Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

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TL;DR: First Ironman, trained well, had great support, did a mock swim in my hotel bed (officially hitting a new low in my classiness), completed in 11:55, did not hear “you are an ironman”.

Now the long version (seriously, I mean LONG)…..

Ahh, how time passes and replaces confident claims with hypocritical actions. Just last year, I was preaching how an Ironman distance triathlon would never be something to entice me, and now here I am now, on a train from Kalmar to Stockholm, writing away a race report of my experience of a full-distance Ironman.

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META

I would have loved to attribute this journey to an idealistic sense of drive and ambition, but unfortunately I primarily have post-race euphoria (Mandurah 70.3 in Nov, 2015) coupled with beer to blame for the registration. The resolve to commit to this “mistake” came from a fallen relationship last year, worsened by an expanding waistline and topped by a desire to feel proud of myself. The healthy foundations to any major endeavour of course.

So I made up my mind in Jan, 2016, to focus on this goal and teach myself some discipline in hopes of a sense of accomplishment at the end. I could tell from the start list that there were only 3 Australians taking part in this race, including me. I was able to reach out to one of them, Pernilla, who lived in Melbourne. Through the coming months, we exchanged our experiences and kept each other going through the chilling winter and solo goals. Unfortunately, a couple of months before the race, she decided to pull out of the event for personal reasons. However, I’m quite grateful for all the support she gave me before and after this decision, all the way to my race day.

Considering the only half Ironman I had experienced had given me a 05:57 finish time, I started off with a target of 12:30 for my Ironman. At the time, I considered this to be safely aggressive since the rule of thumb was to double your half Ironman time and add an hour.

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1) Busselton 70.3

Ironman Busselton 70.3 fell straight at the half-way mark to IM Sweden, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to shave my 70.3 time. But I was late to the party and ended up being on the waitlist. Not dissuaded though, since I was told that pretty much everyone on the waitlist typically got the entry. With only 11 weeks to go, I chalked out a plan and joined Perth Triathlon Club with a mission to kill.

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It ain’t serious if it ain’t colour coded

Squad training with PTC did wonders to improve my swim endurance and speed, and strength training in the gym got my muscles working stronger during runs and bikes. Nothing makes you feel empowered like visible gains after the efforts put in.

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PTC gang

With a few weeks to go and an upcoming taper period, I received a notification from TWA stating that my waitlist entry hadn’t progressed and I wouldn’t get a shot at Busso 70.3.

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Anticlimactic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a major buzzkill and made me drop all training and get bummed out for a while. 3 weeks of downtime followed by my parents visiting me in Australia for the first time. Took some time later to re-evaluate my main goal of IM Sweden and decided to get back on the horse with a new zeal. Targets upgraded from 12:30 to 12:00. Ambitious? Very much so. Realistic? Why the hell not! Doesn’t hurt to aim big, just meant I had less room to slack in the coming months. Consistency over intensity. Always!

PTC was going into off season and considering there weren’t many upcoming matching triathlon goals for the other members, I would have to either go solo or find another way to get myself training efficiently.

 

2) Road to Sweden

With 15 weeks to go, I decided to pick a coach for myself. The intention was to be held accountable and have a plan with a clear purpose. 140.6 is a very different beast to a 70.3. No guesswork, no random volumes of ineffective workouts, no over-training at the risk of injury… none of that! And not just any coach, but someone I knew to be great to get along with, and someone I knew for a fact was a kick-arse triathlete himself. Enter James Debenham (JD), the beautiful combination of meticulous discipline, pure hard work and an insatiable love for beer.

The winter was picking up in full swing as well, with rains on their way. This did not make the coming months any more fun but on the flip-side, I do believe it helped toughen me up for the cold waters and strong winds of Kalmar.

16/05/2016 (13 weeks to go) – Got my plans sorted, got a bike fit done and figured out my strength training strategy for the coming weeks. Lock and load mothaafuckkaaaa!

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Draw me like one of your French girls

 

As the training picks up, JD constantly tries to gauge how I’m doing mentally and physically. I am really appreciative of how he took the importance of this race to me as importance to him as well. It wasn’t just him dishing out workouts. This was personal to us both, and he was always looking to step the training intensities up or down based on how I was going. Good coaching 101.

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The whole journey as part of James’s team has been an amazing experience. It gave me a stronger attitude to keep pushing myself no matter what, with amazingly supportive team mates on the side and a whole lot of fun to go with it all.

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Much more than just a training team

During the final month, James had to head to Europe for a couple of races, so we decided to catch up over a few beers and have a long chat about my race week and race day execution. This is the first time it ever felt this real and a part of me got a tad emotional. Not boo-hoo emotional but more like WHOAAA… kinda emotional.

Although this whole venture has been based around my personal goals and motivations, I was keen to make it more than just that. With that in mind, I started up a fundraiser page for a cause that was close to my heart: dealing with homelessness. To help push that further, I also committed to personally match 33c for every dollar donated.

If you’re reading this before Aug 31 2016, there’s still time! Please have a look at the link below.

Link: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/fredbigissue

 

There are other aspects of this journey that I would have loved to describe like THE DOUBLE PAGANONI, runs through hail, bike rides at 11pm, exploding tubes on long rides, swimming on 2 degree mornings etc., but I would need many more pages to get through it all.

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I was glad when I reached my final 4 week block, lovingly called the “hell month”. Weeks with ~21 hours of workouts and over 5000 calories of eating a day! GERONIMO!!! Started slipping up near the end of this and was feeling mentally exhausted and beaten down. All I could do then was whinge to my coach and keep begging for the taper to start.

The week before my departure, my heart rate monitor stopped working and the swim goggles started leaking at every swim…. not the best time for these things to happen but then again, better now than while in Sweden. Bought a new pair of googles and my mate Dan gave me his spare HRM. I remember this inspirational story at 2009 Kona of an athlete that raced 3 years after a heart transplant surgery. I may not be running another man’s heart but goddammit I’ve got another man’s heart……….. rate monitor. #inspo

Final bike tune-up, test out the race wheels, and we’re good for race week!

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3) Pre-Race

From the moment I took off from Perth, I had a travel bag, a backpack, a camera bag and a bike case with me for 2 flights and 3 train journeys. This wasn’t my idea of fun and arm workouts were not part of the plan. With one train ride to go, I somehow lost the count of my bags and left my main travel bag in the train from Stockholm to Kalmar. DISASTER.

What followed was a bit of worry, quickly followed by the decision to assume my race gear was gone. I started practising swimming in 16 degrees Swedish water with no wetsuit and a borrowed pair of goggles.

The Garmin charger was in the bag as well, so was prepared to bike & run with a dead watch with no idea of speeds or heart rate, but I thankfully met an American triathlete, Steve, who offered me his spare 910XT! I was shocked he would offer it to me without knowing me at all, and not even caring about how or when I would return it to him. Greatly taken aback by the generosity and forever grateful for it. I hope that I can be that guy for someone some day. Worked out the data fields on it the night before and synced it my HRM.

Also bought some random shoes before the race and ran a couple of times to help break them in. They ended up making my ankles bleed which was easily fixed by having some band-aids around the key spots on race day.

The cherry on top was finding a place at the expo where I could rent a wetsuit for the day! Unfortunately didn’t have the time to try it out in water. This is me practising in the bed the night before the race.

I know…. I’m not proud.

 

There was one single race briefing with 3000 people, followed by a good carb-y dinner. I’ve never seen this before since most Australian IM races have multiple race briefings running everyday to spread out the audience. Although I must say there was something electric about having so many eager and strong athletes all in a room with the same goal.

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3,000 eager faces

Checked in everything the day after that and in a way, I was glad to get rid of the bike and know that it was where it needed to be. Before getting here I expected the red/blue bag issues to be a complex one that required thinking but it really ended up being very simple. Both of these bags were half empty for me with just the things I needed. No spare stuff, no fancy backups, no special needs bags.

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Gave the chains a quick wash and some lube while checking it in

 

Got 4-5 hours of sleep the 3 nights after getting there, owing to jet lag and all the chaos from the lost gear. Made it #1 priority to wrap up the prep early on Friday and be in bed by 7.30 worst case. Ended up getting 7.5 Hrs on the night before the race and woke up wanting to rip a polar bear apart with my bare hands.

4) RACE DAY!

Swim – 01:19

My left hand’s pinky tends to get a life of its own in cold waters and permanently sticks out from the rest of the wrist. Not the best swimming form, so I wrapped a bit of rubber band to get this in control.

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It was 16 C water but without any choppy waves. Very different to last year which had a lot of competitors throwing up in the water while swimming! My first experience with a rolling start, so got into the 01:20 group hoping I would be somewhere around that. Final time was just a few seconds shy of that.

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No warm up allowed in the water, so I followed JD’s land-based warm up routine to get that heart rate up. Got into the water and stepped right into it.

Happy with the consistency of my swim and I’m pretty sure that I would have never done a pace slower than 02:05 or faster than 02:00 (min/100m) through the whole distance.

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Had my rubber band knocked out of my hand halfway through swim. Few seconds later, the same person kicked me in the jaw to reaffirm his/her dominance. Considering the amount of pulling and kicking I endured, I’m surprised Ironman swims don’t see any full-on mid-swim brawls.

The morning also ended up being pretty misty which made it a bit hard to see the buoys. Just tried to stick to swimmers around me and focused on not swimming too far away from the buoys.

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I got a lot of feedback from others later that they were freezing in the water despite the wetsuit. I honestly felt pretty comfortable in there and I attribute it to the Perth river OWSs and the thick layer of fat under my skin. I recommend the former of those.

Bike – 05:54

The course was flat-ish with a few undulating terrains and maybe 3 or 4 major climbs. The winds are considered to be the main issue on this course but I reckon we didn’t have too bad of a day.

The course took us through viking graveyards, farms and most importantly the Oland Bridge (which gives a fantastic view of the Baltic sea & the Kalmar castle). That was good fun, especially considering that the Oland bridge can be biked on only this day of the year.

The ride was fairly uneventful except for the sticker covering my disc wheel’s valve that kept coming off. I wasted around 5 min in repeatedly trying to tape it back up so it wouldn’t hit the chain with every rev, but had to eventually rip it off. The aerobar grips started coming off later as well, I assume from the excess cosmic energy being generated by the race wheels (yes, I like to science). Thankfully no major mechanical issues to complain of.

Both my bike and run had only one thing on the borrowed 910XT’s screen: heart rate. For the bike, I wanted to stay around 145bpm, and for the run I wanted to stay below 153bpm. I occasionally checked the speeds on my bike when I felt I was going fast, just to feed my ego and give myself a mental edge, but the primary parameter was always the main screen with just the HR.

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The plan was to stick to the numbers because the numbers were direct feedback on how the body was responding to the stress. I had to use this feedback to spread out my ability for the whole course, even if I felt stellar at some specific parts of the race. This wasn’t Dragonball Z where your body got stronger with motivation or focus or anger. You burn your matches up, you pay for it later. Simple as that.

When the watch said 179km, I got my feet out of the shoes for a wannabe pro transition. This was a fail when the course went on for another 2-2.5 km. Not sure if the course was longer than it should have been or if the GPS on the watch was off. Either way, I got a few funny looks and even made myself chuckle at the silliness of riding over 2km in my socks.

Run – 04:30

I had planned on doing the first 10km of the run on a super slow pace irrespective of how I felt. Went by perceived effort and stuck to a slow jog. After that, I picked it up a bit at went by MAF heart rate. Walked every aid station (except the last one) without fail. Initially, it felt forced but eventually I started looking forward to it, but having that plan did help me push past the urge to walk at any other time.

It was always fun to see the beautiful cobblestone roads near the inner town and an AMAZING Kalmar crowd on almost all parts of the run course. So much energy throughout the whole race! Hearing the “HEJA FREDERICK” (‘Heja’ means ‘Go’ in Svenska) chant was encouraging and you heard it at every corner of the run. I also managed to run alongside the race winner for about 0.3 seconds on my first lap. #Winning

There was a moment where my stomach didn’t feel too flash and I figured I could either take a dump or run/walk the last 15km feeling rubbish. Did the math and figured that if I lost 5min in taking a dump, that’s losing 00:20min/km for the remaining distance, but there was a chance of me making that up by just feeling comfortable. Took a 4min dump (timed it) and I have no idea if the rise in pace justified it, but damn it felt good! No regrets.

Left the nutrition to continuous judgement. Not sure how wise this was but it worked well. If I felt bloated with too much solids, I would increase the water intake and switch to coke for fuel. If I felt “hungry” with an empty stomach, bananas would be the go. Just kept playing with these three in different combinations and the body responded well.

The 3 lap course is a bit of a torture since you see the finish line thrice by the time you’re heading out for another lap of pain, but in a way it’s also really liberating to run those cobblestone roads towards that red carpet when you know this time it has your name on it

The 1st lap felt quick. the 2nd felt long, and the 3rd lasted for eternity. I didn’t how to bring up the time of the day on the 910XT, but had a pretty strong feeling that my swim was around 01:20 or below and that with the sub-6 slack created on my bike, I should be able to grab a sub 12 time with a 04:30 run.

Loved stepping on the red carpet and was so stuck in my own world that I never even heard the words “You are an Ironman”.

FINAL TIME: 11:55:20

Finisher Pic

Too cheap to actually buy the pic

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5) Post-Race

How ridiculously amazing is it that they had an icebath for the finishers, and served you beer while you rested your lazy arse in it?!! I should add though that the beer was non-alcoholic which pretty much makes it barley water. Not quite as appealing.

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I came back for the heroes hour after getting my bike checked out and safely tucked away with the rest of my gear. These were the 15:00-16:00 finishers, the guys who endured the most amount of pain and pushed when the support and morale was at the lowest.

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The final guy to cross through and not make it within cut off was a Frederick coincidentally. Felt bad for the guy considering he endured the most pain that day, and also because he lost out on the medal despite having an amazing name.

 

Looking back, this has been a truly remarkable journey. I owe James a big one. I had plenty of faith in the process he laid out for me and offloaded the planning to his experience. In return he helped me smash my goals before setting new targets and repeating.

I’ll be catching up with him in the UK in a few days and sharing some war stories over a pint or five. Gotta love having a coach who’s not only badarse in the sport but damn good fun to chill with as well.

During this preparation, I’ve swum in chilling waters in the rain, gone on a 2.30am bike ride and run through a hailstorm. I set out to make me proud of myself, and I think I kinda did that with the help of some amazing friends and family. Becoming an Ironman was cool, but feeling proud of myself while becoming one was even cooler.

 

Time to enjoy a month in Europe and then to the next challenge, whatever that is!

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P.S. Stockholm lost & found my bag the day before I left Sweden!! The world is too good to me!

Disclaimer: This will be a LOOOOOONG post as it was my first long (relatively) distance triathlon and I want to document my journey in details and not just snippets to refer back to. Bear with me if you’re willing to have a look at how this came to be, or if you like bears. Bears are awesome. Especially polar bears. #Roar

After failing to participate in Ironman Galveston 70.3 earlier this year, I was keen to have my first IM 70.3 race before the end of the year. With work, unexpected travel, personal commitments, I wasn’t sure how this would pan out but I’m happy that it did. Managed to register for 1.9km of swimming, 90km of biking and 21.1km of running at beautiful Mandurah (Western Australia). Considering this was a special event for me, I think it’s only fair that I push beyond my procrastination and inertia and to articulate my experience over this journey. (You’ll hear this word a LOT in this post. I’ve got a vocabulary as diverse as Daniel Craig’s expressions. Journey.)

First time at mandurah

What’s always fascinated me is how “realising” a new set of standards for normality can dramatically influence your own results without much of a conscious change. This, of course, works in both good and bad ways, but the sheer extent to which this can push you up or pull you down is just baffling to me. Through my preparation for this event, I was grateful to have people who I could bounce ideas off and share my excitement with. I cannot overstate how much of a difference having these people around made, both in terms of the physical prep and moral backing.Bike unfit memeI started this journey (Yes.) with a race target of 6 hours. Over the course of the last 3 months, I realised how much better I would have to become to achieve this and eventually lost all hope and dropped the target to 06:30 like a sad little puppy, promising myself though to be consistent with the training and not feel regret. Funnily enough, the consistency in training started paying dividends with my rides getting faster and swims more consistent. This made me think back to my original target and I figured there was no harm in keeping a strong target and giving it my hardest.

In a feeble attempt to appeal to my readers’ (all 3 of you) patience, here’s an index for how this will proceed.

I) Pre-Pre-Pre-Race
II) Pre-Pre-Race
III) Pre-Race
IV) Race
V) Post-Race

No, there wasn’t a lot of creativity put into the titles.

I) Pre-Pre-Pre-Race

After writing a chunky paragraph on my training, I’ve rubbed it all away considering I could devote pages to those details without really getting to any real conclusion. In essence, my time was mainly spent in achieving incremental gains without getting too ambitious. Consistent training over zealous bursts.

Over the weeks, my bike speed went from averaging 28km/hr over 50km to around 31km/hr, and my swim developing from practically dog-paddling to completing 200m in under 5 min consistently. I see you judging me. This might not sound like much but I am quite pleased with the feat considering I couldn’t swim 2 years ago.

FB swim post

Because if it’s on Facebook, it has to be true.

Working in the northern parts of Western Australia meant that I did not have much time at home for bike rides. So I brought my bike up to the site where I worked at, and sneaked in rides after work. The long and hot stretches turned out to be a blessing in disguise, providing consistent and slightly undulating roads that went on forever. I experimented with my water bottles, torpedo bottles, watch positions etc. to find what worked for me. Even realised how long it would take for a frozen water bottle to completely melt to ensure I had some refreshing cold water near the latter parts of my rides.

Pilbara riding

My swimming was as basic as it came. To put it simply, my strategy was to swim more. And more. And more. To the point where the thought of swimming long distances would not make me shit my pants, and get me kicked out of the pool with that one kid looking at you and shaking his head from distance. We all know that kid. Hate that kid. So yeah, basically to feel more at home in the water. Speed was never really an option for me. Not for this race at least.

A month before the race, I completed the Oxfam 50km hike with some friends. This was an amazing experience but knocked back the training by a bit since I had a fair few blisters for souvenir. I’ll spare the pictures in case you’re eating while reading this. When I did eventually get back to training, I got a bit excited and kicked up my seat post height for an aggressive riding position. This turned out disastrous with me tearing my arse apart on my first 50km ride. My wife, Shereen, and my mate, Dan, suggested I get a proper fit done instead of winging it myself. Wisdom in its purest form. The fit with Daniel Oldmeadow & Kate Luckin at StarPhysio was orgasmic in biking comfort (I know this sounds like a total endorsed mention and I wish it was, so that I could afford some new wheels. But no.). And amazingly, the increase in comfort (although at the cost of losing an aggressive riding position) helped me ride better and easier, which subsequently helped me get faster. He even repositioned the cleats on my bike shoes to help shift the load from the calves to the hamstrings. Sheer genius!

Bike Fit

Draw me like one of your French girls

Considering Mandurah has been a traditionally hot run, I worked on protecting myself against this almost certain inevitability. Hot runs to acclimatize were the go, with my first such run being a 15 km jog (crawl) in 42 degree heat in the Pilbara region. Words cannot describe my helplessness and pathetic state of affairs throughout that run. A passerby could have easily mistaken me for someone learning to walk. I ran 3 more of such runs in the final 3 weeks and could feel my body taking it better each time. I did very well notice that as the sun set and the temperature dropped, there was a sweet spot of around 35 degrees (Celsius) where my body would go “Alright we can work with this, let’s go!” and turn to a steady machine.

Being cheap, I bought a mount for my Garmin watch to fix it on the bike so I wouldn’t need a bike computer. Turns out the fit on my existing gear wasn’t great, so I resorted to some precision cutting to solve that problem. I also tried a new set of gels that wouldn’t be thick enough as to make the throat feel dry but not thin enough to be missing the needed goodness.

Precision cuttingNew gels

Then came the final fortnight where I focussed on tapering via short & quick workouts, and gaining clarity on what I would be doing at transitions.

Taper

The idea was that transition time was the one area where you were on equal grounds to any other athlete. These are free minutes and there is no reason for you to not be quick. Imagine a typical T1 of 5min and T2 of 4min. If you shave off 2 minutes from each with a bit of forethought of your actions there, that’s 4 minutes saved with almost no effort. Imagine the effort that would be needed to have a 4 minute faster half-marathon. Heaps! Transition is easy money. Practice it a few times and you’re setting yourself up to a smooth…. transition?

Transition Practice

II) Pre-Pre-Race

A week before the race, some interesting events made my life more…. interesting. (A poet with words)

  1. While dropping me off at an airport, my colleague/friend gave me a can of a chilled one. I couldn’t have it then because of the event but he insisted I keep it with me for a post-race “recovery”, which I promptly abided by.

XXXX2. My swim goggles started leaking away and nothing I did stopped the continuous seeping. A sense of loyalty to the goggles along with a tad bit of OCD made me try everything to fix it, including dipping it in boiling water and letting it cool around my face, to make the seals contract to the shape of my bones. Nope.

Boiling goggles

Accepted defeat and bought a new pair 2 days before the race.

New goggles

3. I get this awesome letter from the folks at IM Mandurah, wishing me the best for my first IM event and giving me a few pointers.First Time

4. I had rented a set of racing wheels from a reputed company over at the east. Unfortunately they never turned up. I was supposed to get them put on my bike 2 days before race and get it all serviced but none of that worked out. Apparently the shipping got stuffed up (I received the wheels 2 days after the race) for some reason. Although I had every fantasy of riding a sweet set of HED disc wheels at the rear and a mean looking deep section wheel on the front, I suppose this was a bit of a wake up call for me to stop whining for fancy accessories and just give it my best with what I had.

5. Now this might sound like some serious narcissism and rightly so, but I have to say that I felt great physically. This was my first race where I had put in the due effort and been disciplined with my diet and workouts. It’s one thing to know it and a whole another deal to feel it! I didn’t feel skinny or ripped, I just felt good and ready! It’s quite an empowering feeling when you feel the right muscles and the right parts of you are ready and raring to go.

Ready legs

Mmmmmm….. leggsss.

III) Pre-Race

To that one reader (Love you, mom!) still reading, trust me we’re getting there.

On the day before the race, Shereen and I shot off to an hour-long drive to Mandurah (from Perth) with all my battle gear in the backseat. Straight to the expo, we grabbed my race kit and had the folks ring some bells and yell out “first timer!!”. Considering how calm and neutral I felt, I was a bit confused to not see much of the expected giddy excitement from me. It was amazing to see my name and country’s flag on the BIB. I’ve only done one other race that had my name on the BIB. Makes such a huge difference to hear people call out your name, look you in the eye and sincerely encourage you to move your arse forward.

Race kit

Checked in to our gorgeous stay and then returned to the race area to listen to some pros, get some race briefings done. Checked in my bike and met up with Dan later. We decided that he would crash at the same place as us which was great fun.

Bike check-in

Bike 85

Never get white grips. NEVER.

The night was a carb-less dinner for me. I had been on a ‘low carb high fat’ regime for a while which had been working really well, so I intended to stick to the idea that my body’s fat adaptation should make any carb loading unnecessary. I had also cut out caffeine (sacrilege!!) in hopes that my caffeine based nutrition would be more effective on race day. Got back and sorted the final inventory for the race day. Threw in my electrolytes torpedo bottle and my water bottle in the freezer, along with a bottle of Gatorade and beer in the fridge for pre and post race.Race Ready

Race

The day started at 4am with me plugging in my headphones to my death-metal-go-kill-people-race-ready-playlist. Not everyone empathized with this routine but it’s what works for me. A gorgeous day for the race with us rocking up to the bike check-in and loading up our gear and setting up transition for the day ahead of us. Kieran rocked up with his gorgeous dog, Cleo, around the same time. The swim was through estuaries which looked gorgeous.

Swim Start

Swim Start

It was amazing to have Shereen, Dan & Kieran around. Nothing like any of the triathlons I had done earlier by myself. Those are fun during the race but borderline depressing before and after. This was such a different experience, I do feel I’ve been spoiled by it pretty hard.

Wetsuit On

With shereen at swim start

My age group started as the first wave and I was still pretty amazed at how calm I felt through the whole thing. Getting into the water, I felt the buoyancy provided by the wetsuit in salty water. This was going to be my first open water swim in a wetsuit so I was pretty stoked about that! 06:08 AM and off we went!

Race start

I spent the first 200m-300m trying to fix my leaking goggles. Yes, the new ones too! I think my face just generally sucks. And not literally. Literally would have worked great, but no it just sucks. New as they might have been, I reckon I should have spent more time in fitting them well to my face. Eventually I deemed it to be a lost cause and focussed on swimming steady instead of stopping every few seconds. Thankfully the leak stabilised after a point and even though I had some salty water in my eyes all the time, it never got worse. It was a pretty steady swim from there. The final 500m had me getting cramps around my hamstrings which made me wonder what lay ahead on the bike. It was only after the race that I realised I had done a 41min swim split which was some seriously good news to me! Rushed to the transition and saw Shereen and Kieran cheering me on which brough a big fat sincere smile to my face.

Transition 1

Swim – 00:41

Tried to work through my practised transition routine but I was too knackered to stay focussed. Jumped on my bike and kept telling myself that neither of my 2 laps should drop below an average of 30kmph. I had come for a sub 3 Hour bike ride and I wasn’t going back without it! Fumbled around on my bike to get my shoes on and could feel the hamstring cramp lurking around the corner. Kept it at snail’s pace for the first 2-3km and took in electrolytes and salt pills. Eventually the cramping subsided and I felt I was ready to push.

The course was pretty flat with a slight tailwind on the way out of Mandurah and a corresponding tailwind on the way back. At the end of the first lap, I could hear Shereen and Kieran around the turnaround which pumped me up a bit and I told myself that I would fight for a negative split. There were predictions that the wind would pick up at 9am which it promptly did. Damn you, accurate weather forecasts! I was halfway through the second lap when this happened so the way back was no fun. Managed to finish the bike averaging 31kmph (2Hr 53Min) which was beyond my expectations, although I didn’t really know this until after the race.

Bike - 02:53

Bike – 02:53

I crashed while trying to dismount because I didn’t quite rightly gauge the location of the dismount line and only got one foot out of the shoe in time. Hobbled into transition with a bleeding wrist and felt pretty dazed through the whole thing. As soon as I got out to run, I remember thinking “This isn’t gonna work out, my legs feel totally busted I can barely jog”. We went through the race finish area before even beginning the first lap. When one of the volunteers gave me a red band saying FIRST LAP!, I couldn’t believe that after “all that” running, I had barely started the third leg of the race. I’ll leave the details out but let’s just say that for the first 3km I didn’t think I would finish and considered quitting. There was a lot of cramping along the way, starting with the hamstrings and then to the quads. I saw Dan running back to finish the first of the 2 laps and he cheered me on. I focussed on stopping my quads from engaging and to use primarily my glutes and calf muscles. This seemed to work for a while before my calves started cramping as well. To look at the bright side, at least I know all my muscles are equally developed!

Around the 7km mark, I told myself to just keep nudging forward, one step at a time. Sub-6 dreams were out the window. This was survival. A few aid stations later I zoned in on the formula that was working for me and letting my push back the cramps by just about 2km, enough to get me to the next aid station.

i) Splash of water with a jug of water

ii) Cap full of ice

iii) Two cups of coke

iv) Two cups of water

v) Caffeinated salt pill

I did this again and again and again and again, while digging in deep and telling myself that the pain would end but my finish time would be permanent. Saw Dan on the way back and cheered him on. Saw a few more familiar faces who encouraged me on. Also saw my A-Team, Shereen and Kieran, at the end of the first lap which was awesome.

Race end

Run – 02:17

On the final stretch, I saw Shereen before the point where you make the final U-turn and run to the red carpet. Threw over my hat over to her to gear up for my killer finish pic. Hah, if only I knew what lay ahead! Right after she went away to reposition herself near the finish, my calves started giving away. The crowd around me started yelling at me by name and telling me I was almost there. I kept pushing and smiled at seeing the red carpet. Here’s where things went a tad too dramatic.

As I stepped on the carpet, the commentator starts yelling my name and me being first timer and all. I see Shereen and Dan and head over to give them a high-five before crossing the finish. One high-five in and my right calf goes away. Another step and the left calf cramps too, with the crowd going “Ooooohhh!!”. I am as crippled as I could be and to make things spicier, I can hear the host narrating about my cramps and how close I was to the finish line. With some encouraging words from Shereen and Dan, I fight to gain some hobbling momentum and the crowd starts getting loud. Seriously, I’m not making this shit up. 20m or so more and I cross the finish line before crumpling into the arms of a couple of volunteers who put a medal and a towel around me. They were super nice but I had to stop them from getting medical attendants and a wheel chair. Surely things weren’t that bad.Drama Queen


Post-Race

Finish line stretchFinisher's medal

Hung myself on the fence like a wet rag and watched my calves do these freaky movements. It’s the kind of shit you see in a James Cameron movie before an alien pops out of there. Wasn’t really interested in the finisher’s area since the 3 awesome people I wanted to meet up with were on the other side. Turns out I finished in 05:57, 3 minutes within my target! Dan had managed to clinch his 5 Hour target as well, even though he didn’t have a wetsuit or his usual pre-race spaghetti dinner. Good day for all! We chilled around for a bit before bidding our goodbyes.

The A-Team

With the race done and dusted, I have been bestowed with the amazing power of hindsight. In retrospect, it seems quite clear to me that I let my running fitness slide a fair bit during the training. The bike has always been my favourite leg of a triathlon and there’s no doubt that I love to spend more time on the bike than on my feet or in the water. That being said, I’ll be having a go at improving my running speeds in the coming few months as I feel the run in a long distance triathlon is what makes or breaks your final time.

So what’s next? Not too sure but Shereen’s signed up for a full Ironman in Sweden in August, 2016. I’m going to be there with her anyway so figured I might as well race it. Not sure I’ve thought this through but I reckon it’ll be another amazing… journey. Also, I still owe myself that sub-4 marathon I’ve never had a chance at. Plenty to work on!

C&H New Yrs resolution

It’s that time of the year when every person who’s ever made shitty decisions in the last year decides to start with a “clean slate” and “do better”. I figured I might take this chance to claw my way back into the world of blogging with a list of simple yet procrastination-friendly tasks that I hope to get by in these coming 365 days of ridiculously cranked up awesomeness. So here are 11 goals from the top of my head (That’s a lie. I spent hours coming up with these.) that I’ll try to nail, and hopefully make a part of my daily life.

1) Say less of “not bad” and more of “good”
Not Bad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) No Bieber and Twilight bashing

Bieber vs Twilight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Hug one new person every month

Creep Hug Alert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Speak to co-passengers in flights

Flight Passengers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Cook (a real full-fledged meal) at least once a month

Cooking Disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6) Save “awesome” for things that truly deserve it

Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) Drink when you want to, not when you have to

Drinking

 

 

 

 

 

 

8) Save less, travel more

Travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9) Read at least 1 book per 2 months

Reading

 

 

 

 

 

10) Complete a triathlon and live to talk about it

Triathlon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11) Publish a new blog post per 4 months

Blogging

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s my list of not-so-ambitious-yet-prone-to-failure goals for this year.
Cheers to resolving the shit out of 2013!