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.
|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 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.
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.
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.