I have mixed feelings about this race. I don't know whether i can classify it as a good race or a bad one. It was kinda of a bit of both.
The good: Despite it being a longer course than last year, I recorded a faster time this year.
The bad: Cramps. Really slowed me down, especially on the bike.
The story: The 1st run started out good for me. Target time was around 1h10m, just the right pace to save my legs for the 64km bike and the 10km run after.
The gun went off, and I was going along at an easy pace. The run route was flat. Flatter than flat. As the run progressed, I saw Azmar and Laif pulling away. I could never match those guys running. I soon caught up with Adrian, and we started running together. Edwin and the rest of the imcyclst.com guys then caught up with us and it became a social run.
As we got close to T1, I started to pull away from them. Hit the timing beam at around 1h03m, seven minutes faster than the target time.
Had a super quick T1 and was out in 51s.
The bike started out good enough. I left transition with Azmar and Laif and we were basically cruising for a bit, enjoying the flat bike course.
Then I started to feel it. The ever so slight tightening up of the left calf. "No," I thought. "Not now. We're just starting to have fun."
At 10km, it hit. My left leg just cramped up. I was doing real well at the time, keeping up with Azmar. I had no choice but to slow down. Unclipped the left foot and started stretching it. Poured water on it. Did everything I can to get rid of it. And as quickly as it came, it went away.
But this wasn't the last I was going to see of this nasty cramp. It kept coming back for more. And each time I'd do the same thing. Pour water, stretch, spin. Then it would go away again.
By now, Adrian had caught up with me, Edwin was catching up, so was Adeline. Meantime Azmar and Laif had pulled out a huge gap. I rode along with Adrian for a while finishing off the first loop with him. Then , the cramps got really bad. I had to pull off the road, stop the bike and give it a good stretch. This was when Adrian pulled away, and Edwin whizzed past me. Got back on the bike and Adeline then overtook me. I dunno where she came from, but dayem... she was fast on the bike.
The cramps came on and off for the rest of the bike leg. Despite all this, I managed to finish in 2h07m which was four minutes faster than last year's, ran on a shorter course. But in hindsight, if it wasn't for the cramps, I could have gone under two hours. It was a nice flat course, perfect for blasting.
Took my time in T2, so that I could rest the legs a bit before the final run. Saw Adrian at his rack still putting on his shoes so I grabbed the opportunity to overtake him in transition. Sure surprised him!
But it didn't last long. As soon as I left the stadium, it was the return of the cramps. Stopped, stretched and was soon off again at a very sloooow pace. Meanwhile Adrian was pulling away. In my efforts to blast out of T2 ahead of him, I had left my Powergels on the bike. As I was already delpleted of energy, I had given up on trying to run the whole way and was now just picking points where i can stop running and start walking. Caught up with Edwin who had completely given up running and walked with him for a while. Sockless running didn't help either, I had developed three blisters on my left foot.
The rest of the leg saw me, Edwin and Adrian, yo-yoing from one another. In the end, we all just decided to walk/run together. As we approached the finish line, Adrian picked up the pace a bit, no doubt spurred by the sounds of the celebrations. I tried but I just couldn't keep up. Edwin dropped further back.
But finally, I saw it in all its glory: the finish line. Spurred by the sight of it, I managed a little sprint to cross in 4h40m, 9 minutes faster than last year, but with an oh-so-slow second run of 1h27m.
All in all, I guess I could classify it as a good race. I suffered, yes, but that was due to my lack of disclipline than anything else. I dould have possible gone under 4h30m but again my lack of disclipline got the better of me. I guess I've learnt my lesson:1) no piss-ups the week before a race; 2) hydrate, hydrate hydrate, don't skip the important ritual of ORS every night for three nights before race; 3) salt sticks are you friends.
With these lessons learnt, let's move on to the next race: Ironman 2008.