Monday, March 01, 2010

Ironman Langkawi 2010 : Race Report

Hi all,

I am alright and back to work. Went for a meeting/training this morning and all i heard were echoes from the trainer/presenter at the back of my head. Refrained from taking any coffee as i have enough caffienne in my system to last me a month. Race supplements are evil - and yucky.

Here is my race report - on the toughest ever Ironman race i ever did. Not that i did that many times, but the overall timing was even worse than when i had injury last year. Lets read (as i write on) and see if i could make any sense at all.

T-3 Days to Race
I arrived Langkawi on Wednesday, 24th Feb. I decided to come a day earlier to register early and ensure i do not get all flustered and overwhelmed by the crowd. Yusran picked me up at the airport and we went to get ourselves registered. There were no queue and it was really calm. Resting heartrate was 75bpm and my BP were normal. My fear of them not checking the blood hemo level sort of made me felt a bit relieved. I know i might not be able to pass off the "blood sink or float" test. The rest of the day was just R&R as i have the Ironman orange band clipped to my right wrist.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon to early evening sorting out names of friends that has registered and paid for the race but their name were not in the list! Where can???

Part of dinner at Wonderland Food Store - the simply best (and cheapest) seafood in Langkawi

I spent the rest of the day thanking my lucky star how there is no lancet to prick my fingers to check for blood-iron level.

T-2 Days to Race
Thursday's first thing to do was to jump into the water and test out the goggle and condition. Warm calm water as expected and the swim course looked really nice. Langkawi has the reputation of a hard swim out and an easy swim back due to the change in tide and current. This year were not expected to be any different as the last two IM i did (in Langkawi) were predictably same.

I have very minimal training on the swim short of the two 30 minutes session after Desaru Long Distance and one session to test out the new pair of goggles. It was a risk i was willing to take, than to risk the old pair leaking water and causing me more worries than i should.

The sun was burning down and the temperature was rising by the hour. By 10am, the swimming shorts which i wore dried up just under 30 minutes. The warm water attracts small fishes and of course, jelly fishes to the swim course. Here is one taken right at the pontoon with Kam's camera.

According to the kayakers, the "brown" jelly fishes are not dangerous as it will only burn you with a tingle, but the clear transparent one will cause more damages. I wasn't ready to know how that feel and cut the swim short - which is most probably a good thing.

More participants rolled in from the airport today and amongst them were Barath. I know you are reading this Barath and please accept my apologies as the jokes i made over the days i was with you were meant to be laughing with you, not at you. :)

The Seaview hotel were a hive of activities as more lean mean looking triathletes rolled in for the medical and registration for the race. It was awesome as there were a whole loads of familiar faces to see and it was a reunion of some sort.

We later went for a quick spin from Kuah town to Bukit Antu, to give Kok Aik a feel of how the 10 Degree climb will be like.

It was then dinner and rest for the day. Two days to race day and i was anxious and tired myself out packing my transition items.

Swim - Tri-Shorts and Tri-Top + new View goggle.

Bike - the usual, minus tri-top and introducing the calf guard

Run - a deviation as i will be wearing compression tights and loose running top

T-1 Day to Race

Friday. less than 24 hours to race day from the time i woken up. Met Fathi, which i only knew via my blog and facebook. Finally being able to put a face to the name. Great chap on his first IM mission. Knowing how daunting it could be without friends during race week, myself and the rest asked him to join us for some R&R.

Our idea of R&R that morning was to explore the biking route. So, the rented minibus was filled with Ironman and Ironman hopeful (and one Ironman IronWaterBoy) and we went the big loop and one small loop. I pointed out some spot everyone should remember to be careful due to roadwork and uneven ground. I knew this route pretty well as i spent close to 8 hours here last year struggling to finish with an injury on the left foot.

Once that was done, we went to Siti Fatimah, reputated to be the best local food around.

Chicken cooked in soya sauce gravy, meat floss, bittergourd, french beans and salad - for lunch

Then it was bike check in time. The fun begins.

Bike done - next, pick up biggest supporter named Aileen Har from Airport

I only stayed for 15minutes and rushed off to airport for wifey. Was very happy to see her and thanks to Kok Aik (#226) and wifey Josephine, we had a room at Westin. Nadia did not come as the weather was not favourable for her as i do not want to risk her falling sick.

Fat Boy Inc.

With less than 12 hours, i was jittery. I was worried. But at the same time, i know i will be fine. It was dinner with the team and it was an early night (11pm) for me to force myself to sleep, for tomorrow, i will awaken at 0500hours.

T-7hours to Race
Bloody hell, still awake.

T-3hours to Race
Sitting in toilet bowl trying to shit. Unsuccessful. Looked like i will race with byproduct of yesterday's dinner.

T-2hours to Race
Barath still in toilet. Everyone waiting for him to come down to hotel lobby. Rushed to race start and body marked. I left 2 hardboiled eggs and slices of bread as my special need on the bike.

T-1hour to Race
Anxious. Told everyone to race safe. Made mental note to ignore any burning sensation or stinging sensation in water and swim on. No excuse not to finish today. I came this far. I MUST FINISH.

T-15Mins to Race
Pro gunned off. Looked like less than 30 pros in the water. International race? Sure or not?

Participants jumped/dived/swam and i gladly let everyone start first. Said a little prayer and remembering late Zoob.

Swim 3.8KM - 1:45:49
Throughout the swim i was struggling to find the pace. 200m markers were on the course but it seems and looked like it's not reachable. It took me almost 200 strokes of breaststroke to finish 200m of swim, that is 100 strokes more than the usual swimming pool 11strokes/25m or 100strokes/100m. I went 100% Breaststroke as I, after that many years of swimming and racing, can't swim freestyle or frontcrawl decently.

I stayed on course, kept moving and swimming. Got bitten by water lice here and there but it was completely bearable. No jelly fishes in sight and that was a good thing. New goggle paid off and i was happy how it was serving me.

It took me 70minutes to reach 1.9km mark and i know i might be in trouble and might just make the swim cut off of 2:20. Consolation that the return swim are usually faster, i started kicking stronger and faster.

Only to be drifted away from the buoy markers to the left hand side and i saw just how many people were off course like i did.

That was when i vomitted. And i swam in my own breakfast.

No time to waste and i continued on and pushed. About 400m to finish, i realised that the current changed direction and are pushing me to the right almost to the green flagged buoy that marks the swim-out course. At the very same time, i was struggling to keep my food down (or whatever that was left) and struggled to the jetty.

I exited the water, elated. I initially thought i did better than last year by 5 minutes, only to realise that i was slower by 10. It took me 1:35 in 2009 and it was a good 16mins slower this time around.

I was just glad to be out alive that i kissed the ground after i exit the shower.

I spent 17 minutes in T1 to regain composure as even with motion sickness pill, i was pretty shaky after the swim.

Bike 180km - 6:55:24
The longest distance i've done on the bike this year was the 200km Frasers Hill ride. I've done Broga once and Klawang once and i know while they were insufficient, i was hoping that i will pull it off.

The first 50km of the bike were pretty alright with the sun hiding behind the clouds ensuring the weather and temperature were under check. At 1300hours, the cloud cleared and the sun came shining down. Bike league were the longest distance in this race and everything that can go wrong will go wrong if someone do not pace themselves or had a punture or two, or three. 

I was cautious about punture as it could be demoralising and i had my rim tape replace T-2Days to race as it caused two punctures within 12hours. It's better to "jinx" away these things that could be under our control (and cost RM10/tape) than to risk DNF (did not finish) on the course.

I felt really strong on the bike despite the heat that touched 46 Degree C at 1430hours. it was also then that two water stations decided that they ran out of bottles and drinkable water! WTF!???

Water ran out at Kedawang all the way to Kuah town, which was two water station at 30km interval. The excuse the volunteers gave was that they had called and they items was not delivered to them! Unacceptable if you asked me!

Thank goodness for gems of friends (too many to name but you know who you guys and girls are) offering drinks to the participants!

I disposed off all my bottles and regretted doing so because i had nothing but my aerodrink bottle to store water. That too, i had to fill up with ice and wait for it to melt.

Because of the heat, that did not take long before the ice melted and turned warm - in less than 20km!

I picked up used bottles with ants inside while munching on hard boiled egg during the bike

Along the way, you get motivations such as these:

Only saw the writing, not the babe, but good enough!

I pushed harder than i did on the bike compared to the year before and it paid off handsomely when i managed to better my time from 6:59 in 2009 to 6:55 this year. I thought i had improved and scored a PB, but in actual fact, i did not.

26km/h average which ain't too bad

I was happy with my biking time despite the heat and lack of water on the course. Infact, i was delighted that i was still strong after 9hours of the race (and the announcement that Belinda Granger won the women pro category....)

I spent about 20minutes trying to get into the compression tights. It was tiring as my fingers were cramping and my calves were having mind of their own (can't coordinate with what my hands wanted to do).

It was crazily tiring, but i felt strong. I want to run the whole 42km, nevermind how slow it will be.

Run 42.2km - 7:26:55
When i started my run, i was feeling strong and managed to stride the first 2km passing Condo Istana. The moment i merge with the Jalan Ayer Hangat, the sun was blazing down on my back that the black compression tights absorbed all the heat there were that shined on my ass. It drained all the energy i ever had and i felt my back burning. My stride were reduced to a walk as i felt the humidity of the day starting to raise. Not helping with the road under construction and vehicles kicking up dust like the road wasn't paved at all.

I stopped at the water station outside the "Idaman Suri" shop (which sell Pyrex and stuff like that) and sat into the ice bucket and had sub 5 degree ice water bathed down my head to my back.

I almost fainted from the change of temperature.

I hobbled the next 1.5km to the U-turn unable to open my eyes eventhough i had my shade on and the sun is behind me. I felt saliva dripping from the corner of my mouth as i struggled to maintain composure and walk in straight line.

I then found someone's running visor on the road side. I took it. Washed it. Wore it. If my life depended on this, i spent almost the last ounce of sanity and energy to pick it up.

I walked the next 4km looking down as the soon to be evening sunset were burning into my eyes and my saliva was dripping down while i hyper-ventilate. It took me an hour to complete the 5.1km walk and another 50mins to complete the first 10km. 2hours to complete 10km is PW (Personal Worse!)

I then had Zabrina (Ishsal's sayang) running with me for 3km before i bumped into wifey which ran with me for the rest of the night.

I then had the whole bunch of OP and their spouses cheering me on. I apologize if i appear to be blur or arrogant and did not wave back. It was a task to even hold my hands up!

Effort and dedication even as supporters!
Can't possibly beat supporters such as these and those i do not have pictures of right now (Mac, AJ, Julie, Cmdr Chan+Mrs, Abang Razani, Edwin, Ishsal, Z, Alisa, Bandit, Barath, Wifey!!!)

The supporters ran with me, walked with me and help keep my spirit up. I felt shy that i was walking when i should be running. I felt humbled that so many called my name and yet, i can't lift my arms to wave and thank them back. Some were also saying i am walking than them running. Not entirely sure how that was possible.

I requested for ice-cream on my second lap going third (or i think on my 18km) and wifey got me a Magnum. It was heaven sent as i was battling the humidity and heat post sunset. I was sweating just standing!

My head was spinning and the Gatorade served were tasteless as if my taste bud were numb. I only felt cold on the tongue as i gobbled down the ice-cream. I had two more ice-cream as i reached KM 20. 

Then, i had to battle chaffing on my arms as it was brushed against the loose running vest. I seek medical help to wrap the arms with gauze and tape.

With Kok Aik aka Heckler. His participation was only confirmed 5 days before race. He missed IM2008 due to accident (him vs. 12 wheelers) at Genting Sempah 2 weeks before Xmas 2007

My last loop had my body shutting down and refusing to do anything but i keep telling my mind to continue putting the left leg in front of the right leg and continue doing that the rest of the distance.

By 12am, the road was already dark and lonely and i have my last 6km to go. I had wifey and Fadhli, which was a friend i only met in FB. We paced each other and they stopped when i stopped. 

Did i want to give up? I did but i told myself that i am not made to give up. I lifted the head up and continued struggling putting the feet infront of each other. Every lap i took, the ambulance were howling from medic tent to medic tent to pick up race casualties.

Wifey walked 30km with me. I knew this will be the woman that will stand behind me no matter what. With 20 minutes left to go, i was down to my final 1km. It was a struggle on the long lonely stretch of road with all the kids already back and most probably sleeping in their bed. It was, afterall, 1225 on Sunday morning.

Wifey asked me to go on, as i believe she has ran out of energy herself and Jabir took over. I remembered i was seriously worried about him injuring himself more on his knee that i told him something like not to run.

I hobbled and walked with giant steps and caught up with Senn and Ishsal. Ishsal was being a gem pulling Senn to finish her 4th Ironman race.

With 200m to go, i was walking alongside Senn and she went ahead and completed the race ahead of me.

I crossed the line at 16:48:08. A good 33 minutes off from my 2009 timing. 

I hold back tears as i raised the finisher's ribbon up in the air.

This was the toughest race i ever raced as even in 2009 with injury, i did better.

I did not regret a single second of the race i had this year. I thought i did a PB on the swim and bike when in actual fact, i did not.

But that did not matter.

It did not matter simply because i am glad that despite the condition i was in; work, health, family, training, i completed the race i started in and i am gladly happy and proud that i finish this race like how i promised all of you and most importantly, myself.


  1. First of all, nice blog. So easier to read now.

    And second: I am really proud of you stupe! I see u like a brother to me, and I am so happy, happy for u that u finished. Reading this has inspired me.

    You have a strong heart and mind. That kept you going. Aileen and friends did the rest. Well done!

    P.S Did you lose weight? u looked slim da…

  2. Inspiring!!! Thanks for the story....and CONGRATS!

  3. Kooky - :) thanks. Appreciate the thoughts and words.

    1. blog badly need a re-vamp and this is the best choice ever. It was driven by the fact that Haloscan shut down and i lost all my comments and i forgot how to troubleshoot html codings ;-)

    2. Thank you for "adik-kakak" feel. I never had any older siblings and i certainly appreciate someone thinks of me as such. Makes me feel special.

    3. I told myself that i will finish the race. If i did not. I would not forgive myself.

  4. PT/RwM - i hope it's a story i will not repeat in my next IM. Keyword - i pay for what i did not do enough - training!

  5. Oh ya, if you wondered if i lost are my weight stats before and after race.

    Pre-CNY - 85kg
    Medical on 24th Feb - 81kg
    Weigh in 2 hours before race : 83.5kg
    Weigh in after 16:48 race : 80kg.

    Lost 3.5kg of water and mass.

    or was the scale playing tricks?

  6. I saw what I saw,all no matter how,still happy to see IMs cross finishing line,snap at different places.

    Salute to all of u pia spirit !


  7. Well done for your third IM victory Stupe!
    It was a pleasure to be able to cheer for you on the run course.

    Congrats once again.

  8. Stupe, im touched...and very inspiring...well done B Coy!!!

  9. no worries bro,

    i know, u love me.

  10. Bro, you got soul and that's what matters most. See you next year yes?

  11. bro, you make us dnf-ers proud! well done my friend. rest and recover well. we shall ride again soon! eh, next year we race in speedos lah pulak ... photo op mah :D

  12. aku jelous ni.... stupe. Next year plz teman aku ya.

  13. hi stupe - congratulation on completing another IM. You made us proud, and I for one salute your determination and fighting spirit. Recover well.

  14. Tey - thank you taikor!

    Nik - it was nice to see you at the other end. SOrry i looked like i was ran down by a truck.

  15. Mohd - which mohd is this? :) Thanks bro! B Coy sentiasa Boleh.

    Barath - you know better la!

  16. Teoh - recover well and start training again!

    Ish - for Speedos, refer to Teoh. ;)

  17. Zul - :) Hang tak payah motivator, you are one inspiration as well!

    Ian - thank you tuan!

  18. Salutes to you on completing the Tougest Race on Earth. You've got an Ironwill to finish and you did it.

  19. YAY you did it again despite all the obstacles ;-) well done!

  20. AMAZING!! tht's all i could manage.. I'm stil reeling frm shock at your by-by account of the race!

  21. Wendy - it was tough and i make no secret about it that i was suffering.

  22. Babe-Jie - despite whatever...come what may. I am ready.

  23. TNG - next year, get bf to do it and you go support. Trust me, it will open your eyes. thanks for the words!

  24. OP Stupe,

    Congrats & well done.

    OP Mood @ padangpasir
    maarib yemen

  25. you did an awesome job! I told Aileen- if our butts were numb from the motorcycle ride, imagine how yours would've felt after 190km of cycling.. imagine drinking gatorade from dawn till midnight..

    opppss... you did it again, bro..

  26. Bandito - firstly, thank you for taking care of us racers and my wife.

    secondly, it's 180km...where that extra 10km comes from? if really got extra 10...then i think i might already collapse.

    :) And i love how you just give your watch to Senn during race! So typical of you!!!!

  27. Wow, dude, I didn't realise you had such a tough time of it. Well done! It's often said that the real heroes are not the fast guys but the guys that are out there hours after dark - I can't agree more (I've been there by the way, more than a couple of times). Congratulations you really are an IRONMAN. As for your wife - I think you owe her a slap up meal in a posh restaurant, what an amazing feat to run round 30k with you Bravo to her.

  28. Simon - coming from you, it meant a lot.

    It was particularly tough due to lack of training and my blood iron level which i am desperately trying to get up back.

    However, those are just excuses for me not doing well and as an amateur athlete, i should not blame other factors by myself if i do badly.

    i owe my wife my life and yeap, a meal at a posh place won't hurt either ;-)

  29. Stupe, stupe, stupe.....
    what a determination! I am saying this again and again. You are such an inspiration. Next time I am writing, will not be comment to your IM blog. It will be my IM! That's a.....wonder? Well done bro. Very, very proud of you. Aileen is such a great companion.

  30. Congrats again by brother. send my congrats to Aileen too.

  31. Tri-Mummy - please train hard for your IM. IMNZ was one option i am looking at in 2011 to go, if it will be cheaper than IMWA.

  32. Zailan - like your famous word - JANJI HABIS! :) Thanks Brother!

  33. I wanted to read your blog desperately but SUCK I have not subscribe to any broadband yet. Everyday I open my gmail just can see your name on the "BUZZ" that posted by Kam. I really want to open it and read but office blocked me from doing so.

    Till yesterday I oredi "TAK TAHAN". I told myself I must read STUPE LIM IRONMAN REPORT.

    Stupe : U did it very well despite the BAD WEATHER. U make me feel proud of u and am touched with my tears while am reading on (I feel u buddy). All the supporters are ROCKS and great motivators. U deserve it stupe no matter the result is good or bad.


  34. Wow! Swimming breaststroke for 3.8KM in the open sea? . This gives me inspiration that i am not handicapped by only knowing how to swim breast stroke man!!

  35. Lifesaver Luvis - thanks bro. Weather is not an excuse as everyone went through the same. it is all about prepareness and how trained someone are. For me, i paid for what i trained. The suffering was called for and i expected it 120%.

    That was the reason why i carried on eventhough i know i might blackout after 5km of run.

    I keep telling myself it will get better as the day turn into night...and it did. But of course, it was too late to post any better timing...

    but tht is really secondary.

  36. Norman - Nothing shy about swimming breaststroke...i know a lot of ppl that does this and is faster than ppl that does front crawl. Only reason i breastroked all the way was because i lacked training to get back my frontcrawl feel. Plus navigating with the tide pushing you left and right will make you lose more time when you went off course.