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.

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