Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phuket Thailand Ironman 70.3

Pre Race
December 4th was registration and checkin. The flight left around 8:00AM HKT bound for Phuket Thailand. Prior to departure, I bought 4-500ml water and drank almost all of it. I want to avoid cramping as much as possible. My bikebox is also quite large and going foward, the airplane carrier - DragonAir will assess a $500HKD fee for transporation :(.

The plane landed 3 and half hours later, I had some initial issues with the hotel transportation. I totally forgot that I should have inquired about a van instead of a car. At first the driver wasn't going to take us and suggested spending another 800Baht for the box, but eventually he found some rope and was able to tie down the trunk carrying my bikebox.

An hour later, we I arrived at Banyan Tree Hotel. Once the luggage came, I quickly (or thought I could quickly) setup my bike and tri gear. It took much longer than anticipated, but without any issues. Our suite is right next to the run course at marker 9/19km. So, I should be able to get some good pictures for my lovely photographer and wife!

Finally, I left at 2:21 with my new blue seventy tri-bag and my Cervelo tri-bike. It's only 1-2km down the road. I saw quite a few people practicing with their bikes getting their last spin in. I met up with another person who help lead me to the registration. After getting my pre-race packet, I entered the bike mechanic depot. I asked them to look at my tires and crank. The guy did some tuning and I thought I was good to go. My fellow training buddy, Danny, came over from the 800m algae infested pond and noticed that I had a tire on the back of my water bottle cage but no inner tube. So, off I went to purchase an inner tube inside. When I came back, he was looking a my shifting cable that goes inside down tube and noticed it being frayed. I had another bike mechanic who appeared to be more experienced replace the cables.

Race Preparation

The dynamics of a triathlon is so more exciting than just a run from point A - point B. Anything can happen and usually it's a "bad" thing. I woke up several times that night just from excitement jitters. I finally rose out of bed at 4:00AM. This is normal for me since this is my usual time throughout the year. My usual routine is to have some oatmeal before a race and hydrate the body. I walked to the lobby and took the free bus to the transition area. Once arriving, the volunteers were marking up numbers for the participants. Then into the transition area, I met Danny who was prepping his bicycle which is right next to mine. After double checking the kit, we headed by boat over the lagoon to the starting line at 5:25AM, 1 hour and 45 minutes before the start of the race. At the beach, everyone was standing around waiting for the start. There were only a very few athletes at this point was warming up. Once the morning light came through, it proved that today would be a very cloudy and humid. Danny and I jumped into the water at 6:06AM to do a few strokes and get the jitters out. The salt water sea had a glassy metallic look to it with an occasional tidal wave splashing onto the beach. The warm water visibility wasn't crystal clear, yet you could easily see your toes. Less than 15 minute warmup, we were back on land with about another 15 minutes to go behind the ironman gate to form up behind the chip mat. Right at 7:00, the professionals started the race. With 30 seconds left to go for age groups 18-39 male, I pressed the garmin watch realizing that the race hadn't quite started. I tried to put it into multi-mode, but somehow it didn't happen and I wouldn't be able to record the swim course.

Swim Course 1.9km: 52:22

As the bull horn sounded off, the small jog to the water was the beginning of my first Ironman 70.3. After 30 seconds of jogging and moving upright in the sea until the water reached my hips, the swimming (plus many arms and legs thrashing) began. After a minute and a half, I would say there were only around a dozen breast strokers behind me. It seemed that with every stroke I took, there was multiple smacks to someone's leg or back. 15 minutes later and 600m at the first buoy turn, the water turned more clear to witness jellyfish in the distance underneath. Being slow has its benefits since all the other swimmers move them out of the way. Now the pink caps are approaching with a few yellow breast strokers behind me. It took another 5 and half minutes for the next bouy which is 200m away. Hitting the shoreline was somewhat uncoordinated since I felt I wasn't moving quite straight. I also thought I was closer to the bottom then I realized and tried to stand up where there was no support. Finally then, 1300m and 35 minutes later, I completed the Andaman Sea swim. The color caps mainly were pink and green with one other yellow cap in view behind me. It took a minute and 12 seconds after standing upright to get out onto the beach. It took around 30 seconds to climb the small dune, passing the chip mat and then running down into the algae infested lagoon. Very close to the finish of the lagoon swim, I started getting cramps in my left leg. I'm not sure why this is continuing to happen since I took my minerals and drank plenty of water. Another issue I had was I was about 5 meters off to the right. This forced me to pull on the rope which help me get out onto the ramp but cost me 45 seconds. Luckily, I was able to beat the last 2 yellow caps out which means I've never was in last place yet on the swim... 

Transition 1 (T1): 2:57
After struggling out of the water, I jogged into the transition area to grab my bike bag from the rack. I pulled out my race belt and then headed toward the changing room. I entered into the room wondering why am I here. So, I race back out with the bag. After 5 meters of realizing I still have the race bag, I ran back and threw it into the tent. Realizing I was pretty much close to last place, I had some major work on the bike section. The bike racks were completely empty except for a scattered of bikes here and there. I took the bike off the rack and put the helmet onto my head. Before exiting the transition area, I didn't tie my strap and had to stop. That took me 7 seconds to secure and it seemed forever.

Bike: 3:15:25

I will have to say it's amazing how much time you can make up in the transition area. I believe I figured out how to get onto the bike quickly with only 3 seconds before I was pedalling. I think the key is don't put your feet into the shoes until you have bike speed. Standing there at the line is a waste of time and even if you have some of your feet into the clip, you are moving forward vs standing still. There was a guy who was fiddling with his clip for a good 10 seconds. Within 2 minutes on the bike riding on a paved bumpy road out of Laguna Beach Resort, I was able to overtake Seow Eng Ong#587 Wai Mun Kok#294 both from Singapore and Arthur Tan Chu#566 and Arthur Go Ifurung #528 both from Philippines. My initial speed was around 35kph but the roads were very bumpy. I past school children who would be yelling and clapping. I felt like I was back in Laos for a second. It really provided a good morale boost after a slow swim. In the first 11 minutes, I was able to pass all 22 cyclist but two riders:

(OT) - Overtaken
#312 Jeroen Van Cauwenberghe - Dubai,
#668 Kathryn Rymarz - Thailand,
#740 Monique Strange - Dubai,
#528(OT) Arthur Go Ifurung,
#575 , Craig Ros - Jakarta
#294(OT) Wai Mun Kok,
#312(OT) Jeroen Van Cauwenberghe - Dubai,
#130 Ivan Saltano Kiagoes - Indonesia,
#560 Bradley William Segal - Vietnam,
#312 Jeroen Van Cauwenberghe,
#284 Tommy Yau Heng Ho Yau - Singapore,
#362 Eng Boon Tan - Singapore,
#447 Wee-Haur Pek - Singapore ,
#450 Alexander Geiss - Germany,
#121 David Mayes - Phuket Thailand,
#624 Garry Browne - Australia,
#651 Steve Brown - Australia,
#737 Iphigenia Dawn Johnson - Thailand,
#722 Suzanne Newton - Dubai,
#723 Nicola Hoey - Australia,
#90 John Richard Wolf - USA

Then around 7km there was an extreme left turn, I veered into the right lane and unfortunately I was going too fast. My mind is shouting at me to get back onto the left side but there were a lot of cyclists and a tri-bike isn't the easiest to make quick turns. As I mentioned before, the road was very bumpy and I thought turning would be better than hitting the breaks hard. I was wrong and I was side-swiped by a moped coming right at me. At this moment, I'm thinking to myself - why the hell is there traffic on this course? My bike and I went down hard leaning towards the right! I was sprawled onto the road and within seconds, I quickly got back onto my feet. I assessed the situation first: my body was bleeding on my right ankle and right elbow. I scurried to collect all my crap that fell off: water bottle, inner tube, camera. I assumed the bike in general was fine checking the frame and wheels. It felt forever trying to put back the camera onto the bike, I just couldn't leave it there and it had to be secured properly or otherwise it would just fall off later. A women that I passed earlier either Suzzane or Nicole shouted out, 'Are you OK?' as she whizzed past. After, collecting all my personal gear and brushing off the dirt, I hopped back onto the bike to determine if I would be able to continue 83km more. In a normal situation, I probably would feel the pain on the right side of my extremedies, but I was focused now to just finish and call it a day. Through my checklist of movable parts on the bike, I realized that the bike was infact damaged. It included the aerobar which loosened, and the front derailer prevented the gears to use the big chainring. I wasn't about to spend any effort in fixing it and I knew that going up the hills would be very difficult especially with some places over 14% grade. I lost about 3 and half minutes, but luckily I knew I could finish the race. Overall the crash definately impacted my concentration and the big climbs.

The second dismount was intentionally and required by the course to go up a ramp and over an expressway and back down. I knew it was coming, but wasn't quite sure when. Unfortunately, as I saw the official to turn to the left, the stop came quick. I didn't have time to remove my feet from the shoes, so I had one shoe on and one shoe off going up the ramp. I knew when coming back I would fix this problem and I would make sure my transition would be smoother and faster. Exiting the ramp provided everyone refreshments and another long stretch of road passing rubber trees before the big climb.

At 42K, I started the first major climb of the course.  I knew from studying the elevation profile that it was short in duration so I had no intention to go easy.  I downshifted completely in my one and only gear but it didn't work so well, my shoe came off and that was it for the uphill ascent on my bike. I felt cheated by myself knowing that I can easily ride up this grade with no issue even sitting down with the training I have been doing on Tai Mo Shan (0-->930m altitude). It was really saddening because almost everyone was dismounting to walk their bikes up the climb. There were few riders at my position who completed the climb in the saddle and unfortunately I wasn't one of them. Well, no need to cry a river; back on the bike with the descent back down.  Being in the small gear gave me more issues with my legs, they would start cramping up which I was forced to stop pedalling and coast while I stretched them.

Back to the overpass and this time I got it right. I was out of my shoes before the dismount and had my right leg near the left pedal. It went extremely smooth and I was able to pass 2 guys on the 'jog', but quickly had to stop while there was a bunch of guys slowly descending the ramp.

At around 75 km, my aerobar became even more unstable and whenever there was a bump, it would push down towards the front wheel making it my ride unpleasant and quite scary as I was afraid I would fall again. I would have to pull the aerobar up towards me and lean back whenever I saw a bump ahead. All together my final time on the bike was 3:15:25. I won't use 'could have, should have'. In the sport of triathlon, anything can happen and it's all part of the race.

Transition 2 (T2) 2:11
I was so happy to have dismounted the bike and run into the transition area. I quickly grabbed my stuff from the run bag and left the bag on the rack. From dealing with the bags in the morning, I realized it would be foolish to tie them, so I just left it open and attached it to the hook. I think this was a great idea since it help saved time using Danny as a reference point. I was able to trim 31 seconds on T2 compared to Danny. I have so much more technology crap to deal with so I am pleased with my transition.

Run: 2:05:46

My run was such a disappointment. I started off and ran the first km under 5 minutes. The next 4 were also around 5 minutes, but after I got a few cold icy sponges and drank some coke (maybe 2) to cool me off, I started to walk the water stations. It was heaven in disguise. I just didn't have the energy or motivation to continue at a fast pace and mid 5 minute/low 6. After 7km, the last 14km was at a slow 6-6:30 minute/km. Once I saw Danny at the point, I did my math and realized that with the heat, humid and cramps - I will have to revise my training tactics to rebuild a stronger athlete.

Post Race: 6:18:41
This is life in the triathlon world. You learn to deal with last minute issues and unexpected happenings. I actually enjoyed this race for all its issues. I will be looking for a much better time in March when I compete in the Singapore Ironman 70.3. After getting my medal and congratulating Danny, I headed over to the medic tent to get cleaned up from my war wounds and then over for a quick massage. I will see by next week if this event made me stronger. I just hope I can figure out how to get strong after the run. I was told it has to do with bike fitness... btw, after going to my bike shop, it also appears that my seat post was down more than 1 inch.

TOTAL SWIM1.9 km (52:22)2:44/100m55685
BIKE SPLIT 1: 43.5 km43.5 km (1:34:39)12.17 km/h
BIKE SPLIT 2: 90 km46.5 km (4:10:44)11.13 km/h
TOTAL BIKE90 km (3:15:25)27.63 km/h45776
RUN SPLIT 1: 1.7 km1.7 km (7:47)4:34 km/h
RUN SPLIT 2: 3.2 km1.5 km (9:01)6:00 km/h
RUN SPLIT 3: 6.3 km3.1 km (17:46)5:43 km/h
RUN SPLIT 4: 10.55 km4.25 km (25:45)6:03 km/h
RUN SPLIT 5: 12.25 km1.7 km (9:32)5:36 km/h
RUN SPLIT 6: 13.75 km1.5 km (10:27)6:58 km/h
RUN SPLIT 7: 16.85 km3.1 km (20:01)6:27 km/h
RUN SPLIT 8: 21.1 km4.25 km (25:27)5:59 km/h
TOTAL RUN21.1km (2:05:46)5:59/km36559
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