Race Report: Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships – Malaysia

Powerman duathlon have been a ‘must’ do annual race for most of us. That is because there are not many duathlon races around compared to triathlon races. Duathlon race which consist of Run-Bike-Run, a good first step for those who potentially interested to move up to do triathlon sport.

This year is my 5th year participating in Powerman duathlon but it was also one of worst event I have ever done in terms of performance wise (for my current fitness level). However, I am glad to still managed to achieve a Personal Best (PB) timing.

For those who knows me, I am a late bloomer in the sport field and I do put a lot of effort, dedication and time, to get to where I am today. I may not be at the competitive level compared to those who’ve got talent in this field of sport, but I will always try to improved my timing for each new races that I take on.


Race Report:

Run 1 (00:57:41)
Dark clouds were already covering Putrajaya area before the race. It only started to shower about 20 mins after we flagged off. I realised I didn’t bring my cap along. There are also other items which I realised that I have left out because I did not do a checklist prior before the race this around. Bad move.

I started the run a bit too fast compared to my training pace. The course was relatively flat, so I went ahead to push. Furthermore the weather was cooler since it showered. I ran a very good sub 60 mins for the first 10k. So I thought I was doing better as planned.

Photo courtesy of Nik Fahusnaza.

T1 (00:03:15)
First transition went very smooth with no hiccups, except the crowd at the bike out area.

Bike (02:08:39)
After exiting the transition, I slowly push through myself out from the crowd on the far most right lane. Powerman is an event where there are many amateurs cyclist who may not be familiar with the riding ethics. I don’t blame them as I was once like them.

I started on the bike slowly and progressively hammered through the hill. At close to 10km into the bike, I started to feel my right calf muscle cramping. Thought to myself – “Oh shit, this is not good.”. I Ignored the sign and let my ego push further on the bike. Then slowed down after realising if my calf muscle get locked I would probably fall of the bike and break myself instead.

I took a stop at 12km. Tried stretching out my right calf that got cramped. That got me very upset because I know I have prepared well for this race. Was so closed to calling a quit but giving up do not exist in my dictionary. As frustrated as I was, I knew I was losing time. The marshal that was stationed helped me to massaged my calf muscle out. After 3 mins, I felt I was okay to go and got back right in.

I later switched to using my quads muscle to ride instead. Giving my calf a break to avoid it from getting cramp again. The strategy works. However, I was really pushing myself too much. I could recall my memory muscle of my front squats movement when I was firing my quads up most of the hills. Having to lost 3 mins from the stop, so I tried to play catch up and in hope I could finished within 2 hours for 60km, but it was slightly over.

I got off the bike into transition 2 – feeling okay. But I knew I have trash my left quad on the hill.

Photo courtesy of AKU, Wong.

T2 (00:07:05)
I don’t recall taking 7 mins at the transition but I do remember seeing the timing map being placed quite far from the run out exist point.

Run 2 (01:07:13)
My legs literally felt like brick after I got off the bike. Probably that’s how they get the term – brick off the bike. Then 500 meters into the run, my left quad started to show signs of cramping. I had to stopped to massage it. I have never felt so much pain during a race before. The cramp was worst than Ironman Langkawi to be honest. A friend who ran passed me and suggested that I take some ice to release the cramp. It did help and I press on to finish the remaining of the run. There were some point where I wanted to walk, however walking would re-trigger the quad to cramp again. It was a good problem to be honest. So I just had to shuffle to the finishing line.

My take away from this race:

  1. Never forget to bring a cap or visor (be it rain or shine, it will save my face/cheek from getting sun burn too).
  2. Never forget my race checklist, more especially nutrition checklist. The one thing that I forgotten to pack was the salt pill. I know it helped me during the last 2 Powerman races.
  3. Always train with the socks that I will be wearing on race day. So I wore Compressport sock during this race and had the same blister on the same areas during Ironman Langkawi race. I thought the problem was the shoes, however the culprit was the dots on the Compressport socks. (This is based on my experience, it may vary for other people who had worn them.)
  4. Never to apply sunscreen on areas above the eyes. The sweat and rain was dripping above my eyes. I believe my eyes was feeling the burn from some of the sunscreen that got wash down from my forehead.
  5. To at least do a Run-Bike-Run session during training, prior before the duathlon race.

Powerman 2016 – 04:39:00

Powerman – 04:24:41 (Personal Best)

Time Cat Pos Gen Pos Run 1 T1 Bike T2 Run 2
2017 (PB) 4:24:41 15 69 0:57:41 0:03:15 2:08:39 0:07:05 1:07:13
2016 4:39:00 13 71 1:03:33 2:13:07 1:14:12
Improvement 0:14:19     0:05:52      0:04:28   0:06:59

Shaving off 14 mins is definitely a great improvement. However I would still definitely try to do better again next year.


Credit & Acknowledgement:
Rudy Project Wing 57 helmet by Rudy Project Malaysia Brunei
Duathlon training program by Coach Felipe Loureiro of Breakaway Training
Strength & conditioning training program by Coach Jonathan Wong of PushMore Fitness & Performance

Chasing the 70.3 Dream

It all started with a dream… a dream of wanting to push one limit, a dream of wanting to complete an Ironman race.

I was never a competitive person to begin with, but I was doing it more for self accomplishment and achievement. Regardless of gender or age, I know and believe that if I were to put my heart and soul to do something, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”. That is what being an Ironman is all about.

After completing my first Olympic Distance (OD) triathlon race in August 2014, I was itching to race in another triathlon. Unfortunately, one of the races I had signed up for got cancelled and there weren’t any other races nearby around the corner. So instead of training for nothing, I begin to search for a customized coaching program to cater to my needs and fitness level. Reason being is because I like having a program that I can follow for the entire month.

To race a 70.3 Ironman was one item on my bucket list, but there was a problem, I wasn’t sure where or how to begin. Going from an Olympic Distance triathlon to a 70.3 distance, effectively doubling my distance would not be an easy task. A 1.9km swim starts the day of, with a 90km bike ride before finishing up with a 21km run – each of the sport is already tough on its own, what more having to complete all of them in one day.

Having little experience in triathlon races, begin looking for triathlon coaching. I spent the first 3 months to train on my base with Coach Philip Yip purely on running and cycling, and later did my 70.3 training program with Coach Felipe Loureiro of Breakaway Training.

Breakaway-Logo

—–

Two days before the race, I had the opportunity to be one of the selected contestants to have dinner with Craig (Crowie) Alexander. We had an evening of questions and answers where Craig shared some advices and his personal experience in the triathlon field.

11039142_869326923112907_7872113115686171009_n

With Craig ‘CROWIE’ Alexander himself. Photo courtesy of Ironman Malaysia

Being someone renowned in the triathlon field, Craig is really humble and honest about his struggle in life with juggling training (a.k.a. work) and family like all of us do. He emphasised the important of having family support and having them be part of your sport, which I totally agree.

Each of us (contestants) was given an opportunity to ask Craig a question and mine was – “What would be your advice for someone who attempting to do their first Ironman distance? What would be the advisable duration or build up to that level and should it be just training all the way or should there be races to build up?”

His answer was (in my own words):

The ideal duration is to give you one year to build up the distance and endurance; adding 1-2 half-Iron distance (70.3 miles) and OD races to keep the momentum going. Reason being if you just train for a year without putting in few races, you wouldn’t push yourself to the limit to improve your performance.

Race Day

Swim
We were grouped in 3 batches based on our estimated swim time for 1.9km and the triathletes were release in wave of 4 each to prevent collisions, which was really helpful for first-timers like me. I struggled with my sighting at times and swam off course several times, ultimately increasing my distance by a fair bit.

I felt good when I came out of the water, having survived the swim and ready to go all out on the bike and run!

I completed the swim leg in 52minutes despite having swum 300 meters extra.

11102716_10152743145780382_8848741124390563898_n

Photo courtesy of ET Tey

Transition 1
I made my way to the transition area, trying not to panic; I took my time to ensure I do not miss out anything. Before getting onto the bike, I had a little accident on the carpet, felt really bad as it was an area shared by other participants.

I also wasted few precious minutes, with a small problem I encountered with my shoes.

Pro-tip: Practise flying mounts

Bike
I took it easy on the first few kilometres to warm up my legs, reminding myself to constantly sip water to prevent cramps or dehydration. I played it safe by wearing a cycling jersey during the bike leg just so I could keep my fuel in the back pocket without risking dropping anything.

During the first loop, I tried riding as quickly as my legs allowed. While in my second loop, I started to conserve my strength, to avoid hitting the proverbial wall before the run leg. The heat and humidity started to take its toll on me and my average pace dropped from 25/km to 23/km. By then I knew my targeted finishing time was slipping away, but I didn’t allow that to dampen my spirit as all I was aiming for was to finish.

Few kilometres toward the transition, I slowly increase the cadence for the last few kilometres to avoid squats cramp on the run leg.

1422538_875147565878226_2312622204063574158_n

Photo courtesy of Ultraman Malaysia Kannan Murugasan

Transition 2
When I arrived in transition 2, I knew I’m very close to finishing. I changed into my running tee, cap and shoes and off I went into the run.

Run
It was around 1pm in the afternoon when I started running. I was already feeling exhausted and the heat did not make it any better. But I was thankful that there was water/shower stations every 2km of the run for us to cool off.

22611_10153707352134325_7579533517819282632_n

Photo courtesy of Darren Chan

The made a huge mistake by getting my shoes soaking wet. Halfway through the run, I started to get chafing from the tee underneath both side of my armpit and blisters on my feet. I was so tempted to walk back but it hurts more to walk, thus jogging was a lot easier and I try to get back as fast as I could to the finishing arch. At this point, I was just trying to survive.

Running towards the finishing line, I was glad to see my dad present at the finishing line. I felt great having to complete my maiden 70.3 Ironman, and my second triathlon, in 7:42:32. And having my dad witness the event itself it would help him understand the sport better and all the training that I’ve put in the past couple of months.

I’ve really learned a lot from this experience. I dedicate my finishing to God – for blessing me with supportive family and friends, especially my parents for being supportive in my sport/fitness journey; training friends – for putting in the miles with me; swim coach Amir of Swimon – for stroke corrections sessions; Coach Philip Yip – for the foundation training; and Coach Felipe Loureiro of Breakaway Training, for the effective training coaching program and believing in me. THANK YOU!

11129657_10155502672005347_2022678246_o

My first 70.3 Ironman Finisher!

The Day I Became a Triathlete is the Day I Learnt How to Swim

After years of running and cycling, I recently completed my first Olympic Distance triathlon at the Port Dickson International Triathlon (August 2014), organised by Uncle Chan, who is famous for adding surprises into the triathlon, I found the easygoing atmosphere and the festive mood there welcoming for a first-timer.

I chose Port Dickson to be my first triathlon as the sea is typically calm for this event, the bike route is flat and fast, and the run along the coast being very scenic, all added up to a very pleasant first triathlon for me.

I would not say that the journey to being a triathlete was easy, but at the same time it was made a lot easier with the help of many experienced athletes.

My Main Obstacle
As a long-time athlete, I have always had this desire to be a triathlete. Maybe it is because triathletes are known to be some of the fittest sports people on the planet, or maybe magnetic attraction to the sport via the Ironman brand, I just wanted to be a triathlete. Unfortunately, I could not swim.

Like many other people, swimming is the biggest hurdle to overcome, with a common saying “If you’re tired on the bike, you can coast; if you’re tired while running, you can still walk; if you’re tired or panic during the swim, you’re out of the game” showing with the most common fear associated with swimming being drowning. The fear of aggressive marine animals, no thanks to movies like Jaws with its distinctive, ominous soundtrack, is perhaps a close second.

With my problems being an open secret, I was introduced to the Total Immersion Freestyle Mastery Malaysia Program. Total Immersion, a method of swimming instruction, was developed by Terry Laughlin and focuses on efficiency. The basic philosophy is energy conservation, where energy wastage is minimised and instead putting potentially wasted energy to good use, namely propelling oneself forward. Teaching method is structured, with a systematic progression of skills that applies to entry-level swimmers, triathletes, distance swimmers or recreational swimmers.

Having experienced both a conventional, and Total Immersion Freestyle Mastery Malaysia’s swimming method, I found that Total Immersion’s method easier to learn. Emphasis on the correct form and technique does not only help make one a stronger swimmer, but also builds confidence in the water. Total Immersion’s focus of efficient energy usage ensures that triathletes are not worn out, saving their strength for the latter legs of the race.

With the increasing popularity of triathlons, the Total Immersion does not only cater to basic swimming skills, but also covers skills required for triathletes participating in open-water swims. Accustoming oneself to messy and potentially scary mass starts, learning to draft faster swimmers, and proper navigation skills to stay on course, are all essential skills to helping triathletes set new personal records.

To further develop swimmers’ skills and confidence in the open water, Total Immersion Freestyle Mastery Malaysia conducts monthly open-water swim sessions, in collaborates with Swimon. Swimon organises open water swimming event and provide lessons to acquire necessary open water swimming skills. It cater from beginners to well as recreational swimmers and triathletes. These open-water sessions are conducted by experienced lifeguards and swimming coaches, and safely introduces open water swimming to inexperienced swimmers in a gradual manner, helping them overcome their fear of the sea.

Having experienced the euphoria of completing my first triathlon, I would urge anyone with similar ambitions and fears to give the Total Immersion Freestyle Mastery Malaysia Program a shot. For more information, do check out Total Immersion Freestyle Mastery Malaysia on Facebook.