Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Miri Sprint & Olympic Distance Triathlons

(Photos from so many people via Facebook - thanks so much to you all)

Yes I am in this picture but I had to share Jack's new hair cut - fashion victim or what! Nice one Jack.

Miri Sprint distance tri on Saturday and Olympic Distance race on Sunday and having spent all day Wednesday in bed with a cold and chest infection I wasn't even sure I'd make it. The day in bed was smart though and by Thursday lunchtime I felt well enough to test the body with a spin class followed by a 5km treadmill run. It went surprisingly well so I was on the plane at the crack of dawn on Friday morning.

I checked into the hotel, put the bike together but never could get myself around to doing a short swim, ride & run to get the body going, test the bike and truth be told test the body. I decided that rest was a better option and proceeded to take it easy the whole day and slept at 8pm.

At around mid-day on Saturday I did put a ride in only to find that my gears were really not happy with the race wheels and although the cables were pretty new it looked like the rear shifter cables needed changing. Tch tch. Having tried to sort that out it was too late for a run tune up.

This year the swim was in the ocean as the marina (the perfect location for a triathlon) was out of bounds as last years crocodiles had grown too big to take the chance this year. HA! They were bloody enormous last year I just don't think the organisers believed they were there. Recently though there were almost daily sightings of them!

I went for a quick dip and swam to the turnaround buoy. The waves were wicked and were breaking at least half way out. I'm no Australian surf swimmer but I get the idea of dipping the head and swimming underneath the waves - I'm not sure everyone had that knowledge or confidence though - as it turned out quite a few racers didn't even go round the buoy - oh well ay! Having said that the waves were breaking almost all the way out to the turnaround buoy during the actual the race. It was a short swim but an exhausting one.

Onto the bike and "wham bam thank you mam" I was on my favoured discipline, it was Simon's world now - here we go! Putt, putt, splutter, sputter, caputt! What was wrong? My heart rate was through the roof and there was NO POWER going through the legs.

Then someone went past what! I genuinely cannot remember that happening in a race in Malaysia EVER! We hit the only hill on the course and he then continued to ride even further away from could this be happening? Then Wong At Thiam came by, not racing but testing his legs, he rode away from me too, dropped back, had a look, then rode away again...usually one of the few guys that can work with me in a drafting race and he clearly was confused by my poor form (or was that him having a chuckle)!

I was still catching Razani (my only real competitor in this race - or so I thought), but as soon as the guy who'd dropped me hooked up with him then they were both gone! At the turnaround I then saw Don Khor honing in on me - OH MY GOODNESS! Even if I stayed ahead of him on the bike my running legs were going to desert me as my bike legs had!!??

Oh well ay, do what you can do but DON'T GIVE UP...then I hit the hill on the way back and really really struggled up it, I almost blacked out twice and had to really force myself to stay conscious, literally - it sounds a bit dramatic but that's the way it was.

On to the run and a strange thing happened - I was moving pretty well, a long way from my best but pretty well. Razani was in sight and not pulling much out on me, I wonder where Don is? At the turnaround the question was answered very swiftly. He was about 300-400 meters behind but moving super fast. We were on the way home however and even though I was totally spent, somehow I managed to speed up - yes he was still likely to catch me at that speed but I was going to make him hurt so badly he will think twice the next time.

As it turned out he didn't catch me and he told me afterwards that he used everything trying to chase me down and when we passed each other he was just showing off - haha, he convinced me anyway. So I finished 2nd in 55minutes and won RM350 (USD115) - flight paid for at least.

As usual the VIPs turned up late for the dinner/prize-giving and we were forced to watch the hotel Filipino band (they did some very good covers but on a distorted PA system) while the food was sitting there tantalisingly close and untouched. In the end one foreign bloke had enough and stood up by the food rather rudely looking at his watch until the organisers got the message (If you hadn't guessed that rude foreign bloke was me).

A tip for any organisers of races, set dinner for 7:30 but have the doors open at 7:00 with the food immediately accessible. People need to get an early night the eve before a race as most will be up by 5:00am. Competitors will show the band and the cultural dancing far more interest and respect if they've got food inside them or at least in front of them. As for the late VIPs, I'm sure that if you explain that triathletes tend to go to bed by 9:00pm on race night; so it be great if the prize-giving could be done at 7:30. That way there's a good chance that they may even turn up by 8:30.

Strangely I felt like the cycling legs were back which was really was strange as I had no indication to suggest it but I was illogically more confident about them today.

The swim was a wave-fest again and was two laps of a triangular course. One side of the triangle was along the beach. We were told that we had to run around the buoys at each end of the triangle and yes we could run back down the beach before entering the water and then we were told we could not. Mmmm!

My first lap went OK and I trotted down and along the beach and then straight back into the water. People in front of me were then either wading straight out or wading parallel to the shore. It didn't take me a split second to work out the best course of action - as soon as I was in the water I trotted back along the beach ankle deep but in the water until I was closest to the buoy at which point I turned left waded out and then swam through the waves to the turnaround. I'm fairly sure I heard my name being called but if you're going to set a silly course then the smarter competitors are going to use the rules to the best effect. It's amazing how many people followed my lead! Strange that!

Onto the bike and all I knew was I had to get to the top of the hill before Wong came steaming by otherwise I was a dead duck (drafting race). I hit the bottom of the hill and started climbing and then Whoosh whoosh whoosh, Wong's disc wheel came barrelling past me. I had less than a second to decide - go with him and risk blowing up before the top of the hill or pace myself and see what happened.

Had I chosen the latter my race would have gone off like a wet firework but fortunately instinct (and denial) took over and I was standing in the pedals giving it everything that I had - which was infinitely more than the day before I was pleased to say. Wong was still in touch but I was not within drafting distance, so a huge effort down the hill and then I was on him.

Another guy came with us but was soon spat out the back. We slowly started picking people up and the guy who passed me the day before got in the train too. Within a few minutes I was recovered and doing at least my far share of pulling if not a bit more - cool, I wasn't fully "back" but at least there were signs that I could compete.

At about 15K we came across Razani and a Czech guy in my age-group, the Czech guy is notorious for not doing ANY WORK in the pack and today was no exception. If there was ever a little break in the group he just waited for someone else (usually me) to close it down.

I was starting to feel pretty narked about it and although I beat him last year on the run I doubted that my form would be enough to beat him this year unless I dropped him on the bike. So I engineered a little gap with him on my back wheel and about 15 or 20 of the group behind in the train. Wong, Razani and about four others pulled away. I was hoping that someone would go, then I would jump with them and use the tow to be sure of getting back with Wong and Razani.

No one went, the gap got bigger and bigger until I reminded myself that I wasn't really on top form and I could find myself trying to make the bridge and ending up in no mans land. BOOM, I went for it, I sprung the trap and sprinted after them, I looked down between my legs and saw that no one had managed to stay on my wheel. Now it was up to me to bridge the gap, it was hurting but my bike form hadn't entirely abandoned me today and I made it.

Now I was worried that without a concerted effort the pack behind would reorganise and reel us in. A bit of encouragement (some might call it shouting) and the new downsized pack with Razani, Wong and a few other tasty cyclists were in top form, organised and my devious little plan was a success.

We continued to pick up more and more of the leaders, there were several mini attacks from the group, including one by Wong and myself (several others by Wong too I hasten to add). None worked, the pack was too strong and the breakaways were short lived.

I got dropped a little on the hill at the end but I wasn't too concerned, Razani was the only guy in front of me and I knew I was unlikely to beat him in the run today. As it turned out the Czech guy's pack was over a minute behind so I was clear in 2nd.

I was hurting pretty much straightaway on the run (check out the eyes in the photo - scary) but hey, that's the way it's supposed to be and no doubt everyone else was hurting too. I got to the 2.5k turnaround point and Razani was flying, no catching him today. Then the Czech guy was there not far behind - oh dear, looks like 3rd is the best I can do despite the fun and games on the bike. I told myself that whatever happens keep him behind until we hit the main road (about half way) and it'll be less demoralising. He overtook me just as I turned onto the road, cool I thought, another little moral victory for myself at least.

There was no one in reach of me for 3rd in my age-group now but I still had my old sparring partner Don Khor to fend off, once again he was flying but was just a little too far back to close me down. Job done, Razani beat me by a couple of minutes I reckon (no official results out), the Czech guy by about 20 seconds ahead (although once he passed me he eased off a lot). I finished in about 2 hours, won RM1800 (USD580) so that'll be split between Shilpa, the boys and the maids - hopefully they'll be happy too.

I loved every minute of it, even the bike leg of the Sprint race (strangely) but especially the bike leg of the Olympic distance, I love playing out the tactics, super fun and takes one's mind off the screaming pain.

So that was that. Miri is a real gem of a race, with RM100,000 (over USD30,000) prize-money it's the richest race I know of in the world for amateurs. I'm just sad that this year it wasn't as well supported as last year.

I know that some of the organisers read this blog and I'm probably not going to be the most popular chap for sharing my thoughts but I shall anyway, for the love of the sport and for the love and loyalty I have for this wonderful race.

I heard one guy calling the race a little "soulless" this year. It wasn't soulless in my view, there just weren't enough people racing.

First of all, we don't race for the money, it's a very Malaysian thing having prize-money but it's not the be all and end all. I race Ironmans, Phuket tri and other Olympic Distance triathlons where there aren't any prizes at all for the amateurs, but I still race them as hundreds of others do. Therefore what I suggest is to take RM20K of the prize-money and put it towards a web-site and some marketing initiatives.

The simplest thing would be to pay something to Mr Chan as a facilitator and use his website and influence. I'd even go one step further and get Mr. Chan to manage the event as he has in recent years. (I'm sure I'm stepping on some toes now but it's coming from a good place - we all want the best possible event and that means more competitors and more streamlined organisation. Mr Chan delivers both in heaps - if memory serves me right he even uses chip timing these days!).

Sadly have to say that I have never ever ever come across an event more difficult to enter. There is no website but fortunately I was prepared, I got my secretaries to email (x2), fax (x2)and telephone (x3) my entries in and even then I was only registered for the OD race, my entry for the Sprint never made it - this story is similar for many other athletes and has been repeated many times over the years.

So there you have it - my ten cents worth. The race was not in the slightest bit spoiled by the new swim venue, despite the waves, it was just different.

The choice of race hotel and venue is perfect in terms of location, cost and staff friendliness (very athlete friendly too I must say).

Everyone in Miri as always were outstandingly friendly, a particular mention must go to Albert and Michael who did a super job and make the race worth going to just for their friendly, embracing enthusiasm.

Free transportation to and from the airport as always - this is an outstanding touch and always puts me in a wonderful mood every time a race organiser sees this as a chance to ingratiate the competitors to the race rather than a chance to rip-off the athletes (are you reading WTC?)

The police marshaling was perfect at every juncture that I encountered and I didn't hear anything to the contrary from anyone else.

Water stations were spot on and all the water I grabbed was ice-cold (a big shout out for that, it makes such a massive difference).

New transition and run course were spot on although run really should be 10k rather than 8.5k (can't believe I'm saying that).

New extended bike course was almost exactly 40k, transition to transition, well done for that (it was only 37K last year).

As I said earlier, this is a gem of a race and deserves to be one of the biggest in South East Asia, it certainly has the potential. We all owe it to ourselves and the race to be there next year (I will be) but the organisers owe it to the race, themselves and us to make entry easy, give us a website, give us online registration, do some marketing other than just distributing forms and by all means use some of the prize-money to pay for it. No one is going to complain about that, and if they do, please let me know and I'll have a word.

One final note, fix the date early so people can plan for it (put it on the website), I suggest a have the race a couple of weeks after Powerman so people can recover and they can use it as a tune-up for Phuket if they're going (it seems to work really well last year). Either way, the original date this year clashed with Powerman and the new date then clashed with Trailblazer and a Mountain bike race in Malacca.

And a final final thought, invite every one's good friend Tey along to take some of the best action sports photos around, I'm sure an AirAsia flight a hotel room and a few perks might persuade him to come and then you'd have a thousand top quality photos for the future promotion of the event and Miri!

Fingers crossed for next year and provided I'm not blacklisted after this post goes public you'll see me there again and hopefully with my "A" game.


Matty O said...

that might be the world's longest blog post. SHEESH! haha. I understand though, you had a lot to fit in there.

Great job man, you are a speed demon finishing up the olympic at right around 2hrs!

I wish they gave money out over here for racing, only the pros get paid for winning stuff.

Hopefully you continue seeing huge gains! Nice work!

Anonymous said... yr if no clash with works n other big race,will try to cover race which I never been.

as u said,the date of the race should fix earlier,it will help me n many others to plan also.

I support trailblazer,cause many sin friends treat this is annual event.

Tks for your sharing.


Brybrarobry said...

S, nice job on the races especially after being sick and the big money winnings. Out of curiousity, when you prepay the maids for a couple years with part of those winnings, do they give you a prepayment discount. haha.

In all seriousness, nice work and nice start to the season.


Simon said...

M, Thanks buddy, wasn't really that quick though, should have been a lot better but hey-ho can't win them all.

T, you're a star as always Tey, nice to see you Sunday morning by the way.

B, Thanks dude, no pre-payment discount but I do have my bikes washed as soon as I get home every day. And it's the end of the season isn't it? I hope so anyway - just one more biig race to go - Powerman next weekend.