Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Putrajaya International Triathlon 2012 Race Report and A Birthday Wish

A rather last minute race announced which sort of raised my eyebrow a lil. With another marathon race in Langkawi that was announced about 30 days from the race day, my radar for irresponsible organisers went haywire. For your info, the Langkawi International Marathon, scheduled to take place on December 9, 2012 (aka yesterday) was "postponed to December 23, 2012" or will happen in 2013, a week before the race.
So, naturally, I was very very cautious. I believe some friends are even irritated with my statement if the race organisers can be trusted. I later found out that the organiser is Hivelocity - a Singapore company that did the Putrajaya Junior Triathlon, very successfully. Confidence returned and i signed up the day after.
Limited Races
Triathlon races are hard to come by nowadays. Gone are the hey days where there will be races once a month. Where one would have the chance to choose and pick. With local triathlon races evolving over the years, triathletes are now limited with only Kenyir Triathlon, PD Triathlon and Desaru Long Distance Triathlon (or Desaru 116 as the rebrand it). I am not including races outside of Malaysia as that would require a whole different level of logistic and leave/offday from work application. Naturally, when a local race pop-up, I will sign up for it if the race distance and the travelling distance is what I will look forward to.
Putrajaya International Triathlon (PIT) is slotted as a 1km Swim - 30km Bike and 8km Run race. A shorter than usual "Olympic" distance by a total of 12.5km.
*monologue moment :But it is in Putrajaya. 30minutes drive away. Better than driving all the way to Kenyir for an almost similar distance, right?
Race Day
I planned to take the race easy and make it part of my training. With Transition being my weak point, this race should offer a good opportunity for me to cut down my usual dilly-daly to a fast transition. Of course all these are "plan". My day started at 5am and I ate my usual breakfast aka rolled oats in cold water. With 2hours to allow the food to digest, I should be able to get the energy when i need it most - in about an hour into the race. Planning for race day nutrition is important. For the race, i went minimal. I have been training my body to burn fat as energy and it has only shown me good results so far. This PIT wasn't my A-race and it was a training for me.
With the two supporters. My daugther was home due to chicken pox.
The PIT has attracted close to 300 participants, of which many did not show up on race kit collection day and/or the race day itself. The transition area wasn't packed but the camaraderie was definitely there. It was like a mini gathering of sort every time a triathlon race happens. This time was of no exception. There were many Tri-virgin too. It takes great courage to face your biggest fear. Be it swimming (not in a pool or controlled environment), cycling (not in a RPM class) or running (not on the road for fear of being mugged or run down by vehicles), or all three in succession.
Pretty full T-area
Body marking was simple. For the uninitiated, body marking during triathlon is a ritual by itself. You get "branded" on your arms your designated race number. This is actually required for the swim section only as you can't wear your race bib in the water. More gory explanation was (not verified) if you drown, it allow whoever that find you, identify you. So, yes, you are nothing more than a number.
517 - that's my fat arm
I initially thought the race will start at 7am. I was then told it will happen at 7.30am. As more people comes in, the transition area became a place where laughter and jokes were shared and exchanged. I love triathlons!
With Amazing Gus
With Handsome Rupert
With Sifu Tang
"my wing big or not?":P
With Zaki and friends 
With Arif, Hadi and friends
Most of us took the opportunity to get into the lake water. It was a cool morning with rain happening the night before. Naturally, I was expecting a nipple-raising experience. Good to report that no protrusion happened as the lake water was warm.
Wet and ready
As the swim course was being setup (yes, it was being setup as we were waiting for the race to start), Uncle Chan showed up. Triathlon Malaysia was the "technical advisor" for the race. Still, there were NO real organiser at place. There were confusion on the swim course, bike course and of course the run course. But as most that signed up know that this will happen (as in the race being announced so last minute), there will be "issues". I came with the intention for an all-out training. So, It did not bother me badly except for the safety on the bike course.
And we swim...clockwise? Or was it counter?
Mr. Chan was in his usual joking mode. Apparently only 30 people showed up in the race briefing the day before. So a rather last minute briefing was needed again. There were a few chances such as the change of transition area (which most found out the morning arriving at the site), swim direction (changed from counter-clock to clockwise) and run to be two-loops instead of one loop. 
Listening anxiously to the jokes. Thanks Yin Fook for the capture
When asked about the biking loop - Mr. Chan pledged ignorance initially but covered it up with "don't worry, there will be Marshall stationed everywhere" and "those of you that cycle in Putrajaya will know the usual 30km loop". I know for a fact that the cycling will be done at a section most exposed to fast traffic. It is the highway from Serdang that joins the Putrajaya outer loop towards Dengkil. It is a super 8 lane highway with many interchanges and cars known to speed beyond 120km/h cutting lanes. 
I was worried. I will be lying if i say otherwise.
Or you can Gangnam to control traffic
Many said that the organiser for this race (Hivelocity) has good record organising the last Putrajaya Jr. Triathlon. I signed up because of their reputation to be able to conduct a race. Like Mr. Chan mentioned, it was a rather last minute thingy that he was approached. I guess that also meant that the risk involved (we all signed an indemnity form during race collection) lies with ourselves. One more thing, the race will be monitored without any timing devices. Meaning, If you choose to cheat, you can. With prize money only for the top-3 of each category, I do not see how/why anyone would want to cheat. Let the Fun, begin.
Or not? No More Gangnam, please?
Mr Chan then asked everyone to enter the water. It will be a water start. Yours truly jumped in and tread water - that seems to last forever as we waited for the VIP to blow the air horn. Photos from now onwards were taken by wifey. I decided not to race with a camera due to the short distance.
This is not a norm for many Malaysians that aren't comfortable to be in water. 
SWIM 1000m
The race started and the calm water of Putrajaya Precint 6 lake turned into a mini tsunami as triathletes fumble through the only contact-sports moment. It was like a feeding frenzy. In 2-minutes, i heard shout for help as one or two triathletes had trouble in the water - likely being kicked, groped, scratched etc. It is all normal for a triathlon race and it is nothing personal. 
Yaaaahhhhhhh! KILLL!!! Photo courtesy of Yin Fook.
For the past 1-month, I've been diligently swimming at least twice a week in the pool concentrating on muscle memory to perform freestyle exclusively for at least 1000m. Historically, my triathlons has always had the mix of freestyle and breast-stroke. After that many years of racing, i thought it is time to change. Think of it as a "upgrade" like going from a 105 to DuraAce, only that this will be free. Why this?
You see, freestyle requires strong upper torso endurance. Unlike Breast-stroke where the legs play a pivotal role to propel forward. What this meant is that you save you legs and conserve energy for the bike and run later. Kicking in freestyle during triathlon is just to stay afloat. Forward motion is mainly upper body. Happy to report that the mission was successful. :D
It is no secret that Garmin 910XT could not plot open water swim very well, more so if the hand that has the watch were not lifted long enough to allow GPS capture. My swim time of about 24minutes reflects pretty well on the distance that I should had covered and in this manner, I supposed the distance was pretty close to the promised 1km. Any shorter and it will show on everyone's timing (so, if you been consistently swimming 25minutes to cover 1km in the swimming pool and suddenly found yourself clocking in 20minutes, chances are, you have cut short the swimming or the swim was severely under distanced).
Am I last? Happy to see wifey! Love ya!

OK, NOT last! Out of water with full freestyle - DONE! Thanks Yin Fook for the photo.
Next challenge was the Transition. I sucked at Transition. I take almost forever. This time, i vowed to change that. Initially I planned to put my biking shoes to the pedal and run out of T1, jump on the bike, wear the shoe, strap it and cycle away. Then it dawned to me - I've never done this before.
Am i gonna risk falling down and hurting myself?
It was a NO. So, i happily (and in very fast manner) put on ( in this order) my race bib, my sunglasses, my helmet, Shoes and out I went.
*gasp* Nice arse!
I've not went on the bike since Powerman as I decided to improve on my swim. With a shredded tires from the last trainer session, I do not have much choices as well. Noticing that many has actually left the Transition (look at the photo above, most bikes were out!) I have much catching up to do.
Guess what. My T1 time was a fast 1:58. Got to be some record or something (for myself that spend at least 4:30 in T1 usually)
Ryan giving me a push. :) Thanks Wifey for the photo!
Bike 30km
Muscle memories work wonder. I begin hammering on the bike and by the time i hit the highway, I was going at 35km/h. I keep telling myself that "It is ONLY 30km" and I know I should be able to wrap this up in under an hour. The route was rolling and I see every hill as an opportunity to go faster on the other side. I begin to catch up more triathletes that has overtaken me on the swim and cheering those I know that I overtook. There were no rules on this cycling (or this triathlon) and as usual, you will get leeches leeching on you drafting. If i wanted a team sports, I would had continue playing rugby. But since this is a fun outing (for me at least), perhaps, allowing the younger less experience draft behind me could be a good "guidance" too. What i realised was that they all dropped on every hill attack and they relied on every downhill to catch up with me. The legs felt strong. I was maintaining about 35km/h at about 75% of my HRmax. As I approaches the main highway with many traffic, I was extra cautious. So cautious that I missed one final turn - and an important one at that. You see (or did not see), there were minimal marshall on the road. Many junctions were not guarded and those that were controlled has very little traffic aka insignificant. Realising that I overshot the junction, i turned back and double up back to T2. Thank goodness the distance I overshot was not significant. What was loss was momentum and a few minutes. 30km cycling done in about 53minutes with 33.7km/h average.
Total elevation gain was only 524m
I considered myself lucky as I paid attention to the road sign and only overshoot by a few hundred meters. Some i knew went as far as extra 7km (total) more! That got to sucks! I dismounted and ran into T2. I was excited with the new shoes I received from Skechers Malaysia. I was given the GoBionic - the minimalist zero-drop shoes to race a day before. Actually, I have a choice to take any shoes in the store, but since I have the Brooks Pure Drift to compare with, why not take a minimalist and see how they size up? It was a fast transition T2 for me. Believe me, all done in 1:38. Got to be my fastest ever T2 (or T any!)
Run 8km 6km
Sitting quietly, waiting since Morning
I have been training more on my run. I believe that running fitness is the single most important basic that any triathlete should have. I was never a firm believer until i saw how a more structured training and correct technique could help. Over the past eight months, I've improved and surprised myself so much that i know i am on the right track with my running fitness. I did a 5km HIIT and a 5km Easy (total 10km) a day before the race. I know from my own ability, 8km can be wrapped up in 40minutes, maximum. With every intention to make this a high intensity workout outing, I blasted the moment I left transition. Wifey captured the moment beautifully.
Flying? I am impressed!
One thing I immediately felt running on the GoBionic was how I unconsciously land midfoot all the time. It was so pronounced that I then consciously monitored every stride. My Garmin beeped to asked me to slow down as "Your Heartrate is too high". It apparently shot up to 196bpm the first 500m. Running the route and reaching the first U-turn, it dawned to me that the run will NOT be 8km. A fast maths in the head says it will be 6km at most (as the U-turn was at about 1.4km). I ran the first loop in a consistent 4:30 pace saving  the rest for the final hurrah. I was doing a negative split tempo at race pace. I completed the first loop in a rather easy cruising heart rate of 150bpm++.
At the end of the first loop U-turn.
I spend the last 3km in my upper zone aiming for negative split all the way. Hyperventilating and committing to every step. I was very aware of my surrounding and remembered telling a few friends to keep going. It was a chaotic-zen-like moment. Haha.
Heart Attack 3-times passing my MaxHr of 186bpm (corrected for my age of 36)

4:30 pace mostly. Dip were the U-turn where had to be careful not to fall/slip
My 5km time was close to my PB. 6km was done in 26:51.
Feeling good, i pushed the final 1km and finished the whole race in a good 1:47:49.
No, i wasn't doing the Gangnam.
And no, I wasn't in Top 3. Meaning, I am still average in every sense. :) it was a fun outing with an all out training opportunity. I now know my max and how much more I can push the envelope. Not getting any younger, but age got nothing to do with breaking our own limits. Running into the finish line, I received a medal and a big smile from wifey.
Taken by Ryan. :)
Race Pros
1. Putrajaya is an awesome place for triathlon.
2. There is a race.
3, What race? It's a fun-outing.
Race Cons
1. Last minute.
2. Traffic on the bike course.
I believe many came knowing it will be a relaxing gathering. Something a small triathlon club can do without incurring much expenses but providing better support. The RM103 paid was on the high side -and with a wrongly sized T-shirt to boot.
Really, seriously. This is M.
As it is, this will be the last triathlon race for 2012. I am happy that I did pretty well (by my own standard) and can close 2012 Triathlon Chapter. Bring on 2013. I can't wait to see what's in store for myself.
Here are some photos at the finish line to be shared with all of you friends and readers.
With Richard and Chris. Both winners in their age group.

Contact us for Chippendale work.
With Mon.
With wifey, Ruper and Puzi. Ryan took this photo
Fong cruising in
With both Fong and Reita
Ashley and Nat.
Finisher Shirliza Ann
With Bee and Chris. Both are long distance triathletes. Fast too!
With my little hero
And me, Happy. :)
NOTE : Update December 17, 2012
Hivelocity has clarified that they are not the organiser for this race. I would like to apologise to Hivelocity for the wrong information. The organiser was Voices. Contact details could be obtained here.

ps - Today is the birthday of a very special and important person in my life. Happy birthday dearest wifey. I know you do not like to be put in a spot, so i put you at the end of the spot where all attention will be on you. :) Have a good one and you know I love you with all my heart.
How much?
If infinity has a number, that will be it.
My biggest supporter in everything I ever do. Love ya.


  1. Riveting post of the race.

    And happy birthday to your wife! :)

  2. Happy birthday to your wife :D

    Had fun reading this...Gangnam, Chippendale...hahaa..! Felt inspired also. I remembered when my boys joined TriKidz a few years back, saw the bodymarking on them and gave me goosebumps, in a good way lah.
    Jadi mungkin I terasa inspired bagi pihak anak-anak. Hehe

    1. Its a ritual for the body marking. One that marks you for triathlon. :) Then the sunburn set it in deep. :) Lovely.

      thanks for the wishes!

  3. I hafta give it a miss due to Putrajaya 12hr walk :(

  4. happy birthday WIFEY (forgot her actual name).. hahahaha..

    On a serious note, wishing WIFEY a happy birthday.. am glad that you are recovering well.. thank you for being a part of our lives, Jaz and I cherish and appreciate your friendship.. health and happiness always!

    1. I also forgot her name. I just call her B and Wifey.


      Noted, she read all your wishes!

  5. Just curious. Why having rolled oats in cold water before the race? I also noticed that you didn't take any energy gel/bar.

    1. Wai Leng - :) it is my staple breakfast I have for the past one year. It works for me. Not to mention it is real food and low GI.

      Energy gel and bar is nothing more than over-glorified sugar. It gives you the push, until you get over the sugar high, you will start bonking and feel worse. :) I am a believer of real food.

      For this race, it is short enough for me to go on empty. Also, training the body to utilise fat as energy allows me to do this.

  6. Excellent report TriStupe. It was my first triathlon.

    Couldn't help noticing that your swim route was markly different from mine. You mean we were suppose to swim around the second 'hot dog' buoy? No wonder my garmin showed only 850 metre and that was me horrendously zig-zagging off course!


    1. Enoch - The accuracy of the GPS lah bro. Mine showed about 1005 actually. But anyway, the swim should pass the first square buoy (blue), then turn right to the first hot dog, then towards the second hot dog and back to the landing. it is essentially a triangle.

      can't see your workout bro, it has to be an activity link, not a dashboard link, as that is specific for you.


    2. Opps. Here is my activity link.


      I essentially when from blue buoy, turned right to the first hot dog. And just straight to landing. I didn't bother about the hot dog in the middle.

    3. Good stuff. :) Looked like the distance did not differ much other than me swimming a bit more due to the detour to the second hotdog. :)You sighting is superb.

  7. Hi TriStupe, just would like to clarify that Hivelocity is not the organizer for this event, they just engage MYraceonline to handle the online registration part.

    The organizer info is here:


    Lee Fong

    1. Lee Fong,

      Thank you for the clarification. Appreciate the note and the blog entry has been changed to reflect the correction.

      Apologies for any inconveniences caused.