Monday, March 6, 2017

Powerman Asia Duathlon Championship Malaysia 2017

A few months ago, I signed up for the Powerman Asia Duathlon Championship Malaysia 2017 to be held in Putrajaya. My new-found friend, John Kok, had also signed up for the same race. John relocated from Lahad Datu to KK around the end of last year, and he has since been joining me for the weekend bike rides fairly regularly. 

I'm unfortunately not a very strong cyclist myself, but I shared the little knowledge that I know about cycling. John improved very quickly, but I thought he desperately needed to run a bit more. You see, running is almost everybody's weakness—I've noticed that most cyclists don't like to run. They may ride everyday—sometimes twice a day in the morning and evening—but they don't spend half the time running. It's a very curious reality.

Apart from the training, I have of course some tricks up my sleeves on techniques in running and cycling which I've been sharing with John. But training is not everything. There are of course many other factors involved in an actual race. 

Well, the Powerman classic category was held yesterday, and it comprised 10km run - 60km bike - 10km run. I had planned not to surge out too fast in the early stages of the race. I told John, it's better to play safe. With this in mind, we should aim to finish the first 10km in about 50 minutes. The same idea should apply in the bike leg. Having considered the undulating terrain of Putrajaya, I told John we should aim to finish the bike leg in about 1:50. I have of course ridden 60km here in KK before, which I could finish in about 1:40. I reckoned that 10 minutes slower in Putrajaya should be safe enough. The only part of the race that's difficult to estimate was the final 10km run, because our legs would have been very exhausted by then.

Now many people would know that sticking to the game plan is much harder to do than coming up with the plan in the first place. But I was determined. The funny thing was that from the thousands of participants in the  Powerman, and although John and I signed up for the race at different times, we ended up racking our bikes just next to each other during the race. Talk about coincidence! As we were making final checks on our bikes, John decided to take this photo.

John is a good 10 years younger than me and much fitter as you can see from this photo. I'm the older guy on the right, and a bit fat too. I'm not sure what I was doing, pretending to be an athlete. I suggested to John that we should race together for as long as we could. The flag off was a few minutes behind schedule, and as we were running, I kept looking back to find John hot on my heels. Not sure what he was thinking, but after the first loop, I told John I was beginning to feel a bit tired, and suggested that we should slow down just a bit. Thankfully, however, the distance was slightly less than 10km, and we were therefore able to achieve that 50 minutes target as planned.

We arrived at T1 together, and we had to run quite a long distance within a sea of bikes to reach our bikes. Then a quick action—shades on, helmet on, running shoes off, cycling shoes on, bib switched from the front to the back, bike off the rack. Just then I saw John was still seated on the ground, dealing with his shoes. He told me to go ahead. I reckoned that I spent less than a minute at transition, but of course it was eventually a little over 2 minutes including that long run from the entry to exit of the transition.

I was happy with my transition, and my focus shifted to the bike leg. I started slow at about 33kph to catch my breath. But it was short-lived; as soon as I made the corner, I started climbing a gradual slope. And of course as expected, there were so many other cyclists blocking the way which was quite frustrating. I realised that John would probably take his time in transition. After about 3 or 4 minutes, I settled in to my cruising speed. The ups and downs were not as bad as I had expected, but eventually everybody had to go through a long climb. It wasn't really a steep climb, but the distance was something to be reckoned with. 

Photo credit: Jack Ah Beh

When I finished the first loop of the bike leg, however, I noticed that I was a little too fast. Accordingly, I had to slow down a bit during the second leg to stick to the plan. It was towards the end of that first bike loop when I noticed Chris Kha Khrang as she zoomed past me. I first saw her a few years ago in Miri during the Miri Triathlon, and I remember spending some minutes trying to figure out how to pronounce her name. And I swear it wasn't the cleavage that caused me to notice her yesterday, although admittedly, that kind of body is probably what most women can only dream of. Heck, even men are dreaming of that body! Just for the record though, I did not drool!

Photo credit: Jack Ah Beh

As I was approaching the tail end of the bike leg, I could already feel my legs getting tired. The distance was not 60km after all. Actually it was just about 58.5km. So instead of my 1:50 target, I was able to finish in about 1:46.

Then another quick transition after pushing my bike a long way back to the rack. Again I took just a little over 2  minutes at T2. But then came the dreaded final 10km run. I couldn't run comfortably within the first few hundred metres. All the muscles in my legs were screaming for me to stop, but it's not like I haven't been in this situation before. As I was trotting down the road in misery, I noticed Chris Kha Khrang about 20 metres ahead of me. I could see that she was also in trouble. I wasn't sure if it was cramps or exhaustion. I saw her grab a huge bottle of water and then doused herself with it, and I saw it all in slow motion in my mind! Oh that wicked waistline that looked like it's no more than 15 inches...

But there was no time to daydream. After about 1km, I had to slow down to a walk. As many of the endurance athletes would already know, once you start walking, you're likely gonna keep walking till the end. But I fought hard to keep running, although I didn't get much success. I did however manage to alternate between running and walking. After the first loop of about 5km, I noticed that Chris was getting slower, and I eventually overtook her. I looked further back in the hope of finding John in the crowd, but he was nowhere to be seen. I just kept going and finally crossed the finish line, feeling so glad that the torture was over.

This was how I performed in the Powerman:

After crossing the finish line, I crossed the road to the other side to collect my finisher T-shirt, and then found a concrete block to sit on while watching the remaining participants run by. And then about 15 minutes later, I saw John finishing his race. He's a happy man, having finished about 25 minutes faster than he did last year. He took this photo of us, but this old man was just too weak to stand up for a pose.

Apart from the finisher T-shirt, I also get to bring home this medal. I will of course admire the medal for a few days before throwing it into the cupboard to find its place among the hundreds other medals there.

I'm feeling so exhausted. Gonna rest for a few days before resuming training, this time for the Borneo International Marathon (BIM). But thankfully, I'm not seeking a personal best for BIM; just aiming to run a slow 4.5 hrs with a friend.

In the mean time, I will just rest. Tonight I'm going to sleep like a baby, I'm sure, and I bet I'll be dreaming of that 15-inch waistline...

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