*Picture courtesy of Paul Lee*
I haven't had a lot of luck with Desaru. Two years ago, I suffered bad cramps when I started the run and I walked/jogged to a 2:11 half marathon split to finish in 5:33 overall. This year, just after 30km on the bike, the rear brakes were rubbing against my wheel. I got off, had it re-aligned and got back on with the ride. I lost two minutes.
At the 50km mark, it happened again. Never mind, I'll just re-align it again. Another 2 minutes lost. It seemed that my efforts were futile, as just 10 minutes later, I heard the same screeching sound of brakes rubbing against the wheel and I could barely pedal. I was devastated. I'm sure nearly half of the competitors cycling that day could hear my screams and swears from the roadside, and I nearly did a Normann Stadler by chucking my bike onto the dirt in despair.
It's always a difficult decision to pull out from a race. Especially so when you have travelled from far, it seemed like the trip was a total waste. More heartaching was that I have literally squandered an opportunity to be amongst the prize winners in my age group, after looking at the results the next day.
However, this is, after all, a test race for my preparations for Ironman Western Australia in 10 weeks time. And I will treat it as such, and take away as much as possible, from this learning experience.
A few things indicated that my preparations were in the right direction. I felt strong riding on the undulating hills on the course. My average speed was well above what I expected. No doubt I had about another 37km to go, but I reckon I should be able to maintain that pace for another hour or so. The hill workouts that Bill prescribed did a lot more than just develop more mass on my very flat bum (per Li-Ann's observation haha). I paced a few friends on the run and I felt really comfortable with the rhythm. Sure I had a reasonably fresh pair of legs after having a free ride on the ambulance for about 30 minutes. But I also think the brick workouts are working well.
One thing to work on. I need to improve my sighting in the open water. I was swimming with the lead pack, and when I felt comfortable, I upped the pace and actually took the lead, swimming on my own. But just after the first lap, I got totally lost and went way of course, losing my lead altogether.
One thing to keep in mind. I must take time to assemble my bike and test ride it... PROPERLY. This story would have been very different if I didn't assemble my bike hastily, in a tired state (from travelling) outside the hotel reception while waiting for my room mates to arrive. I could have used that time to rest and assemble my bike in the comfort of our hotel room. Also, since I have rested, I would have been able to do more than just a short spin around the hotel carpark.
I'm sure there are lots more to be taken away from this experience. And there's no point ruminating about what could have been. I did after all, have a good time with friends in my home country. Now, I need to re-focus my thoughts and energy on Ironman Western Australia, which is the main goal of all the training in the past few months, and months to come anyway.
Having said that, I'm pretty keen to return next year.
I have some unfinished business with the Desaru demons that I want to settle.