I can finally call myself a triathlete after competing in my first Olympic Distance triathlon at the Port Dickson International Triathlon (PDIT). My biggest worry before the race was the open water swim and I have never swim 1500m continuously. The longest continuous swim I did before coming to PD was probably the 500m during Aspire Aquathon series and I was really bad at it. I haven't done much swimming at all to be honest and I hate swimming. My short and stubby body was not designed to be an efficient swimmer anyway. I only swim once a week with Hamilton Aquatics from December last year and for PDIT, I swam twice or three times a week for 2 months. It was not nearly enough but my goal was just to finish the 1500m swim and not drowning. The advice I received from Phil Emslie during Splash and Dash sessions at Aspire pool and the coaches at Hamilton really helped to transform me from a 'boleh blah' into a 'boleh lah' kind of swimmer. I also received valuable tips from my eldest brother, Hanafi who is a swim coach and a triathlete himself when I met him during the Eid.
I went to Port Dickson 3 days earlier with my family and 2 sisters in-law (unpaid nannies). It was a well deserved beach holiday for my wife and the kids after our hectic travelling for Raya. We stayed at Tanjung Tuan Regency Resort which was very close to the race venue. I had the opportunity to swim and cycled the race course twice before the race day. In fact I swam 1900m in 42 min the day before the event. It really boosted my confidence for this race.
I was feeling good and calm before the the swim start. I took my time and let others fight for the swim lead position. I was just walk slowly into the calm waters of the Straits of Malacca while others sprinted off the beach and dolphin dived into the sea. The words of advise from the race director during the briefing session last night was my mantra. He said 'If you're doing it for the first time, then you should just take your time and enjoy the race. You will not win it anyway' .One good thing about starting at the back was you were saved from the kicks and punches or people crawl on your back but the disadvantage was you will get blocked by the breast strokers! They made an impassable wall of 10-15 bodies across. I was being held up until about 250m out. Damn it, I did not planned for this. I found an opening in between the breast strokers and pushed myself forward then suddenly, bang! I was kicked right on my face. It was so painful it felt like I broke my nose and my goggle was dislocated. I was panicked. I stop and water tread to gain my focus and fix my goggle before continuing my swim. I managed to get pass the breast stokers on my second attempt. I saw there was a big gap between me and the mid pack swimmers when I took the left turn at the first buoy. I just kept my rhythm and swim as gracefully as possible (at least that how I think I swam). I remember the instructions I got from Phil Emslie, to extend my hand as far as possible for a long full stroke, swim wide and keep my balance. It was a nice swim in the calm water of the marina and I was not as tired as I had imagined. Maybe because I did not fight the water and took my time. I swam pretty much by myself all the way as I was too slow to catch the front crawlers and too fast for the breast strokers. I finished the swim in 35 minutes. One thing that I don't particularly like about PDIT was the run was split in two parts. First the 800m beach run after the swim before T1, and the remaining 9.2km during the actual run leg. It took me almost 7 minutes from the swim exit to T1 for a total time of 42:09 finishing 448th overall (123rd category).
|At the start of the Swim (see if you can spot me hiding)|
I raced to the bike mounting line after a quick transition at T1. I knew this was going to be a one hell of a ride. I rode the course and I hate those undulating hills. Live in Doha, I have never seen let alone ride on one. All the Cervelos, Specializeds, Pinarellos, BMCs passing me like I was cycling on a turbo trainer. At that point I regretted for not taking my Specialized bike with me. The Merida bike I rented was so heavy and it made worse by my already poor bike skills and fitness. It was hills after hills and I didn't gain much speed from going downhill either. It was a draft legal race but it did not give me any advantage as I was not able to keep up with a group or anyone faster. I ended up working on my own the entire 40km. I just cant wait to get over with the bike and start running to make up for the lost time. Total bike time 1:29:45 (632nd Overall/ 192nd Category).
|Racing to bike mounting line at T1 (I know what you thinking. You must be wondering how was I only few steps ahead from that uncle in the blue top)|
|At the end of the bike leg, Qatar boy needs some hills training|
Apart from running, I think Transition is my favourite part of triathlons. It is so exciting transitioning from one sport to another. I did not waste time and already sprinted out of transition area after a quick change of shoes at T2. It's hunting time I said. I visualized how Gwen Jorgensen overtaking other contestants one by one before winning her races. I was mean and focus, almost selfish. I imagined other competitors as my prey and I was a tiger. It felt so good overtaking them and I grew stronger when others were limping. It by all means not an easy course to run. Only half of the course was on tarmac. The other half was trail run on the beach and a bit in mangrove swamp and on a wooden bridge. It was exciting though. I loved it. I could do it all day. All my fatigue was gone when I saw my family at the resort when ran passed them. They thought they have missed me and were expected me to pass the resort a lot earlier among the top. I finally crossed the finish line in 47:39 run time. My run placed me 127th overall and 35th in my category. How I wish if the run was longer.
My total time was 2:59:34 placing in 381st overall / 112nd category. Happy days.