B is for Biathlon
My final race for 2010 is done - with Chin Woo Biathlon.
It must have been the most laid-back race I have been to, to date. Collecting the bib on Saturday, I was given a shirt and carpark pass, as Don Khor lounging around the cafe. No goodies - having paid quite a sum - was a little of a letdown.
And thanks for visiting relatives, the dinner came heavy on carbs. The drill that night was spent worrying what to pack - goggles and cap, Ghost, socks, etc, as I played simulations how I imagined the morning would go. Boleh sawan rasanya.
In the end, I had the Ghost, goggles and cap, Speedo, gatorade, a GU gel, 2 chocolate bars (pre and post) and 2 bananas, a shirt for after the run, and towel. Quick check with Hanchik and Ijam confirmed race starts at 7.30 a.m. - great! no need to wake up so early.
Woke late as expected, after my mind worked overtime playing youtube in my head. Grabbed the gears, and drove wifey's car to race site. Morning traffic on Sunday was a breeze as I zoomed along MRR2, and arrived at 7:20 a.m., parked and headed straight to the pool. Sips of gatorades and the GU gel, as I caught sight of Ijam and Hanchik at the holding tent. Fuh! Lega dapat tengok muka member...
I was scheduled on Wave 5 with Ijam, Lane 8 (Hanchik on Wave 4) at 8:50 a.m. Quick look around the pool saw Lane 8 is somewhere around the 4m deep. Aiyah! Went to have my first-bloody-body-mark, and the rest was spent chilling at the pool edge, admiring the super fast kids swimming a whirpool (really) when one-by-one the faces of familiar strangers and pros surfaces - Richard, Sofian, Chris, Ketua Reban etc - meriah sungguh!
When Hanchik's leg was called, I immediately felt a twist in my tummy. Mine will be next! What if I suffer a cramp? What if my goggle fogs up? etc etc etc. But watching Hanchik going at it was quite comforting - him taking his time, strokes after strokes. And so does Richard. Suddenly it felt like our normal pool drills.
I can do this!...
My very first body mark - jakun giler...
Wave 5 was finally called - and I was still a little reluctant. But Don Khor spilled the juice - 32 laps of swims and the marshal will knock the kickboard on the last 50m - and we were off to our designated lanes. It was kind of chilling, but looking down the lanes, I have no other direction to go to. This was it. Suddenly Michael Jackson came knocking with his tunes and moonwalks.
I shared my lane with a Ms. Yang, and both of us splashed into the pool once it was empty. A quick dip, and warm up laps. The pool was very warm (very der nice one) and clear, as I was suddenly attracted to the depth of the diving end (very der nice also). Warm-up done, and all we could do was wait around for the last guy from the previous wave to finish.
It was around 9:00+ that we were off. I was too preoccupied on the task at hand, that I forgot what Don was saying. But off we went. I felt pressure suddenly took the best off me, seeing the fast swimmer on my right lane, that I automatically tried to give chase. Of course that was just stupid. I spent 100m trying to find my pace, breathe correctly, pull, etc.
The swims were fun, but my head was not processing anything except gauging my halfway mark every lap on the sight of the giant clock ahead the diving platform, and counting my laps. Turning on my 18th lap, I realised our lane was not manned. Great! I'll lose counting my laps. True enough, in the end I felt I did extra 2 laps before the kickboard appeared above my head. But then again, I might just be delusional, lah.
Out of the pool, wiped the feet with my running shirt, socks on, and shoes (need to get meself locklaces soon). Didn't want to leave my cheap goggles and swim cap there, I just hang them on my neck, and slipped the cap between my Speedo, and started running.
The start of the run felt really good. Body light, head light, and the Ghost just took it all away as I sprinted downhill. But after that it felt slightly funny when climbing the first incline, as though my feet were still doing kicks in the water (heheheh.....). But it was runnable, until the side stitch came knocking on lower left torso - hard. This, thanks to light breakfast (only a banana and a gel). I had my gatorade bottle with me but I couldn't even take a single sip.
The first lap saw me going out towards Wisma Tun Sambanthan, up the main road towards Dewan Bahasa, left turn to Jalan Maharajalela - Bomba, the Al-Bukhary mosque, V.I. and turn left into the stadiums again. Just after OCM, picked my ribbon #1, and turn left. One loop done. Pace felt like 6:15 - real slow.
2 more loops with my hand still pressing the side stitch, but more bearable now. I picked up speed and overtook few guys. Picked my ribbon #2, and off I went. The last lap was when I managed the run without the stitch, and drink a little. This being typical me - over cautious on unfamiliar territory which ended up with running around in laissez fair fashion. Macam tak pernah tengok the DBP building before, tapi those will be the time to be a critic etc...
The marshals were aplenty, there was only 1 water station serving water within the 3x2km loops. It was really an easy run. On the final lap, with 3 ribbons, I was given a clearance to head back. Hanchik was waiting by the roadside, and ran with me to the foot of the hill - lending me his speed booster. He left me there as he was rushing to Seremban, and I looked up the Chin Woo hill - another 500m of push. Sprinted up, arms close to ribcage, exhale hard - Tey was waiting at the finishing line. Up the hill, the road cleared into an open carpark, and on my left was a table full of watermelons with roughly 6 people there, and on my right was 2 ladies. One taking down the time, and another giving out medals. No gantry, no music, no emcee, no nothing :D.
Seriously, I felt shortchanged. No Milo, no 100+ - there was no mineral water for crying out loud. But, I will not be a grumpy cracker, and took it all in. Rest with some cool melons, and walked to the shades just above the hill waiting for Ijam to return.
Encik Ijam returned strong, but we didn't wait long. Ketua Reban and Sofian were still doing their laps, and I had to rush to a meeting, then to cook etc.
All in all, this will be a melancholic event. People say that the first cut is the deepest, and so it is. And it was not that bad. I have truly enjoyed the swim, and can significantly improve on my runs. There were enough taikos around to see and learn too, so we would never be short of excitement. I will definitely return next year.
Now, with December halfway gone, I have a full January for intense swimming (I hope) and open water swims before February comes. It's a promise.