“Kenyir – Malaysia Toughest Triathlon” So say the tagline on the banners that line the streets.
This was my first Kenyir race and I’ve heard stories about the bike climbs and the run routes.
I used to get someone shaking their head and telling me that it’s tough.
Someone even say that it is so tough, it makes IronMan looks easy.
Well, then perhaps, that person has not been through IronMan…or has not trained enough. Or that kenyir race he entered was most probably his only race he has taken part since 4 years ago.
Anyhow, the journey from Ulu Kelang to Kenyir took us a good 5 hours of drive. We met at Shazly’s place at about 8.30pm and moved out by 9.30pm. We stopped at Genting Sempah for some Carbo-Loading (when else can we eat without giving lame excuse?) and rolled out by 11pm.
We know the journey would be long and expected to arrive by 6am the next day. But somehow, we reached Kenyir at 4.30am! In complete darkness and we slept at the reception until 7am.
When the sky lighted up, I began to see how steep the roads around me was. Adzim was saying something about “lucky I brought my 26 cogs”…and it hits me…my old steel colnago comes with a 24 cogs…seasoned racer like him (and fast racer too) is contemplating, I was a bit shaken, but I thought to myself that everyone would and have to go through the same course. Even if it is 19 cog, I have to do it.
To be frank, I have no idea and no expectation when I signed up for this race. I did it because I’ve not done it and this time around, I was lucky enough to be sponsored to do the race. That helped (the pocket)!
There were only an odd 204 people taking part, of which a good 144 is age grouper and the rest were relay teams (2 or 3 members each team).
During the carbo loading dinner, the Tune sponsored guys wore red into the hall. We got some stare alright. But we weren’t the stars. The main guy (that’s Tengku Zafrul) stroll in and joined us at the table. The carbo loading dinner was good, but the facing the hungry ever ready to carbo load triathletes, the whole situation became chaotic.
I lost count of how many times the kitchen staff has to replenish the items on the buffet table. Me and Mervin just stood outside and ate whatever that is left on the table. We figured that was the best and fastest way to eat. And finally, when we got the chance to line up and take our food, there were so little left it wasn’t the dinner we thought we are going to have. Anyhow, our main aim is to eat, and ate we did.
The next morning, we woke up at 5.30am. One by one of us sat on the throne and showered. We then did a last check to ensure we got all the items we need for the race.
We cycled to the transition point, which was a good 2km away. Arrange the items on the transition rack. What was sorely missing was me taking pictures. I forgot to bring my charger! So, apologies for NOT having any worthy pics in this posting. But I assure you that pics will be uploaded when I get it!
At 7.30am, the participants were called to the starting point. One by one took their chance to enter the water and warm up.
The water was comfortably cold. It was so clear that I could see two person away from me treading water. I could clearly see who was breastroking and who was freestyling. That would help me not bumping (or me bumping) into others and spoiling their rhythm.
At 8am, Mr. Chan called everyone up for one last briefing. I found myself at the front of the line.
At 8.15am, the horn was blasted and chaos ensued.
Triathlon Swim start is like contact sports. Everything is fair and all physical contact are not meant to injure your rival or friends, but everyone would scramble for the best spot and stay ahead. We did not say that Triathlon is non contact sports, did we?
I got into good rhythm with a 3-1 stroke (3 hand – 1 breathe) and could easily find my bearing until the first buoy when at the turn of the first buoy the sun was shining and blurred my vision. I had to correct my direction a couple of time and pushed for it. By the time I reached the second buoy, I switched to breaststroke and powered through to the third buoy. A quick glance says it took me a good 18 minutes to crawl the first 750m. The remaining loop was done in the very much same fashion as the first. Upon reaching the second buoy, I saw Senn and Zabil. Woohoo! I caught up with Zabil?! Motivated, I powered through the breaststroke (which is my strongest swim style) and exited the water in 38min.
Running into T1, I saw Adzim leaving. I saw Shazly and I saw Mervin leaving. I am about the only bike that is left on the rack. I heard the MC (Maslan) shouted to Zabil and by then I know I am a good 1 minute infront of him. Took sometime for me to get organized at T1. Fumbled through the helmet and sunnies while Azhar (JB) spoke and encouraged me on. For a moment, I had a Macca (as in Chris McCormack) moment. He fumbled through his T1, shouting as he struggled to get his helmet buckled in Kona last year.
I must had spent almost 3 minutes getting ready. And right out of the T1, there was a hill to climb. I huffed and puffed up hill on 42-19 combo, gaining good speed and overtaking a few along the way up. Those days in Peres helped!
The first downhill, I clocked the second fastest downhill ever in my whole entire cycling life. I did a 75.7km/h (my fastest record was 82km/h coming down Genting on my crazy years, many many moons ago).
Then, I told myself that I should technically enjoy the ride as it was my forte – climb. I don’t do well on the flat but I know I excel on the climb as I’m a power cyclist rather than an endurance cyclist. The last climb before the bike U turn was the heaviest as I had only a 42-24 combo to deal with and help ease the pain. Some others have the bigger cog (26 or 27) and some have their triple crank. I shut all those numbers away and concentrate on climbing, overtaking a couple more of people and was never more glad when I saw Shazly about 1km away from me (500meters from U-turn la, do the maths). I know I could try to catch him, but chances are thin as the return journey will be a breeze with mostly downhills (what goes up, must come down mah!).
My average as I did my u turn was a good 25km/h, which was good I thought considering the amount of climbs one need to do.
Immediately after my u turn, I saw DBC, then I saw Mervin, then I Saw Azmar, then I saw TZ (short for Tengku Zafrul la). Cheering them on, I powered my way home. A few tried drafting but can’t keep up (because the stronger riders are all way up front, leaving the average like me trying to keep up with each other) with me for long. I was on a mission yesterday. I promised the sponsor to go all out; to blow my lungs.
I entered Kenyir and anticipated the last hard climb (which I first did the fast 75.7km/h). Truly, what goes down, WILL go up.
I ran out of gear and huffed and puffed again on the final climb up the hill, smiling for Jim (our official photog, which is also an ex-boy) and tried to make it look easy (which wasn’t).
I entered T2 in 1:15 and an average of 29.5km/h.
At T2, I was slightly more organized. I saw Shazly leaving T2 and told him I will catch him upfront.
Changed and decided NOT to wear socks with the new PI’s Streak shoe. The shoe has a seamless construction and I thought I don’t need to wear socks. That was the single biggest mistake that almost cost me my race yesterday.
I blazed through my run and Mervin caught up with ease. He then caught up with Shazly about 2km infront. At the midpoint, I clocked a good 25minutes and that was when I decided that the stinging feeling on both my heels was too much to take.
I’ve imagined my worse and the worse did happen. Both my heels was bleeding because of the blisters bursting and rubbing against the shoe. The rear part of the shoe was soaked with my blood and the pain got worse with every steps I take. I could see Shazly and Mervin pulling away. I decided to do what I never do in any race – wet my shoes. I was doing that hoping that the ice water could take the pain away and wash the blood away before it dries (and I end up with an ugly pair of new shoe). The cold water helped and the blister actually felt better – for about 300m and then the pain gets unbearable again.
It was a wet’n’go race therefore for me. At the last water station, I drenched myself and raced downhill, pushed and ignored the pain and cross the line in 1hour.
My tri time, as per my watch states I finished the race in 3:05.
It was a good race. But could have been better if not because of the blisters (at this point, it seems like an excuse, but it wasn’t when I crossed the line yesterday).
Did I raced my lungs out? I did not for the run, but I did raced my heart out. Infact, the 3:05 timing was better than the flat A Formosa I did 1 month ago.
For that, I am proud of myself, for clocking a respectable timing for the toughest Olympic distance Tri in Malaysia.
On the same matter, I must congrats DBC and TZ for doing well in this race as well. It was DBC debut race and he got 8th in his age group and won RM150. That should be enough inspiration for him to continue racing. To add cream to the pie, he beats his own personal trainer in this race.
As for TZ, he did really well and could had finished close to DBC. He will do the full race in PD.
I can’t wait for PD.