Monday, 4 May 2009

Busselton Half Ironman 2009

Click here for last year's blog posting.


Darling and I left for Busselton at 11.30am on Friday. Didn't need to leave so early as the race registration and bike check-in was only from 5pm onwards.

Instead of having our usual pit stop at Falcon for the famous pies at Miami Bakehouse, we decided to have the pies at their Mandurah branch instead. It was also nice to have a stroll at the Mandurah boardwalk. The Stretch Festival was on, and there were some interesting display of artwork using recycled stuff.

After lunch, we continued our journey and arrived at Amaroo Motel, Busselton at 4pm. I spent an extra $10 this time, to get a quieter, nicer room instead of the one facing the highway last year. After taking a cat nap, it was time to get the bike ready for check-in.

The record turnout at this year's race was obvious from the long queues at the registration. But the volunteers were efficient and we got through the lines fairly quickly. After setting up my bike and activating my timing chip, we had a look the expo stalls, ranging from Ryders eyewear, Newton running and Avanti bikes. There weren't many great offers but I did manage to get two pairs of Injinji toe socks for $15 each, a bargain!

Carbo loading dinner that night was at Vasse Bar Cafe. The crowd was huge, it took about 35 minutes for our meals to come. But the portions were massive, we had to take-away some of the pizza.


After a good 7.5 hours sleep, I was woken up by the quacking ducks outside at 6am. Had my packed Nutrigrain cereal breakfast, did my mandatory stretches and toilet visit before we headed out to the race venue.

The weather was clear, unlike last year when it rained the night before. The water seemed mild and the announcer warned us about the risk of stingers. I had my body marked and set up my transition area. Quickly downed a Powerbar performance bar with some Powerade, applied some suncreen, did some more stretches and it was soon time to start.

I struggled a bit with putting on the wetsuit, but Li-Ann was very helpful. At 8.02am, it was my wave start, just couple of minutes after the open category.


I foolishly positioned myself at front of the pack. You think here Malaysia ah? The Aussies are very strong swimmers, you know? Spending the first five minutes of clobbering with the hundreds of competitors starting with me, hyper ventilating as the cold water made it difficult to breathe. It was no fun at all and I was close to giving up.

Also, halfway through I was stung by one of the many stingers. Here's my souvenir. And I thought the high neckline was restricting my head movement. Obviously not high enough to protect me from stingers!

Things got better soon, I'm glad to say my open water swimming and sighting has improved. I reached the shore, completing the first leg in 28:36. My watch buttons must have been accidentally pressed during the clobbering, as it showed 14 minutes when I ran through the showers, I thought I had to do another lap!

Happy with the improved swim time, although everyone improved on their swim by about 1 minute, maybe the water conditions were better, maybe the markers were slightly under-distanced.


I spend a bit more time in transition this year, had a bit of trouble getting the wetsuit off and putting on the toe socks. Also helped to place back the goggles belonging to the competitor next to me. Total time taken was 3:14 (last year 2:49).

Also, my wobbly legs caused me to unclip my left pedal on my way out, had to clip it back again and slowly find back my momentum. In order to achieve my overall sub 5 hour finish, I was gunning to improve on the bike leg as I had sexy Ah Rui with me, and my training times for the other two legs weren't showing too much improvement.

But somehow the ride didn't feel as easy as it was last year. Maybe I pressured myself more this year, maybe the smooth roads of Busselton were beginning to wear through. My usual race pacer, Clive Bingwa overtook me at the 15km mark. Gee, that's pretty early... it'll be hard to catch him on the run later.

I downed a Powergel at the 30km mark, drinking Powerade at every 10km. The urge to pee wasn't as bad as last year. Organizers promised some portable toilets on the course but there were none to be seen. Some guys had to go behind the bushes!

I would like to take this opportunity to show gratitude to the guy who told me that my Powergel was dropping out of my pocket, as he passed by me. Thanks mate!

I did the first of the three laps in 56:10. That means I had to work harder on the second and third laps if I wanted to keep them under 55 minutes average, to achieve the 2:45 bike target. My second lap was 54:55... sweet!

But that must have taken a toll on my legs, as by the third lap, I find it hard to maintain a 31kph pace. I opted not to take in another Powergel at the midpoint, as my stomach was a feeling a bit bloated.

Finally finishing the final lap in 56:41 and couldn't wait to get off the saddle. I took one more Powergel just before the finishing, for the energy for the run later. Total bike time was 2:47:56, less than 10 seconds quicker than last year. There was a long line at the penalty box. I supposed with the huge turnout, not drafting could be difficult.

T2 was much better. I slid out of my pedals smoothly and put on my run shoes and cap with ease. Total time taken was 57 seconds (last year 1:17).


It feels great to be out on the run. I was overtaking the others, one by one! Defending champion Pete Jacobs lapped me just minutes into my run, I should have asked for an autograph, hehheh.

But I came across another celebrity encounter as I gave way to recent Ironman China female winner, Charlotte Paul. She said thanks :)

I had a slight fall as I was overtaking a competitor at the drinks station. I tripped over a curb as there wasn't much room on the right but that didn't stop me from running a fast 7km first lap, because I did it in 30:28! That's a 4:21 per km average! Li-Ann was cheering me at the end of the lap, and I surprisingly met our hockey star from KPMG, Brent Dancer, he must be supporting his girlfriend.

But the quick first lap started to affect my legs soon. I had some tightness around my left quads and hamstrings, and had to take a couple of minutes stretching them. The second lap was completed in 32:44.

By then, my watch was showing 4 hours and 24 minutes. I thought to myself, I should be able to run the remaining lap with a 5 minute per km average, and thus, just squeezing under 5 hours. Managed to overtake Clive Bingwa at the beginning of the third lap. But I ran the remaining lap conservatively, and my legs were feeling tight from time to time. The temperatures were also rising as the sun became brighter.

Coming close to the finish line, finding whatever strength I had left in my legs to sprint to the finishing. I completed the last lap in 34:03, finishing the half marathon in 1:37:36 and posting 4:58:21 for the entire race!

I finished 277th out of 1059 competitors who completed, 39 out of 83 in my age group. Four time winner Pete Jacobs had to hand over his crown to Iroman Malaysia 2009 winner, Luke McKenzie who also broke the course record in 3:47:01. While Charlotte Paul took the women's honours in 4:23:33. Full results here.


I queued up for the post race goodies. They weren't much - a finisher's cap, an apple, a banana, a muffin, an Anzac cookie and a Carbo Shotz bar. It was a totally different atmosphere from racing in Malaysia. I don't have many tri friends here. I chatted a bit with Shao Wu, who swims in my swim sessions. I passed him on the first run lap but he overtook me strongly at the final lap. I also talked to Sam Goh, a Singaporean doing his Masters in Sports Science in ECU Joondalup. This was his first half ironman distance.

But that's about it :( So fellow triathletes in Malaysia, do come and join me next year for a fun and well organized event next year, okay?

I didn't bother lining up for the massage as the queue was really long. And we were eager to head to Margaret River for our accomodation by the beach. So eager that I left my wetsuit on the car and drove off with it still on! Many thanks to the lady who picked it up and called us, really appreciate it!


A 60km drive to Prevelley Beach, Margaret River for our accomodation at Margarets Beach Resort. Thanks to SLB friends who got me this as last year's birthday present. The place was wonderful! We made full use of the laundry and kitchen facilities!

Dinner was at the resort's dining place, Gnarabar. From our memorable experience last year, this place did not disappoint. Thanks Jasmine, for lending us the Entertainment Card while mine was lost in the mail!

The next morning, much to darling's delight, I cooked breakfast! But that doesn't mean, it would be happening on a regular basis, okay? Hehheh.

We took a stroll on the beach, relaxed until it was noon before checking out. We stopped by Olio Bello and was greeted by the fragrance of organic olive oil.

Lunch was at Margaret River Providore and we give our food two thumbs up!

We made a quick detour to Busselton jetty again for Simmo's Ice Cream before heading home.

I'm knackered. This half ironman has taken a lot more of out me than I expected. Hope to recover quickly for the Perth Marathon in about 2 months time.


yipwt said...

congrats kevin...that's very good you made it below 5hours....

kev said...

Thank you very much, Yip! I hope the swim was not underdistanced, to make my comparison with last year invalid :P

sofiantriathlete said...

Well done Kevin. If I return for IMWA 09, I will get your advice on where to go and eat. Ha Ha

kev said...

Thanks, Sofian. No problem, remember I owe you one? Hehheh.

sofiantriathlete said...

Yes yes yes. I forgot

zulhassan said...

damm... u are super fast.

mmmm ... it that really a bite u get went u are swiming in the sea??? coz it look more like are love bite to me ...hhahahahah.

jangan marah bro...

kev said...

Thanks, bro. Hehheh nolah, my girlfriend mulut not so big.

zulhassan said...

sorry about that typo error :D


j cooke said...

thanks for the comments kev.well done on the Busso Half. Will try to catch up with you oneday.
I know sam as he is in North Coast.
You might be interested in the world long course championship which is in Perth.You might want to ask Malaysian tri association if you can race for Malaysia.
I presume there will not be many takers from malaysia coming.

kev said...

Hey John, I didn't think much of the Long Distance champs before this. But that might be something to consider. I have asked my Malaysian tri association, but to be honest, the thought of racing with the best in the world is pretty intimidating!

fook said...

u r officially my new idol! =p

kev said...

Thanks, Fook. I'm really flattered! :)