I'm supposed to be training hard for Ironman Malaysia in Langkawi in November. Instead, I've had quite a busy racing calendar over the last couple of months. I've actually registered for the Bukit Merah half Ironman distance triathlon, but I decided to withdraw from the race and do the Challenge Iskandar Puteri instead.
I thought the Iskandar Puteri event would be the last one before I embark on serious training for Langkawi. But a friend, Teo Chen Lung, talked me into registering for the Labuan Duathlon Challenge 2016 about 2 months ago. Regular visitors of this blog would already know about Teo; I have mentioned his name several times in numerous articles in this blog. For example, here and here. Well, this is another post in which I'm sharing an adventure with him!
The Labuan Duathlon Challenge 2016 was for a distance of 5km run, 32km bike, and finally 5km run again. I was reluctant to join at first, because I'm not a big fan of fast and short races. I'm not one of those athletes who're bestowed with plenty of fast-twitch muscles in the body, and I therefore don't have enough speed in my legs. That's why I'd shy away from the many local 10km running events here in KK.
However, if you knew my friend Teo, you'd know how difficult it is to say "NO" to him. That fellow just never let up, and he can go on and on about the subject until you say "YES"! It's a wonder that he didn't choose the law as his profession. I sometimes fancy that he'd make a good lawyer. Well, at the very least he'd make a good loyar buruk!
So anyway, to cut the chase, I found myself in the ferry with Teo, departing Jesselton Point in KK at 8:00am last Saturday, heading for Labuan. I brought my bike along, which was arranged on the deck with the rest of the participants' bikes from KK. The journey to Labuan took about three-and-a-half hours. Don't pay any attention to the 3 hours that they published in the websitethat's total rubbish.
Now in order to get the full story of this adventure, you simply must know the story of the 2 months prior to the race. As soon as I registered for the race, Teo started bombarding me with his analysisalmost on a daily basisof past years' results of the race. He made thorough analysis of the names of past winners, their respective finishing times, as well as his predictions of the possible winners for this year's race. At the end of it all, he tried to gauge his own chances of sneaking into the top 10 finishers of his category. Of course while he was at it, he took the liberty to analyse my category too, including searching high and low through the net for photos of past winners, times etc. He has a curious obsession for that sort of thing, you know. He then came up with strategies on how we're gonna race in order to enhance our chances to be in the top 10 finishers in our respective categories. In fact, he made the whole thing look like a complex and sophisticated project akin to one that NASA would formulate for a human space flight to Mars!
I sometimes find myself in enormous awe when seeing tons of messages from Teo through Whatsapp, mainly on his detailed analysis on the event. The fellow just never fail to amuse me. Whether intentionally or not, he is a good source of daily entertainment, really!
Having made all those daunting analysis, he came up with a PLAN, one that would bring us both glory in Labuan. According to this bombastic plan of his, we should start the race with a 5-minute-per-km pace during the first leg, which was the 5km run. Then, we should start the bike leg together, and we would take turns to draft each other so that we can save energy. However, if we could find other fast cyclists to draft, then both of us should just tag along for a "free ride". Sounds like a great plan, doesn't it? I won't dwell too much on Plan B, Plan C and Plan D for the sake of sparing my readers from boredom, but rest assured that Teo had plenty of back-up plans too; he always does!
Now Teo typically would challenge me whenever we join the same race, but in the case of the Labuan Duathlon, he decided that we should work together instead. You see, we were in different categories of the race, and he reckoned that we both had a chance to win cash prizes. That's because there were up to 10 cash prizes for the top 10 finishers in each category.
So anyway, we started the race together and we soon realised that we were actually running at around 4:30 mins per km, a pace that's much faster than planned. We both eventually slowed down a bit after about 1km, although he slowed down a bit more than me. Soon, he was already lagging behind, and I began to worry about our little plan to help each other in the bike leg of the race.
When I reached Transition 1 (T1), Teo was no longer in sight. I hesitated for a moment, but seeing other competitors embarking on their bike leg, I reluctantly started pedaling too. I was sure that Teo would be catching up soon with his mighty Cervelo P5.
So I waited...and waited; and still no Teo in sight. I found myself in an unenviable situation of being too slow for the fast cyclists, and too fast for the slow cyclists. I had to work hard on my own for about 20 minutes until a cyclist from Team GP Riders pull along side. He was riding perhaps close to 40kph, and I took the opportunity to draft. It was such a relief, but my legs were already a bit tired from the earlier section of the bike leg. Later, we had to climb hills and then undulating terrains before finally arriving at Transition 2. Teo was still nowhere to be seen. I wondered what was he up to.
After racking up my bike, I started running. As usual, it was tough to suddenly switch to my running muscles again. But I was also feeling tired from the tough ride. I was down to about 5:20 mins per km, but I was gradually getting slower and slower. When we reached the hill, I started walking a bit, and that was when several people overtook me again. I tried to keep up, but I soon gave up as I knew that I couldn't hold the pace. There was nothing left in my legs.
After making the turning point and coming back to the finish line, I saw Teo struggling uphill on the other said of the road. He was perhaps close to 10 minutes behind me by then. If you have read previous mentions of Teofor example herehe has this awesome skill in conjuring up the so-called killer face during his races.; and the Labuan Duathlon was no exception. Check out this killer face photo below.
Photo credit: Jack Ah Beh
Well, in the end, I finished 6th in my category in about 1 hour 53 minutes, but sad to say Teo was nowhere near the top 10 finishers of his category.
Photo credit: Vachel Voon
I think there is still a lot of room for improvements in the Labuan Duathlon Challenge. For example, they could use bigger pipes to construct the bike racks, so as to be structurally sound to support the weight of the bikes. Even the layout of the transition area was all wrong and needed a thorough overhaul for future events. But there is little doubts that the cash prizes on offer are among the best in Malaysia. So I think it's fair to expect many of our friends from the West would consider joining this race next year.
And as for Teo, I guess this means back to the drawing board to plan again for next year. I can foresee a bigger adventure in 2017, which in turn means even more analysis and racing strategies from him...