Thursday, 6 November 2014

Surviving the 2014 Port Dickson Duathlon

PD duathlon is my first proper duathlon. I did know what to expect. I would be traveling in the USA with my parents for a few weeks prior. So no cycling and minimal training on the run discipline as well. And... I would be flying in from Canada just two days before, battling jetlag and timezone difference. But it has been a while since I've done the local Malaysian races organized by the Godfather of Malaysian triathlon, affectionately known as Uncle Chan. Plus my sister and her boyfriend was going to do it as well, I'd thought it will be a fun race to do.

My sister's boyfriend, unfortunately, had to make a work trip to the USA and Canada for an 8 weeks. And my parents weren't free to tag along. So it became sibling bonding trip for the two of us.

Road trip (although it's only 90 minutes drive away)! Thanks Winnie for the tri bagpacks for both of us!
Pre Race

We got to Glory Beach Resort, the host hotel for the race pack pick-up and welcome dinner, at about 3pm. It was great to meet friends again and some moving into multisport from running marathons and ultras. We took a drive to the race site at the Army Museum, as it was 13kms away, and we didn't want to lose our way the next morning. Uncle Chan's humourous race briefing was the highlight of the welcome dinner. The great thing about racing triathlons (or duathlons) in Malaysia is even the smallest of races have welcome dinners included in the entry fees.

I didn't get quite a good night's sleep, I woke up every hour or so and was fully awake 2 hours before our alarm was set. But I didn't feel too tired and was ready to race. I chatted with Li-Ann on messenger a while before we left. It's always nice to get some encouragement from her before a race. We got to the race site pretty early and I had plenty of time to set up in transition as well as do a warm up run with some short spurts. Soon, we were called to the start line. I stood near the front as although I'm not in my best condition, I would still like to give my best on the day. The sprint distance started 10 minutes before us and Uncle Chan delayed our start by a further 5 minutes, so that we wouldn't catch up the sprint participants before they get to the bike.

One for the sponsors, thanks Compressport!
1st Run 10km

At the blow of the horn, the fast guys were slamming on the accelerators. I kept up for only a couple of hundred meters before I had to drop back. Even then, my first km split was 3:33, so you can imagine how fast these guys were going! Small groups were formed behind and they soon overtook me. I decided to stick to my own pace and settled to a 4:10ish pace for a few more kms. But after halfway, there was a bit of incline and lack of fitness showed. I slowed down even further to 4:30 pace and it stayed that way for the rest of the run. I was able to overtake a couple of guys, so that made me a bit more happy. Kenneth, who was running the first leg for the relay team with Rupert, who would be cycling later, caught up with me after halfway. We exchanged leads a few times and I just pipped him to the first timing mat by a few seconds, 45:28 for my first run. It was nice to see Phui Tin, another one of my coached athlete for Ironman Malaysia, and Ellya, were giving cheers as we ran in.

A very brief moment when I was in front. Photo credit - Jack Ah Beh
Hi Phui Tin! Photo credit - Phui Tin
Bike 54km

The bike was a draft legal race. Rupert called on to me to get on his wheel. I tried for a brief period, but it was evident that I could not keep up. So I asked him to head off on his own. A poor guy followed me too closely from behind, his front wheel clipped my rear and he went tumbling down! At that split moment, I did not know what to do. I didn't stop and consoled myself that he would be okay as it happened just within a few hundred meters from transition and he would be able to get help. If I'm not mistaken, the same guy overtook me later on!

Photo credit - Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The course had some rollers as well as some steep climbs that broke the momentum. I averaged around 32kph on the way out. Not great, but not much more I could ask for in my current shape. Many other draft trains passed by but I simply could not latch on. I started the bike about 7th or 8th in my age group. As cash prizes went up to 8th, I thought I could still be in contention. But after the many trains that went by, I knew I had to just do my own race.

Photo credit - Phui Tin

After the turnaround, it was even worse. I had nothing in my legs and I just wanted to get back to transition in one piece. The average pace dropped and dropped. Every now and then, there were some fast downhills that helped. But having not rode a bike for a while, I did not have much confidence descending. I finally got to transition with a bike split of 1:49:19, just under 30kph average pace.

Run 9km

Here's where I usually enjoy the race, running on tired legs! But I guess on this day, my legs were beyond tired. I hobbled out of transition. Ellya and Pui San, who did the sprint earlier was cheering us as we got out. I told her she picked the smarter race choice!  The second run route was a totally different course. We went through some villages and there were some dirt trail sections. And plenty and plenty of climbs! Steep and long ones too! I was averaging about 6 minutes per km pace. But after the last climb, my legs started to cramp and I had to walk a bit.

I just wanted to finish! Photo credit - Jack Ah Beh

The cramp subsided and I had another 2kms or so to go. I knew if I kept on going I should make it well under 3.5 hours - over 30 minutes slower than my initial target! But the cramp came in with about a km to go, I walked a bit more and it felt okay, so I started plodding again. I was on survival mode - I just wanted to finish! Finally crossed the line with a run split of 52:56 and overall time of 3:27:45. I was 13th in my age group and 47th overall. And almost 45 minutes behind the overall winner, these guys were very quick and I have lots to do to be contending for the top places.

Post race

We hung around for the prize giving ceremony. My sister did very well and got 2nd in her age group, as least one of us came back with some cash that day!

Thanks Lesley for taking this picture!
Not too shabby for a girl who runs with horns!
I only have a few days at home with my folks before I fly off to our next destination, another place which we would soon call home. Managed to get some training rides in (thanks for the invite guys!) and it's clear that I have plenty to do to get fit again. Slowly but surely. A new bike... yes, A NEW BIKE should give me the motivation to get on the saddle more. More on that to come, watch this space!

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