Tag Archives: danang

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)

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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 #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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

Trying to Tri

It’s been about 6 months since I got into this whole triathlon business. And I’ve fallen quite far down the rabbit hole…

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The 2014 Trifactor Sprint: My first triathlon

For those who say I’m slightly OCD when I go into something, they would be quite right. Since that first Trifactor race, I’ve signed up with the TriEdge team to learn how to get better at the sport (or 3 sports rather) – best Triathlon investment yet! And not too long after, I signed up for my first Ironman 70.3 in Danang.

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No, I’m not becoming Tony Stark…

For those of you who think I’m slightly nuts, you would also be right. The Ironman 70.3 consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run. It’s not that far considering the full Ironman distance is double of everything, and maybe triple/quadruple/… the pain. Still, quite a bit of effort required. As I write this, I have 55 days till raceday. Like me previous 100-post endeavour, I hope to blog every day about the who/what/when/why/where/how for the last 50 days leading up to the race. Will appreciate all your support. 😉

Sincerely, Slow Poke