Sunday, 15 February 2015

Speedwork

It's been a while since I've updated on my training progress.

I recovered well after Hell of The West and was able to get back into training hard fairly quickly. And just as well, as this week we had quite a few hard sessions.

On Tuesday's track session, we did a 30 minute set of 600m at 70%, 400m at 80% and 200m at 90% with 10-30 seconds rest in between, just rolling through the set until the 30 minutes are up. Then we finished with a 1km best effort, which is more like 90% for me. As being an endurance athlete I find it difficult to do all out sprints for the short distance. Managed to lower my time to 3:38. I've only gone quicker once at 3:33, but I also suspect that the track is a few metres longer than my Garmin.

Thursday's swim set, we did some 50m sprints. My quickest that night was 36.4 seconds. About a third slower than what I used to be able to swim in my teenage years.

Friday was the first time I joined the Computrainer session. It was fun seeing your name on the screen and how you ranked against those around you. But it did hurt, we had to do some two minute all out sprints after doing 15 minutes at 70% and 10 minutes at 80%.

These speedwork hurt but I'm seeing the benefits already. I felt really strong for this week's long run. An average pace of 4:32/km for the 24km - four loops of the 5.2km loop around the hilly neighbourhood. Getting comfortable at this distance which means I'll be adding another 2kms for the next long run. Adapt and then progress.

I haven't been cycling with the group for the Saturday long rides for a while. Just a change in schedule and have been cycling on Sundays instead. Rode with a fellow Red Dog member last Sunday and we headed south to a small town called Yamanto. Nice roads with rolling hills and wide shoulders. Today I rode on my own to Redcliffe and struggled a bit with the headwinds. I've done two 140km rides and aiming to increase to 150km next week.

Li-Ann is away until Friday. She's back in Malaysia for Chinese New Year. While this gives me no excuse to attend all the training sessions, as cliche as it sounds, having her around does give me strength when the going gets tough.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

To the man...

To the man... who raised me to take personal responsibility in my decisions and actions, but still is always there for me to look to for guidance and advice.

To the man... who taught me all the important stuff in life, from making wise financial investments decisions to adjusting my bike brake cables.

To the man... who showed me how to be a good son, a good husband and someday, how to be a good father.

Happy 60th birthday, dad! Sorry I couldn't be home to celebrate with you in person.

Love, your son.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hell of the West 2015

Hell of the West triathlon... with an event named like that, it's bound to tempt you to take up the challenge... or at least, intrigue your curiosity. Located in the small town on Goondiwindi, about 4+ hours drive west of Brisbane. This was my first race in Brisbane and my first race under the Red Dog tri club. I actually signed up for it even before my first flight to Brisbane when entries opened beginning of November last year. At a discounted early bird entry of A$135 for Triathlon Australia members, it was a bargain considering it is a long course race (2km swim, 80km bike, 20km run). Even the standard Olympic distance are selling for between A$150 to A$200 these days.

Three days before the event, the organizers informed all participants that due the high volume of water in the Macintyre river, where our original swim start was, the swim is to be moved to the lake in the botanical gardens in the interest of participants safety. Also, affectionately known as the duck poop lake. We are to bring our running shoes along so that we can ran back to bike racks transition, 3.2kms away. The final run distance will be reduced to 16.8km. So it's a bit like an aquathlon + duathlon. Apparently, this has happened 3 times in the last 4 years and the organizers have executed this contingency plan flawlessly.

Pre race

Li-Ann and I left for Goondiwindi just before 8am on Saturday. We took a pit stop at Toowomba after 90 minutes - luckily we did as there didn't seem to be much civilization all the way to Goondiwindi. Checked into Binalong Motel, which I also booked way in advance - I like planning ahead! Great place, would consider staying there again. Race pack pick-up wasn't until 3pm, so I had time to rest for a while.

Pretty decent kit. I decided to race with the cap they gave us.
Race briefing was at 5.30pm and then we had dinner with the Red Dog people, which was quite nice, as we usually don't get much time to chat during our sessions. Soon it was time to go to bed. With an early race start time of 5am, I had to set the alarm to go off before 3am.

As you can see, it was pretty sunny even though it was after 5pm. The kids triathlon just finished, poor kids racing under the hot sun!

Race morning

Up (not so) bright and early, took the bike in for racking. We had race tattoos given earlier, so that saved the hassle of body marking. One thing good about having a separate transition for the first run was I did not need much time to set up at the bike racks. The organizers provided shuttle buses to the botanical gardens but we decided to drive there. Luckily we did, I got there just before the bus and was able to beat the queue to the toilet! Spent about 10 minutes putting on my skinsuit and Li-Ann did her fair share of wrestling to get the zipper up. Soon it was time to lay out my running shoes at transition and line up for the swim start.

Managed to get this corset of a swimskin on thanks to Li-Ann's help!

2km swim

The course was 3 laps in clock wise direction. It was still a bit dark when we started but the sun was starting to rise. One good tip is to have light coloured goggles, which I have fortunately. It was a good thing that there was a mini island in the middle of the lake, so we just had to swim around it - that too helped with sighting a bit. As the gun went off, I forgotten how aggressive it was swimming in Australian races! I took my fair share of beating and it wasn't until the 2nd lap when I had a bit of space. Even then, as we were the first wave to be let off, we soon converged with the later waves and things got a bit hairy again.

I had my Garmin activated ready to start but while waiting for the gun to go off, the signal must have turned off again. No matter, I relied on the time of day for each lap. I was consistently about 11 minutes per lap each time we came out of the water and did a little run up and down the boat ramp. Li-Ann and Coach Trent were cheering each time. I finished the swim in 32:43 - I was expecting around 35 minutes so that was a win. Also, my first decent swim in the swimskin as the past couple of swims were pretty disappointing.

Trying to reach back to pull down the zipper. I forgot that all I had to do was the peel off the suit from behind the neck.

3.2km run

I wasn't able to remove my swimskin in time during the short distance between the swim to my shoes. Spent a few seconds removing it in transition and another few seconds to put it in the transition with my goggles, so that the organizers can transport it back to the main event area. Then it was off to go. My legs felt great and was able to turn them over at a high cadence. I supposed as they haven't been trashed on the bike yet, so they were still pretty fresh. As it was only a bit after 5.30am, the temperature was still pretty crisp so that helped too. It was a single direction run all the way back to the main transition area, we would run part of this course again for the 2nd run. My Garmin picked up a signal fairly quickly - km splits were 4:13, 4:13, 4:09. Finished the first run + transition in 14:35.

80km bike

Not too much dramas in this transition, though I did take a while to get mounted on the bike with the shoes clipped in. Bit out of practice. The bike felt a bit wobbly as I started, which I thought could be a puncture. So I stopped by the side for a while to check but there was no puncture. Could be just the lack of stiffness in the alloy wheels. Anyway, I soon got it stabilized as I steadily increased my speed.

At the start of the bike, hoping the wobble wasn't from a puncture - I did not bring any spares!
The course was single out-and-back lap. Flat terrain on the same road throughout but it does have some subtle bends. Most of the road are chip sealed and can be a bit coarse, and it does slow you down. I kept my hands on the drop bars most of the ride but every now and then, my elbows felt a bit sore so I had to sit up. Boy, do I miss cycling on a tri bike!

It wasn't too windy but through the different bends of the road, there some mild crosswinds and headwinds. I had Powerbar Perform drink every 5kms and took a gel just before the turnaround. I was aiming for an average pace of 35kph but my lack of threshold training showed and it was clear I was far from achieving it. What started as 34kph for the first 10km, slowed down to 32kph by the end. I overtook a couple of cyclists but many, many more overtook me.

A smile on the face as the bike was almost over!
One more gel just before the run, coming off the bike in 2:29:54. Pretty mediocre bike split and it was evident that I need to start working on long sustained efforts, rather than just climbing hills all the time.

16.8km run

Legs felt surprisingly okay, despite only doing 2 brick runs in the last couple of months. One of the Red Dog girls (who started 5 minutes after me) was just ahead of me as we got out of transition. I tried to give chase but she got further and further away. Man, these girls are fast. She eventually won her age group.

I guess I'm not exactly the short strides kind of runner
The run course was 3 laps. My Garmin wouldn't pick up a signal in time so I just used the timer function. 2.8kms out and 2.8kms back. It wasn't that hard to work out an average pace! It was still relatively cool - about mid to high 20 degrees Celcius. But the sun was out in it's full glory. Luckily the course was partially shaded and there were plenty of drinks station - about 3 in each direction, if I remembered correctly.

I have always loved the run in triathlons. The crowd comes out to cheer and you're able to interact with them. I got so distracted that I nearly ran into a pole! Li-Ann and Coach Trent were cheering at the end of each lap, where we were handed those slap-on wrist bands. I maintained about 24 minutes for each lap. There were plenty of Red Dog guys... and girls ahead of me, but I ran my own race.

Gotta learn to keep those elbows closed too!
Nearing the finishing, I managed to outsprint the guy next to me. That rarely happens as I'm pretty bad in sprint finishes. The track sessions must be working! I finished the run in 1:13:23 and overall finish time of 4:30:36. I was aiming for at least 4.5 hours, so missing it by 36 seconds. Would have liked to go faster but I think it was still a decent race. 100th overall out of 382 individual finishers and 18 out of 47 in my age group. Full results here.

And the announcer said, "Kevin Siah from Subang Jaya!" I wonder how many knew where that was.
Post race

At the recovery area, I chatted shortly with a Malaysian volunteer medic doing his medical training in Goondiwindi. But I didn't stay long and went back with Li-Ann to the motel to pack up. We went back to event area at around midday to collect my bike and hope to win a draw prize. But no luck this time, maybe next year! As I'm almost certain to be back.

Great event, very well organized. Not as Hell-ish as it could have been... some of the past years got really hot and windy! Thank you to my supporters, Hee Hong Cycle, Compressport Malaysia and Lifeline ID... and of course, above all - my dear wife who had to follow me on this ra-cation (race vacation) and be up before 3am on race morning!

See you next year!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Save your life with Lifeline ID

As an amateur triathlete who tries to fit in my training schedule around work and life commitments, quite often I'll be cycling or running during the wee hours of the morning. I've never given much thought of carrying a proper ID with me when I'm out training. I do bring along my driver's licence, mobile phone and some spare cash. But it never dawned upon me that if anything happens to me, no one would know who to contact as there was no emergency contact.

Many thanks to the support of Lifeline ID, myself... and my loved ones, feel much more at ease when I'm out on the road. Lifeline ID is a Malaysian based company, delivering to Malaysia as well as Singapore. There are four models altogether and each model comes in a variety of colours. I'm currently using the Lifeline Pro blue.


The Lifeline Pro is fully adjustable to the size of your wrist. The packaging comes with instructions, which are really straightforward.


The silicone strap itself has segments and this is where you cut according to your desired length. One tip is to cut off at a longer length first and re-fit it around your wrist before cutting off at the next segment. Otherwise, once it is cut too short, it cannot be undone! The metal band, where your personalized information is printed on, is slide-able around the strap to suit your preference.


To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive as to how comfortable the strap would feel. As I tend to sweat a lot when I train, the last thing I wanted was to have the annoying feeling of something sticking to my wrist. Well, I have had the Lifeline Pro with me for more than 3 weeks now. I've used it for swimming, cycling and running. I wear it all the time, even to the office. It is really comfortable and sometimes I don't even notice it is there. My preference is to have it slightly bigger than my wrist but not too big until it bounces up and down when I'm training.


People tend to think that unfortunate events would not happen to them. Just last week, as I was cycling to meet to my training mates before 5am, I was almost hit by a car at the roundabout. I was already in the roundabout going to make my exit, when a car entered the roundabout just before me. The driver did not see me and I was forced to ride parallel with the car instead of making the exit. My left shoe did make contact with the right door of the car, albeit a gentle thud. Had I been a couple of seconds quicker, the car would have hit me for sure.

Fortunately, there was no serious accident. And there was no need for someone to look up my details on my Lifeline ID. But the message is clear. No one can predict accidents from happening. But if it does, Lifeline ID could just save your life.

The Lifeline Pro retails for MYR60. For further information and prices of other models, visit www.lifeline-id.com

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Flock to meet Crowie!

It's not everyday that you would get a chance to meet a 5 time world champion. Craig 'Crowie' Alexander - 3x Ironman World Champion and 2x Ironman 70.3 World Champion has once again been appointed the event ambassador for Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya.  Crowie did the swim leg of the relay teams last year and let's keep our fingers crossed that he would be toeing the start line for the individual race this year. This would give our local triathletes the opportunity to be racing on the same course as one of the best triathletes of all time.

Some call him the people's champion, Crowie is a true gentleman and down to earth, always willing to accommodate his fans. So for those of you still sitting on the fence on signing up, here's another incentive!

Interview session at last year's Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. Picture taken from Ironman.com
For Immediate Release

MELBOURNE/PUTRAJAYA (January 20, 2015) IRONMAN® legend Australia’s Craig Alexander has signed on as the event ambassador for IRONMAN 70.3® Putrajaya for the second year running. The event is supported by Malaysia Major Events (MME) a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia (MoTAC). Alexander is looking forward to the 2015 edition of the race, after enjoying the time he spent in Malaysia last year.

“I really loved my time in Putrajaya, it was a great event. I was amazed for a first year event the sort of response it got was fantastic,” he said. “The area has a burgeoning triathlon community that was in need of a race and now they have a good one.”

After a career that’s required him to spend half his year racing in North America, Alexander is excited by the growth of IRONMAN® events in the Asia Pacific region, and what that means for his travel schedule.

“There are so many races in the Asia Pacific region now you can pretty much race an entire season and base yourself at home,” he said. “My son Austin starts school in a few weeks so our plan this year is to spend 70 to 80 per cent of our time based at home,”

More than 1400 competitors are expected to be on the start line for IRONMAN 70.3® Putrajaya, on April 5. The IRONMAN 70.3® Putrajaya is an event not to be missed and athletes are urged to take advantage of the special entry fee before a price increase after January 31st.

Athletes can participate as individual competitors or join as a team to compete alongside some of the world’s fittest endurance athletes.

Starting from the iconic Millennium Monument, the one lap swim course is situated in the man made, sheltered canals of Putrajaya Lake. The iconic Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque, or commonly known as the Iron Mosque, is the perfect backdrop for swimmers to complete the out and back course.

Out onto the bike and cyclists leave transition and head south past some of the City’s most stunning architecture. The cyclists will complete 2 loops of the 45km route along the winding road networks with smooth road surfaces that result in a very fast bike segment times.

The two lap run course around the Core Island, encapsulates the best of Putrajaya including its natural landscapes and modern architecture.

More information can be obtained from www.ironmanputrajaya.com

About IRONMAN
The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Recognized for excellence through distinguished events, world-class athletes and quality products, IRONMAN has grown from a single race to a global sensation with more than 190 events across five unique brands: IRONMAN®, IRONMAN 70.3®, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Iron Girl® and IRONKIDS®. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Malaysia Major Events
Malaysia Major Events (MME) is a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia (MoTAC). MME was established under the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to identify, promote, facilitate as well as support viable international events to be staged in Malaysia. With its main objective to enhance Malaysia’s economic growth and profile, MME is also tasked to identify and support major event bids for sports, arts, lifestyles and entertainment events and provide assistance to home-grown and homehosted events in order to further strengthen Malaysia’s global appeal as the venue of choice for major events in the region. MME also acts as a conduit between the public and private sectors in ensuring seamless processes are achieved through synergistic relationships with diverse event stakeholders in staging successful events in Malaysia.

For more information, please visit www.mymajorevents.com.my and follow us on www.facebook.com/MalaysiaMajorEvents, twitter @MyMajorEvents and Instagram @mymajorevents.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Putrajaya 70.3 discounted entry ending soon!

As my lead up to Ironman Australia, Port Macquarie in May, I have signed up for Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. The race date is during the Easter weekend, which suited me perfectly as I do not need to take that many annual leave days for the travel. 

For those of you wishing to progress to the half iron distance, this is the perfect race course to make your debut. The swim takes place in calm waters of the Putrajaya Lake. Fast and flat bike course on wide, open roads with smooth surfaces. A couple of short inclines but these are great to sit up and give your posture a break from crouching down on the aerobars. Finishing the race with a shaded run course through Putrajaya wetlands. 

The discounted entry is ending at the end of this month, so do hurry!
Being the federal administrative capital of Malaysia, Putrajaya boasts some majestic landscaping and architecture. Picture taken from Ironman.com
Event Name: IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya
Date: Sunday, 5 April 2015
Time: 7AM
Venue: Millennium Monument Putrajaya Lake, Precinct 2, Putrajaya
Course:  Swim - 1.9KM / Bike - 90KM / Run - 21.1KM

Prize Money: Top 5 winners for Pro Athlete Category. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies for Age Group Categories and teams.
IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Qualifying Race: 30 qualifying slots to the 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Zell am See-Kaprun, SalzburgerLand, Austria

General Entries: Individual and Team
Minimum Age:  All athletes must be 18 years of age or older on race day

Individual Fees: USD265 (Regular Entry before 31 January 2015), USD295 (Late Entry after 31 January 2015)
Team Entry Fees:   USD320 (Regular Entry before 31 January 2015), USD360 (Late Entry after 31 January 2015)
* Entry Fees are subject to 6% Malaysia GST + 6% Active Administration Fee

To register, please click here.

For more information, visit www.ironmanputrajaya.com

Check out the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya Highlights Clip:


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Best foot forward

Gosh... can you believe it, we're already 11 days into 2015, time sure flies!

I've been back in Brisbane for about a week and a half and getting back into the routine. At the office, most people are back to work too. On the training front, I had a slow start for the first weekend of the year. Cut short my long run by almost half, legs somehow didn't feel that great. And the next day, we went to the market first so when I started my long ride it was almost 9am - it was hot and traffic was pretty heavy, felt totally toast by the end of the 100+km ride that I decided to skip my brick run.

But this week, the Red Dog tri club sessions are back after a two week break. It's amazing how different it is to train with a group. I felt a lot more motivated. The first swim session felt a bit odd, as I was out of the water for about a week and a half. But the next couple of sessions in the pool were great, in fact I felt refreshed and something I decided (or rather got coerced by Coach Trent) to try out was to do tumble turns. This used to be second nature during my teenage swimming days but somehow once I started triathlon, I got a bit lazy. I'm slowly getting the hang of it again, it does make my turns faster but I tire out faster too. Just have to keep on doing it so that it will feel effortless.

Getting a bit better with riding in a group too. But I still get really nervous when I'm descending on a bend in fast speeds and tend to make sudden brakes. We did a nice ride to Cleveland on Saturday in a controlled pace. About 90kms including my ride from home and I did another 30km at UQ campus just to add time on the saddle. Had an embarrassing sideward tumble at the lights with my shoes clipped in. Luckily, I was no longer cycling with the group then. There were two kids in front on bikes and they didn't move although the lights were green. I had to slam the brakes and couldn't unclip in time, what a rookie error! Small graze on the knee and the bike was okay, that's most important! Did a 6km run after, my first brick run in a long, long while. Struggled a bit but it can only get better from here.

The first track session of the year went well too. We did 1km repeats in various effort levels - 70%, 80% and 90%. These sets are important to teach the body to pace itself well. My 90% was 3:41, which was not too shabby, if I say so myself. On Sunday, I ran 20km after not having ran that distance for a while. It was pretty tough mentally and there were a few instances when I wanted to call it quits, especially when I was running laps around the neighbourhood block. But I'm glad I pulled through and can move forward from here. My first race for the year, Hell of the West triathlon is in 3 weeks' time and I'd like to make a good impression for my first race here, first race under the Red Dog banner.


Looking back on my Dailymile training report for 2014, I have to say, I'm pretty proud with some decent miles put in. It's just a pity I wasn't able to cap off the year with a strong Ironman finish. Anyway, we move on. I don't think I'll be able to put in that many miles in 2015. In Canada, although we had some long months of winter, we were pretty lucky to have long days in summer. I was able to ride for over 3 hours after work, something I would not be able to do here. Even though the sun rises early here, I'll only be able to ride at most, for 2 hours before work. But as we all know, it isn't always about the miles. Some of the sessions here are at higher intensity and I'm hoping this will translate to some strong racing for this season.

For the first full week of 2015, I'm pretty happy with a decent 14 hour training week. Putting my best foot forward and looking forward to some great training and racing to come! Watch this space!