Ironman Malaysia 2017

It’s been almost a year (took awhile to write this!) since completing my first full Ironman, and for those of you who’ve asked, or wanted to ask, here’s how it went.
Pre-race Recce
Visiting the course 3 weeks before helped immensely, especially the bike course for me. I got acquainted with the climbs I was going to face (twice!) on raceday. I was previously  stalking other people’s Strava rides to get a sense of the elevation but it isn’t quite the same until you are huffing and puffing up those climbs.
For most people who’ve never done a triathlon where T1 and T2 transition points are located in different places, getting familiar with where they are and how to get there are important as well. Hats off to some of my team mates who didn’t come for the recce, and only arrived <24hrs before the race. Not something I think I would be able to mentally handle.
Great to get a feel of the scorching weather too, which sadly (in a perverse way) didn’t come into play on raceday.
Hamstrung
Got some interesting news 3 days before raceday. That nagging pain I was having in my left butt was a 0.5cm tear at the top of my hamstring. Doctor said I needed to rest it completely, so a 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42km run wasn’t something he’d recommend. He explained how if I kept going, that the one of 3 muscles in my left hamstring could snap completely. He gave me a skeptical look and said “I think you’re still gonna do it anyway.”. I replied, “I think you’re right.” He told me he wasn’t going to give me any painkillers, as that would mask the pain, and I would keep pushing. Possibly till some serious damage was done.
So with that, my game plan for the race was to “take it easy”, i.e. I would do what I could, and if the hamstring gave me more trouble than what I was familiar with, I would call it a day.
Flight and transportation
I’ve never seen a flight packed so full of triathletes. Got to the airport even earlier than the 2 hrs recommended in case the flight got overloaded with bike boxes. Some folks who flew Malaysian Airlines from KL had their bikes delayed, probably because of this.
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On arrival, there was a great big cluster@#$^ waiting for bike boxes. Turns out there was another entry point at the other end of the airport where they were also offloading bike boxes, which of course I only realised after waiting for dunno-how-long. #malaysiaboleh
Strongly recommend renting a car to get around the island. Had a solid deal from Zaemi from booth 2 when you are exiting the airport. Easily contactable for bookings and decent rates (about RM100/day) at +60 11 1248 8838. The Perodua Myvi and Axia are standard issue, unless you need something more spacious.
Race check-in and Expo
There wasn’t any special AWA queue (Ironman All World Athlete, to recognise people who’ve taken part in too many races), but it was fine given the queues moved quickly. What was a bit unusual was the weigh-in, which made me feel like I was going into some boxing match. Apparently they weight you after the race too, which I don’t recall happening.
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This was easily the best expo I’ve come across. It was spacious and airconditioned, and had lots of stuff to make you spend money. Those notoriously overpriced Ironman T-shirts with all the participants’ names on it were flying off the shelves, with certain sizes already sold out. Another reason to come at least 2 days before the race. On the other end of the scale, the Bintan 70.3 I did this year felt like some kampung race.
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Race swag bag was pretty empty…
Accomodation
Given this was a full Ironman, I didn’t fancy think I’d be able to move much further than the finish line. (Good call!), so the Meritus Pelangi was the choice. Thankfully it was not as highly priced as I remember other official race hotels to be.
Race morning
With the half-distance guys starting early, the breakfast area was pretty quiet. The road into Danna was jammed full of cars. We parked the car just off the road (because malaysia, everywhere can park) about 200m before the turn into Danna, along with 385362 cars. Put the water bottles and gummies on the bike, pumped the tyres and went to the swim start. Dropped the special needs (plastic) bags at the designated lorries and off to warm up in the water.
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Me the mortal, Chris the Legend, Alex the Almighty, and Almeric the Awesome.
Swim
The rolling start was good – no crazy arms and legs everywhere and I could get into the swing of things. Almost no currrent, and the course was marked out very well with flags on top of the buoys. I went out conservatively on the first lap, and got into a good rhythm. Second lap out, I decided to push a bit harder as I felt pretty good. started kicking harder, with faster arm cadence. Got out of the water feeling like the day wasn’t going to be so bad. Wrong.
Transition 1
Got the blue bike transition bag and went into the changing tent. Should have put in a towel to help dry the feet before putting on the socks. Haven’t put on socks for a triathlon since… dunno when, but wanted to make sure the feet were as comfortable as they could be for the long day ahead.
Bike
The bike leg was held on semi-closed roads, with police at major traffic junctions to hold back traffic. But due to the fact that people could still drive out of their homes and onto the course meant you’d have to be alert to your surroundings.
Cycling has been my weakest of the elements, plus I now had a new position as I had to switch aerobars – one of the clamps had broken as I hadn’t tightened the bolts evenly when I last reassembled the bike. Oh… and that hamstring injury too?
My new ProfileDesign T3+ aerobars were a higher-sitting setup from the T-MAG aerobars I previously had on, meaning I was sitting more upright. This seemed to pass on more weight to the butt which is fine if you’re taking a leisurely ride around east coast park on a regular cushy bike saddle, but I felt like my nuts were being crushed. Not ideal.
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If you had time to look around like I did, the scenery was kinda pretty
The first batch of hills up to Datai were as expected, and felt shorter than I remembered. But after descending and starting on the flats, my back started to act up. It’s been a recurring problem since piling on the mileage, and the only relief is to just get off and stretch. I lost track how many times I had to do this, losing a gazillion minutes getting overtaken by everyone and their grandma.
I take solace in the fact that I managed to get through all the climbs without getting off to push, and went down those descents with minimal braking. Maybe too tired to think about the danger. Heard from Raymond that he got overtaken going downhill by someone who then smashed into a dog that decided to cross the road, with both wheels flying off and rider landing with a sickening crack. Not sure if the snapping of carbon fibre, bones, or both.
Was going up the last incline >20km from the finish when this guy crawling up suddenly turned into my path, forcing me off my bike. Cussed, but he apologised, and I had to push the rest of the way because no way I could start moving again on that incline. 😦
Met Derek from the AGRR KL crew in his distinctive pink+black and chatted awhile. Apparently I had one more bridge to climb on the way back to T2 I wasn’t aware of. Ooops.
Biked the last couple of km with an Indian dude who was asking what bike time I’d clocked so far, and when I told him about 7.5hr, he said something along the lines of us being able to make the cut off. I’d forgotten to set my garmin to NOT auto-pause when stopping for my stretch breaks, which is not ideal when you’re trying to make it under a specific cut-off time.
Transition 2
Didn’t think of it much, but was happy to throw the bike aside and put on the running shoes. Fresh socks! Yay!
Run
Based on the time of day, I thought I could walk the whole 42km. Alex overtook me on what was probably his last lap, saw Chris and Almeric heading back up toward the expo. Raj was at the finish area, with Nath and Jean around the T-junction. All the familiar faces made it feel much less boring and lonely out there. There was also a group of super enthusiastic young people who were cheering EVERYONE that ran by outside the Honey Badger hostel.
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The run didn’t start off as painful as I thought it might have been, and I was moving at 6-7min/km pace. But the fatigued muscles started to tighten up, and had to walk and run. With any hope of a decent finish, I stopped taking in regular nutrition. Bad idea as I started to feel the hunger pangs in the 2nd half of the run. Panicked a little and started to grab bananas and a couple of gels at the next few aid stations. Not sure if this was what gave me a lot of gas and stomach trouble in the last 10+ km.
And those portaloos… very nasty. Decided to ask the nice people who were cheering outside Smiling Buffalo if I could use their toilet. They said “Sure!” and were led me to their pristine WC. Wanted to go back to after the race to have a meal there and say thanks, but sadly not enough time or energy!
That was not the end of it though. Had to deal with a very bloated stomach for the remainder of the day.
Should have packed a headlamp for the special needs bag if I’d known the run course was so poorly lit. The Langkawi run course is on a road that runs the perimeter of the airport, and doesn’t have street lamps. So the creative organisers got a bunch of cars and lined them up along the road with their headlamps on to illuminate what they could. Still, there were sections that were dark, and you could trip on safety cones and end up injuring yourself.
When I felt the hamstring tighten up, I did the math to figure out how much more running I’d need before I could walk the remainder of the distance and still come in before the cut-off.
The course gets lonelier and lonelier as the night wears on. Saw a very different side of Ironman that I’ve never seen before. The aid stations going the opposite way were starting to close, and organisers were yelling something at the runners. Can’t recall if that they were encouraging them that they had just made the cut off, or scaring them into moving faster because they were in danger of getting cut off. Maybe both. The headlamps of some cars had gone dark, and some aid stations were abandoned. The remaining spectators looked on in awe and bewilderment at the “walking dead” shuffling about in semi-darkness.
The strangest thing I remember is in the last kilometre, a car full of men pulled up alongside me and  told me I’d better hustle in case I get cut off. The driver then said he knew Singapore’s president, and that she lived in Yishun. I updated him and told him she had moved out/was moving out. He urged me to get running again, so with about 400m to go, i started shuffling with 2 legs that were stiff as hell. That’s when I started seeing TriEdgers appearing, first with Antoine, then Christophe, then the rest who had been waiting up for me screaming “SLOWPOKE!!!”. (Thanks Aylwin?)  Staggered across the line, and that was done.
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Watching the race 
Langkawi isn’t a very convenient course for spectators. With the start, T2 and the finish in different places, there’s travelling to be done if you want to see your loved one throughout the race. Best mode of transport would be scooter (if you know how to ride one). Swim start is cordoned off and too far away from spectators, so swim finish is where you can catch a glimpse of going into transition. Those 3 long hills along the Langkawi highway are great to stake out your loved ones and yell your encouragement since they’re forced to slow down. Best place to watch the run is from the T-junction just a few km from the Meritus, going towards the airport.
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Celebrations
Thank you dear TriEdge team mates who had already finished half or full ironmans earlier in the day, and still waited for me till I crossed the finish. I’ve never seen/heard/experienced that kind of welcome at the end of a race, and probably never will again.
And the awesomest champagne welcoming party – Alex, Almeric, Aylwin, Christel, Christophe, Doug, Hazel & Desmond, Raymond.
Special thanks to best supporter ever, Jean, who wasn’t just supporting me, but the whole team as well.
To give you a sense of what it took me to get here, watch this:

https://2017.strava.com/en-us/videos/2b57d482af64351aa00e8247b82b022821d19ac9/

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Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2016

One year on from my first half-ironman, the butterflies in the stomach have mostly flown away, replaced by expectations. Last year I was just hoping to finish in one piece, and I came in at 6:22hr.

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Team TriEdge on the day before the race

This year, I had set myself a target time of <6 hrs. Just to be clear, for those unfamiliar with finishing times for half-Ironman triathlons, this isn’t a time that even remotely challenges podium winners. In fact, they are almost done with their run by the time I set off on my run leg. (This year’s winner finished in 3:54hr!)

SWIM

Compared to Putrajaya where everyone seemed to have been funneled into a mass orgy in the water, there was a relatively wide berth for swimmers. But sighting became an issue without any tall buoys used as turn markers at the far ends of the course. I ended up trying to swim behind whichever feet I could find. Also, found myself being pushed into the ropes more than I liked, and getting back out into open water was a bit of a pain. Ended up with a 37+ min swim, which was about 1:30min quicker than last year, and there was no Roka speedsuit this year.

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Into T1…

T1

Long run in to T1. I had the shoes already clipped in, so it felt like I hardly had anything to do apart from getting the helmet and sunnies on before getting the bike out.

Bike

I felt my inner knee/lower thighs starting to burn quite early in the ride, and that wasn’t something I was expecting. About 5km out, I knew something was wrong. I was sitting more upright than normal. I looked down at my seat and saw that the marking I had made to indicate the right seat post height could not be seen.

My seat post had sunk. 😦

This means that you’re riding in a position that doesn’t allow for you to use all the muscles you’re supposed to be employing.  Knowing that Coach Mike would be out on the bike course, I was hoping he would have an Allen key with him. Still, it wasn’t too bad as I managed to push 33-35 on some stretches, and even started wondering if I should bother with the seat adjustment. But I told myself that even if I managed to push hard now, this less-than-ideal position would mean sapping strength from my legs, and I would be suffering (even more) on the run.

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That sinking feeling. Literally.

Turns out Coach Mike didn’t have the tools with him anyway, so I pushed on.The last 20km on the bike was as painful as I remembered last year with the crosswinds, and the low seat certainly didn’t help. A slightly modified course meant that at least we had a tailwind on the last 6km, which was a nice morale booster. Finished in 2:57hr, just over 10 min quicker than last year. I’d like to think I would have gone quicker without my seat fiasco! After the race, I found that the seat post had gone down by an inch.

LESSON: bring the damn tools!

T2

This was a big downer last year -Going out and seeing most bikes still racked in T1, but coming back in T2 and seeing most bikes back already. This year, not so many were back. by the time I came in. 😉  Not much else to say after I decided to go with a semi-new pair of shoes and run sock-less.

RUN

The first 5km was relatively ok, coming in under 30 min. But each km gradually got tougher, and I was eventually overtaken by my team mate Filippo. Happy for him, but it pretty much confirmed my pace was slipping. I was losing hope that I would crack the 6hr target, but I didn’t bother to do the math. Just wanted to finish as close to the 2 hour mark as possible for the run and hope for the best. Coach Mike shouted at me not to think about everything else earlier on, and focus on what’s ahead. VERY USEFUL ADVICE. Just tried to keep my eye on Filippo and the size of the gap when he U-turned. The 10-15km mark was relatively uneventful, and I was actually waiting to be caught by my other team mates at some point but it didn’t happen.

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Trying to hail a cab. (I’m only half-joking)

Later I realised how much they had to deal with (Regis with a badly stubbed and swollen toe and Philippe with severe food poisoning) and still finished their race! I tried to step up the pace somewhere after 15km, but the gear just didn’t seem to click. Once I got to about 4km to go, the strength started to come back. Not sure if it was because I consciously tried to take less stuff at the aid stations in the last few km? I found I could kick harder and eventually overtook Filippo, who had slowed down. Got over the line, looked down at the watch. Run: 2:10hr (17 min quicker than last year)

Total time: 5:52hr. Mission accomplished.

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With Filippo, who helped pull me forward in the last 3km, and placed 4th in his age group!

Special thanks to Coaches Scott and Mike for all the advice and coaching, and all the members of the TriEdge family for the encouragement! As they say here in Singapore, “Semangat“. 😉 Go google it, you know you want to!

(All images here by Michael Lyons and Gladys Kwok)

Metasprint Triathlon 2016

This was a bit of a mess, coming after 1.5 days of a major event launch at work plus the onset of flu. Thankfully, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling relatively ok. Thing about racing after/during illness is you’re not exactly sure how hard to push, especially with the big race just around the corner – Danang is less than a month away.

Credit to Jaime K for the pic!

 Swim: I decided to take things relatively easy, and not push too hard. Unfortunately the swim was a nasty one. There was some contact in the swim, some gulps of salt water during unfortunately-timed breaths, water in the goggles and I started hyperventilating. Wasn’t sure if the flu had anything to do with it, but severe self-doubt crept in. Was really tempted to call it a day, and had to stop to tread water for a bit before restarting. I also underestimated the strength of the tide, and how important positioning was. Could have just started way to the right of the course for the current to push you back on target. Ended up on the ropes at one point and having to push through bodies to get free of the tangle, then having to swim an arc for being pushed too far out on the last leg. Lesson: Visualise the path you’re going to swim, and where you want to be in the pack. Even if it’s just a easy race. Sight more, don’t count on following the guys ahead. They might be lost too.

T1: Something new I tried was having the shoes already on the bike, which made it really feel like I hardly spent any time in transition at all. No flying mount, but some time saved already. Lesson: Have the velcro on the shoe partially done. Having the shoe completely unstrapped makes it difficult to locate the end of the strap.

Bike: Fairly uneventful, and didn’t have that many people overtake me. Might be psychological, but my legs are feeling less used to the road bike position now. I could however, pretty much stay on the drops the entire way. Maybe time to move on to a more aggressive fit for the road bike?  Unfortunately I had no idea how fast or slow I was going thanks to a Garmin cock-up that I didn’t want to spend time meddling with lest I crash. Ended up with a 31+kmh average, which still sucks. Lesson: Get used to the handling on the TT bike and stick with it. Learn to screw with the garmin while moving(??)

T2: Silly thing is I somehow came off my bike and had the rear tyre rub my shin, taking off some skin with it. Didn’t realise it until I started running that I felt bit of a sting. Re-racking issue with my bike falling off the bar twice. Like WTF? Lesson: Practise the dismount. a lot.

Run: Coach Mike asked my how I felt was I was heading out. Didn’t know what to say, but I wasn’t comfortable so I just shrugged. Relatively slow 1st loop at 5:20 – 6:00min/km pace, but gradually built till I was on 4:10min/km for a 4:53min/km average. Lesson: Apparently my racing shoes suck, says the podiatrist form myFootDr. Hmmm.

So am I happy with the result? Hmm… Can’t really say? Feeling a cough coming on though. That, I’m not happy with.

2016 Race Calendar

With the MetaSprint Aquathlon – opening event for the MetaSprint Series – coming up this Sunday, thought it would be nice to look ahead to what this year holds in terms of races. Here’s what it looks like for me at the moment. (Events in bold = Registered!)

21 Feb : Metasprint Aquathlon
6 Mar : Powerman Putrajaya
20 Mar : Metasprint Duathlon
 3 Apr : Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya

 3 Apr : 2XU Run  Clashed with Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya

17 Apr : Metasprint Triathlon

8 May : Ironman 70.3 Danang
28 May : Bintan Triathlon (OD) 
 17 Jul : Singapore Triathlon (OD)
18 Jun : Singapore Aquathlon
13 Aug: Challenge Nusajaya
21 Aug : Trifactor Triathlon (OD)
 X Oct : Stanchart Malaysia Marathon 21/42km
X Oct : Singapore Duathlon
X Oct: Port Dickson Triathlon (OD)
27 Nov : Ironman 70.3 Phuket 
X Dec : Stanchart Singapore Marathon 21/42km
Looks like quite a few, but it’s actually not much different from 2015. Hoping for a good year with visible improvements! What’s on your race calendar?
8 Apr EDIT: 2XU clashed, updates for Singapore Triathlon, Singapore Aquathlon, Trifactor Triathlon, added Challenge Nusajaya (considering!)

Synch Strava with Google Calendar

If you schedule your life via Google Calendar, and track your training via Strava, it makes some sense to have your Strava feed integrated into Google Calendar to have an all-in-one view.

Just found a neat way to do it via StravICAL.

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http://stravical.appspot.com/

In summary, you give it access to your Strava account and it generates an iCal feed that you can add to your Google Calendar account. Follow the fairly idiot-proof instructions and you’ll have your Strava activities showing up in your Google Calendar.

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Strava activities prefaced with [Ride], [Run]…
You’re welcome!

**UPDATE 12 Feb ’16: 2 new Strava activities today didn’t get synched to Google Calendar. Not sure why. 😦

UPDATE #2: Found this link that suggests adding “?nocache” at the end of the link that Stravical generates. Google Calendar seems to like caching your data, so new events don’t show! Anyway, issue now seems to have been fixed. 🙂

UPDATE #3: Bug is back. New events aren’t showing up. 😦 Suggestions, anyone?**

Bicycle chain cleaning and lubing: It’s a dirty job

One of the filthiest parts of the bike has got to be the chain. No, it’s got to be the filthiest part for sure. Just ask the inside of your right calf after each ride.

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Dirrrrrrrty!

I’ve tried using simple (read: cheap) tools to get the job done. Rags and toothbrushes combined with degreasing solution works… to some extent.

After some praying and scrubbing, the chain looks kinda nice, kinda shiny. Then you turn the pedals and you hear a grinding sound, like sand is stuck in there somewhere, and no amount of brushing or scrubbing does anything to fix that horrible sound.

Enter chain cleaning tools. More specifically, the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine.

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There are a bunch of chain cleaning tools out there, and frankly the X-3 is the first I’ve used. As a chain-cleaning-tool-virgin, the X-3 was idiot-proof enough for me. Basically, you detach the top of the cleaner, reattach it over the chain, and drag the greasy chain through by turning the pedals.

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One hand on the cleaner, the other hand to turn the pedals. (I took this photo with my mouth)

All this while dripping chain cleaning liquid onto the chain. It’s way less messy and less grief than anything else I’ve tried. All the nasty stuff is contained within the cleaner.

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All that grease and grime…

Once the chain is clean, you’ll also need to lube it to keep it running smoothly. I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube to try. Apparently it’s the same stuff that Team Sky uses.

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What’s nice about this tiny bottle of lube is that you really don’t need to slather it on liberally, but be clinical in applying a drop or two on each joint in the chain.

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The narrow nozzle makes it easy to drip the good stuff onto the chain with precision

Just as well because this lubricant is a little on the pricey side -It retails for close to S$40 if I recall correctly. To help you make sure you know which bits you’ve done and which you haven’t, every drop of the lube is smurf-coloured. Yes, it’s blue!

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Feeling smurfy!

In case you happen to be colour blind as well, they’ve included a UV light that will make the lube glow! (Don’t forget to lube up if you’re bringing your bike along for a rave.)

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I vote this best lube to use in a club.

And the smell. I’ve read a review of this lube where they’ve described this as “slightly perfumed”. I agree that there’s a smell – akin to rust – that comes after the application. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction between my chain cleaning solution, rust and the lube, or maybe it’s just my cranky sinuses.

Performance wise, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me but the pedal strokes just felt that much easier and smoother. (Muc-Off claims it’s 27% more efficient than an unnamed competitor brand!) Almost like I’d rubbed a block of melting butter on my bike chain. Think I’d prefer it if it smelt like butter too. I’ll leave out the technical mumbo jumbo for you to dissect on your own because frankly, I wouldn’t be any wiser if they told me they were using smurf blood instead of whatever miracle recipe they’ve got in there.

………………

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This is a way overdue product review was partially made possible by my friend Kenji Lim who runs Hodaka Motoworld that stocks lots of stuff for motorbikes and bicycles. You can check out the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine and the Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube at their showroom at 10 Kaki Bukit Road 1, #01-08 KB Industrial, Singapore 416175  Tel: +65 6844 0078

Full disclosure: I was given a bottle for Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube and bought the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine at a discount. 

DNG #40: Coach Class

Going into a race like Danang, you see all sorts of people taking part. Ranging from the seasoned professionals, to those who make you worry for their well-being. Seriously, you risk doing some real damage to your body if you’ve not conditioned yourself prior to the event. I’ve mentioned my emphasis on getting the right coaching before, and it’s on raceday when you see everything come together.

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Coaches Scott (left) and Michael

It’s been just under a year since I joined my first triathlon. Safe to say I would never have  trained as hard had I not been given the right instructions and structured programme to follow. The tips along the way have also helped move me along the learning curve much faster than if I relied on trial & error, and the internetz. (FYI, the internetz is full of idiots with half-baked theories and potentially dangerous advice)

So this post is for you TriEdge Coaches Mike n Scott. Also to Coach Vargin who shared some killer tips that have made a real difference…  At least to me! Thanks for pushing us hard and looking forward to many more PBs.

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Coach Mike in the back doing a Ray Charles impression

DNG #39: T2 + The Run

Hopped off the bike knowing the legs would be jelly. True enough, I stumbled a bit and stepped on my front wheel, not knowing till the next day that I broke the valve in the process. Ran with the bike back into transition only to realise that a whole motherload of bikes had come in, almost like what I saw when was there during T1. 😦 It was depressing.

Still, I was hoping to make up time on the run. I did, but it was a slow, painful process.

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Slowly increased the cadence and stride in the first couple of km

The inner quads were hurting like I feared, but after the first 2 hydration points, I found that the ice down the shorts and electrolyte really helped. I managed 6 – 6.30min/km pace leading up to the 10km mark, and even thought I might be able to push harder on the way back.

But rounding the 10km mark, I felt the pain coming back on, and sometimes even hurting more. The pace dropped, and I ended up dropping to 7 – 8min/km pace, especially in the last 5 km or so. What I was thankful for that did not come up at all, was the killer pain that comes on the outside of my knees at each Stanchart Marathon. Given the ultra-flat Danang course, I’m quite certain that the knee pains were a result of the hilly Stanchart 21km course.

Nutrition wise, I was religiously downing 2 cups of electrolyte and shoving ice down my pants at each aid station. Sponges too whenever I saw them. Still, I didn’t really feel like I could down another gel without potentially throwing up, so had only 1 gel on the way up and half a banana on the way back.

Lesson: Forcefeed myself. If I throw up, pray there are no cameras around.

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The end in sight...

I had hoped that there might have been a chance to come in under 6hrs, and if I had been able to put in a better performance on the bike, I’m definitely sure that I would have at least come close. All that pain that came with the bike leg carried into the run, screwed up any chance of putting in a run that would clock in close to 2 hours. 

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Done. Dusted. Next pls!

Overall, it’s been a great experience preparing for the race. Not sure if I can keep up the same level of training though. Definitely know there are minutes to be lopped off the next time around.

DNG #38: T1 + The Bike

Out of the water, I felt good running up the beach. Reached behind to lift the zipper of the Roka and split the suit so the upper half was off. (Little did I know I’d forget the rest of it!)

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It was a long run to the Transition Zone, and thankfully they had laid  carpet on top of the extremely hot cobbled surface that was there the day before during bike check in.

Transition 1 (a.k.a. T1)

Saw the majority of the bikes still on their racks, which was a good sign that most people were still in the water. I had a relatively smooth transition. Maybe too smooth, because I didnt realise I still had the bottom half of my Roka swim skin on during the bike leg! Doh!

Mike was a welcome sight at the bike mounting line. Somehow dropped the Clif bar I stuffed in my back pocket as I was running through. Mike yelled out “leave it!” and I was more than happy to, but a helpful volunteer came by and passed it to me. Shoved it back into the rear pocket and climbed onto the bike.

Lesson: Make sure everything is taped on. Pockets suck.

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Adrenaline was still going and I managed to find Jeremy ahead of me after a bit. The enthusiastic volunteers really helped, with their cheering and bright smiles. I maintained 30 – 32kph pace in the lead up to the 3 loops. Not sure what Roro was doing at transition, but he eventually came by after a few km and was off in the distance pretty quickly.

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Still feeling relatively fresh

In the first loop, Aylwin came by too and I managed to tail him till the second loop when I started to feel the legs slipping away. Still, seeing and hearing all the TriEdge folks made it feel much less lonely.

At approximately 60km, things just fell off a cliff. I hadn’t managed to keep to 1 gel every 30 minutes as I just felt too full. Only grabbed an extra bottle on one of the laps. Didn’t feel like I needed that much liquid either. That may have been a mistake as the cramps started to come at the end of the bike ride.

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Couldn't stay down on the aerobars for very long at all. 😦

With all the messing about with my seat, seat position, aero bar position and even cleats in the past weeks, it would take a miracle for me to escape unscathed from this 90km. No miracles that day. I had to get my ass off the saddle every 5 minutes or so to ease the soreness in my inner quads and sitbones.

Lesson: Get a proper bikefit. Early. (Better yet, get a TT bike AND get it fitted)

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It just got harder and harder to keep to the target pace

I saw the lead I had from the swim over most people fizzle away as many of them passed me. The crosswinds also picked up as the day passed,so it just got progressively more miserable. Practically crawled back to T2.

I’m not sure what exactly is wrong with my riding, because even with the hours I’ve put in on the bike, the improvement doesn’t seem to have materialised. Not enough hours? Bike not fitted properly? It’s been very frustrating trying to fix this piece of the puzzle. 

DNG #37: The Swim

The race is finally over, and now it’s time to sit back and reflect. Being a rather long race, I  thought to break my report into parts rather than ramble on, and on… And on. So here goes the first bit.

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Coach Scott giving some tips on start strategy

When it comes to triathlon starts, I’ve been quite the chicken and started to the back and wide. For a change, I wasn’t too far off the front. In fact I think I was just behind the front row, but slightly wide on the right. Right off the start, I think I kept pace because I didn’t feel much happening beside nor bodies climbing over me. Midway to the first buoy though, I started hyperventilating.  Had to try to slow down the breathing and exhale properly, else nothing would be going in.

Did a bit of breath stroking which helped, then carried on as per plan. Rest of the swim was less eventful, except for groups that seemed to hover at my feet, then did a combo of slaps on the back of the head followed by elbows to the face. Irritating, but not life-threatening. On hindsight, probably could have pushed harder in the water, but was worried about busting the legs if I pushed too hard. Got out of the water and saw Roro a few metres ahead. On to T1!