”I survived yet another Olympic distance triathlon at Port Dickson yesterday, and I think I did a Personal Best (PB)... I think lah.”
How did it go? Roughly like this:
I did it very calmly, but blindly, and felt tremendously happy with the whole thing – what a great weekend!
I did it calmly because I know I did not prepare to the fullest of my expectation and satisfaction. Uh, that sounded weird.
I mean, I forced my self to think calm and to be calm for the race and take it as a training session for the next coming long distance triathlon in Desaru. Perhaps maybe because this was my second time doing triathlon at PD, that helps a bit in the process of calming down myself. Not that I did not feel the butterfly in the tummy. Yes the butterfly did come, but I already drank a can of Ridsect mixed with Shieldtox which I guess have done the justice to them. Hahaha.
No, the truth is – I tried not to pressure my self as I know many things (bad or good) may happen to anybody during the race day, regardless whether you’ve fully prepared for it or not. And doing the race in a peaceful and calm mind is something I will try to always do from now onwards.
And I did it “blindly” because just few weeks before the race, my almost two years old Ironman Triathlon Timex watch’s band has broken and showing the indication that I will not hold up long with the splashing of water during swimming. So, not wanting to loose my watch in the PD beach, I opted to race without wearing any watch.
I mentioned ‘blind’ here to mean that I did not know what my racing time was. I never ever trained or raced without looking at the time, but this time I just totally ignored it and dashed everything through without any single knowledge of my timing, until this very second.
Saturday – Pre Race Day
Race Kit Collection
I arrived PD at around 2pm and directly went to collect the race kit. Since payment has been made via online, so not so much of a hassle and it all went very smoothly. Everything was done in less than 5 minutes (not so many participants at that time and I did not queue at all). Spent some time to snap some photos before heading my way to look for lunch.
The race kit. The T-shirt is nice. And I know things are at higher prices nowadays so I don’t want to comment much about the lack of items inside the goodie bag. I’m here to do a triathlon, not to shop.
I then went to grab a lunch, and afterwards I settled down for a good nap. I even skipped watching the sprint triathlon event at 4pm because it was pretty hot at that time and I don’t want to be under the hot sun so much prior to a race.
Carboloading and Race Briefing
Carboloading was done at a very moderate amount. I just ate rice with chicken, and some spaghetti, all in a single plate. I did not go for any second rounds and I did not even eat any fruits.
This time, race briefing was done at the foyer, perhaps due to the large number of participations which won’t allow everyone to fit into the halls like what we had last year. I was hoping and at last was pretty glad that they have changed the run route. Instead of running on the highway like in 2008, they let us to run under the shady trees with a very nice view of the ocean, just like in the year 2007.
Mr. Chan even mentioned that the swim will be a bit tough as it was forecasted that the water will be a bit choppy (a bit?) in the morning. That’s something scary, but I don’t want to think so much about it.
After the race briefing, I chit chat with some of the people that I know. Not many of them though. But, they are all very friendly and supportive. It was a big pleasure for me as these people used to be (and still are) those athletes which blogs I read and get the inspiration of doing the same thing. And there I was standing in front of them and talking and cracking jokes with them. I know I may be missing some names but among others are Abu Power, his cousins Farid, Dush and I'm sure there was another guy which I can't recall the name, Kash, Fairul, Ariff. I even had the chance to talk to Mr. Iwata, who's going back to Japan for good by the end of this year.
Just before getting to sleep, did my last preparation on the race items. Final checks on the apparels, bike, shoes, everything. Once again, though I know I’ve done this for the third time, I still want to make sure I got everything ready before I go to sleep. It’s also a good time to visualize in every details of what I’ll be wearing, holding, doing, and racing on the next day.
Sunday – Race Day
Woke up at around 6am, get ready and as I walked out, it was raining drizzly. But fortunately as I was checking in my bike at the transition area, the rain finally had stopped. I prepped up my stuffs accordingly, again visualizing of how I would enter the transition area after the swim, how would I start my bike, and how would I get back to it before changing the shoes for the run.
Number 335 was written on both of my upper arms – the body marking. Then, we got some spare time to do final warming up and stretching. I did not do any warming up, but spent the time well to stretch as much as I could while wishing everybody I know the best of luck.
Standing at the water edge, looking at the waves and those choppy waters, the butterflies in my tummy re-emerged, this time harder. I could even sense my heart rate increased a little bit. I tried swimming for a few meters, trying to be as calm as possible. The waves and choppy waters are things that I cannot control, but my self and my calmness is something that I can. So, I should focus on what I can control rather than being worried of those that I can’t.
OK, I think jellyfish also do not like choppy water, so I’m safe.
Everybody grows old and so do I. So, this year I’m racing in the 30-39 age group, the largest group of all. We were going to start the swim in the second wave, being released 5 minutes after the first age group.
Inside the starting cage, I stood at the very end. I mean, at the back. Oh yeah, I felt nervous, just like every time before starting the swim leg of a triathlon. As the horn being blew, I made sure my goggles were securely fit, and I slowly walked behind the crowd towards the water.
”Oh gosh, where should I swim? There were too many yellow-headed people in the water, and the water is choppy, and my legs are not touching the underneath sand already.”
(Note: Yellow-headed, because we were wearing a yellow swim cap)
I guess I just had to make my way trough whatever is at the front, people or wave. The first few strokes of the swim were done without a miss of sighting. I need to maneuver myself in the crowd to make sure I did not hit other people and I don’t want to be hit.
Simply put, I tried my best to stay calm as I had a very bad experience during Lake Kenyir’s swim in April.
It worked well. Keeping my self calm and focusing on the swim, I noticed my swim went through very smoothly (smooth is not equal to fast ok). One good thing for starting the swim at the back of the group is that I could see that I was overtaking some other slower swimmers. What a sensational feeling. Last year, I think I didn’t overtake anybody.
I was glad that I could do front crawl (free style) all the way through. Breathing was OK, no panic attack at all. Just focus on making my way forward.
I can’t deny that the u-turn point still feel far, just like last year. Once reached the u-turn buoy, I told myself it’s time to swim home.
That was time when more and more strong swimmers from the third and fourth waves overtook me. One guy was swimming very near to me and he almost knocked the goggles off my face. I was lucky, really lucky. I will be in trouble if I dropped my goggles.
So, when I felt like someone was coming in through from the right, I would swerve to the left to avoid getting into any kind of contact with them, and vice versa.
As I exited the water, I noticed Rais (Kash’s hubby) with his camera and he asked me to pose. Hahaha. I wonder how the result of it looks like. I finished the swim still feeling strong and calm as I could run on the beach towards the transition area. Last year, I walked all the way through, I was out of breath.
I tried changing into my cycling gear as fast as I could. Gulped one Powerbar gel, a sip of ORS-ed water and off I went. Glad to see there were still plentiful of bikes around, indicating that I did a pretty good swim time (I hope so).
This was the interesting part of all. Interesting because it’s the time to see how well I’m going to perform on the bike despite of the very lack of training. I tried pushing it through with me holding the aerobar but I don’t feel that strong to push it all the way by myself. I kept on checking if there were some ‘train’ that I could hop on.
At about 8 or 9km, there was this small ‘train’ with three people, two guys with aerobars, and a lady, overtook me. I quickly hooked myself to the small train and never let loose of them. A quick check on my speedometer and I noticed we were doing pretty fast to my standard. We were overtaking more and more cyclists all the way through. Some tried to hook up but not many succeeded. One guy caught up with us and he hanged on.
There was time when I felt kind of contemplating on whether to stick with them or let my self loose and save the energy in my legs. I was glad I made the right decision to stick with them. Pushed myself bit by bit to make sure I won’t get dropped especially while on the climb of the rolling route. The speed increased tremendously to about 46 or 48km/hr when we were on the flat.
I also noticed few of the cyclist who had to stop by the side of the road, be it to replace a punctured tube, or for nature calls. I was glad I had no reason to stop during the bike leg.
I was also lucky that I did not fell down when my front tire bumped into the guy in front of me. I was holding the aerobar, trying to change position with the rider at the back. As I wanted to get inline I did a mistake of not getting my hands ready on the brakes and “zrassshhh”, I hit the back tire of the rider at the front. Luckily I could balance my body and bike to avoid falling down. Phew, that was a close call of disaster. A lesson well learnt.
I cycled most of the time in aero position and it was weird that rather than having a cramping sensation in the legs, I felt the tweaking feeling of cramp in my upper right arm.
Glad to arrive back at the transition in one piece.
Put my bike on the rack, put on the running shoes, gulped another gel and few sips of ORS-ed water and made my way out for the run as quickly as I could managed. One Powerbar Gel was slipped underneath my tri-shorts, for back up.
During the first few kilos of the run, I started to feel both of my thigh muscles stiffened up. Oh no, the payback of the fast bike riding, so I thought. They get stiffer and stiffer that there was a moment where I couldn’t hold the pain anymore. The lady who I followed during the bike was already running in front of me, making her way slowly but consistently.
Many runners overtook me by this time.
I can’t take it anymore. Not even reached the first water station, I’ve started to walk in pain in the thigh. I stopped once or twice to stretch but the pain did not really go away. When I reached the first water station, I poured the icy cold water onto my thighs and the pain disappeared for a while. I could run again, slightly. But, after another 30 steps or so, I had to stop and to stretch again. The pain was too much for me to handle. Slowly walk and run a bit until I reach the next water station where I can cool down the legs with water.
A big compliment should be given to the organizer for the fully quipped water stations and as they promised, there were plenty of 100+ and icy cold water at every water stations that I passed.
I stopped at every water station to cool down my legs and get some drinks. My shoes were already wet and already started to make the ‘swoosh, swoosh” sounds as I ran. To my surprise again the legs felt stronger and the pain had totally gone and I made my way through the u-turn point to collect the red ribbon as a proof that I’ve ran 5km before heading back to the transition.
Slowly I was able to overtake some runners, including the lady who I followed on the bike. It turned out to be a lady that raced in the JB Eco Challenge in May where I was the marshall. Not sure whether she could recognize me but I surely recognized her though I wrongly called the wrong name at first. What a shame.
I moved myself forward, running non stop. A mental boost from the successful marathon I did last few weeks ago did help to strengthen my confidence that I could run the remaining distance until the finish line.
I said hi and gave hi-5 to those that I know on the opposite side of the run as I was making my way back after the u-turn. It felt good to see that I was at the front of so many other people. I felt good, and wanted to finish the race strong.
I focused my run and made my way to the finishing line. Increased my pace a little bit running towards the finishing line. I raised both of my arms when I heard the emcee mentioned my race number and I crossed the finishing line, smiling.
What a good feeling, knowing that somehow, though not knowing what my exact finishing time was, I know that this race was the best race for me ever.
I think I did a personal best this time, I really think so.
Can’t wait to see the official result from the organizer’s website.
So, that’s how my third attempt of an Olympic distance triathlon went through. It was a second one done at PD. It was truly a great feeling. Able to finish the race strong and more importantly, making new friends – that really made up for a great weekend!
I just have to share with you this one final thing - I chatted with Dato' Bernard Chandran after the race as we were collecting our bikes. Yes, I spoke to him and we talked about our race experience a bit, especially about the swim. We were chatting as if we were alreday friends. Good guy he is. No wonder he's so famous.
Well, to all friends who have done the PD triathlon last weekend, whatever your timing was, congratulations to all! Hope you all had a great race. It was a pleasure for me meeting you guys.
My next event?
Desaru Long Distance triathlon in three weeks time. See you there!
Time to put more hours on the swim, bike and run again.