The decision to do this race was largely influenced by the 2 for 1 deal by Jetstar, which I purchased the tickets more than a year ago. To be honest, following that, I regretted my decision slightly. The entry fee was higher than any half Ironman race in Australia, and the Aussie dollar was low at the time when I paid. Also, it clashed with the half Ironman in Auckland, which I could have done and visited my sister at the same time.
Anyway, what's done is done. And I'm glad to say I have no regrets doing this race at all! The last time I've been to Singapore was more than 7 years ago, and although we didn't do much sightseeing, the trip gave myself and Li-Ann the opportunity to meet up with our families, relatives and friends.
After 5 days of holiday with my parents and brother in Perth, we were set to depart for Singapore on Thursday night. No doubt I was on holiday but I didn't get much rest either with all the sightseeing. We arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of Friday morning and caught a cab to Serangoon where Li-Ann's sister stays. I had a bit of rest but not much as I got myself a haircut after breakfast with Li-Ann's other sister, and I assembled the bike.
Soon it was time for the race kit collection and carbo loading dinner cum race briefing at Suntec Exhibition Centre. The were not many stalls at the expo and thankfully, I controlled myself and didn't spend a single cent. I was glad to have finally met Enrico and Matt. Also caught up with a friend from Facebook, Chee Siong who would be doing his first half Iron distance race. The briefing was pretty standard, I didn't pay much attention as I was dead tired. The food was pretty good but we joined Li-Ann's sister for supper later, so you can say I was getting over loaded in carbo hehe.
Saturday morning, I did a few laps around the apartment just to see that the bike was in good mechanical order. We then went for an early bike check-in as we were meeting some friends later that day. This was the first time I've checked in my bike so early, I normally leave it to the last hour! And a good thing too, as it rained heavily later in the afternoon. Luckily, I covered the headset and saddle with plastic bags.
Race day morning, a late start time of 8.20am for my age group allowed me to leave a lot of the preparation at the race venue. Still, I got up just before 6am and we caught a cab to East Coast Park, the transition area was already bustling. After getting my bike ready, I met up with Richard and Hamsul, another Facebook friend from Brunei while doing my stretches. Both of them have registered for Ironman New Zealand in March 2012, which sold out in just under 2 days!
The 1.9km swim was a two loop course starting on dry land with a short run on the beach in between the loops. It was a staggered start according to age groups, mine starting 20 minutes after the PROs. As I lined up for my start, I noticed Wille Loo, winner of my age group last year (who also successfully defended his title this year with a blistering time of 4:24) lining himself right in front. I too wanted a good swim, so I placed myself in the front row.
The horn went, and we raced into the water. The clobbering from other competitors didn't quite bother me, I'm pretty used to it already. Visibility was pretty poor, I could barely see passed my elbows. I didn't think it was very choppy but we did catch up with the participants from the earlier start, causing a bit of congestion. My watch strap played up a few times, and I had to readjust it to put it back in place. As I came up for my second lap, I was shocked to see I was over 19 minutes! Still, I stayed positive as I reckoned everyone would be in the same boat of doing a slow swim. I finished the swim in 39:51, about 10 minutes slower than I hoped. I thought that my sub 5 hour target was gone but stayed positive to get as close to it as possible.
Did a quick but calm transition of just under 3 minutes. I kept my shoes clipped on the bike but didn't risk doing a fly mount. I enjoyed the fast and flat bike course with minimal winds entirely. The 90km distance spanned over 3 laps, mostly shaded by trees and there was an overcast as well. It was very wide except for the few kilometers in and out of transition. What bothered me was the rampant drafting amongst the competitors and the lack of marshaling. Still, I was doing my own race and what others do shouldn't impact my own performance.
I did a rookie error of setting my gear one level too light on the first lap and I lost a bit of power (and time!) But I changed gears halfway through and my speed increased significantly. Also, the Rock Tape I stuck on my legs was beginning to peel, I had to slow down a bit to remove them. I finished the bike course in 2:34:09 averaging over 35kph, I was ecstatic! Although according to my speedometer, it was about 88.5km, anyone else had the similar reading?
I wasn't able to slip off my bike shoes as I rode into the finish, hence I had to run into transition with my bike shoes. Quickly changed shoes while Li-Ann cheered me on at the side of the transition gates. My time for T2 was just over 1 minute. I looked at my watch, and I might be able to clock under 5 hours after all, thanks to the quick bike!
I maintained a high cadence and good form at the start of the run, which is two lap course totaling 21.1km. And just as I was about to slow down, a senior participant caught up with me. A supporter mentioned to him that he was 75 seconds down from this closest age group competitor, I'm assuming he was on the pace for a podium placing. So I gestured him to follow me. We paced each other for about 3-4km where he slowed down after one of the drinks station, and I continued. 3rd place female, Michelle Wu passed us somewhere before that.
I was glad that the run was mostly shaded as well. I grabbed the sponges and 100Plus cups from the stations without stopping. But just after the first lap, my stomach felt slightly bloated and I was getting a stitch. I slowed down, but I told myself to keep going. I was still able to maintain a 5 minute per km pace, but the chances of finishing under 5 hours looked grim. I started walking for a few steps each time I passed the drinks stations.
Reaching the final turn into the finish, although it was passed 5 hours, I could still make it before the minute changes. I sprinted through the finishing lane, crossing the line with the person in front of me. I finished with a run time of 1:42:49, an overall finish time of 5:00:48, darn that 48 seconds!
It rained just after I had my post race massage. I met John Cooke and Enrico, and confirmed with them that everyone had a slow swim including the PROs.
It took us a while, more than an hour to call a cab back to Serangoon after that. With a race turnout of 1700 participants, I was not surprised. It is definitely more convenient logistically if you have your own transport. For dinner that night, I met up with my cousins and their kids, which was great especially that was the first time I saw the latest newborn to our family. Also, thanks for the treat!
Some special mention, my darling fiance Li-Ann for being ever so patient and supportive, joining me on this ra-cation (race vacation, a term coined by Li-Ann herself haha) and depriving herself of sleep, waking up early on race day and having to endure the long wait to get back after the race, while I was already on adrenaline high. I love you!
I can't thank her sisters enough for making our stay a lot more convenient and comfortable, and saved us a lot in costs too. Muchas gracias!
P/S - A few posts ago here, I mentioned a surprise for the race. Did anyone guess what the surprise was? Hint - it probably helped me a lot on the bike, though I'd like to think that much of it was attributed to my legs instead!