. Many other runners especially from the 10km categories were filing up Jalan Raja Laut, many of them were walking. I finally reached KM41 with the time of 4h30min. So, my spirit was high to go for the final push.

I was more concerned not to “lock” my legs with muscle spasm (cramp) for sprinting towards the finish line rather than having to criss-cross the many runners on Jalan TAR. With 6 minutes left to get a PB, I had to up my pace a little bit. It was really a race against time.

Once I saw the finishing line few meters ahead I kept on looking at my watch. It was already showing 4h35m30s, or something like that. I tried to sprint and I finally finished my marathon in 4h36m41s.

Trying my hardest to get a new PB - pic by Deo

Yes, a new PB – by less than 1 minute.

My disappointment for not being able to break 4h30m barrier exceeded my delight for breaking a new PB.

And like always, I only blame my preparation for this kind of shortcoming. This means I need to train harder. Perhaps I also need to enter more races as part of the training.


Well, there’s always next time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tukar hobby boleh tak?

I happened to be in Kuantan last weekend for a family issue, of which the second Kuantan Century Ride (KCR160) was held on the same Sunday. I get to know few of my friends from JB and KL were going to participate in this 100miles ride (i.e. 160km) around Kuantan, I took the opportunity to pegi-menyebuk-ambik-gambar-diorang..

I took nearly 900 pictures altogether, of which 150 went to thrash and the remaining were all uploaded onto FB as spam pictures.. hahaha.

And I like this particular shot of which the cyclists were heading down the bridge heading to Tanjung Lumpur...

End of story.

(harap maaf saya memang dah tak pandai merapu panjang2 macam dulu)

Some say, photography is about being at the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Control

"Two things you can always control in life... Attitude Effort"

Combining these two, you can achieve whatever you wish, insyaAllah.
Let us all keep chasing our dreams...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

365


It has been 365 days since I last wrote here. In all honesty, there were few times I wanted to resume writing (more like rambling) but just after jotting down the third sentence, my fingers froze.

In the past year…

I managed to change my job. Big yeay because I now no more need to spend hours upon hours on a weekend at the golf course hitting that small little ball. It was enjoyable to a certain extent, but I would rather spend that time for family or running.

With the new job change, I was sent to Houston for two about months to undergo technical training. I went there with only one luggage, but brought back two luggage… as well as 6kg additional weight around my waistline. That additional 6kg gained in two months is so hard to get rid of, even until now. I still have 3kg to go. Aduhai…

Sports wise, I don’t want to put so much hope for this year. Good enough if I can participate in one marathon event this year. Triathlon-ing seems very vague for the time being, similar to what happened for the last two years (gosh, I miss doing triathlon so bad). I simply don’t have the luxury of time to do all swim/bike/run.

And… I miss blogging so much.
Call me lame, but I do miss the social interaction (reading and commenting) via blog. Now, not many friends are still actively blogging. I guess I have to accept the fact that FB has taken the lime light of what blogging platform used to offer.

I better stop now, I’m starting to ramble nonsense.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Pacesetter's 4 x 3km Relay

I guess a quick race deserves a quick story update.

Yesterday, I joined the Pacesetters Relay 4 x 3km speed race at Padang Merbok. I like to call it speed race because from my general understanding of endurance running (as an avid slow long distance runner), short distance means F.A.S.T.

Together in my team were Shanaz (team captain), Syah (anchor runner), Dan (an ultramarathoner - who had to replace Nana on the eleventh hour) and yours truly, a nobody who was brought in as the first runner. Was I nervous? Yes, a little bit. Target set by team captain was to run that 3km undulating race route within 15 minutes.

That’s a freaking sub 5:00mins pace requirement!! Something which I’ve never done before. 500m yes, but not for 3km.

For the first time ever I was standing at the very front of a start line. It was a considerably small size race with a total of 102 teams (so I was told). To my right was Marlin, and to my left was Ray. Left hand holding the baton, right hand getting ready to press the start button of my stop watch. It was 07:00hrs, wet dark morning. And the race started right on time.

Me: ”Ray, jam kau tu Garmin model apa bro? Ada GPS ke? Nampak canggih je tu...”
Ray: “Ini lagi canggih dari Garmin bro. Model ni diorang jual kat pasar malam Segambut je. Aku rembat anak aku punya pagi tadi. Haa, tengok ni.. ada keluar lampu kelip-kelip...”

Check out that guy in front row, third from right.
Gaya starting sikit-sikit dah macam pro, tapi baru bukak tiga langkah dah kena sayur dengan orang belakang, kiri dan kanan.
Ketara sangat beliau hanya pandai bergaya, tapi tak terer mana pun.

Kita terjaaaahhh..!!!!!

For those who are familiar with the area of Padang Merbok where the race started, one would know the starting of the race would lead us straight into a few hundred meters of steady climb. Although I was intimidated at first to follow the first pack of speedsters, I refrained myself from doing so and just ran as fast as I can maintain my heart rate to hover slightly above the comfort level.

Just after few meters running, the race leader was already out of sight. Partially because it was still dark, but mainly because they were in another league lah. There were sayuring and de-sayuring process taking place. Getting to halfway through, I didn’t manage to overtake anybody anymore, and no one overtook me. I was afraid to hit my booster much earlier for the fear I cannot maintain it until the end. I thought I’ll wait for the final decline to go all out. It was a struggle though. At one point I wanted to turn my head back to see if any other runner was trying to catch up, but I was afraid that might just turned me into panic mode. Hehe…

Tak ku sangka, aku pun kiasu gak sikit-sikit rupanya... ngeh ngeh ngeh.

A marshal at one corner said it was down to the last KM, I checked my stopwatch and it showed 10mins plus plus. ”Okay, target within sight. I think I can finish up the final km within 5mins”, I convinced myself.

I shifted slightly into another gear, trying to gain some speed. I had no idea what position I was in at that time, I just wanted to finish it once and for all. On the final descent towards Padang Merbok, I tried bigger stride and made full use of the gravitational energy.

The finish line was soon in sight and my team number (#54) was being announced by the emcee to let the second runner ready to take the baton. I tried sprinting down to the line and as I passed the baton to Shanaz as the second runner, I stopped my watch at 14min40sec. Someone told me I was among the top ten runners to arrive and that gave me a reason to smile, while I tried to catch up with my breathing.

The other runners in the team performed very well too. Finally, Syah, who was our anchor runner, crossed the finishing line and put our team into 11th position, out of 102 teams altogether. The total time clocked by our team was 1hr 1min. And in my book, that was an awesome effort by the team.

Well done team #54!

Now, it’s time for me to move back to the drawing board… for another mission in 2012 - The Marathons!

And as I mentioned earlier somewhere…

“Long run is tough on the leg muscles, sprinting is tough on the cardiac muscles.
Both require high mental strength to complete.