Sunday, 26 February 2012

Herne Hill 40km bike time trial

I always feel a bit anxious when it comes to bike time trials. Simply because cycling had always been my weakest leg in a triathlon. But lately with the added bike mileage, I'm slowly gaining some confidence in my cycling ability.

With the time trial on Sunday, I skipped the hills ride on Saturday and rode 4 hours on Freeway South instead. It's always nice to greet fellow triathletes ploughing through the path on both directions. I had two big dinners on Friday and Saturday (thanks Jasmine and Michael for having us at your place!), which probably gave me more than enough carbs for this race.

I met up with Bill and Shao at East Perth in the morning, had a quick coffee stop at MilkD Maylands and then we rode to Herne Hill. Riding for over 50 minutes before my time trial got me even more nervous as to whether I would have any energy left, but the boys were great, they towed me for most of the ride.

Got to Herne Hill primary school for the registration, a quick toilet break and soon it was time to start. Shao then went home. Despite the name of the venue, the course is pretty flat - rectangular shape with four 90 degree turns and we go through it 4 times. The wind was pretty calm when we started but it soon picked up towards the last couple of laps.

I was aiming for 70 minutes, which is just over 34kph. But I was averaging just over 35kph, which made me quite happy. I even passed two of the cyclists who started just before me, which rarely happens. I'm beginning to enjoy riding with the big crank, I rode with it throughout the course. At the end of the last lap, I moved to an even bigger gear and tried to hammer towards the finish, in hope of clocking a higher average speed.

In the end, I clocked 1:07:37 - an average pace of 35.5kph, really happy with the result! One area which I need to continuously improve on is taking the tight corners with more speed and confidence. Although, after the race, while we were chatting with one of the marshals, we saw a girl took a corner, skidded and fell. Luckily she wasn't hurt too badly.

With tired legs, I rode with Bill (actually behind Bill for most of it) back to East Perth. I'm beginning to enjoy these bike time trials. So much so, that I have another one in Wandi in two weeks, see you then!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

John Forrest Cross Country... plus a bit

Something fun and different... was the description for this race in my program this week. I have never ran off road or trails before. I've done nature hikes but all at a walking pace. With my poor eyesight and motor coordination, I get too worried of tripping, twisting an ankle, rolling down the hill etc.

So I was pretty nervous as to how this would turn out. In the morning, my legs still felt a bit like jelly from the long ride in the hills with the BYL group a.k.a. the epic Wusa hills ride. One good thing was the trails in Perth are pretty dry, compared to the muddy, yucky ones in Malaysia. Although, some might prefer the latter...

I met up with Shao, Sandy and Bill at Bilgoman Aquatic Centre, had a quick warm up and then walked across the Great Eastern Highway for our race start. The race director briefly explained the course and told us to follow the pink ribbons - basically, the onus is on us (no pun intended!) to run the right course! Here's the course map taken off the WA Marathon Club website.

From the start, Bill and Shao took off with the front pack. Myself and Sandy stayed in a group of our own just a bit further back. I was actually enjoying the run, though I made a mistake of wearing my Saucony Fastwitch racing flats. I could feel the pebbles and twigs poking through my feet. I wore our Louis Garneau BYL running singlet for the first time, which felt really comfortable and light - and it dries really quickly too. Going through the ascends and the descends of John Forrest National Park, I surprised myself more than anyone else at the pace I was going. Agility was never my strong point and there were moments when I was leading our group for quite a fair bit. Running up the boulders was quite an exhilarating experience.

It was just after then, around 2/3 into the course, I was a bit further ahead of our group and chasing a girl in red just a bit further in front. She soon disappeared into the horizon and I kept going, not knowing that I have taken the wrong route! I knew something was amiss, I was running alone and there were no more pink ribbons! But I decided to keep going, even if I have gone off course, at least find my way back to the finish. It wasn't long until I met up with Bill who was walking back from the opposite direction, he too took the wrong route. And very soon the group from behind caught up with us. So we all back tracked and finally found the intersection, where we took the wrong turn. We continued running... back on the right course this time! And we came to the infamous Faithful Hill. Boy, did it live up to its expectations! It just kept going up, and up, and up!

After that, we got onto the main road and it was about 2-3kms left to the finish. It was main road all the way until about 200m from the finish line. And then, guess what? We took the wrong turn again! Quickly back tracked and got onto the right one - myself, Bill and Sandy were all running together and each of us got into a sprint, finally finishing within seconds of each other.

According to Bill's Garmin, we did 17.6km - 5kms more than the race course. I had a time of 1 hour 22 minutes. Taking off that 5kms should give me a sub 1 hour race but I guess we'll never know... until next year. Although it was a pity not to have a true official time, it was still great fun. Hey, it's not everyday you get to finish a race with your coach right? Shao (the only one among us who ran the correct route) met up with us after that. And my post race nutrition was well taken care of - Bill brought lovely florentines baked by his wife, and Shao made these delicious chocolate tarts. Thanks guys!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Happy birthday Dad!

My dad will celebrate his 57th birthday tomorrow. He taught me everything I knew and has provided me with all that I needed to be who I am today. Dad has always been health conscious and loves running. And since I've started this triathlon madness, he has been really supportive all the way.

I love you, dad. Here's to wishing you a very happy birthday!

Monday, 6 February 2012

A very early Valentine's day celebration

In an attempt to avoid the crowd and overpriced meals, Li-Ann and I decided to have our Valentine's Day dinner about 10 days early - last night. We initially wanted to celebrate it on Chap Goh Meh (15th night of the Chinese New Year), which is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day. But most restaurants close on Monday.

We went to Chimes, which is the flagship restaurant of Hotel Northbridge. I'm surprised we didn't come to this place sooner! It was pretty quiet but in a nice way. The place is located at the corner of Brisbane and Lake Streets, so a bit further from the busy spots of Northbridge. First things that won me over were the complimentary bread rolls... yes, the accountant in me was impressed! No need for entrees then ;)

We ordered the sirloin steak and chicken breast. The portions were pretty large and both dishes were cooked perfectly. Li-Ann really enjoyed her chicken, normally I always have her leftovers but there weren't much this time! Most of the mains are under $30, which is very rare in Perth restaurants nowadays. We would definitely be making another trip here again!

Speaking of Northbridge, my go-to triathlon shop, Runner's World would be closing down at the end of this month. It would indeed be a real loss to the Perth triathlon community. Having been in operation for over 30 years, as they say, it is truly the end of an era. I dropped in sometime last week to have a chat with Phil and bid farewell and best wishes. Now, I need to find someone else to bug with my bike mechanical queries, with the hope that I would charged nearly as reasonable as Phil did.