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.