That's what it says on the medal.
I went to Singapore with a heavy heart - especially knowing how dreadful East Coast Park actually is, and being only my second time swimming open water. But, as always, the trip was paid, and I have traveled all the way and braved Geylang at midnight - I might as well complete this.
This time I stayed at The Betelbox Hostel - an easy B&B, apparently highly regarded, located at 200, Joo Chiat Road. Smack right in the middle of the 'war zone', I snatched the last bed for the night. SGD20/night, I got meself a bed, bedside lamp, sheets and a pillow, clean toilets and a hearty breakfast of toasted white bread with generous spread of Nutella, and white coffee to help with the digestion. I spent the night waking up every few hours, checking the time etc, but still very quietly, not waking up other 7 roommates. As I sat by the bench alone for an early breakfast, I was freaking!
With such heavy breakfast, my initial excuse to DNS was immediately void, and I tried to not to think about it, as I walked to Paya Lebar station, MRT-ed to Bedok, and I was whisked to the race site. One of the thing I love about Singapore races are, they have dedicated volunteers in dedicated tees waiting at all corners at bus stops, MRTs etc, to ensure we were escorted to the right directions. And, running and swimming gears in MRT at 6 a.m. is not frowned upon, you immediately felt one-of-the-gang. Very der cool, wan...
with bikers, joggers and runners at ECP, but still orderly
When I reached F2 Carpark, straight to registration tent where Ian and Rais were waiting. Number collection was smooth, and since my wave will not start in another hour, I headed to the beach to 'ambik berkat'. At the same time, Wave 1 was about to start, so we all hurried to the shore to see Kash and other 'red cappers' chopping the water. Despite a close eye, we all missed Kash as she sped off from the start.
Sapa la agaknya yang depan sekali tu?
tengah plan nak sewa kayak for Kapas Marang 2011
Ian - kena buat Corporate Athlete's tri-suit daa...
That done, I queued for the body marking. Despite the long queue, it was very fast. And on top of that, they have a Priority Lane for access by the next outgoing Wave. Cool, huh? I wish they have that lane when I queued for lunch at boarding school - a dedicated SmartTag lane...
I hope I could get Ian's pic of me being stamped like a piece of meat, my second body mark. I felt like a big boy :D - getting a stamp of brotherhood woohoo!
Dropped the bag, and re-joined Rais and Ian at the shore, and entered transition place to gather my stuff. Another first - I found myself in the middle of people with a box spot of about 1'x1' where I could arrange my running shoes, bib, drink, towel etc. After arranging all those, plus my knee guard, I went off, but kept looking back to record in my mind of the landmarks, had I might panic and bedazzled coming from the shore later.
Everything was sorted out, in the midst of Wave 4 getting ready to be released. As they entered the sea, Ian and I headed to the warming up pool (still in the sea) for swimmers to 'test the water'. Much like warm-up lanes at marathons etc, this one sees swimmers going up and down. The shore dips deep immediately after the water edge as I pushed myself in, but I tried not to think about it so much. Looking down, water is murky and I couldn't see a thing. Great!
I used this time to familiarise with the temperature, water condition and water treading, and shifting between freestyle and breaststroke, when I would need time to rest and sight later on.
We went up and get ourselves into the holding area - all of us the yellow cappers. O by the way, all waves are differentiated by the colour of their swim caps. And we all have the 2XU caps... neat!
Nothing much happened this time, my mind was completely void - no fear, no unease, no butterflies. We exchanged good-lucks, etc, and it was already countdown. All of a sudden, I see hundreds of flapping arms and feet.
I was in the middle pack, and as soon as I started swimming, the nightmare started. I had swimmers left and right, some swimming below me, some crawls above me. Some were courteous, most were just not caring. Why should they? This is not a pageant competition, kan? Anyway, I remembered the simulation we had last weekend, and it was nothing compared to this. If I was tailgating, I mostly found my arm slapping somebody's butts, or some swimmers doing the crossing breaststroking were gliding my, ahem, privates, or simply being kicked by more breaststroke swimmers. Halfway, I panicked when someone flicked my shorts by the waist, and I was freaking trying to say afloat and pull my pants back up again. But in all honesty, I was fine with the whole thing. It just felt like we were a group of salmons making our way back to spawn!
But yes, the first 200m to the first turnaround was not pretty. At the turnaround was another ugly place, where at a hairpin, we were making our turns in a group, but beyond that, the water was clear. A quick sighting confirmed that I was swimming some 25m off the string, and I could not see many swimmers around me. The next 700m or so was quite fun.
We turned again, now back towards the beach but not as tight as it was before. As I breath primarily to my right, the high sun at the turnaround pierced into my eyes for a few strokes, but when the turn was done, it was all good. I could see the string next to my right side.
That was where other swimmers were flocking, but it didn't appear for me to steer to the left, so I figured I would just swim. On many occasions when I tried to tread water, or breaststroke - to sight, I was immediately pedaled with swimmers without mercy. So I did what I think was right, follow the swimmers, especially the ones doing their breaststrokes, and I'd be ok.
The return journey felt long. As I sight sometimes, I could see the beach on my right getting closer, but as we were swimming diagonally back to the starting line, the distance was anywhere but near. At this point, I slowed down to ensure I have enough energy to reach back, and I kept telling myself not to stop and hang by the buoy - I just needed to swim. There was a point I remembered thinking - why on earth did I trade this for a comfortable morning on my bed? Why did I even bother?
Despite all that, I was delighted when I saw a dude next to me started standing up. Finally, I am home. The vision of me DNF-ing my PD swim weeks before was completely erased. I finished my swim leg!
Off to the transit area, but I stopped to shower. On second thought - that was completely unnecessary. Should have just gotten the footwash, and straight into transition. I put on everything, but turned back and take the shoes off etc, and put my knee guard on. The past week of minor running has caused some discomfort on my left (posterior) knee. And crap, I lost Ian!
I grabbed my Gatorade, but found impossible to drink at all. I must have swallowed so much sea water during the kicking and gliding and flying fiasco, that I was all gassy in my runs. Nothing goes in, and I stopped few times to vomit air. The first 500m of the run was good, but I slowed considerably. Even though different muscles used in the swim, my lack of experience in brick session tells my body to slow down, and enjoy the race. I just do not want to stop, and run to the end.
We headed between ECP towards the U turn, back to the lake and do our second loop back to the U turn, and head back. I could see the finish line from more than 500m away, but I did not push at all, until Sam's TNF partner came coasting from my back, that I got the wake up call, and started sprinting. I could have put on more running speed throughout, but I guess I was just lazy.
I saw Kash and Ian on the end of the road, and we were all smiles. I finished my bloody Biathlon!
Split time : swim 36:23, run 0:59:57. Total time 1:36:48, position 627. Buleh lah...
However, I can't stop thinking, or feeling inadequate of how short the race was. In my scale, it was not even enough to visit McDonalds. Pardon me, for I do not intend to sound snobbish, but I had hoped the workout to be more intense. Had I run my 10k pace, it would have been adequate, lah kot...
However, we rested, do bag collection, finisher's tee, medal etc, we headed for shower, and took a cab to Arab Street. Nasi Beriyani Ayam was on the chopping block, although it's American portion floored me completely, we had a great afternoon! Thanks very much Rais and Kash for your hospitality!
We took a cab, and Kash dropped me and Ian at Novena. The rest of the afternoon, I had a wonderful time with old office friends as we sat down over Nasi Penyet (for them) and pasembur, and later delicious ice cream, while catching up on gossips.
Mango Sorbet, Tiramisu, Sneakers Mars, Double Chocolate etc. Makan free pulak tu, lagi lah best!
Artisan Ice Cream parlour, off Novena... memang terbaek!
All that fun was cut short when I received an SMS from Tsar, and after confirmation, I rushed into Promenade, and walked to Marina Bay Sands. I have made some arrangements to meet him and go swimming at the infinity pool on the 59th floor, if access permits.
tunggu Zarin, wa datang...
tengah layan, tangan dah penat, tak control strokes dah... patut le Eric kata entry cepat sangat...
view memang layan!
hah, kan wa dah cakap... ni khas buat Ijam!
And we were there, woohoo! Never mind the crowd - it was super hot and blinding with poor visibility and slight haze, but the CBD is in perfect view. Without hesitation, I jumped in, and as other people were lounging around and taking pictures, I was not coy to swim laps hahahah. What an experience! Swimming at the rooftop of a building, I have done, but at this height it was something else. However, the experience fell short due to its commercial factor, so it was more of a scene from Hugh Hefner's photo shoot. I just spent 10 minutes swimming around and taking pictures, with Tsar waiting patiently on the deck, and it was done. Another mission accomplished. I cannot thank Tsar enough, for without him, this experience would not be possible. But he was too coy to show off his swimming prowess - mesti banyak buat secret swimming tu... :D
Changed etc, and we headed out to Promenade MRT. Tsar headed to Novena, and I headed to Changi via Paya Lebar. More than enough time to check-in, shop, surf and post meal. SO there - a Singapore getaway. I had a smooth flight back, and had a great time under the sun. Didn't get enough tanline I had hoped but that can be worked out later.
So until TNF - adios Singapore. It's time to run for KL!