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.