Powerman 2011

Progress often brings me to new adventures. That adventure this time was Powerman. After many moons of running and swimming, the first Duathlon beckons. Although the training was nowhere near complete with just few weeks to spare post TNF, I thought that Batman is ought to be whipped out for some action.
But like TNF was shocked by the death of Kharis, a.k.a. TSB in the final eves of the trip, for Powerman we were rattled by the sudden death of a fellow cyclist, Ibrahim the day before our trip. And hence the mind plays precautionary measures into our preparations, and our drive up to Seri Manjung was marred by moody skies and cool weather. 

I have been accustomed to picking up race kits at shopping malls, parking lots, open field etc, and seeing familiar faces was somewhat I look forward to. Those we the windows when you see your running allies in work dresses, apart from their skimpy weekend uniforms. But coming to the briefing area for Powerman, almost immediately I felt dwarfed coming to a prestige duathlon event like this - what with people were parading blind expressions. Or at least that was how I felt, somewhat inferior as compared to a friendly atmosphere in the running fraternity. The evening when we went for the briefing at the hall, I was at my discomfort by the sheer sight of faux arrogance by some, and at awe by the brush of power. The only consolation was being carted away to the refuge of our hotel room, and later with familiar faces at dinner, set by beautiful bay next to the Outward Bound. I didn't want dinner to end.

Used to swim with Richard (hope to get back at it soon) and he's coming back a lot stronger now. And of course, the AirAsia X CEO - Azran Osman Rani. A cool boss, and aspiring sportsmen (pic credit : Cyn)
Back in the room, we had little time to ogle at the bad newscaster-ship over the Sea Games on the telly, as the prep starts right away. It was the most complicated preparation to date - in the end, for fuel I ended with 5 GU Gels (1 at T1, 3 taped to top tubes, 1 at T2), 2 Mars bars (reserve fuel), 1 Zip Bar (pre-race), 1 packet of Chomps, few asamboi, 3 ORS packets, 2 bottles of Gatorades (for the bike).
Laid down the Sloan, jersey, cycling shorts, bibs (for jersey, helmet (left and front), bike), belt, bottles, tube, ID, championchip, running shoes, flipflops, cycling shoes, helmet, gloves, small towel. Plus a fresh change, and arrange them all in the Transition Pack.
I decided to leech on the cycling jersey throughout, where I'd put in the gloves (to wear when approaching T1), Sloan deepheat rub and some ORS.
And the night before we set the bikes up - seat posts, rations in the pouch, pump the wheels, and some spits on the bikes, then finally the asap with the coal and some asam limau thrown in.

All those are not with additional glass of sweet Milo, and roti telur and dhal for supper. I closed both eyes to these sinful days, and enjoyed my first roti telur in ages, as we yapped about everything under the stars and the moon.

The morning of the race, we RV-ed at McDonalds for a simple coffee and breakfast in full view of many participants cycling from Lumut into Seri Manjung (such hardcores that they are), and arrived at the race site in hurried pace to secure the bikes in the transition area. I do not know how strict they would be, but it was something I would not want to experiment. But getting the rear wheel was a challenge made easy when Diket coyly secures everything in a fizz. And getting everything I'd need at the transition into the pack the night before was easy as I just dropped the whole thing, and split into the running holding pen. But one had to pause and look at those expensive bikes and drool. 
But in the hype of swish-swashing in the transition, I was questioning what on earth I was doing there. Probably my severely lack of training caught my conscience off-guard, and was trying to tell me to knock myself silly. This is a completely new territory.

But as I was standing facing the open sea earlier this year for the Singapore Biathlon, freaking out, thinking all the stupid thoughts, and positive thoughts together - quietly I knew I would sail this through. 
I imagine a modest 65mins for the first run, 2.5 hours on the bike, and 75mins for the final run would be achievable. Just thinking of the elusive finisher's t-shirt, no less.

Band of Brothers
In the holding area, generally the eyes were feasting on multiple shots of cycling jerseys and all sorts of comics. Some were wearing helmets for the run, some equally equipped with cycling gloves, mostly running with cycling shorts (myself included). Its amazing that no similar jerseys were donned (except for the team jerseys of Bukit Antu, OCBC and the likes) - so we were all spared by the wardrobe malfunction. But I felt at home that morning, despite different to the normal running shorts and all. The air was light, atmospheric smells familiar when running was put to the grind first.
As a common strategy, when the horn blew, everyone (almost) adopted an easy pace for the first running leg, on a conscious effort to reserve energy for the second running leg. But the runners in us kept our traditional LSD feature in saying hi-s and cheering the nasi lemak seller. With the aromatic grilled chicken to the savoury sambal along the road, it was music to my tummy. And the route is littered with children who flock the side kerb to watch us run, and probably trying their luck at the generous offerings of Gatorades at the 4 water stations. They came out in their school uniforms, fixies, and bestest of friends, almost to ridicule our running in the hot sun.

At one point, the sound of synchronised plods between the three of us running was delicious. One of the best 11k run to date for me (not in terms of time, but running experience).

And so the first leg was done in a very comfortable pace, as Diket, Azmar and myself cornered into the stadium ground into the transition. I pulled the Sloan, lather onto the quads and hamstrings, and downed a GU gel, and off to get the bike. Getting into transition was easy, but marred but inconvenient incident when the plaster tape I had from this morning stuck to each other, and when putting on the cycling shoes, I had the toes all bundled on top of each other, at all directions. Tweaking them on both feet took precious time off, but once that was sorted out, putting the helmet was quick and I found a trail of Diket right out front. I was on track.
I took off to the road on a light gear, trying to maintain my speed - and few turns later exiting the town into the main road into Damai Laut. Quickly I realised my odometer was not sending any readings (which I later found out that the front wheel was fixed upside down), but with many rider zooming past, I went ahead, only faster when I saw a water station ahead. I was always curious to see how do they actually work so I reduced the speed, and put out my left arm and grab a bottle of cold Gatorade. Few sips of those, I rode while holding the bottle and feeling stupid. I downed another gulp and threw the precious hydration. Too bad. But I later learnt to call out for the hydration of choice, and the selected volunteers would come out and reach for you. Kinda cool too.

The first cycling leg was enjoyable, to say the least. I managed to stay behind Diket until the major climb at Bainun's bridge when baffled by the bridge, I lost my bearings and delayed in my hasty attempt to shift gears. And the view on top of the bridge is awesome. Stretches of mangrove forest beyond what I could see in the low tide. But all was good and I returned back into Lumut still smiling. However, beyond the 40th km, almost immediately both feet swelled up and pushing against all walls. As a result, in between the numerous effort to unclip, and air wiggle the feet alternatively, ultimately I had to stop at the turnaround point near Damai Laut, and air the feet in open air. Suddenly I was brought back to Penang Bridge Half Marathon when multiple cramps forced me to admire the foul smell of the water below, under the magnificent city skyline of Penang.

Regardless, I arrived at the transition (T2) and a walk/run in the transition area was unbearable. It was almost a Godsent when I took the shoes out, ran on the grass and quickly slipped into Ghost, downed a GU gel, and off I went. What made it all worthwhile (at that point in time) was the sight of Azuria holding a cold bottle of Coke like an offering. The sun was up and the thin hot air slicing, and a sip of cold Coke is all you need sometimes.
100 metres out, a strong surge of tight knots on both quads floored me to a semi squat. The multiple spasm continues and saw me admiring the uneventful stream from over a bridge. It only subsided in the second loop of the run, although possibly the adrenalin takes over, and sheerly motivated by the finisher's t-shirt. And I had Puisan as company, who brilliantly carried her water bottle and filled it with ice water. A squirt of those in the high afternoon picked up a little bit of pace. Definitely a clever trick to continuous ice shower. 
Overall, the second running leg was not uneventful, and didn't lose its appeal any bit. What can I say - first love dies hard.

Coming back into the end of it all, I arrived at rows of barricades littered with PowerBar signs. After all these years looking at the setting in blogs of the IMs and triathletes alike, I found myself coming back into one. Surreal, to say the very least. As I passed through the gantry into the less-than-impressed spectators, it was a noble thing to come back to an icy cold towel (classic PowerBar towel, no less), and that exclusive finisher's t-shirt. Not a fan of the colour - but I'll have fun having my wife jeering at me when I flaunt it at social gatherings. Heheheh...

And that tan line... I felt like a kid with a KitKat. 

The tan line felt like a badge of honour. 

Beyond the finishing gantry, Powerman served simple food in the form of melons (would be super if it was cold), taufufa (for some odd, sweet protein) and cendol (OMG-ness!). The second stage was a full lunch during the prize giving ceremony, when the Organiser did not have the slightest idea what a sportsmen would need in their system post-Powerman. Despite the protein, we were served with white rice, super hot black pepper roasted beef, pasta with cream and bolognaise sauce, marble cakes, karipaps etc etc etc. A buffet spread fitting for politicians, I forced some food as my stomach was growling. Suddenly, a McChicken was more appealing. I needed more sugar!

When we finally regrouped, the Powerman virgins talked the most (myself included), like kids yapping about their day out in the zoo, as we went on and on and on, on transition, on cramps, on people lapping us, on timing, on etc. I think the adrenaline lasted us the drive back to Ziff's place. Even my iPhone battery didn't last that long with all the WhatsApps rallying around.

In retrospect, I have loads of respect for this event. The format is different to what I was used to, but the setting and atmosphere are addictive. I truly enjoyed the runs, and had I put enough heads into the cycling, it would have been sufferfest-free. The Manjung and Lumut folks are friendly, and overly accommodative in us invading their streets, and without a doubt, Powerman is a well-oiled machine. Pain and soreness aside, the lure to come back next year came merely an hour after the event. Aduhai...

Without question, my cycling skills are poor. Body form was defected which caused my back stiffened like a rod. And I need to get another pair of cycling shoes (crap!) to allow for the expanding tissues. One piece of advice from a cyclist friend was to build a base of 200km cycling distance per calendar week! I vomited air with faint smell of peanut butter sandwich I had for breakfast. A trainer would have been a better investment. To date, I have yet to figure out how I'd turn myself around in cycling, into my life before the dawn of PD Triathlon next year.

But yeah - my escapade in Powerman was great. Unquestionable event, great company, scenic road trip, and a Gila-Gila-Remaja outing. I did not suffer from any blister, or muscle cramps, so that was a good thing.
Thanks Ziff,  for the ride and company. Diket and the whole gang (Azmar, Dett, Akmal, Nizam, Alwin, Izuan, Azu and etc) for taking the inferiority out of the question. I have been really blessed, Alhamdulillah


June Malik said…
Good to see you back and roaring to go or more :) congrats Syah!
deo said…
Syah bro, somehow this entry appeared late in my blogroll and it moved down the listing. Hence, the late comment. Sorry!

Anyway, well done on what you've achieved. Payah aku nak emulate. Reading the preparation on the night before the race but dah buat aku dehydrated. Changing gears at the transition area pun dah cramped my ears reading it, and to do 200km a week of cycling. Damn, I would puke air lah hahaha...

Many many many congrats again bro!
Diket said…
Ye la. How come my blog roll didn't capture this earlier eh? Saja bikin drama la ni :P

Anyway, I trust you guys had awesome fun and experience. For Powerman, it's always about respecting the weather. Muahaha!

Congrats Datuk! Next year cangkuk mencangkuk kembali :]
amsyah said…
KJ - thanks :D

Deo - no problem bra - don't worry. Kita menulis bukan kerana nama :D. Thanks bra. Tahun depan kau join kitorang okeh!

Diket - Wa rasa sebab wa peram dalam Draft lama sangat, so dia publish ikut the first date drafted. Takpa, wa tulis ni sebagai peringatan tahun tahun depan, bukan drama minggu ini...
Terima kasih. I am writing to record that we had a blast in Manjung, and trust you all powerdul Powermen will continue to inspire us novice athletes. I respect your superior sportsmanship, and the beautiful weather that bore us our tan lines.

If we may, we shall write to say that I am all tak sabar tahun depan nak ride dengan kasut baru!
ezooone said…
nice one bro..really,powerman brought the whole new perspective about doing multi-sports..and also running..can't wait for next year! :)
Che said…
read the report. enjoy it. rasa cam nak cuba gak :P
che rus err.. pn rus said…
asam boi ada jugak?!
abgshah-looking younger every year :D
..::EnAikAY::.. said…
This is the kind of race report i like to read. It makes me regret not doing it this year... ahahaa.
Well done bro.
May we all see a new race report on PD tri in 2012 from you!

Congrats on becoming a POWERMANNNN!!!!

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