Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Singapore

So phase 2 of the trifecta - my attempt to qualify for the three key Triathlon World Championships. Xterra Maui is in the bag after Xterra Philippines two weeks ago, now it was time for the 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas. The qualifying race of choice was Singapore and of the three events I was most confident about this one.

That was until I saw the entries. It was madness, people had flown in from every part of the known galaxy. I couldn't believe the amount of Europeans, Australians and Kiwi's and the biggest surprise of all was the Japanese contingent, it was phenomenal to see them considering the current devastation in parts of Japan. Even my old friend Iwata-san turned up. So cool.

It looked like there would be two slots in my age-group so I was going to have to have a good race to qualify.

The Swim 44mins55secs
I checked out the water and swam about 500m to warm up. Checked out the current and noted it was a severe left to right flow. So I decided to start to the left, aim left and get swept down to the mark. With almost 200 in my age-group it was important to start well. All went to plan for the first lap although swimming against the current and into the sun was a struggle.

The second lap was OK until I turned towards the shore and despite my knowledge of currents (sailing used to be my principle sport), I still got constantly swept into the rope marking the course - I was so angry with myself but still couldn't adapt sufficiently. Time was lost and together with a kick in the goggles that almost sucked out my left eye I didn't enjoy the last quarter of the swim one little bit.

T1 - 2mins39 secs
The run from the beach to T1 was about 500m, not a problem but longer than normal. Race number on, sunnies on, helmet on and I was away, I felt that it was pretty quick and certainly no mistakes so couldn't have made it any quicker.

BIKE 2hrs13mins54secs
Hello baby! Here I come! Hello Gladys actually, this was the first time I'd raced my new Trek Speed Concept and I was anticipating big things from her. My heart rate was about 10 beats per minute higher than I wanted it to be but this was a 70.3 rather than an Ironman so I gently tried to persuade it down and didn't worry about it too much. My power output was about 250(whatever the units are) but this is all new to me as I'd only used the power meter properly once before and averaged about 192 then. I had anticipated a goal of between 210 and 220. Interestingly the final number was exactly 220. Not sure whether that's good, bad or indifferent but the key is that these are numbers to use as reference points. I suspect that for an Ironman I should be aiming for 210 but time will tell.

As the first lap unfolded I knew I was going fast. I went past Disco Dave fairly early on but I was head down and ar$e up, trying to get in the zone so I missed him until I heard him yelling "Go Simon Go" and then some less savoury sounding encouragement where I think he was screaming at the cheating buggers on my tail.

One guy I caught up kept drafting me and then surging massively to get in front of me. I chuckled a little as it was clear he wasn't going to be able to keep this up. At one point he made a rotating gesture, meaning to take turns at the front. He was trying to formalise his cheating! Cheeky bugger. Every time he surged ahead I pulled well to the right to avoid his draft. As expected, half a lap later he disappeared.

I saw Terry Walsh on the course so many times and he didn't miss cheering me once, awesome Terry, thanks buddy, it was really inspiring to hear you yelling me on.

I was drinking well and taking my gels regularly which I'd promised myself to focus on. This race although important was really just preparation for Ironman China, so reinforcing things like good nutritional habits was a vital part of the exercise.

I loved the course, it was flat and fast and although it had 9 180 degree u-turns I still averaged over 40kph for the 90kms. I was very happy with that. 40.33kph to be precise.

I was pretty unhappy about how much drafting went on especially as the organisers had promised to completely eradicate it. I had about 10 people off my tail. I let them all go past at one point to make sure none of them were in my age-group. There weren't so I took to the front again and managed to drop all but about 4 of them by the end.

T2 1min15sec
Now this I was very happy with. I rarely waste time with socks for races but for a half Ironman the last thing I wanted was a half marathon with my shoes wearing holes in my feet. So socks it was and clearly I wasted very little time.

RUN 1hr37mins45secs
I was running on my limit right from the off but feeling pretty good about it. It was hot but not as crazy hot as it can be in Singapore. However, a guy in my age-group came storming past me with a camelbak on. Oh well I thought, embarrassing to be beaten by a camelbak wearer but he was going too fast for me. 3k later I caught him and never saw him again.

I was slowly drawing in two guys who left transition with me (two of the drafters). I caught them at about 5k but then they just latched onto my heels. We were going at a nice pace and passed a couple of pros (probably on their last lap I hasten to add). One of them was standing by the side throwing up, while the other muttered something (in good humour) about age groupers passing him and this not being the way it was supposed to be. 3k later and I was bonking, with the two guys on my heels meant I was either going too fast or my mind was weak and I was being psyched out. So I tried to play smart and stopped at the next drinks station, grabbed loads to drink an then tucked in 100m behind them.

Lap 1 was eventually done, blimey, that was a long way. A few guys recognised me and cheered me, that was so awesome, I didn't even know anyone from KL were spectating and to spot me and cheer was such a HUGE lift. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Also Terry was now at the run course and cheering me every chance he got. I'm not sure how much people cheering realise they're helping, specially when people like me have a blank expression and can barely acknowledge them but let me tell you IT IS MASSIVE! I do always try to acknowledge, smile and say something back UNLESS... I am really hurting and digging deep just to stay in it. That's where I was now!!!!

I so so so wanted to stop and walk, I hadn't tapered for the race (part of the plan), I wasn't fit enough for this sort of effort, I wasn't even close to being down to race weight etc etc, these points were all true but so what, I was the one that chose to be here, this was about China, this was about re-experiencing the pain (sorry, extreme discomfort, we don't use the word pain)...so lots of negative thoughts and lots of positives to try to reinforce. Every few metres was now a mental and physical battle, I just had to keep "resetting" my mind. But how many times could I do that until it broke? Bad question to ask, don't ask that question, I chastised myself for the 100th time, focus, refocus, reset, refocus...

I caught one of the drafters and left him behind. The other one was long gone. It was just a matter of time now, the finish was coming to me, soon I'd be turning right into the finish chute. And there it was, a quick look behind, didn't want to spoil the day by being pipped to the post. All clear. OK now look strong for the cameras, time to pretend how easy it was hahahaha.

I hung out with Jacob, Jean Pierre and Mark from Team Supersonic Biscuit at the finish. Jean Pierre had run past me as an impressive speed, he did the half marathon in 1hr15mins (his PB is 61mins), I was grabbing a drink at the time and thought "Oh no he thinks I'm walking" haha my ego is at work even then. They were stoked to have finished in 2nd place after Jabob and Mark's solid swim and bike and then JP's awesome run.

Shilpa messengered me that I was 3rd. I must admit, I was disappointed. I'd had a good race, my swim and run hadn't been as good as I'd have liked but I still thought I'd done enough to win. As it turns out the 1st place guy was 8mins30secs ahead of me, so you can't argue with that and the 2nd place guy was a minute and a half ahead and I never saw him, so fair enough. I thought I might get a chance of a roll down spot for the Worlds but realised I didn't have my wallet so set off on a mad dash to the hotel on the bike. I was soon lost and after trying for ages failed to flag a taxi down. In the end I managed to call one on the phone and he picked me up from the middle of nowhere.

I showered, packed, paid the bill and checked out in 9 minutes and was back at the race by 4:30pm. Disco Dave announced that I had qualified as my age-group was so big there were three spots, he then said with a big smile but you are 4 minutes too late! OMG! He then had a little chuckle and introduced me to David Cheam. Neither Dave nor I had ever met David before but he knew Lydia and had volunteered (with a bit of encouragement from Dave) to pay for my Worlds spot. HOW COOL IS THAT? What a great bloke, thank you David, there aren't many people in the world that would pay several hundred dollars on behalf of a total stranger.

All said and done, what a great weekend. Mission accomplished and Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas here I come. Having said that, this pales into insignificance compared to my principle goal this year of qualifying for the Ironman Worlds in Kona. I took a lot away from this race, I need to triple my focus in my running and swimming and I need to get down to my goal race weight. Clearly I'm a long way from where I need to be, IMChina will expose any weakness and magnify it tenfold. But then this race was all about a reference check, I just need to respond to the knowledge gained. As my buddy Rocky so eloquently put it "I hope you eventually catch the bus that you are training so hard to run for". Haha, yes baby, I'm gonna catch that bus for sure.

PS The guy on the left is our age-group winner - does he look like he's only 25 years old or what?!!! Fast and looks young, lucky son of a... I guess I'll just have to be content with being prettier...no comments needed, I know, I know.


Matty O said...

HAHA, I would have never pegged him in your age group!!!

Man, what a recap, felt like I was there with you.

I HATE DRAFTERS! That really pissed me off when we did our 70.3 last year, sooooo many people drafting. I like how you toyed with them though and I agree, they will get dropped, they are drafting for a reason, they have not trained hard enough.

I agree with you 100% with the cheering remarks you made, for a moment you forget about all the pain and hurt you are digging for and you are elated that people are cheering for you!

2 out of 3, lets make this a SWEEP!!!

jantel said...

Nice write up Simon. Man that is a fast bike split !!!!!!!! I know the straight stretch next to Changi is always fast ONE way as their is usually a wind coming from Changi Village in the morning making the initial 6km into a slight headwind. But with 9-180's that is seriously fast ! I actually rode ON the course until the stretch with the metal bars, with participants, to get to the run course.I must say it felt good to fly past everybody so fast :) butthen again I had NOT ridden 80km's already nor swan 1.9 NOR needed to spare any energy for the run !!! Very interested to continually hear your views/reports about usage of power as you become more used to it.Congrats mate on a highly efficient race that will surely set you upnicely for China. Terry

JohnP said...


That's amazing that a complete stranger stepped up for you. That is a crazy story! You lucky bastard! lol :)

Your swim time sucked, you could easily take 5 minutes off that eh. :)
HOW THE F*CK DO YOU BIKE THAT FAST? WOW!!! I'm blown away by your bike, what is your secret? How many hrs biking do you train? Weights? Hidden motor?? lol Seriously though, I want to go as fast as you!
Respectable run for sure. Love the way you told the story, thats funny about passing the pro's :)

Oh and your T2 time is unbelievable. What a great race, you really put together an awesome performance! I'm so happy for you!

You are going to kick ass in China!

Seriously though, wtf are you using for a training program to get that kind of bike performance?! I want in on this!

Congrats, well deserved!

Azman said...

like i said, can't wait to read your Kona story. stuff of legends. congratulations simon.

Simon said...

M, thanks buddy, sounds like we are quite likeminded, espcially about drafters.

T, Thanks and yeah loved the bike course, just need some serious draft busters next time around.

J, Thanks but hey look at everyone elses swim time. Yeah I suck but it wasn't that bad and still in the top 20-30% overall which is pretty good for me. The course had a wicked current and may or may not have been long, point is that everyone's swm was several minutes slower than they expected.

I've emailed you the training plan, did you get it?

A, thanks dude, I need to qualify first but there'll be one hell of a write up for sure if I do get there.