I completed the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman. that means I did 1.9km swim followed by a 90km cycle, followed by a 21km run. mind the fact that the pros finished under 4 hours, and I finished it under 8 hours. I did it, I completed it, and under my expected time of 8 hours. I did it in the blistering heat. my cycle ended after lunch time, and ran through till 3pm. I had to slow jog in the end, confident that with a slow jog or fast walk of 9-10min per km, I would finish the whole thing under the cut-off times.
The swim is the easiest part for me, using total immersion, I glided through the whole swim course, the fresh water was more comfortable then open sea water, and the water were calm, no harsh waves that would cause me sea sickness. only a matter of slight current and sighting the turning points. I may have went off course a bit, but that’s expected in open water swimming. did it in 51 minutes. my pool time usually 45 minutes.
after the swim, ran to the bike, spent almost 5 minutes to set up for the bike. wore my helmet, wore my socks and shoes, put on some sunscreen (wear sunscreen!) wore my arm band for the run, ate 1 banana, and packed 2 in my back pocket, and off I went. I forgot to turn on my endomondo for a few minutes. The bike was hilly thats for sure, but I found myself comparing it to the mentiri highway, but longer. I am glad that I built up my engine for the hills. Previous 80km ride, my average was 20kmph, but training on mentiri highway i got up to 24kmph, and some point at muara-tutong highway got 27kmph. for the ironman my average was just under 25kmph. so I ended earlier then I had anticipated.
I was glad there was 3 water points in the route, so we could have water, isotonic and coke… coke!!! i decided not to take the coke until the last lap due to fear of dehydration by caffeine. on the second round, as expected based on my training my water reserves of 3 bottles ran out. so on the 1st water point of the first lap, I decided to refill one bottle. I should have refilled all, considering I stopped at the next points refilling that same bottle. Could have save time by refilling all my bottles at that point, so I wouldn’t need to stop at each point.
Riding along I felt sorry for those whose bike punctured, or fell off due to sharp and narrow curves. to be fair the race managers did warn about that part, in the first round there were people around signing to us to slow down. I felt so motivated looking at other people cycling, and felt even inspired when I saw signboards meant for other people felt it applied to me. “pain is your friend”, “this is your hill”, “try to today and relax tomorrow”. the spectators were no different in cheering us on. cheering for their friends and family members and any other stranger that was competing. 🙂
When my ride ended, i was happy to see that my riding time wasn’t 4 hours, but it was just above 3hr and 30minutes. I felt that I could relax mentally and not stress about the run, because now I have 4 hours to run half marathon, in my worst time it was 3.5 hours. Hoping for the best, I slipped my mobile phone on arm band, but disappointed to find my phone unresponsive (to the moisture collected on the bike bag). so I spent a few kilometres holding on to it waiting for it to dry before turning on endomondo for the run. Going on the first lap, saw a few people whose pace was quite face, and a few others that ran and walked, and then those who walk. I’ll admit a lot of people were running faster then I was. But I told myself that I don’t need to push myself, just play it safe and jog slow. With the day heating up, I realized I forgot to pack my cap, which i usually wore in my training. as of writing the skin of my forehead is flaking off. I did not put any sunscreen on my head, for fear the sweat would run off into my eyes. There was a aid point for almost every 2km, and for each aid point there was a toilet, medic tent, water tent, isotonic tent, food (watermelon, banana, sweets), and water… again. The medic tent had those muscle sprays (I have never needed them, just a few stretches usually clear them off for me), and sunscreen. I asked the medic to give me on my palms and I covered myself again. (I had experience terrible sun burn/blister before in my training).
At the end of the 1st lap, I noticed some runners had wet sponges embedded within their clothes. What a wonderful Idea I thought, then I realized on the last aid point that they actually provided it. On the 2nd lap, the first water point was out of cups, so I drank from the bottle, the next point was out of water, so I didn’t use any to cool myself down, on the subsequent one there was also no water, but i saw other runner taking water from the drink containers and pouring on themselves as well as putting some of the ice down their shirts. I thought good idea, so I did it as well. REMINDER on this one, do not do this for a one piece suit. my ice ended collecting around my ass, which felt cooling, but after half an hour later felt my leg muscles close to my ass cramping up. bad idea. good thing after almost an hour it dissipated, but i had to be careful. the last few km of that second lap was miraculously (THANK GOD!) cloudy, so I could run slightly faster. I had noticed during the heat that even with a slow run my heart rate went upto 145, when usually it would be 120 around that pace. I maintained under 150bpm to be safe. that last round I actually caught with a guy walking and asked me about the time, and I assured him that with the pace and time, we would make it. he later caught up to me and we had a chat till the finish line. It was interesting to note that while chatting my pace went faster, coinciding with the cooling of the weather. both probably contributed. Reminder next time to find a running partner to talk to earlier in the run.
At the finishing line, I saw my wife waiting at the sidelines and took a picture of me. I crossed the finish line and the organizers place a medal around my neck, gave me an ironman towel. and one guy gently took away my timing chip from my left leg. At the finishers’ area, they provided drinks, fruits, ice cream (ICE CREAM!!!) and massage (people had to seat in line for that one). I drank a whole bottle of isotonic, took 2 ice cream, and went to talk to my wife for a while. then I went stretching and cool down while looking at the other finishers crossing the line. I admit it was quite inspiring and emotional to see the finishers greeted by strangers and by their loved one.
Thank you to the organizers, to the other participants/competitors, the volunteers, to the cheerers and supporters, especially to one that I realize I might have been rude to by saying “please don’t push me, I just want to relax”, after she cheered me on. Thank you for the experience. Every single person that I was around on my 70.3 ironman journey was a contribution to my inspiration to keep on moving. Love you all. 🙂