After clocking enough hours on the training for swim, bike and run (I assume), I braved myself (lepas dah kena racun dengan Aini bebola-api dan juga triathlete friends in Johor) to join and experience what some people call the most challenging multisport event – triathlon.Friday
Eventhough the OD triathlon race will not start until Sunday morning, the tense (is it tense, or ‘gabra’?) of entering a triathlon event for the first time had hit me from the Friday night itself. Returning home after work at about 9pm, I started doing final condition-check on my bike, then started packing up.
Bike condition, tyre pressure, brakes – checked. Cycling shoes, helmet, water bottles, polarizes sun glasses – checked. Running shoes, socks – checked. Cycling jersey and shorts – checked. Hmm, so far sounds like everything’s under control.
10:15pm I tried to sleep. I wanted to let the body get more rest by sleeping earlier than I normally do. While imagining on how it would be come race day and trying to visualise my first swim in open water, out of a sudden…
“Gosh, where are my swimming goggles?”
I woke up and panicked as I realised I did not remember where I put my goggles.
“Sei-loh, how to swim in the salty water without goggles”.
I thought I have misplaced it or even worst if I left it at my house in Damansara after I swam at PADE the week before. Cari punya cari punya cari, at last I found the goggles at the bottom of my bag. By then, the time on my watch already showed 12.30am.
Musnah harapan on my intention to sleep-early-to-let-the-body-rest.
Saturday (Pre-race day)
I arrived at a friend’s house at 7am. Loaded up 4 road bikes and 8 wheel sets inside an Avanza. Well, some of the wheel sets have to be outside laa, tak muat beb. Then, off we go.
Arrived PD at almost 1pm, directly went to the hotel to do the registration and collect the goodie bag. That was the first time I met Shahrom Abdullah, one of Malaysian triathletes who was wondering around the lobby.
During queing to pay for the race registration, I had a kind of strange feeling in my heart when I saw my own name among all other names who participated in the triathlon. It’s like “Eh, betul ke nama aku kat dalam list tu?”
I didn’t do much on this day other than capturing photos for the sprint race. In great anticipation to know how they race the sprint distance, I walked to the swim starting line and by that time most of the sprint participants were warming up their swimming leg.
It was surprising to see how far they have to run from the starting line to reach the water, close to 100m, or maybe more. Time tu waktu petang, maka air surut.
At night, acara yang paling dinanti-nantikan – carboloading. Now I know triathletes eat a lot. Really, a lot! No kidding. But, I was not an official triathele yet as for the time of carboloading, so I ate slightly less than them all la. Mana boleh lawan tokey. I ate just slightly less. Aku cuma makan sepinggan nasi dengan ayam dan ikan, sepinggan spaghetti, sepinggan buah-buahan, sepinggan kecil bebola ikan ala-ala yong tau foo tu, dan semangkuk kecil chicken soup berserta 2 ketul roti, akhir sekali dua gelas sirap. Itu je. Tak banyak pun.
After that was the race briefing session. The room was full with crowds, mostly triathletes-to-be. When asked by Mr Chan, race coordinator of how many people has done triathlon before, only about 10% of the crowds inside the room raised up their hands. The others, same as me, are the first timers in this multisport.
Mr. Chan giving the race briefing. "Masa lu orang berenang nanti aa, kalau ada apa-apa masalah, you angkat tangan mintak tolong dengan itu marshall. Kalau diorang tarak tolong you, you tolong diri sendiri laa, okay."
Sunday (Race day)
As early as 5.45am I woke up. Settled everything needed to be settled, and around 6.50am I cycled off to the race venue. It was an amazing view to see all these triathletes setting up their bikes and other stuffs at the transition area. I wanted to take some photos but I told myself I better spend the very limited time to do some stretching and warm ups.
After the body marking, I quickly went to Aini.
Me: Yo Aini, wassup! Are you ready?
Aini: Ok la. A lil’ bit nervous.Trying to keep my mind cool.
Me: Eh, let’s take some photos la. As a prove that we’ve done so far in triathlon, having our body marked with race numbers. Camera mana?
Aini: Camera ada dalam beg, tapi battery tarak. Charger lak tinggal kat ofis.
Me: So, do you have a ‘race-bunny’?
Aini: Ada, kau la race-bunny aku.
Me: Kureng asam luuuu…
Announcement was made to ask all triathletes to go to the swim starting line. Walking to the starting line…
Aini: Nik, what the hell are we doing here? Are we still sane? (sambil2 dia contol gabra)
Me: Kau punya pasal la ni. Sapa suruh kau racun aku masuk triathlon. Semua ni salah kau. Kalau aku kalah, kau punya pasal. Tapi, kalau aku menang, nasib aku baik la kan. Hahahahaa.
Aini: Nah kau! Debik…
All triathletes were divided into 5 groups, according to age category, male and female. I was in the very first wave of release for the swim leg, the 16-29 ager groupers. Time ni la rasa gabra sikit, the moment where I know in few minutes I will be swimming 1.5km in the open water. Something that I had never done before in my life. Gulp!
“Teeeeetttttttt”, the siren was blewn to indicate the flag off.
Since the swim route was in anti-clockwise direction, my strategy was to keep to the most left nearby the ropes and bouys, in case anything were to happen to my self during swimming. “Safety first beb, kalau ada apa-apa hal boleh gayut kat bouy”, that was my thought as I am not a very strong swimmer yet.
I started off with freestyling. There were too many people swimming besides each other and my only fear at that time was that if somebody kicked my face and caused my goggles to displace. So, each time when someone touched me, or when I touched someone else, of when I touched the rope, I quickly raised my head above the water and changed from freestyling to breaststroking. I totally lost my swimming rhythm. Soon after, no more freestyle. I proceeded my swim with breask stroke, very slowly.
I cannot deny that I did thought of rising up my hand to the marshall on kayak and call it over. You never know 1.5km is a very long distance until you swim in the open water, especially if you are a first timer. It’s like never ending. But, thinking that the only way for me to continue with cycling and running afterwards was to finish up the swim, I just continued swimming. It did not matter anymore how slow I swam and how many people had overtaken me during the swim. I just wanted to finish the swim, period.
Soon after the u-turn, I saw Aini and it looked to me that she was a little bit struggling with her swim. She was doing breast stroke, very slowly, barely moving. I cheered her up, “Aini, go go. Sikit je lagi nak habis. Depan tu dah nak u-turn dah”. After the race, she told me actually she couldn’t see me because her goggles were fogging, but she recognized my voice cheering her up during the swim.
As I exited the water, my stopwatch showed 40minutes. I was out of breath, couldn’t even run on the beach to the transition area. I just walked. Slow pun slow lah.
Put on the cycling shoes, jersey, sunny, and then downed a gel. Then off I went on the bike. Quickly shifted to my preferred gear combination, I cranked forward and trying my best to keep above 30km/h at any time. The cyling route was superb. With not so much of crazy hills to climb, I considered it was just nice for a 40km route.
Most of the time, I cycled alone. I did not want to catch and draft any one else because I don’t want to push my legs so hard, have to keep some energy for the 10km run later on. On the flat, I was doing around 35 to 38km/h. When going up the rolling hills, I was doing around 25km/h and on the way down, I went over 40 to 45km/h. Still pretty slow, but manyak syiook wooo.
My unofficial time for the bike was 1hr20min, and for 40km distance that means my average speed was 30km/h. Boleh lah kan.
It was already about 10am when I started the run. And it was hot, and getting hotter every minute. At the beginning, my run was quite OK. Though not so fast, but at least my legs didn’t feel tired. I targeted to run non stop for the first 5km, and then run-walk-run to finish the next 5km. But due to the heat, I started to walk-run-walk as soon as I reached the first 2km, roughly speaking.
I stopped at every water station to quench the thirst as well as to pour a couple of cups of water on my head and over my body. At least it cooled down the body a little bit. Rasa macam nak terkeluar steam je lepas jirus air kat atas kepala.
Many other triathletes, even those runners who were only doing the relay, couldn’t stand the heat. Some of them also walk-run-walk.
I never set any target (time wise) for this first event as I just wanted to finish. I never knew how long it would take me to swim that never ending 1.5km distance, to finish the 40km bike and to complete the 10km walk-run-walk. By the time when it was only about few kilometres left before the finishing line, my watch showed that I’ve done 3hrs plus altogether, with a running time of 1hr plus.
Out of a sudden, I made up my mind and set a target to finish the race within 3hours 30minutes. From then on, I continued running under the hot sun much more than walking. I really wanted to finish below 3.5hours, for don’t know what reason it was for. I kept on running and running, with some walking in between, towards the finishing line.
As I entered the final 100m towards the finishing line, I heard voices cheering my name. Those are from my Johor triathlete friends who had finished much earlier. Wah, semangat bukan main lagi. I dashed towards the finishing line feeling so strong as if I just started running on a typical weekend mornings.
As I crossed the finishing line, I heard the official said “Number 196 – finished”.
The feeling of finishing the whole three legs of a triathlon was just awesome. I couldn’t ask for more in the sense of clocking faster time as this was my first experience and my target was just to finish it with injury free. The main thing here was that I have just completed a triathlon and therefore, I declared myself – a triathlete.
So, that’s all about my first experience in the PD triathlon event. Will I join the next triathlon which is the Long Distance Desaru triathlon? Hmm, tough question. We have to wait and see.
But one thing for sure, I’ll be joining more triathlon events in the future, provided I could clock enough training to prepare for each of them, insyaAllah.