...hurry, hurry lover, come to me...
Hahhah, for those who could remember, this is part of the chorus of one of Paula Abdul's chart topping hits in the 90s. But I'm actually relating to my 4 day trip back home and the quick race that took place in Port Dickson.
After arriving in KL on Friday morning, I spent most of the day assembling my bike, getting a hair cut, buying some supplies and trying to fit in a nap or two. Our family then left for Port Dickson at about 4.30pm and arrived just before 6pm.
My two siblings, Karen and Keith were doing the sprint distance the next day. It was Keith's first triathlon and he was feeling the nerves. We checked out the registration list and it looked like there had been additional participants since the published list on the website.
After registration, we checked into our accommodation, PD Perdana Condo, which was pretty old. Luckily we booked the following night's stay at PD Golf Resort, much to my relief as I would like to have a comfortable sleep before my own race. Dinner was much appreciated as it has been ages since I had Malaysian seafood.
Woke up the next morning at 6.30am in preparation for my siblings' sprint event. Keith did some practice rides around the condominium. I decided to swim and run with them as part of my warm up for the next day.
Unfortunately, Keith's first tri (try) wasn't such a pleasant experience. He fell as about to take a cornering and had the chains dropped off. He contacted us with a phone from the traffic police and we rushed to his rescue. He lost about 20 minutes there, but still finished strongly and eager to make amends next year (right Keith?). Karen being her usual carefree self, enjoyed her race truly and finished with a respectable time, despite hardly any swim training.
Karen's flight back to Auckland (via Singapore) was in the afternoon. We exchanged farewell hugs and her boyfriend came to fetch her to the airport. After that, we went for the carbo loading dinner. It was good to meet up with friends and like minded people. Mr Chan's race briefing was hilarious, as usual.
A good night's sleep, and I woke up fresh at 6.20am in the morning. Did my routine stretches, toilet visit and cycled to the race venue. Met a few more friends at the transition area and at the beach start area. I did a short 5 minute warm up swim and soon, it was time for me to start.
It was a staggered start with my age group starting first. I lined up at front and could see most of them at the front line are wearing their ITU tri suits. Let's see if I could keep up with them.
Bang! Went the gun, and we scurried into the water. I'm used to the washing machine scuffle at the start of the swim now and slowly moved away from it. But I swam too far away and that's where I've lost the momentum to keep up with the other guys. And it happened a few times, I kept on going off course and found myself swimming back to be close to the floating buoys. It might be because the water is a lot murkier than what I'm used to in Perth or the buoys are a lot smaller but I guess I have no one to blame but myself.
Anyway, I exited the water and clocked in at the first timing mat at 25:48. Not too bad considering I could have swum up to between 100m to 200m extra but I have lost too much ground to keep up with the front guys. After the long run into transition, I fumbled a bit by almost putting on my run shoes. I wasn't sure how far I had to push my bike but marshal and former top triathlete Eugene Chan gestured me to the right direction.
I cycled alone most of the way - I'm glad I brought my 80mm clinchers and aero helmet. It was somewhere between 5km and 10km where the navy guys came in a train and swept past me. My endurance cycling legs were in no condition to match their speed, so I kept to my own.
The ride continued to be uneventful (which was good as I heard there were cows crossing for the later starts, and some of the participants had to be stopped on both sides!). It was only towards the last 10km where I took turns with Andy Foo (who started 5 minutes later but caught up with me half way) and another person to lead. That's also where I lost my water bottle. It slipped out of my sweaty hands! Luckily I only had 5km to go.
I came into transition with a bike split of 1:11.33, just shy of my 70 minute target which was a bit ambitious anyway. My left shoe got stuck to my foot as I dismounted and I had to remove it by hand. Several others started the run about the same time as myself including Simon Cross, despite starting 10 minutes later. But Simon quickly overtook me and the sight of his back became smaller and smaller as he moved further and further away.
I overtook Andy at around 2km into the run (although he beat me by 2 minutes overall) and eventually found my rhythm. There was an overcast which protected us from the sun. The weather was really kind actually, the water was calm during the swim and there were minimal winds on the bike.
I reached the turnaround point just under 20 minutes and immediately I knew it was slightly under distanced, but it made up for the long run from the beach and the bike was slightly longer too. I managed to overtake some of the guys who overtook me on the bike. Closing towards the finishing, Keat Seong (who's taking a break from triathlons FOR NOW) was cheering me on. Entering into the finishing mat, I sprinted and could feel my left thigh twitching but I held on.
Crossed the finish line with a run split of 40:50 and total time of 2:19.24. A 7 minute improvement on my personal best, 25th in my age group out of 144 and 51st male overall out of 532. I guess I can't complain after all.
Some special mention:
- my family for being so supportive and making the trip a whole lot easier with food, lodging and transport all taken care of. I love you all!
- Nik and Paul Lee for coming early in the morning the day before their race to cheer those doing the sprint. Such a selfless act and such nice guys!
- Sofian, just wanted to say you look good with your new weight and well done in your 9th placing! See you in Perth soon!
- Jennifer and Frank for cheering me on the race course. Not sure if I reciprocated but it was much appreciated!
- Tomato Ray, Mich, Lee, Yap and Debbie for giving the laughs at the carbo loading dinner.
- Yip, once again for providing such stiff competition. Saw you on the other side after the run turnaround and I was running with anxiety after that. The fact that you started 5 minutes after me made it harder to estimate our time distance.
- Uncle Peter Lau for drilling the importance of speed training, which helped me a lot for this race.
- Isaiah Kee for letting my brother use your bike during the sprint, and giving him the opportunity to do his first ever triathlon.
- and of course, my darling Li-Ann who although was in Perth throughout the trip, was with me in spirit and gave me strength when I struggled. Love you...
Back in Perth now. Ironman training starts soon. Bring it on!
*Photos courtesy of my mum, Shazly Khan and Mr Tey.