Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Only in India

(Courtesy of DC Bohara - my Father-in-Law)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Don't swim in the rain - You might get wet!

(Article at the bottom of page courtesy of Mohan the Great - the ranting courtesy of me)

Simon says: -

There are many wonderful things about living in Asia (in fact most of the things are wonderful) BUT... there are some things that drive me of them is "Old wives tales" that are considered as gospel truth and based upon no fact or science whatsoever. I'll give you a few weather related examples, the first one is my favourite: -

"You can't swim when it's raining! (I'm talking outdoor pool)" and I'm not talking about thunder/lightening, just rain - what do people think, I might get wet!!! In fact the theory is that you'll catch a cold - Mmmm! The combination of rain and swimming must develop some mysterious virus or bacteria that is triggered by rain water hitting pool water - Goodness me, it's not Gremlins you know!

"You shouldn't run when it's raining (See attached article from Mohan the Great)" Again some mysterious virus or bacteria somehow undetected by medical science manifests itself when it rains - POPPYCOCK! In fact there is nothing more pleasurable than running in the rain in hot, humid Asia, it cools you down and somehow adds a wonderful fresh perspective to the world.

"You shouldn't cycle in the rain" - If this relates to slippy roads and poor visibility then there is a point and a good one. If its the mysterious virus and bacteria theory again then BALDERDASH! Sure, riding in the rain ain't much fun but get over it, what happens if it rains on race day?

"You shouldn't drink cold water on a hot day" - YOU WHAT? Cold water is ingested by the body far quicker than warm water. Did you know that in the Tour d'Langkawi the team that suffers most from the heat is the Malaysian team because they are banned from drinking cold water. The theory is that it will give them arthritis when they are older!!!!

I could go on and on but so far there are at least three or four people that I know I have deeply offended by writing this. My intention is not to offend anyone but rather to get people to think a little more carefully about what their belief's around such things are based on. Nothing wrong with a little healthy superstition but science is a good starting point, that's all I'm saying.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Cracking the Code on Sweat Rates

(Courtesy of Gale Bernhardt and Photos courtesy of via Choo & Tey)

If you have been doing triathlons for any amount of time, I suspect you do a good job of sweating. Additionally, I'm sure you know that if you want to successfully complete longer training sessions and races you must avoid or delay dehydration caused by fluid losses from the body. Fluids are lost through sweating, breathing and using the toilet.

Years ago the advice was "drink, drink, drink," with experts assuming there was no downside to consuming as much fluid as possible. Unfortunately, consuming large amounts of water without electrolytes can lead to a condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia, also known as low sodium concentration or water intoxication, occurs due to prolonged sweating coupled with the dilution of extracellular sodium caused by consuming large amounts of fluid with low or no sodium.


Sodium, chloride and potassium are electrolytes, with sources divided on whether to include magnesium in that group as well. Electrolytes remain dissolved in the body's fluids as electrically charged particles called ions.

Electrolytes modulate fluid exchanges between the body's fluid compartments and promote the exchange of nutrients and waste products between cells and the external fluid environment.

There is actually an electrical gradient across cell membranes. The difference in the electrical balance between the cell's interior and exterior facilitates nerve-impulse transmission, stimulation and action of the muscles, and proper gland functioning.

If you consume too much water and not enough electrolytes, your body pulls electrolytes from its cells in order to create the right balance for absorption. If you consume too many electrolytes and not enough fluid, your body pulls fluids from within to create the right balance for absorption.

The bottom line is your body likes balance. Keeping your body in balance, or very close to balanced, is part of your challenge as a sweaty endurance athlete.

Average and Champion Sweat Rates

How much do we sweat? An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters (roughly 27.4 to 47.3 oz.) per hour during exercise. To help you with a visual, the smaller bike water bottles typically hold 0.6 liters (20 oz.) of fluid and the larger bottles hold 0.7 liters (24 oz.) of fluid.

The highest recorded sweat rate for an athlete in an exercise situation is 3.7 liters (125 oz.) per hour, recorded by Alberto Salazar while preparing for the 1984 Summer Olympics. The highest human sweat rate recorded is 5 liters (169 oz.) per hour measured on a resting body exposed to a hot environment. At rest, the skin blood flow was maximum and not competing with exercising muscles.

How do you know if you are an average sweaty person or a champion sweater? You need to do some testing.

Your Sweat Rate Test

The easiest way to measure your sweat rate is to weigh yourself without clothes on before exercising for one hour. After an hour of exercise, return home, strip down and weigh yourself again. Assuming you did not use the toilet or consume any fluids during exercise, your weight loss is your sweat rate. For each kilogram of lost weight, you lost one liter of fluid. (For each pound lost, you lost 15.4 oz. of fluid.)

If you drink any fluids or use the rest room between the two weight samples, you'll need to include both of these estimated weights in your calculations. Add fluid consumed to the amount of weight lost. Subtract estimated bodily void weight from the total weight lost.

Be sure to record the heat and humidity conditions in your sweat test. Repeat the test in cool and hot conditions. Repeat the test for swimming, running and cycling because sweat rates will vary for each sport and vary with environmental conditions.

Now that you know your sweat rates in each sport, you probably imagine that simply drinking enough fluid will replace what you lose to sweat given the environmental situation. If it were only that easy.

Fluid Absorption Rates

Average fluid absorption rates range from 0.8 to 1.2 liters per hour (27.4 to 40.6 oz.). Unfortunately, while the sweat-rate range and the fluid-absorption ranges are close, some athletes sweat at higher rates per hour than their fluid-absorption rate. In short races, the rate discrepancy isn't much of a problem; however, for longer races the rate difference can lead to dehydration and decreased performance.

Nausea and vomiting can occur when athletes attempt to consume more fluids and fuel than their bodies can handle. Even if you manage to hold down the extra fluids, carrying beyond what your body needs is just unnecessary weight.

Champion Fluid Absorption Rates

I was unable to find any hard numbers for the maximum fluid-absorption rate documented in a laboratory. Most scientific literature suggests there is a range of absorption rates that varies from person to person. On the high end, I have worked with three people that can consume in excess of 41 oz. per hour.

On the low end, some people develop intestinal fullness, nausea and vomiting when ingesting fluid rates as low as 0.6 to 0.8 liters per hour.

Additionally, scientists have found there is a specific water carrier in the body (the water-channel protein, aquaporin) that influences fluid absorption. There is speculation that people without aquaporin--or very low levels of it--may have a reduced capacity to absorb fluid.

Case Study

During my coaching career I've had the opportunity to work with three champion sweaters and a couple of athletes I would consider low-volume sweaters.

The best data I have for a champion sweater is a male triathlete that weighs around 185 pounds. He recently completed a 90-minute run at a very aerobic pace of 10 minutes per mile at a temperature range of 84 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit with 70 percent humidity. He consumed fluid containing electrolytes, water and some electrolyte tablets during the run. His fluid consumption rate was 2.84 liters (96 oz.) per hour. He still lost weight.

This particular athlete has tested and retested himself to determine his sweat rate and to determine how much fluid he can comfortably absorb. When he runs on a hot day, even when he is acclimated to the heat, he routinely sweats at a rate of 3.6 liters (121.7 oz.) per hour. He routinely consumes 2.84 liters (96 oz.) per hour. Even consuming fluids at a relatively high rate, he loses 26 oz. of fluid or about 1.7 pounds per hour. Up to about 3.7 pounds (roughly 2 percent of his body weight), the weight loss has minimal affect on his performance.

Your Numbers

If you are looking to crack the code on your sweat rate and related hydration rate, you need to start collecting data during training and racing sessions. Know that your sweat rate is not a single number, but changes depending on several factors not limited to your fitness level, ambient temperature, humidity, clothing, exercise pace, stress level and rest level.

Simon says: - Living in Malaysia has allowed me to acclimatize to a small extent but unfortunately my Anglo-Saxon roots and genes means that I sweat alot - and I mean alot - my sweat rate is between 2.8 and 3.2 ltres/hour in a race and depending on whether I'm swimming, cycling or running. Running is naturally the worst but cycling not far behind and although many people discount swimming as an issue I loose 2.5 litres and hour swimming (without a wetsuit).

This is a big and very important issue for me especially in any races over three hours as my absorption rate is way behind my sweat rate. In IMMY 2010 I did the best job to date partially due to reduced weight loss leading to less stress on the system and less insulation. However, add a bit of wind to the heat and humidity (i.e. Ironman China just two weeks later) and the added dehydration effects left me in a dehydrated (walking) mess!

I've no real words of wisdom to share other than don't ever underestimate dehydration on your performance and also don't make the mistake of many and ignore the swim section - if you jump on the bike blissfully unaware that you're already on the road to dehydration then you're going to have a very unpleasant time sooner rather than later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ironman China - Race Report

(Photos courtesy of Bryan, Tip/Sofian

It was a desperately disappointing day so I haven't fallen over myself to write the race report. However, there is a balance between starting to forget the pain & disappointment and starting to forget the details of the day. So here it is while I still have a vivid memory.

I was up and about doing my usual pre-race routine, sit-down, coffee, sit-down, coffee (repeat as needed). I'd had a great night's sleep but I wasn't as "Up" and excited as I was the morning of IMMY. Maybe overconfidence or simply the edge had been taken off by doing two Ironmans in two weeks.

I got down to the bus at my scheduled time and set up the bike very quickly without too much fuss. Then hit the portaloos for the last "unload". Now this is where the day really began to go south - when there aren't enough portaloos to go around coupled with too many "Non-Asianised" Westerners (i.e. no idea [or aim] when it comes to "squat" portaloos then we're talking about a big mess, LITERALLY). It was so disgusting people were vomiting as they entered AND departed the little plastic houses of fun.

I've backpacked in Nepal (twice) so I've seen worse (not much worse though). I decided against a second visit which would have been optimal! Anyway, let's move on - the subject ain't fun and the memories of this part of the day are starting to get too vivid.

I bumped into one of the "Icons" of the race and one of my personal sporting heroes - Sofian Ismail. If you ever need a "hit" of positive energy then go and seek this guy out before a race. We had a quick photo op. Then I saw Bryan who was looking OK considering having had chronic food poisoning and purging pretty much non-stop for the last 36hrs. Another positive guy and another great competitor to draw strength from pre-race.

I made my apologies as I needed a good 10-15 minute warm up - I don't believe in warming up when the gun goes - it may be a long race but why give away time right from the get go. Also if you're not properly warmed up then there is a much higher likelihood of going anaerobic within the first few hundred metres of the race. Not to mention breathing issues in a wetsuit race (see my Alpe d'Huez race report).

SWIM - 1hr 5mins 44secs
The swim was 4 laps of 950 metres, with athletes going off in groups of 5 every 5 seconds - a recipe for disaster I thought but credit where credit is due, it worked extremely well and went very smoothly. It was all chip timed so even if you started out of sync then your time was still 100% accurate.

I had an outstanding swim , an Ironman PB no less (the highlight of my day - not often I report that in a triathlon - of any sort!).

T1 - 4mins 6secs
Measured, not fast and not rushed. I am very good at transitions in Sprints, Olympic Distance races and duathlons but in Ironman I am off the pace here - part of it is due to experience. Experience has taught me that forgetting something in T1 or T2 can mean your race coming apart later - forgetting sunblock, Vaseline, picking up your nutrition, salt tablets, putting socks on right etc... All imperative but there is a solution to each one and I am committed to getting transitions in Ironmans down to the top percentile without the cock ups - a work in progress.

BIKE - 5hrs 13mins 50secs
I knew this was going to be tough and had no illusions about the sub 5hr time I'd achieved two weeks earlier in IMMY here. The wind was howling and the temperature was already close to 30C. We were straight into a headwind and my heart rate was 10 beats per minute higher than IMMY which in itself was 10 beats per minute higher than my target rate (so I was 20 beats higher than what it needed to be). It stayed there for far too long but I just didn't have the discipline or the courage to back off to get it down.

My legs didn't have the zip or the power that they had in IMMY but they were pretty darn close and I doubted many people would pass me. (Two guys did later in the race but not in my age-group and I happily let them go).

After about 10k we turned a corner onto a fabulous and smooth hwy and spent the next goodness knows how long being buffeted by a side wind from hell. It was a white knuckled ride and being blown off was a constant possibility (especially with my TTX aero frame, deep rim tri-spoke front wheel and disc rear wheel). I'm a strong cyclist so it wasn't ever going to be a real issue (and is the fastest set up in wind despite what people think but provided you can handle it). It was still scary as hell though.

The downside where the set up is questionable though, is in being able to drink enough. If you're hanging on for dear life, it really doesn't matter how fast your powering along if you can't let go of the handlebars to drink then at some point you'll lose time and power due to dehydration.

Fortunately/unfortunately this problem was taken out of my hands by the organisers. I drank every drop of liquid I could get my hands on. Unfortunately the aid stations were only every 15K and should have been every 10K (as in IMMY). The drinks often were hot and NONE of them served in cycling bidens. In fact the water was in such flimsy bottles that when you grabbed them the bottle collapsed spilling 50% of the water. If you ever put the 500ml bottle in you bottle cage then the chances were that it would bounce out at the slightest bump. DISGRACEFUL is all I can say especially as they'd been told these three points last year and had done nothing about any of them.

So 3/4 of the way through the bike as we hit the medieval Chinese villages for the second time (amazing experience, although horrible concrete roads) I felt my power drain from my legs and never regain it on the bike. I'd been eating well and drinking as much as I could get hold of so I assumed that this was the effect of IMMY haunting me from 2 weeks before. With the benefit of hindsight and a clear mind I suspect that this was solely a result of dehydration at this stage of the race given all of the circumstances.

A couple of guys I'd passed earlier came past me again and simply rode away from me. I can't begin to express my relief when I got to the last 10k with the only tailwind of the day.

T2 - 4mins 19secs
Again not fast but measured. I knew I was in trouble but I'd had a fast swim (for me I mean) and probably one of the better bike splits of the day considering the conditions, therefore I chose to ignore my physical frailty. I'd eaten well, I'd taken my salt tablets, I drank everything that was available (considerably less than there should have been) so I chose to work on my favourite state of mind in such circumstances - DENIAL and get on with the job at hand - QUALIFYING. Surely everyone was in a similar physical state????

RUN - 5hrs 20mins 57secs
Through my 7 months of training I'd had two training speeds when running - 1)fast and 2)in trouble. I was immediately running at option 2 pace. The plan was to get to the first turnaround (4.9k) whereby hopefully the body would start to find some sort of equilibrium and who knows maybe a second wind.

The temperature sored and my body responded as it always does in such circumstances - my kidney's closed down, my stomach was being filled up with liquid from the aid stations but that's where it stayed and my blood became thicker. The dreaded "Ironman Walk" was inevitable and kicked in at around 7k - much sooner than expected due to my already dehydrated condition. (I also have to state that the aid stations were 2k apart rather than the 1k they should have been and most of the drinks were about 40C - once again the organisers had been told about this the year before and the fact that they allowed this to happen again is not only dangerous but bordering on criminal if you ask me).

I'd trained so hard and reached a level of fitness that few people can even dream of because they don't even know it exists. I say this not to brag but to emphasise the mental trauma that goes with having to walk in a race that you expected not only to run fast but run very fast - add to that a uncompromising belief that I was going to qualify for Hawaii and you will start to grasp how unwound mentally I became over the next few hours.

I'd long believed that the "Ironman Shuffle" was a thing of the past, the hunched shoulders, the dropping head, the shuffling, barely running feet; yet here I was, not even able to do that but forced to do the Ironman Walk with still 30+km to go. I tried oh so hard to get going again but the pain was debilitating, the dehydration was probably at very dangerous levels but I pressed on. My mood moved from DENIAL to realisation that the dream was over, this then became self pity. I'm not one much for self pity even at the worst of times so this didn't last long but it was there for a while.

The next emotion was the worst and although illogical, unfounded and thankfully fading is still with me today - it was the feeling of letting down my friends and supporters who'd followed me on this crusade to qualify for Hawaii - many I'd never even met but had cheered me on through this blog, via Facebook and Twitter. I felt that I had failed them.

I knew that not a single one of them would be anything other than disappointed FOR ME but emotions are not necessarily founded on reality or logic. I'm not ashamed to say that a flood of tears came over me more than once when thinking of failing so many people that had unerringly believed in me.

As a trudged, oh ever so slowly, towards the distant turnaround I saw Bryan heading in the opposite direction. I could not believe that he was still in the race, he was running/marching along with his captain's cap on (very cool). A big smile on his face and positive words to say (although I was too messed up to remember what was said the gist of the meeting really boosted me). It was a miracle that he was still there after his food poisoning, I had doubted he'd finish the swim let alone the bike. It just goes to show what a hard MoFo he is. (Sadly due to extreme pain and kidney failure he had to drop out at the turnaround by the finish line - a valiant and fighting performance nonetheless).

I got to the bottom turnaround, about 14k from the finish, I'd been walking for several hours but the temperature was dropping as the sun was going down so I promised myself I'd try to bring this sorry effort to a swifter end by finding some way to run at least a little. I started by running one lamppost/walking one lamppost. This worked and soon it was run two lampposts/walk one lamppost. Then run three lampposts. With about 8k to go I was keeping pace with an Aussie guy who kept catching me during my walking lamppost and expressed how amazed he was that I could keep this routine up. "It's the only way I can keep going" I replied. "I hope it's not annoying you, it would bug me senseless" I apologised.

He was very generous in his reply and said something along the lines of "Whatever it takes just keep it up" and he meant it - whoever you were - THANKS. I soon decided to see how long a non-stop run could be sustained. It was excruciatingly painful, my kidneys and stomach were screaming stop, my shins had long since gone numb other than the periodic shots of terrible pain akin to being electrocuted - not pleasant but I was running and at last the weather was cool enough for me to keep it up.

Somewhere between 4-6k to go I realised that 5 minute ks would see me just break 12 hours. I had no idea what 5 minute pace was anymore so I just nailed it as hard as I could, maximum pace that my little legs could muster. I knew I was running fast not only by the number of people I was overtaking but by the looks of surprise/disbelief on not only their faces but the spectators too. As it turned out I was over 10 minutes inside 12 hours and my pace must have been around 4 minute ks. Surprising and unlikely at the end of a Ironman but when you consider my months of preparation and fitness coupled with the fact that I hadn't run but just walked for several hours then it wasn't so special. Mentally it was a nice achievement but athletically nothing compared to the guys that had knocked out sub 4 hour marathons in these extreme conditions.

I crossed the line strongly, got my medal (a cool medal actually - made of coconut, although I note one or two people weren't impressed but after 16 Ironmans something original is kinda cool!), my finishers T-shirt (cheap and a disgrace actually). I grabbed some pizza and soup, caught up with Sam and Carmen (Carmen, sadly had to pull out at the end of the first run loop due to illness - no shame in that, she's a tough cookie that's for sure). I then headed back to transition and although you could have got your bike the next morning I felt fine so decided to get everything sorted.

Nothing much more to report - I had a good night's sleep other than the multiple pee visits due to the copious quantity of liquid in my stomach gradually finding it's way through my kidneys as they started working properly again. The next morning I was one of the few people not hobbling about - nothing to brag about, I hadn't exactly taxed my legs for the vast majority of the run.

The slow realisation of my failure was starting dawn on me (again) as time was passing - there were going to be dark days ahead.

But I will say this - To achieve success then you must taste failure. Without failure it is impossible to really know success let alone savour it. The greater the failures and the more hard fought the successes the sweeter they become.

Yes there have been dark days since the race and probably darker days to come, I invested a lot physically and emotionally into IMMY and IMChina. I achieved more than I set out to achieve at the beginning but somehow I've banked all that and my expectations and goals shifted to greater heights. I'll get over it and move on but I WILL SUCCEED and when I do the sweetness will be unparalleled and intoxicating.

Tiger Woods Golf Game - Hilarious

Courtesy of Mohan the Great - CLICK HERE

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ironman 2010 race season over - REFLECTION

I've spent the last 7 months training between 20 and 30 hours a week, EVERY week (I've had just four days off, sick with a lung infection). I set out on a 2 year plan to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

2010 was not supposed to be about qualifying but rather it was about massively improving and moving up to a level where I could realistically see just how much more I would need to do to qualify in 2011. I achieved that goal...perhaps a little too well.

Things went very well, I dropped 12kg from my post summer holiday weight and got within 2kg of my "ideal" racing weight. I consistently put in not only the volume but more importantly planned, structured training, with high quality sessions week in week out and WITHOUT getting sick (with the exception of the blip mentioned above).

I took on Ironman Malaysia extremely confidently without any expectations of qualifying, just confident that I was in great shape and with a great attitude. I saw the opportunity to qualify present itself after the bike and I went for it. As it turns out I was 5th in my age-group (only 3 slots available), just 7 minutes off qualifying, 9th amateur and 20th overall - I qualified in EVERY age-group except the 40-44 category!

I was not despondent, not even disappointed as qualifying wasn't the plan and anyway China was just two weeks away and I was still in great shape. Sooooo maybe... (now I was starting to believe and was having expectations).

I write all this as I can now feel the post Ironman blues setting in. I think after Ironman Malaysia I was supremely confident going into China and knew qualification was a given if I competed with my "A" game in tact.

As it turns out the who's who of Ironman age-groupers had the same idea and the competition was tougher than I could possibly have ever imagined - together with the hot/windy weather, lack of aid stations or cold water it was the "perfect storm".

I now look back and still feel that despite the competition and having IMMY in my legs just two weeks before I would still have likely qualified had the race not been so hot/windy, coupled with the lack of aid stations leading to severe dehydration.

Of course we will never really know, this may be bravado or ego talking but what I do know is that emotionally I am having more problems dealing with it as each day goes by.

During the run (much of which I was forced to walk), I felt very sorry for myself but more so I felt a terrible sense of failure and responsibility to all my friends and people that had supported me in this dream of qualifying for Hawaii.

There's no need to "put me straight", I knew then and I still know now that everyone would have felt disappointed FOR ME and certainly not felt "let down" by me. But I'm just sharing my emotions, that I felt and feel. Certainly during the race I truly felt that I was letting a lot of wonderful people down. Not much to do with reality or logic just raw emotion.

It seems that out of all of my buddies and training buddies that intended to qualify for the big one, they all made it with the exception of Carmen (I still dearly hope that she gets her spot as first Malaysian woman - still pending an appeal to WTC) and @Brybrarobry (Bryan).

Bryan now has two more shots, having entered Ironman Utah and Lake Placid (Gosh I'm envious, if he qualifies I already know that my feelings will be somehow of righteous redemption - no idea why but it will somehow make my pain considerably easier to deal with - I'm really rooting for you Bryan).

So where am I at? I've pretty much got past the feeling of letting people down (this was a real emotion but a false reality). I got over the self pity as soon as I could run again during the race when the temperature started dropping. But I'm starting to head towards a dark place (a very dark place). Jens, Cort, Emma, Wong will be heading to Hawaii, hopefully so will Bryan, Johan (yet to do IMSA) and Carmen. I looked at the calendar today and saw just one more window open for me - Ironman UK!!!

I thought long and hard and decided NO. Instead I applied to represent the British Team at the ITU Long Course Triathlon in Germany (same day as IMUK, August 1st). I decided this as it was my original plan (especially if I wasn't Hawaii bound), also my sister lives nearby and finally for my mental well being - I realised if I skipped the ITU race (a race I dearly want to do) and still didn't qualify for Hawaii then I'd be in a darker place than I am now.

So yes I'm going to have a tough couple of weeks but I have to remind myself that Hawaii was a two year plan. The fact that I got so close to cause this disappointment should be regarded as a rather nice and unexpected surprise. I must remind myself to start feeling sorry for those that I will be competing against for a Kona spot next year because it is they that will be missing out not I!!!

That final point above may appear arrogant but it will be based upon a massive amount of hard work, supported by experience (it's been a 10 year apprenticeship) and fueled by my current feelings of acute disappointment. I will not fail.

So to conclude this post, I leave myself with two thoughts: -

"So I didn't qualify - Oh well ay!"

"If I keep doing the right things often enough and long enough then success is guaranteed"

I've entered one of my favourite races - OSIM Singapore Olympic Distance Race on April the 11th. I need to recover and convert my slow twitch muscles to fast twitch ones in four weeks. My whole training focus needs to be realigned very quickly. Already I just can't wait, Olympic Distance races are my forte, they are what I'm built for and good at, two hours of unbridled, acutely debilitating pain and then it's over - you've just got to love it.

See! There's a light at the end of the tunnel already. Not only that but I rode my bike again yesterday and ran again this morning, the endorphins kicked in and I'm reminded why I do this - I then went rollerblading with Shilpa and the boys and had a couple of very large beers with dinner - Life is good, VERY GOOD in fact!

I'll post my race report tomorrow - it covers some of the same stuff but I think I'm through the worst of it. On that note - Good night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ironman China - Some cool photos of me the official photograpghers of Ironman China got some quite good snaps of me cycling and finishing which are pretty coll - CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ironman China - my review for

(Photo courtesy of @brybrarobry)

Carmen and I on the Bike course tour.

Not a bad race but massive room for improvement. It was a tough day mainly due to the weather - 38C and really really strong side winds.

The conditions weren't helped by the fact that the aid stations were every 15k on the bike and every 2k on the run. They needed to be every 10k and 1k respectively - not doing so is bordering on dangerous and a disgrace since they were told this last year.

Flimsy plastic bottles for the water on the bike meant that they disintegrated as soon as you grabbed them - would it have been too much to ask to have proper cycling water bidens?

This whole mess was made even worse as very few of the drinks were cooled and most were positively hot - imagine overheating on the run in 38C when already dehydrated due to too few water stations only to find super hot water, Gatorade and cola as your "thirst quencher"? Not smart, not funny and I'll say it again - dangerous (many athletes collapsed and/or pulled out due to dehydration and heat stroke).

On the plus side the volunteers were awesome, they struggled to understand what anyone wanted as English was nonexistent but their enthusiasm and friendliness more than made up for it.

The finish and the spectators at the finish were awesome although the post race food was a joke.

I thought the swim was going to be a disaster (4 loops around a "Y" shaped course) but in fact it worked beautifully with waves of 5 athletes going off every 5 seconds - it may have been different if there were more athletes though.

Race hotel was rubbish by Asian standards, nothing for a family to do, 10k from transition and a rip-off as soon as you want to buy anything. Mini-bars are often expensive but USD5 for a MINI Snickers bar (not even a regular sized one for goodness sake). Come on that just leaves a horrible feeling that you're being extorted.

Strangely though Internet access was free, although the silly, paranoid Chinese Government have blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, YouTube to name but a few - yet you can still get all these things on a smart phone, so what's the point?

Would I do this race again? NO WAY. Emphatically NO

I'd have said "Yes, reluctantly" to try to qualify for Hawaii but I've never seen a stronger field of Age-groupers in any of my 16 Ironmans - it was like the stars of Ironman age-groupers had all made a pact to race in China.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The China Adventure - Friday 12th.

Went to bed early last night and slept like a baby. Tootled about this morning and then realised I might miss the last bus to the swim start.

Raced downstairs but alas too late. Toyed with getting a taxi but then decided to ride down and hope my bike didn't get stolen while I swam (it didn't).
The plan was that since I got orientated in the swim yesterday and had a time to compare, today I would push it a little - a time trial, if you like!

Hmmmm! A full minute slower - now that wasn't supposed to happen. I was told later by Carmen that all the other athletes were saying that the current was much stronger today - I hope that was it. It also smelt like we were swimming in effluent too which wasn't nice at all!

I had a pleasant chat with John from Athens (having checked the entry list I think his name is Ionnis really, guess he didn't think I could handle it) and then a leisurely ride back. Met up with Carmen and she'd been told she couldn't enter unless she had cash - so it was off to my computer to try to register online - it's never straightforward when the pressure is on, the clock ticking and the options reducing by the hour. The good news is that we eventually did it online with a credit card - phew!

I then met Bryan & John for a very enjoyable lunch and chat in town, a bit of grocery shopping (incl. Beers for post race celebration - whatever the outcome).

We then headed for the bike route tour - two massive buses full of people - never have I seen so many focused and serious triathletes - it's certainly not a carnival atmosphere at the moment - too many people on a mission. Come on folks lighten up a little.

I was quite bored and very tired by the end but then it was straight into the carbo dinner. We were spared the standard cultural dancing (sorry but it's just not me) and straight into dinner - extremely nice, loads of it - quite a surprise - not the usual sticky bun fight - one might almost call it "civilised".

Met the Japanese pro that came second in IMMY, congratulated him on his accomplishment and commiserated with him on not getting his qualification spot in Hawaii due to the ridiculous new WTC rule...don't get me started.

Met some cool people but now heading for an early night.

Spent some time chatting with Shilpa on Skype and doing a little work with her on a project we've been working on - a long time away in terms of coming to anything so I shan't bore you with it now.

Have a great day for those of you in the West and a great night's sleep for everyone in this neck of the woods.

The plan tomorrow is a very short swim/bike/run tomorrow and then Black Beauty gets checked in to T1.

The clock is really counting down now, I'm not nervous, just quietly contemplating the task at hand - as Ben said "treat every big race like it's gonna be the hardest thing you've ever done" a great philosophy for sure.

Nighty night peeps.
Simon Cross
Sent via BlackBerry from ProMark Strategies

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The China Adventure - Thursday 11th.

First of all, sorry the previous post was supposed to read Wednesday 10th.

So, onto today - slept a little later than intended but checked with hotel and a shuttle ran to the swim start every 30mins.

I spoke to Bryan and his buddy John Barclay and we met up on the shuttle. He leaves a video update on his blog every week so I felt I knew what to expect and felt that I knew him quite well already.

Chatting away and I am pleased to say I was right. A totally cool dude, immediately likeable and on the same wavelength - although both of them struggle to understand my accent!!! They're not the first (note to self, must work on that).

Into our wetsuits and the biggest shock of my life - yes the water was cold but what shocked and worried me the most was that these two Canadians were squealing about how cold the water was (I was squealing too I might add). BUT they had just come from a -17C winter (Bryan even rode outdoors using chemical heaters in his gloves and shoes to prevent frost bite).

As it turned out we were all just being little girls. As soon as the wetsuits started working the temperature was fine and you could have comfortably swam without a wetsuit if the truth be told.

2 laps of the 4 lap course done in 32mins. I was happy with that. I could go a little faster on race day but the small loops will mean a congested course so will probably be slowed a little - we'll see.

We headed back to grab the last shuttle and low and behold there was a very cold looking Carmen. She confessed that she wasn't going to swim and her bike was still in the box. Tch tch!!!

Bryan and I then headed out for a 90minute ride - it was great fun and we got to know each other a little more. We got a little lost at one point although avoiding the oncoming traffic was the main worry.

Bryan then went for a run, I tootled around and then registered - very efficient so it took less than 5mins.

Managed to speak to Shilpa and the boys on video Skype which was soooooo cool and made me very happy.

Then I felt a tad restless and a bit blotted so went for a swift 7.5k run.

And that my dear friends pretty much brings you up to date.

Sam has sourced Carmen a wetsuit which Sofian will bring tomorrow so she has no excuses now. I'll be swimming again in the morning so off to beddy byes now.


Simon Cross
Sent via BlackBerry from ProMark Strategies

The China Adventure - Wednesday 11th.

So, the story so far, stayed up past midnight on Tuesday having spent the day at work and needing to squeeze my "Shock & Awe" run in on the dreadmill followed by a core strength and stretching session.

Then it was race home and catch the boys before they slept, dinner, pack bike and then pack everything else. Mmm! I had meant to be better organised.

I toyed with the idea of a 4am swim but even I had to ice that idea. Taxi arrived at 5am. All good, met Carmen at the airport and she was a real sweetheart and helped me check in and carry my race wheels (I was taking so much hand luggage it wasn't funny).

We both had 3 seats each on the plane and slept - RESULT! She then was my guardian angel and negotiated a taxi for me at the airport.

Hotel is OK although overrated and overpriced. One small Snickers bar is USD10 in the mini bar!!!!!! I ate it before I checked!!!

Got sorted and went out for a 45k bike ride - roads OK and course looks like it would be fast but strong winds and heat will put an end to that. BTW they drive on the right in China but it would seem that this is advisory rather than obligatory!!! You have to keep your radar on "code red" let me tell you.

Did a 7.5k brick run afterwards which was kind of cool. Run course looks flat and fast (assuming heat doesn't come into play).

I then touched base with my Canadian Twitter buddy, @brybrarobry aka Bryan Payne. He was jet lagged and out of it so we agreed to meet the following day.

I hoped on the shuttle bus into town for a little adventure and supply run (no more USD10 Snickers thank you). Got the usual, water, fruit, yoghurt etc. Then a little walk around and back on the last bus.

That was about it. Stayed up too late watching TV but will not be doing that again - focused race head now on.
Simon Cross
Sent via BlackBerry from ProMark Strategies



Simon Cross
Sent via BlackBerry from ProMark Strategies

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Only the Irish

(Courtesy of Ian)

These workmen are installing bollards to stop nurses from parking on the pavement outside the Royal Hospital in Belfast. They are cleaning up at the end of the day.

Can you spot the difficulty that they will have getting home?

Hawaii Qualifiers

I just wanted to say a huge well done to my fellow "Malaysians" and buddies who qualified for Hawaii in the recent IMMY. I was at the roll down but with no illusions of getting a spot but I love the atmosphere, especially when buddies and training partners get their names called out.

Time 09:46:32

Jens Wilken
- German, an absolute gentleman, races by the numbers (powermeter), always cool, calm and collected - Great swimmer, cyclist and runner - doesn't seem to have any weaknesses - mixes it up with the pros.

Time 10:36:22

Cort Prios
- American, also an absolute gentleman, also races by the numbers (powermeter, heart rate, the works). He was doing most of his riding indoors until I recently encouraged him to join my 186k PD rides. He was just about on the pace on the first one and then blew me away from then onwards (progressively by more and more each week).

Time 11:05:58

Emma Bishop
- Brit, my claim to fame is that I convinced her to start this sport, her first triathlon was Ironman Malaysia 2008 - she came second (only one qualifying spot in her age-group), the following year second again but 2010 despite acute stomach problems (and a subsequent visit to the medical tent) she won her age-group.

Time 10:23:45

Also I wanted to give a shout out to Barry who qualified in his first Ironman but wasn't able to take up his slot.

Time 10:08:16

, who qualified again. He missed out last year though because the silly American Embassy didn't issue his visa in time. A real credit to him, he took it in his stride and will be there this year in October.

Time 10:44:49

, had a real battle of a race, was in a real bad way as he came over the line. Sadly he didn't realise that he'd qualified and although I managed to get a message to him he arrived just too late and his place got rolled down to another athlete. That's really tough Dino, but you'll be there next year for sure.

Time 12:34:42

, 2nd in her age-group and first Malaysian woman. Sadly there was only one spot in her category but usually there is a first Malaysian spot for the men and women. There wasn't this year but the organisers didn't bother telling anyone - you can imagine her disappointment when she had to ask at the end of the roll down - shame on you LIEM & WTC!

Monday, March 08, 2010

IMMY - Some of my favourite piccies

(Courtesy of Tri-Stupe, Sandy, Andrea, Shilpa and if I've forgotten anyone please let me know but thanks to everyone that took pictures and made them available. Not only for me but for all the competitors - our pain is soon forgotten but YOU GUYS make the great memories last forever - THANKS).

Now that's an Eagle.

My two biggest fans.

Worried? At the briefing.

Not worried here - pre race chit chat.

Out of the water - Is that Belinder Granger in front of me (and behind)?

That's one angry shirt - I wouldn't want to meet him in China!

Cool picture - I actually look fastish.

It's hard to work out which one is the shirt and which one the Ironman. They both look scary!

A very tired but happy and relieved family - thanks for the support - you were awesome!

(BTW the little girl belongs to Cort and Sandy but she fits in nicely don't you think? Don't think C&S are going to give her up easily though).

Friday, March 05, 2010

Ironman Training/Race Totals - TAPER WK2/Race Week

My training totals for last week: -

Total Time: - 18:46:14hrs

Swim: - 3:11:21hrs - 9.26km
Bike: - 8:30:44hrs - 303km
Run: - 5:27:07hrs - 62.55km
Core-work & Stretching - 1:30hrs - 135 press-ups, 1125 crunches

Scores on the doors: -
Workouts - 17/17
Eating - Not too bad but over ate a little for the two days leading into the race.
Sleep - Got better as the week went on and slept like a baby the two nights prior to the race.

Comments: -

All good leading into the race - race is history now so now to focus on China. Lessons learned (AGAIN), prepare menu in days leading into the race so that I don't over eat. Take psyllium husk 36 hours prior to race rather then 24 hours for a guaranteed "clear out".

Other than these two things I think I got it pretty spot on.

Bad bad news!!!!

I have been eagerly awaiting the 10 day projected weather forecast for Hainan to swing around to race day, Sunday 14th March. And here it it is: -

I now have a horrible sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach. Can you believe it, it is forecast to be a high of 18C when I arrive on Wednesday yet by Sunday it will be 34C (the same as Langkawi was forecast).

I'm by nature an optimist but a realist too, if it turns out to be another Langkawi then that's that for Hawaii - it comes down to simple biology. It won't stop me going for it, I will still put my body on the line and do everything I can to defy reality; don't forget my training strategy is always based on that very sound philosophy of DENIAL.

Of course this is a long range weather forecast so it's not cast in stone. What will be will be on the day so we will see.

Please excuse my French but...Merde Merde Merde!

This could even mean a non-wetsuit swim which would be the pits for a dodgy swimmer like me.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Propulsion in the water by Sheila Taormina

(Courtesy of

Simon says: - I have done a Total Immersion (TI) course and found it very frustrating and didn't improve my swim speed at all. It did improve my understanding of body balance and hydrodynamics in the water though. So yes it was a useful exercise but this article really strikes a chord with me and I think anyone struggling with their swimming should read it regardless of your swimming ability/speed especially if you think that TI is the only solution.

Editor's note: There is no one in our sport more accomplished in swimming than Sheila Taormina. In 2000 she finished sixth in the first-ever Olympic triathlon, and she did so four years after winning an Olympic gold as a pure swimmer.

If a study was conducted to determine which athletes invest the most resources into their sport, then triathlon would have to rank at the top. The financial investment is obvious; so is the time spent training. More striking to me, though, is the degree to which triathletes invest their time and money learning about their discipline.

The questions primarily arise about swimming, which makes sense because of the technique-intensive aspect of it, and because most triathletes come from a background other than competitive swimming.

There are few triathletes who haven’t heard of Total Immersion (TI). TI has captured the triathlon market, and it has helped in many ways. I haven’t met a TI student yet who hasn’t asked questions relating to it, and very often the individual will also go on to say that he or she really hasn’t seen an improvement in speed after months of working on the TI drills. Therefore, I’m going to suggest a different way to look at the problem of swim technique.

I coach swimming differently than TI. When I am working with triathletes or masters swimmers (I don’t coach many youth age-group swimmers because kids just want to show you how fast they are—no time for technique in their world yet) my first question is, "Do you want to be competitive in the swim or just to get through without having a panic attack?" For those individuals who are new to swimming and want to learn how to be smooth and how not to flail through the water, TI is perfect. I would send such athletes to a clinic at the first opportunity, or to direct them to buy the book. However, for those triathletes who are driven and want to take the next step, I must respectfully speak my opinion on the TI version of swimming—it does not teach about propulsion.

TI focuses on body position in the water and reducing resistance as well as reducing stroke count. These are very important aspects of swimming, but that is where TI appears to me to stop. I compare it to an engineer who designs a car that is so sleek and aerodynamic but who neglects to focus on the drive-train.

For the athlete who wants to increase speed, you have to look at side-two of the equation. Side-two is the propulsion system that takes your hydrodynamic body through the water. The problem with teaching side-two is that it is difficult to learn, and requires much effort and exertion of the student. Actually, the concept is easy to understand, but applying it takes a few months of focus. There is another obstacle for the TI-trained swimmer, which is that TI techniques, as good as they are, can be construed by the student as running counter to my focus on propulsion. It is less that the TI techniques are wrong; rather that I find that it is typical for a TI alumnus to have over-applied the TI advice. Propulsion in swimming involves "holding" the water. You’ve probably heard the phrases "feel for the water" or "catch," and if you’ve watched the top swimmers you’ve probably noticed that their bodies seem to glide over the water. Well, they are doing just that. If you have the correct hold on the water, then your hand locks on at the catch phase of the stroke, and then you pull your body over your hand rather than your hand slipping through the water.

The primary disagreement I have in learning the TI version of reduced stroke count lies in this principle. TI teaches you to lower your count by reaching and gliding out front. Yes, this increases your stroke count, but it kills your stroke rate ("rate" being the swimming analog to cycling cadence). You may be able to take the same number of strokes to get across the pool as does Ian Thorpe, but are you taking twice the amount of time to do those strokes? It may appear that the top swimmers are gliding out front after the catch, but they are not. When the hand catches the water the work begins immediately. It’s difficult to tell this observing from above the water, but the fact remains that if you have a hold on the water, then the hand is locked on the water out front and the body begins to glide forward over the hand. No top swimmer takes a break during the front part of the stroke by virtue of a "glide phase."

The way to reduce stroke count while going fast is to learn to hold the water in such a way that your hand is slipping as little as possible. This propulsion system requires a position with the hand, elbow, and arm that is unlike any motion you do in a day-to-day activity (unless you make a living climbing over walls). If you can get access to the tapes of swimming in the Olympics, then watch the underwater shots of the swimmers. You will see the high elbow under the water, and you can see that they are not doing catch-up stroke. The front-quadrant swimming that people are learning in TI is therefore in contrast to my view of what ought to happen at the front of the stroke. No swimmer is waiting for the recovering arm to "catch up" to the hand out front before beginning the pull out front. Like I said earlier, the work is beginning immediately, but it is difficult to tell unless you slow down a tape and watch the catch and process of pulling the body over the hand.

The conclusion I’ve drawn from years of studying swimming and from speaking to people who have taken the TI course is that TI is easy to learn and will save you energy in the water. It’s shortcoming is in the adherent’s inability to use TI techniques to greatly improve speed. The propulsion element to swimming is difficult to learn, and it will take more energy in the short run, but it will become second nature once you’re physically adapted, and it will make you fast!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ironman Malaysia 2010 - Race Report

(Photos courtesy of Shilpa, Ben, Juliana, Tey, Shazly and Frank Chong)

Mmmm! So you saw my training, you saw my goals, you saw the review of my goals but what about the race as a whole?

Siddhart, Sebastian, Shilpa and I arrived on Thursday morning and checked into the Westin. It's near the race start, a great hotel and this year they were offering a special rate of 50% off rack rates so it was too good an opportunity to miss. Also, it's only fair that Shilpa and the boys have a bit of luxury to make up for the Ironman suffering that the spectators have to put up with!

On Thursday I did NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL, training-wise that is! Weird, first day off in over six months (other than 4 days sick in bed). I registered and got my medical, put bike together etc... but other than that it was a lazy day. We had lunch overlooking the ocean - gorgeous but HOTTT!

Spent the afternoon nibbling on crap unhealthy food so skipped dinner and took an early night - slept like a baby! Woke up feeling very positive.

On Friday morning I went for a 500m swim at the time we'd be finishing to check out sighting (especially coming back to shore as it's directly into the sun). Also to check out the current, it was strong again this year. Against/across us on the way out and with/across us coming in.

Then a quick 7k on the bike followed by a 2.5 brisk run. Job done, systems primed and ready to go. I then whizzed off to the Langkasuka Hotel for the briefing - Uh oh! It has been relocated to the Seaview Hotel - I even checked their useless website before I left for the swim - poor organisation that was to persist throughout the weekend sadly.

Made it for the second half of the briefing which in itself was a bit of a shambles with questions at the end turning into a max exodus and individuals having to ask the race management personally rather than for everyone to hear.

Checked the bike in, packed my race bags and then we went for a very early dinner to our favourite little Italian Restaurant in Langkawi. Back home to bed, asleep by 9pm. Slept like a baby AGAIN until 4:45 and then it was all systems GO!

A few sit-downs to unload and four very strong coffees (first caffeine in a month). A bowl of muesli and that was that I was set for the race. Said goodbye to the kids and started walking down to T1. Halfway there I was whisked up and given a lift, thanks guys!

It was a mad house in T1, hundreds of competitors everywhere - weighing in, body marking, setting up bikes, replacing tyres and tubes, CRAZY (but very cool). I got sorted quickly and calmly and then kissed Shilpa and the boys who'd arrived to see me off. As soon as the pros started (15 minutes before us) I jumped in and started my warm up. Before I knew it BANG, we were sent off 1 minute early!!!

SWIM 1hr 15mins 05sec
My plan was to keep to the left away from the jetty and in clear water and try to pick up a draft. I'm still not too good at drafting so that didn't work very well but the clear water was nice. I swam and swam and swam and just as I reckoned I was at the turnaround I looked up and saw the 600m marker !!! WTF!!! Ok Mr Cross, reset and carry on. Eventually I got to the U-turn in pretty good shape and feeling that I was swimming well (albeit pulling to the left a little).

The swim back was pretty uneventful, I freaked out when I swam across some netting or seaweed a couple of times but I came across no jellyfish and the usual proliferation of sea lice were somewhat minimal this year.

I got out of the water and was very disappointed to see I was a minute and 10 seconds slower than last year - I'd been swimming 18k a week, lost weight, bought a speedsuit and I was SLOWER!!!! In fact everyone was slower so I guess the course was longer or the current stronger or both so I'm OK with that.

T1 - 3mins 26secs
I'd promised myself to reduce transition time this year but also to make sure I didn't screw up in transition and forget to do something i.e. drink, anti-chafe, sunblock etc.. As it turned out I was 51 seconds slower than last year but I got everything sorted nicely. Fortunately I had a tiny bit of sunblock in my bag - very fortunate as the IDIOT race organisers didn't put any in the transition tent nor had they told anyone. [I normally am very defensive of criticism of race organisers but this is bordering on criminal and dangerous - at least let people know for goodness sake - it was 40C out on the bike]

BIKE - 4hrs 57mins 50secs
My bike is always good and I knew that this year was going to be even better but once again I'd promised myself not to nail myself to the wall just to get a great bike time (one of my old ego driven failings of past Ironmans). I powered round the course focusing on keeping my heart rate down and cadence averaging at 84. I NEVER look at speed, there's no point, if you're cadence is right and your heart rate where it should be the speed will look after itself. Trying to push the speed if you're body is not responding will just make things worse!

I was drinking and eating well but at about 90-100k I felt my stomach cramping, oh dear, nothing too bad but I knew that would come and bite me on the run. I forgot about it and accepted the pain as part of the experience. Then to my ABSOLUTE DISGUST I got to a drink station at about 4hrs into the bike and they'd run out of water. Fortunately I'd been drinking well AND my bottles were still half full. I pushed on to the next drinks station and they had Gatorade bottles filled with water from goodness knows where and no tops!!!(On reflection I wander if this is actually where my stomach cramps came from i.e. dodgy water!!!). I grabbed one and nursed it making sure I didn't spill a drop. Then a woman on the side of the road shouted "Water?" and handed me a 500ml of mineral water. How cool was that - thank you so much - my race would probably have been over had it not been for that.

Fortunately the next drink station had some water and soon after I was finishing the bike - by now it was 40C and 90% humidity! I'd broken the 5hr barrier but had expected to go faster I must admit, it was exactly the same course as last year except for the finish straight, everyone else on the whole were slower so I guess the conditions were tougher and the stomach cramps hadn't helped.

[I'll say it again - to allow water to run out in such temperatures is bordering on criminal and is highly dangerous - the race organisers should at the very least issue an apology and publicly commit to this never happening again (sunblock in the transition tents too)] - it's not like they don't know what the conditions are going to be like!!!

T2 - 3mins 36secs
Last year my T2 was slow 6min+. I faffed quite a lot and forgot to take off my heart rate strap and had to go back and look for my bag - plus a visit to the portaloo for a pee. This year I was better focused and sorted everything 3minutes quicker. I didn't have the distraction of having to apply sunblock either thanks to the organisers.

RUN - 3hrs 55mins 14secs
Now for anyone that's done an Ironman they know that this is where the race really starts - actually it really starts after 21k of the run.

My game plan was to look at the weather and totally back off if it was as hot as it usually is. I have Ironman China to do in two weeks and I don't do well in hot and long races. China is hopefully going to be a little cooler and as I'm toying with qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii I really only had one shot either here or China.

It was hot, hot as hell in fact (I note that Tri-Stupe clocked it at 46C at 2:30pm). So did I back off? Of course I didn't, I was feeling great, I started out at sub 5minute pace (the official times show 6min pace but did not account for the first 1k) and kept going at about 4min50/k pace for the first 15k, I was fueling and hydrating well and my legs were feeling so strong it was a very strange/nice feeling. I was actually smiling. I even managed a pee on the hoof, without breaking stride (sorry Mum, pretend you didn't read this bit).

But then, wham, bam, the stomach cramps kicked in, I was overheating my kidney's stopped processing water and it was tilt game over. (Same story ever year in any hot races sadly). However, I had lost a lot of weight since last year ad had been running 80km a week for months so the legs were strong and so were the mind. I pressed my kidneys with my hand and walked a bit and ran a bit. Eventually things got back on track and I was running again with a few walk breaks when the pain got too great.

At about this point I'd ran myself into 3rd spot overtaking the guy that had been leading my age-group. It was short lived though as another competitor came from behind and overtook me.

I persevered and got to the beginning of the last lap when things were starting to get extreme pain-wise. Shilpa told me I was just two minutes down on third place (last qualifying spot in my age-group) and that I could do it. However my stomach felt like it was being cut apart from the inside with hot serrated knives. I got another few hundred metres and STOPPED - I tried desperately to throw up but couldn't, everything was too tight.

I saw my training buddy Cort bearing down on me, I saw Wong catching me, I saw stars, pink angels and flying kangaroos uh ho, only one thing for it, better start moving again. I ran when I could and walked when the pain was too bad and soon came all the way back to the Seaview Hotel, only 1k to the finish, Wong had caught me, another in my age-group sprinted past but somehow I'd stayed in front of Cort.

I actually had a nice run down the sea front to the finishing chute at the Eagle, I rather enjoyed it. I came across the line to find Seb and Sid standing either side of the finishing arch VERY COOL!

(NB Clock was started for the pros 15 minutes before our start)

So a new personal best 10hours 15 minutes and 11seconds. 20th overall, 9th amateur but amazingly only 5th in my age-group.

A new bike PB, a new Ironman marathon PB (and my third fastest marathon ever - guess I couldn't have walked that much). But have I blown it for China????????

First of all I can't begin to thank my wonderful support team enough. Shilpa was as switched on as ever and always at the right place at the right time for me. Sid and Seb seemed to have a better idea what was going on this year and cheered me loads which was just so motivating.

My friends Andrea & Harm were there with their kids and screamed nonstop for me (I only felt bad that I didn't acknowledge them much in the race I was either in the zone and focused or in the "house of pain" and blinkered).

Sam who couldn't compete because of the broken collarbone he sustained in Powerman - it takes a big chunk of character to come and support a race that you should have been in - especially with as much enthusiasm as he did - big respect Sam.

Ben a highly talented Ironman he just doesn't know it yet (once he starts to swim and bike he'll be awesome). Ben is an amazingly enthusiastic run training partner and will be a 2hr50 marathoner in 5 weeks time at the Rotterdam Marathon. Thanks for the photos too Ben.

Juliana who wasn't able to race this year but did last year and will again next year. She was there supporting everyone, taking photos and shouting support nonstop all day. Great attitude Julie, thanks for the support and for the photos.

Tey, as ever he turns up to our events, takes loads of fabulous photos of us and then posts them on his site so we can download them and doesn't charge a bean! How totally unselfish and supportive is this guy? A big thank you Tey and once again thanks for the photos.

Shazly has set up a company to bring photos to us professionally edited and presented in wonderful race albums. He takes training pictures, pre-race, race, finishing and post race pictures and then presents them in a beautiful album. From the results I've seen these are well worth getting especially if it's your first or one of your first Ironmans - worth every cent. Also Shazly sent me some photos from race day, thanks dude, this was totally unexpected and greatly appreciated.

Sandy and Cort, Sandy was probably the most vocal supporter there that day - how much energy has that lady got? - thanks you helped get me through the marathon. You too Cort, always an acknowledgement and encouragement every time we passed on the run. It was a pleasure to train with you and I was so pleased that you got your Hawaii slot.

Jens, again another training buddy. Encouragement every lap, thanks Jens it was inspiring to see you running at such speed. Jens mixed it up with the pros and came 11th overall and also qualified for Hawaii.

I also have to give a shout out to one of my triathlon heroes, Sofian Ismail. Always a smile, always encouragement for everyone and an icon of the sport. He was there in his official Malaysian ITU World Long Course trisuit having represented the country in Australia in 2009. Sofian didn't qualify for Hawaii (this year) but finished yet another Ironman and will be joining me to race in Ironman China.

Keat Seong, swim training partner and all together good guy and triathlon addict. I found out after the race that he got knocked unconscious at the beginning of the swim and came around on a kayak. The kayak guy said he'd been out cold for about 10 minutes. So that was the end of his race!!!! NO IT WASN'T, can you believe this? He got himself together, slipped back into the water and not only finished the swim but finished the race too! WOW, I'm in awe!

Finally, commiserations to Bee, she had two punctures within the fist 10k and that was the end of her race.

First of all in answer to my question "Have I blown it for China?", I'm afraid and sad to say that for any 40-44yos going to China the answer in a resounding big fat NO I HAVEN'T!

I had a fitful night's sleep after the race but other than that and some annoying chafing from the swim I feel fantastic. No stiffness, no aches or pains not residual tiredness. I started easy training again on Monday and Tuesday. This morning (Wednesday) I did a brick bike/run. It wasn't long but it was fast and intense - I felt really strong and quick. Everything so far is looking on track for a good result in China. I now anticipate that the determining factor will be singularly that of the temperature. All I ask for is that it is 5C cooler than IMMY on the run and I'll be racing with my "A" Game (and my "A" Game ain't too shabby).