23rd August 2015
"My Dar he sum-see-see wants to do 70.3 Bintan. But his ankles are painful. So I just support him and join him in the relay lor," said Serene.Wow. And what a relay it was!!!
It was the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Bintan. Francis jio-ed very early on. And if I remembered correctly, I was the first to sign up, because I had the luxury of Serene being the runner in my team. So it was literally a no-brainer. I didn't even needed to think twice.
Lagoi Bay is right at the north of Bintan. I knew it was going to be a ulu part. No wonder they held the event there. Everything was new. The Swiss-Bel Hotel was new. The Plaza Lagoi was new. But heck, that was what the fun was all about mah...
|The Chias were amongst the first to arrive at Tanah Merah Ferry terminal|
|The heavily-muscled Mr Tan and the happily-heavied Mrs Tan waiting for the 11:10am ferry.|
This part of Bintan was so newly developed that the hotel was a mere 6 months old. Tower A was ready. But unfortunately Tower B was still uncompleted, despite having the inaugural Ironman planned way back. And athletes had to be turned away from the Swiss-Bel Hotel and diverted to the other resorts. It was a shame, as the Swiss, being the official hotel, was only minutes away from the starting line of the race.
|Was the hotel ready? Not really lah. They put two single-sized bed together and pretended that this was a King Size bed.|
The Test Swim at Lagoi Bay
|Click on the above picture to see the Strava of my test swim. I really zig-zagged on my swim. It was so funny. I still remember complaining to Darric after the test swim how much I veered.|
Thus at 1530Hrs on this Friday, Darric and I walked through the transition area to the beach start, and we were both pleasantly surprised by the nice crystal clear sea water of Lagoi Bay. It was calm, and the water was so shallow one literally could swim a few hundred metres out to sea and yet could still stand straight up on the sea bed. I remember remarking to Darric that the water was like that of Busselton.
|The six-pack-ironmen in our group [Photo: Gerard Tan]|
|AK51 and all his muscles-zi-teh-zi-teh.. [Photo: Gerard Tan]|
"Chris, the water is so nice. This is your once in a lifetime chance to soak in a water like this. Go lah!" I told Chris.
The Plaza Lagoi
This Plaza Lagoi was just beside Swiss-Bell Hotel. This newly constructed complex housed a single restaurant, a massage parlour and a mini-mart. Many of the shops were still vacant. It was just opened three months ago, and probably just woke up one week back before the Ironman event, most likely only to fall into another deep slumber for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile at the Nirwana & Angsana...
The rest of the Evolv members, namely Team evoLV, Team Trivium and Team Fishlike checked into Nirwana on Saturday, and Jemmy & wife and GT & PL checked into Angsana.
|Team Trivium, Team evoLV & Team Fishlike living it up in Nirwana. [Photo: David Low]|
|The Nirwana-ians and the Angsanaian. [Photo: David Low]|
Again, experience told many of the seasoned Ironmen that a short test ride around the actual race course the day before the event would be useful, just to make sure that the gears are in order, and to have a mental idea how the terrain was.
One of my friends we met at the Swiss-Bel Hotel told me:
"Just turn right and then left and just do two hills. Good enough already. It's only 12km. But I had to change to my smaller chainring to negotiate the hills."That was comforting. Haha....
|Our test ride route.|
|Click on the above image to see the Strava for my test ride.|
Race Kit Collection & Bike Check-in on Saturday
|The Team Lagoi-ian. Darric and I wearing our lucky Australian Ryder sunglasses.|
- 513 Team Vacanza: Serene and myself
- 514 Team evoLV: Christopher, David and Gabriel
- 516 Team Trivium: Baskaran, Alan and Kae
- 521 Team Fishlike: KC Obama, Martin and Fish.
|Back for a re-match with his nemesis is Mr AK51.|
|Faster, fitter and stronger on his Cervelo P3 is Jeremy.|
|Here to show what stuff Daddy is made of is Darric.|
|Moses and Aaron ready to part the sea water for the rest.|
|The relay first timers. Yum Gong team.|
|All the swimmers from Nirwana showing what they are made of.|
|I purposely showed Serene the junction where one turns left to the finishing line...|
|Darric was ecstatic.|
|My trusted road bike was quickly tagged and one last round of checks, some air from the tyre let go a little and it was ready for check-in.|
"Very boring leh," complained Darric on the Telegram thread. "Any activity going on?"
"So sian, like that. Can go party or not?" asked Serene."Of course cannot lah. I read that the pre-race preparation requires you to really rest, eat properly, hydrate and sleep fully. Cannot cheong one." I scolded her.
|Vacanza and evoLV racked side by side...|
David texted everybody: "Guys, come over to Nirwana tonight and let's celebrate.".. because it was Darric's birthday the next day and there was an exciting football match that night. Wow, this David was full of energy. I knew I couldn't because if I party I would risk a DNF the next day. Haha...
"Wow, it's so nice!" she exclaimed, as we stuck them on before we went to sleep.
|Martin, KC Obama and Francis doing their last minute check. [Photo: Serene Gan]|
|Official Finisher Pix shot of me, Francis, Alan, Christopher and KC Obama.|
|Gerard's Roka speed suit was so water-repellant that water droplets were literally running off it as Francis and I examined his suit closely. This was really quite a revelation! [Photo: Serene Gan]|
"Come, let's go into the water for a bit of warm up!"
|[Photo: Serene Gan]|
|Two minutes at stake between the Garmin and the Polar. [Photo: Serene Gan]|
|Our wave walking to the waist-deep start point at the red buoys. Official Finisher Pix photo.|
|Click on the above image to see the Strava of my swim leg.|
|Baskaran showing the team that his Ape-index is well-suited to swimming.|
One by one the boys came up running.
|[Photo: Don't know who]|
|[Photo: don't know who]|
|Photo: Official FinisherPix photographer|
Christopher was very candid. "I chose the easiest leg - the swim!" as he came up from the water with his mega-watt smile.
|Click on the image above to see the Strava Flyby action of our swim!!!|
|Alan was all readied. Once Baskaran stepped foot onto the red carpet of rack 516, he was off!|
"Oh no, I can't help you hold your bike any more, Christopher is here, I gotta go!" finally he had to rack my bike up again. But I was eternally grateful for his help.
|All dripping wet from the sea, I struggled with my compression socks and gotten myself readied for the bike leg.|
|Darric cheonging all the way!|
|Gerard had a spectacular ride, with a weighted average power of 197W!!!|
|Alan taking on the hills of Bintan.|
|Not bad. The water stations were at 24km, 40km, 60km and 77km.|
|The masked rider.|
After suffering big time in Putrajaya with an over-zealous planning of nutritional replenishment, and development severely bloated stomach with nausea during that fateful race, I'd learn to go much easier on myself. Even during the pleasant race in Busselton, I found that rolled oats with protein powder, while providing me with the energy, made me really gassy. So I ditched all these and depended solely on gels and isotonic drinks for this race. Under-hydration in the scorching heat killed me on my first race. And this round I took pains to down bottles after bottle of isotonic throughout the race, small amount each time, but at more frequent intervals. It was really interesting how much I learned about myself after every event.
|AK51 on his Batmobile. Al black. Except the water bottle and the Polar watch |
which happened to be out of battery on that fateful day.
|Jeremy was really striking on his white P3. Every bit an Ironman no less than|
those lanky Ang Mohs.
"Ok, you expect to see me at around 11am. Just get ready around that time," I instructed Serene earlier to wait for me at the transition. I was expecting myself to be back at just about 11am. I sincerely hoped not later as any minute after that it would mean she would be running under the hot midday sun.
|Martin leading his pack of cyclists, along the ulu routes of Bintan.|
The first 10km of the ride was nice and relatively flat with the most gradual slopes. I was seeing cyclists coming at the opposite direction on the other side of the road as they made the U-turn at the 13km mark. The first testing hill was at the U-turn. A gradual right and I suddenly came face to face with a climb. But I was still fresh and I held back on the power to just overcome the hill as steady as I could.
|David and his four-water-bottle-cage Bianchi, asking me if I was cycling at Zone 2,|
somewhere at the end of Coastal Road. I laughed.. because that question was so cute.
I myself didn't know what zone I was in.
I was glad that I was able to perch myself on the tri bar for the major parts of the ride. Being an inexperienced athlete as I was, I had to watch my heart rate and my power with the utmost of care, for fear of over-charging and risking a big bonk. I remembered to keep my heart rate around 145-147/min and I didn't allow my power to exceed 200W for more than just a few seconds. This strategy appeared to have worked, as the speed pipckups downslope more than compensated for the terribly slow climbs.
|The Chef on his Pink Pina attacking the slopes with so much gusto that would|
put most Michelin Chefs to shame.
The slopes were not without their usual dangers. I recalled at about 21km into the ride, I was speeding down a particular steep slope and a cyclist from Vietnam about 10-15m in front of me suddenly jammed his brakes, did a spectacular flip and landed on the side of the road with his bike on top of him. I stopped and ran over to him. He was lying supine, shocked from the fall, and bleeding from his cheek and the side of his nose. He was ok, and was able to sit up after a short moment.
I tried flagging down cars and motorbikes that drove past us and called out to them but none stopped for us. This was poor support, especially at more remote parts of the route. Flabbergasted, I hopped on the bike and sped another 1km down and finally saw an official and informed him of the incident and the location. (Later on, when the race was over, I was overjoyed to check the results and found that the Vietnamese guys actually continued the ride and completed the whole 70.3 race!)
|This was that first few km from the start of the bike leg. I was still using my old water bottles... and smiling.|
[Photo: Finisher Pix]
I never failed to take my gel every half an hour as I rode. And I would deplete at least one and a half bottle of isotonic, in time to arrive at the next water station. Unlike most of the pros, I had to stop at each water station, gulp down half a bottle of isotonic, get two brand new bottles, swallow a gel and blast off - all in less than a minute. I discovered that these split-minute rests were superb in allowing my legs the needed rest.
I experienced no cramps on this ride, despite the heat and the high likelihood of dehydration. In retrospect, I attributed the adequate rests leading up to the event, sufficient carbohydrate loading, and plenty of isotonic rehydration from the days before up till during the actual race, to the prevention of the cramps.
Click on the image below to see the Strava for my ride.
|Click on the image above to see the Strava for my cycle leg.|
|Moses Shao parting the roads.|
|Aaron Seow too fast for many.|
|The last stretch back to the transition area... thankfully I was still smiling. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
I kept reminding myself along the route: "Triathlon is a game of steady pace. Everything must be in a steady state." Gerard Tan's own words these were. And simply precious words that kept me going.
|Click on the image above to see the animated cycling action!|
|The swimmers were waiting impatiently for their team cyclists to be back.|
My eyes were glued to the rack 513 just below the No-Parking sign. I saw no signs of Serene. I just had to keep running towards the label."Wee How!" called out Kae as I dismounted at the line and ran left into the transition. I could only afford her a weak smile as I nodded in her direction.
"Serene Gan!" I shouted, desperately.
"I'm here!" I heard her from behind me. She was running towards me just behind. Heng ah! This silly girl must had been sleeping.
"OK, here. Grab my time chip... and go!"Right on my heels, David was racking up his bike. Gabriel was a flash of light as he ran past me.
|I knew. It was getting really hot.|
|Chef on the prowl for some salt.|
|Serene ran out of Transition 2. It was a little cloudy at that moment. But the real heat came a little after that. [Photo: Debbie Ng]|
|Click on the image above to see Serene's Strava of her run.|
|Click on the above to see my pathetic strava run.|
|Click on the above to see the Strava Flyby for the run.|
|Aaron Seow running on air. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
|Moses Shao in great action.|
|Gabriel showed the relay teams what runners were made of, as he surfed the tracks|
all the way back to the finishing line in great timing.
|Me action liao liao. Cannot run also follow people run. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
"Huh? No more ice? Ok lor... better than nothing." I muttered.
"That's actually very good already lor." another runner beside me quipped in. He was quite right, I must admit. It wasn't every event that had a water station every 1.4km.
|Jeremy was really fast, and I realised it after I examined the Flyby carefully. This man was not to be trifled with|
in water, on wheels or in running shoes.
|Darric really showing Baby what Daddy was made of as he sailed triumphantly|
across the finishing line.
|I was very impressed by Gerard's constant pace as he ran past me on his last lap.|
|The KT Tape was doing a fantastic job on this man. All he needed was calf compression socks.|
|The Chef thinking of how he would prepare his salt.|
|The pink dot across the lake...|
|In great spirit despite the heat.|
|In all her full pink glory. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
|Doing her best to keep pace with a faster runner. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
"What was in your mind when you were doing this run?" I asked her later.
"Nothing. I just... ran." was her simple reply. Terrible lah, her. She could have given me an intellectually-loaded response. But it came out just so plain and simple. But beautifully so, it its own special way.
|[Photo: Finisher Pix]|
Thus while Serene and I were negotiating the last round, most of our teammates had already either finished their run, or were on the last few hundred metres of the race.
|AK51 on the home run!|
An Ang Moh official on his bicycle came close to both Serene and I and asked if we were finishing. I flashed him a smile and gave him an affirmative. For once I could look an official in his eyes and said: "We are finishing!". Memories of being pulled out of Putrajaya on the run leg were still fresh in my mind.
|Fish Tang showing the way to Chi Running.|
|These two fellows never missed a candid moment.|
The pink dot drew closer and closer to me...
So with less than 2km to go, I ran side by side with Serene, as happy as a lark, knowing that the end was in sight. This girl completed what I couldn't and in doing so she did me and the family proud. It was really a relay of love.
|Running with Serene on the last two kilometres to the finishing line. [Photo taken by a very kind Ang Moh man who told her his wife was also on the run]|
|Approaching the finishing line. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
|Indescribable was the feeling when we both crossed the line. [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
A well-deserved medal
|So proud of Serene! [Photo: Finisher Pix]|
In Kae's words: "Till the next Ironman!"