Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hatyai Century Ride - 9th November 2014

One of those training days a couple of weeks before jetting off to Langkawi for the Ironman, Yip brought up his plans post-Ironman.

Apparently plenty had been pondering ways to counter their post Ironman-blues.
Yip, among many other things had signed up for Hatyai Century Ride about 6 weeks after. With full gusto, the group of us agreed to go as well.

So fast forward 6 weeks later, on a wet and drizzly Sunday morning, we cycled from our hotel in Hatyai to the start of what was going to be one of the smallest century rides ever.
A total of 140 participants.

I guess I was so used to plenty of other cyclists at  century many that while gathering at the start line, you can barely see the front arch or the last cyclist at the very back.
But here I was…the LAST cyclist at the very back, with full view of the start arch right infront of me.

I thought to myself….this was going to be one hell of a ride.

The boys had already mapped out a sort-of plan (which in actual fact besides the plan to podium, it wasn’t much of a plan) and they were gonna gun off from the very start to take a lead and to latch on to the front peloton. If only they knew they WERE the peloton.

Phuitin and I just wanted to find someone to follow along until the very end. 160km without a peloton was just too huge a reminder of Ironman bike route. But judging from the turn out at the start of that race, we would have been bloody lucky to find anyone to latch on to.

And then….we started.

Within 5 minutes we could no longer see the guys.

* Photo courtesy of We See :)

I cycled with Phuitin the first 30km. We sorta stuck to these few dudes who were doing pretty consistent pace. And then we hit the hills. 

I was use to pedalling up hills fast (need momentum!!!) to enjoy the downhills so I took off quickly when I saw it infront of me. After several uphills and down, I lost Phuitin. I figured she’d catch up soon so I continued pedalling. 

A 100m infront of me was this guy in purple compression calve sleeves (it was bright enough to be difficult to ignore) and so I followed him from then on. He was doing a pretty decent pace and I was intrigued at how good his bike handling was that he was able to refill both his bike bottles all while cycling…take mineral water from passing car or from volunteers….put in back pocket….unscrew cap of bike bottle in bottle cage….fill in with water from bottle at back pocket….toss empty mineral bottle away….cap back bike bottle….take filled bike bottle and placed it in back pocket….take back bottle cage bottle and placed in front….take another mineral water bottle from passing car (we seem to have a lot of cars handing out water!!!!)….repeat whole series of action. 

I was so captivated by his whole filling of water bottles that I forgot that I too needed to drink.

I wished I could have continue following him behind except that I have terrible bike handling skills and I really would like to refill my own water bottles. And maybe pop down some High5 gels. So reluctantly, I stopped to do the needful and hope like hell someone else was gonna come by so I could draft. 

No one came.

Cycling alone wasn’t too bad. 

However, cycling alone in an unknown part of our Northern neighbour where the majority of people speak a different language and all you can muster at that point in time in local tongue was hello and thank you, well now THAT was bad.

Couple that fact with poor signage (signage? what signage!?!?!) along the route and plenty of major intersections….it was about to get even worse.
Most part of the ride, I was riding on faith (‘yeah I think going straight is the correct way’ sorta faith) and was banking a lot of my choices on luck (I’d still like to think of myself as an extremely lucky person….who just needs to channel that luck into buying lotteries). 

Some mild inclines and subsequent downhills….puddles of mud and ponding along the roads (I’m starting to really like the word “ponding”)…..I looked down at my Garmin watch and it said 80km. Half way mark. 

Then I heard the worst sound one can hear while cycling. The hissing of a punctured tire.

Stopped and started with the fixing then a local cyclist came and helped. Then Ka Chin came and helped too. The local cyclist said I was the first woman in this ride. I was doubtful…but while fixing, I saw Kellie zoomed past me…I knew that 5 minutes ago, he was absolutely right.
Oh well….

Soon we were back on the saddle and off we went. Ka Chin was very nice to offer to let me draft….but I could tell he was suffering and looked a whole lot worse off than I did. 
I just looked dirty. 

We were winding through some narrow kampung roads with plenty of potholes and uneven roads. The local guy was awesome. He told us which road to take and which sign said what which will lead us to where. Before we knew it, it was the next water station. Ka Chin told me to go ahead. I did offer to let him draft me but he declined as he wanted to rest longer. So the local guy went ahead with me. After some prepping on which roads to take ahead, he too bid farewell. I think he was waiting for someone who was actually in the race. 

It was already 120km. Another 40km more to go. It was like one classic GCE loop distance. I don’t think I have an issue with the distance. I just didn’t want to get lost…or worse, another puncture!!!!
Did I mention I was out of spares?

The sun was out with a vengeance by that time. I was hoping that the dirt I was covered in was going to give me some sort of sun protection. I too sometimes marvel at my own optimism. 

There were a few turnings that I wasn’t quite sure of but every time I slowed down at intersections, someone (passerby or local person or another rider from the back) would yell out to me which way to take. There were also a few times that I wondered if I trusted their given directions. But not that I had much of a choice. So I just continued pedalling. 

Finally with less than 20km more to go, we hit the highway that was just up and down for the longest of time. Was still feeling pretty good at that point despite having slowed down quite a bit. And I knew I was on the right route as I overtook 3 cyclists on the uphill bit of the highway. This was starting to feel like cycling to Lukut during our Ironman trainings. 

At the end of that highway, there was a small piece of paper with a red bold arrow on it (the kind of flyer sized paper where people advertised their lost cat or dog and stuck them on lamp post or similar vertical objects that you typically find flyers being stuck on) directing me to turn left. I thought, how ironic it was that I was placing my faith on a small red arrow coz for all I know I could be cycling back to Malaysia at that point!

After that turning, it led me onto another highway…this time, pancake flat….very hot…lotsa cars…..and even more vague signage along the way. I cycled slowly for 3-5km. Didn’t see a cyclist infront of me. Neither did I see one behind me. I stopped and hailed down some random dude and his girlfriend on a motorbike. 

I gestured to them….cycling, ahead? Blank stares. I gestured to the bib I'd attached to the front of my handle bar. More blank stares. I stared at them….they stared back at me. Then I pointed to my bike….and pointed behind. Oooh yes yes, nod nod…..more bikes behind.
I thanked them. It was the only other Thai word that I knew. They were back on their jolly way and I was relieved with knowing that there were more idiots behind me on bicycles, likely to be participants of this same century ride. If I was lost….I took great comfort in knowing I wasn’t lost alone. Misery loves company, eh?

I continued pedalling. 

Then at a traffic light to turn right, I saw on the traffic light post another red arrow pointing right.
I went closer just to make sure it wasn’t someone advertising for a lost cockatoo that looked like a red arrow from afar. 

It wasn’t (phew). 
I turned right and continued pedalling. I was finally back in town!!!! 
Praise all higher powers in this universe!!! I wasn’t lost after all!!!!!

The traffic heading into town was awful.
(mental note to self: your travel insurance expired last month)
Slowed down tremendously. No fun getting hit by random vehicle in foreign land...not that I'd ever tried.
Then infront of me, a traffic police and he was gesturing me to cycle into a pseudo left lane created with yellow cones.
I did as ordered….and just ahead of me…the finishing gantry!!!!!!

And I saw Phuitin there and I was like…either she was on stealth mode and overtook me while I was nursing the puncture, or one of use got severely lost.
(turns out she got lost at the first major intersection and she used waze to cycle back to the hotel)

And….more people got lost so in the end, I was the women champion of this race!!!!!
(I wasn’t too proud of the fact that I won due to other people getting lost)

Anyway….I cycled 165km in 5:45. Would have preferred sub 5:30 but it’ll do.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Post Ironman Syndrome


You've trained hard for months.

You've anticipated the event for many moons.

You've been anxious.....been nervous....been freakin out....every single day leading up the the actual event itself.

And then you finally toe the starting line.

Adrenaline high for many hours until you crossed that elusive finish line.


You receive that much coveted medal...the finisher towel and shirt....

You're on a high. You made it!!!!
You finally ARE an Ironman.

And then....... feel nothing.

An abyss.

OMG....what is happening, you wondered.
You should be on cloud 9 for the next few weeks. You just don't understand why you're feeling this way. hits you.

You are now aimless.
You now have many hours on your hands...hours that previously were spent logging mileage upon mileage on all three disciplines.
You're fidgeting.
You're bored.
You're getting a freakin withdrawal!!!

Then you ponder.......what's there to life after an Ironman?

Welcome my dear friends to a phenomenon I'd like to call "Post Ironman Syndrome" (PIS).

You may have known it by other names.
Post Ironman Depression Syndrome.
Post race blues.


In a minute nutshell, its the anticlimax some people experience right after a big race that they have prepared endlessly for.

Unfortunately for me...this is nothing new.

I'm severely prone to getting post race blues.
The bigger and more anticipated the event....the worse the "depressive" symptoms.
(I put the inverted commas to minimise the actual severity of the meaning "depression" as clinical depression is a whole other issue altogether and should not be taken lightly)

I thought since I'm no newbie to this syndrome, I should be fine after all.

I'd even prepared for the buffer to be on the safe side. I signed myself up for some "cushioning" races (to cushion the fall that is the syndrome) within the immediate 2-3 months.
Small and short races. Just to trick the body and the mind that all in this universe is well and as it should be.
Or something similar.
(Technically you just need to have something to look forward to, that's all)

But didn't work.

It is so bloody pathetic!!!!

I've been looking forward to all that free time post-Ironman. What happened to all the things that I'd planned to do?!?!
All the books that I've wanted to read (and books that I didn't want to but HAVE to read)?!?!?!
Or all the movies that I promised myself I'd watch (and wasted my time downloading)!?!!?!
Or about the other activities that I wanted to do, like learn to mountain bike or attempt crossfit or head back to yoga?!?!?!?!
Or meeting up with friends that weren't swim/bike/run related!?!?!?

I don't know. I just didn't have any answers.

Anyway....someone said that it'll all go away. Just needed some re-adjusting time.

Someone else said re-adjusting takes quite a while. Better just throw yourself in another activity. Suggested heading back to trail running.

Another person said just sign up for another big race so I'd have something to look forward to.

I considered all those advices.

So I signed up for Ironman Cebu 70.3.

And suddenly all is well in my universe again.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ironman Langkawi Malaysia - 27th September 2014

My phone beeped at 4.30am.
I think I barely slept. I turned to hit the snooze button.

Then I remembered.

Today is the day.

It's showtime.

All those months of training....of logging mileage....of being perpetually exhausted.....of being sore and sleep deprived.
It all boiled down to this very day.

In 3 hours time, I'd start my 3.8km swim, 180km ride and will end my day with a 42km run.

* Racking Dylan at transition. Pic courtesy of Phuitin

Transition closed at 6.30am.
I arrived with 45 minutes to spare.
Enough time to pump both tires, set my Garmin on the bike, mentally prepare myself for the race and....OH MY LORD, WHERE THE F**K ARE MY WATER BOTTLES!?!?!?!?!?

Forget calm and collected.
All hell breaks loose.
I was freakin the hell out!!!!
How can I forget my water bottles...AGAIN!?!?!?!
What the hell is wrong with me!?!?!
Could this be a bad omen!?!?!
OMG I think I forgot my water bottles for Putrajaya 7 as well and as I remembered correctly (coz you rarely forget such shit like that), I DNF-ed that race!!!!

WTH is that gonna happen today as well!?!?!?!

(to cut the drama short, Kelvin saw me freakin out and went back to his hotel to bring me his spare water bottle and then all is calm and collected once more. Thank you Kelvin Cupido. You really know how to calm a nervous wreck of a girl down)

* We got this!!!!!!!

* All happy and smiles before the start of the race :)

* Pics above courtesy of Gary...written cardboard courtesy of Karen

And once we were shoo-ed out of transition....made our way to our swim start according to our supposed swim duration, for our rolling start off the jetty platform.

I was nervous. Anxious. A hundred and one things that could go wrong flashed through my mind.
I could drown. I could have a panic attack. What if I'm exhausted at sea? What if I get attacked by a group of anti-swimmer jellyfishes!?!?! OMG what if I DNF before even getting on the bike?????

No wait, hold on a moment there, girl....think happy thoughts. HAPPY FREAKIN THOUGHTS!!!
Think McDonald's ice cream....sunbathing....Maaji bikinis....adopting a puppy that Phuitin's gonna baby-sit on behalf after Ironman....oooh smile for the photog!!!
The line heading to the swim moved along....happy thoughts filled the small space that is my head and before I knew it I was getting into that murky, mud-filled water and my race had begun.

I glanced at my watch...7.38am.
Here goes nothing!

I swam along, and tried my darnest not to kick anyone in the process.
This was gonna be a long swim. I will try to make it back within 2 hours.
Yeah 2 hours is doable. I kept telling myself that. I can make it back in 2 hours.
Before I knew it...I was at the turn around...I glanced at my watch....50 minutes....ok ok still on track.
I can make it back in 2 hours. Just don't slow down.
By the time I got back to the finish (and hit my shin against the wooden step...dammit!), I knew I finished way before my 2 hour target.
In fact, it was 1:34!!!! Good job breaststroker!!!!

Ran to transition and the volunteers (awesome group of kids!!!!) handed me by transition bike bag and I ran into the tent to change out of my smelly swim gear and into my cycling outfit (this was becoming quite a fashion show and I had three outfits to change). Without the care in the world (I did apologise to the volunteers in the changing room first!), I stripped down to my birthday suit....wiped myself clean....and struggled to get into my (dry) tri pants and sports bra. I'm not too proud to say that I needed 2 other volunteers to help me get myself into my clothing. Took a whole lot of vaseline and wipe it all over myself, put on my cycling jersey, rubbed in more sunscreen...helmut, sunnies and gloves on, thanked the volunteers profusely as they were packing my wet items back into my bike transition bag, and ran out to get my bike.
I was rather relieved to see that there were still quite a lot of bikes racked at transition.
Phew...I'm not the last idiot standing.

* Getting out of transition pic by  Shanaz

As I was cycling to meet the first hill, I glanced down at the water bottle that Kelvin went to get for me, I felt grateful and very blessed.
A real good state of emotion to be in as it negated everything else that I was feeling physically while climbing the first three hills.
I don't know if it was all those rides to Lukut and MEX highway...or the 3 weeks of relative rest and reduction in mileage....but it felt a whole lot more easier.

I completed the first 90km in 3:34 and thought, ok....I think I can get this done in less than 8 hours (taken into account that I'd be a lot slower in the second round).

I have to say that climbing the first hill all over again on the second loop was incredibly tiring and painful. My quads were starting to twitch which meant it was gonna cramp anytime soon. And after the second climb...I thought to myself, oh no...I don't know if I could climb the third hill as it was a lot longer. No matter....will figure out when I get to that hill.

As the 3rd hill approaches, the twitches in my quads were getting stronger and more frequent.
I got off my bike.....and I pushed up that hill.
No shame in it. I wasn't the only idiot pushing. And it felt like Phuket all over again.

Enroute to Datai, I was feeling exhausted. Drained. Tired. Achy.
And sore. Not my legs but funnily enough, my arms.
My triceps were starting to hurt.
I just need to survive Datai and then its the home stretch back.
Just need to survive another 20km of rolling hills.
I was worried I may not make the bike cut off.
I was getting slower and slower. I really just want to make it back before the bike cut off.
I just need to get back in time to run.

Stopped to refuel at the turn around just before the turn off to Datai stretch.
Downed a banana...took more de-gassed Coke...stretched my arms and triceps.....told myself to hang in there and that I was more than halfway done....and off I went again.

At that point, I was no longer concentrating on my timing (or lack of it). I knew I was getting slower. I knew I was getting really tired. And I can't shake the soreness in my arms away (note to self: get acquainted with the aero-bar next year!!).

I went into the Datai stretch with intentions of just surviving that 20km no matter how slow I was going.
Survived to the end of Datai and u-turned back.
At that moment, I glanced down at my Garmin. It was around 140km in. I only had another 40km more to go. I had 3.5 hours before the 10:30 bike cut off. No matter how slow I was, I was still going above 20km/hr. And I am dead certain that I can complete 40km in the next 2 hours (or less), which means that....I WAS GOING TO MAKE THE BIKE CUT OFF!!!!!


And suddenly it was like something clicked in my head and I was overjoyed.
Overjoyed and extremely happy.
I was going to make it!!!!!

And like magic, the rest of the ride was easy peasy.
The hills were flatter....the headwind was less stronger....the aches and pains melted away.
I couldn't stop smiling for the entire ride back to transition.
So THIS was what it felt like to "have fun" during your Ironman race.

I got back to transition with a bike ride time of 7:16.
That left me with almost 8 hours to get this 42km over with.

* Bike pic courtesy of Holland T. Album

I ran into transition tent, was given my run bag and got into the changing tent to get myself into fresh and dry running gear. Slapped on more vaseline, downed a High5 gel...and off I went to run my 30th marathon (which happened to be part of this Ironman).

I ran the first 2km until I've gotten my first arm band and felt all that de-gassed Coke, water, undigested bananas and energy gels sloshing in my stomach and making me super nauseated.

I had to stopped to walk a bit. Each time I tried to resume running, I would feel my gastric content making an exit up my oesophagus. And since vomiting during race had become such a personal taboo (the last time I vomited during a race, I was pulled out and forced to DNF), by hook or by crook I was gonna keep my gastric content where it my stomach!!!! (and hopefully down the intestines to be absorbed)

So....I walked the first loop.

Bumped into Andrew Lim. He overtook me on the bike and I found him on the run (or rather on the walk). I kinda liked the company (I mean, after all it was gonna be one hell of a long evening) so I asked if he would like to walk with me.
Surprisingly he agreed. As we approached the turning heading back to transition before running along to collect our 2nd wrist band, I proposed that we run along the main road ahead. I had a lot of friends with cameras and I would like to have some photos of myself attempting to run. I told Andrew that once they were our of view, we could resume walking. He happily agreed.

So that was our modus operandi for the 42km.
We ran whenever we see a cheering crowd with cameras...and we walked once they are no longer in sight. We also ran certain stretches as to keep the run/walk momentum going.
It worked. We were gaining ground.
Andrew said this was his first marathon. He had a rather low run mileage through out his training for Ironman (I'm not exaggerating when I say low mileage....after all, how high can a weekly mileage of 3km be?) and he was getting tired. But he said he wanted to follow my pace. He said he was worried he'd walk (very slowly) for the rest of the way if he didn't follow me.
I felt bad. And since I liked talking nonsense with him, we continued our run/walk together.

He asked if at the rate we were going, if we were going to make it.
I glanced at my watch.
Yes...we are going to make it.
And I'm gonna get us back in 16 hours.

Got our 3rd band.

It was getting dark by then. Andrew was getting quiet. A bit too quiet.
I sensed he was getting very tired.
So I did what was once done for me when I was getting tired and weary during my first full marathon.
I told him stupid running stories. Funny running stories. Stories of being conned into signing up for races.
I told him about how I started running. I told him about signing up for my first full marathon with so little mileage logged (that was a stupid thing to do, btw) and I told him how "some people" convinced me that I could do my first ultra marathon of 84km....and the subsequent year got conned again for the 100km. Told him about the "wonders" of walking in a 100km race (don't ever follow my footsteps...I was dumb and still am!).

I guess my stupid stories must have gave him something to think about other than being in pain and exhausted.....coz after a long period of silence, he suddenly muttered, "wow...100km....on foot".

* Run pic courtesy of Kam!!!

4th wrist band and last 10km to go.

This was the home stretch!!!!!
We continued our walk/run agenda.
Our conversations had dwindled down to some "are you ok, bro?"...."let's walk a bit longer"....."we're gonna be there soon"...."take your gel and salt pills"..... and "wow....100km, on foot!!!".

As we approached the stadium area, Phuitin ran past us on the other side and can make it sub15!!!!!

Nonsense, I told her...there's no way we could make it sub15.
Or could we?

I look down at my watch. Calculated with my fingers (the most accurate way of calculating stuff).
Well, I'd be damned. We do have a damn good chance of making it 15 hours if not less.
I turned to Andrew. We shall try and run a bit more....ok?

We ran (just a bit more) and he turned to me and told me to go through the finishing chute first.
I thought that was very nice of him.
So I thanks him and said perhaps we should aim to run into the finishing together NEXT year.
He nodded happily in agreement and I wondered if he got the irony of it.

So I crossed the finishing 15:02:44.

Was expecting tears and extreme elation. But after receiving the finisher towel, taking pictures with Andrew and offering congratulatory handshakes and hugs, all I felt was hunger.
And as I stuffed my face with the complimentary pasta (which tasted awesome!!!!), all I was thinking about was whether I could beat this timing next year.

Sigh....I never learn!!!!!!

* Finishing pic courtesy of Michelle

I would like to thank quite a few people in this Ironman journey and knowing that I won't be able to name every single one of them...I'll give it a shot and name as many as I can recall off hand.

Firstly...I'd like to thank my cycling group (the Bunanamos) for the time we've spent training together. I enjoyed the push...the tough love...the sarcasm...the support...and the makan time we've had together. I liked how we're all kiasu with the same intensity.

I'd also like to thank my whatsapp chat group that comprises of me, Phuitin, Bryan and Winnie. This chat group that came about just before our Challenge Philippines race and continued until today. You guys kept me extremely hardworking trying to keep up to your training hours. And Phuitin is the best running buddy ever!

Thanks to Rupert for his compact crank. I would have pushed my bike a lot more had it not been for the fact that I downgraded to compact from my Ultegra crank. And yes..I'll be returning it soon :(

Oh not to forget my other important whatsapp chat group comprising of me, Agnes, Lini and KC. You guys kept my sanity intact with your level-headedness and common sense.

I would also like to thank my colleagues for putting up with me complaining that I'm hungry all the time. I'm sure we would have gotten a lot more work settled if I didn't need to run off to pantry to eat so often.

Also....big thank you to Yin Fook and Velocipedeworks for helping me with my bike and all bike related shit. You guys rock!!!!!

Not forgetting lenglui Aileen Har who had been my agony aunt since the day I started my Ironman training. She dealt with all my doubts and insecurities about my training over a good cup of latte.

To all those who came to Langkawi to support the race (there's too many of you to name but you know who are you!!!)....appreciated your waiting under the hot sun for many hours and all those cheering when I ran past. It really helped lift my spirit when I was down.

Special mention to Terence Poon...the man who planted this seed many many years ago when I could barely cycle 40km and had just ran her very first full marathon. The same man who conned me to run 100km...twice!!!!! You taught me that impossible is nothing. And if Andrew Lim would like to venture into ultra marathons one day, I'll pass him your number!!!!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finally packed!


I thought ironman training was tough....then I thought tapering was tougher.

But nobody warned me how terribly horrid packing for the actual race would be!!!!!

Imagine this hypothetical scenario (yeah so it may actually be 100% entirely true as well):

1. You are packing your bike and all bike related stuff. To save time (as to not head over to the bike shop and get someone to do it for you), you've finally mastered dismantling the bike and protecting the frame and related shit, and you started somewhat thinking of yourself a bike packing pro (do me a favour and just continue entertaining this little delusion of mine). You skilfully place the bike into the huge arse bike box, figured there was still a lot of empty space and start stuffing your cycling and running shoes into it. Then thinking one part of your packing is done (the relief was overwhelming), you seal the box, write your name on it and start packing your clothes instead.

29.5 hours later you remembered that you've left your water bottles, helmut and saddle bag on the kitchen counter and you have to re-open the bloody box to stuff them back in coz you're a little short on empty baggage space.

2. You're still deciding what you're gonna wear for race day and after speaking to a few newbies (and just about everybody else) you've decided you're gonna change out of what you've intended to wear for the swim. So now you've got to figure out your clothing for bike leg and run leg (I mean since you're gonna change on might as well change for the run). I mean its a damn good idea to ride 180km on properly padded bike shorts....except you just remembered that you didn't quite train your perineum in your padded shorts and its been taking a beating with those barely padded tri shorts. And the last time you rode long on your only properly padded bike pants, you remembered getting quite bad chafings. Well....too late for all that shit so you decide on the tri shorts anyway but just get your arse into a dry pair....just in case. Then since you're such a worrier you figured better bring a few pair of everything and decide at the hotel in Langkawi which set will go into the transition bags.

Thats when you realised that your backpack might (most likely will!) burst at the seams in the attempt of stuffing all the clothing in. Of course thats just about the time you re-open the bike box for the 3rd time to stuff your extra space-wasting-excess clothing in.

3. Oh...right about now is when you realise you have yet to pack the extra pair of goggles....and you can't find all those extras that you know you have stashed somewhere in the house.

4. And since you're paranoid enough to pack that many sets of clothing (and that is just for the race itself), you figured you better pack more pair of socks and leave some in the special need bag. Then you remembered that two pairs are still in laundry (coz you JUST had to run as you were feeling horridly fat from tapering and the appetite has yet to receive a memo from the brain that the activity level has tremendously reduced). You swear to whatever higher powers that govern the universe that you will NOT forget to pack those socks before leaving tomorrow morning....but you also know that you're that forgetful you might as well be buying a few pairs at the race expo when you get into Langkawi.

5. You like to have a headlamp at standby during the early morning transition set up....but your headlamp is out of battery. You're out of spare batteries. You're just too tired to drive out to the nearest convenient store. Swear that you'll get some batteries tomorrow. Then swear again that you'd not forget.

6. Suddenly remembered that you do have a pair of compression tights. Somehow you just can't find them. Panicked ensued. Then you remember the last time you wore those tights were after Hong Kong Vibram 100 and that seemed like a whole lifetime ago. Maybe you could do without. After all, you don't want Rupert telling you how inferior 2XU is compared to Compressport.

7. On the note of suddenly remembering, you swore you'd bring your foam roller. But you're bloody lazy to re-open the bike box for the fourth time. And you're running really low on duct tape to close back the box. 

So yeah....I'm really stressed out over nothing right now.

Alright 12 hours to go before lugging my now extremely heavy bike box and head to the airport.

See you guys at Langkawi and fingers crossed!!!!!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Confessions of a not-so-strong-triathlete

Its one week before D-day.

In fact it's less than a week to go (and as Bryan just reminded is officially 6 days till show time)

Frankly I'm not too sure if I'm completely ready but I guess it'll have to do.

I'm never gonna be any stronger than I am at the moment (and even that, it's pretty slow in comparative) plus I'm really sick of training so much that I just want the event to be done and over with.

So...what have I been up to from the last blog post until now?

Well....we made another trip back to Langkawi (and THIS time around I got my sunbathing time!) and I'm glad to report that the second time around, the route somehow felt a whole lot easier.

.....that, or all those idiotic training rides to Lukut and back via MEX highway paid off.
Oh and not to mention the ride from Genting Sempah to Fraser's Hill and back (the one that saw one crash too many).
Plus downgrading to a compact crank. Not that it made the route any flatter....just that I didn't swear on anyone's grave as frequent as the first trip try out.

* No recce ride would be complete without "issues". This time around I had severe back pains (which resolved after changing the seat post height and tilting saddle downwards and backwards slightly)

* During our swim at Black Sand Beach....the boys wanted to swim to the nearby island and back. Unfortunately had an untimely encounter with a much dreaded jelly fish. I would have offered to drive except nobody quite trust me driving a manual car. I did assure everyone that theoretically I "could" drive the van (I mean how difficult could it be?) but everyone wanted to stay alive for the 27th September 2014's event.

* Everyone after their >180km ride. Someone said alcohol was great for recovery. Can't quite remember who though.

* We even had a unofficial briefing on the swim/bike/run route!!!

The group decided that with 3 weeks prior to race day, we would still do another century ride to Lukut via MEX. This would be our last ride on this route. 

Thank goodness coz I really can't stand riding this route any longer!
And this was one week after the 2 bike loops in Langkawi.

Whatever doubts about not lasting the distance, this last ride to Lukut eliminated it. I was amazed that I could still ride with tolerable discomfort and no food stop until Sri Kembangan R&R along MEX highway, on the way back to the car. 

* This was Indran's first ride with us. He was surprised that there wasn't any sweeper (besides Phuitin and I) and that the boys were so fast. Let's just say I was really surprise that he came back to ride with us the following week!!!!
Misery does love company :p

The very next day I found myself up at 5.30am for an early morning run with Phuitin around TTDI.

Our last long run.
We ran a 1km loop for 2.5 hours. 
If ironman training has taught me one was that I could endure the most boring shit for the longest duration ever!
(and this was the first time ever someone stole my half full Gatorade. Go figure!)

And after that....."taper" week started.

To the uninitiated.....taper is a term some arsehole made up to make you feel better that your race is around the corner and trick you into thinking that your training is gonna get slightly easier before your doom on race day.

Not wanting to be the only idiot who was taking it easy (peer pressure is and forever will be an integral part of ironman training)...I stuck with the plan of what everyone else is doing. And for a while there I didn't think I was tapering at all.

Weekday trainings were more or less the same intensity and duration.

I later found out all taper really meant was shorter long rides and long runs.

The group started riding back at Putrajaya and repeating the 70.3 bike route several times.
(I can still tell you that riding that route brings back bad memories aplenty. Doesn't quite help each time I ride pass Cyberjaya, I automatically feel nauseated)

* Having our home made laksa at Leo's house after our Malaysia Day's ride.

On the upside....having to run anything less than 2 hours became a breeze. 
Finally!!! Something that felt remotely close to tapering!!!!

* Our last taper ride. It was gloomy and mid-ride, rained cats and dogs. 

* I knew I've always had big thighs but this whole ironman training shit....just made my thighs unproportionally huge!!!! And not like it helped me power through the hills anyway. If I could I'd tell my quads to stop hypertrophy-ing!!!!!!


So its 6 days till show time....and still a not-so-strong triathlete.
Oh'll have to do.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Strangers At 47 - new cafe at Section 17, PJ

Since the incident descending Fraser's Hill that left Bryan with a fractures right clavicle (and thus ended his IM training abruptly), he has been enjoying lots of leisurely down time. 

So leisurely has his last few weeks been, he has been going around enjoying good food. 

So when he told me of this new cafe that opened at Section 17 (same row as Kanna Curry House) and raved about how awesome the food (and barista!) was, I told him that I NEED TO GO AND TASTE THE AWESOME FOOD too. 

Strangers At 47 had been up and running for over a month now and due to staffing issues they only open from 3pm until 10pm weekdays, 10am to 10pm on weekends.

...and Bryan wasn't kidding about the awesome food.

They don't have an extensive menu...but an adequate one. Savoury crepes and sweet crepes....and your regular caffeine-based fixtures.

Bryan says it's like going home each time he visits this place. I wonder why....

The latte was undeniably tasty. Good blend of Sumatran and Brazilian beans.  

The dessert sweet crepes weren't really my thing.....

The savoury crepes however, were just exactly what my stomach craved!!!!!!! 
My fav: Lethal Schrooms

We went back quite a few times (Bryan has now been a regular fixture of sort) and the nice lady barista recommended the green tea latte. I personally love cafes that offer green tea lattes. In my opinion not enough cafes venture into green teas other than that in a tea bag.
.....not too bad :)

More savoury crepes to soothe the growling tummy..

Bryan was keen to convert Phuitin into a fan. I think she felt the portion wasn't big enough.

....but she did however enjoyed the fried sweet potato fries!

I gave the sweet crepes a go....(I was still hungry). I think they make better savoury crepes...IMHO

Enjoying hot chocolate. ....

I guess we shall be seeing Bryan at this place a lot more. And since he is still under OKU status and is unable to drive, I shall be seeing this place a lot more too with Bryan :)


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Desaru 113 Triathlon - 16th August 2014

This was the "test-water" race.

The race that I'd use to bench mark how much more bucking up I'd need for Langkawi....(not that I have that much time remaining to buck up anyway)

The race that I'd use to gauge if my preparation had been adequate.

I didn't have a target for myself. I just wanted to complete it in one piece....considering the last half-iron distance I was in landed me in the medical tent with an IV drip on my left hand.
But the uncles got together and decided that I'd (by some miracle of God) sub-7 hours.

Frankly I thought they were a tad optimistic.
My fastest half-iron distance to date is about 7:30-ish. 'Ish' being very lenient.

But since optimism is the general theme throughout the whole Ironman Langkawi training, I told them I'd give it a go and hope for the best. Miracles do occasionally happen.

* At Lotus Desaru Resort picking up our race kit. Picture courtesy of Fendy

* Preparing my race kit. My fav Soas Racing tri tank (I just love the colour scheme), best tri pants ever...Zoot!!!, TYR goggles (I think I need new ones as my current one was starting to leak) & the ultimate energy gels and sports bar that doesn't taste like cardboard by High5

* I'm a little jealous that everyone I was rooming with in Desaru was sponsored by Compressport. I figured I too "need" to pose in Compressport wear for the heck of it. Oh and I'm waiting for Rupert to get me some freebies from Compressport. Still waiting, ya.

Picture courtesy of H.A.B. ever!!!!

* Racking my bike on race morning. Picture courtesy of Gary

On race morning, was feeling a bit jittery. Bad memories of Ironman Putrajaya 70.3 in my mind like crappy screenshots on an Android phone (speaking like a true iPhone lover). But whatever it is, this would be more of a training than a race. I guess I just needed to keep reminding myself that.

* Post body, Phuitin and Karen. Picture courtesy of Gary

* Lounging around waiting for the tide to rise. A little calm before the storm. Picture courtesy of Gary :)

The swim start was a mass start. I guess there weren't that many participants that warranted a wave flag off. Race scheduled to begin at 8am but the tide that morning was low and race started nearly half hour later (I think). 

At a glance, the sea didn't seem very rough. It looked pretty calm and possibly an easy swim.
But once we got in the water, the waves were huge and the sea turned out pretty choppy. 
Avoided the crowd by swimming to the inner edge. I didn't want to hurt anyone, y'see. But I guess people tend to swim into me despite me trying my darnest to avoid them.

2 loops of a 1km swim loop. Came out in 47 minutes. Breaststroke. Can't complain.

* Picture courtesy of SwimBikeRun Singapore

Got out of water and ran to the bike rack. 

Contemplated going to the toilet. 
I don't know about you but I kinda suck when it came to peeing while swimming. And don't get me started on trying to pee while on the bike. Ain't happening.

In the end figured I could hold it in for 3 odd hours and off I went on the bike.

The bike route differed tremendously from the previous Uncle Chan-organized Desaru race. This time around, we cycled out 6km of rolling hills (they were really hills and not exageration for blogging purposes) then 3 times of a 13km loop and cycled 6km back to the transition.

The 13km loops were a killer.
Bad road conditions....rough surfaces.....potholes abundant....
Tailwind on the way out....horrible headwind on the way back.....u-turn at the top of an uphill climb.

And throughout the entire bike leg.....all I could think of was how much I regretted not heading to the toilet before jumping on my bike.

Good job, Puisan......that was terribly smart of you.

Finished the bike leg....racked the bike....put on my running shoes and did my quickest sprint to the nearby toilet. I reckon my Garmin recorded a 4:00 minute pace.

The run was 3 loops of a 7km route.
Partially flat and mostly shaded.....partially hilly and exposed to the horrid elements that is the killer sun!

Tried running the flats and downhills....walked the uphills.
I kinda liked this mode of running. Helped me break the run leg up so it didn't feel too boring or monotonous.

The first 7km loop....I was barely shuffling along. I was trying to get in as much fluid as I can (coz I didn't dare drink that much on bike for above mentioned reason) and the sloshing feeling in my stomach was bloody annoying. 
The second 7km loop was easier. My legs got used to the momentum of actually having to run and my stomach stopped complaining. By the third 7km loop, I was tired and extremely sunburnt. Been pouring ice water all over myself in poor attempts to cool down. That must have washed off a lot of the sunscreen I'd feverishly applied earlier that morning and now I was feeling the burn on the skin especially my shoulder, arms and face. Also I was starving but the energy gels provided by the organisers seemed to trigger the gag reflex in me so I refrained from taking anymore of it. 

After getting out from the last hill...there was about 2km more to the finish line. I had 15 minutes to go before 7 hours as recorded by the Garmin. I had no choice but to run if I wanted to meet my targeted time.

*scroll down for results*


* Crossing the finishing line!!!! Picture courtesy of Joe :)

* Rupert won 2nd placing in his age group. Someone is obviously buying dinner!!! Picture courtesy of Gary

* Happy coz we survived.....and we're gonna be getting free dinner. Picture courtesy of Karen

* And yup.....met the target with less than 2 minutes to spare. Talk about cutting it very close. Oh...and I finally got the multisport timer to work. So it wasn't Garmin's fault after all....but it was user-malfunction, unfortunately

* Picture courtesy of Fendy :)

So now....back to more training.

5 more weeks to go. 2 more weeks to peak.

All I can say is...I'm tremendously looking forward to my taper.

Results as per timing chip

Total time: 6:58:41
Swim: 47:31
Bike: 3:18:55
Run: 2:48:03
Transition: wasted time aplenty

It'll'll do :)