Monday, November 11, 2013

Malakoff Powerman Duathlon Asian Championship 2013

Perhaps this comes a little late, but I’m presently up against a bit of laziness in blogging. I was trying to search for some of my photos during the event, and then when I eventually found some, I somehow did not have the mood to blog. Instead, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time surfing the net, playing online games, as well as trying very hard to keep up with my training!

Anyway, I returned to the Powerman this year with some of my friends, including Teo Chen Lung, Paul Lee, John Chin, Hana Harun and Judy Liew. Anslem and Amy also joined again this year. Another friend, Aldillah from Labuan, also joined. Douglas was supposed to have joined too, but he had to withdraw at the last minute. A few days before the event, I was told that Doug had arranged with the organizer to give his slot to Ahmadul Tahir. Of course Ahmadul doesn’t need any introduction; most endurance athletes in Malaysia would have heard of him. He’s been in the business of endurance sports like forever. Although he’s racing the veteran category, and not training as hard as he used to, he’s still an athlete to be reckoned with!

After setting up our bikes on the eve of the event, we had a short ride to the race venue. On the way back to the hotel, however, Hana had a puncture in her rear wheel. Teo had to offer his spare tube and Ahmadul helped with the chores. The rest of us took turns helping to pump the tyre. That night, there was some excitement as they tried so hard to search for spare tubes for the race. Hana and Judy had spare tubes for the race too, although I don’t know why. I mean, Hana didn’t even know how to detach her rear wheel, let alone change the tube which was inside that wheel. And even if she did know how to, she did not have a CO2 or hand pump to inflate the tyre anyway. But of course women are not meant to be understood anyway, so I’ll leave it at that lah!

Well, it was still dark when we started from the hotel to the race venue the next day, arriving there with about half an hour to spare. We duly pushed our bikes to the respective spots within the transition area and prepared our stuff for the transitions. Then, since I had a few minutes left before the flag off, I decided to visit the toilet. To my horror, there were long queues at the toilets. A number of them in my group were also there in the queues, especially Hana who’s cursed with that curious bouts of diarrhea when excited. I sometimes wonder if she’d get that same reaction when sexually excited, but there was no time to think of all those—as I emerged from the portable toilet, it was already countdown for the flag off. As I was rushing to the starting line, and Hana was still daydreaming in the toilet, the start horn went off, and a huge procession of excited athletes passed the starting arch. 

My friend Teo, who’s training for an Ironman race next year, was supposed to be in the crowd, but I did not see him. For the benefit of those who’re new to this blog, Teo has a special talent in conjuring up killer face expressions during his races. Check out his half marathon finish in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon earlier this year as reported here. And here are some shots of him in the recent RHB 10km run in KK. 

However, for Powerman, he’s determined to start slower—a strategy which he had hoped could stretch him long enough to survive the last running leg without walking. You see, he raced the Desaru Half Ironman distance last year, and had to walk almost the entire half marathon at the end. He wanted it to be different this time! 

 I started the run with what I felt was a decent pace of about 5min/km, but about 3km into the race, I realized that I was running a little too fast. Accordingly, I slowed down slightly. It was a humid morning and it didn’t take very long for my sweat to drip like a leaking tap! The following photo was taken just as I completed the first loop (thanks Mohan), and I was still feeling fresh then. 

 I eventually finished the 11km run in about 56 minutes, and was still feeling fine. 

While in the transition area, I saw Amy finishing her run. I took my time changing my shoes, putting on my helmet and ate an energy gel, before pushing my bike out of the transition area. But once I was on my bike, I swiftly built up speed. The plan was to maintain an average of about 31-32kph for the bike leg. But in order to achieve that average, I would have to hit approximately 35-37kph on flat roads as I was expecting to slow down substantially when climbing some hills. However, my calves seized up on one of the climbs about 20 mins into the bike leg, and I had to slow down a bit. But later I increased my speed again to achieve my 31-32 kph target. 

Unfortunately, when I dismounted my bike at the end of the 64km ride, both my quads suddenly froze, and I had to spend some minutes to rest them while I changed my shoes at the transition area. I tried to run anyway, but only to stop again after about 50m. The nightmare of cramps that I dreaded so much had become a reality after all. De javu—It was as painful as the tail end of last year’s Powerman, and I knew that I’d be walking a great deal during this final run of the race. At about 3km into that final 11km run, Amy caught up and finally overtook me! But my main concern then was to survive the cramps and blistering hot sun. 

In the end, I took a horrifying 1:23 minutes to finish the 11km. What a big relief! My total time for the race was 4:30, and I’m happy to say that at least I’ve improved over last year’s time by about 3 minutes. A very small improvement, but PB nonetheless! 

Paul finished a few minutes after me, followed by Anslem and Judy. We waited a little longer, wondering what has happened to Teo and Hana. Well, Teo’s strategy did not quite work out as planned—he ran a cautious race, but about halfway into the final 11km run, both his quads seized up and he was reduced to a walk anyway! Eventually, he had to stop to seek help from the volunteers. Two women helped him by applying sprays and some ointment. Teo was on cloud nine, enjoying the moment with two women massaging his quads. I can only imagine the smile on his face, probably trying very hard to suppress the dreaded killer face from manifesting, much the same way Dr Bruce Banner tries hard to suppress the hulk. In fact, I fancy that Teo was even at the verge of getting sexually aroused, when suddenly Hana came passing by. That must have been a rude shock for Teo, and he had to cut short his pleasant godsend moment. He resumed the race again, but Hana, having gotten over her diarrhea problem, was just too strong on the small hills approaching the finish line. In the end, Teo had to content finishing after Hana; and this time, with a rarely-seen normal smile instead of his intimidating killer face.

Ahmadul had finished much earlier than us, and got 5th in his category. 

John Chin finished a little slower than last year, but still way faster than the rest of us anyway. Aldillah escaped the 5:30 cutoff by a few minutes, having suffered cramps during the last running leg of the race. 

Overall, it was a fun-filled event. It’s also the last race for me this year as I embark on serious training for a major challenge next year. The good news about having no race around the corner is that I can focus more on a proper training programme. But the bad news is that there’s sometimes the tendency to become lazy to train. Besides, I’m going for a long holiday to Vancouver for almost a month in December, so I’m not sure if I can find the time to slot in my training. In any case, I will just have to train whatever I can, however little. Bring it on!



Unknown said...

Ah, so it was you who I talked to during the race! (I've been waiting for this bog post so I can confirm if I've been talking to the right person).

We had a brief 15-seconds encounter on your first loop of your 2nd leg run. You were musing about your cramped quads and how you're still on the first loop. It's nice to finally be able to talk to you in person! :D

Cornelius said...

Hi Juin Yi Ng, I must apologize for not recognizing you. I've got a weakness in remembering names and faces, unless of course faces like Teo's expressions.

That second running leg was hell for me, but quitting wasn't an option. It's so funny that I took up to 1:23 minutes to run just 11km! hehehe

Maybe one of these days, we'll really have the chance to introduce each other.

Unknown said...

No problem. :)

Running wasn't that much of a problem to me, because I was slow to begin with. This was actually my first stint in cycling for 32 km, and I'd only previously trained for 8 km at most. While the whole race was less taxing compared to what I estimated, my thighs took the punishment for procrastinating in training. I had to walk the whole second leg because I can barely flex my knees.

Then my ego and pride got the better of me and I decided to run for the finish line. In the end: one poor chap sitting on the now empty podium begging the paramedic to walk me to the tent.

Hana said...

Eauw too much info on my issue!

You forgot to mention that I was fastest after Amy on second run, ahem. Obviously a fluke -and it will NEVER happen again!

Cornelius said...

Juin Yi Ng,

It takes a while to get the hang of it. But yes, it has a lot to do with the training. Unless your daily routine involves a lot of running and cycling, the only way is to make the time to cycle and run!

Cornelius said...

Hana dear, I swear you really need to learn how to change the tubes lah.!

Regarding the second run leg, that is not surprising. I'm sure if we have to do it all over again, chances are you will still run faster than most of us in the second leg again! It wasn't a fluke! I bet if we had started slower, we would have been able to balance off all legs of the race. I'm sure if you had started all out, you'd be dead tired at the end too!

But in the end, it doesn't really matter, the point of multi-discipline races is to finish the race in the least amount of (total) time. There is really no glory for me to claim that I led 80% of the race, because in the end Amy beat me to the finish line anyway? But the fact that you overtook Teo was classic, Hana. That was awesome!