Friday, 18 July 2014

Qatar Cycling Federation Al-Shamal Road Race

9 May 2014

I have been cycling twice a week as cross training since last December when I bought my road bike. I have since then fell in love with cycling and enjoyed it even more than running. My speed and form is getting better and my results in the GMC Tri Series were the evidence.

Eager to see where I stand amongst the pure cyclists, I decided to participate in a road race that took part 9th May 2014 in Al-Shamal. There were an Elite 71 km and Weekend Warrior 36km categories. Yes I took part in the later. I have never rode more than 40 km so far, so I would not gamble and risk of coming last in my first cycling race.

Al-Shamal is located about 70 km north of Doha. Not familiar with the place, I joined a convoy departed from Ikea at 5:30 am. The drive to Al-Shamal was interesting and somewhat a nervy experience as we were driving in thick fog all the way. The fog was so thick the visibility was reduced to just a few metres. But we made it to Al-Shamal just in time for the registration.

There were many female national cyclists in the 36 km race. I cant help worrying losing to these girls. The course for the race is one loop out on Shamal highway and back to the town via Al-Gharya Road. I started the race cautiously and kept it steady at around 30 km/h. Some of the more experienced guys went off  way too fast for me to tag along. I quickly positioned myself at the back of the big chaser group among the national ladies. The weather was hot and windy making it really hard for a novice like me.

I made a steady gain and overtaking others one by one until I broke away from the peloton by 10th km. In front of me was the top Qatari female cyclist. She had her coach and asst. coach driving along by her side. I managed to catch her but she stayed on and drafting on me. Well I don't know how much saving she got drafting on my back but she stayed for 6-7 km refusing to share the work load. Her coach and her assistant kept shouting and giving instructions to her in Arabic. It was rather annoying. I managed to break up from her at the flyover exiting the highway into Al-Ghariya road back to Al-Shamal.

The inbound was a lot harder as we had to fight a strong head wind all the way, plus I was cycling alone. From here the lead group had dispersed and spread out individually. I managed to overtake 5 or 6 more and continued to press on despite my HR stayed at high 179/180 bpm. My speed was reduced from the 30s to just 25ish kmh. I was closing in with 3 more cyclists in front of me as I sprinted to the finish line. I completed the 36km race in 1:13:24 for 8th place. It was a great feeling to finish in the top 10 in my first race considering I was still new in this sport.

I believe I should focus more on cycling and utilise my thunder thighs to a good use.

At the start

I was pressing hard to catch the guy at 7th place

Syafei's 0:34 h Pool swimming Move #SuuntoSwim

Syafei's 0:34 h Pool swimming Move #SuuntoSwim

Friday, 25 April 2014

GMC TriSeries Race 4

5 April 2014

Alhamdullilah, I got my first podium finish in a solo triathlon event in the last GMC Triseries race. I only competed in the Super Sprint race (400m Swim, 10km Bike, 3.3km run) because I was not ready to swim anything longer than 500m in a race yet, and I was really tired from the 5km Night Run race on Thursday night and the 25km long run yesterday. I also made a right decision strategically as most of the established triathletes in Doha were competing in the Sprint distance. Happy Days. 

I thought my swim was good, at least I wasn't so spent when I dragged myself out of the pool into T1. The bike section was great. I felt comfortable with my bike and just hammered it through the rugged surface of the technically challenging bike course. Apart from running which is still my strongest, I have improved considerably on the bike too as I managed to pass many people who overtook me during the swim. Right then I knew that I would made it to the podium. It was also good to see my wife and kids at the transition area as I went into T2. Off to the run, I felt very tired and cant seem to push myself harder. I  was so relieved that this will over soon so I just maintain the effort until the finish line.

My time overall timing was 49:54, which placed me second. Only 9 seconds behind the gold medallist, but I take it. It was then I realised that this could be my sport. I only need to work extra hard on my swim and spend more time on the saddle. The run will take care of itself.

Race Statistics:
Rank: 2
Swim: 10:00 (Ranked 8/28)
T1: 00:46
Bike: 22:53 (Rank 2/28)
T2: 00:46
Run: 15:27 (Rank 2/28)
Total: 49:54

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.  

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.