Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ironman Putrajaya 70.3 - 13th April 2014

This is not quite the race report that I've initially intended.

And let me just get it out of the way......I DNF this race.

It took me a few days to really get over it. Caught me a few days earlier, I might have gone a little teary and emo-wreck on you.

A very quick run down on what happened....

The swim (that was delayed coz some VIP was late due expected..."bad traffic") went on without a hitch. Our swim wave was suppose to be at 7:41. In the end it started about 15-20 minutes late. Apparently I clocked in 47:29.....(thanks Chee Keong for letting me in on this info as I wasn't quite in the mood to check). In retrospect, I was and still am a little impress with my timing. My swim wave of age group below 35 (women) weren't that huge thus swim wasn't that chaotic. However I didn't quite like the deep water start.

I got out of water and ran into T1 to grab my bike.
I really wanted to get the cycling done and over with before it gets blazingly hot.
The first 45km I was a little bit tired but I guess I'd ease into the second loop and just get it done and over it. My focus was...just get onto the run!
Somewhere at 70km into the bike.....I suddenly realized that my breathing was rather laboured.

Some back story.....

I wasn't feeling well the weekend that Penang Triathlon was being held. I lost my voice completely, had prolonged fever and very bad dry night coughs. The voice returned 5 days in and the fever eventually subsided after about a week (and if I were to be honest with was bloody long and I was starting to get very worried). However the night coughs continued 2 weeks after the onset of sore throat. Some nights (and occasionally some afternoons) breathing was an effort. But I wasn't exactly gasping and I wasn't wheezing. But I did take some bloods and had a chest xray done...unfortunately that was done about 5 days after I started being sick and most blood parameters were more or less normal. Some resolving viral pneumonia at best. Started on Ventolin (doctors self medicate...a lot!!! Don't try it at home, folks!) and felt better.
But I figured I'd be alright.

As I'd realized by now....I'm a serial liar to myself.
I wasn't alright.

....and at 70km into the bike ride....I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't breathe.
I stopped by the side of the road where Aileen and Bandit were at snapping photos. I told her I couldn't breathe. She told me to drink some water and catch my breath. Asked if I was ok.
She looked panicked. I felt kinda bad.
Told her I'd be fine and rode off.
Its only 20km more.

At 75km in....the water station in Cyberjaya.....I felt like I was sucking air through a constricted straw.
I pulled over at the medic tent.
"Do you guys have Ventolin or a nebulizer!?!?"
They have nothing but deep heat rubs.
It would have been awesome if all I had at that point were leg cramps.
I got off my bike and got under the tent to catch my breath.
I must have looked like I was hyperventilating coz the girl manning the tent handed me a plastic bag to breathe into.
I got up and contemplated continuing the journey. It was another 15km. I could easily make the bike cut off. I'd still have 3 hours to power walk the 21km...(if there was any one physical attribute that I could rely on in times of desperation...I could always rely on the fact that I could!!)

As I got up....I had an uncontrollable urge to vomit.
I ran behind the tree, bent over and projectile vomited out my entire gastric content.
And it was a lot of fluids!!!!
I knew then my body did not absorb even a drop of water that I had taken since the start of my bike ride.
Somewhere within my subconscious (y'know...the bit that I usually try my darnest to ignore), I knew I was in big trouble. My body wasn't absorbing any fluids. Must have been dehydrated quite a bit at that point and not to mention the fact that I lost quite a lot of fluids via my sweat ducts. A volunteer handed me some cold isotonic. I carefully sipped it to not trigger another regurgitative episode.

Its only 15km.
Its not that far.
I've done this route plenty of times.
It is definitely doable.

A volunteer asked if I wanted to continue.
I can make 15km in 2 hours.

I got back on the bike and started pedaling.
Only 15km. Just a little bit more. Just get back to transition. Just get into those Hokas and start walking.
I can still make it.

At 86km (the last water station in Putrajaya) I felt like I couldn't breathe again.
I pulled over at the medic tent (yet again). The volunteers came and poured cold water all over me and offered me cold drinks.
I told them I just need to vomit (body just wasn't absorbing anything I put into the GI tract).
After vomiting (nothing much came out this time around), I turned back and saw that the ambulance just arrived.
They told me that I couldn't continue the race anymore....that I was suffering from heat stroke.
That I was better off being sent to the medical camp back at transition for observation and IV drip.

4km away from transition.

That I was just told I was suffering heat stroke.

The delusional part of me argued NO....I could still make it.
The doctor in me reasoned that I could be carried off the run route in a stretcher in full view of spectators and their clicking cameras after I collapse midway on the run...which to be frank was kinda embarrassing.
Sometimes you just got to love the doctor in you.
I got into the ambulance...(after they assured me that Dylan would be taken back to transition for me to collect once the race is over)

And as they drove me back to medic camp....I wanted to cry.

I was disappointed. Severely.
It was one thing to DNS a race....but its another to know you're more than halfway in and you won't be completing it.

Anyway....after one pint of IV normal saline and my blood pressure back up to normal....I was discharged from medic camp and went off to search for my friends.

Yes...I lived to race another day.

But on a more interesting note....I realized that we sometimes say the darnest things to our fellow participants when they do not complete a race....and these are some of the stuff people told me (which frankly when the wounds were still fresh...was really annoying to hear)!

1. oh don't worry....there will be other races
--> ....I know there will be other races. But I trained hard for THIS race and for that reason alone I would have liked to finish racing it!

2. least you're safe and alive
--> yes that is true...but really I feel like something just died inside of me when they pull me out of the race. But thank you for reminding me that I'm not dead physically.

3. made the right choice by pulling out!
--> Erm...I didn't really make the choice. The medic made it for me.

4. Why the's just another race!
--> It may be just another race for you...but when I've spend many months preparing for it, it no longer was another race. It was THE race.

5. No worries got a free slot and you didn't pay a single cent.
--> Yes...this is as true as the fact that your frontal cortex is now located in your scrotal anencephalic anal orific!!!!

In the end....

I went through the Kubler-Ross model of grief (go google it for crying out loud!) and now I've accepted the DNF.

I was initially in denial. How could this happen!?!?! This isn't happening for real!!!!
I was then angry!!! I trained so hard and I've done the mileage and the hours under the sun and now you're telling me that I'm suffering from heat stroke!?!?!?! This is SO not fair!!!!!
I was then bargaining....if only I didn't stop at that last medic tent. If only I had told the volunteers that I'd be fine after vomiting. So many if-only's and what-ifs.
I was then depress. Do I really need to elaborate?
And finally...I've reached acceptance. Yes I DNF. And no...its not the end of the world. And as true as they all say...there will be other races and events.

* Lining up to get Crowie's autographs....we were such groupies!!!!!! Selfie (groupfie) courtesy of Gary Fong (the ultimate HaBs)

* At bike racking the evening before. Thanks YF for the pic :)

* Thanks Wendy for the pre-swim pics. Your tan lines are the ultimate!

 * Thanks Alex (SamAY) for the awesome pics. So when are we cycling Ksel for McDs again!?

* Since Mr Anonymous going semi-pro, I promised to promote his "pro-ness" on the blog. Oh and I was told to mention that he would like more sponsorship. Pic courtesy of the elusive Nik Om :)

* The semi-pro looking awesome on the run! Pic courtesy of QQsNaP

* Uncle Bryan looking so serious on the bike. Pic off Nik Om :)

* Bryan on the run. Pic by QQsNaP

* Ivan's first 70.3....and many more to come, right? Pic from QQsNaP

* When I grow up...I wanna look like Karen!!! Pic from Alex

* Ooooh..when I grow up...I wanna be as fast as Lynn Guan with minimal training!!!! Pic courtesy of Ameeyn

* Super fast Lynn off the swim. Pic by KHTang :)

* Phuitin and new wheels!!! Pic by QQsNaP

* Going strong on the run!!!! Yes...those 5.30am weekday runs were not done in vain!!!!
Pic also by QQsNaP!

* And another one before our wave swim started :) Thanks KHTang for this pic!!!!

There were some other interesting issues that I later learnt about this race and the organization from some friends who were marshaling and trying to enforce the proper rules and regulations in racing IM races. Apparently no amount of international branding or international pricing could take the Malaysian mentality away from a lot of local racers. But I guess this could wait for another blog post for another day.

In closing, as a reminder to myself.....there will be other races and I shall live to see another day.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

#trending #hashtag #selfie #cafes

So its the last weekend before the Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya race.

I guess I'm suppose to be tapering.
I'm trying.
Or at least my immune system is forcing me to.
I'm on the verge of falling sick again.....or perhaps not fully recovered from the previous illness.

But whatever.

This isn't about training.

It's about #trending.

Yesterday over dinner, Gary and Karen brought up a very interesting topic of discussion.
The trend of selfies and trending it on all the social media platforms.
And unless you've been living under a rock for the past year or so.....I'm pretty confident that you've come across Facebook postings of self taken photos and the likes.
Frankly I've been doing this for a bloody long time....especially when you run a very slow marathon and have nothing to entertain you but your own camera (disclaimer: I no longer run races with a camera), you tend to take your own pictures along the 42km of running....among other stuff.

And of recent, the trend of taking your own photo has exploded across the globe on all platforms of sharing, be it Facebook....Instagram (my fav!)....Twitter....etc etc.
Perhaps some people may blame Kim Kardashian.....or other similar celebrities (or pseudo-celebrities of whichever recent popular reality tv fame) with taking their own pictures, proudly showing the world their bodies (either through hard work and dedication or a trip to their plastic surgeon), outfits, make ups, hair-dos and whatever.
Somewhere along the time....someone invented the word SELFIE.

And from that point on, it has been a trending word.
(the development of front-facing smartphone cameras did help push this trend along too!)

Discussion came as to who first coined the term SELFIE.....and who has the right to say that he or she invented the bloody trend.
(and perhaps we ourselves should start a trend and see if it catches on on the social media platforms)

And honestly...who the heck invested the #hashtag?
(coz I can't stop myself from #hashtagging just about everything)

Anyway....of all things #trending these hopping has been a "thing" with the urbanites of Klang Valley.
(I also found out that it is a huge thing in Ipoh and Penang during my last trip there)

My coffee-buddy Alp (aka the old creepy uncle) reckons that the cafe business that has mushroomed all around town has been everything but exciting to him.
Too "hipster" for his liking....(I reckon that's his age talking)
Besides....there are way too many these days and after a while, it'll reach a saturation point and people will just lose interest in them and they'll disappear one by one.
A good example would be with the bubble tea trend.

He reckons that we should just keep going to the ones that serve the bloody good, orgasmic-inducing coffee....and put the rest down to just passing trend.
And he reasoned that the food at most of these cafes, after a while seemed to mimic each other and there wasn't much distinction from menus of differing cafes.

I, on the other hand am of the opinion that we should keep trying all these new and "happening" cafes on a regular basis, to cross out each cafe, one by one on the list.
I want to try all the lattes at the so-called "must-go" "hipster" cafes.
I want to try all the egg benedicts on all menus.
But then again this stupid list keeps getting longer with each passing month that I can't seem to get through it even by half way.

So for the sake of #trending and #cafes, here are two relatively new places (one at Uptown and the other at TTDI) that are further saturating the pre-existing cafe market....and I'm throwing in the #selfie here and there. Oh and I'll up the annoying trend (which I'm extremely guilty of as well) of #coffeepics.

*Back-story: I wasn't feeling well when I woke up at 6am today to get ready for my last cycle and brick run training so I slept in, woke up at 8.30am and headed towards Kiara for a short run of hills (I only managed 7km but I'm tapering!!!) and bumped into a group of running girlfriends. We then headed from Kiara for breakfast (first cafe) then for dessert (2nd cafe).

* Headed to Epicuro at Uptown Damansara, same row as Maybank....right behind Joo Ngan Son bike shop. I reckon this place is about several months old. I can't quite remember what it was before it is Epicuro.

* Note: Its non-halal!!!

* Following theme of the blog post.....#selfie. On another note, the deco was pretty minimalistic and I really like the yellow metal chairs.

* #coffeepic #latte #trending. 

* The latte was strong enough but somehow it didn't bring out the sweetness of the heated milk. I've had worse....but definitely I've had better!!

* The menu selection was adequate. The food was decent. But if you're looking for pork-based pasta....I guess here would be one of those places.

* I personally thought the sandwiches were a tad disappointing but then again perhaps I ordered the wrong thing.

* We scurried over to Frisky Goat at TTDI (same row as CIMB bank) for desserts. Someone said this place was happening. They weren't joking...this place had a waiting line to get a table!!!

* Hot chocolate....

* I was told this was rather popular with the patrons. Espresso Creme Brulee. I understand why it is that popular. Very rich....not too sweet....and good consistency for a creme brulee.

* We were also told that the waffles were awesome. Let's just say I would definitely come back for this!

* Another #selfie with the girls. And if you find this annoying, then why the hell are you even reading this blog to begin with!?

* Bryan came later and he ordered Scrambled Eggs with Smoke Salmon. He forbade me to sample his food. Apparently I was spreading germs which would (God-forbid!!!) put his Ironman 70.3 in deep jeopardy! 

* More #coffeepic #latte #trending. Coffee wasn't as weak as I anticipated it to be.

* Last one before heading off #groupselfie

Anyway....on a less annoying note, good luck to all participants of the upcoming Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. Sometimes I feel tapering is psychologically the most difficult part of racing. But then thats just me.
See you guys next week at Putrajaya!!!!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Down but not OUT

OMG can this be the longest duration I've been out due to a miniscule virus which strain I could care less of knowing!?!?!?!?!?!

I returned from Penang (having passed around to quite a few unwilling recipients of this ludicrously long incubating virus) and been on sickie for the remaining 3 days from work.
My appetite took a nosedive and I worried excessively for the lack of training. Not exactly helping in recovery.

Barely audible other than a whisper, I seriously missed talking.
(I don't understand why you people look at me like talking too much is a bad thing....never stop a lot of other people from doing so!)

Voice made a brief come back of sort on Thursday and thought it would be a bloody brilliant idea to take myself (minus voice) out for a morning run.
Of course that didn't end up going as well as I envisioned.
4km in and I was gasping for air, furiously sucking in as much oxygen my ailment-muddled lungs could muster.
In my hypoxic state, I felt light headed and whatever grand idea of completing a 10km run came crashing down dramatically (at least in my head it was pretty dramatic) and I had to walk my sorry arse back home.

Figured since still on sickie and having completed 2 courses of antibiotics (I was coerced into taking them) and out of paracetamols, I drove myself to work (once blood flowing to the brain has been oxygenated once more), demanded to play the sick role as best as I could and was catered to hand and foot. perhaps I was still being dramatic and I really just wanted a top up of medication (doctors love to self medicate...but you didn't hear it from me!), reassurance that I was not gonna die (but to be extra sure, I did make a point to ensure my last payment for my life insurance was up to date), more reassurance that 1.5 weeks off training wasn't going to have me keel over at my next upcoming race, and mostly someone to have breakfast with.

After Thursday's lack lustre run, I decided I was gonna hibernate the whole of Friday.
Of course that didn't quite turn out as planned. I ended up running errands the whole day.
And between popping over to the library and realizing I still needed to get Lynn's belated birthday present for her belated birthday dinner that night, my fever bid me farewell!!!!
Things were definitely looking up for the weekend.

Saturday, my training group wanted to recce the new Ironman Putrajaya 70.3 cycling route.
3.5 weeks prior to the race, somebody decided to change the cycling route.
I was planning to ride 1 loop ( is still 2 loops of 45km) then brick run.
But once I got on the bike....whatever shit-ness I felt from being sick magically disappeared!!
I know...illogical but true.

My quads felt so fresh and I wasn't as out of breath as I thought I would be after each supposed climb.
And weather was AWESOME!!!!
Second loop in and on the last stretch the sun came out which made for a very hot brick run.
But I felt phenomenal.
Yes...I'm sure most of it was all just in my delusional mind. And perhaps all the body really needed was a huge shot of endorphin!

In fact I felt so phenomenal that I repeated the same shit the very next day with the Tadonamo gang.
Except this time around it was very hot and sunny.....and might I add, am now a tad bit burnt.
But still.....phenomenal.

And the best thing of appetite is back, y'all!!!

I'm now sporting a rather raspy Scarlett Johanson-esque voice (or some might say a grumpy granny) until further notice.

No...I'm not loving it....but as long as I still feel phenomenal.......

2 weeks to go and counting.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Being sick sucks....(but I am ok with it!)

Accepting being ill at intermittent duration throughout the year that affects my activity of daily living....that I'm kinda used to.
Accepting being ill enough that I have to give up a very anticipated race that morning itself.....well, that is a little big more difficult to swallow.

Everything was prepared and set the night before.
My tri suit laid out on the bed right next to me....bib number tacked on my race number taped under the saddle....nutrition and fluid prepped.....bagpack with bike and running shoes packed....and THEN woke up 7 hours later feeling worse for wear.


Mild grade fever started on Wednesday with a bit of scratchy throat. I figured I was still tired from Kenyir Tri and the traveling. Laid off the training, upped the fluid intake and put in a few extra hours of sleep every night....I figured I was handling it well enough.
Friday rolled around and after my 5am morning run, I was feeling not too shabby.
That was....until after lunch when the sore throat returned with a vengeance and fever decided to return for a sequel. Enroute to Penang, my voice started to go all husky and might I add, slightly seductive although not quite the thing I was looking for at that point in time.

By the time I was in Penang island....voice was all raspy and just barely audible.

Tried to sleep it off but unfortunately the body and immune system had other plans.

Woke up Saturday morning, fever was back....and no voice whatsoever no matter how hard I tried to yell. Went down for breakfast and unfortunately it had hurt too much to swallow. Sigh. Not too good a start to the day.

Yet...I was optimistic. Miracles happened on a regular basis (ok, so in my delusional world it does) and I figured it could still happen to me!

Did the usual pre-race routine.....race kit collection.....fellow triathletes get taking.....more more friends....then even more food!

By the time we got to carbo-loading dinner cum race briefing....I was feeling....well, not overtly fantastic but I had more than a whisper of a voice. However when I got back to the hotel....the coughing spell started.
Dammit....just as when I thought I was getting better!

When the alarm went off at 5am Sunday morning....I knew deep down that I wouldn't survive even the swim...let alone the bike and then the run.

I wanted so much to race.
I was already here in Penang.
I've been looking forward to this race for the last few weeks.
And now everything seemed to be unravelling.
I was upset.....I was frustrated.....I was angry.....
Then I did what I knew deep down was the best thing for myself.....

......I wished my friends good luck....downed some fluids....and went back to sleep.

Got up at 8am....down more fluids.....and headed for my musculoskeletal ultrasound and MRI conference downstairs (which truth be told, was the real reason why I was in Penang in the first place) while keeping an eye on my mobile Facebook app to see if Rupert and my other friends were gonna get a placing (he did! And so did Bud and Jason).

I'm still a little sour grape about not competing today but better to just ignore me for the meantime. I'll get over it in a short while and in the meantime, will focus all my energy in recovering and coming back stronger (hopefully) just in time for Ironman Putrajaya 70.3.....!

To all who competed today and finished safely....congratulations. To those who DNF (or DNS), there will always be another race and worse case, there will always be next year.

Oh....and I shall see y'all at Putrajaya real soon.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Kenyir International Triathlon - 16th March 2014

My annual must-go event.

...and I forgot how long it took to travel there!!!!

This year around I got Phuitin to co-drive with me.
To break the journey, we drove to Cherating on Friday after work...and then up to Kenyir Lake the following morning.

Nope...still a bloody long journey.

But we discovered a little gem in Cherating called Casa Titik. Really worth a visit for some nice R&R.

* At Casa Titik....a little piece of heaven in the middle of nowhere!!!

* Enjoying some good, haze-free weather before setting out to Kenyir Lake

                  * ......but after 15 minutes with my feet in the water...I don't really wanna leave 

When we finally got to Kenyir Lake, it had already started drizzling. Found out later that it has been raining since earlier that day.

Everyone's hoping that the rain will stop by Sunday morning. 
I mean what are the chances.....Kenyir Lake has seen not a single drop of rain for the past ONE MONTH....and the day before the race, it decided to pour every ounce of rain water out for an undecided length of duration.

On race morning....woke up to pitter patter of rain drops.
Suddenly had flash backs of 2011's event.
Click HERE for the write up.

                    * Thanks Gracie for sending my trisuit over. It was a tad loose unfortunately....

We waited for the rain to stop.
Quickly got our bags and bike out of our room and headed for transition area.
En started to rain again.

Got to transition....and realized I'd forgotten to pack my swim cap!
Contemplated riding back to the room to retrieve the cap....but realized that I would have a better chance asking the organizers if they have a spare.....which thankfully they did!

Got marking done....headed back to my bike rack....placed out all the necessary items....put both my cycling and running shoes in plastic bags (it was still raining!!) then walked down to the edge of the lake to test swim.
I wasn't that hardworking to have test swam the day before...(if you must know, I spent the day before taking the all important afternoon nap. No regrets. Time well spent)

There wasn't going to be a wave swim start this year...unlike all the previous years.
Don't quite understand Uncle Chan's decision on going for the mass start....but oh well.

I decided I was gonna start at the back.
I didn't wanna be responsible for breaking someone's nose when I breaststroke....
When the starting horn went off, EVERYONE ran (ok, stampeded) into the water and started the swim.
The swim was alright....but despite Uncle Chan's advice to sight the underwater rope that tied the buoys together, many people swam off course still (the rope was highly visible) and for some reason they ram into me....and I was not even near the freakin buoys!

One dude kept grabbing my ankles.....I didn't budge....then he grabbed firmly and tried to pull me down.
Annoyed and pissed....I decided to do the right thing.
I stopped and let him swim ahead of me (I'd concluded that that wasn't the right thing to do).

Frankly I don't even know why he did that. The dude wasn't even swimming that fast!
Within 50m I overtook him.

And within minutes, he was grabbing my ankle again!!!!
This time I was really pissed.
I really wanted to kick him in his face...hard enough that he would require serious faciomaxillory surgical works...(I did try....I just missed)
After he tried pulling me down by my ankles again (and breaking his face didn't work...again), I gave up...stopped and threaded water....and let the idiot swim ahead.
Dude in white and blue tri are bloody lucky I didn't catch your number!!!!!

Finished the swim leg (1.6km) in 39 minutes. Slowest to date.

Got out of water...was still drizzling.
Put my soggy gloves, socks and bike shoes on....grabbed Dylan and we were outta there!

I must have forgotten how hilly the route was....every single incline still caught me by surprise.
Got dropped by 3 pelotons in total....each time when they were going up some hill.

It was still drizzling on and off.
And the cooler weather made it a whole lot more bearable.
Before long, I was at the turnaround and on my way back to transition.
I thought I was quite behind....but at the turnaround, there were still plenty behind me.
As terrible as it will sound, that actually made me feel slightly better.

In my head as I was cycling, a debate about whether to get off the bike and push up the 2 usual hills was raging on. To push...or not to push.
I've pushed every single year since I've started coming to Kenyir Tri annually in 2011.
It has started to become somewhat a tradition to see the last 2 hills, get off the bike and push embarrassing as that may sound.
Should I change "tradition" this year? Or perhaps make the earth-shattering change happen next year?

I pushed.
It was a bloody easy choice, in hindsight.
I still had a hilly route to run. Don't kill the quads just yet (I still have not developed quads of steel at time of blogging).

Got back to transition....still drizzling.

Took my shoes out of the plastic bag....and somehow it still was soaking wet....*drats*

Put them on, stuffed the two packets of gels into my back pocket, grab the bottle of Gatorade (always ALWAYS have a bottle of fluid to go with my run....another tradition) and off I went.

The first kilometer was alright. I was tired but it was kinda expected. Downed a gel and told myself to HTFU. I also told myself that I could walk the hills (another bloody embarrassing tradition and totally contradicted the HTFU) when it finally came. It had stopped drizzling by then. The sun peeked out occasionally among the grey clouds. Told myself to hurry up but the legs were not responding.

Finally came to the first incline....rejoiced and power walked up.
Continued running on the flats and downhills.

Tiredness was giving way to fatigue. Continued running until the turning left into the road heading up to the entrance into the dam. Downed another gel. Walked a bit. Ran a bit. Wondering where was the incline coz I really wanted to NOT run.

Finally at the turn around at the top, then it was kinda all the way downhill.
HTFU and ran (I'm really starting to enjoy saying it despite not really adhering to the motto).
It was starting to get really hot by then. Ran some more.
Didn't really apply much sunscreen prior to race and not keen for a sunburnt. Ran some more.
Got to the entrance into the dam...about 2-3km more to go. Ran some more.
I was really tired and would really like it to end right about then. Ran some more.
Finish line within sight. Ran some more.
Ran some more until someone put a medal around my neck and a cold towel (I swear Powerbar downsized the towels since last year!!!) on my shoulder.

I thought I saw the timing board displaying 3:47.
I could live with least I didn't have to run any more for now.

.....if this was what my training has lead me to so far....I reckon I'm in a fair depth of shit at the moment.

* Dylan and I....mandatory camwhore shot post race. Just don't mind the wobbly bits on the human

                              * Someone won second place in the Terengganu closed category.

                          * Kindly ignore the selfie while waiting for my turn to use the bathroom :p

Anyway....will have a serious look into my training and tweak some stuff here and there.
Oh...and learn to kick someone in the face while swimming which most likely will make me feel better for the next event!!!


Friday, March 14, 2014

2014....chasing the Ironman dream? #roadtoironman

I know....

I'm just as surprised as you.

After months and months of procrastinating.....of deliberating.....of just, y'know.....wondering if I should continue blogging.....I find myself (as I'm waiting for Phuitin to come pick me and Dylan to head up to Kenyir Lake for my annual return to that tri event) actually logging on to BLOGGER and doing some "house-keeping" (I get tons of spams in my comment box).

Oh well and since I'm here....

So the last I did any blog updates was from my first ever DNF for TMBT 2013.
And since many awesome shit had come and passed.

I'll never be able to catch up on all that race review blogging....but some quick recap:

There was that 4 marathons in 4 weeks.....(and if you MUST was Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2013 --> the awesomest inaugural Vietnam Mountain Marathon --> fickle weathered Medibank Melbourne Marathon --> 'what-the-hell-was-I-thinking' Putrajaya Night Marathon)

Then there was the back to back tri and du weekends....(correct me if I'm wrong since I'm another year older and am sure biologically quite a few neurons have since gone through apoptosis.....but it was Powerman Duathlon --> inaugural but very EWWW-inducing swim that was Nusajaya Triathlon --> my fav ever Miri Triathlon)

Oh and how can I forget my sunbathing week at Phuket leading up to Challenge Phuket (a 70.3 distance triathlon.....yes, I got off and pushed up those three hills!) which cemented my love for the half iron distance.

Of course I had to be corrected at the end of the year. Nusajaya wasn't the most EWW-inducing swim ever. That title subsequently got transfered to the inaugural (and hopefully the final!) Morib Triathlon. The swim was so EWWW that it actually deserved its own write up.....but it was end of the year and I was busy.....

And not forgetting the most exciting of all.....the inaugural Challenge Philippines (which by the way, I did do a write up but it has been stuck at draft level for quite some all the other race reports that I was meaning to post up on the blog) which gave itself (and well deserved) title of the TOUGHEST half-iron distance in the whole world!

I raced it and I TOTALLY agree!!!!!


Couple of hours ago, I was at Epiphany (awesome flat white!) with some running friends whom I bumped into at the MWM 2014 expo ('s been a year) and they (well, actually just Jason) asked why I'd gone off the radar from the running (ultramarathon, to be exact) scene.

I diplomatically as I could (although to be honest, that is sometimes not quite possible when the 'poison' is thick and oozing at a rapid rate) that I'm OFF ultramarathons for a while.


Well....I'm dedicating 2014 and 2015 to chase my Ironman dream.

Not complicated. Pure and simple.

I've finally realized that I can't do everything well if I'd too thinly spread out my "resources".
(yes I'm finally growing up and 'maturing'....although on most days some may say that is highly debatable)
Please take note that THIS is totally different from the notion that I "can't do everything if I put my mind to it".
I can. 
I just want to be able to do something well than do EVERYTHING but mediocre in results.
I told you I'm maturing!!!

I know that I can't do ultramarathons then bounce back immediately and head out for long rides, brick sessions and log swim time.
Besides....I'm not saying I'm swearing off ultramarathons.
I'm just saying....right now, I'm chasing my Ironman dream.
It's not a bad it?
(please take note, Jason Tan. Save the 'poison' for someone else)

So yeah.....

I'll update y'all on my #roadtoironman journey from time to time.

And I shall (cross my heart and hope someone else to die) do the write up on the most EWW-inducing-swim-tri-that-is-Morib-Triathlon SOON!!!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Most Beautiful Thing 2013 - 14th September 2013

They weren't kidding when they insisted on a waterproof jacket or a rain coat to be one of the mandatory items.

And thank high heavens that I have my 5-buck-Daiso-kiddy raincoat on.

My shoes and socks are soaked and the skin at the sole of my feet were starting to feel "blister-prone"...if you know what I mean.

I'm tired...and I'm hungry....and it's not even 20km in.

But my-gosh....the view!!!!
The rain was pouring down hard.....
I'm wet and cold....somewhere up on the mountainous areas of Kota Kinabalu......and I've never felt so bloody alive. I was on race day of TMBT 2013.

When in a race, anything that could go wrong was more or less, going wrong since the start of it all.
The race that took my breath away....figuratively....and literally. one of the most memorable races I've even set foot in!!!

Winnie and I got into KK on Thursday.
Somewhere along the never-ending stair climbing in Hong Kong earlier this year, I kinda talked her into doing TMBT.
Well....I figured 2012's TMBT was a relatively easy race. And as I was climbing yet another hill-worth of stairs that January inching nearer to the end of Vibram Hong Kong, I figured that TMBT was gonna be a much easier 100km to complete.

* At race kit collection, Hyatt Regency, Kota Kinabalu. With SiewPeng, Winnie, yours truly, Phuitin, Joanne and Karin.

Of course that wasn't taking into consideration that the TMBT race organizers had other thoughts brewing in their minds.....thoughts of bringing back the original 2011 route....thoughts of bringing the racers into the more beautiful parts of the mountains.....somewhat sadistic thoughts of torturous climbs and technical trails to test each racers' ability, determination and perseverance.

Unbeknown of all these....I stupidly signed up and dragged Winnie along for the ride.
"Yeah....I'm sure it'll be more or less like last year's route".
" was pretty doable last year....I'm sure we'll be fine".
Yeah....I'm a dumbass, hear me squeak!

* Just before getting onto the bus....pic from PT's camera

On race morning.....we got on our assigned busses that took us to the starting point....pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Now here was where things slowly started to unravel.

Bus got to starting point late.
Yes....not entirely the fault of organizers. I heard there was a rerouting due to landslide or similar hiccups of nature.
We reached the start just before 7am....the pre-planned starting time.

* Pic courtesy of Leslie.

But when I got there....I don't see the crowd moving. Everyone seemed a little lost.

Turned out that we were suppose to cross a rickety bridge to the "actual" place of starting the race. But poor old rickety bridge could only take 6 people on it at any point in time.
So that was several hundred participants....6 across at one time.....and 6-people crossing amounted to about almost 10 minutes per the math.
(well...since after a couple of years in the medical world, my mathematical ability has been on the decline but it seriously doesn't take a genius to figure out that the start time for the race would be grossly delayed)

10 minutes to 8.....we finally started the race.

With a 100 kilometers in mind....we started slow.
OK....we walked.
Plan was to walk the entire way....conserve energy on that reserve when we need it most.
But everyone was zooming past us.

....and suddenly I saw a congregation of people just mulling around.
"Bro....what are we waiting for?"
Apparently another rickety bridge ahead that also allowed 6 people across per time.

15 minutes later.....I am 5 steps ahead from where I first stood to ask the above question.
30 minutes later.....another 15 steps.
45 minutes later.....if I squint enough, I think I see the bridge ahead....but I'm not too sure.
50 minutes later.....yup, that is the bridge alright....20 more people ahead of me.
60 minutes later.....I'm finally stepping on the bloody bridge.

Pretty soon we reached our first river crossing.
A mild bottle necked developed.
When I got nearer I understood why.....some racers were taking off their shoes and socks to cross the river. I even saw a guy took out a pair of Croc-like sandals to wear while his shoes and socks safely tucked inside his hydration bag, to cross the river.
River wasn't too deep (it reached just above my waist) and the water was welcomingly cold and refreshing.
Winnie asked if I was gonna remove my shoes and socks.
I figured that was way too much hassle for a very short river crossing.
My Hokas can handle a bit of water, I thought to myself.

We crossed. Shoes and socks intact.

We continued on our way.....and I am very proud of to say we brisk walked pretty quickly, soggy shoes and socks and all.

Reached the first water station WS1. 
Filled our hydration bladders....emptied our biological bladders....quick bite of Mars bar....and off we went.

Climb some hills....cross a lot of streams....persistently got ourselves ankle deep in mud puddles and the likes....then a lot more streams to clean the mud off the shoes....repeat plenty of times.
The mud paths were slippery. Plenty of racers slipped and fell right in front of me.
But I thank my lucky stars that I'm in Hokas!!!!!
(no...Hoka OneOne Singapore does not pay me a single cent for saying good stuff about their shoes....although seriously they should consider putting me on payroll!!!! Just saying....)
These shoes held their ground....had fantastic grip...and were a dream to go downhill in!

By the time we were approaching WS2, the sun was blazing and I feel my sunscreen failing.

We got to WS2...signed in....and just as we were about to get our refill of water....the marshal told us that we did not make the cut off time at that water, get this, 3 bloody minutes.
I thought I misheard the man....I asked him to repeat what he had just said.
"You missed the cut off time by 3 minutes. You can stop here...or you can keep going. I'm not sure if the marshal further up will allow you two to continue after that".

I was annoyed.

And I was skeptical....(after 3.5 years of being in the forensic department of a mental institution, one learns to adopt skepticism as one's sole religion)

I turned to Winnie and told her what the most-likely-to-be-punched-in-the-face-by-two-very-irritated-women man just told me.
Winnie "nicely" informed the gentleman that we were held back at the river crossing for almost an hour.
The man seemed genuinely confused.
The confused stared momentarily at the angry and the skeptical....unsure of what to say.

To save him from that moment of uncertainty....I spoke first. We will continue our journey to the next check point.

As we walked out....another marshal outside glanced down at both our bibs and cheerfully said that the 100km participants still had plenty of time left until the next cut off at the following check point.
I continued to be skeptical. Winnie looked confused.
We continued.
(but only after chomping down some dried pork meat and several bites of chocolate bars)

We soldiered on......and then the almost vertical climb. It really was almost vertical.
I felt like I was back at the public rock climbing gym in Putrajaya.

I tried not to think....I just climbed.
I always felt that in situations like this.....better to keep the thinking for later.

Dark and thick grey clouds were hanging overhead.
The surrounding air was less warm and humid....but now a cool breeze.
You just know in your gut that it was going to rain.
And if your gut could bet its life, it was gonna rain hard and heavy!

It started with a light drizzle. 
I took out my pink-polka-dotted raincoat that cost me rm5 from Daiso.....y'know, the ones that were made for little kids (coz I insist I looked adorable in it!)....put it over me and continued to walk.
It drizzled on off for almost 30 minutes that at one point I thought that the rain was playing hide and seek with that I'd look silly (no was adorable, rite!?) in my polka dotted raincoat, trudging my way up on the mountains.

Got to checkpoint 1 (CP1). Glanced down at watch. 2.30pm.
Asked the nice gentleman hiding under a makeshift tent what was the exact cut off time for this check point.
3pm, came the answer.
Am glad I was skeptical back there.
Told Winnie the good news...and we went on our way.

At one point on a single track path....I turned around to look for Winnie.....and I was gobsmacked.
In awe.
The view was spectacular.
All at once, I was speechless...but I wanted to find a word to described what I was seeing...what I was experiencing....
Patchy mist surrounding the path that I've just walked up from. Green, as far as the eye can see.
Undulating terrain all around.
I smiled to myself like a nutcase. I just wanted to stand there forever to take in the view. I took another bite of my dried pork....captured the image into my mind.....convinced myself that the drizzle was gonna kill my already ailing iPhone.....turned around and continued walking.

Then the rain started to pelt.
Bigger and heavier drops of rain.
And then it poured.

Looked down at my already wet shoes.....thought about my wet feet inside.....assigned myself to my current fate as I stepped into yet another puddle of water....and continued on.

Walking through the mountains in the rain and feeling the coolness of the air was extremely refreshing.
If there was ever a nourishment for the soul....this was pretty much it.

As we went on on the single track path....I noticed some racers heading back in the opposite direction on the same track.
I saw some familiar faces....they told me that the river further up had suddenly swelled.
It was dangerous. They weren't letting anyone across it. People were stranded.
They rushed off. I was confused.
I continued. 
More familiar faces came and went.
Everyone said the same thing.
The river was impassible. We were not going to be able to cross it.
Then they ran off.

We continued walking....until we saw a hut filled to the brim with racers taking refuge from the now very heavy rain. Some marshals took down our bib numbers. Didn't mention anything.

What's going on?
They wouldn't let us continue.....they said the river was too dangerous....we are waiting for further instructions.
How long do we have to wait?
We don't know....we've been waiting for the past 20 minutes. We are clueless and so are the marshals.

We waited.
25 minutes of the marshal told us to just turn back and continue to the 25km water station.
We did just that. We didn't know what it meant. Are we going to be disqualified because we turned back early?

Finally at WS3 which was a small hut in a small kampung area, racers hoarded together gloomily.
We found out that we missed CP2 as we did not cross the swollen raging river. The Miki Loop.
Honestly, I was pretty thankful that we were slow. Saved us the hassle of the river.
A marshal took my bib number down...told me I wouldn't be disqualified even though I did not make it to CP2.
Shit happens apparently.

This water station, was the most depressing water station I've ever been at.
The talk around was of quitting...of fear....of despair....of hope lost.
"I'm gonna call it quits here. I'm waiting for the transport back. Its too dangerous".
"Its cold....the rain is too heavy....I don't think I can carry on".
"I don't think I'm gonna make the cut off time. I think better I'll just wait for the transport back".
"I almost died. I was terrified. The river was so dangerous".

Way to go to show enthusiasm.

I looked for Winnie.....loaded up our hydration bladder.....chomped down more dried pork and got ourselves out of that place ASAP.
Another minute longer there I'd be drained of any remaining positivity left in me.

* Pic courtesy of Dannie....Carrie, yours truly Winnie and Waiyee

The route after WS3 was better. Less technical. More "humane".
And eventually brought us onto the main road.

It was also getting dark.
I knew that I had to dig for my headlamp at the next check point.

At WS4 (which was also the official end of the 25km race), out came the headlamps....the reflective vest...the back blinkers....and off we went.

The 50km mark was very near....about 20km away....I think.
The rain was dying down to a mild drizzle.
I was starting to blister at the soles of both feet.
But at that point in time, it was kinda pointless to change my socks (I have 2 pairs along for the ride) as it was still raining and I was sure there would be more puddles of water/mud to cross still.

And we trudged on....

Right out of WS4....we were still going on steep incline but God bless the people who tarred the road.
We head on for about 2km on proper road until we come to a fork in the road.
On the left turn off....a dirt trail leading to goodness-knows-what.
On the right turn off....a continuation onto proper decent road.
I saw a couple of participants headed up the right side.....but I figured let's try and find the bloody orange ribbon marker to see if we're on the right path.

Please please please let there be a ribbon on the proper road and not on the dirt trail.

But lo and behold, we spotted an orange ribbon right at the end of the dirt trail...and to the left we turned.

Dirt trail continued to become intermittent puddles of water/mud/slosh/mush.....which then continued to become continuous trail of water/mud/slosh/mush.
The path was bad.
Am sure plenty of participants had trampled on the same ground hours before me and soil had become loose, slippery and just plain dangerous.

But we persevered.
After about 2km in that horrid darkness, we reached tarred road again.....this time right by the main road with extremely large and fast moving vehicles whizzing past us every now and then.

There was suppose to be 1 more water station.....1 more check point...and at WS6, it would be 50km mark.

I was running low on water right about then.

Headed up the road for what seemed like 5km....and then saw a lone standing marshal taking down bib numbers of all participants passing through.
I asked him if there was any water at this station.
He mumbled something along the lines of NO and told me that there will be water at the next check point.
In between verses of incomprehensible mumbles, I audibly recognized "7km", "just follow orange ribbon" and "almost there".

Right......extremely encouraging.

Continued on....and staring at our watches.

We knew for quite a while that the cut off at 50km was 15 hours....which mean 11pm.
Right there after passing mumbling marshal, it was almost 10pm.
Not that we could do much at that point but to continue.....but at least we knew where we stood.
We either make it in time before the cut off......and then decide whether or not to press on for another 50km....or we don't make it by cut off....and we'll be having an extremely indulgent breakfast after our very long and deep sleep tonight.

Walked on we did.....the road was long and winding.....until there was a turn off to the left.
Looked around for orange ribbon....but could see none.
Everyone in front of us conveniently turned left.
We figured everyone can't be wrong...can they!?

After turning left....there were plenty of orange REFLECTORS on the ground on both sides of the road...but no orange ribbons.
I was kinda worried.
All these while it had been orange ribbons...and ALWAYS hanging off trees or high shrubs.
And all of a was REFLECTORS and on the ground.
Could these reflectors be the ones placed on the road for vehicle driving purposes?
We weren't sure.
Growing doubt clouded my mind. I told Winnie what I was thinking.
She was a little worried too.
No one mentioned the orange ribbons would be replaced by reflectors....(or was it that I totally missed this fact while skimming through the emails sent by the organizers!)

We came to a halt.
People passing us asked what was wrong. We told them our concerns.
They insisted that we should just follow the orange reflectors.
After all....everyone else was doing just that.
If we went back, we'd be wasting our time.

We weren't convinced....thus backtracked.

First person while backtracking was this elderly gentleman who had this muffled voice and in his muffled tone said something in Chinese about the marshal just now telling him about the markers being reflectors on the floor.
He wasn't extremely convincing.
Winnie and I agreed to keep backtracking until another person verified what the uncle just said.

Well...some Caucasian dude came and said the SAME thing that uncle said....except he was a whole lot more convincing.
So we continued with everyone else.

That road went on forever.....

Finally we came back on the main road....a road that I recognized from my previous (many!) trips to Kundasang....we were walking into town! was way past 11pm.
We knew we were done for.
Mentally and emotionally....we were prepared to be DNF-ed.
But at least.....we will try our darnest to get to 50km mark.
We already came this far......

By this time, my hydration bladder was dry.
No more water. Zilch.
Therefore I was joyous when I saw a marshal taking down numbers. There MUST be water here!!!
I quickly went to him....gave him my bib number.....and asked where can I topped up water.
"No water here. No more. Have to keep going to 50km mark for water"


Hang you're trying to tell me that I've walked for over 15km and the only place I can get water is at the 50km pitstop!?!?!

This time...I wasn't skeptical.
I was annoyed.
I would have smacked the life out of this man had he not followed up with, "....and the 50km pitstop is 1.5km away!" wasn't that bad.
I can crawl 1.5km and get to water!!!!!
I ain't dying here like I thought I would be!!!!
Praise be to God!!!!!
Everything was gonna be alright!!!!!!

......except it wasn't 1.5km.
It was almost 5km.....steep uphill walk......and I was back to being grumpy, annoyed and very keen to head back down to smack the life out of that marshal!!!!

Anyway....we did reach 50km pitstop alive.
Thinking we DNF-ed....we got to the checkpoint person....told them our bib numbers...and continued on to collect our belongings....went to the buffet spread to get some food and water in.....

......and were told by our fellow racers.....that the cut off time for the 50km mark had been extended by another 2 hours.
Which means.....we did not DNF-ed.
Which means.....we could have continued.
Which means.....right about the.....I was freakin pissed!!!!!!

......but I was too tired to do anything about it.
Told Winnie I was not gonna go on. I just want to go back to town and sleep.
She agreed....albeit reluctantly.

I was still pissed. But I accepted the DNF.
First DNF ever....but no biggie.
But I was still pissed.
Pissed....that no one along the way told us this crucial info that could have mentally set my mind to continue on.
Pissed....that I was dehydrated for 15km, had no water....and was given false information all along....coz I could have begged for water from the houses along the way if I had known there would not be ANY at the next check point as well.
Pissed....that I found out after the race ended, that right after WS4....there was a detour from the original route that we took and all the water supply was transported to the new route.....WHICH NOBODY TOLD US ABOUT!!!!

Sure....I could accept the rain....I could accept the river crossings....the puddles of mud.....the toughness of the climbs....the blisters.....the tiredness that came along with it.....
All that were part and parcel of ultra trail racing. I understood all that when I signed up. I also understood that nature and weather were something that nobody can control and we were constantly at mercy at their changes for the worse.

* Pic courtesy of Vivian. Our DNF pose.

But I could not...and still can not....accept the miscommunications between us and the marshals plus the lack of information given by them when things went awry.

That now leaves me with a very important question...

Would I head back again?

Hmmm.....I gave this quite a bit of consideration.....and the answer is....YES.

It wasn't a bad race.
No one could control the weather and no one can control nature.
Had it not poured like that one race day.....the race would have been different for a lot of people....and perhaps more doable.
Last minute changes on routing may not have happened. Things would have been different.

And I'd like to add...that the race did deliver what organizers wanted.....a tough off road race through some of the most beautiful sights you'll ever find in KK.
.....and for that....I think is worth a return.
(except maybe in 2016 after my professional exams are done and no longer a concern)

But anyway....the end of TMBT 2013 also meant that I no longer have any more "ultra" races until goodness knows when.
I guess at this point in time, I'm just clearing my pre-signed races one by one.
I would like to NOT run that much after that.
Because I would like to participate in triathlons more.....cycling events more......or just chill and just cycle and run just because I like it instead of always in preparation for a race or another.

So yeah....

Ok...I've said my peace.