DNG #35: Tracking the Ironmen

Less than 8 hours away till race start.

Had a long nap this afternoon and a relaxing massage, so I’m still up now at 10.41pm and fiddling with stuff.

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No supporters here, so here’s an unused supporter sticker.

Thought to let everyone know that they can track the progress of all participants tomorrow.

If you have nothing better to do, or are just kaypo, you can track my progress either by
1) the official ironman website
2) downloading the IM Trackr app (iOS and Android)

My bib number: 314 (coincidentally relevant to my history with the game of pool, as my pool khakis would know)

schwiiiing!
Like my (newly-shaved) aerodynamic calves?

Might be my last post before the race, so wish me luck!

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DNG #34: Registration

It’s getting real.

Signing in at the Hyatt Regency (race venue and official hotel) makes this all feel like it’s finally happening. I’d like to think that everyone is excited. The volunteers certainly are enthusiastic, practising their English with us participants, and me doing the reverse with my pidgin vietnamese.

xin chao!
Early bird, so no queues yet!

They even help you to make some memories with their own mugshot corner where they ask you to hold up your number while they snap a couple of photos for you. I shot one of my own of course.

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And once you’re done with registration, there’s the biggest and heaviest race pack I’ve every had to lug back. It’s not just filled with sponsor flyers though. Check out the haul below…

swag!
Coffee powder, chocolate, mug, 6 drinks, water bottle, visor, Non La (conical vietnamese hat), race numbers, transition bags, programme, safety pins, gel, and a cool little bamboo dragonfly that balances on your finger.

A walk around the grounds of the Hyatt and you could sense the build-up to Sunday. Banners up, billboards lining the beach, flags fluttering in the wind. And of course… the finish arch.

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And one more obligatory selfie with the usual sponsor logo and mascot to round off this post.
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Also found out that the official event hashtag is #vngironman703 in case you’re posting anything relevant!

DNG #33: Here’s looking at Chu

Like I’ve said before, I’ll save money where I can, given the relatively high overall cost of being involved in Triathlon.

Choice of accommodation at an overseas race is can be a big chunk of change, depending on how many days you decide to arrive before the race, and how many days you decide to chill after.

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That's the "Chu"

After going through the options and reviews on Tripadvisor and Agoda, Chu Hotel seemed the best compromise in terms of cost and proximity to the race start. It’s about right smack between the Hyatt Regency and town (the Bach Dang strip next to the river) –  5km from Hyatt, 4km from town.

a map!
Location in relation to the other important sites

Room is spacious enough to set up a bicycle, which is important for this stay! Lift is a bit small-ish though, so getting a bigger bike box in is a problem, as I learned. The staircase is also quite narrow, so getting it up to your room may be hell. I was on the 2nd floor, thankfully. Not looking forward to bringing it down again.

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Better than basic, I think!

Staff are friendly, and basic english isn’t a problem. Even a little corner for live music. There’s a minimart a few doors down the street that opens till midnight for any toiletries or snacks you might need/want.

Cost: S$66 per night (after tax). Includes daily breakfast. I had to extend another night, and got it for even cheaper. I’d recommend mailing them direct to see if they have any promotions that may be cheaper than the rates you find on the usual hotel booking sites.

In comparison, staying at the official race hotel (Hyatt Regency) would have set me back S$333 per night (more than my entire stay at the Chu!). Bit too rich for my liking.

DNG #32: Getting mobile broadband (3G/4G) at Tan Son Nhat airport (Ho Chi Minh city a.k.a. Saigon)

My post on getting internet service on mobile in Hanoi seems to get me a consistent stream of traffic, so thought this would be a useful follow-up.

If you’re travelling to Ho Chi Minh City and can’t live without cheap/free internet, you’ll want a local SIM card. While wifi is quite frequently offered at F&B establishments in urban Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh), it’s spotty, and not practical when you’re using the internet to help you navigate.

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Once you’re out of the immigration area, you’ll go down either one of two escalators to the luggage carousels. Pick up your bag(s) if you have any and head out the customs clearance. If you’re at the doors with the larger numbers, you’ll be closer to the shop you need to go to. But don’t worry anyhow, just need to walk a little bit further if you’re at the other end of the (small) Tan Son Nhat airport.

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Immediately after you have your bags pass through the scanners, you’ll pass through some sliding doors. Turn left and walk to the end. Go to the LAST shop.The staff in the last shop speak good English, and will understand your questions and requests easily. Don’t go to the outdoor area where the general public (waiting taxi drivers, relatives, random people) gather. If you have, you’ve gone too far! Not sure if you can u-turn, but you can get the same SIM card in town, I’m sure.

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Note that my personal preference is for Vinaphone. I’ve tried Mobifone before, and the coverage didn’t seem as good. The shop next door (2nd last shop) carries Mobifone/Viettel I think, but I’ll stick with what I know.

There’s a promotion (as of yesterday, 8 May) where you get 5GB of data for 100,000VND. That’s about S$6, or US$5. Pretty damn good deal compared to Singapore.

But I went for the “D1” deal where you buy a SIM card for 148,000VND and you get 1GB of data every day when you SMS “D1 on” to “888” for 5,000VND (S$0.30 or US$0.23). If you exceed that 1GB, you just SMS “D1 on” again and you can do this 3 times a day apparently. (I’ve never exceeded 1GB a day, I think, but just in case…) Don’t worry about figuring out what kind of SIM card you have, what settings you need to fiddle with. Just hand your phone to the ladies and they’ll get you sorted. You’ll also need to hand them your passport for them to make a photocopy.

Happy surfing!

DNG #31: Triathlon packing checklist

It’s been a quiet few days here, but IRL it’s been a little more busy trying to get last-minute things sorted before the race that’s happening …. in 3 DAYS!? Where did the time go…??

Typing this at Changi Airport, waiting for my flight to Ho Chi Minh city, where I connect to DANANG!

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20+++kg of gear

I’m usually one to travel light, so the logistics of a triathlon are a bit overwhelming. The bike alone, I had to have help from Coach Mike to break down and get it inside the huge-a$$ box (another courtesy clearance sale from Aylwin!).

Anyway, put together a list for future reference derived from an even longer one that Aylwin shared. It’s a long list… and there would have been even more stuff had this race been in a temperate region! *shudder*

Race day
– Tri top
– Tri bottom
– sunblock
– watch
– transition bag
– 3x bottles
– 10x gels
– electrolyte tablets
– goggles
– vaseline
– speedsuit
– towel
– race number belt
– bike
– 2x wheels
– seat post + seat
– helmet
– bike shoes
– bike lights
– lubricant
– running shoes
– socks
– visor
– sunglasses
– towel

Others
– Passport!
– mobile phone
– SIM card(s)
– $$$, credit card(s)
– charging cables
– bike pump
– electrical tape
– camera
– slippers
– moisturiser
– shampoo/conditioner/soap
– toothbrush+toothpaste
– X sets of clothes & underwear
– jacket
– contact lenses / spectacles
– entertainment (music, headphones, speakers, laptop)
– tools (allen keys!)
– rags

Ok… Time to board.

DNG #30: Bike basics

One of the benefits of being part of the TriEdge team is the privilege to attend an unlimited number of training sessions and workshops. Some take place less often than others, like the Bike Handling session last sunday.

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It’s nice to see folks who genuinely want to learn how to improve their skills with the bike, as opposed to just buying their way to becoming faster. E.g. Paying hundreds to thousands for a few grams of weight saved.

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Duncan is our team's version of Vin Diesel

The group had some familiar faces (Priyankar, Mark, Duncan…) from the team, and new faces from the Trifactor bike race who had signed up for the session.

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Mark demonstrating how you can safely transport safety cones with no hands

Funny how I was doing this for the first time just over 6 months ago, and a second time slightly more recently. And I still kind of suck.

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Carpark H is a nice scenic spot for cycling workshops

Daredevil of the day award goes to Kenn, whose left hand is apparently stronger than his right. This is dangerous when cycling, because the left hand controls the front brake. End result?

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Best caption wins... a blog post. :p

Good for the man he recovered and didn’t somersault over the top!

DNG #29: Going Lokal

One of my favourite places to refuel after training is The Lokal, at 136 Neil Road.

I may be biased, because I know the chef. But surely a full house on a soggy Saturday can’t be wrong?

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Join the waiting list!

Truth is, Chef Darren Farr is a rather picky man. Especially when it comes to what he serves his customers. Most of the stuff he serves up is fresh. No cans, no preservatives.

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The salads here are very, very good.

Really like the salads here because of how fresh they taste. Perfect blend of crunch and zest, without straying into sour territory. Whey dressing really enhances the flavours too.

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Menu gets updated often!

My recommendations are the Roast Pumpkin Salad, Sunday Roast (available on
.. Sunday) and leave room for the sticky date pudding at the end.

Couldn’t decide what to get today, so let the chef surprise me. Here’s the end result…

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Black Pearl BLT

Protein from the specially-added beef (thanks chef!) and fried egg, fresh lettuce and tomato for that kick, and a light bun that doesn’t have you feeling sluggish after. (don’t tell coach I sneaked in a sauv blanc!) Perfect for race week.

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Me trying to look as nonchalant as the main man.

When he’s out of that chef suit, Darren’s quite the doppelganger for Daniel Craig. Hence, he’s got quite a following. (Follow him on instagram at @fuzzychef) You’ll see instagrammers and hipster Polaroiders doing their foodpornography. And then sneaking in a photo with the chef. Most of them young, impressionable girls. 😉

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Hipster or what??

Met one of his fans, Jessica, who I could tell was quite the fan. Check out her hipster camera…

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Camera with a built-in vintage filter :p

Now, time for a nap.

DNG #28: Washout

Looks like it’s coming to that time of the year when the weather decides to change its mind as to whether it’s going to be sunny, rainy, or something in between. Today, it decided to bring on a light and sound show, a.k.a. Thunder and lightning.

This is all fine and dandy if you’re sleeping in. When you’re out doing a race simulation, like swimming in the sea, flashes of lightning on the horizon are quite disconcerting.

Hence, our session got abruptly shortened.

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Good thing about the cycling bit is that we have trainers at Mana Mana that allow us to mount our bikes, so essentially you have a stationary bike. Just like the gym. Bad thing is, it’s just like the gym. Pedal, pedal, pedal… You go nowhere.

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On the bright side, you have more time to chat with team mates who normally are too fast to catch, or have no breath to say anything by the time you catch up with them. Always good to have some time for team bonding.

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Nice to see Natalie back in training after a nasty fall at Macritchie some time back, and taking on a new job soon after. She and her husband Chris are quite a hoot with their “friendly”  competitions.

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Ok. Off to lunch now…!

DNG #27: Aero Hairo

In a sport that gets you soaked in brine, marinated in a helmet, and then scorched by the sun, your hair can take quite a beating. And having long, luscious locks of hair will get in the way during transition.

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Fabio probably hasn't done much triathloning

Hence, my quest for a hairdo that would not get stuck under my goggles and let water in (ouchh), nor stick out of my helmet like some misplaced tuft.

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Not quite triathlon gear, but you get the idea

Some of you might be saying, “Just cut it all off!” While that may be more aerodynamic, it exposes your sensitive scalp to sun damage, and I hear you can get sunburnt quite easily up top. (real reason: my strange, misshapened noggin!)

So here’s me 2 haircuts ago, and as of latest haircut. Sorry, missed the one of me looking like a beaver in between.

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2 months ago, 1 month ago, current

Much less maintenance required!

DNG #26: The final countdown

It’s just 10 days to go. Funny how time has been whizzing when you don’t notice.

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Melting in yesterday's heat at Marina barrage

40 days ago I attempted to start this series of posts, posting every day in the lead up to my first half-Ironman race in Danang, Vietnam. I’ve not quite managed that, even with churning 2 posts on some days.

Ah well. I’ll just keep plugging away…

Anyway, here are some of my favourites from the last 25 posts thus far.

#8 Southern Ridges
#13 Biking on Bintan
#17 Saturday Macritchie Runs