Sunday, 23 November 2008

I am cyclist?

*Edit* for pictures from official photographer and official results link

City of Perth Great Bike Ride, after two years of doing the 53km, I thought it was about time for me to step up to the plate and do the 106km. This would be my first ride over 100kms, which I would now build up in the weeks to come for my preparation for the Langkawi Ironman.

Target was to complete the two loop distance around Swan River in 3.5 hours, just over 30kph average.

I woke up before 4.30am with slightly less than 7 hours of sleep. I think I am less rigid with my sleep hours now. No longer needed the full pre race nights sleep of 8 hours. As long as I gave myself sufficient rest, it shouldn't affect my performance too much. I took about an hour to get ready... performed my pre race ritual - had my Nutri Grain cereal, necessary toilet visit, shaved my facial stubble and did my usual stretches. I got to my office building, Central Park, at 5.25am and rode about 1.5km to the race start.

Had my expired banana flavoured Powerbar Performance bar and did another round of stretches before visiting the toilet one last time. Our KPMG tent wasn't even set up yet. There were only 6 of us who were doing the 106km. Considering a turnout of about 1,000 riders for the 106km, I didn't expect to bump into any of us at the line-up.

6am - race start... I must have lined up in a quick wave, as the cyclists were just zooming past me. One of my partners, Graeme (who missed out this year due to a knee surgery) said that we should take advantage by drafting a group to do some good times. I'm so used to cycling in non-drafting triathlon races, hence I kept to my own pace most of the time.

The first 10kms were uneventful apart from several unlucky riders who already suffered punctures by then. I was already 3 minutes inside my target but I knew that there would be a few hills that would slow me down later, so I didn't get too excited.

Upon the 20km mark, we approached the infamous Mosman Mead's hill. There were many who dismounted and started pushing their bikes. There's where I met Brent, fellow colleague and national hockey player (who just missed out on the Beijing Olympics mind you!). He caught me from behind and overtook me. I thought there goes my chances of being the first KPMG finisher.

I still kept to my own race. Using the tri bars as much as possible, when it was safe to do so. I am much more familiar with the route now, doing this race for my third time now, and I have also been doing a lot more rides as compared to previous years (last year's race was done based on spinning training in the gym!)

By the 30km mark I managed to go inside my target by almost 5 minutes. I downed a Powergel, also expired, but found it oozing all over my fingers. I had to lick them off before I could place my hands back on the handle bars, must sayang my Ah Rui mah...

At the 40km mark, another KPMG colleague, Kate, overtook me. She was cycling in a pack. Darn! But I was making good times, so I couldn't have asked for more.

I completed the first loop of 53km in 1:38.00, which is almost 2 minutes quicker than last year's single loop! I thought to myself, if I maintained the same pace for the second loop, I could actually clock 3:16, way inside my target of 3.5 hours! But I reckoned I would be more fatigued in the second lap, so I aimed for under 3:20 instead.

At this point, the later waves of the 53km riders just started, so there was a bit of congestion for the first few kms of the second loop. Some of the riders in these later waves were pretty novices, riding with mountain bikes. So getting through the crowd was quite an effort!

Took my second Powergel at the 60km mark. Less messy this time. The weather was pretty good - a bit cloudy with light winds, not too hot. It threatened to rain but luckily the weather held. I actually had the urge to pee since the earlier parts of the race, but tried blocking it out. I sipped on Powerade every 10kms of the race.

Coming to the Mosman Mead's hill for the second time, I caught up with Brent again. I quickly sped off hopefully he won't catch me - and he didn't!

I only managed to cut down 2-3 minutes from my initial targeted time since the first loop. So I supposed maybe 3:20 was a big ask after all. Somewhere at the 80km mark, I overtook Kate. So things were still looking pretty good!

3rd Powergel was taken at the 90km mark, no mess at all *big grin* Call it psychological, but each time I down a Powergel, I somehow sped up for a couple of kms. And this time as the end seemed near, I just hammered it through!

Cycling on the freeway, there were safety cones which divided us cyclists from the vehicle traffic. One cyclist knocked over one of the cones and caused it to roll all over! Hope it didn't cause any accidents behind!

Only about 10kms left to go... I managed to cut down a few more minutes from my targeted time. 3:20 was definitely in sight, I was gunning for sub 3:15 now! Powering through... I hit the finish line in 3:13.27 (average 32.9kph)! My second lap was quicker by 2.5 minutes! For full results, click *here*

Dismounted and walked to the KPMG tent. Fernsy, Heggie and Craig were already there. They did the 53km. Come on, fellas! You guys beat me last year in the 53km and you're still doing the 53km? Soft, I tell ya!

There were many at our tent who have already completed the 53km and the 10km family ride. I helped myself to the feast - bacon and egg muffins, cinnamon buns, danish pastries, fruits and yoghurt. I wasn't keen on drinking more energy drinks, I didn't even finish my first bottle of Powerade!

Kate came in soon after that, but her timing was faster as she started later, oh welll... Then came in Rob, followed by Charlie and Brent. Apparently Brent really suffered in the second lap. Then came Louise and that completed our KPMG team of 106km cyclists. Louise and Charlie actually made a bet on who would finish first, and the odds were stacked against Charlie!

I hung around a bit to socialize, including seeing my division partner in-charge, Rob (also same surname as the other Rob) finish the 53km. I lent Rob (partner in-charge) my Avanti, he was pretty pleased with it. Other notable stories included recently engaged couple, Cade and Katie - Cade sped off leaving Katie behind after 10kms!

I also met Lydia who braved our cold Perth weather (in her words, hehheh) and did the 53km 4 days after she arrived in this foreign land for her visit! Well done!

First ride over 100kms done. Next Sunday's ride would be 120km. Let's see how that goes... 95 more days to Langkawi Ironman!

Friday, 21 November 2008


No, this is not a post to suck up to my bosses but lately I have been spending a lot of time with people at work (including a couple of nights at the office past 7pm. Okaylah, I shouldn't complain - just being spoilt!). So after a while, one would grow to either hate or love the firm. I rather choose the latter, to make my life here much easier.

Last Friday, our division had our refresher day at Laser Corps, Oasis Resort Swan Valley. It's kinda like playing paintball, but without the pain. It was an interesting experience... shooting your managers and hearing their guns making dying sounds. I've played this before with the UWA International Student Service, which was so much different - the students were a lot more enthusiastic. This time round, we pretty much called the game to stop for lunch after an hour!

Lunch and socializing was ANOTHER experience. Watching my workmates getting more inebriated and talking less coherently by each glass of wine or beer they consume. Food at the Oasis was pretty average though.

Yesterday I received my race pack for this Sunday's Great Bike Ride. I was lucky to be first few ones to collect them, as they had limited bike shorts. Shirts they had plenty. So I've got the full suit.

I LOVE the awesome side prints...

And look at the cool interior design on the padding!

Looking forward to be burning the roads this Sunday!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Got power?

Power Station Triathlon at South Fremantle... 1km swim, 30km bike, 6km run. After having been able to do some reasonably impressive times at training for the past one week, I was pretty confident to improve on last year's timing of 1:43.52.

This year's race was held on a Saturday, rather than a Sunday. Reason - not too sure, apart from the organizers wanting to be able to enjoy a Sunday off.

Darling and myself arrived at the venue at 6.20am for the bike check-in and race bib collection. I had my expired Oatmeal Raisin Powerbar, did some last minute stretches and toilet visit. It was pretty cold, so wetsuits were allowed. Darn! But it's okay, I need to practise swimming open water without wetsuit for Langkawi Ironman anyway.

The swim was a straight line course along the beach. So we had to walk 1km out from the transition. Poor Li-Ann had to trot all the way with me to catch me starting and walk back after that!

I was tempted to do some warm-up swims but decided against it. The water seemed too cold and I didn't want to shiver while waiting for the start, which was about 20 minutes late.

The cold water and the delayed start made me feel wanting to pass water again... but it was too far from the toilet and too near to the start to be walking back. Hence, I did the most juvenile thing by passing water in the sea! Had to make sure no one was near me.

The swim was pretty alright. The water became warmer as we moved outwards away from the shore. I am happy to say that my navigation has improved, but then again, it is a straight line swim! There were no stings this time round, unlike the minor ones I had last year and the massive one the year before. Maybe it's the smell I am emanating from peeing in my suit!

I must say that although swimming is my best discipline, I don't enjoy it very much. I can't see how much into the course I am, or how far more to go. I can't judge my timing unless I stop swimming. We made a left turn and the last buoy. I touched the shore at 14:38.

A 250m run into transition, this is where I struggled a bit. Having done the last triathlon in May, which is the Half Ironman, I have forgotten the sequence of things I had to do. I somehow removed my bike from the racks before putting on my helmet. So I had to balance the bike while I struggled to fit my helmet on. Mounting the bike was a near disaster. I had trouble slipping my feet into the bike shoes, which were already fixed on the pedals. Looks like last week's transition practice was a waste of time! Total T1 time was 4:34.

I nearly had several accidents while I was swerving left and right while strapping on my bike shoes. The course had changed from last year. There were a lot more U-turns this time round. I wanted so badly to catch up the time loss in transition (as I now had a fast and sexy Ah Rui with me!) but slowing down for the U-turns made it almost impossible (my amateur cycling skills do not allow me to do fancy turns and swings without pressing the brakes). There was also a stretch of uneven gravel road that we had to pass. Good thing that not many suffered tyre punctures from the sharp stones.

I'm pretty happy that I'm starting to overtake others on the bike course now. And not just those who appeared like novices - a biased assessment made by looking how fancy their bikes and apparel are! Like for example, this guy below who has a Felt tri bike and wore the same Orca tri suit as I did.

Bike time was about an hour (average 30kph). My cyclecomputer stuffed up after I packed up, so I couldn't quite tell the exact time. Coming into transition, again I did not apply anything from my practice sessions. I just couldn't dismount without coming to a complete halt. Good thing I was still able to slip out of the bike shoes without tumbling over!

I also struggled a bit with fitting into my running shoes. Having the orthotics in them made the shoes tighter. But my legs felt good, so I was able to start my run strongly. I was quite surprised by this, as I usually feel tightness in the quads when wearing this Orca suit. The curse has been broken!

The sun was pretty bright but it wasn't too hot. I packed two expired Powergels on my race belt but didn't feel the need to consume them. I didn't stop at any of the water stations on the run course either. Even during the bike leg, I drank Powerade a couple of times, only towards the end of the course.

The run course was 3 laps, the first which I did in 9:02. I knew I would not be able to beat last year's overall time due to the time lost in the bike and transitions. But my first run lap was about 30 seconds quicker than last year. In fact, so were the second and third laps, 8:54 and 8:51 respectively! My total run time was 26:47, a full 2 minutes quicker than last year!

I finished in 1:46.04, more than 2 minutes slower than last year, 6/10 in my age group, 39/77 overall. But this year's winning time was 1:28.40, more than 7 minutes slower than last year's winning time. So I guess I have done pretty well in comparison!

Looking forward to the Great Bike Ride in two weeks time!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

118... and counting...

With less than 120 days to Langkawi Ironman... and having read the many blog posts of fellow Malaysian competitors clocking their long rides to Port Dickson, running up the slopes of Genting Highlands... I can't help feeling a bit uneasy with my preparation.

Am I doing enough?

At the moment, I have yet to run any further than 10km or ride any longer than 80km. Swimming is a non-issue as I easily clock about 10kms of swimming a week with my swim squad. Some may say that I swim too much, and I should probably do more of the other disciplines. My argument would be... I'll use swimming to maintain my fitness, and it's the lowest injury risk of the three! :)

But ya, with my low weekly mileage in running and cycling, I cannot help but self doubt. Which I shouldn't, as this is how I planned it. I would only start my long runs and rides after the Power Station Triathlon this coming weekend.

I'm pretty happy with my cycling averages for the past few weeks. I was able to clock between 28.5kph to 29kph for my 80km rides, and there was once I even broke 29kph - 29.1kph! (marginal, I know... but hey, still break it what...)

Running has been somewhat slower... been running my 10kms just under 44 minutes, when in the past, I used to be able to dip under 43 minutes with ease. But I won't panic too much. When it comes to the ironman, it is not how fast one can run the 10km... it is how long one can last the marathon - after the 3.8km swim and the 180km bike! So better not push it and risk getting an injury...

Powerman Malaysia is coming up. Looking forward to reading some race reports to keep myself motivated (and hopefully not freak out with their impressive times)!