Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Road to Ironman

I fell in love with triathlon. After two super sprints and a sprint, I am ready to challenge myself to the ultimate test of competing in Ironman races in 2015. Ok call me crazy or suffering from a mid life crisis, I am now feeling it is time for me to conquer my fear and overcome my weaknesses. Particularly the swim and the hills (on bike or run). I have decided to do the Ironman Western Australia in December 2015. It is a long preparation, in a grand scheme that include a Total Immersion swimming workshop and two half Ironman races or Ironman 70.3. I call it Project Busselton 2015. I have appointed a mentor to guide me with the process. He is non other than Abang Sofian Triathlete. He has finished 17 or 18 Ironman races including some in Kona.

First stop, Buffalo City  South Africa. It is arguably one of the most difficult Ironman 70.3s but that is the very reason why I chose IM70.3SA. I will tackle that monster course in South Africa and see if I have what it takes to become an Ironman.    

Ironman 70.3 South Africa course briefing

I know it will not be easy, but it is not impossible. Wish me good luck

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Doha College 5km Night Run

Thursday 3 April 2014

I only entered this race at the very last minute. Firstly because the start time was way too late, at 10 PM! Secondly, I still have to do a 30 km long run on Friday and thirdly I am competing in a super sprint Triathlon on Saturday.

It was a super busy week. But I was glad I did it. Almost every one from #Pelaristyloyo took part in the event, including my 7 months pregnant wife. So it wont be right for me as the club captain if I hadn't. My plan for the race was just to have fun and not beating myself up since I have an early start the next day  for my LSD. But a race is still a race. I ran 'comfortably' hard close to my 5 km PB pace. The course was out and back starting from the Aspire athletics track, round the football pitches on running track to the Dome and back. The wind was really strong at some sections. I was maintaining the 4th position from the start with the pace around 4:00/km. It was hard on the way back as I had to weave around the crowd coming from the opposite direction. For a long time I could hear the guy behind me panting hard. He was huffing and puffing clearly he tried very hard. I just maintained my effort without getting intimidated. I was still 4th until about 200 m from the finish line before being overtaken by him. The weird thing was, I just let him he deserved it. We congratulated each other after we crossed the finish line like true sportsmen.

I crossed the finish line in 20:17, but the course was 30 meter short. The reading on my watch was only 4.97 km and so I cant consider it as my new PB, but I was happy with my run since my average HR was only 176 bpm, a lot lower than a 5 km race effort. All my other friends did well too. All in all it was a fun night.

Race statistics
Time: 20:17
Pace: 4:06 min/km
Rank: 5th of 237 finishers
Ave HR: 176 bpm

The Pearl Triathlon Team Relay

Finally the most anticipated triathlon event in Doha, The Pearl Triathlon took place today at my very own 'backyard'. This was the last event before the racing season take a long summer break here in Doha. The race was sold out weeks earlier, and drawn entries from the local triathlon community and participants as far as Kuwait and the neighbouring UAE.
Race Pack Collection and Briefing session on previous day
The swim took place at the beautiful Lido Qanat Quartier beach
I only entered the team relay in Olympic distance with Alan (Swim) and Najib (Bike) as I am currently in the peak of my marathon training for Edinburgh. A solo tri would my run sessions as I would need few days to recover. The quality of the competition in the Olympic relay was high. I must admit that I was not expected that at all. I thought we stand a chance for a podium finish. Our team Kona Bound Triathletes (KBT) came 4th after giving our best shot with a total time of 2:27:29.

Alan was exhausted when he came out of the water (1500 m in 29:24)

Najib with his Malaysia club's jersey, Denai United. His time on the bike was 40km in 1:11:38

Zachary, Cinta and Elias cheering from our apartment block were so excited every time I ran past them

Another good outing by KBT

Olympic Distance:

Swim 1500m - 29:24 (Rank 4th)
Bike 40 km - 1:11:38 (Rank 5th)
Run 10 km - 43:51 (Rank 3rd)

The run course was 2 laps from the transition area at Lido Qanat Quartier beach, passing through the undulating Corso Venezia then into the main Pearl highway towards the causeway and back. The hilly course and the heat was a killer, but it was great because I got to see my family who were cheering for me by the kerb in front of my apartment 4 times. It's not everyday that you get to run a race without travelling at all. Despite not making it to the podium, I was happy with my personal and our team's overall performance. I also did a PB in 10k!

Kudos to the organisers and the volunteers, the race was very well organised. A good sign for bigger races in the future. I can say it was the best I have participated locally. Everything was so meticulously planned for. Thank you.

I cant wait for the new season to start in October now that I am hooked with triathlon.

My sporty family
Strava detail here:

Garmin detail here:

The Pearl Triathlon Team Relay by Syafei at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Aquathon 2013/2014 Race 5

Aquathon 22 March 2014

I have no intention to do any Aquathon races this year because it will disrupt my marathon training. But I changed my mind at the last minute and signed up in the last race of the series. I want to see if I have made any improvement in swimming in a year. Not that I have been swimming a lot, but I have been swimming once a week on Saturdays with at Al-Jazeera Academy.

The 500 m swim was still hard but was not as hard as it was the last time I did it. I managed to breathe on both sides after every three strokes for …… wait for it … 100m, before reverted back to my usual pathetic breath on the left only at every 2 strokes with short pull. I tried to relax and focus on the technique, high elbow – reach – pull; one arm always at the front; kick etc etc. but I was too tired to think about all the sequence. 

As usual I was so spent after the swim and the 5 km run was as hard. I just focus on cadence and maintaining the same effort. The run was made harder when we had to run against the strong wind. At some point I was struggling to keep running on straight line as the strong cross wind kept blowing me off the course. A kg lighter, I could've easily been a flying object.   

Here is how it went:

Swim : 13:14 (Rank 108/139)
T1:   0:36 (Rank 45/139)
Run :   23:35 (Rank 36/139)
Total :   37:26
Rank: 59/139

It was my new personal best in Aquathon. My previous PB was 38:12. But I still have a lot to work on if I want to become a decent triathlete. The result shows that I did not improved on my swim, but I have improved in my run and transition. All right suitable to my 2014 resolution; I will turn my weaknesses into strengths. I will work on my technique and try to force my self to fall in love in swimming.  

Road to Edinburgh 2014: Week 8 Run #1 Interval

I have one more big race this season after RAK, Edinburgh Marathon. I registered for it after my ballot entry for London was unsuccessful (yet again).

I have started my training a week after RAK in a 14 weeks training plan based on Run Less Run Faster book. The training has been great so far. I have been focus on my training and stick with the plan until last weekend madness where I competed in a 5km race on Thursday evening (5th place overall), ran 25 km on Friday morning and competed in the Super Sprint Triathlon (which I won Silver).

So it really affected my training this evening. The plan was to run a 4 x 1200 m @ 3:50/km pace after warm up. But I was too tired to continue after the 3rd rep and my calves muscles sore. Clearly I have not recovered fully. So I called it a day.

Here how it looks on Strava.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

RAK Half Marathon 2014

I came back to the UAE just three weeks after Dubai Marathon, this time for my favourite annual race, the RAK Half Marathon. I was hoping for a 1:35 ish finish this time but my coach has warned against pushing it too hard as I was still recovering from my marathon. She estimated a 1:42 finish for me. But I just ignored her warning and try to run at 4:30 ish min/km. She was right. I was tired since KM 5! Paul Concannon, my friend from DBRC asked me about my race plan earlier in the race. I told him that I was going for 1:35. That was his goal too and we agreed to pace each other. I was struggling and I knew he did too. I can tell by the way he breathed. I could not keep the the same pace without struggling too much. I was running in anaerobic heart rate zone. I was perplexed; I should still feel 'comfortable' at that pace. But I just tired. My pace slipping away from KM 6. Paul, though struggling, managed to maintained the effort and continue. He finished the race in 1:37.

I slowed down and tried to run at 4:45 min/km. It was still a struggle but manageable. At KM 15, Davy Muller, another friend from DBRC overtook me. I was not supposed to let him beat me because we had a deal that the loser will have to pay 500 Riyal to the winner. Luckily the bet was cancelled. But I was too tired to chase. I would've fought for it had the deal went through.  I just kept the same effort and tried to give one last push in the last KM. I finished the race in 1:39:38. A 6 min improvement from my previous Personal Best.

I was happy despite not achieving my initial target. I gave my best. I went to the race tired because I did not stop racing since Munich last October. So I have decided that I will not run the Dubai Marathon or any marathon 3 months before RAK Half Marathon next year. My strategy is to run a fast half marathon at RAK and build up for a marathon in spring.

RAK Half Marathon is officially the world's fastest with so many elite runners completed the race sub 60 minutes year after year.
With the Doha Bay Running Club's contingent at post race breakfast
Congratulations my friend Ashran aka Bulat, on his first half marathon. Bulat only started running 4 months ago. His next goal is to run Barcelona Marathon next month.
This is how I spent my Valentine's Day, by running a half marathon.

Garmin Details :
RAK Half Marathon 2014 by Syafei at Garmin Connect - Details

Race Statistics:

Time (Nett): 1:39:38
Rank Total: 277th / 2398
Rank Male: 235th / 1525
Shoe: Asics Gel Excel 33 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Dubai Marathon 2014

Dubai Marathon has always been my season opener since I started running. Not that I have run for many years. I did 10k in 2012 and the full marathon last year. I could have gone someplace else like Muscat or Mumbai, but Dubai seems like the more logical choice since it's closer and I will be going with a lot of running friends from Doha. I was accompanied with three Malaysian friends from #Pelaristyloyo, Aizal, Yasir and Ashran aka Bulat, other than friends from Doha Bay Running Club, Otmane, Joost, Davy, Erin, JC, John, Wendy, Scott and many other.

I did my marathon PB in Dubai last year, and I failed to rewrite it in my subsequent races in Paris and Munich. Known for its fast and flat course, Dubai seems perfect for a PB aspirant. So that was my goal, a PB. My coach wants me to run at a steady pace between 5:00/km - 5:20/km for a 3:45 finish while paying attention at my heart rate.

I started the race conservatively before settling into my race pace. I was running with Davy and Gareth. It was fun running with them. We were chatting and Davy was a fun guy to run with. He always has something to joke about. And Gareth was always being one of my idols in DBRC. I was 4km behind him last year and it feels surreal to be able to run with him today.  We had fun cheering our faster DBRC runners as they passed by on the other side of the fence after the 1st turn around. First, as expected was JC just behind the East African elites, then came Joost, Rupert, Karl and Tony, and Scott before the three of us make the turn. Wendy, John and Otmane were not far behind us. Then came Erin, Rita, Aizal and Yasir.

We were still running at the same pace approaching the half way until Gareth and Davy slowed down. I kept my pace and found myself pretty much by myself. I crossed the halfway check point in 1:47:12 which was my 5th fastest half marathon to date. I still felt pretty strong at that point and maintained the same pace. I soon found Scott not far in front. I made him as my target and increased my pace slightly. I soon found myself just a few steps behind him. I gave him a pat on his back when I overtook him . He was so relaxed while I was not exactly so. Scott was asking about our plan after the race but I was not in a state where I can have a comfortable conversation any longer. I pressed on and was running faster than my planned marathon pace hoping for a negative split. Something that I have never been able to do. I started to feel tired and hungry. Then, just like the Law of Attraction, I saw my dear friend who I fondly call Kakak May Lee in the middle of the road at a water stop holding a tray of bananas. She was an ex DBRC member who recently moved to Dubai and now with the Creek Striders.

The weather was getting hotter as I approached the 30K mark. At that time I could feel that I was getting tired. I could no longer hold the same pace without exceeding the heart rate limit I have set on my heart rate monitor. My HR alert did not stop beeping and I would risk hitting the wall soon if I continue running above the threshold. My pace was dropping from 5:00 at km 30 to 6:00/km when I passed the 36 km. It was there when Scott overtook me. He must have been running at the same pace all along. He tried to encourage me to keep up but I was already too tired. I could only improved my pace slightly to 5:45/km for another 2 km. My HR was good but I found my legs were getting heavier and heavier. I checked my watch, and I could still manage a sub 3:45 is I can run around 6:00 pace for another 4 km. 

I was already celebrating a new PB, 4 km before the finish line. I told myself that, what remain was shorter than my usual 5 km route around The Pearl, but the last 4km felt like an eternity. I could see the Burj al-Arab and the Madinat Jumeirah from a far where the last turn before the Finish line would be, but they were like Fata Morgana. My pace was reduced to 6:10 when I hit 41 km mark. Then I found more and more crowd lining up the street as I closing in the last turn. I dug whatever left inside me and pushed. Fuelled by the words of encouragement from the crowds I found myself picking up the pace for the home straight. The atmosphere near the Finish line was electric with the crowd filling all available seats on the grand stands. 

I heard 'There Syafei! Go Syafei Go Syafei', then I saw Angie, Anna and few DBRC supporters at the stand. I waved and blew them air kisses before continue running in the narrow lane to cross the Finish line in 3:42:40. That was 13 minutes faster than my old PB which I did exactly a year ago here.

I was so pleased that I managed to keep my nagging problems on my knees and ITB in checked. I kept thinking of an imaginary string pulling my head and body up while I braced the core tight and engaged the glutes the whole way. That seemed to do the trick. But I still need to work on my endurance so I wont fizzled out after 30 km. Otherwise a negative split will always remain a dream. I did my second half 8 minutes slower than the first half in 1:55:29 but I did what I meant to do here and I cant be more happier. It is time to celebrate and I was already thinking about all the naughty food to treat myself with later. Dubai, you did it again.     

Race Statistic:
Time (Nett): 3:42:40
Rank Total: 454th / 2156
Rank Male: 371st / 1676
Rank Age Group: 80th / 320
Shoe: Asics Gel Excel 33 

From Johor to Boston

I took up running in July 2011 after my BMI rating shows Pre Obese. I was 10kg overweight. My doctor advised me to excercise for 30 min every day, quit smoking and eat healthy.I cannot even run a full 1km without taking walk breaks when I first started. But I can proudly call myself a marathon runner a year after. I joined Doha Bay Running Club in January 2012 and I am glad to be surrounded with like minded people around me. My goal is now to qualify for Boston Marathon.