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).


Stemmet said...

Great Race report.

plee said...

Outstanding performance! Congratulations and well done. All the very best in IM China..and "The SLOT".

Lawrence said...

Well done! Wonderfully written report as usual. I can almost feel the 40C heat radiating off the screen. Too bad about missing the Kona slot here. So knock em dead in China. I'll be living yet another IronMan vicariously through you.

Brybrarobry said...

Great race report. Awesome pictures!


Anonymous said...

Heyya Simon !!! nice race report !!! didnt know they ran out of sunblock. but knew about the water issue. in fact me, aj + halim bought water for the participants and distributed them at malut. i wish the best for you in China. i wont be in China tho to support. but will do in front of the laptop tracking you guys. it is just inspiring the commitment, consistency AND discipline that you put into your training. and the result is there; you crossing the finish line with such a superb time !! saw ur wife ushering ur 2 sons at the finish line before she stood a distance away to get the best angle for the video camera! congrats again Simon. it was a complete different experience being a spectator. begin to appreciate more the human factors involved in making the event 'eventful'. gamba gamba gamba !! oh Simon, do u think Hiroyuki guy will be at China ?!?

yipwt said...

You had put in the training, and your results certainly show.

Good job...

Anonymous said...

U got nice foto here: