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 Quicksport.com|
|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!