0320hr , we got up to start preparing to leave home. Jaime whipped up a hearty breakfast which I gobbled up 5mins. Drove over to pick up Garick (yeh! Another supporter) and headed to Changi Ferry Terminal. Closest carpark was a 2km walk away so we took a nice slow stroll to the reporting area. I unpacked my stuff and set up my mini “convenience store” at the transition area. Body marking was done by Zebra markers at about 0530hr so we had plenty of time to relax before Flag Off at 0700. It started to drizzle a little so i went back to my transition spot, folding the groundsheet over in futile attempt to keep my stuff dry. Met Arthur and Mark later on, chit chat a little, then headed to the beach to warm up a bit. Changi Beach is the start of a narrow channel so the sea was calm, being quite “shielded” from the swells that you get at ECP.
Started a little later (0715hr) as we were waiting for an all-clear from the lifeguards cruising parallel to the buoys. It was a relatively small wave for the first flag off in the Mega Distance category; I entered around 3/4 towards the back of the lot. There wasn’t much jostling about and almost everyone was swimming front crawl. My adrenaline was all pumped up and I was struggling to get into a good position, at the same time trying to navigate to the next marker when I suddenly found myself near-hyperventilating, probably over exerted myself from all that excitement in the first 5 minutes! Gosh, for awhile my mind was trying to calm itself while my lungs were desperately drawing deep breaths uncontrollably.. i decided to switch to breast stroke to regain composure and build up confidence. That was a really bad scare.
Steadily, I picked up a good rhythm and continued following some guys along the way. Throughout this segment, it seemed as though I didn’t overtake anyone; in fact quite a lot of guys from the other categories were overtaking me. My morale was soon getting washed away by the heavy drizzle, but I knew I couldn’t swim any faster lest I get that semi-heart attack feeling again.
For the rest of the swim it was at a slightly faster than leisure pace, just focusing on completing four rounds. Got out of the water at about 1:14 (all these are watch times, unofficial). Pretty happy with it actually! I had estimated at 1:20. Noteworthy: do a proper warmup OR start out slowly and built my momentum from there.
Slow jogged to my bike to find everything (groundsheet and stuff) still there, with shoes and socks dry, YES! Dried and powdered my feet, I really wanted to be very comfortable as it was the first time racing this distance.
Started the ride pretty comfortably. The plan was HR at 145-150bpm, and I stuck to it throughout the whole course. Only spiked a little to 160bpm when I was overtaking some guys. With an average speed of 31km/h, I was actually pretty satisfied until people started overtaking me one by two by three….by that i mean, a whole lot of people. These are guys wearing the same color tags (same category) as me, so I was either getting lapped on the course or the second wave swimmers are now overtaking me. Arthur would later lap me once (gosh I’m that slow) at my 6th (of 8) lap.
I decided to just keep with the plan – doing 150bpm, eating at every 50mins, 2nd meal would be a Clif bar and the rest would be gels. There were 2 drink stations with volunteers handing out bottles of water or Pocari. I think they were lucky that it was drizzling and there weren’t many thirsty riders that day. Nonetheless, they did a great job successfully handing out bottles to speeding cyclists!
Halfway through the ride, i had a harrowing experience when a rider came way too close and nearly shoved me into the gutter. I also saw a clearly-experienced racer drafting behind his friend, despite having vigilant marshals patrolling the whole bike route. He was sucking that guy’s wheel for quite a fair bit till he ran out of energy to keep up. It is with such disappointment to see such poor sportsmanship.
At one point, I looked around and saw a guy knelt face towards the running track in sheer agony of helplessness, probably surpassing all that physical pain in him. To see someone reduced to that state during this time made me resolute to stick to my racing strategy.
With the guys whizzing past me, I felt like a grandpa on wheels. Finally I finished the 102km ride in 3:21 which was definitely faster than the estimated 3:40. It must have been the airport runway-flat route with very little wind that made it a smooth ride. The slight drizzle was rather refreshing and I didn’t had to drink that much. My loyal supporters, Jaime and Garick, braved the rain to cheer me on and that made a whole lot of difference in this lonely wet race.
Got my running shoes on, packed my gels and off I went….with a pretty full bladder.
Was looking for a toilet…argghhh! So tempted to dash into the bushes for a pee when I finally found a porta-loo and spent a good 2 minutes inside. I think I offloaded almost 1kg of pee in there!
Met Arthur along the run, which he should’ve been at least 7km in front of me..and increasing. Alas, Mark rode into a pothole and burst a tyre. Despite having to push his bike back to transition with a heavy heart, his fighting spirit told him to carry on his run. Well, we all learn from experiences, next time he will be an expert in changing flats. Getting a flat should be one of the most common problems in a race.
Along this segment, I ran past a guy on a wheelchair and gave him a high five. Respect!
Warning : technical stuff ahead 😛
Race plan was 5:30 or 155-160bpm. I chose 155bpm which gave me a shocking 5:07min/km (super fast). Technically my marathon pace was 5:26 with an average 164bpm. Was wondering why I could go so fast at this HR, only later (15km after) I realised that I couldn’t go any higher. I was pushing as hard as I could and could only get my HR to 160bpm and my speed was slowing down to almost 6min/km towards the end. I finished the run with an average 5:26min/km with 156bpm. All these sound so technical and confusing, but I’ve come to enjoy analysing this kind of data, especially because I know exactly how I feel at every point of the race and can compare this with numerical data from my watch. From this, I learnt that after 4.5hrs into the race, my heart was so tired that this was all it could do. For the same fitness level but on a longer distance (i.e. ironman), my heartrate would be much lower and I’ll probably have to walk in the marathon.
Was so happy doing the last lap of the run that I didn’t even bother (also couldn’t stand) to eat gels anymore. Saved my last bit of energy to throw a smile and raise my arms as I crossed the finish line at 7:09. Was handed my finishers medal, a bottle of Pocari and a warm welcome from Jaime!
From the set up of the event, you could tell it’s not some big-time race like Standard Chartered Marathon or Cold Storage (previously OSIM) triathlon. There were constructive criticisms thrown around on how the event was planned, with many areas for improvement; I thought it was pretty decent, given the limited resources they had. I’m sure they will take the feedback positively and do an even better one next time.
Friends have been congratulating me on my completion of the race and asking how I felt. I was really happy with the results as it was much faster than planned for; but also a tad bit disappointed as I thought I was the last few in my category, after being overtaken by so many cyclist on the bike course. My morale was really hitting rock bottom on the bike course, even more so scraping what’s left of it when I was mostly alone in the run with no one in sight to overtake.
Results are out (
23 27 Jan) and I am ranked at 13th 11th 12th out of 42 racers in my category. Pretty decent leh!! hahaha. Maybe I saw the wrong bib color of the guys overtaking me. Triathlon is an individual sport and you often hear people say, “run your own race”. Everyone has goals and expectations in a race, these are things that make up the motivation to perform and train harder.
Lastly, I would like to thank Garick for taking all the newsprint worthy shots during the race and Jaime for cheering me for the whole morning and afternoon. Supporters make all the difference in a challenging race like this. Thank you so much for being there.