Monday, August 13, 2012

My First Triathlon

It began innocently enough. Early in January 2012, Doc Taufik needed enough participants for an adult swimming class. It was on Monday night, from 8pm till 10.30pm, conducted at Desa Tasik public pool, which is quite near to my place of work. The monthly rate was very reasonable (translation: very cheap!). So a total of 8 cyclists/runners signed up. One of us later dropped out due to time-constraints. At least 3 of us would turn up at every lessons, or else it would be cancelled. So after a few months, most of us were able to swim competently, either breast-stroke or front-crawl or both.

It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Being the eldest of them all, I was struggling to master the front-crawl . Yet the rest of the younger crowd were whizzing in that 25m public pool.

When coach Jeff timed us, I was the slowest of the lot for the front-crawl . But since the rest were doing very well, they were pushing for the next horizon, for something to motivate them even further. Three of them joined the Alice Smith School TNT KLASS Triathlon 2012 (400m Swim, 6K Bike, 3K Run) on 10th March 2012. They did the swim leg using breast-stroke only! Later a lot more of them signed up for the Nexus Triathlon 2012 on 28th April 2012

On the 16th April 2012, Doc Taufik dropped the bombshell. Turned out that they signed up for the swimming class was because they wanted to join the Port Dickson Triathlon, Olympic Distance. That means 1.5km swim, 40km cycling and 10km running. Everyone in the group had signed up except for me. The PD Triathlon OD is on 8th July 2012 and I already signed up for the Ipoh Century Ride on the 15th July 2012. Two extreme endurance events back to back, wah! Not my cup of tea. I put it at the back of my mind since I had two prior events to worry about, the PCC Interstate Ride 2012 (Kajang->Kuala Pilah->Muar->Johor Baru) from 28th April 2012 till 1st May 2012 and the Letua 100km ride on 13th May 2012.

But a week after completing the Letua 100 ride, I ended signing up for the PD Triathlon. How can I not join my swimming buddies in their pursuit of athletic excellence? ;-) Anyway these guys were very persuasive. I really signed up just to avoid their persistent persuasion. My original plan was to collect my goodie bag, come up with an excuse at the last minute and not participate :-D

I was really not prepared for the triathlon. While I was dilly dallying whether to sign up or not, the guys had already did their trial runs in Port Dickson for a few times. The first and 3rd session was on 12th May 2012 and 16th June 2012 which was organised by Tadonamo. The second session was organised by Rangka Riders on 3rd June 2012. They also have their weekly BRICKS (Bike Run Swim) session every Wednesday night in Putrajaya. I only have my Monday night swimming class and weekend cycling with my missus! Oh boy, I was really in trouble.

Thus begin my training in earnest for the PD triathlon. I signed up with the gym in PPUKM (known as Sukmaria) so that I can make use of the treadmill during lunchtime.

After work, I would stop by at Pusat Akuatik Darul Ehsan (PADE) for my swimming practise in its 50m outdoor pool. Since I only had 7 weeks to prepare, I concentrated on doing the breast-stroke only. On weekends I tried to fit in 40km cycling, 1.5km swimming and 5km running. Due to the congested pool at PADE during weekends, I would be lucky to even get 1km of swimming.

In that 7 weeks of training I only managed to fit in only 14 sessions of swimming, 7 sessions of running and 7 sessions of cycling. Not enough training for the PD Triathlon. I was so worried about not being physically prepared that I even forgot to book accommodation in Port Dickson. Luckily Anas Najhi, Jeli's friend, allowed me to share his accommodation at the Port Dickson Golf Club and Resort. Thank you Anas!

After giving my lecture in PPUKM on the 7th July 2012, I drove to PD and met up with Anas and Jeli at the resort. Jeli did his sprint triathlon already in the morning and was on his way back. Even at the sprint event, 22 out of 300 plus participants didn't complete the swim leg although it was only 750m long. Later I drove to Avillion to register, pick up my goodie bag and meet up with the other participants.

I had a look at the swim leg route and realised that it is a different kettle of fish altogether. Open water swimming is very different compared to swimming 30 laps in a 50m public pool.

That night after dinner, I attended the briefing given by Uncle Chan. He announced a cut-off time of 4 hours. My heart sank. In training, it took me an hour for the swim, one hour 40 minutes for the cycling and two hours for the 10km run. Total of 4 hours 40 minutes. So it would be impossible for me to do it in 4 hours, consecutively with no rest in between.

Afterwards I went back to the resort, along with Kingmarul and Khai who would be squatting with us. I prepared the bike for tomorrow's ride and sorted out the stuff for the transition area, keeping only the bare necessities.

I woke up at 4 am and drove to the starting point at 5 am. I prayed at the Avillion's prayer room. I left my bike and the other stuffs at the transition area and had my number painted on me. Met up with Azman from BJCC and he gave me valuable pointers on how to get through the 1.5km swim leg. I found the other guys from my swimming class already warming up, running around the hotel.

Once it was almost time to start, all the participants congregated at the beach. Those from the swimming class took a group photo, together with the rest of Rangka Riders.

We were released in waves, according to age group. The first group released was males below 29 years old. 5 minutes later it was males between 30 to 39 years old. Again 5 minutes later, it was males between 40 to 49 years old(my group), then males above 50 years old with the ladies. Those doing relays were released last. From the swim class, only Doc Taufik was in my group. He did the swim using front-crawl and I was breast-stroking my way forward.

There were no buoys marking the lanes as promised by Uncle Chan due to the massive storm the night before. Instead we had only one massive buoy in the middle of the sea. Upon reaching it, we had to turn left and head into the Avillion cove. At the cove opening, there was a buoy. From there, we swam further in towards the jetty. Once we reached the jetty, we loop back out of the cove and turn right back into the beach. At all the turning points, there was a huge buoy to aid navigation.

The faster female swimmers caught up with me at the cove opening. When I arrived back at the beach 46 minutes later, I was clearly exhausted since I fell back into the water when I tried to stand up.

But I was relieved to survive the swim leg alive. Immediately I asked my pal Zali to call my wife and tell her the good news :-). However my heart rate was at 160 bpm.

I ran from the beach to the transition area (T1), to start on the next leg of the race.

I went through the showers on my way to the transition area.

Only Doc Taufik and Abah were at the transition area. The rest had left already. I swallowed the contents of a PowerGel in my vain attempt to recover my energy. I also wasted precious minutes getting ready and resetting my watch for the bike leg since my Polar doesn't have multisports mode.

I took EFS Liquid Shot with me since I was seriously exhausted. The route from PD towards Linggi was a rolling route with plenty of climbs. Once I reached the 5km mark, the lead riders were already on their way back. Abah overtook me at km 8 and I couldn't do anything about it since I was spent. Breast-stroke swimming really took everything out of my legs. Sipping the EFS Liquid Shot kept me going especially the last 10km of the 40km ride. My legs were beginning to suffer from cramps due to the various climbs. Once I reached the 35km mark, I was relieved since it was downhill all the way.

As I rode into Avillion on my bike, the leaders were already finishing their 10km run and making their way to the finish line. You can see the pain etched on my face as I made my way to T2 to change into my running gear. I completed this leg in 1 hour 36 minutes.

After changing into my running gear, I slipped a GU rehydration tablet into my water bottle to help me stave off my cramps. Not only was I having cramps, I was also suffering from jelly legs from the cycling. So I could barely walk the first 2km of the run leg.

Although Uncle Chan promised 100+ at all water stations, which was stationed at every 2km, only the second last water station had 100+. The rest of the water stations only had plain water. After Tg Tuan Resort, I attempted to run on and off, or walk at a brisk pace. By the time I reached the 5km checkpoint, they already ran out of yellow ribbons so they gave me their last red ribbon instead. The return leg was on the beach ("off-road"). By the time I was about to reach Avillion, the early finishers were already leaving the race site, including almost all of my swimming buddies.

I arrived so late that only Abah and Zali was still waiting for me at the finish line. Thanks guys! I really appreciate it. Otherwise I wont have this excellent picture/video of me at the finish line!

I completed the running leg in 1 hour 38 minutes.

By the time I arrived at the transition area, my bike was the only one left!

What's left was the long drive home. At least I completed the triathlon despite the lack of training, within the cut-off time. I have no one to blame but myself for the overall poor timing/personal best.Out of 300+ of males in my age group, only 202 made it back before the cut-off time and I was number 199!


Everyone from the swimming class survived the swim leg of the race. Coach Jeff was very proud of the achievements of his adult students. As for me, I need to master front-crawl so that I can save my legs for cycle and run legs of the race. Most importantly I need to learn to run and do the 10km run in 1 hour instead of 2 hours!

BTW despite swimming 1.5km, cycling 40km and running 10km, I did not lose any weight. My weight was exactly the same before and after the event ;-)

P.S. - I didn't recover in time for the Ipoh Century Ride on the next weekend. I ended up doing the 170km ride in more than 7 hours. Lesson learnt; "Don't bit off more than what I could chew."

Photo credits :- Most of the photos were taken by Zali Mohd, one by Eng Tiong, one by Swee-Chuan Khoo and another by Ivan Bengho. Copyright of the photos belonged to the respective photographers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012



Road groupsets For 2011, road bicycle groupsets include:

Dura-Ace Di2 [7970] (10 speed electronic)
Dura-Ace [7900] (10 speed)
Dura-Ace Track [7700]
Ultegra Di2 [6770] (10 speed electronic)
Ultegra [6700] (10 speed)
105 [5700] (10 speed)
Tiagra [4600] (10 speed) 9 speed on older models
Sora [3400] (9 speed) 8 speed on older models
2300 [2300] (8 speed)

For 2011, road bicycle groupsets include: Super Record EPS (11 speed)
Record EPS (11 speed)
Super Record (11 speed)
Record (11 speed)
Chorus (11 speed)
Athena (11 speed)
Centaur (10 speed) (Daytona groupset before a trademark conflict was discovered)
Veloce (10 speed)
Record Pista (Track)

SRAM currently has 5 road bike groupsets (in descending order of price/quality) that all use the SRAM Double Tap shifting technology:
SRAM Red 2012
SRAM Black Red (New for 2011)
SRAM Force
SRAM Rival
SRAM Apex (new for 2010)