My first "A" race for the year. I signed up for the Ironman Bundle in October 2013 and it has been training for me since. 26 weeks into the training was the Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya. With countless mileage clocks, time spent, loads of sweat (and pain), investment in terms of gears and race fees - it is not ending yet.
The 70.3 marks the first "check point" to what has been invested and it serves as both an "A" race and "fine tune" race.
Or that was the plan.
Cutting it to the conclusion, I went in with an expectation. I would be lying if I said I did not have any. I know I will finish it, and I have intention to clock a Personal Best. Time to beat is 6:15 done in Desaru in 2007. Nevermind i might be younger back then.
And to wrap up the whole episode of no-performance, I had cramps right at the 2nd and 3rd toes of my right feet. And it has to happen as the gun goes off in the water.
Now, having put all these "disclaimers" early in the post, I can concentrate on sharing my personal experience of the 70.3 at Putrajaya.
Ironman brand made a return to Malaysia
The last of the brand presence in Malaysia was in 2010. The sad departure of the most affordable Ironman race, which marked the last long distance "Ironman brand" race for me. No doubt there was the Desaru Long Distance races (another story for another blog entry).
T-1 to Race Day
The race actual started at T-2 aka Friday, March 11. Unfortunately, I can't peel myself from work (rather, no chance to do so) and decided to concentrate on getting my gears in place, and playing the mental note on my nutrition. For the benefit of those without Facebook and/or Instagram, this was how my T-1 morning looked like.
|Packing for Picnic, they say.|
|Nutrition. These was what I brought, and I had extra at race finish. Go with extra as insurance|
The process started with you signing off the indemnity form. Basically release the organiser should anything happens to you, death included. So, if you aren't ready to do it, best to weigh your (final) option here.
|First step at Athlete Check In -Indemnity form|
|Prepared for the showdown|
|tip : always keep one finger space off the tag. Your arms will swell due to edema over longer races and you don't want the tag to cut into your skin. I placed a finger over my wrist while the volunteer stick it on|
|OK. Good to go!|
|nicely priced and same with some branded visor. I pick this anytime (which I did, two of them)|
|Sticker, magnet, mugs...can i have it all?|
|Comfy and even the wheel agrees|
|Testing the wind trainer (and an excuse on the bike)|
|Brooks and Compressports were two of the other sponsors|
The race pack did not have much items but I was happy it was devoid of pamphlets that otherwise will be thrown away creating rubbish.
|Here you go!|
|Toughest to stick due to the twist and turn on the seatpost|
|Long line, but thank you!|
|Going to Market|
I bumped into my colleague/project manager that was working a a technical official. Nice to see familiar faces!
I was asked to demonstrate that the brakes were working and then cleared for entrance to the transition area. Now, when Uncle Chan say there are 1500 participants, Ironman organiser showed us how 1500 participants looked like.
|Does make some of the local triathlon races looked suspicious with their numbers of participants|
|Racking the bike by the brakes for overnight storage|
A nice touch was that the bike rack has your name and number too!
|two nice sharp bike that are more recent flanking my old TT bike|
The whole show exhibited why this event is truly WORLD CLASS. I have to agree and it does make my entrance fee worth it!
|But it is always calm, before the storm.|
This is it. Woke up at 4am and prepped some simple food including two tablespoon of coconut oil and ensuring I have all my nutrition packed and ready to go. The drive to Putrajaya took 45minutes without any traffic and I arrived at 5.15am, parked and before I know it, the Transition area opened and was a hive of activities.
|Too bad I did not bring in my camera|
Unbelievable, this time around, i decided to clip my shoes onto the pedal. My effort to keep the transition even more simple. Running and walking with cleat shoes is tough - more so if the shoe is new and you will tend to try ensuring the rubber portion are not worn out as much as it should on first use. ;-) With that done, we headed out of Transition and towards the baggage storage area.
|Love the signage|
|Old Puteras and Super-Puzi|
|What's with the hold up?|
|An hour long wait|
|Age group signage and cap color denotes your starting group|
|Are we, there, yet?|
|Next year, we picnic k?|
|Into the den y'all.|
|Man-boobs vs Pec. I lost, boob's down.|
|Right after I jumped in, the race started|
I jumped into the water and the horn (START) went off! It must had taken a few of them still on the jetty poontoon by surprised. I started my Garmin 910XT and swam off.
The swim start was to be deep water start. I hate treading water. With only 6.5km swim mileage done in 26 weeks, I know this will be a mediocre timing. It could be a hindrance to my overall timing and effort to get a PB. I wasn't scared of the swim (or it's condition), I was more worried of taking too long. And then, as I started the full stroke - the toes on the right feet tighten up and curled upwards. Cramps, on the small toes? WHY?
Needless to say, the rest of the 1875m of the swim was a battle of not letting the toes seizing up and an effort to maintain a sighted swim. The buoy were placed about 100m from each other, but it disappeared once you are in the water. The view ain't too good when at water level. I know I must had went off course at least twice, as I bumped into the kayak once and was whistled to change course the other time.
The dream to do the whole 1900m open water front crawl comes to an end as the toes gets tighten up every 8 strokes. The survival "breaststroke" comes into play and I know that messed up my Garmin tracking as the satellite signal goes missing after a while, and restart again due to changes in air-water medium (with the Garmin staying underwater longer, thus reducing the GPS capture capabilities).
On the last U-turn, I was just happy the swim was coming to an end. It's time to let those legs go. But will the cramping toes, hold up?
|look darling, my fingers are like prune now!|
|First, Nutrition. Nom Nom Nom|
|Then drink water and hydrate (and swallow those Hammer stuff). Pretty good pose by the way Stupe.|
|Then you put on those cool shades from Spyder|
|Then, because you are bald, you need a sweat band or risk sweat blinding you for 90km. Hey, Who is that official?|
|Opps, Photo-bombed! Hi Esther!|
|Running out of transition barefoot, I know the next task was the "flying mount" - just don't fall!|
|Always a first time to do things. :D|
I went off immediately after wearing and strapping my shoes. The cramps at the toes lingers on and I need it to tide over. Some cramps end in a few minutes, some for hours. For me, come what may, there is no failure, just excuses!
Most of my training revolves around the bike and the bike trainer. Aero position is very much a muscle memory so is spinning at 70-90rpm. I begin the cycling soon after i got to the highway. Speed bumps at the first 500m were dangerous. My bottle dislodged once and I had to stop and pick it up. I was just glad I wasn't going too fast that i roll over my own bottle and skid all over the road. The first 16km was as expected until we were diverted into the motorbike lane. This section requires rider to be out of aero for safety reasons and no overtaking was allowed. However, the route passes through three tunnels and at the second tunnel, I saw drinking bottles all over the exit of the tunnel. I know someone or perhaps a few had crashed at this area....
|Chasing others at Cyberjaya|
|Aero position is only useful if you STAY there.|
|Chasing the pack|
|Azly, at the top of Cyberjaya climb, banging into the road barrier, cheering us on|
|Passing Bandit the second time. Clearly tired as I was out of TT position!|
|Dismount - without shoes and did not fall. Achievement Unlocked!|
|Still smiling, why? Because the legs felt great!|
This is my strongest discipline, having unlearn and relearn running, I know I can technically do a sub-2hours 21km. Or so I thought. Because the dreaded toe cramps came back as I entered the KM2 mark...
|"Low five" Thanks for cheering babe!|
|Hello Darling! Yes, it's hot. I know|
What made it worse was the water stations ran out of drinking water, ice and muscle rub. Only isotonic was available and I am not a big fan of them. More so if it was sugary and I know taking it too much would cause me to bonk. I did the last 7km with a few friends. Encouraging each other, joking along the way and it was apparent just how prepared we were - just that we all react differently to heat. Otherwise, everyone I know was smiling!
With 1km to go to the finish line, the crowd at the finishing arch starting cheering for every one that runs fast it. I high-fived everyone, gave my wife a kiss and ran to the finish line.
|Towards the end!|
|DONE! Thank you Wifey for the support. OK, Now go strap down, we drive home.|
ResultsThe statistic says I was 160 out of water. I then managed to cut the losses and catch up 70 spots on the bike and finally, despite the slower than usual run, caught up with 10 people to finish at position 80 of my age group. Not too bad considering I am placed in a large group of participants. Out of declared 1500 participants, I was 441, which puts me in the upper 30%. Which meant I am pretty average!
Too many to list. The Ironman brand brought along with it the Ironman ways of doing races. It has much uniqueness and the attraction to the brand-name "Ironman". I truly enjoyed the experiences, short of a few cons.
I've left comments in the Online Survey, in short, this were what I've shared.
- Swim - deep water start wasn't a good idea with Malaysia crowd. Not yet, maybe in a few more years. Many I know hate to tread water.
- Bike - the motor lane was a bad idea. While it is a better one compared to closing off a few intersection/junctions, more control need to be in place for participants when entering tunnels and exiting.
- Run - Simple need : Sufficient Hydration. It was a hot hot hot day. Unless you have trained in heat, chances are you will suffer and it was evident with many suffering heat stroke, with an acquittance hospitalised and just got off ICU.
From the 70.3 race, with 20 more weeks to Ironman Langkawi. I know I need to start swimming and to swim a bit faster. While it is not a game changer for me, a stronger swim finish will allow me to conserve a bit more energy on the bike, so I could push on the run.
The bike trainer regime will continue, it has proven it's benefits. More intensity needed. Would be interesting to see myself being able to ride a 90km in 2:45 perhaps?
For the run, oh well. tough luck. I guess being complacent and thinking I could "do it" was clearly not working. Having said that, no heat training for run will be required for Ironman Langkawi, as by the time I am done with biking, it will be late afternoon and the run will be in cooler evening and night. Just keep moving those legs, correcting those strides and godamit, include weight training for the toes!
Hope the report share the 70.3 experiences I've went through. Time to catch 40-winks. Need to be awake in the next couple of hours to drive to the airport and head to Sabah for the annual Sabah Adventure Challenge. Yes, another race report coming up upon my return. Until then, train smart, race safe and finish strong!