Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Desaru 116KM Triathlon Race Report

Apologies for the late entry. I was busy with work having taken last Friday (Sept 20) off to travel down to for the race and had to play catch up. Also, a blog obligation to have the previous post up for at least 48hours has inevitably delayed this race report entry. The blog post-paid for my entry fee to Desaru and being an average working father that has dream of turning pro triathlete, I have to bend a bit to earn that extra income to supplement these races and such. I’ve race Desaru since 2005. Taking a hiatus in 2010 and 2011 due to both health and work reasons. When the race was confirmed about 2 months ago, I registered for it straight and planned on a “comeback” of some sort. My last race in Desaru was back in 2009 was done in an all-time slow 7:45 which in the race report, I attributed it to the loss of “Work-Life” balance. It got really bad back then that even an ex-colleague sent me a “meeting reminder” to go home every day.
Good Reminder. You All Should Set This Too If Your Days End at 9pm at minimum
I guess ever since then and my last Ironman in 2010, things took a turn very much downhill. It has been an uphill struggle both with work and also health with 2010 being as bad, if not worse than 2009. It was a slide downhill despite all the promising and promises made at work. In 2010, I only had one other triathlon race, which was the PD Tri which had really jolted me up.Then came 2011 when I made a career decision to call it quit and to regain back my life, things took a good turn since.
Ever glad to be out of the water. I am a bad swimmer.
Without further ado, here is my Race Report. We left KL to be at Desaru on Friday. It was my first time on the new Senai-Desaru Highway that cuts away an hour of travelling time between Kota Tinggi and Desaru via the old trunk road.
TGINR? yeah, Thank God I Not Racing. Swim 0.0, Bike 0.0, Run 0.0. Great Supporter's cap.
The additional (about) RM15 of toll was worth the price paid for safety and speed. Travelling on the trunk road is a bit dangerous with locals overtaking haphazardly at times.
The Senai-Desaru Highway. Not too well maintained. Pot holes on highway is never a good idea.
Arriving at Desaru Lotus, the official hotel and race venue at about 5.30pm. I soon found out that the place belongs to the Lotus Group of restaurant. Yessir, the same people that runs the Mamak shops in PJ. The front desk was manned by people from Malaysia and Philippines. Most workers are Indian or Bangladeshi from India and Bangladesh. And the food was nothing to shout about. Luckily, we packed food from home for everyone. I guess wifey has perfected the art of packing for the kids – both clothes and food.
Uncle Chan in his element
Race kit collection was predictable but I missed the race briefing as I only reached the place at about 6.30pm. Looked like I missed Uncle Chan’s usual race briefing antics. The race will be 2loop swim, 1 loop bike and 2 loop run. Distance remained the same per planned and it is all system go.
Supporters. Die hard type.
I returned to the room and spent the next hour setting up the Ordu. Being a proper tri-bike I have had problem keeping up and taming her. My legs were not strong enough and I could not hold her at a constant speed long enough.
Confused Look.
I decided not to race with the camera like I always do. I was telling myself to not hold back – just go for it. I will, however, bring my phone in case of emergency.  
The Clickety sound of the thumb shifter is very addictive.
I’ve decided to take the Brooks Ghost 3 for the race. A shoe that has proven itself for me this year. Light enough and sufficiently padded. Those of you following will know some of the Brooks Technology such as the BioMoGo and the DNA. Ghost3, however, is equipped with an (already) obsolete HydroFlow. I am hoping that I will be able to upgrade to the Ghost5 soon.
All Ready.
Sleeping time came earlier as I’ve psyched up myself for the race the next day. I know I will struggle with the swim with almost zero mileage since PD Tri. The rough condition of the Desaru water all the years I have done it warrants me to pop in some motion sickness pills every time before the race. It was lights off for me by 12am – considering early by my standard. Alarm has been set to wake me up at 5.30am and 6.00am in case I overslept. 
Race Day 
I woke up at the first ring of the alarm. Body felt good though I have been on the verge of being sick with the throat dry and itching for the past two days before. Had my sustenance food aka homemade muesli mix. At 450kcal, there will be enough to last the swim and half the bike league. I brought along 3 servings of Accellerade sports drink to be mixed into 1liters of water which I will take 1/3 each before the swim, bike and run respectively. At additional 120kcal per serving, I will have that extra carb and protein that will provide energy before the body starts using fats for energy. Race nutrition has to be planned well and it is not a gamble. I've trained on empty and I have (through experience) known my need well. I changed and went for the body marking by 6.30am.
For first timer to triathlon, the transition area can be a daunting place to be. Everyone will look more ready that you. Everyone will look like they have better gears. But not everyone will know just how prepared (or otherwise) other than yourself.

Wait a come i am stuck in the middle between 2053 and 2054? Did someone changed the number tag?
It is important to layout all the items you want to use for the Bike and Run section. Transition is an art you can master. Most important point is to KEEP CALM. There is nothing more devastating than forgetting my sunnies on the bike. If it is a hot day, your eyes will be toasted. Plus having a sunnies hide the grimacing you have while pushing. Here is how my Transition basket looked like - layout in such a way I get to reach what I need almost immediately.
In order.
After satisfied that the items have been placed where they should be, I headed to the race secretariat to get my number marked. This part of the race is very ritualistic. It is like a "rite of passage" for many. I ALWAYS look forward to this part of the race.

2055 - READY!
I walked back to Transition to prep for the swim...and realised I forgot my swimming cap! Luckily, the room is just a quick walk away. For a seasoned racer, it was rather embarrassing to forget this essential item!

But it gave me perfect excuse to go back and get a good luck kiss from my biggest supporters (that i woke up to open the door)
The run to and fro the room for this item has given me the opportunity to warm up. I went straight to the beach and was pleasantly surprised that the water was extra calm y Desaru standard. At 7.15am, the sun was still hiding behind clouds - and it looked like it will be a cloudy weather. Perfect. No reason not to push myself in the absence of heat. Looked like there was no need for the motion sickness pills! But I’ve already taken it prior as insurance.

The Kids waiting for me while i swam
The 2km Swim
Sharp at 7.30am, the horn went off and everyone ran into the water. I spared a minute to say a little prayer for dearly departed friends. The water in Desaru was warm and calm that morning and with almost zero training in the water, I took the swim slower than usual. I managed to alternate freestyle and breaststroke and placed myself well within the middle pack. Using the Garmin 910XT in water is tricky. I did not get any heart rate and the GPS works only when my hands are out of the water. Having said that, the mixed breaststroke-freestyle did help to mark down some of the swimming path. It appeared that I zigzagged everywhere. The lap markers are set to record at every 500m. Maybe I should reduce it to 100m in the near future to get more accurate dataset.

Must force myself to freestyle all the way
Coming out of the water, it shows a good 55minutes of swimming. While my own PB for 2km swim has been a commendable sub 40minutes, I am not going to complain as I could easily make up the deficit on the bike and run. Running/walking into transition 1, I found the family waiting near my bike.
Why my transition is 5minutes.
As planned, I down 1/3 of the Accellerade in anticipation that the weather will get hot and to counter the salt that will be lost. Having cramps midway will be bad. I took my time to ensure that I do not miss anything I should be bringing with me on the bike and slowly walk my way out of T1.
The 92km Bike
I've charted the map out about a week before the race to understand the elevation and to plan the race. The route is rolling and having cycled Desaru more than a couple of times I knew what to expect. Historically, I have managed a decent average about 30km/h and I do not see any reason why I would not be able to do the same. I just need to ensure that I stay focused and keep spinning. 

Easy Does It...
OK. Locked and Loaded.
That day, I felt I have finally managed to tame the Ordu. The first 46km was done in good speed and superb interval-like heart rate. I could not believe myself when I saw my HR dropped to below 60bpm while going 32km/h on the flats. The body has finally became efficient with the energy usage and power output. The temptation to push harder did exist but experience told me to hold on as I would need the energy on the return 46km and subsequently the final push on the run. Temptation was there, but more so, discipline has to stay.

Interval training???
The promised U-turn was past Tanjung Sedili and a few tables of well stocked water, isotonic, electrolytes were available for all cyclist. I stopped for perhaps a good 5 minutes here to drink and to replenish.

Thank you!
Throughout the whole 92km, there were many incidences of drafting by cyclists. Some of them shamelessly leeches on me, of which I would swerve to the left to allow them to past. If they don't, I will just jam on my brakes to slow down and pull away again. For those more stubborn and do not get the message, I will just shout at them - which I did to one participant. Desaru is a non-drafting race. It is simple as that. But many up front formed an alliance for a speed train and some at the back leeches on others to move ahead. I even spotted one cyclist that gotten help from a friend in vehicle driven at 30km/h to allow him to draft. It was dangerous. To the driver of that Singapore registered White Kia Caren, please do not do that anymore.

Entering the transition T2, I glanced at the watch and it was a 3:05 elapsed. Not too bad. a 30km/h average managed! Pushing the bike into T2, I geared for the final 22km run.
The 22km Run
I caught up with my friend Jimmy as we entered T2. His first outing in Desaru and officially his first long distance triathlon. He has done really well so far and we had to spend like another 4minutes in T2 for some camwhoring.
Stretching out before the Run.
The sky as still gloomy but the heat has already increased. It then drizzled lightly as we started running.

Why T2 was 4minutes
Running out of T2, we were made to run past the clubhouse. Again, the biggest supporter of me was waiting while playing by the beach. 

With the Princess
It always wonderful to see familiar faces. The lactic acid was removed 10-folds and you suddenly felt 15 times stronger.

Of course, they are still too young to understand why I am Swimming, Biking and Running. For all it's worth, they too, had fun under the sun.

See ya later kiddos!
The run was through the usual Desaru route where you run around the inner road from the roundabout to the golf course and back. It is a 10.5km distance one loop of which the typical 2 loops will be needed. I ran the first 10.5km in pain caused by chaffing developed from KM2 onwards. I have been wearing the same tri-shorts for about 5 years and perhaps, it's time to change it. Plus, I have lost a lot of weight and the loose fabric created chaffing havoc. I was looking for Vaseline which none of the medic has (by the way, only one station at the roundabout with medic) Soon, saviour came in the form of Yusran's friend that set up station by the side of the road. He has Vaseline and the last 11.5km was ran in a decent 1:18.
Running back into Desaru Lotus, the surprise that awaits me was that the finishing line requires us to run around the resort for 1km. It was pretty tough and the final KM is always hard. Waiting for me at the finishing line was no other that the family. I was told that right before I came in, the kids were sleeping - tired due to the playing by the beach.
Tired...zzzz...When is Papa coming back?
As I ran into the finish line, my little girl saw me and rushed up from semi-sleepiness to jog to the finish line with me. My son was too stone to do anything. Ha-ha...
Daddy's girl - always.
Razlan then gave the medal to my daughter - for waiting for me for 6:39!!!
Always Proud of the Kiddos
I crossed the line in 6:39 (unofficial). It was one of the better races where I managed to run almost all the way and felt superb on the swim and bike. Apart from the really bad chaffing between the legs, there wasn't any injury sustained.
Another Finishing In The Bag
The Pros
- Race course is no surprise despite the single loop in-out for cycling. 
- Adequate water scooter on the swim
- Adequate traffic control on the bike league.
- Good water, electrolytes, food and cheerful volunteers on the race course (overall)
- Superb participant and finisher t-shirt. Gone are the days where XXXL Polo-T is given away as finisher T.
The Cons
- Wishing Uncle Chan will make Desaru a 140.6 mile race. :D
After Race Note
This is my 6th Desaru Long Distance Triathlon race. In all the years I have taken part in, it has been rough (sea), hilly (bike) and tortorous (run). One thing that was constant throughout the race all the years were the HOT and WINDY weather. This year, it has been kind. In other words, it has been easier comparatively to 2005-2009 for me. 
The water in 2008. You can see how Choppy it was...
I have been clocking in decent run mileage and the results of this showed in the race.Even thoughit is a training race for me, I did put in my 100%. There was no doubt with the commitment I put in during the race to continue the push. A friend mentioned that I am "the comeback kid". Perhaps so. I've been racing too long, peaking too early and have gone downhill and slowly and surely climbing out again. I want to be racing when I am like 50 years old. Many I know and had raced together with me has stopped racing or has moved onto different priorities in life or are riddled with injuries. I am happy to see many new faces. Happy to see so much improvement and quality of race done by Uncle Chan and his family. Triathlon for me is a very family orientated sport. You will not be able to make it if your own family do not support your commitment to train. And for that, I am truly blessed. Until the next Triathlon Race, Train Hard. Stay Safe and Keep Moving Forward.


  1. Replies
    1. You are too kind with your comments Kak June. :)Thank you again.

  2. Awesome race report - loved the pics too! It's so wonderful that your family turned out in force to support you.

    1. Thanks Grace! Would had been a bonus if familiar faces such as yourself and many others were there too. :) It will then be like a big party and damn fun on the run high-fiving everyone!

  3. Stupe, thanks for sharing your exciting triathlon race recap, I always appreciate this type of recaps because they're descriptive(almost feels like I was there) and the little bits of tips make for great learning. Congratulations on finishing, lord knows if I'll ever do a triathlon but if I do, I sure know who to go to for advice. :)

    1. You will one day and when that happens, you will not be short of advices. :) Thanks for the compliment!

  4. Great report bro.. detailed with your experience, doing Tri and Ironman these days gotta be fun rather than a big race.

    Your kids are awesome for waiting for you. Too bad I missed you this time round, so close yet so far. next time k


    1. Even if it is a big race like Ironman/Metaman/Ultra distance triathlon, one need to take the chill pill and not take things too seriously unless your livelihood depends on it.

      Sadly, among age groupers, there are just too many cheats (drafting and even shortcutting the swim by going across too early)...for what? a PB to brag?

      The kids and wife are awesome as usual. Never one to complain even if they have to wait for me for 9hours. :)

  5. OP Stupe,

    Congratulations & well done... wish I am 20 years younger & 20k lighter ... ha ha ha .. I am still into light cycling.... trying to lose some kilos but not the age... time is not on my side but hopefully can outlive many younger & fitter ones...

    OP Mood E7577

    1. OP Mood Sir,
      Thank you for the wishes. Age is just a number. However, weight can be modified. You will lose kilos by eating clean and living well. I am sure you know about that. I've reduced fried food by 95% and avoid if i can help it. Drink more water and stopped soft drinks. It is a life changing decision and I am glad i am starting to reap the benefits of it now. :)

      And you will outlive many others with your positive outlook in life. :)

  6. Nice report and a good read. Glad that you have perfected your nutrition and calories count. Took me years to learn it.


    1. It help by stalking you Sifu Richard. :) :) Took me years too and like you, we use our own body to experiment the best way to do it. :)