Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Anniversary

Can't believe that it's been 3 years already since our wedding and 9 years since we officially became a couple (according to Friendster... Yes, it was during THAT time!). One of the perks of having our anniversaries just one day apart, it helps me remember!

We celebrated early on the weekend by taking a 35 minute drive to Raby Bay and then having lunch at the Grandview Hotel at Cleveland Point. The weather was gorgeous, barely a cloud in the sky. The restaurant had a nice ambience in its heritage building. The food however, was pretty average though.

So bright we could barely open our eyes!
Rump steak and pork cutlet to satisfy our inner carnivore!

Happy anniversary darling! I'm so glad to have you in my life and looking forward to sharing many more happy moments to come!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Season 2 begins...

It's been 4 weeks since my Ironman finish and 3 weeks since my last blog post. The break was most welcomed and we did quite a few things done.

Just a week after the race, we did a weekend trip to Sydney to attend Li-Ann's cousin's wedding. We could have stayed the whole week in Sydney after the race but we both have work to do. Li-Ann's parents came along from Malaysia, so it was nice family time. I caught up with my brother too who's studying in Wollongong and he stayed with us for a night in Sydney.

Can I log wife lifting as part of my training?
Pretty obvious I'm not that great in taking we-fies
Another poor selfie - but the pork knuckle at Lowenbrau was awesome!
I was told we looked almost identical despite being 11 years apart
We moved house the following weekend too and loving the new place. Plenty of room and at the moment the house is pretty empty with just the two of us. It's about 7kms from my workplace (yes, I already did a weekend run to and from hahaha) but Li-Ann has much further to travel now.

Most of our furniture are made in Malaysia. Doing our bit to help our export economy!
Plenty of space in the garage as well where both my bikes live happily.
I've finally had a full week of training this week, after skipping a few sessions here and there for the past couple of weeks... no particular reason, I was just plain lazy! But glad to be getting back into the routine. This week was tough too finishing up with a Sunday group session where I did 2km swim, 90km bike and 16km run. I struggled a bit at the later stages of the bike and was contemplating not running at all. Luckily I listened to Coach Pete who asked me just to go for an easy jog. I felt pretty good going out, struggled a bit on the way back but still kept an overall average of 5 minutes per km.

For the first full week back, not too shabby if I say so myself
The main goal race would be Ironman Malaysia, Langkawi on November 14. I have a lead up races planned in the next few months, starting with the half marathon at the Gold Coast Marathon in the first weekend of July. With a fast and flat course, let's see if I have the speed to beat my personal best all the way back in 2011. Would be working hard at the Tuesday track sessions for the next few weeks.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

#IMOZ30Years

Ironman Port Macquarie, also known as IMOZ, is the first Ironman in Australia and the 4th oldest Ironman in the world (after Hawaii, New Zealand and Canada). From it's humble beginnings as the Great Lakes Triathlon in Forster Tuncurry in 1985 with about 165 competitors to over 1,500 at the start line in Port Macquarie, home to this iconic event since 2006.

Pre race

I signed up for this event while I was still living in Canada, thought it would be nice to make my Ironman return to Australia in it's oldest event and to make it even more special that it was celebrating it's 30th anniversary in 2015. It was easy enough to get to from Brisbane, about 7 hours drive. But we chose to fly, our original flight was a direct one but that got discontinued, so it changed to a short stopover in Sydney with a Qantaslink flight to Port Macquarie. The weather leading up to the race has been pretty severe, with cyclonic like storms and our little plane was being blown around it during the short flight from Sydney to Port Macquarie.

We stayed at Ozzie Pozzie YHA, which arranged complimentary airport pick-ups and drop-offs. We booked a room with an ensuite, it was clean and decent, and the place had a bit of a laid back cabana atmosphere that catered well for the surfer crowd. It rained most of the day and although we brought an umbrella with us, it was blown inside out by the wind. The registration and athlete check-in was in the Glasshouse Convention Centre, about 1km away. The organizers did a great job capturing the history of this event, with a grand display memorabilia since it's first year in 1985 - photo albums, posters, finisher towels, T-shirts etc.

The giant #IMOZ at the Glasshouse
I tried to ride that afternoon but it got too wet and windy, so I decided to play it safe and turned back after 5 minutes. Welcome dinner got a bit muddy although we were under sheltered tents but luckily it stayed dry during the short walk to and from the hostel. The next morning, I did my practise swim the water was pretty choppy still. And pretty windy when I did my second attempt of bike practice. I managed to ride to the big hill on Matthew Flinders drive this time, didn't dare go down it with the weather conditions. The rain only started to clear up later in the afternoon. Organizers gave the option of checking in our bikes on race morning but many still checked in that afternoon.

One of the perks of being part of a winning club. Now I won't be running past my spot in transition!
Race morning

One great thing about having 5am training sessions was the body started getting used to waking up at 4am. I did my usual routine and visited the toilet twice before leaving the hostel. We then took the short walk to transition. It rained again overnight but the skies looked clear in the morning. I gave my bike a quick wipe down and then made our way to the swim start, which was a few hundred meters way. It was a rolling start and I was seeded in the 1 hour to 1 hour 7 minutes gate. I had some spare time and was able to get a few hugs and kisses from Li-Ann before she left the gate.


3.8km swim



The swim took place in Hastings River, it's one lap in anti clockwise direction. It has an interesting twist where somewhere before the 2km mark, we had to climb up and down some stairs to cross the weir and do the same just after the turnaround. Water was pretty cold, about 20 degrees Celcius. But once we got moving, it was okay. Unlike the day before, the water was nowhere as choppy. There were some currents, to our favour, on the way out.

Visibility was not very good, I could barely see past my shoulders. There weren't many buoys and the boats and yachts docked along the river made it a little confusing and difficult to sight the next buoy. I got a bit off course in some occasions and it didn't help that those in front of me weren't necessarily swimming in the right direction either! But we didn't get too far off before the paddlers signalled us back to line. My first crossing across the weir was about 30 minutes and about 42 minutes for the second crossing. I thought I would be close to 60 minutes for swim and dabbled with the thought of finally going under the hour. But on the way back, we swam against the currents and that slowed me down a bit.

Came out of the water in 1:02:21, pretty happy with that as I had been swimming around the 63 minute mark for the past two wetsuit Ironman swims.

Transition 1

Quick run into transition, managed to get my wetsuit sleeves off pretty quickly but had to struggle a bit getting it off my ankles. My tri top didn't have any rear pockets, so I just slid my two Clif bars under my top, behind my back. They fell off a couple of times as I ran towards my bike, so I had to turn back to pick them up. I then tucked my top into my tri shorts and that did the trick. A slow but steady fly mount on the bike and ready for the challenging bike course. Total time 3:31.

180km bike

The bike is two laps, out and back, with a few turn around points. It goes along the coast but we only get to overlook the coast in some sections. We go down the infamous hill on Matthew Flinders drive outbound and we climb it on the way back. Some rolling hills in and out of town and then mostly flat sections after that. The weather was a complete turnaround from the days before, calm breeze with a slight headwind on the way out but tailwind on the way back. Unlike the previous days where I felt I could be blown off my bike, I felt much less intimidated and more confident descending.

That was until I got to Matthew Flinders. I thought I was prepared to go down in the calmer weather but I wasn't. I got off my bike and walked it down the hill. Felt a bit silly and embarrassed doing it, but I thought better to be safe than sorry. Once I got to the bottom of the hill, I continued cycling and thought no more about it. And then... it happened, around the 27km mark, my rear wheel felt a little bit bumpy and soon, I could hear it hitting against the ground. Yes, I had a flat tire!

Still had my rear wheel on, coming out of transition
I did my best to stay calm. Screwed off the valve extension and plugged in the sealant, hoping that it would meet the valve. It didn't at first and the foam was spraying everywhere but it soon did, and I could see the tire inflating. But it didn't last and I guess that puncture was too large to be sealed. I made it worse by dropping the valve extension into the wheel rim - DOH! I don't usually carry spare tubulars with me and this time was no different. I decided to call it quits and waited for the SAG wagon. But a roaming mechanic came and said they would bring me a spare wheel. They didn't take very long and I was back on the course again. In total, I was out of action for about 45 minutes. I felt like a superstar after that, I was overtaking those in front of me, one by one!

Hybrid wheel setup - front carbon tubular, rear alloy clincher
But that affected my momentum a bit, I was nowhere near my racing pace. I kept on thinking of poor Li-Ann who had to wait almost an hour more before I return. The climb on Matthew Flinders was quite an experience, there was a carpet for those who wish to walk their bikes up and there were plenty of supporters cheering by the side. When I got back to town, she was cheering and I briefly pointed her to my rear wheel. I stopped by special needs to get another two Clif bars, the volunteers didn't prepare it in time but I only waited a short while to get them. Once I got to Matthew Flinders descent again, I chickened and walked down the hill again - probably the only competitor who was slower going downhill than up!

Almost the end of the bike leg, coming into town
The wind picked up on the second lap and the rough road surfaces become more prominent. Even on the way back with the tailwind, I could feel my energy being sapped away from the vibrations. My average speed was hovering around the high 28kph (not taking into account the idle time) and getting slower. Finally, got back to transition with 6:53:55 bike split including the downtime.

Transition 2

Legs felt a bit wobbly but was able to unstrap my shoes and dismount with the shoes still clipped in. The mats going into the change tent were a bit wet and I contemplated changing my socks but decided to keep the same pair on for the run. No big dramas here but I took the time to ensure that the volunteer packed my helmet away before leaving the change tent. Time taken 1:31.

42.2km run



The run course is 4 laps, mostly flat with one short but steep climb just after the first km out of transition. It goes along the main event area with plenty of support from the crowd. The Red Dog club members were cheering just after the big hill and I soaked up the atmosphere. Li-Ann was cheering as I just started my run and she was at the same spot after I made the turnaround so I was able to see her quite often. After such a long day, I wasn't sure how I was to approach the run. My legs felt good as I ran out of transition, turnover was quick and my upper body felt relaxed. I was running past those in front of me and some sections were narrow and slippery especially on the grass areas, so that got a bit tricky.

The Garmin picked up a signal very quickly, even before I left the change tent, to my delight. My first few kms were around the 4:45 per km pace and once the excitement wore off, I slowed down a bit but still keeping it well under the 5:00 per km pace. I didn't feel the need to walk at the aid stations and I was going to see how long I could maintain that. Surprisingly, I did that for the first two laps.

I'm happiest during the run
On the 3rd lap, my bladder was filling up and I was desperate to use the portaloos at the aid stations but they were always occupied. Finally, I decided to break my rhythm at one of the aid stations, slowing down to a walk so that I could ease myself as I walked through it and splashing water down my legs to clean myself up. I didn't completely emptied my bladder and a couple of aid stations later, there was a vacant portaloo, I raced into it and peed to my satisfaction - that was 45 seconds well spent!
Crossing the bridge that had 2 way traffic
I felt much better after but my legs were starting to get tired. My pace slowed down a bit to the 5:30 to 5:40 per km pace. The sun has set and it was getting dark. It started raining too and I no longer needed the water splashes over my head to keep myself cool. The volunteers began handing out glow sticks but my ego got the better of me and I declined taking them - never used them before, didn't intend to start now!

With about 4km to go, I knew the end was near, so I picked up my speed bringing it back to the 5:10-5:15 per km pace. Got to the intersection where the left goes for another lap, and the right goes into the finishing chute. The feeling was electrifying and I bawled my eyes out as I ran past the roaring crowd towards the finisher arch. In all my previous Ironmans, I've always wanted to shed a tear but I couldn't. This was clearly an exception and to top it off, FirstOffTheBike captured this special moment in 50th to 65th seconds in the video below.


My run split was 3:32:46, giving me a 2.5 minute PB over the Ironman run. I finished in 11:34:04, my second slowest time ever but one I felt a greatest sense of achievement in getting to the finish. I was 49th in my age group and 430th overall.

The finishing mat was wet from the rain, but I did add some tear drops to it
Post race

I didn't spend much time at all in the athlete recovery area as I was looking for Li-Ann. We caught up shortly after and went back to the room for a quick shower and then some Chinese dinner. It rained heavier that night and I decided to leave it to morning to collect the bike. We flew back to Brisbane the day after the race. Catching connecting flights with a tight transit time on wobbly post Ironman legs was a funny experience, if it wasn't so painful. My bike got offloaded the Port Macquarie outbound flight as there wasn't enough space but it got delivered safely to my office the next day.

So my 8th Ironman finish, done and dusted. It doesn't get any easier for sure. Massive thanks to my supporters back home - Compressport Malaysia, Lifeline-ID and Team H2C Boardman Malaysia for making it much easier for an amateur triathlete to keep on racing. The fun bunch at Red Dog Triathlon Training for keeping me honest in the sessions and for the cheer squad on the race course. Mum, dad, Karen and Keith and everyone back home sending well wishes and support messages and keeping me strong on the course.

Finally and definitely not least, my personal photographer/caddie/cheerleader/chef/masseur - my wonderful wife Li-Ann for putting up with me despite this crazy lifestyle of mine and being me in all of these events with such dedication. You are my pillar of strength and I owe my finish to you. I love you...


Looking forward to a month or so break, of train as I like before starting back again for Ironman Malaysia in November.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Evolving with the TTE

My race report on Putrajaya 70.3 gave a glimpse on my new steed - the Boardman Air TTE 9.8. In the past 3 weeks in my preparation leading up to Ironman Port Macquarie next weekend, I've logged close to 600kms on this beautiful machine and it's high time to do a bit of a write-up.


The TTE was launched a couple of years after Pete Jacobs won the 2012 Ironman World Championships on it's predecessor - the Air TT 9.8. It has only recently been released to the market of the general public. I've been really fortunate to be among the first few to get my hands on one. Boardman says that the E stands for Evolution and the TTE has been developed in the wind tunnel using computational fluid dynamics and technology derived from Formula One racing.


Like the Air TT 9.8, the TTE also features integrated front brakes but these are further enhanced on the TTE with the brake cables well integrated into the fork. Same deal with the rear brakes under the bottom bracket, these are improved to be integrated and hidden from the wind. After cycling with SRAM components for the past 6 years, I've decided to make the shift (pun intended!) to Shimano as I've been wanting to try out an electronic drivetrain, with Ultegra Di2. It's so convenient - I am able to switch gears on the aerobars as well as on the hoods when I'm climbing. And the front derailleur automatically trims itself as the rear derailleur switches gears, thus eliminating chain rub. All this while, I've been known to be a lazy gear shifter - well, not anymore!  Plus, I cannot discount the cool factor when I hear the whizz whizz sound each time I change gears - feels like the bike is going to transform into something else like in Transformers!


As I paid close to nothing for this bike, with the spare cash, I decided to invest in a power meter. And some Rotor aero Q rings as I've been wanting aero chainrings for quite some time now. The TTE has a BB386 bottom bracket for those wanting make a power meter purchase as well. I got the Power2Max Type S FSA K-Force Light, colour co-ordinated to match the colour scheme of the bike of course! I'm still learning to use the power meter and looking forward to getting some useful data to help my training and racing in the coming months.


The TTE still has some visible similarities to the Air TT 9.8 but with some notable improvements. Apart from the improved front and rear brakes as mentioned above, the rear seat stays have been changed and cable exit points for the rear derailleur have been moved to the bottom of the seat stays, instead of the end of the chain stay. This is done to reduce drag. The seat post has been completely redesigned to improve aerodynamics but also to add flexibility, allowing for four different seat post angles from 78 to 80 degrees. The front end is fully integrated with no bolts or cables visible. However, the bike is still very adjustable and offers many options for the width of the aerobars and arm pads as well as the length of these from the saddle.


Boardman claims that the TTE is at least 4% faster than the Air TT 9.8. Doesn't sound like a lot, but that's close to 15 minutes improvement over a 6 hour Ironman bike split. I haven't given it much testing on the race course but it does feel faster. What made a significant impact was this bike fitted me much better than my Felt DA, which allowed me to ride in a more optimal position. I can definitely feel a significant improvement in the power transfer from the saddle to pedals. It handles very well too in technical corners and I think this has to do with it's relatively slim tubes in contrast to most of the new tri bikes in the market now, which are adopting the wide down tube look like the Felt IA and Specialized Shiv.


Massive, massive thanks to Ah Siang of H2C, the exclusive importer of Boardman bikes to Malaysia for setting me up with this unbelievable bike. These guys do an excellent job in not just running a bike shop but supporting local athletes as well. Although technically, I'm not based locally in Malaysia, I am very much Malaysian at heart and would continue to participate actively in the Malaysian triathlon scene. I'm honoured to join the ranks of elite athletes under Team H2C Boardman Malaysia! Looking forward to racing well in months to come, starting with Ironman Port Macquarie in week's time!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Happy birthday mum!

After 12 years of being away from home on mum's birthday, I was finally able to sing happy birthday to mum. 


It was a quick but nice dinner at Plan B, Paradigm Mall. Quick, because we all just returned from the Putrajaya 70.3 and were pretty tired that night. I guess I still never learn in getting my priorities right when planning my trips home.

But mum never complains as she always puts our needs first before hers. Well, now that she has retired, hopefully she has a bit more time for herself. As I'm typing this, she's on a plane to Korea now for a holiday with her friends.

Happy birthday mum! And I'll see you again soon in Brisbane... for your next holiday!

Love,
Your eldest son

Friday, 10 April 2015

Putrajaya 70.3 2015

I signed up for this race as part of the bundle along with IM Langkawi due to take place in November. Being held on the Easter weekend, it's pretty convenient and I only had to take an extra day off work for the travel home from Brisbane. I took a night flight and arrived in Malaysia on Friday morning, about 50 hours before the race start. I had some breakfast with my family and took a short rest before I went to H2C bike shop to collect my tri bike - the Boardman TTE 9.8. I've been eagerly waiting all this while but it was well worth the wait - isn't it a beauty?!

This picture got shared on Boardman's official Facebook page! Photo credit - Loh Sau Teing 
I'll post a proper review in due time. I spent most of the day at the shop and only managed a 15 minute ride in the afternoon to check that everything is in proper working order. The electronic shifting is way too cool! Then, I had to rush off for a dinner date with.... yes, you guessed it - the one and only Craig Crowie Alexander! I was so fortunate to be amongst the selected few to attend this dinner. Many thanks to the organizers for giving me this opportunity!

Didn't look like he aged at all since I last saw him in person in 2009 when he came to Perth
Race eve came and in the morning, I visited my maternal grandmother's grave for Cheng Beng festival. It was nice catching up with my relatives and I paid my well overdue respects to my grandmother. We pushed off for Putrajaya just after lunch with my sister and her boyfriend. My sister was doing the relay run in Corporate Teams Challenge. We collected our race kit and checked in my bike. The sun was scorching hot and I was a bit nervous if my fully pumped up tires and taped gels would last under the heat but I took my chances. Luckily, they were alright on race day. We checked into our accommodation, about 7kms away. My mum got a great deal at the government apartments at Rm70 a night for 3 bedrooms - perks of being a retired civil servant! A quick dinner with mum and dad and some last minute groceries at the nearby mall before calling it a night.

All racked in and ready to go! Hope the gels don't melt or the tires don't burst under the heat!
Race morning

I had a fairly good sleep but woke up about 20 minutes before my alarm went off. Did my usual routine and went to the toilet for the 2nd time before we left the apartment. It was still dark when we got to the transition area. Had my bike set up and slowly made our way to the swim start. It was a rolling start for the age groupers. The sun was slowly rising and by the time the professionals started it was all bright. The age groupers weren't allowed to enter the water for a warm up. But then again, you would notice there were still some wet patches on the floor beneath us as we lined up for the start. What could it be, you wonder? Hahaha. I'm guilty myself - sorry, I can't help it but I have to empty my bladder before the swim.

Swim 1.9km

I was about 2-3 minutes after the first group of age groupers were released into the water. I had my watch set on clock mode so I made note of the time I started - 7.23am. I dived into the water and somehow when I wanted to surface, there was someone swimming above me. Had to push the person aside to catch my breath! The swim course was rectangular, in clock wise direction in the still waters of Putrajaya lake. Heading west in 790m, a quick right turn for 50m and returning east for 850m before another right turn for 150m back to shore. The water was surprisingly pretty clear with visibility up to the person swimming in front or next to you.

I felt good during the swim and swam mostly in a straight line. I was probably keeping too close to the buoys and one some occasions, I went across and had to correct myself to swim outwards. As it was a rolling start, every now and then I would bump into slower swimmers in front and had to swim around them. I didn't quite get a suitable draft so I swam at my own pace most of the time. Got out of the water in 33:15, not great but not too bad either. I was hoping for somewhere between 30 to 32 minutes, but this wasn't too far out.
I later noticed a small bruise mark on the right side of my neck. Maybe the straps were too tight.
Transition 1

The run in to the bike racks was about 200m. My first encounter with drama came about when I dropped my goggles. A spectator yelled out to me and I was about to back track to pick it up but my sister who was cheering from the side said she would pick it up for me. I later found out that a fellow participant picked it up from behind and had it dropped off at my bike rack. Thank you anonymous participant! Then the second drama episode came - as I was stripping off my swimskin at the bike racks, I heard a ripping sound and.. yup, I tore a big hole right across the suit. It must have got caught on the timing chip. Nothing could be done and I pushed off for the bike course. Took me a while to do a fly mount as I must be out of practice, but better to be slow than sorry. Time taken 2:12.

Bike 90km

The bike course is two laps and it goes around the neighbouring precincts of the race venue in anti clockwise direction. It has some short climbs and fast descends with a couple of corners. The roads are mostly smooth, as we were cycling on the main motorways. There were a handful of pot holes and rough patches but these can be easily avoided by being attentive.

It's been about 5 months since I last cycled on aerobars. And my rustiness showed. Throw in some deep rim race wheels into the mix and the ride started off a bit ugly. Each time my speed went above 35kph, I got a bit nervous that I would lose control of my bike. And my bike handling has never been my strong point. I sat up every now and then to gain control (and sacrificing some cool race pictures in the aero position!). Don't get me wrong, I was very comfortable on the bike. This bike fitted me much better than my previous tri bike. And it feels much more responsive too. I just need to ride on it more often to have these qualities transferred into faster bike splits.

Nice picture, if only I was on my aerobars!
People say most things come in threes. And so... shortly after the 10km mark, as we got the longest climb of the course, I kept shifting upwards and... dropped my chain - 3rd drama! I cursed under my breath, but I kept calm. Got off my bike and put my chain back in. Cost me about 30 seconds and some momentum, but wasn't going sweat over it. Rupert overtook me shortly after and he did very well to finish 7th in his age group and 2nd Malaysian overall with a new PB. At this point, I was sitting in 5th Malaysian position. I averaged 32kph for the first lap and at that point in time, I gave myself a target to aim for 2:45 to 2:50 bike split.

A rare picture with me on the aerobars, too bad the bike can't be seen
I got a better handle of the bike on the 2nd lap but my average speed was starting to drop. The wind picked up, it doesn't get very windy in Malaysia but it was noticeably more windy than the first lap. The temperature rose as well and it started to drain on my energy. I finished all three gels that were taped to my top tube but didn't need any refills on my water bottles. My water bottle actually had some moth balls odour, must have left them too long on the shelves at home. I overtook another Malaysian with about 10km left to go. I finished the bike in 2:50:49, about 15 minutes slower than I normally would cycle.

Transition 2

No major issues here, but my legs did feel a bit wobbly and I crossed through the inside rather than the outside as I did my fly dismount, just so I won't fall off the bike. Took a couple of extra seconds to slip into my shoes as the left heel wasn't fitting in properly. Grabbed my sunglasses, visor and race belt and put them on as I ran out of transition. Time taken was 1:14.

Run 21.1km

The clock was running just under 3.5 hours from race start. Achieving a PB of 4:45 was near impossible but a finish time of sub 5 hours was still within reach, albeit it's going to be a tough challenge. My Garmin did very well in getting a signal as I ran out of transition and hence, was able to give me km splits. I felt good as I started the run. My turnover was quick and my upper body didn't feel tight. I was averaging about 4:20 per km for the first couple of kms. The Bunanamo supporters at the 1.5km mark did give me an extra boost! At this rate, I could still get a sub 5 hour finish!

Getting cheered on by the Bunanamo supporters. Photo credit - Phuitin Kong
But that didn't last long. My right quad was feeling a twitching feeling on the inside and I kept on saying to myself - don't cramp, don't cramp! It didn't but I had to manage it by slowing the pace down and lengthening my stride. I soon settled into 4:50 to 5;00 per km pace. I tried not to break my rhythm as I got to the drinks stations. But I still grabbed what I can - coke or electrolyte for my mouth, cold water or sponges over my head and my twitching inner thigh. And I think that did the job from preventing it from turning into a full blown cramp.

The course was 2 laps and clockwise direction on the footpaths that go along the lake. We weren't able to see the other participants returning on the opposite direction. My sister and I made a bet on who would finish first and I was looking for her throughout the whole course!  The organizers did very well by providing shower stations and large containers of water for dousing to keep us cool under the heat. It wasn't unusually hot but it was your typical hot day in Malaysia. About half of the course was shaded with the other half being pretty exposed.

Trying to maintain my stride. Photo credit - Shah M Zain
I kept well under the 5:00 per km pace but only up until the 15km mark. I was running in a group with 2-3 other guys and I got dropped as they started picking up the pace. That affected me mentally, and I dropped to 5:20 per km pace. Being so far away from my target times, it was very tempting to slow down to a walk but I willed myself to finish strongly. Enaikay, who was on Finisherpix duty gave me some encouragement on the course and hung in there. The 20km mark was a little deceptive and I found myself running another mile before the finish. I finished the run in 1:45:31 with an overall finish time of 5:13:01 (the only time I went slower was at Desaru in 2009 when I walked half the run course because of cramps). I was 69th overall (4th Malaysian) and 14th in my age group.

My sister was off her half marathon PB by 1 minute, big effort under the heat! 
Post race

Greeted my sister at the finish line, she finished 6 minutes before me and she said she was running scared throughout the course, looking out for me from behind hahaha. I took my time submerging in the cold water tank and had about 3 sticks of ice cream from the recovery area while waiting for my massage. Once I got cleaned up and collected my bike, we adjourned to the functions area for the awards presentation. My sister's team won first place for the Corporate Teams challenge - a pleasant outcome as it was the only category other than the professionals that was paying cash prizes.

Not a bad payday eh? Photo credit - Loh Sau Teing
Big thanks to Gary and the Bunanamo supporters slugging it out in the heat and mum and dad for taking care of me during this short trip - I don't visit enough and if I do, I always tie it up with a race! And my heartfelt appreciation to my sponsors... H2C - the exclusive Boardman distributor for Malaysia, for setting me up with the awesome bike, Compressport Malaysia for the very cool On/Off race gear, Lifeline-ID for the neat Pro tag that gives me assurance that my loved ones need not worry in the unlikely event that I pass out on the course!

A bit of a post mortem - obviously, I have a lot to do on the bike before Ironman Port Macquarie in about 3 weeks time. But without overdoing it. I'll be cycling every ride with it for now to get as used to it as possible. I wished I ran faster too but considering the quickest run split for the day was just under 1:22 (and Crowie ran 1:29), my run split wasn't that bad. I'm back in Brisbane now and I've recovered well from the race and the travel, I felt strong in the few sessions I've had this week. This weekend will be the acid test when I do my longest ride and longest run.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ready, get set...

Can you believe it? It's Easter already! How time flies!

I'm less than 5 hours away from boarding the plane back home to Malaysia for the Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. I'm actually pretty excited! Of all the racing I've done back home, I have never raced in Putrajaya before. Sure, I've done a few training rides but never actually done a race there.


As much as I would like to race it like my A event, I have to be realistic. My main goal is to do well at Ironman Port Macquarie in about 4 week's time, so I have been logging some long training hours the past couple of weeks and not tapered properly for this weekend's race. Plus, I'll be racing on a bike I've never ridden before. Yes, I'll be actually travelling home with an EMPTY bike bag but coming back to Brisbane with a new bike. What will it be? You would have to wait and see, so watch this space!

Having said the above, I'm still very much looking forward to the race and will it my very best effort. It's always a special feeling racing at home. And... I get to be home for Mum's birthday, something I've not done for the past 13 years since I've came to Australia.

Plenty of exciting posts to come, so stay tuned!

Oh, and happy Easter everyone!