Monday, November 29, 2010

Race Week

This Sunday, I'll be toeing the start line at Ironman Western Australia in Busselton. It'll be my 5th time starting an Ironman race, my first one overseas.

The final week heading into a race is always a tricky one. Without fail, my head will go through the same motions:
"Finally! Can't wait for the race!"
"Woo hoo! It's race week!"
"Taper time!"
"By this time next week, I'll be done!"
"Let's get this over and done with!"
"OMG! It's this week ah???!!!"
"Shit! Didn't train enough!"
"Oh no! I'm gonna die!"
"Die! Die! DIE!!!!"
"Taper?! What taper?! Didn't even train, want to taper ah!!!"
"Ok, still got one week, let's rack up more mileage!"

This last thought is the dangerous one. This is the week you're supposed to be resting and carbo-loading, workouts to be kept short and low intensity. And yet, your mind is saying, "Dude, you haven't trained enough, let's go get that ultra-long ride in, let's jump in the pool and do 5000m, we need that 35k run done."


The temptation to go out and whack a the long miles will be strong this week. Especially when you know you haven't done enough. But at the same time, you also know you don't want to tire yourself out. And you want to stay injury-free (yesterday's short 10k run already put a strain on my left calf. Thankfully, it's all good now). I was already warned last week that I was heading towards burnout. A friend sent me a long email, saying she saw some of the danger signs I was displaying. The funny thing is, you don't see it yourself. You need someone to point it out for you. She also gave me some really good training advice. And when that advice comes from a Kona qualifier, you listen!

Now that race week is here, I'm going to do myself a favour, I'm going to do what I do best: be lazy! This Sunday will show whether I've trained enough.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

PB at PM thanks to SSS.

I know the title of this post seems a bit weird, but read on and you'll be able to figure it out.

I just scored a personal best at one of the races I usually suffer at. In fact, I gave Powerman a miss last year because the mere thought of suffering through that second run was enough to make me wish I'd never started running. But for some inexplicable reason, I let my mouse wander over the registration button on the Powerman website and clicked it. Next thing I know, I'm registered for this year's event.

This year, I had the bonus of having my kids, Shafeeq and Shaqeel, come watch me race. And Senn was more than happy to give up racing to help babysit them while I was out there suffering.

Having them there really made a difference. For one thing, I didn't want them to see me fail again like what happened in Langkawi this year. So that gave me an extra incentive to do well. For another, having them there made it feel like we were on holiday, so I was completely relaxed the night before and didn't feel any pressure. And also, having them there made me want to hurry back to the stadium so I could see them and I knew the boys were going to be restless waiting, so I knew I needed to hurry through the race to save them from prolonged restlessness!

Shafeeq and Shaqeel with me at the start.

I was one of the last ones to start the race because I was giving instructions to the boys to listen to Senn when the gun went off. The first run was in cool conditions from the rain that just stopped. Within the first k I found Azmar and Fadil, so just paced with them throughout. We were running a decent pace, about 5:45min/km which may have been just a bit too fast, but I felt good and we continued. At the end of the first loop, there were Senn, Shafeeq and Shaqeel waiting for me. Boys looked quite happy to see me and that made me feel good. High-fived them and it was off for another loop. Another half an hour before I see them again.

More of the same on the second loop and we finished the run in one hour flat. A little faster than I had intended but it was ok. Off with the running shoes, on with the helmet and grabbed the bike. And there, at the bike exit, were the best support crew in the world: Senn, Shafeeq and Shaqeel. Another round of high-fives and I was off on the bike. One hour before I finish the first loop and see them again.

The first loop was pretty uneventful. Was going at a steady clip of about 32-36km/h. Legs felt good, aero position felt good. Got over the bridges without drama and headed back. Azmar passed me going up the bridge and I just couldn't hang on to him. But no big deal, just run my own race. Fadil, too, passed me on the way back to Manjung and again, I didn't even attempt to chase. Got back to the stadium and saw the boys and Senn again. Gave them a wave and I was off on the second loop. Another hour before I see them again.

Really getting into the spirit of the race!

Second loop wasn't so smooth. I could feel my calves starting to cramp up. Squirted some water on them and the cramps went away. Then I heard a thud behind me and AJ yelling I'd dropped something. At first I thought it was a water bottle, so I went on since I didn't really need that. Turns out it was my gel flask. That I need! So had to stop, lay the bike down, and run back the 20 or so metres to retrieve the bottle. Cost me a minute or two and about 10 riders passed me. Got back on the bike and it took a while for my legs to get back into the rhythm. Once I did, I caught up with the riders who passed me and was going back and forth with this lady on a Cervelo S2, being careful to stay out of her 7m draft zone. We were like this all the way back to T2. I gave it all I could since I knew my second run was going to be screwed anyway, thanks to the cramps that were developing in my legs.

After 2h07m I was back in transition. And as usual, there were my SSS (Senn, Shafeeq and Shaqeel) support crew out by the run exit. Gave the boys a quick hug (much to their disgust!), and I was off for the second run. Senn told me she was going to take the boys back to the car to rest. That was my cue to try and finish as quickly as I can. Wouldn't want the boys to get too restless.

The first km was quite tough and I was thinking, "Oh no! Here we go again! This is why I don't like to do Powerman." The crampy feeling had moved up to my thighs and it was getting really hard to run. But I refused to walk, walking would have been the end of it and the SSS support crew would have to wait two hours for my return. Not gonna happen. So I shuffled along to the first water station where there was a medic holding up that spray, so I told him to give me everything he's got. I swear that's a miracle spray because after that, the pain was gone. I just had to tell myself to run to the next water station, take a drink, then run to the next. And that's what I kept doing. Saw SSS by the car at the end of the first loop and gave them a wave. By now my pace was between 6:15-6:30min/km. All I had to do now was maintain this pace and I'll be able to see SSS in half an hour.

Waiting for their slow-ass dad to finish the race.

It's quite amazing what the mind can do. By now, the sun was out in full force, and my legs were getting really tired. But I just kept telling myself to run to the next station, run to the next station, run to the next station (it also helped that there were more water stations this year!). My mind refused to let me stop and walk. Just wanted to go see SSS as quickly as I could. And before I knew it, I was rounding the final corner and heading into the stadium. As I turned into the finishing chute, I saw, just beyond the finish line, SSS. It was all I needed to pick up speed and cross that line. Nailed the second run in 1h06m for a total time of 4h17m. A PB by half an hour.

Finally! Can we go home now???!!!

And I owe it all to having the boys there and to Senn for having to put up with their restlessness. Please forgive her if she wasn't as chatty as usual, she had to put up with my boys' boredom. And that was not an easy task to do. Thank you, baby, for putting up with that so I could go racing. I owe you big time!

In case you haven't figured out what the title of this post means, it means Personal Best at PowerMan thanks to Senn, Shafeeq and Shaqeel.

Pictures courtesy of Senn.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fellow Triathlete in Hit and Run

Esmenn Mohd Mokhtar, a local triathlete, was hit by a taxi last night in Cyberjaya. He has a fractured collarbone and some head injuries.

Esmenn is warded at Ward Neuro 4 A2, Hospital Kuala Lumpur. Visiting hours :- 12.20pm-2.30pm and 4.30pm-7.30pm.

It's a dangerous sport we partake in, and unfortunately, sometimes things like this do happen. Please be careful when you're out there guys, especially when riding solo. Be vigilant of your surroundings, take off your ipods so you can hear traffic better and always assume the driver is not going to see you. Also always carry some form of ID and emergency contact number (this reminds me I need to get my RoadID ASAP).

Here's hoping Esmenn recovers soon and is back in top form in no time.