Sunday, November 9, 2008

Not So Powerman (now with pictures)

I was not in the right state of mind for this race.

The events of the past week had made me physically, mentally and emotionally unfit for this race. And I knew it. Yet, like a stubborn old git, I went and did it.

Before the start, already not in the mood to race.

Race morning and my strategy was simple: race as hard as you can, harder than you've ever done, so hard that it hurts. Not the good hurt, mind you, any kind of hurt. If it hurts, maybe, just maybe, it'll take away the hurt from my heart. That's what I really needed to do.

I figured with this strategy, I'd end up with a personal best or in the hospital.

The first run went ok. No, better than ok. I was running at approximately 5:30 pace the entire 11k, and felt good. This go-harder-than-usual strategy seems to be working. And the hurt was coming fast too, but so far, it's been the good hurt. Gotta keep it up.

Going hard, faster than usual.

Pain is good.

Arrived in T1 in about 58 minutes and change, 4 minutes faster than last year. So far so good.

Got on the bike. New race wheels, new position, I was determined to go faster than last year. Last year I had to battle cramps from kilometre 10 onwards. So far this year, no cramps.

I was going as hard as I could yet, could not put out the speed I was hoping to. This seemed like the beginning of the end. And I was hurting too. My right knee was starting to stiffen up, and my neck and shoulders were killing me.

Hurting real bad up that bridge.

Still I went as hard as I could. Just kept pushing it, but the average speed was getting lower. Got off the bike in about 2h12m, 5 minutes slower than last year.

Thank God the bike leg is over.

To make things worse, when I got off the bike, my knee completely refused to work. It just wouldn't bend. I hobbled into T2 in pain and considered calling it a day.

Then I remembered the strategy, go hard till it hurts so it can take the hurt from the heart away.

So I hobbled out of T2. Perhaps not the smartest thing to do but hey, I was physically, mentally and emotianally unfit, remember?

I tried running, but it just wasn't happening. This guy sprayed something on my knee and rub it down real hard, and that seemed to work. For a while.


I was soon walking again. Just beyond the first drink station, I stopped and stretched my ITB. That helped, I was able to run all the way to the next water station at around 6:30-7:00 minute pace.

But as soon as I got back to the stadium, I was walking again. On the second loop, Vong showed up on his bike and gave me an ice cold can of 100Plus. Thanks Vong, you're a lifesaver.

I was later joined by Bean, Ishsal and Omar. We would walk a bit, run then walk again. Towards the end, Ish and Omar went off, and I managed to put some space on Bean. I crossed the line in a miserable 4h48m, 8 minutes slower than last year.

Hobbling to the finish line.

What a miserable 4h48m.

So did my strategy work? Of course not! I neither got a PB nor ended up in the hospital, but I was much closer to the latter. There were a couple of times out there when I thought I was going to faint. I was seeing spots and everything was spinning. And while I did hurt a lot, it never took away the hurt in my heart. Oh well, can't say I didn't try.

As I type this, my knee is in a lot of pain. As such, I will be skipping the Penang Marathon next week. I don't think my knee can endure a 42km run and I don't think I can endure another weekend like this one.

I'm also thinking this could be my last Powerman, because I'm not so Power after all...

Monday, October 20, 2008


It was the last two metres of the Mizuno Wave Run. Quite a number of runners were finishing about the same time, so there was a queue down the finishing chute to cross the finish line and timing mat.

I got there and patiently waited in line. However, there was a guy behind me who kept nudging me forward, as if he couldn't see the queue.

Never mind, I thought. Maybe just adrenaline.

Anyway, as we inched forward to the finish line, I sensed the guy was getting agitated. When we finally arrived at the timing mat, he snuck his foot with timing chip attached in front of me!

WTF???!!! How kiasu can you get?

We're both way out of the running to get any podium positions, our times weren't all that impressive, so is there really a need to jump queue ahead of your fellow competitor just so your name appears before mine in the official results? Would position 893 be better for you than position 894?

Frankly, I don't give a shit but I just had to blog about it because I thought it was plain rude, the running equivalent of cutting queue, and I hate queue jumpers.

Anyway, enough with the rant.

Overall I had a good run considering I had done very little running since Desaru. As usual I started at the back of the pack and I kinda enjoy this. Passing other runners makes me feel like I'm running fast.

For a while, I was pacing with AJ and Laif, but lost AJ at the water station when Laif and I stopped and AJ went on.

We caught up with him again in the final few km and Laif went off. By this time I had nothing left so just paced myself to the finish line. I did, however, maanage to pass AJ in the final km so that made me happy.

As i got into the queue, I stopped my watch at 56m04s. The official timing may say something else as I lost time at the start (from the back, it took me 3 minutes just to get to the start line!), and at the finish while queuing to get to the finish line.

This is probably the fastest I've ran a 10k, so I'm ecstatic! The route was quite challenging, double hill in reverse is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Sure, there are more downhills this way, but the uphills were short and killer steep.

Anyway, I enjoyed the run. But woke up this morning with really sore calves. Definitely need more running mileage if I am to survive Powerman and Penang Bridge Marathon next month.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Selamat Hari Raya everyone!

I haven't been updating this blog much recently so I thought I'd just put everything down in one post.

Intersate Day 3 - The Cruise into Kuantan
Having rested the day earlier, I started the day off in the front pack. It was ok for a while but when the marshall's car let us go, the speeds just went up, up, up! Senn and I were barely hanging on when all of a sudden a herd of about 20+ cows stampeded across the road. Being at the back, we had to back off and let the cows through. Senn had a near miss when the rider in front of her hit the ground. It was quite a scary experience.

We were quite glad that we lost the front pack because keeping up the speed for another 80km would have been killer. We continued on our own for a while before the next pack came to pick us up. We stayed in this pack till we got to Pekan, about 90km from the start.

After a short break, we took a leisurely ride with PK's pack, enjoying the sights along the coastal road. It was leisurely until just outside Kuantan when PK found out that Don's pack was behind us. Determined to finish ahead of Don, we cut short our rest stop in the cool confines of the Petronas station and hammered to the hotel, sprinting for every traffic light. We did get in ahead of Don, but little did we know, Don was taking it really easy that day, stopping for cendol along the way. All that effort for nothing!

Another Interstate done, here's looking forward to the next one.

Genting Ramadhan Runs/Rides
As has been tradition, the fasting month sees us back at Genting doing the night runs. There were a lot more participants this time around as the popularity of these runs is growing. On any given night, we had at least 20-30 runners, riders or walkers.

The first week, I walked but had to cut it short about 6km from the summit because my knee was in pain.

The second week I ran, but did a run/walk towards the end. Still finished the distance in about 2h40m so I was quite happy.

The third week, I rode my bike up. It was more painful than I remembered it to be. Then I found out why. From Gohtong till about 2km from the peak, I was grinding up in the wrong gear! I had three more gears to spare!

Unfortunately, there was no Fraser's midnight ride this year. Well, there was, but it rained that day so I didn't go. Oh well, maybe next year.

Hari Raya
As usual, Raya was spent in KL and the first day was quite busy. I drove more than 200km that day in and around KL. My first day had me driving from Damansara Perdana to Damansara Heights to go to the mosque and my mom's house, then to Valencia in Sungai Buloh to pick up the kids, then back to Damansara Heights to my grandmother's and auntie's house, then to PJ Section 16 to my uncle's house, then to Sungai Long to my grand-uncle's house, then back to Valencia to drop the kids back at their Atuk's house then back home. I managed to skip going to my grand-auntie's house in Ampang Jaya because I had to drop the kids off by 6pm. The best part of driving during Raya is that it is traffic free.

On the second day, my parents invited the relatives to the house. This time, there was not much driving but I was still busy playing usher, waiter and dishwasher.

After the "Open House", my parents checked into a suite at the Ritz Carlton to get away from the Raya rush. I brought the kids to stay with them on Friday night. Unfortunately for me and the kids, all the rooms were taken by my siblings, so we camped out in the den of the suite. It was quite fun staying in a hotel in KL. It made us feel like tourists!

Training Resumes
On Sunday, went for my first daytime ride in a long time. Went from Bt18 to Peres to Tekala and back to Bt18 for a planned 60k. When we got to the top of Peres, the rest of the pack decided to skip Tekala and head back to Bt18. I went on solo to Tekala to catch up with Senn, her dad and Mac who skipped Peres. It turns out the stalls at Tekala were closed so they went to a stall near Nirvana, another 4-5km away.

I met them there and we headed back. Had a good time blasting back to Bt18 from the t-junction taking turns with Senn pulling Mac back. Definitely a good ride. Can't wait to get back into training full-on.

Today (Monday) went for physio and a check-up of the wrist. Doc says wrist is fully healed and I can begin training in earnest again. Woo hoo! See you guys out there!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tough Work Being a Route Marshall - Interstate Day 2

Day two of Interstate 2008. My injured wrist took quite a beating the day before, especially going down that last, rough, bumpy descent.

I decided to rest the wrist today and ride on the final day.

So the day started with me looking for a car to ride in. I had a few offers but chose to go with Jenny in one of the Route Marshall's car since she was driving alone. But that meant I had to do some work.

Man, it's tough being a Route Marshall. Sitting in the air-conditioned car, waving your arms to show the riders wear to turn, waiting for the last rider to arrive at the critical junctions. Tough work. Made me wish I was out there riding on the relentless heat instead.

Watching the faces of the riders during the ride was interesting. At the 51km critical junction, I managed to observe all the riders as they came through.

The first pack had intensity written all over their faces. Same as the second and the third. But the later riders were all starting to show fatigue. And they still had 130 km to go!

A couple of riders were so intense that, despite a big flashing red arrow pointing let, about 10 marshalls waving and shouting "turn left!" they still went straight!

Got to the hotel in Kuala Rompin at about 12.30pm, 15 minutes after the first pack had arrived. Imagine that, I was in a car and I still arrived after the first pack. They took only five hours something to finish 178km. Apparently, they didn't make any stops at all, not even to refuel. Nutters.

With my wrist fully rested, I am now prepared for Day 3's ride.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Interstate Ride Report

So many things to report, I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Day One

We were supposed to leave at 5am so we can get into Kajang safely by 6. We woke up at 5:15am.


Quickly got up got ready, made alternative arrangements with Mac and Joanne in case we missed the luggage truck and headed down to Kajang. In our rush, I left my wallet and Senn hurried through putting on her contacts, which would lead to some dire consequences later.

Got to Kajang with plenty of time to spare, fortunately. The ride started and soon the rain started too.

All the way to Semenyih, we were drenched. Don took out his raincoat and it was the noisiest thing around, flapping about in wind.

By the time we got to Tekala, the rain had subsided. I managed to hang on to the front pack till we got to the dam. At the first hill, I got dropped.

The climb up Peres was quite pleasant There was a light mist hanging just above the road. A few corners from the top, I saw the front pack stopped at the side of the road. Abby, driving her dad's truck, had swerved into the drain, and the riders had just finished pulling the truck out. The only way I was going to catch up with the leaders is if they stopped.

The descent was prety scary stuff. The roads were wet and it was cold. A bunch of us decided to take it easy. Good thing we did too, because just a few corners down the road, a rider had gone into a bend too hot and went straight into a retaining wall.

By the time I got there, he was lying on the ground beside the drain, face covered in blood. Not a pretty sight.

I hung around for bit to see if any help was required. When things looked like they were under control, I made my way down, even more cautious than before.

On the flats towards Titi, I had a mountain biker in sneakers sucking my wheel. I was pedaling furiously at 40-45km/h and here he was, just tagging along. Pretty damn strong. When I opened up to let him work, he just looked at me and smiled. OK. Looks like I'm gonna have to do this on my own. Found the front group refilling at the 77km mark and stopped to join them.

By now I had found out that Senn had stopped just after her Tekala. Her contact lenses were infecting her eyes and she couldn't stop tearing. She would take the contacts out and continue, but would end up in a support car at the 66km junction.

Continued to Spg Pertang, the 91km mark. Only 40km to go. Stopped there to eat and wait for the others. Slowly, they started rolling in: Patrick, Maria, Ishsal, Clarence, Mac, Adeline, etc. Decided to join them for the rest of the journey to Bahau.

We got going again and we were faced with this bitch of a climb. It just seemed to go on forever. Just when you think you've reached the peak, you turn the corner and the road goes upwards again. And when you have a tough climb like that, you're normally rewarded with a nice descent. Not this time. The roads were rough and bumpy and all that rattling couldn't have been good for my recovering wrist. And soon we were climbing again! With already 100km in your legs, this had to be one of the toughest climbs around.

And when we finally got to some flat land, we then had a strong headwind to contend with. By now, even maintaining 25km/h was a real chore. I had nothing left and got dropped by Ishsal, Maria and Clarence. 20km to go and I was left all by my lonesome.

I caught up with Clarence with about 15km to go and we started working together. Till he had a flat. He had no spares (i used mine fixing a flat on that rough descent), so he abandoned and waited for a support car. I pushed on ahead, fighting the wind by myself. It was the longest 10km of my life.

When I got to the hotel in Bahau, I just parked my bike and lay down for a while. The wrist was hurting, the legs were stiff. I made a decision right there and then to give the next day's 178km ride a miss.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Confessions of a Relay Runner

I did my first relay triathlon over the weekend.

Not because I wanted to. But because doc said, "No swimming or cycling while your wrist heals."

"How about running?" I asked.

"Running ok," he replied.

How heartbreaking was that? Knowing your favourite race was coming up and you can't compete.

But all was not lost. Senn came up with this brilliant idea: let's do a relay.

She swims and cycles. And I run. And we'll all ourselves Fast N Fuyoh!

And so it was I began my first triathlon as a relay runner.

Our target: 1h00m swim, a 3h30m bike, a 2h00m run for a total of 6h30m.

It was a bizarre experience. For once, as I looked upon the waves crashing along the Desaru beach, I did not have the usual butterflies in my stomach that normally appear before a swim.

Even packing for this race was bizarre. Running shoes: check. Lucky visor: check. And that's that. No bike, no cycling shoes, no goggles.

The race started with the mad rush going into the South China Sea. And I was glad I was not part of that rush. Yet, at the same time, I was wishing I was.

Senn did a respectable 59 minute swim (much better than my 1:09 last year) and things were looking good.

Off on the bike and I was starting to get very nervous. It's very nerve-wracking knowing that whatever happens out on the bike is not within your control. I really don't know how the other relay athletes do it.

Her first loop she clocked a 1h09m. Very good. We were on target.

Her second loop was a 1h14m. Oh-oh, it was beginning to slip away. The good news, though, was that she was closing in on CK, who was seven minutes ahead at the end of the first loop. He was now only one minute ahead.

Her third loop was a stormer. This was when she decided to drop the hammer. She finished the third loop in one hour flat for a bike split of 3h23m! We were way ahead of schedule.

Buoyed by her brilliant performance on the last loop, I grabbed the wristband from her and sprinted through transition. I set off at a pace way beyond what I was capable of. I knew if I kept this pace up, I would be in trouble towards the end.

But for some reason I kept it up. I was pacing with two other runners and we made it the turnaround (about 1.5k) in under 7 minutes. At 3k, only 15 minutes had expired. I was running a 5 minute pace! Unbelievable!

I slowed down just a tad because I knew if I kept that pace, I'd be crawling across the finish line.

Yet, there was this pressure to keep going. Because I didn't want to let Senn, who did a brilliant job on the swim and bike, down. So I kept going. Adzim later remarked that I looked like I was hunting someone down!

And so, I kept going, passing runner after runner. This too was an unusual experience for me. Very few passed me, yet I was passing people left, right and centre. Of course, the fact that I had fresh legs probably had something to do with it.

I finished the first loop in 56 minutes and wondered when it was going to all fall apart. I thought the hill at the far and of the course would do it, but it didn't. I just shut my eyes and gave it all I had. And before I knew it, I had gone over the hill.

The final four kilomteres. I kept going. It was tunnel vision. I only had the finish line in my mind.

Finally, I heard the music from the finish line, I could hear MC Lan welcoming the runners back. Then Senn was running alongside me. Then I saw the finishing chute, the finish line. I picked up the pace. I sprinted and it was all over. 1h55m21s. A personal best by a good 23 minutes!

So that was the story of my first relay tri. And hopefully, my last.

It was probably too long and not very good but I just had the best run of my life so please humour me!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Proud Daddy!

Shafeeq, my eldest, came back from computer class today and said he wanted to show me his movie on YouTube.

I'm like, "You have a movie on YouTube?"

He's like "Yup!"

He wrote, directed, shot, edited and constructed the props. And he's only 9 years old!

So without further ado:

Pizza Battle

(Sorry, can't embed the movie, so please click on the link.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

adidas King of the Road... not!

The adidas King of the Road was nowhere near worthy of being a King.

It was a badly run event. No water, no distance markers, very few medics.

Before the race started, we were herded into the kandang like a bunch of schoolchildren. Even the short briefing given was like a headmaster addressing his students.

The race went underway and as usual, I started off the back. We came to the first aid station and they only had isotonic drinks. Never mind. Downed a couple fo cups and went on my way.

Pretty soon, it looked like there was going to be no water at any of the aid stations. They alternated between 100plus and sponges. And the sponges weren't even cold.

I got to one aid station and it said 12km to go. I was happy. 10km in 55 minutes. Not too bad. If I can keep up this pace or even do a negative split, I may just come in under two hours. Or so I thought.

When we got to the next aid station, the sign there said 12km to go. Eh??? WTF? Apparently, the earlier sign was wrong. It looked like the organisers were really fucking with our minds. By now 1h10m had elapsed. So much for coming in under two hours.

Then at the next aid station, I was really thirsty (the previous one only had lukewarm sponges). But alas, that station had run out of drinks! Luckily for me, Rashid was with me at the time and he had cash, so we crossed the road to the Shell station and got a can of 100plus and a bottle of mineral water each. Thanks Rashid, I owe you one.

We must have been about 12 - 15k into the run at this point (I couldn't tell, there were no distance markers, remember?) and I still hadn't seen any medic teams. Not that I needed medical help but it would have been assuring to see some.

By now, the splint on my left arm was starting to get heavy. So were my legs. I could feel blisters on my left foot. Maybe taking the Zoot shoes sockless wasn't such a good idea.

Caught up with Abu in the final kilometre. The boy was pissed off that there was no water throughout the run course. "Korang pergi dululah. Aku dah tak semangat nak lari," ("You guys go ahead. I have no mood to run anymore!") was his words when I met him.

At last, there was another distance marker. It said "500m to finish". So I picked up the pace a bit.


It was more like a kilometre to go. Should have known. That final roundabout just saps your energy and the finish was on a slight uphill.

Crossed the line with a 2h22m22s. Picked up my medal (which was still wrapped in plastic) and my cert (which I had to fill in myself). How absolutely motivating! Yu run 22.7km and you still have to fill up your cert yourself. The least they could do was put your distance in. But no, they left the distance portion blank, so you can pretty much fill in whatever distance you like.

Last year's event was much better organised. There were distance markers every 5km, and water was plenty. If they are going to keep having this event, they better buck up.

Having said that, there were some positives. For one, the weather was good, overcast the whole time. And I did get a good workout.

But really, an event with such a world-class brand at the helm could have been much, much better.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


injuries suck.

going for physio sucks.

paying for physio sucks.

staying off the bike sucks.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Rancangan Tergendala

So I go to the KL Sports Medicine Centre to have my wrist looked at. Met Dr. Ranjit, a hand specialist, and he recommended an MRI and an X-ray.

I go down to the imaging department to do an MRI. If ever you need to do mental training for an Ironman, get an MRI done. It was the most mental thing in the world. Imagine, you're lying there and you can't move.And they put you in the most uncomfortable position. Then there's the noise, this mind-numbing, throbbing noise. And this goes on for at least half an hour.

It's also good training for your aero position. You have to stay put no matter how uncomfortable it gets.

Anyway, the first scan was no good because i apparently moved. So I had to do a second scan. By the end of it I was begging for it to stop.

After about 50 gruelling minutes, it did stop. Went out for lunch and then back to the doctor for the diagnosis. Bad news. Doc wasn't happy with the MRI and I had to go do it again.

So anyway, after three MRI scans, I was told that, yes, my wrist is swollen and that i tore a tendon. It was a peripheral tear of the triangular fibrocartilage (TFC). It was most likely caused by the hard impact of crashing on the tarmac at 40km/h.

For it to heal properly, I have to limit movement to my wrist. So now my left arm, up to my elbow, is in a splint. That means no swimming, no cycling.

For three months.

So there goes Desaru. And there goes Interstate. Hopefully, I can be back in time for Powerman.

But by then I would have lost three months of training for Ironman. Great. Just when I'm about to start training for it.

And it looks like Josie's new shoes debut will have to wait. Oh ya, here's what they look like:

And to rub more salt into the wound, my team CSC cycling jersey and bibs arrived today.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Deja Vu (The PD Race Report)

The Port Dickson International Triathlon 2008 played out like last year. You can read about that here.

It was like deja vu. Thought I had a bad swim but, like last year, was pleasantly surprised to see a time of 32m36s when I came out of the water. Like last year, I exited the water with Stupe and ran with him into T1.

Coming into T1. Happy at the 32:36 swim. A PB there.

Had a quick T1, then was off on my bike. Again, like last year, I caught on a train at 2km, this time led by Stephanie Chok, and got dropped at 5km. Then rode solo for 10km before a big, big train came by. I caught this one, driven by the illustrious Sam Pritchard, alnd followed it all the way back up until the last km of the bike.

That's when it happened.

We had just gone round the roundabout and everyone was jockeying for position for the final dash to T2. We were going about 40km/h+ when, unsighted by the rider in front, I hit a pothole. Next thing I knew I was flung forward and I felt my hands slip off the bars. At that point, I still thought I could save it but then I felt my torso on my aerobars and my right foot clicking out of the pedals.

Next thing I knew, I was in the air and hit the ground hard. I have no idea what happened to the bike but I was sliding on the tarmac on my belly. I could actually feel my skin being scraped off my elbows and knees.

Once I stopped, I was sitting on the ground right in the path of the other cyclists. Afraid I might get hit, I raised both my arms, trying to warn the other approaching riders. When it was clear, I got up and looked around for Josie.

Surprisingly, my first thought wasn't "How's the bike?" Nor was it "Shit! Am I injured?" Instead it was "Damn! There goes my personal best!" You, see at that point I was on target for a PB. The swim was fast, my bike was going to be under 1h10m and my legs were still fresh enough for a potential 50 minute run. But all that came crashing down along with me and Josie.

I got up. I was a little disoriented by the whole thing. A traffic policeman was talking to me but I couldn't really make out what he was saying. Of all things, I was asking him to get my water bottle which fell off the bike. He said don't worry about the bottle, worry about yourself first.

I calmed down, assessed the damage and decided to continue, at least back to transition. But the cop wouldn't let my bike go. He kept asking if I was sure I wanted to go on. I insisted on continuing and he relented. He went to get my bottle and I was off again.

Got on the bike and started riding. But the bike felt sluggish. I thought, that's it. Josie is terminally damaged. But then I realised it was only a flat tire. I took off my shoes and ran the bike back to T2. By then I had wasted a good 15 minutes.

Running the final kilometre into T2. If you look closely, you can see the exposed skin on my left knee.

Got into T2 and I was furious. Furious at myself for crashing, furious at the time lost running back to T2, furious I lost any chance of getting a PB. But screw it, I was going to get that medal. Threw my bike on the rack, threw my helmet into the basket, got my shoes on and left. All in 35 seconds.

Powered by fury and adrenaline, I ran. By the first kilometre, the wounds were starting to sting. I wanted to wash it with water at the first water station but they ran out. Up the hill at the highway and I was in pain. So I started walking. And that's how it was for the first five kilometres, when the road pointed upward slightly, I walked. When it flattened out or went down, I ran.

At the turnaround, there was an ambulance. I decided to stop there and get my wounds treated. Another 10 minutes gone. But, after that, there was no more stinging pain. I managed to run all the way back to the roundabout and that was it. I had nothing left. It was a slow walk/run slog back.

Finally, I got to the finishing chute. Whatever I had left, I put it into the final dash to the line. I even managed to overtake someone in the final few metres.

I crossed the line in with a 1h13m run for a total time of 3h08m, 28 minutes slower than my target.

Finishing the most painful race I've ever done.

It was the most painful medal I've ever earned.

After the race I went to the medical tent and found out that a lot of people had crashed in the same spot, including Randy. Randy's injury looked a lot worse than mine and his bike sustained far more damage than Josie. And he still finished in 2h31m. I'm telling you, that guy is from a different planet.

Well, that about sums up my PD tri. Looks like the PB is going to have to wait another year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Following my crash at the Port Dickson International Triathlon, here are the damages done to me and Josie.

To me:
My left knee.

My left elbow.

My right elbow.

To Josie:

Saddle on the left.


Saddle on the right.

Rear Derailleur.

Apart from that my left wrist is a little swollen, and there are scratches on both my palms and left thigh.

What can I say? Shit happens during races. Anyway, stay tuned for full race report to find out what happened.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Allow me to introduce you...

... to Josie.

She'll be making her debut in PD. Do say "hello" when you see her.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Three Hours... Almost (The Kenyir Tri Race Report)

The Kenyir Lake International Triathlon or KLIT (I dare you to read out that acronym) has been around for four years now and I've participated in all of them except for the inaugural one in 2005. Billed as the toughest Olympic Distance Triathlon in Malaysia, it certainly lives up to its name with its undulating bike and run course.

My results there have been less than stellar, clocking in times on the high side of three hours. In 2006, I came in at 3h27m, 2007 I recorded a pathetic 3h33m. In 2008, I again didn't manage to break three hours, but I was a lot closer this time around.

For some reason, the bouys looked further apart than in previous years, which led most of us into thinking that maybe the course is slightly longer this year. Whatever it is, all 150 or so of the participants had to do the same course so might as well just get on with it.

Normally, my slow swim means that I'll be in the battles at the beginning of the swim leg, then as the faster swimmers get ahead, I'll be left all by my lonesome. Not this time though. I got kicked, shoved, pushed throughout the 1.5km, which meant that I was keeping pace with the pack. Good news.

Then I got out and saw my time. Bad news. 37 minutes. Two slower than last year. And I thought I had a good swim. Never mind. Forget the swim, concentrate on the rest of the race. This is when I hit the stop button instead of the Lap button on my stopwatch. I only realized it later, which means that about 3-4 minutes of my race weren't recorded.

As I entered T1, I saw the likes of Shazly, Adzim and Michelle, fast swimmers as far as I'm concerned. They were leaving T1 as I got to my bike. Which meant my swim wasn't all that bad at all.

Off on the bike, and the first thing we had to do was climb this massive hill. I normally leave my shoes on the bike but because of that hill, I decided to put them on in T1. I may lose some time in T1 but at least I didn't have to pedal on top of my shoes up that hill.

By the time I got to the top, my thighs were burning. Not a good way to start a 40km bike, followed by a 10km run. Got onto the main road and Zabil zipped by me, inviting me to draft his wheel. I immediately jumped on and followed him for about a kilometre before my legs said, "Wei! What are you trying to do?! Still got to run after this you know!" So I eased off.

Played cat and mouse with an elderly Thai guy. Riding a tri bike, he naturally got dropped when the road pointed upwards, but when the road was flat or downhill, he would promptly overtake me again. Finally managed to drop him on that long, sustained climb before the turnaround.

Hit the turnaround at 46 minutes. The trip back was definitely quicker. Got back in about 36 minutes. Somehow, somewhere I hit a max speed of 72.2km/h. Must be going down one of those steep hills.

The journey back was without incident, and I finally got to that final hill before T2. Man, was I glad I brought the American Classic wheels with the 27t cog. Even with that, it was still a grind up that hill. Got to the top, took my shoes off and coasted into T2 with a 1h22m bike split, a whopping 20 minute savings from last year.

Ran into T2, racked up the bike, took off the helmet, put on my Zoot Ultra Race shoes and ran out. The whole thing played out in a mere 35 seconds. Thank you Zoot for making such a wonderful shoe.

The plan was to run the entire first loop, then maybe allow myself to walk up some of the steep slopes on the second. Plan was going good for a while.

Saw Shazly just ahead of me approaching the first water station then overtook him as we passed the entrance to the resort. I thought to myself if I keep this up, I might finally finish ahead of him. The I got to the final hill on the loop and as much as I wanted to run up it, my legs just couldn't do it. I saw people ahead of me walking and I still couldn't catch up to them while running so I decided to just walk/run up it. Finished the first loop in about 29 minutes.

On the second loop, Shazly passed me at almost the same spot I passed him earlier. There goes my chance of beating him in an Olympic Distance race. By now I was forced to walk up the hills because my legs just couldn't take it anymore. The mind was willing but the legs just said "stop!" Anyway, the second loop took me about 31 minutes to finish. I was a good 16 minutes ahead of my time last year.

I crossed the line and my watch said 2h59m. Add to that the extra 3-4 minutes that wasn't recorded means I did the race in about a 3h03m. Just three minutes over the golden three hour mark. Arrrrghhh...

All in all, it was a massive improvement from last year. And i didn't feel as beat up. I'm very happy with my performance but a little disappointed that I didn't manage to run the entire run leg. And I'm also a little disappointed that I didn't manage to break three hours. So close yet so far. Oh well, at least I have an excuse to come back next year. I need to beat this run course.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Way Out of My League

My exact thoughts when I rolled up to the start line of the Malaysian National Road Race Championship.

Here I was, an average rider at best, lining up against the state riders from all over the country! At that moment, I knew I was in over my head. What the hell did I get myself into?

The race started and I had trouble clipping in my left foot. I looked down for a split second to get my foot in, looked up and the peloton was gone. Just like that.

I chased them down and managed to catch them before the first corner. Shifted into the big ring and tailed them comfortably at 40km/h.

Then came this short, sharp hill. And the peloton was still traveling at the same speed. I held on for dear life till we reached the top, then it was down the highway off-ramp towards Sepang. The peloton made the right turn, then everyone got up and sprinted away. I was following them, my legs turning the pedals furiously. I looked at my speedo: 56km/h! Holy shit!

And yet, the pack was pulling away from me. I was doing more than 50km/h and these guys were still pulling away! What the hell?!

At this point, I looked around me and saw some familiar faces: PK and Mong among others. We decided to dial it down a bit. At this intensity, we would not survive the 140km race distance.

So there we were, dropped at 3km!

PK, Mong, two others (sorry forgot your names) and I started working together in a paceline. We were pulling each other at a steady 35km/h. The race course took us through some really scenic countryside but we weren't able to really enjoy the scenery. We went from Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, through Sepang, Kg Sg. Pelek, Bagan Lalang then back towards Salak Tinggi.

When we realised that we were doubling back, we decided to just head back to Salak Tinggi and call it quits. We weren't tired or anything, just decided that we've had enough. At this point, we had also lost our support car, Senn had apparently missed a turn and was headed to Morib! Very poor marshalling and route marking by the organisers, which happened to be the MNCF.

When we got back to Salak Tinggi, we found that a lot of other riders had the same idea we had. They were all sitting nicely at the coffee shop waiting for their teammates to finish the race.

About an hour after we stopped, the first of the riders arrived. It was a bit of an anti-climax to be honest. There was no bunch sprint. The three leading riders rode past the finish line side-by-side.

Apparently, there was absolutely no strategy invloved in this race. The peloton simply chased down every breakaway. Didn't even look like there was any teamwork, it was each man for himself. While I'm impressed by these rider's speed, their race management and tactics need to be worked on. Their tactic seemed to be attack from the start.

So that's how my first bike race ended, with a DNF. Having said that, I did record some personal bests, including:
Fastest ever speed on flats: 56.3km/h
Fastest 40k: 1h11m
Fastest average speed: 34km/h

Plus I had a good workout and a good ride. In all we covered 63km, which is pretty decent for a Sunday ride.

For sure it was a new experience for me, a humbling one at that. But I'm not sure it's an experience I'd like to repeat.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My 15 Minutes of Fame

I was in the papers on Sunday. Have a look

Monday, June 9, 2008

Climb Every Mountain...

Three different climbs over four weeks.

Genting, Cameron, Frasers.

That's what you get for hanging out on For those who don't know, that's a website where you can buy and sell used bike parts. The webmaster, Kevin, is a mountain goat who simply loves it when the road points upwards. Forget King of the Mountains, this guy is the God of Mountains!

Anyway, my legs are tired.

Can we go somewhere flat next? Please?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


To punish myself for skipping two 21km runs two Sundays in a row, I went out on a 16km run on Monday.

Man, that was painful.

The first 12km or so was okay, but stupidly, I didn't bring any water or money so I could buy drinks along the way. The last 4km, I was knocking on the doors of Bonk City. Throat was dry, muscles aching. So desperate was I to quench my thirst, I had actually considered drinking from a puddle. But refrained I did and finally made it back to the car for some much needed refreshment.

Part two of the punishment came last night. Tuesday night ride was rained out so I headed to Bike Boutique. They were having an indoor training session so I joined them. I have never ever gone for spin or RPM classes so this was a new experience for me. And boy, was it a painful one.

Hooked my bike up to the indoor trainer and off we went, with Terry, Lim, and Chin Hoe yelling instructions. Every once in a while, they would yell out the cadence we were supposed to spin, and which gear we were supposed to be in: 70rpm, 90rpm, 80rpm, 100rpm, big ring, 70rpm, shift down two gears, 110rpm. The session lasted 45 minutes. 45 minutes of pain.

Today, I can barely walk. But I still went to the gym for an easy 15 minute treadmill run at a 6:00 pace and am contemplating a 10k run this evening.

I think maybe I've punished myself enough.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


For the first time since I started this swim bike run madness, I did not start a race that I had registered and paid for.

There are many excuses for my no show. One of them was my stiff right ankle, which started giving me sharp, shooting pain on my treadmill run on Friday and got worse 2km into my Double Hill run on Saturday.

Another excuse was that this weekend was one of those rare occasions that I had the kids over for the entire weekend and I'd much rather spend Sunday morning with them instead of slogging it out running 21km.

Both legit excuses, but in reality, I was just plain lazy. I woke up at the requisite time, then lay in bed contemplating whether to go or not. Before I knew it, it was 5:30am and it was just too late for me to go. So it was back to dreamy-dream land for me.

All wasn't wasted though. I woke up at 9:30am, and Senn and I took the boys to the National Science Centre. The boys enjoyed themselves even though most of the exhibits weren't working. In the end, I spent some quality time with them and that is far more satisfying than getting a personal best at a half marathon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Personal Best

A new, easier route this year. The target was to beat last year's 1h41m and I managed it comfortably with a personal best (according to my watch) 1h30m. This despite the congestion early on in the run. Quite happy. Especially since i finished ahead of Adrian, something I've never been able to do.

Thanks to Tey for the pictures.

Something interesting happened during the run. While huffing and puffing up one of the hills in Bukit Tunku, I was greeted by a reader of this blog whom I've not previously met. I felt honoured because I didn't realise that my blog was read by anyone else apart from my friends. Eugene, if you're reading this, thanks for dropping by and please do leave a comment once in a while. I hope you did well on your run.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Season Opener

The 2008 tri season started over the weekend.

But it wasn't the best of starts to the weekend. As I was leaving for Malacca, I got a phone call from Shazly telling me of a massive traffic jam on the way to Alor Gajah. Apparently, a truck had overturned and was blocking the highway. Traffic was at a standstill all the way to Nilai. Not good since I was registered to do the sprint at 4.30pm.

Fortunately, thanks to my new GPS and Mac's intimate knowledge of the back roads, we managed to get to A Famosa in good time. Mac, Adeline and I arrived at about 2.15pm, which gave me plenty of time to register, check in and prep for the race.

There were a lot of kids at the sprint, which is only good for the tri scene in Malaysia. They were given a five minute headstart and only had to do one loop of the bike course instead of two.

After they were let off, it was time for the adults to go. The swim was extended 100m from last year to 500m. The water seemed a lot filthier than years past, and a lot smellier. I had a stuffed nosed and could still smell the stench! (How filthy was the water? After the Oly distance race, my trisuit was filled with debris from the water, including a snail shell!) Anyway, having not done much swim training, it was a bit of a struggle for me to finish the swim. Got out in 13m20s.

Out of breath, I couldn't even run to transition. After a quick 2m30s T1, I was off on the bike. The bike course took us two rounds around the resort. The first loop was easy but the second loop got a bit tough. Winds were strong out on the main road which made it a bit tougher. Finished the 18km bike leg in 32m42s.

Spent 1m32s in T2 and I was off for the 3k run. Struggled a little bit for the first km. Legs felt like jelly and my calves felt like they were going to cramp. But about 5 minutes into the run, I started getting into a nice rhythm and managed to finish the run in 15m24s, giving me a total time of 1h05m40s and 13th place.

The official results say 1h10m36s but i think they didn't subtract the five minute headstart for the kids. Anyway, it was pretty much the same time as last year but with an extended swim and run loop. So there was a bit of an improvement.

The next day, it was the main event. There were more people this year than in previous years which can only mean that triathlons are gaining in popularity. I rolled into the transition area seeing familiar faces and not-so-familiar faces.

Because of the increase in the number of participants, the swim start was chaotic. There was bumping and shoving and kicking. It was scary stuff.

After about 5 minutes, I managed to find some space and got into a nice rhythm. But that wouldn't last long. Every time I got to a turn bouy, the crowd would come again. And the kicking and shoving would start again. I managed to draft off of Dicky for a while and that helped quite a bit. Finally got out of the water in 39m40s. Slow, but ok.

A quick 2m40s T1 and it was off on the bike. The course was rolling for about the first 7km and I struggled a bit up the hills. But going down hill and the flats, I managed to average out at about 38-40km/h. Thanks to Mac for loaning me his Continental GP4000s tyres for the weekend. The weather was good for racing, with a little drizzle falling during the bike leg. That made the going easier. Having said that, My legs were quite spent and I wondered how I was going to do the run leg.

1h19m06s later, I rolled into T2. Spent 1m26s in transition and I was off for the run. Again, it started very dlowly but I gradually got into a rhythm. I was surprised that I was actually passing people on the run, not something I'm able to do. Sure, I got passed as well but I was passing people more than getting passed! What a strange new experience. Most notably, I passed Abu. In his defense, he had stomach problems, but I'll take it anyway I can get it! Under normal circumstances, this would never happen, he's just too fast for me.

Anyway, as I came back into the resort, I found out we had to run that extra bit to the clubhouse (during the briefing Mr. Chan said no need, so now I'm wondering if there's any point going to the briefing). At this point, I kissed my sub-3 hour goal good-bye. There was no way I could do the extra loop and make it to the finish line on time. Fortunately, the last km was downhill, so I managed to pick up my pace a bit and finished the run in 55m39s.

Total time (unofficial) was 2h58m33s. I still managed to go under 3 hours! But only just. It was a 12 minute improvement from last year but honestly, I was hoping for a bigger improvement. Just goes to show how important training is. Admittedly, I didn't do much of it, preferring to concentrate on running And even then, I didn't do much running Post-IM laziness, I suppose. Having said that, my run had the biggest improvement among the three disciplines.

Later, Shazly, Azmar, CK and I went out to look for Upiq, who was starting his very first tri. I first met Upiq last year during the nutters' run up to Genting. He was overweight and I was thinking, "No Way!" But he persevered and against the odds, managed to go all the way up to GohTong Jaya, 11km uphill. At A Famosa, he had lost a lot of weight but he still had that determination and perseverance that brought him to Genting.

We saw him at about 4km to the finish. He looked beat but was determined to go on. He was struggling but, against all odds, he did finish. Upiq, if you're reading this, you are truly inspiring.

P/S: A big thanks to Big Mac for the pictures and for driving me home yesterday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The 2008 Tri Season is Here at Last!

A Famosa Tri is this weekend. And I'm not prepared at all.

Being overly ambitious, I registered for both the sprint and the Oly. I foresee a weekend of suffering.

For all those going, good luck and race safe. See you there!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Giselle's Debut

There's no better place to introduce Giselle to the world than at our happy hunting ground, the Broga loop. Since PCC, KOTRT, MKH, P2K and a whole bunch of others were out there on Sunday, it would make a fitting debut for her.

Unfortunately, what may sound like a good idea at the beginning may not always be at the end.

We started at Tekala and as I took Giselle out of the car, there were some oohs and ahhs. She looked splendid in her all-white livery and because it was her debut, i kitted her out with the Zipps and the 23t cassette on her feet. She started blushing as the compliments flowed in.

We rolled out of Tekala, and she was all business, sticking to the front pack all the way to Lenggeng. At this point, Giselle was brimming with pride, and so was I. Never before have i rolled into a regrouping point with the front pack. I'm pretty sure Giselle's used to it. Pretty soon, the other riders who started from Bt14 showed up and Lenggeng looked like a Village Depart of a Tour de France stage. We felt it was getting crowded, so we left early.

This is where it started to get pear-shaped though. For this is when the road started pointing upwards. Up the first short, steep climb, Giselle performed brilliantly. Up the second, I started to fade. Giselle was urging me on, but my legs couldn't take it. She started to shake her head, embarassed. As we peaked the second climb, she insisted on showing me what she can do, taking me down the descent at 70km/h!

But the final straw must have been going up Bukit Tangga. As I was struggling up this climb, Giselle urging me on, I was given a push by William Mok on his scooter. It was a nice gesture, immediately bringing my speed up from 13km/h to 26 but Giselle just couldn't take it. She was embarrassed beyond words. I'm sure she must be thinking, "My siblings get to ride with Credit Agricole. I get stuck with this loser!"

So embarrassed was she, that we zipped down the descent at break-neck speed and maintained a steady pace all the way into Kelawang. This has not been a good ride for either of us so far.

After a quick refuel and refill, I headed off towards the dreaded 14km climb that is Peres with three others. As the road to the Peres foothill was relatively flat, with some slight undulations, I used this opportunity to let my legs recover and burn off some excess lactic acid. As soon as we hit the foothills, I began dropping my three companions with ease. Giselle's head suddenly propped up! "What's this?" she said, "We're finally dropping people now!"

And so it began, her ruthless climb up that hill. Sure, we still got passed by the likes of P2K and Letua, but that's alright, we were doing some passing of our own. Giselle was relentless, chewing up the riders who were falling by the wayside. The heat and fast pace earlier on had taken a toll on many riders and now they were paying for it.

We breezed up to the Peres Spa and Waterfall Resort. We took a quick stop there so that I could refresh myself. A lot of other riders had the same thought and there was a little party going on there. Feeling better, Giselle and I continued. We started catching and passing riders who passed us while we were stopped at the waterfall. We just kept going and going, even passing her twin, which made her feel even better! The highlight must have been passing a certain bike shop owner. The pride she must have felt!

Finally, we reached the top. We stopped for a quick drink before she decided to reward me with one of the best descents I've ever experienced. She was so smooth around the corners, gripping them like she was on rails. There was no wobble, no shakes, just smoothness rounding every corner. She just gave me the confidence to not even touch the brakes as we headed down. I was duly impressed.

We finally arrived at Tekala before 2pm. Senn was already there waiting for us. Unfortunately, she and Miss Diva had to pull out of the ride early because she wasn't feeling so well. So she took on the duties of support car driver and did a good job, picking up riders who couldn't continue anymore.

In the end, we were both pretty satisfied with the ride. This being my first long ride since Ironman and the fact that she should have been wearing the 25t Ksyriums instead of the 23t Zipps, there was not much more we could have done. I was amazed at how well she handles, I've never experienced anything quite like it before. Today, my legs are feeling the burn, but I hope that soon I will be the rider worthy of Giselle's prowess.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I finally broke the one hour mark for Double Hill today.

But only just.


Previous PB was about 1h05m. Very happy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Reluctant Run

Woke up to the sound of pouring rain. And SMS beeps enquiring as to whether we should still go for the Orange Run since it was raining. None of us really wanted to go but since we were up already we decided to go anyway, but instead of running there as planned, we drove there. Stupe picked us up in front of my guardhouse and away we went.

By the time we got there, the race had already begun. We had about three minutes of catching up to do. Fortunately for us, most were already walking early on, so we caught up with the main bunch just after Tesco.

Stupe kept an easy pace throughout but I was pushing like mad to keep up. We were chit-chatting most of the way, although Stupe was the one doing most of the talking, I was out of breath!

We stopped at the water station at 5k to wait for Senn. We continued the run at about the same pace, winding through the roads near Tropicana, then through Bandar Utama.

As we approached the finish line, we saw PM Tey snapping pictures, so we doubled back to have our picture taken! Such cam-whores!

Finally, we crossed the line in about 55 minutes, which was kinda disappointing for a 9k run. But after checking the distance on Stupe's Ipod and another Garmin 305 as well as, we found out the distance was actually 9.9km. So the time wasn't all that bad after all.

Overall, I'm getting happier with my runs. I used to average about 7min/km but I can see an improvement over the last few runs. I'm actually able to get under a 6-minute pace for shorter runs and my KLIM half marathon pace was just above 6 minutes. If i can keep this up and maintain a 5.5min/km for those olympic distance tris, 6min/km for half ironman distance and 6.5min/km for ironman distance, I'll be a happy puppy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Living Vicariously Through My Kids

In my two years doing triathlons, I've never made it to the podium of any race and I most likely never will. So when Shaqeel got second and Shafeeq third at the TriKids triathlon at UPNM yesterday, I was ecstatic! I think I was happier than they were!

Must have been the proudest moment of my life. Well done boys, I'm proud of you guys.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Better than Expected

Last week's panic attack about the KLIM half proved unfounded. Surprisingly, I didn't suffer as much as I thought I would.

I'm also quite pleased with my time. Although I missed my initial target of 2h10m, I managed to meet and exceed my revised target of please-let-me-just-finish-within-cutoff by quite a margin.

Some notable observations:
- Senn ran with angel wings on her back. She was playing guardian angel to Mac and Jo.
- Some dude showed up in a Spiderman suit, complete with mask! Dude must have been hot as hell!
- Another dude ran in tight-fitting jeans and Doc Marts.
- The 5km mark wasn't really 5km. It didn't take into account the extra 2km loop we had to do at the beginning.
- Ditto the 7.5km and the 10km mark.
- The East-West link highway after Menara Seputih is uphill. Always felt flat in a car.
- The Sungei Besi airport runway is damn long! We were running alongside it and it just seemed to go on forever.
- Running near a cemetery during Qing Ming is not a good idea. The traffic was so bad that we had to run between cars sometimes.
- Overtaking Stephanie Chok at Jalan Imbi was a highlight. Though it must be said, she was probably taking it easy and I was going flat out!
- The adidas climacool shower on Sultan Ismail was a welcome treat.
- There was a traffic jam of runners from Jalan Imbi onwards where the half route merged with the 10kand the 7k route.
- The guy at the last water station said "last 3km" but it was actually a lot less than that. It was more like 1km to go.
- The 10k runners' finish was an anti-climax. Instead of powering through the line, arms raised, they had to line-up to cross the line.
- The organisers really discriminate the 10k, 7k runners from the half and full marathon runners. I sat down to dip my feet in the post-race recovery area but they wouldn't even let Senn (who ran the 10k) into the area.

So, I've survived the KLIM half. What's next?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Uh Oh...

I'm in trouble.

Went for a one hour run on the treadmill yesterday. And got my ass kicked big time.

Stepped off the treadmill and the room was spinning. Got back home and almost passed out. Not good.

Although I did manage to cover 10k, I was left exhausted and in pain the whole day. I guess this is what happens when you do absolutely nothing since Ironman.

I'm now re-adjusting my KL Half Marathon target from 2h10m to please-let-me-just-finish-within-cutoff!

Friday, March 21, 2008

On Top of the World

That's us at the top of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia, but it could have been the highest peak in the world as far as we were concerned.

On March 14, 20 of us from PCC decided to do something a little different. Instead of the usual 70km-150km bike ride, we decided to abandon the bikes and shorten the distance to a measly 10.7km. Although the distance was a lot shorter than we were accustomed to, we also had to put up with over 2000m of vertical ascent. That's what it takes to get to the top of Low's Peak, the highest point on Mount Kinabalu. The 20 intrepid adventurers were: Bunny, Cass, Brandon, James, Christina, Ivan, Annie Chee, Demi, William, Jesster, O'Niell, Soh, Selina, Annie Soh, BK, Alice, Alex, Jaime, Senn and me.

But before the serious business of Kinabalu, we had some fun.

On Day One we went white-water rafting. It was my first time doing it and I was really nervous. On the bus to the river, they showed a video of the wild rapids and rafts capsizing, throwing it's occupants like lifeless ragdolls into the water. Scary. So I psyched myself up to get dunked. In fact, I started wishing to get dunked.

When we got to the river, the water level wasn't very high, therefore the rapids weren't as wild. Phew! In fact, it was getting a little boring. We got wet, but it wasn't the soaking I was anticipating. That would change soon, however. While negotiating one of the rapids we went towards the riverbank. We hit a rock and flipped! For a split second, I didn't know which way was up, which way was down. I didn't know how deep I was. I didn't know how much air I had in my lungs. It was a scary moment. But soon, my head broke the surface and I started body rafting downstream. It was quite an experience and one I would gladly do again.

Day Two, we went island hopping. We visited two islands whiche were supposed to be part of a marine park. Unfortunately, it was filthy! There was rubbish strewn about; Senn even saw a used diaper floating in the water. It was rather disappointing.

In the afternoon, we went to the Poring Hot Springs. Having had enough of water, Senn and I decided to skip dipping in the springs and hike up the canopy walkway instead, to sort of prepare od for the assault on Kinabalu the next day. It was a nice hike, especially when we got to the suspended walkways. The highest point was about 90m off the ground.

After the springs, we moved on to the Mesilau Nature Resort. This is where we will be staying for the night and is our starting point for the climb the next day.

The next morning, we woke up, had breakfast and went to the gate for the briefing. This first part of the climb is around 8km long and will take us to base camp at Laban Rata. The guides estimate we would be doing about 1km/h, so our ETA would be about 4pm or so. The reason for taking the longer Mesilau trail, as opposed to the Timpohon trail, was Mesilau was a far more scenic route.

Didn't really matter to me, though, I just wanted to get to the top.

The first part of the climb was ok. At 1.5km, the trail went downhill. Then at 3km, it went upwards again. We were maintaining a steady pace all the way to the 6km mark, where our trail merges with the Timpohon trail. This is where things got a little tricky. The terrain gets rougher here and to make matters worse, we had a torrential downpour. Senn and I had forgotten to buy ponchos, so we had to tough it out. All we had to protect ourselves against the elements was our windbreakers. Since I had nothing to cover my head, Senn asked me to go ahead and not wait for her. So i moved on, and finally reached at 2:40pm, six hours after we started. The last two km must have been the longest two km of my life! It was cold, wet and miserable. And to make things worse, the porter that was hired to carry our bags hadn't arrived yet! So I had to wait in the dining hall, in 9.8 degree weather, in wet clothes. Not fun at all.

Senn arrived about half an hour later, and she was near hypothermia. Her lips were turning blue and she was shivering non-stop. Luckily our friends were there to lend her jackets and socks and gloves. When our porter finally arrived, we had more bad news: one of the mineral water bottles in Senn's bag popped due to pressure and left all her clothes wet! She had no dry clothes at all! Good thing there was a laundromat up there so our guide took her clothes to dry. Meantime, she had to borrow one of my shirts, while I hung around in a sleeveless top! Not a very good idea at 3500m above sea level.

Anyway, we were in bed by 8pm so that we could wake up at 2am to begin the assault to the summit.

We began climbing to the summit at 3am. All was still dark but the sky was full of stars. Millions of them. I've never seen so many stars in my life.

Unfortunately, we left the hostels about the same time everyone else did so there was a traffic jam at the narrower bits of the trail. It was quite frustrating. Some people would take two steps, then stop to catch their breath. All the while, holding us up behind them. Our guide managed to navigate us through the slower climbers and pretty soon, we wer going at a steady pace. However, the higher we got, the thinner the air was and the harder it was to breathe. We were ok up until the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint but after that, the going got tougher. We had to stop every few steps just to catch out breath. We thought we'd never get to the peak in time to catch the sunrise.

When we found out that sunrise was at 6am instead of 4.30am, we had renewed hope. It was only 5:20am and we were about a km away. Surely we could make the last km in under 40 minutes. We laboured on, stopping every few steps to rest and catch our breath. Finally, our guide said we were near and we could see Low's Peak silhouetted against the starry sky. When we got there it was packed with people, so we decided to stop midway up the peak to catch the sunrise.

We hung around there for a bit before enough space cleared up for us to get to the peak.

As the sky brightened up, we took in the majesty of it all. The view sure is different from 4095m above sea level.

We were even treated to the sight of Soh proposing to Selina at 4095m above sea level.

Of course, she said "Yes!"

On the way down, we had a good look at the terrain we climbed and it was amazing how steep some of the sections were. Good thing we climbed in the dark or else most of us would have turned back.

Of course the trip back to Laban Rata did not go without incident. Senn was going down some steps about a km away, when she slipped and slid down the stairs on her butt. She was lucky not to have sprained anything but she now has a bruise the size of a tennis ball on her butt. This slowed down our progress quite a bit.

We made it back to Laban Rata at about 10am, quickly changed, packed our bags, had breakfast and were off to the Timpohon gate. We left at 11:15am, the last ones to go. At 2km, we had taken 2 and a half hours, waaaay slow. I asked Senn to pick up the pace a bit and we managed the last 4km in 2h15m. Yeah, yeah, it's not a race but I didn't want everyone waiting for us. As it was, we weren't last so it was all good.

That night, we stayed at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. After roughing it out the past few days, the pampering the Shangri-La offered was most welcomed. We slept in luscious beds with fluffy pillows and had nice hot water to shower in.

The next day, we played beach volleyball and relaxed on the beach before flying off to KL.

Kinabalu was certainly a new experience for me. We had a lot of fun but it was tough. I'd sooner do another Ironman or two before I attempt to climb it again.