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!