Monday, 24 December 2012

Farewell 2012...

As it is only a day before Christmas and the year comes towards an end, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! I never quite believed the Mayan end of world theory, looking forward to many years to come!

2012 has been an eventful one. On June 23rd, I got married to a gorgeous lady, my darling Li-Ann. Although we have been living under the same roof for about 1.5 years before that, there some subtle differences in our lives since that special day.

I completed 2 Ironman distances this year. In fact, if you count Ironman WA the year before, it adds up to 3 in a period of just over 12 months. I think I've matured as a triathlete - many thanks to Bill's coaching and training with the BYL team.

Come 2013, changes and challenges a plenty. New place - London, Ontario. New job - I'm still looking for one. New people and culture altogether. Let's not forget my passion - triathlon, training in a place that snows 4 months of the year will require some thinking outside the box!

I'll be away from Christmas day, will be returning to Malaysia for a week. Until then, enjoy the silly season! See you in the new year!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

More pics from Busso

Pictures courtesy of Li-Ann, Dennis Tan, Andrina Goh, BYL and Finisherpix
My biggest fan, the night before the race
At the start line
The calm before the storm
Glad to be out of that choppy water!
Pretty average swim time
Let's try to fix that on the bike
Chasing Tom at the Rushleigh Rd turnaround
Still smiling at the start of the run

And a bit of horsing around too!

Finished Ironman no. 6!
Post race celebration at Duckstein brewery

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ironman Western Australia 2012... a race of a different kind

I came to this race with big goals and expectations. Even a big investment in a new bike, new shoes etc. the lot! As most of you would know, I fell short of my sub 10 hour target and made it through the finish with 10:16.28, about 1.5 minute slower than my PB at Ironman Cairns early this June. In fact, I clocked almost the same splits for each leg, talk about being consistent!

Disappointed? Somewhat. But given the conditions on the day, I was just glad to have finished strongly. The waters were choppy during the swim but in comparison, my swim time was still pretty average. It was hot and windy on the bike, which made it difficult to clock a high speed. Luckily Tom from BYL passed me on the second lap and it helped with my pacing. Onto the run, the mercury rose even higher and it was difficult to maintain the pace I started. The drinks stations could have been better spaced, it has been the same for the last years - some really close to each other, some really far. Despite improving 8 minutes on last year's time, my age group ranking dropped by 13 places to 22nd but I improved 14 places overall to 140th. I've given it all on the race course and I could not have asked for more.

I'm afraid this isn't one of my usual detailed race reports. After doing the same course three years in a row, I can't seem to find the creative juices to write it much differently. But what I can definitely shed light on how much I enjoyed the company of the Malaysian contingent doing this race, most of them staying at Amaroo Motel too, and most of them doing their first Ironman. The pre race stress and chatter outside the corridors of our rooms, and asking for tips and advice. I felt very honoured to share some of my experiences.

I can also share on how much stronger I feel in the lead up to this race. Coach Bill certainly did not take the brakes off in my training plan this time. And though I feel tired and beaten up at the end of most weeks, I knew I would reap the rewards when it matters most on race day. I'm proud to say that I could keep up (most times) with the BYL group rides and finally feel that I'm part of the group and no longer that slow one that the group has to drag home. It was great fun training with you guys and a bit of healthy rivalry did push me beyond my limits on race day.

As some of you may already know, my wife Li-Ann and I will be moving to Canada for the next two years. Li-Ann took up a research position in University of Western Ontario in London, two hours away from Toronto. She left yesterday morning and as I'm writing this, she's already in Canada, a foreign place so far away and our communication is somewhat limited. The past few weeks had been stressful for her - sorting out our visas, getting rid of furniture and belongings we don't need, arranging for our place to leased out, packing for a trip to to a place where temperatures drop to negative 30 degrees!

All of these whilst my mental space had been pre occupied with the Ironman race, I did not give much help. Still, Li-Ann gave her full support on race day, even took the car out with Sam and Dennis to cheer me on at the bike turnaround on Rushleigh Road. She was sunburnt and exhausted at the end of the day. Thanks, darling! I love you, darling!

An amazing shot taken by Dennis Tan
What's next for me? Well, going to Canada will be an adventure in itself. But being the Ironman junkie I am, I have already signed up for Ironman Canada in Whistler on 25 August. With over 4000ft of climbing on the bike course and nearly 700ft of elevation in the run, it's going to be one epic race!

Monday, 3 December 2012

It's show time

It's hard to believe that the 22 week training plan for Ironman WA has nearly come to an end. It sure was an interesting ride! I'd like to thank my coach Bill Scanlan for getting me this far, it is with his coaching and guidance that I have confidence in my preparation to be at my best on race day. My lovely wife Li-Ann for tolerating my absence both in body and mind, when I'm out training and when I'm either too tired or zoned out when I'm at home. Without her support I would not have made it this far. The BYL crew, thanks for pushing me to my limits and beyond. It is only with these guys and girls that I can put training for an Ironman and fun within the same sentence.

After a couple of months hiatus, I joined the BYL interval run session on Tuesday morning. We did 6 x 1.45km in King's Park. As it has been a while since I've ran at intensity, it was pretty tough and I was careful not push too hard to prevent getting injured. I did two swim sessions during the week and tried on different wetsuits - full sleeved and sleeveless. My arms felt really sore partway through the full sleeved session and I was baking inside swimming in the heated pool. I felt a lot more comfortable in the sleeveless and my swim times were pretty similar, if not quicker than swimming in the full sleeved. So it's a no brainer that I'll be using the sleeveless on race day unless it's going to be a really cold morning. I'll still bring both down to Busso just in case.

The weekend's volume was a tad bit shorter than last week. I rode for 3.5 hours on Saturday down the Freeway. I had my aero helmet and the disc wheel on, and got many stares from other cyclists and pedestrian. I even copped some abusive words from a bogan driving past in a ute and the Murdoch traffic lights. On Sunday, I ran for 80 minutes around my neighbourhood with negative splits. My first half was quicker than last week's tempo pace and I managed to go even quicker in the second half. Glad to see I'm feeling fresher with the taper.

My dark knight all set up and ready for race day
I had a massage session with Nathan Doig this morning. He was kind not to hurt me too much (his words, not mine!). Race week coming up, a bit of packing to do and plenty of nerves going around. A bit of nervousness is good but too much can be self destructing. Sometimes, it's good to shut away from it all and just take a deep breath.

I wish all those taking part all the best! And to the first timers, enjoy the moment! No one else can do that for you, but yourself. Track us live this Sunday on, my next post shall be my race report!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Kona inspired

Given that it's the 1st taper week, I thought that it would be a good idea drawing inspiration from the NBC coverage of this year's Kona Ironman World Championships. I think this is the best coverage thus far, with great highlights of the race day action and great capture of the emotions at the finish line. I get goosebumps each time I see a finisher crossing the arch.

Compared to the previous weeks, this week's training load has decreased but not significantly. The 2 hour rides during the week were reduced to 1.5 hours and I had a two mid week runs, each of about 30 minutes. Bill gave me some descending pace work for the swim sessions and even threw in some alternating freestyle and medley sets just to mix things up. 

Saturday's long ride was 4.5 hours down the Freeway bike path. I think it was one of the few rides which I had a tailwind on the way back, which was very much welcomed. I clocked 140kms, exceeding the plan by 5kms with 2 more minutes to spare :) Sunday was a run for 1 hour 40 minutes, with negative split for the 2nd half. I started a bit quick and thought I would struggle to run faster for the later half, but I surprised myself and did just that. 22.5km ran with an average pace of 4:27 per km.

Things are falling into place and with the reduced volume and more recovery time, I feel stronger (and less grumpy!) and this serves well for my confidence. Not long now until the big race day. Hang in there everyone!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Final build

One final big week before the taper. As much as I enjoy training, the long hours and the post workout fatigue is slowly taking a toll on my body. So I'm glad to have made it this far and looking forward to the taper.

The week started with a 25 minute recovery run on Monday following the big weekend. Tuesday I did 90 minutes ride in King's Park, and recovered in the afternoon with an easy swim session. Wednesday I rode again, for 2 hours to Shelley Reserve and Point Walter. In the afternoon I did a 45 minute run in the neighbourhood.

I swapped Thursday's morning session to another day as I had an early morning meeting. In the afternoon I swam with a main set of 4 x 800m varying with some fartlek efforts, pull buoy and paddles. Friday morning I ran for 80 minutes in King's Park. The temperature is beginning to rise as summer is closing in on us. I recovered with another easy swim session in the afternoon.

It was a hot one when I did my long 5 hour ride on Saturday. I think the temperature rose 10 degrees in the second half of my ride. The slight headwinds made it tougher too, and my return journey took an extra 15 minutes. I had to cut short my brick run to 30 minutes as I was going to be late for our lunch appointment. The rest of the group were having a training camp down south and raced Bunbury Classic the next day. I couldn't go as Li-Ann was flying off to Singapore that night. She'll be away for about 10 days, but being the wonderful wife she is, she cooked up and stored plenty of food so my nutrition will be well taken care of in these crucial weeks.

On Sunday I only had a 75 minute ride, which I went to Sorrento Beach. I joined Dennis Tan and NCTC for an open water swim but the water was so choppy and I gave up after swimming a few hundred metres. In the afternoon I ran for 2.5 hours, my longest run this build. My pace was much better compared to the last weekend, I clocked 33.2km, averaging 4:31 per km.

The volume will reduce in the coming weeks but still keeping moderately intense. It's important, more so than ever, to keep my nutrition, rest and recovery in check. And as Bill told me in his email, keep out of trouble!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Another big week

Four weeks to Ironman WA, it's so close I can almost smell it!

The week started with a 2 hour 15 minutes run on Tuesday along Mounts Bay road by the Swan River. I settled into my usual pace of 4:30 per km but again, it only lasted until halfway and I had to slow down about 10 seconds per km. I finished the run with clocking a distance of 29.5km, 500 meter short of my target. Still, happy with just logging in the miles and at least I did not die towards the end.

Wednesday I did 2 hours of riding in King's Park. The weather this week was much better than the last and I did not have to cross my fingers and toes hoping it will stay dry throughout my ride. In the afternoon I had a massage session with Nathan Doig. It's always painful but I felt much better after.

Thursday I was back in King's Park again but this time for a 75 minute run. I'm beginning to enjoy these undulating runs a lot more, attacking the climbs and just cruising on the descends. Clocked 16.6km with an average pace of 4:31 per km - my best effort this season.

Friday I did not have anything in the morning but I did some land exercises consisting of strength and resistance training. I try to do these at least once every 2 weeks as I think it is just as important, if not more, than just doing the long hours on the road. In the afternoon, I did another long swim set of 10 x 400m, averaging 1:35 per 100m.

For Saturday's long ride, I followed the BYL group down the Freeway. When I said followed I actually meant trying to keep up and that only lasted until we past the South Street exit. I got dropped and was riding solo up until Pinjarra Road. No matter, as we are not allowed to draft on race day anyway. I sent a text asking them to go ahead, they would have rode a bit longer to the servo. I started making my way back but it wasn't long until they caught up with me again. This time, I managed to stay on all the way home. 174.3km logged, just shy of the full 180km, in about 5.5 hours. Thanks for the ride guys! We had someone falling during the ride, luckily nothing broken and just some lost skin.

I started my Sunday 90 minute ride a bit late at 8.20am, as we had to drop an old mattress off at the recycling centre. Dennis Tan and the North Coasters were doing their open water swim practice at Sorrento Beach. I should have joined them rather than leaving my swim after my ride. With the howling wind and the choppy waters, I talked myself out of swimming solo. In the afternoon I ran for 2 hours 25 minutes. I started off with a 4:30 per km pace, managed to hold it for over 21kms. But the legs got tired, so I slowed down to 4:45 per km and in the end I finished with 31.8kms, 200m short than planned.

I guess I won't get too caught up in trying to hit targets in every session. My maximum weekly running mileage is about 20kms more than the last season. So it is almost impossible not to feel tired.

Celebratory dinner for this week's efforts with Li-Ann at the Hyde Park Hotel, North Perth. This is the mixed grill with rump steak, sausages, lamb chop and wagyu beef patties. The food was really good! But slightly let down by the less than friendly wait staff.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Embrace the suck

The week of training had a bit of a rocky start. I rested on Monday as I had a early morning meeting. I had a 2 hour run scheduled in on Tuesday morning, and with fresh legs, I was looking forward to a good one. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I was clocking 4:30 per km pace for the first hour, but my legs soon tightened up and I slowed down to a jog. In the end, I only clocked 25.5km, with an overall average of 4:42 per km.

Wednesday and Thursday had me riding in King's Park and Shelley loop respectively. It was very windy, and I stayed low on the aerobars, and kept it as tight as possible. I'm very happy with how this new bike performs on windy days like these. On Friday I had an hour's run in King's Park. It was like a redemption run for me, given the mediocre one on Tuesday. I pushed myself pretty hard and was glad with the result. Clocked 13.2km with a 4:33 per km average, quicker than the last time I ran in King's Park. In the evening, I had a swim session with a main set of 10 x 400m. Repetitive and long, but I much prefer these than doing pace work.

I swapped my rides on the weekend, as the weather was forecasted to be really wet and wild on Sunday. So I did my long ride on Saturday instead and followed the BYL group to the hills. We rode through Death Valley, Mundaring, Mundaring Weir and Zig Zag hill. It only started getting windy as we got back to Perth and it showered in the last 5 minutes of my ride back to home. Still, happy to clock another 180km ride and riding in a group makes it a whole lot more enjoyable and the kms go by a lot quicker, thanks boys and girls!

On Sunday, I rode laps on Sorrento to Burns Beach. The skies were black with ominous clouds and I kept my fingers crossed so that the weather will hold up for that 2.5 hours or so. Some parts of the road were crowded with parked cars, as it is abalone catching season again. There were occassional gusts of wind from the coast, which had me clutching tightly onto the handlebars. It was only until the last 10 minutes when it really poured and even hailed for a couple of minutes. I was soaking wet at the end of the ride and decided to skip my 45 minute run and headed home for a warm shower.

It rained and hailed a few more times that day. Pretty unusual for this time of the year. I was still keen to make up my run but wasn't sure whether I would have a chance to. In the end, I sneaked in a run at about 6pm, and it stayed dry for most of it.

This week wasn't ideal but sometimes it's not about how fast we go but more about how we persevere in less than ideal conditions. I think that goes a long a way in preparing for a big race. Another 5 weeks to go to Ironman WA, with 2-3 weeks of big sessions before the taper.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Let's get serious

It's been a while since I've last posted about my training, all geared towards the big race, Ironman Western Australia in December. I've been told by my wife that my posts on training can be a little too serious and more often then not, mundane. Well, with only 6 weeks to go the big race, things are starting to get serious. 

Just last week, I ran over 82kms - a new personal record for me. I had 3 long runs - two 90 minute and one 110 minute late Sunday afternoon, while most of Perth's triathletes were on their way back from Mandurah 70.3, which many scored fast times and PBs for, well done to all! I wasn't sure how my legs will respond to so many long runs in a single week and a first time doing a long run in the afternoon. Glad to say, that they responded pretty well and I kept to sub 4:30 pace for all of them. The key was to take one session and a time, and not worry about the next one. 

This week, I only had one long run, and it was 100 minutes, so 10 minutes less than the one on Sunday. Originally scheduled for Thursday morning but with an early meeting, I rested and ran on Friday instead. So with fresh legs, I was able to score sub 4:25 average pace. Hoping to carry the good momentum through to the weekend. I had to ride both Saturday - 2.5 hours, and Sunday - 6 hours. 

It was hot this weekend, with the mercury rising to a maximum of 35 degrees. The northerly winds hasn't quite died down either. Saturday's ride of laps from Sorrento to Burns Beach went alright. I did a short open water swim at Sorrento Beach after, I was the only one swimming, it was pretty scary especially with all the reports on shark sightings lately. On Sunday, I rode down the Freeway South bike path. It was alright going down but I didn't have much left in my legs on the return. The headwinds and the heat made it much harder. I stopped by Hungry Jack's at Safety Bay Road for a $1 thick shake and refilled with soft drink several times. 

As I got back to Raffles foot bridge, it was nearly midday and a storm was brewing - dashes of lighting could be seen, what a bizarre weather! The diagonal head/cross winds from Raffles to Mill Point Road had me clutching on the bars for my dear life. The thought of another thick shake was very tempting so I made my way to the Hungry Jack's in South Perth for another treat. It rained while I was in the restaurant, but it cleared as I did the remaining 45 minutes of my ride. Still did 180km, but 17 minutes over 6 hours and a very slow 28.6kph average. Surprisingly, I still found my legs for the 30 minute brick run and it was hot and sunny again, as I ran along Mounts Bay road to the Swan Brewery and back. There were some playful uni students were asking me for something but I gave a smile and just ran away, yes, not a very friendly I am! 

Another week to look forward to. I have a more manageable load during the week, but the weekend load builds on this week. Hope I'll survive that. I barely did this week.

Monday, 22 October 2012

A sad day for the running community

The Malaysian running community was shocked the sudden passing of a top veteran female runner last week. Cheah Meei Meei who recently won the Perhentian Island Challenge the previous weekend passed away on Thursday with the cause of death yet to be confirmed. Scepticemia, typhoid and leptospirosis were some of the possible causes being mentioned. One thing for sure, there were many participants of the Perhentian Island Challenge who had food poisoning from the race. I hope the race organizers do a detailed investigation into this.
Photo of Sin Chew newspaper article taken from Tey Eng Tiong's Facebook page 
May you rest in peace, Cheah Meei Meei. My deepest sympathy and condolences out to her family and closest friends. I wish them the strength to get through this difficult time.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The thrills and wheels of Kona

The recently concluded Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii was filled with plenty of excitement and drama. It was a pity that my pre race favourites of Craig 'Crowie' Alexander and Mirinda 'Rinny' Carfrae weren't able to come up tops. Rinny fought all the way to 3rd placed female and collapsed at the finish line, while Crowie could only manage a distant 12th. But it was nice to see Aussie Pete Jacobs coming up the ranks and taking the title. He has sure come a long way since the days when he was a neo pro competing at the Busselton Half (now Busselton 70.3) a few years ago. Also, special mention to fellow BYL athlete Scott Thomson who finished with an awesome time of 9:31:10 in some really tough conditions.

Apart from the race itself, one of the things that keeps us mere mortals watching at home entertained is the sizzling display of the latest bikes and gear at the check in, something we like to call bike porn! I'd like to share my own if I may, something which I have been partially disclosing before this.

A 2012 Felt DA 1 frame and Devox bars with the 2012 Sram Red groupset, finished with Zipp R2C shifters. I ordered the frame online and the friendly guys at PedalSpot in SS2, Malaysia took care of the rest. I initially requested for a different coloured frame but I think it was a blessing in disguise that this colour came instead. I like this much better! I managed to get a good discount on both the frame and the parts, and it's my last birthday before I turn 30, so don't judge me and let me splurge! I call it the Dark Knight.

I rode it for the first time on two occassions this weekend. A four ride down and back the Freeway South bike path. It was howling with wind on the way back and that gave the aerodynamics a good test. The second ride which I started at 10.30am on Sunday after watching Kona, was 3 hours in the hills - my usual route of Darlington, John Forrest National Park, Mundaring Weir and descending via Kalamunda. Both rides impressed me very much. The bike was stiff and aero in the wind, as well as super light when climbing the hills. I'm still getting used to the new fit, feeling more sore than what I usually do after these rides. But I have the next 8 weeks to get used to it. Can't wait for my next ride!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sarawak Triathlon and birthday celebration

Two weeks after Desaru, I flew back to Malaysia again for the Sarawak Double Seven Triathlon in Miri. In fact, this trip was booked in much earlier as Desaru wasn't confirmed then. Although it was tiring making two trip in two weeks, it was worth it. Spending my birthday with my family was something I have done for many years. I spent a night at home before flying to Miri. We had dinner at Betty's Midwest Kitchen in Aman Suria. The food was really good and we all enjoyed ourselves, stuffing our mouths and sharing lots of laughs. Lil' sis even bought me a pair of LG Tri Lite shoes, thanks sis!

Obviously VERY happy with my birthday present!

We took the early morning flight to Miri. Mum and dad were my cheerleaders cum porters cum photographers cum bike mechanic (more on that later). It was nice having mum and dad fussing over my race, brings back memories as I was a teenager during my competitive swimming days. It was our first trip to Miri and we met many familiar faces on the flight. The organizers arranged for transport from the Miri airport to the hotel. We were fortunate to check into our room early. First thing I did was assemble my bike. Then we joined Fook and gang for lunch - Sarawak kolok mee! And a small tour around Miri - handicraft centre, farmers' market and the Grand Old Lady oil drill. We ended our tour with rojak and chendol, yes we Malaysians love our food! Thanks Fook and your dad, for taking the time bringing us around. It was lots of fun and we truly enjoyed ourselves.

Grand Old Lady oil drill
Wild durians at the farmers' market
Upon returning to the hotel, we took our bikes for a test ride. Here's where things went pear shape. I was playing with the shifters and the chain jumped, and got caught in a spoke of the rear wheel. A loud cracking sound ensued and my spoke broke, causing me to lose balance and topple sidewards. I wasn't hurt but I couldn't use my carbon race wheelset. Thank god I brought my alloy training wheels along, they will have to do. I quickly swapped the wheelsets, had to cut short the test ride and then rushed to the race briefing. We were informed that the run had been cut short from 15km to 13.5km and there were no water stations on the 60km bike course. No matter, I don't drink much anyway though I wished the run was it's original distance as I normally play catch up on the run. That night we had dinner with Fook's family, which Fook's dad treated us again.

All of us slept early that night, must have been tired from the travelling. I woke up at 5.15am, just two hours before the race start. Dad was keen to fix the derailleur issue that caused the chain to jumped. We opened the gear cable - something that I have not done before! We adjusted it, it wasn't working perfectly but at least it won't jump now. 

With a small turnout of 150 participants, transition area seemed very cosy. It was free racking at the grass area coming out from the beach. The waves were crashing into the shore as we assembled for the start. The surfers will love it, if it wasn't for the low tide. Out we go for the 2 loop swim. Water was pretty murky but the course was well marked. I wasn't too bothered by the waves but more annoyed by the low tide as we came closer to shore and had to do about 1-2 minutes of wading/skipping before entering the water again. I clocked just over 11 minutes for the first lap and I knew it was under distanced. I lost some of the lead guys on the second lap and finished the swim just over 23 minutes. Later that day, those with Garmins confirmed the distance was 1.5km, rather than 2km as originally stated.

My last race with this bike. Picture courtesy of Cynthia Gan.
As Jason Thiang said, on my birthday it's my mum who suffered the most. I love you, mum!
I'm never too old to learn a thing or two from my dad.
I left transition with Razani, a veteran local triathlete and current Malaysian record holder for the Iron distance. It was a draft legal race and we took turns every 1 minute with another competitor in my age group. As it was only 1 minute, the intensity was kept high. Razani kept us in order by barking out instructions as we rode. After the turnaround, Wong - multiple Kona finisher caught up with us with another competitor from the army. And soon our train got bigger. We came close to transition, we got to the big hill and I was afraid of my life to change gears so I lost the pack but we were only about 2-3 minutes from transition. I finished the 60km bike in about 1 hour 36 minutes, averaging over 38kph thanks to the drafting.

Running with legends. Picture courtesy of
Glad the whole thing was over!
A smooth transition this time and I actually started the run with the draft pack. The guy in my age group quickly overtook me with his fast turnover. As it stands, I'm 5th in my age group with 2nd and 3rd being further ahead and 1st - a pro from Great Britain was racing his own race. I did most of the run with Razani and Wong. It was a surreal feeling running with these legends whom I look up to since I started triathlons. There was a small portion of running on sand as we finish the first loop. I nearly cramped up then but kept it under control. Mum and dad were cheering loudly so that lifted my spirits. Towards the end of the second lap, I was closing in on 3rd and 4th in my age group but there wasn't enough kms to close the gap. In the end, I still finished 5th with a run time of 55 minutes for 13.5km and overall time of 2:55:30. I was 8th overall. Having the emcee announce my birthday as I cross the finish line was a nice touch!

5th in age group, a bit of moolah just enough to cover the costs of the local flight and accommodation. Picture courtesy of Nik Raiha Kosai.
There wasn't much rest and relax after, as I had to pack my bike up to check out of our rooms. But we had some time between check out and our flight back, and we joined Jason Thiang and lovely group of champion ladies for a drink. There could be easily a few tousand Malaysian Ringgit of prize winnings at that table alone. Jason was very nice to buy a piece of cake and we all sang happy birthday, I felt very loved!

Birthday cake blowing at the table of champions! Thanks Jason for the cake!
Straight after the flight from Miri, I caught the midnight flight to Perth. I've been feeling a bit tired these few days probably from the travelling and doing two races in two weeks. But I'm all fired up from the great result I had, and can't wait to get into it. It's about 8 weeks left to Ironman WA!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

You've got a friend in me...

In a few days, my good friend, Eric, will be leaving Perth for good, heading back to Malaysia to start a new chapter in his life. Eric was like a brother to me, and it's not just because we have the same surname by coincidence. It was Eric who introduced me to the small circle of friends we have in Perth through the UWA International Student Service. In fact, if it wasn't for Eric, I wouldn't have met my wife, Li-Ann.

Eric was always there to lend a helping hand since my days as an opportunistic uni student, being seen at almost every workshop or seminar, just to grab some free food... up until the days of my wedding, when he was a dedicated heng dai going through the obstacles given out by the ji muis. I've also tried to convert Eric to be a triathlete, an attempt which I did not succeed very much, but he did do a sprint triathlon and later, a half marathon, which he very much enjoyed... I think.

Springfeast at UWA Multicultural Week in 2006 - Eric 4th from right
Celebrating mid autumn festival - we lit the lanterns indoors as it was too windy outside
Chinese New Year open house at Eric's
Power Station tri - the poor guy got stung by a jelly fish on his first tri, which left a big scar                     (physically and I think, emotionally too haha)
Japanese dinner at Shun - Eric's glasses were blank. He wore them to look more intelligent haha
The beer mile challenge at my buck's - it was an epic day!
Eric helping me negotiate ang pow with the ji muis. He said I was too honest
Eric, we in Perth, will miss you very much. We wish you the very best in your future ventures! Take care, good friend.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Desaru 116 triathlon - Finally!

I sometimes find it hard to believe that it's been about 10 years since I've started doing triathlons. Desaru was where I did my first sprint triathlon. It was less competitive then, there was only one junior category - under 19, and I was a month shy of turning 19. Fast forward 10 years, and I'm still doing this sport, albeit a lot more seriously but still loving every bit of it.

I had a really fun group for thr 4.5 hour travel down south. David, Seh Wai, Malcalm, Elsa, Ee Wen, Kuok Yuen and Mun. You guys rocked! Thanks David for making all the arrangements and Ee Wen for driving me down. It did not only reduce the logistical stress but I also enjoyed the trip a whole lot better.

At the pre race briefing, I met a few other people whom I have only communicated via social media. Some of them would be coming down to Busselton end of the year for their first Ironman. As usual, race director Mr Chan is a real cracker when giving his briefing. We all owe it to Mr Chan and his family for putting up a superbly organized event this year. Without the Chans, there will not be any triathlons in Malaysia. My pre race nutrition plan totally went out the window. I could not resist all the local delights - roti canai, Ramly burger, chicken curry. I would have ordered some satay too if only it didn't take that long. After a hearty meal and long trip, I slept well that night.

Race morning, we woke up at 5.30am - only two hours before race start. It's always convenient when the race is hosted in a resort hotel and you're staying there. The water was a lot calmer than last year, and with a turnout of about 400 people, the swim start wasn't too crowded either. The water visibility wasn't too bad and I could actually swim in a striaght line. Unfortuntaely, the person I was drafting wasn't, and I found myself zig zagging every now and then just to stay on some feet. I came out of the water with a female relay swimmer. Clocked 35 minutes for the 2km swim, not as fast as I hoped but it was evenly split for the two laps.

On to the single, out and back 92km bike course. There were already a couple of guys in my age group who were ahead of me but I kept to my own pace. However, about 30 minutes into the ride, a pack swamped me from behind and I was trapped in it as we rode along the undulating course. So much for the draft busters. I tried to overtake them each time we got to a climb only to be caught up again on the flats. This went on for about 20 minutes and then the pack sped off just before the turnaround. I felt a bit dirty that I was somehow involved but there didn't seem much else that I could do. On the way back, a relay cyclist had the cheek to ask me if we could share the load and when I replied that I do not want to draft, he conveniently sat behind me the whole way back! Anyway, I finished the bike in 2 hours 35 minutes - about 5 minutes quicker than I expected, so I put behind everything else that happened earlier, including my new water bottle that fell off in the last 10km or so.

I nearly wiped out some of the supporters as I was dismounting my bike coming into transition, thankfully nothing serious happened. I knew I had to make up the time on the draft pack in the 22km run, but I stayed and kept the pace steady. Slowly but surely, I was able to cut the lead down on those ahead of me, overtaking one by one. The sun started coming out on the second lap of the run, and that's when the temperature rose. It was surprisingly cloudy and a bit cool during the earlier part of the day. My pace started slowing down and as much as I would love to, the first two guys in my age group were too far for me to catch. I posted 1 hour 39 minutes for the run to finish in 4:51:02 - 3rd in my age group and 6th overall. I was about 1.5 minutes after the 2nd in my age group and 4 minutes after the 1st. Kuok Yuen had severe cramps on the run but still managed to persevere to finish 5 minutes after me in 4th place after leading me in the swim and bike.

I was totally ecstatic with my result and you could see me beaming with pride as I held on to my trophy throughout the awards night. This is my first time winning a prize after doing triathlon for so long. And I have my coach, Bill and the support of my lovely wife, Li-Ann and family to thank for that. I won some prize money which paid for the accommodation, local transport, entry fee and a bit more. This race definitely makes up for the disappointment I had last year and it's a great confidence boost for Ironman WA end of the year.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Third time's the charm

In two sleeps time, I'll be on a plane back to Malaysia for my third attempt at the Desaru Long Distance triathlon this Saturday. As you may recall, last year I did not finish the race due to mechanical issues on the bike and the first one I did two years earlier had me hobbling most of the run leg with severe cramps.

This year, I'm coming back with a vengeance! I'm feeling great and I'm more than happy with preparations for the past few weeks. I know this is not my A race this year, I'm still treating it like one. I even have my many pre race rituals and superstitions (trust me, I do have many of them!) ticked off including packing my lucky race T-shirts for the trip! Having it 11 weeks out from Ironman WA means I'm able to give it my all and recover in time for the big race end of the year.

The bike course has changed since last year. It's now a 1 lap - out and back route, using the same undulating course as the earlier years. Let's hope my weekly training rides in King's Park will come in useful. Until then, wish me luck! My next post shall be the race report!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

When the cat's away...

...the mice comes out to play.

Well, not really. Li-Ann's away in the Eastern states for just over a week - Sydney on a conference, then to Brisbane for a lab visit. Unfortunately, being the triathlete creature of habit I am, I didn't have any wild parties planned. I just stuck to my training regime. The difference is I got a lot more sleep, close to 9 hours in fact. With the 2 hour time zone difference, we talk before I have dinner, and after that I don't have much to do, so I head to bed even earlier. But that will change during the week when I have to do my own cooking after coming home from work.

This week started off with some pretty wild weather - stormy conditions with strong winds. But the timing was quite right, it stayed relatively calm whilst I was training outdoors. It has warmed up over the weekend with bright sunshine and temperatures reaching the mid 20s even before midday. It was still pretty windy though. I joined the BYL boys for a ride down the Freeway South bike path yesterday and we encountered some tough headwinds on the way back. Thanks for pushing the pace and bringing me home, boys! Though I rode about 45 minutes more than what I had on the program, it's a big confidence booster just to be able to keep up!

Less than two weeks to Desaru 116 triathlon. It's amazing how the excitement of an upcoming race just motivates you to push harder. I'm pretty impressed with the times I have been posting in the sessions this week. Still undecided whether to pack my carbon race wheels for this race. Although it's not an A race but I would still like to give it my best shot... and with my best available equipment! But as I'm also intending to put my bike up for sale, I would need to pack the 40mm clinchers that came with it. Let's see if I can manage with two pairs of wheels on board the plane.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

For sale

My beloved Felt B2R tri bike, bought brand new in August 2009 from Runner's World. In great condition, been well cared for and regularly serviced. Sram Red groupset, size 52cm - to suit 164cm to 173cm in height. Will throw in wireless computer with cadence, pedals and rear bottle cages, as well as unused spare aerobar spaces and stems of different sizes.

For full specs, click here. I've changed the brake levers to Sram and the bike has a new chain as well as new tyres.

Fast, light and aero. We have shared many great memories and now, looking for it to start some new memories with a new owner. Selling for AUD2,500 or MYR8,000 - that's more than 50% off what I paid for. So make me an offer - at kskh (at) hotmail (dot) com!

On a separate note, my homeland - Malaysia celebrated it's 55th birthday on Friday. Happy birthday Malaysia! Although we have a long way to go in achieving what we are capable of as a nation, we have also come a long way to what we started out with. And, it's also fathers' day here in Australia. So here's to wishing all the dads a very happy fathers' day including my coach Bill celebrating his first father's day as a dad - very special!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Two weeks

Some miscellaneous updates for these two weeks. Li-Ann's dad and her sister came to visit last weekend. We visited the Swan Valley region and went to the Perth hills the day after. It was also my first time having a meal at Le Croissant at Kalamunda. We took a hike to the Lesmurdie Falls walk trail - such a hidden treasure! Well, not exactly. There were plenty of other visitors but we just did not know about it all this while.

It has been a week since Eid al-Fitr, or Hari Raya as we call it in Malaysia. We were invited to our friend's open house where we had plenty of delicious Malay traditional food - rendang, curry, satay, laksa and all sorts of cookies. Thanks for the invite,
Fozz and Tasha! I'm so stuffed now hehe.

My training load has started increasing with the long rides reaching the 4 hour mark. I rode with the BYL group yesterday down the Freeway bike path, we took turns leading every 5-10 minutes. A fast average speed of 33.5kph after the halfway point, unfortunately I couldn't keep up with the pace after 3 hours and got dropped. Had to ride the last one hour on my own and my average speed dropped closer to 32kph. This morning, while most of Perth's athletic community were out running the City to Surf, I did a 2 hour ride of laps by the coast start from Sorrento and turning back at Burns Beach. Well done to everyone who ran this morning, the conditions were perfect and we saw many personal bests and fast times!

The weather is starting to warm up with bright sunshine during the day, which is good for my preparations for the Desaru 116 triathlon in less than 4 weeks' time. The mornings can still be a bit cold but I think that will soon come to an end.