Friday, 3 October 2014

Ironman Malaysia 2014 Race Report : Jun Shen

Team Athlete Chan was the first to provide us his Ironman Malaysia race report - consistent with him finishing the race ahead of his team mates. Being a full time military (Navy) officer did not stop him from doing what he love and there is no stopping this young officer to finish the race in good timing. Well done Jun Shen!

Now that Langkawi Ironman 2014 has come to an end, I believe most of the racers have their own story to be told. Here is my simple race report, briefly cover my preparation and execution of my race plan.

Arrived at Langkawi International Airport.

The moment Ironman Malaysia has been confirmed; I had no second thoughts about it. I just need to get my bragging rights updated! I registered the race then later on, my parents were super supportive wanting to sponsor my registration fees. I skipped Putrajaya 70.3 because I’d rather save the money for Langkawi Ironman, the whole year’s racing schedule was minimized so that I could focus on Ironman. Since I am taking up appointment as Assistant Marine Engineer on board KD JEBAT, we are always busy with last minute tasking which require our presence. I was away at Borneo area due to South China Sea dispute and also the Sulu Intruders issue. Basically, I have to train on board a battleship! How did I swim, bike and run on board a Strike Flotilla? I’ll tell u later. =)
Cycling on a trainer inside the my cabin. Warships compromised comfort for the weapon system, so having a small room is better than nothing.

My teammate Roy is an ultra runner, he runs more than 100km, plenty finisher medals in his pocket. But Langkawi Ironman has yet to be in his collection. So he planned the logistics with a bunch of supporters which I never met them before. Anyway, I waited for them at the airport, and this bunch of friendly people is really nice to talk to. I unpacked my bike and started to assemble it. Nicholas (son of Raymond and Wenny) helped me with it, as I was assembling, I taught him some bike fixing tips so that next year when Raymond wants to do Ironman next year, Nic can help him with the bike =p Hong Lan was the cameraman and also like my caretaker, my pre race food was all prepared by her, really can’t thank her enough. Frank was the driver to drive us around, I asked him about ultra running while I prepare my race gears. Then only I notice, most of them are not racing Ironman but they’ve done Ultra Marathon! They’ll get to see Roy and I suffer.

Chloe sits in the middle like a 12 years old kid. 

I suck in handling pre race jitters. Ironman being my major race, I palpitated whole night. 2 am in the morning, Roy’s hand was on my chest and my hand was touching his bald head. Sounds so gay =p He snores really loud so I went out to sleep with Frank. 5 am I was already wide wake, put on my compression wear and got my race kits ready. Had 2 energy bars and 2 eggs, I was ready to race The Toughest Ironman Race. 
2014 Ironman Langkawi will be my 4th Ironman collection, I gotta pace myself very well or I’d bonk too early. Garmin 910xt will do the pacing, I’ll execute the game plan.

3.8km Open Water Swimming ( Completed in 1 Hour 30 Mins)
Race Prep
I did not have enough swim mileage; I’ve actually requested to swim at sea when we were doing operations. However, due to security factors, my request was declined. Major Kumar (physiotherapist) gave me some Terraband tubes, I cut it into two and attached to my swim power paddle, becomes my swimming stretch chord. Every day I’ll be doing stretch chord for around 30 minutes, at least it keeps my arm strong. As we get back to shore, I’ll rush to the pool for swimming when everyone goes shore leave, at least 2km every session. Two weeks before Ironman, I changed my swim strokes because I saw my mistakes from JVC Adixxion XA2 recording.
Swim practice with Roy and Chloe before the race. Pic snapped by Hong Lan =)

Race Day
On race day, I went into the second group of swimmers. I estimated my swim time would be around 1 hour 30 mins, according to the tide table I studied; It’ll be at the lowest tide of the day. Crowd control was good, there were no mass start swimming so we got to swim much better without having to fight for space. Staying away from breast stroker was my main concern; they need three swimmer’s space when they spread their legs! I saw a lot of sailing boats, what an awesome view most people would be thinking. From my view, that’s not a good sign because they discharge their “biodegradable-but-not-edible” sewage straight to the sea where the triathletes will be swimming. Yucks. I didn’t wanna think about it, I continued with my turtle pace swimming. Swimming is the shortest discipline among the three, but failing to finish before 2 hours 20 mins could stop u from proceeding for the bike and run leg. 
Out of the swim, captured by Mr Tey Eng Tiong.

Came out from the water and Garmin 910xt shows 1 Hour 30 Mins, awesome! I ran as fast as I could to the transition area, grabbed my Bike Bag and put on my team Spyder helmet and shoes, did a “change parade” like what Budak Boy was taught to do! Volunteers in the transition tent were very helpful, the bags were hanged nicely, I’m happy with the standard. As the saying goes, Transition is the 4th discipline in triathlon. Wasting time in transition means later I gotta cycle faster to catch up the time. Always put on your shoes first so that you could run while buckling the helmet. Swim to bike transition time 4 Mins 23 secs.
*I should have clipped my shoes to the pedal and shouldn’t have worn socks. That’ll save me probably 20 seconds. Wearing socks soaked my feet throughout the course. Big mistake.

180km Cycling (Completed in 6 Hours 37 Mins 52 secs; Average Pace 27.14km/h)
Race Prep
There is no shortcut in Ironman preparation, the need to hit high cycling mileage and put you under the sun to train under the sun is highly recommended. However, I did not have the opportunity to do that onboard my ship. Throughout the year, I have done only one long ride (110km) which was 4 months before Ironman. The rest of my training is all on a trainer, cycling in the middle of the sea with my Marine Engineer who is also an avid cyclist. I ordered Garmin Speed Cadence sensor, so I could have all necessary data in my watch. Nonetheless, there’s no excuse and I came out with a contingency plan. Since long hours cycling is not possible for me, I spiked up the intensity. Every single day I would do 1 hour on a trainer, starts with 10 Mins warm up, 40 Mins Lactate Threshold, 10 Mins cool down. If the ship is not too busy, I’d do two hours. I’m a lightweight rider, if I cycle Resistance 3 at 40km/h and another fatter rider doing the same thing, I’ll go faster on the road. I’m smaller in size (more aero), lighter in weight, with the same effort I would easily go faster. In a nutshell, training on a trainer should be customized, not to compare with other athlete. In my personal view, cycling on a trainer can NEVER simulate the real road condition but it is an excellent tool to build up strength. Since I have no mileage, I’d execute my ultimate nutrition plan and tune up my bike. Eat as much as I can on the bike or I’ll bonk on the run. I’m very fussy when comes to the rolling parts of my bike, I’d sit at the bike shop for hours making sure the mechanic open up every bearing and grease it nicely. A week before Ironman, I upgraded my bottom bracket to ceramic bearing and the pulley for rear derailleur. The rear derailleur’s job is to shift the back gear, and there’re two little pulleys integrated to it. If the two pulleys are damaged (many people don't even know), it’ll drag the drive train and slow down the speed. It’s the cheapest upgrade that could bring awesome performance.
Check in our bikes and race gears a day before. 

Race Day
Normally I do not wear my chest strap during race day. However, my game plan was to cycle with easy effort all the way to make sure I have fresh legs for the 42km later on, so heart rate data would help me cycle with consistent effort. In my opinion riders with high profile wheels actually need more power to spin the wheels when climbing. Generally the weight is scattered around the outer radius, they go super fast on descend and also on flat road but never the hills. This Ironman course is so hilly, I believe I do not have the power to power up the hills with high profile wheels. 40 over climbs in total, my goodness! I climbed up every single hill with lightest gear, went downhill with the heaviest gear and bent down to get aero. So I always end up riding next to a TT bike with high profile wheels after the descend with this lazy but brilliant tactic.=p In my Bento Box I had Hammer Anti Fatigue and Hammer Endurolytes, I took 2 capsules each for every one hour. On the bike I ate Hammer Perpetuem Solid too, I don’t wanna get hungry too early and start day dreaming of Pizza and KFC. During briefing, I was made to understand that all aid stations will provide Powergels, to my surprise, not all the aid stations have gels. Very disappointed! If I did not carry my own gels and fully rely on them, I’d have DNF-ed! After taking supplements, drink it with plain water, not isotonic. Anyway, game plan successfully executed, average pace 27km/h. Bike to Run transition, 3 Mins 34 secs.

Steady pace on the bike. Pic by my father. 

42km Full Marathon (Completed in 4 Hours 43 Mins 29 secs, Average Pace 6.43Mins/km)

Race Prep
Running is my strongest leg among the three, I kept my cycling steady pace just for the sake of whacking this last discipline. I did not run when I’m at sea, ZERO mileage. But when I come back to shore, I run 15km without fail. I took very high risk of getting injured. When I don’t run, I do a lot of core workouts and foam rolling. Massage has become my monthly routine. If I could hold a good running posture, I knew I could do a 4 hour marathon after bike and run.

Race Day
My legs could run like normal immediately after cycling although I hardly do bricks. However, it wasn’t as fast as I wished. I took two capsules of Hammer Anti Fatigue, choke in bananas and gels. It felt great! My mistake was when I drank the Cola, stomach bloated, making me fart every time after drinking it. =p My stomach shut down after that. My diaphragm was not pushing down so my breathing was really restricted. Anyway, cut short the drama, I did short one inhale and two exhales following the rhythm of my steps. Exhales are really important, it pushes out all the used air giving more space for fresh air when inhale. Come second loop, I found my running legs, I overtook so many people throughout the 10km. I wanted to push it faster and faster, I could run a sub 4 marathon! But my legs shut down when I enter the third loop. Eating and breathing keeps me moving, no matter what, I need the energy. My final 20km was mostly run-walk-run. When I hit the wall, it’s all about mental toughness. I really appreciate the supporters who came to cheer for us, one of those that impacted me the most was Kevin Siah’s “Come On, Dig Deep! Dig Deep!”. Just so u know, I have so much admiration for his speed and consistency, too bad he did not have a good day so he had to DNF. My parents, were the Paparazi and Mamarazi. They were near Dataran Lang taking pictures of my ugly looking tired face =p I picked Skechers GoMeb Limited Edition as my running shoes, it is an unfair advantage for me. The shoes are just VERY fast! Simply love the carbon plate in it which absorbs impact by flexing when landing and then bounce back to propel me forward! You’ll know what I am saying if u run in it and compare with other shoes.
Pic courtesy Hong Lan =)
Skechers GoSpeed in acion. Photo courtesy Raymond Ng =) Running around the stadium area is super boring! It's like a maze!

I told my mum and dad, “Even with walking I could finish 12 hours plus”. A moment later, I looked at my watch. What the hell was I talking, I left less than an hour to cover the last loop. I don’t have much time! I ran faster, mentally set my cut off to 13 hours. =p 10 minutes left to cover that last 2km! I skipped all aid stations, ran with whatever that is left in my body. When I stepped foot on the Ironman carpet running towards the arch, I left one minute before 13 hours. I really gave my all, luckily Adele was there to announce my name coz she knows my name. I finished 12 Hours 59 Mins 43 secs. Both my brothers, Jun Win in Russia and Jun Kwan in US, screen captured my finishing line video from the live coverage. Thanks for the support! =)
Photo courtesy Chan Jun Win and Chan Jun Kwan.


I made my way to the recovery tent, rested a bit then I could walk after 40minutes icing my legs. Overall the organizers did a great job preparing the race, much better than last time. Aid stations gotta improve though. The supporters are so amazing that they stayed out there since morning till the very very last participant came in. I would like to thank all sponsors, team2ndskin, teamNavy, teamSpyder, Garmin, Skechers, KraftFit, GetActive, Hammer Nutrition, LifelineID for all the support. Team2ndskin whatsapp group was my place to refer whenever I require advice (Eugene, Jason, Deo, Stupe, Annie, Irene, Roy); I have a good time since I joined the team till today. I love my newly met support crews, Raymond, Wenny, Hong Lan, Frank, Nicholas and Cham, you guys were so helpful throughout my stay, lessen my pain by helping me in every way you could. A big Thank You to my parents for travelling from KL just to support me, sponsored my race fees and let me go out and train whenever I need the mileage. Not forgetting my girlfriend Becca, who never complains when I need to spend time out there torturing myself instead of pillow talking with her. I'm a busy man you were always there for me. This success belongs to everyone. 

Last but not least, I just want to prove a point that it is very possible to train on board a Battleship for Ironman. Nothing is Impossible. I have just updated my bragging rights, 4 times Ironman Finisher. 

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