Monday, November 5, 2012

The Malakoff Powerman Duathlon Asian Championships 2012

I've heard about the Powerman, a duathlon event, since 2 years ago, and have been keen to try it someday, but somehow could never find the right time to do it. You see, apart from running marathons and some other shorter races, I've also been joining ultra trail marathons and just last month, a triathlon in Miri. 

There were a few events scheduled for the first weekend of November. Some of my friends have opted to run the Taroko Gorge Marathon. Another friend, Teo Chen Lung, was lucky enough to secure a place in the New York City Marathon—well, lucky, that is, until last Friday when the event was cancelled when Teo was already there in New York. Then, of course, there's the Powerman. But I've planned to do the Powerman since a few months ago; so last Saturday I arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Putrajaya on the eve of the event.

I took a bus to the race venue (arranged by the organiser) at about 5am the next morning. When I arrived there, I was surprised to see the transition area; it must have been about 100m long of 6 lanes bike racks. By about 6:30am, the sea of bicycles was just amazing. I met John Chin and together we walked to the starting line for the run leg. As we were chatting, we saw Tey Eng Tiong walking with his intimidating cameras. I called out to him and he took this photo of us (Thanks Tey).

 Now I'm not sure why, but I'm not a very lucky person when it comes to photos. You see, in most of these events, there will be bound to be many cameramen around taking random photos of the participants. Out of the many thousands of photos taken, I'd be lucky if I could find one or two of mine in action during the race. Sometimes, some of my friends would bring along their own cameras, and I would have my photos taken either before or after the race, but I very rarely get my photos taken during the race. And even if I did get my photo taken, they won't be good shots anyway!

It was still kinda dark then; the sun was just about to rise, and it seemed like it was gonna be a hot sunny day. Shortly after that, Anslem, Amy and Veron also arrived at the starting line. We waited for a few minutes and then we were duly flagged off.

I started with a 6 minutes' pace and gradually worked my way to a nice 5.5 minutes' pace. I felt quite good throughout that run. We had to make two of the 5.7km loop. And when I came passing by the checkpoint after the first loop, I had this photo taken of me.

 It's not really a great shot, as I'd like a shot of the whole body. But then again, considering my luck—or rather the lack of it—I guess I should be thankful that at least I have my photo taken (Thanks Janice Chan)!

I completed that run leg in just a little over an hour, and I was quite happy with that time. I felt I could have done it faster, but decided against it, as the bike leg was next, and cycling is not my strong discipline. I spent a minute or two changing my shoes, putting on my helmet, and then drinking my electrolyte concoction. Then I was off with my bike.

Once I was on my bike, my legs felt awkward. I have never trained the transition from running to cycling. But I built up my speed gradually. And then about 15km into the bike leg, while I was climbing a slope, suddenly both my calves seized up. I panicked for a bit. I slowed down to relax. I was thinking that if I couldn't overcome the cramps, that could be the end of my race. Fortunately, the cramps passed after a few kilometres, and I was again able to build up my pace.

The bike leg comprised undulating terrains. It was along a highway, and although I don't particularly like rolling hills, I thought this was a good course, as it would have been a boring ride if it were flat surface throughout.

I'm not very experienced when it comes to bicycles. I've often been asked specific questions about my bike, and almost inevitably bombastic technical words would be used—such as "group set" (which has nothing to do with any groups of cyclists) and cleats (which sounds a little obscene)—and I would have to reluctantly say that I have no idea what they're talking about! As far as I'm concerned, I pedal and the wheels turn, I move forward, and that's all that matters!

For this event, the bike leg was supposed to be a "non-drafting" race. I wasn't really well-versed about the definition of that rule, but apparently a cyclist is not allowed to be within 10m behind another cyclist in front of him. I was kinda worried about that rule. But I found that it's not so easy to ride and abide by that rule religiously since there were so many cyclists during the bike leg. But I played safe by trying my best to keep my distance checked all the time. Two cyclists crashed into each other behind me as evidenced by the loud noise, but I didn't stop to investigate what actually happened. I merely made a quick turn and saw them sprawled on the ground with the bikes flung a few metres away.

Well, it took me a little over 2 hours to finish the 64km ride, and by the time I arrived at the transition area again, my quads were already totally spent. I spent a little longer, taking my time to change my shoes once again, taking off  my helmet and putting on a cap. Both legs were stiff. There were many people in the transition area, but I wasn't paying attention on them. I merely started running.

That final 11.4km run was extremely tough, and I had to slow down to a walk many times in between slow jogs. Along the way, I could see many photographers, and I was hoping that someone would take my photo, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.

As I reached the halfway point, passing the checkpoint again, I saw Tey from afar with his bunch of cameras. I was thinking this would be a good opportunity to get my photo taken. Although in pain and exhaustion, I somehow found the courage to appear strong. Tey was busily clicking his cameras, but as I was approaching nearer, suddenly Tey's camera changed direction as if pulled by a strong magnetic force beyond his control. And as I got into perfect view and perfect distance for a good shot with my most handsome pose, his camera was already clicking on a different object. I turned my head, following the direction of Tey's camera and saw the source of that magnetic was stronger than the force of the dark side of Star Wars' fame...

Well, I guess I shouldn't be complaining, because she's obviously much prettier than me! I abandoned my brave running posture and continued my torture for a final 5.7km lap. I lost count of how many times I doused water over my head, but as I got closer and closer to the finish line, my excitement grew. I ran the entire 500m or so to the finish line. And as I was approaching the finish line, I saw Tey once again. By then I could hardly keep my body straight, but what the heck; all I could think of then was to cross that finish line!

That's me on the left—the one who appears to have no back bone to keep the body straight. I looked much more presentable and macho at the starting line, I swear!

According to my Garmin, I finished in 4 hours 33 minutes. And this is the medal that I've added into my collection. 

I'm not sure yet what on earth I wanna do with all those medals I have collected up to now, but I suppose I'll worry about them when I'm 60 years old.

After the race, and while waiting for my transport to the airport, I had the opportunity to chit chat with the Race Director, Melody Tan.

She did a very good job organising this event. I was given to understand that last year the Powerman had about 1,000 participants in Sri Manjung, but this year it had attracted over 1,800 participants. I must congratulate Melody for an awesome event! It's a different flavour from the usual marathons and ultra marathons that I've joined before. I enjoyed it very much. If I can find the time, I'd like to come back for another attempt to achieve a faster finishing time next year.


Juin Yi Ng said...

Congratulations on the run! My friend thought he heard your name being called out on stage at the prize-giving ceremony, but I couldn't find you anywhere.

Me and my friends, being the only newbie around, finished an embarrassing 6-hour. Personally I find it very taxing to run directly under the sun, as most of the time I was left very dehydrated. My friend the first-leg runner was so intimidated by all the runners, because it seems that we were the only team to be wearing the racing kit!

On an unrelated note, though the New York City Marathon was cancelled last-minute, some of the runners still headed for the starting line not to run, but to help out the local residents to clean their houses after the Sandy superstorm. So proud of them. :')

Cornelius said...

Merci!...If I could turn back the clock to at least 25 years ago, and then train extremely hard, maybe I would have a slim chance of winning something, Juin Yi Ng. Not with this old body. Who knows maybe in my next life, I will make it a point to start training seriously in my teens!... haha!

I can understand the embarrassment of a 6-hour finish, because that is human nature. When I was setting up my bike that morning, I felt embarrassed too when I saw all those expensive hi-tech bikes around mine! But actually, it doesn't really matter. You try your best and you achieve your best for the day. Never mind the 6 hours. Keep training and hope to improve in another race. Racing and finishing in 6 hours is still much better than sitting on the couch watching others achieving that 6 hours on your tv while eating popcorns!

Regarding the NYC Marathon, I was just saying to a friend recently; I think the organiser had already arrived at the decision to cancel the event immediately after Sandy struck. But they did not announce the event cancelled. I think they had too much to lose if they did. It's been estimated that the NYC Marathon could generate as much as USD340 million, so just imagine how much money they would lose if they had announced the cancellation earlier. No, they had to insist that the event would proceed. And when the foreign participants had already arrived in New York, only then they would announce that the event is cancelled. I think they had no choice but to do that, as if they had cancelled it earlier, many people would not have come. Airlines, hotels, restaurants and so many other businesses would lose. USD340 million is a lot of money, you know!

anakpanyu said...

Congrats. I guess your time was faster than me. I was having problem with my stomach during the 2nd run. I think you overtook me on the 2nd run.

Congrats again. job well done.

Nick Arthur said...

Congrats! A nicely written review.

Cornelius said...

Hi Bahar (anakpanyu),

That second running leg is the nightmare for most participants, I think. I had cramps in both quads by then. I think it's a matter of fine-tuning the level of exertion for each leg. It takes a bit of practice I guess until we get the perfect combination. I'm pleasantly surprised that this was a very enjoyable event. Will try to get more of my friends from KK to join next year!

Cornelius said...

Thanks, Nick, for your kind words. And congrats to you too. Why not try the individual event next year? There is always a first time for everything!