Monday, July 31, 2006

Malakoff Putrajaya Dutathlon 30th July 2006

My boys were not happy chappies the night before the race so ended up getting to bed somewhat later than I'd hoped. Woke up at 5:30 as some idiot had set the alarms (Oh yes that was me - time to get up! Have you ever been so tired that you felt physically sick - that was me).

I'd thought about packing the night before but was too tired so now it was a case of running around like a headless chicken to get everything organised. Did it in the end but got lost getting to the race (only 5k from home) and after parking illegally and promising the policeman I'd move the 4WD once I'd checked my bike in there were just a handful of minutes left to the race start. As it happened I didn't forget anything and had quite a reasonable warm up by running back to the car, parking it and then running back to the start line with still about 3 minutes to go.

The gun went and off we went, 10k run to start with and having done a similar race the year before over the same run course (Powerman Duathlon) I was hoping to better my 38:37 10k personal best, as it happened I managed 39:23 but was happy that it was under 40 minutes and I felt in control going into transition.

Don Khor (one of my arch rivals in this race) was about 30 seconds ahead of me but we left the transition area together.

I'm supposed to be a stronger rider than Don but he kept overtaking me and really putting the hammer down, it was only after the race that he admitted he was playing games with me - you can never tell with Don though, he is a very gifted athlete and doesn't run, he floats!

The ride went well and as it is a non drafting race this suits me as I'm stronger on the bike. At the end of lap one I caught up with Wei (one of my swimming squad - an amazing triathlete/Duathlete if only he'd get over his fear of riding long and hard with me he'd be on the national team.). Half way through the second lap of the bike I caught up Cecil (another training partner and buddy of mine - an awesome runner, and very strong cyclist & swimmer) a few metres on was Iwata San, an interesting battle was just about to unfold as I'd calculated that the distance left on the bike compared to the time he'd taken out on me during the 10k run would equate to about the same on the final 5k run - meaning that it was going to be close and there was no time for problems or slacking off.

I put the hammer down hard as I went past and a few kilometres later came to the last turnaround for the transition area. This time however, there was a marshal that almost knocked me off my bike indicating that we had to complete an additional 4k. Apparently this had been added to the course FOR BOTH LAPS of the bike that morning but no one had been told. The only people that got it right were those that didn't know the course and followed the tiny arrows on the road (only about 6 people). Sadly the leading guy got disqualified which marred the day a little because he really deserved better.

Anyway, back to my pain. T2 got off the bike and headed for the run, felt pretty good although it was getting very hot and humid (as Malaysia tends to do). The final 5k starts off with a 1k run to a round about and then back past the transition area so you can see who is coming after you. There were Wei, Cecil and Iwata all within 500 metres of me and 3 of the most accomplished runners in on the circuit. Dig deep, I thought and if they beat you they're going to have to earn it.

Came round the final turnaround to head back to the finish (about 1 1/2k left) with Wei picking up water about 100 metres behind. I was at full stretch but found some more speed and managed to hang on to the finish.

Very satisfying indeed.

Wei scored his first age-group victory in the 30-39 age-group, Cecil also won his age-group 20-29 and I was very satisfied with 2nd in the 40-49 category. I was second to Razani who now competes with the age-groupers but is probably still Malaysia's best triathlete - needless to say I didn't even see him on the course all day).

Huge fun once again especially as I taught the youngsters (Wei and Cecil a thing or two - Guys I thought you were running specialists? Perhaps I should reintroduce that running clinic I promised you once before.)

PS Check out my top - wicked or what?

PD Triathlons

On July 22nd I drove down to PD for the annual pilgrimage for the PD triathlons. Saturday was the sprint distance race which was supposed to be 400 meter swim 20k bike and a 3k run. the 20k bike (my strongest leg) turned out to be less than 10k.

I had a good swim (although after the race everyone was really concerned about the "disastrous" swim I'd had - don't they know - I'm just slow!), on the bike I got within sight of Iwata San my main rival but with such a short cycle leg I did little to eat into his lead.

The run was pleasant and I held no illusions of catching him - after all he wins run races outright! Long and short of it I came 2nd in the over 40's and won a nice trophy and a pair of Brook's track suit bottoms that would have been too small for my boys - hopefully I can get them changed.

On Sunday morning I drove down again for the Olympic distance race and although I was on time and pretty well organised I was chatting away without realising that Mr Chan was going to get things underway a bit sharpish. I thought I'd get in near the shore and warm up by swimming to the start, as I was midway through jumping in Mr Chan shouted "READY" I couldn't stop myself so it was a mad swim to try to get to the start. As it happened I was a bout 20 seconds late and then had to fight over all of the breaststrokers. All that said and done I ended up having quite a competitive swim for me and headed out on the bike just behind the first 2 relay riders (the relay swimmers started about 4 minutes behind us).

Doubled up with another relay guy and then really started pushing hard - after about 12k we got picked up by 4 or 5 other relay riders and then the pace really picked up. Swept up loads of people on the bike including my main rival in this race Don Khor. The ride was so fast that in the end Don got dropped which took the pressure off a bit. Ride time was about 57 minutes for exactly 40k - fast or what thanks to the relay cyclists.

Started the run feeling OK (in an exhausted sort of a way) and immediately got into a ding dong battle with a guy that I thought was "Ip" (the guy from Macau that I pipped at the post in Singapore). We kept swapping places and every time I thought I'd broken him he shot past me again. At the last drinks station I feigned an attempt to get water but instead picked up the pace. This was enough to drop the guy with 1 1/2k's left (although I didn't look back - I just assumed he was on my heels). With about 400m left I saw a guy in front of me running well but I was catching him, he seemed to have a similar number to mine (therefore probably in the same age-group) but my oxygen starved brain just couldn't compute who he was - I passed him with 125 meters to go - big mistake! It turned out that THIS WAS ACTUALLY "Ip" and as I predicted after Singapore he'd knew who I was this time. The sprint to the finish was a no-contest victory for him - beat me by 3 seconds. I was second again, won another nice trophy and RM500 for my troubles.

Great event as always huge fun, wonderful people great friends.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

21st Marathon Des Sables - 2006

I started my Blog after I'd completed the MDS so I thought I'd add my daily emails from the race with some photos as a reminder to myself and anyone that still enjoys chuckling at my misery (and stupidity). Also click HERE to link to another website with more photos.

Day 1
Got to be brief only have 1000 letters. Also French keyboard. I am currently in hell and paying for the pleasure. Sandstorm all day yesterday and again this afternoon. Its so unpleasant but also the most amazing thing I have ever done. Today was the easy stage just 28k but the terrain is brutal. I am in so much pain you wouldn’t believe it. Today was the first day I’ve run with a pack OUCH. Did pretty well today first back in my tent by a long way but its all down hill from here. Will have to back off from now on. No toilets or washing, tents keep blowing down. email Q 2 hours long so this may be my last. Wow this will be a life changing experience, just got to work on getting through it in decent shape. Can’t describe the views but why anyone would live here I have no idea it is such an extreme environment. Only the French could organise a race here. Anyway there’s a huge Q behind me better go. I am exhausted and don’t know how I can do another 220k but I’m OK and loving it. Love Simon

Day 2
Will try to be a bit more coherent today. On a similar theme though, I’m in more pain than I thought I could possibly endure, today was 35k with a climb up a mountain right at the start. Ran well for the first 26k but then at checkpoint 2 the gales kicked in and we were going through sand dunes with awful sandstorms. Wheels started falling of but somehow got to the end but literally staggered into camp, it must have been sad or funny to see but I wasn’t laughing, especially when I found our tent flat on the ground again. collapsed on the floor in the sandstorm until the tent was put up. However, I am having an amazing time and just hope I can finish, which is in great doubt at the moment but Ill do my best. 100 people today alone withdrew - this is a brutal event. Moral support would be greatly appreciated so if you get time, log on to the web site and send me an email, I received 2 last night and it gave me a huge boost. All the best for now. Simon. PS don’t worry I’m being sensible.

Day 3
Hi Sweetie, haven’t heard anything from you yet. Got two blank emails from you yesterday and one from Ashley and Jason. Hope the boys are well I’m missing them terribly and you too of course.

Today was a bad day. 38k in furnace like temperatures over terrain that is indescribable, beautiful but brutal. Most people have blisters all over their feet to the point that they all join up. Also few have escaped loosing a toenail or three. I haven’t escaped both of the above but I’ll spare describing the mess my feet are in. Got a stomach upset last night so only managed to eat 6 dried apricots all day which made the trek somewhat challenging, needless to say didn’t run today just trudged. People have been dropping out like flies this year due to the extreme conditions apparently the most brutal first 3 stages ever. Not sure if I will last unless I can start taking on food. 72k tomorrow with much of it the dreaded sand dunes oo ere. Two guys in our tent have already been pulled from the race.

Day 4 and 5
Agggghhhh. Interesting how each day gets harder, longer and with the accumulated fatigue seems impossible, but yet here I am. Half over my stomach upset but my left leg gave out on me yesterday. Luckily one of my tent buddies gave me his ski poles and with copious amounts off extremely strong pain killers I kept going. 72k stage was reduced to 57k after the immense number of dropouts from the first 3 days. One guy is in a coma and a total of 4 almost died on day 3. Scary, but a reflection of the harsh conditions this year. We get extra water every day at least. Managed the long stage OK until the final checkpoint with just 4k left when I seriously bonked [ran out of energy] started shaking uncontrollably and could barely move. Read all of your emails to inspire me to get going again, thanks you were there with me? [keep them coming]. With a sweatshirt some peanuts and sweets and the support of two buddies. Made it after 15 and a bit hours, the time limit was 30 hours so was OK. Love Simon

Day 6
Euphoria! What a fantastic day. Rest day yesterday but woke up this morning knowing that today was the second longest day and anything could happen to put me out of the race; I never want to come here again (wouldn’t have missed it for anything though) but if I fail at this attempt (as many have this year) I will have to try again so I was pretty apprehensive. Started easy and then surprised myself by running after the first set of dunes, kept running and running and felt brilliant. Ended up sprinting the last 5k (with backpack and destroyed feet) and was 2nd in our tent. Over the moon, called Shilpa which was brilliant too. Short day tomorrow but
with what look like 100m high dunes. Nothings going to stop me now, this is awesome; the hardest 7 days of my life; some of the greatest lows and now the highs are here. I’m alive - REALLY ALIVE.

Ready to finish this race now, I miss my boys and can’t wait to see them again.Love to you all, Simon

Day 7
Finished – thank goodness! NEVER AGAIN. Simon

Race director edito : A reflection from the Race Director a couple of months afterwards)
We still remember the five days of non-stop windstorm that shook our caravan during the 17th MARATHON DES SABLES. Some thought we’d never relive such difficult weather conditions again! And yet four years later, runners and organisers endured far worse with the 2006 edition. Day after day, the heat and sandstorms, along with an unusually high hygrometry levels, meant a record number of 146 competitors pulled out! When Mother Nature hands out a warning to humans trying to defy her, you scarcely need a metaphysics manual to understand mankind’s place in the universe.

In such moments, the word “pacing” takes on true significance and importance. We strongly advise people undertake MDS with solid preparation behind them, but knowing your limits is also vital in affronting this kind of exceptional situation in the best possible conditions. I want to congratulate the 585 Marathon Des Sables runners from all over the world ...

Monday, July 17, 2006

First Haircutting

Sid's hair was growing pretty slowly but well ordered, whereas Seb was starting to look a bit scary with super long clumps growing here there and everywhere. However, as is the custom in many cultures there is a haircutting ceremony, in our case I was given the honour of high priest and barber

As you can see my handiwork didn't work out too badly - if anyone needs a trim please let me know, I am taking bookings.

By the way Seb says "Wot you looking at pal!"

Is he hard or what?!

Monday, July 10, 2006

PD Taining 09 July 2006 -The Swim

Once again Mr. Chan's committment and enthusiasm for the sport of triathlon was demonstrated last weekend at PD for a pre race training session.

There was an excellent turnout and Mr. Chan even gave us a swim demo to get us underway.

We kicked off with a 1500 metre swim around the marina.

PD Taining 09 July 2006 -The Bike

Good swim and set off on the bike expecting Eugene's usual tricks - I was right!

Thought I might test the pack early to see what was going on.

Dropped the pack but then got caught by an army guy.

Soon by myself again and at the turnaround (20K) thought I might test myself and see how long I could keep it up.

Managed to keep up the solo break to the end which was fun if not a little exhausting. I haven't forgotten that a triathlon is three disciplines though and the bike is probably the least important especially in the Malaysian format as most races are drafting.

PD Taining 09 July 2006 - The Run

I was pretty tired for the run and was getting late for golf so cut it down to a 5k jog just to get the blood around the legs.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Singapore Piccies

OSIM Singapore Triathlon 2006

I headed off to Singapore on Saturday 1st July with Shilpa and the Twins on board. Boys seemed pretty cool and pretty much slept all the way to Singapore.

Saturday night we had a lovely meal at Clarke Quay and then headed back to watch England break our hearts in the world cup again. After extra time and penalties my heart rate was about max and I felt drained - needless to say sleep took a long time coming.

Made my way down to East Coast Park nice and early Sunday morning and checked in for the race. There were 3,500 competitors in total and 180 in my category – blimey! I've been pretty exhausted since my Marathon Des Sables (ultra marathon through the Sahara Desert) in April and have only been feeling a little more normal for the last few days - therefore expectations were running very low albeit spirits were high - no feeling of pressure I guess.

Come 11am the gun went and my age-group wave started. The swim course was two laps of 750 metres and it was very very choppy. I didn't mind the conditions and slugged through it feeling pretty comfortable all of the way (even when a guy doing breast stroke kicked my goggles so hard they almost inverted and sucked my eyeballs out).

With that over I was on the bike (where I feel most comfortable) and blasted around 4 laps of the flat bike course. This year it was super windy and I got blown around a lot as I was using a disk wheel. Loads of accidents to avoid but felt like I'd put together a decent ride (a fraction over an hour for 40k). By the time I got back there was only one bike in my age-group already racked up so I knew I was 2nd at that point.

Then came the run and it was getting pretty dam hot, felt bloated and legs felt weak but I was determined to push as hard as I could and kept looking out for no. 4115 who I guessed was "IP" from Macau who normally beats me by a good 5 to 10 minutes. After about 7.5k I knew it was unlikely that I'd catch him as he was nowhere to be seen at the turnarounds. I pushed on nonetheless and with 100m to the finish he seemed to appear from nowhere amongst the other runners about 20m ahead of me. I quietly got on his shoulder and then with 50m to go sprinted for the finish and beat him by 5 seconds. With all the wave starts I don't think he realised that I was in his category (I guess he'll know next time). Managed the 10k run in 41:40, which was not bad but I feel like there's more in there still!

So there you have it my first age-group Olympic distance victory and by the looks of the other results my time was 5th overall out of all the age-group competitors. Won a dodgy trophy, a handheld massager (I have three of these things now), a tennis bag (don't play tennis), and a years gold class subscription to California Fitness (in Singapore - useless!).

Took Shilpa and the boys for a nice walk down the river the next day and had a huge lunch at Brewerkz (highly recommended) then fed the little fellas and headed back to KL. Sadly the little tykes were pretty unhappy about the drive back and it wasn't a great deal of fun but we made it in the end.