Monthly Archives: May 2016

Doing both labuan openwater swim and BIM part 2

30 April 2016, Arrived KK from labuan after 4pm, had about an hour sleep in the ferry. Arriving at the port, greeted by my wife at jesselton, we walked together to Suria Sabah to pick up my race pack.


Met a few Bruneians at Suria Sabah, had dinner,  bought snacks and my isotonic drink for the marathon the next day. Drove back to the hotel by 7pm. Prepped a bit for the run. Had my KFC takeaway, took a bath and tried to go to sleep. I think I slept after 8pm but woke up before 12am. Prepared myself, drank my 1L water, ate my small breakfast. And spent some time in the toilet. 😜


Drove from hotel after 1 am, Arrived at Likas stadium before 2am, looked for the toilet first. Then met a few runners from Brunei. I even asked some of them their expected pace, I targeted to pace a few who those targeting 5 or 6 hours.

I was surprised to meet an old acquaintance from KL who picked up running a few years ago. Thanks for the banana. 🍌


And it was cool to see other personalities in the run.


3am almost came, I felt like going to the toilet again, but cancelled when I saw the line.

Originally planning to start together with a few Bruneians, but lost them in the crowd. 3 am came and we started off.


Stumbled upon Mike who was plannimg to go a 7min/km pace. I tagged a long,  along with Shahrun. We ran together for the first 15km, we wemt through a few small hills, but at one water station, Mike needed to get some muscle spray, so I took the chance to drop by the portable potty. Previously I noticed a few runners dropped to the side to their business. Finishing my business I decided that I would like to go on my own pace. So I broke off.

I started to overtake a few people. The day stayed to show. The sun started to rise. As I was going through University Malaysia Sabah’s hilly terrain, I passed the half way point, I was able to see the runners I passed. As well a Mike and Shahrun . Exiting the area, the fast 21km runners were overtaking me, and started to see the rest of the 21km runners. At one point saw and greeted another barefoot runner on the other side among them.


Seeing 1borneo I was hopeful that the end was near. It turned out the u-turn was still far off. My water reserves was low, and I stopped by the waterpoint to reload my bag with isotonic and some ice. On the way met another barefoot runner. He was already limping, my guess he either pushed too fast too hard too soon, or he never trained this distance barefoot, or simply got seriously injured along the way. Reaching the u-turn, I saw that it was 12km left at that point. I was elated to realize that it was only 1/4 left. Hopeful that I could finish the rest of the run under 2 hours. Met the other barefooted runner again and gave him a bit of encouragement. On the way back saw other people started to take off their shoes to continue,  my guess the shoes started to hurt. Gave them a few tips to last the distance. E.g. Running on the white line. Even motivated a 21km runner to run with her shoes in hand, we ran together for a kilometer or so, till I left her behind.

I was glad to go through checkpoints that had the firebrigade bathing us in cool water. I took a few significant seconds to wet and cool myself. I actually felt refreshed enough to run fast for a few kilometers. There was apparently a spongebath but they were out of water, I took some sponges any way and was able to wet it during those watersprays and kept those sponges on my shoulder to keep cool. Those last few kilometres left, I was slightly demotivated as I saw 21km runners walking, tempted to join the walk, I pushed along,  reminding myself I have been doing a relaxed run, following the feel, and I havent pushed myself much.  But my hamstrings started to cramp, and my reserves was out. But as soon as we entered the stadium, and I felt the soft running track under my feet, I actually felt like running faster, and I did, for those last few metres. 😝


I stopped my GPS to find my finishing time to be 5:39, (later I found official time was 5:37). I was astonished my self. Here I was expecting more than 6 hours, but I did it under that time. Some of my friends was amazed as well, not just because I did a sub 6 hour marathon, nor was it barefoot, but I did it after finishing a 5km openwater swim the day before. I was amazed myself, and I was proud. 😃


Next up? Another faster marathon? Or more cycling to be able to do an ironman.  I think a faster marathon is sooner, the next ironman I am targeting is the Langkawi ironman in November.  But my challenge is not just the physical training,  but also the financial challenges. Let’s see what I can do till then.


Doing both labuan openwater swim and BIM part 1

First off, originally I didn’t think I could make it. As I was also participating the borneo International marathon on 1St may 2016. And the swim was on 30th April 2016. Oh I also already booked a hotel in KK on 29th April. Suffice to say, I had a strong urge to do both, and I found a way to do both.

So what happened in general was the following.

28th April after 5pm left work to go home, and at 6pm left home to go KK, I drove until sindumin as I began to feel symptoms of motion sickness. My wife drove the rest of the way to our hotel, arriving after 11pm. Ate dinner that my wife cooked up earlier and then slept.


29th April, woke up at 6am to go off to jesselton to go by ferry at 8am by myself to Labuan, while my wife stayed in KK. I arrived at labuan after 11am. Had an early lunch at KFC, found a place called Mint Hotel that surprisingly had vacancies. Afternoon left for the labuan sea sport complex for the briefing for the open water swim. It was a simple and almost unorganized briefing. Then left to go for dinner. Which I found (and subsequently returned )  a lost wallet, met an iron lady – wendy, had dinner together, shopped for snacks and breakfast, and went to sleep. Just a note my dinner was at SCR where I consumed a significant amount of ginger that they served as condiments,  which I had to ask for another set.  😝



30th April, woke up at 5am, got ready, left at 6am to meet wendy to walk together to the event. On location checked in. Waited for event to start. Met Brunei’s ultra ironman ahmad fathi, retrying his 2009 DNF. The swim was suppose to start 7am, but we started around 7:45am waiting for the guest of honour.

As the swim started I stayed to the left, trying to avoid the crowd. But as I tried my best to head for pulau papan, a few people crossed my path, and I had to slow down so I can swim on their right and swim in the my path. The water was magically clear, clearest than I have ever experienced in the past 5 years. I could see the bottom for the next few 100 meters. At some point, I felt a few stings behind my neck and shoulders, thought it was chafing,  but as soon as I looked in the water, I realized it was jellyfish stings. I saw several small jellyfishes,  their sizes only about 5cms or 2-3 inches in diameter. Small but painful. I slightly panicked and increased my speed and pulled my hands closer to my body to avoid touching them. After a while there was a school of fish, which I easily lost myself looking at them. As I reached pulau papan I was pleasantly surprised to realize I had no signs of sea sickness.

At pulau papan, the volunteers /marshals handed out the checkpoint items and provided drinks. As soon as I arrived I saw wendy the veteran iron lady arriving. I was proud to have been faster than she was. But she went back into the water first,  I tried to follow behind her but I couldn’t catchup.

On the way back I ran into several other swimmers finishing their first half. Again I was proud as I used to be this batch,  but this year I seem to be faster. I was awestruck again to see the school of fishes,  but panicked again when I saw a few jelly fish. I almost caught up with a guy in front of me, I guess he paused due to the jelly fish, but then he started again and he was faster as I saw he got further the longer we swam. I finished the swim at a personal best of 2:22. We were required to check back in,  to record that we were out of the water safely. I was given a towel as a finisher souvenir.  Disappointed a bit that there was no finisher t-shirt. Spent the time later talking to A few swimmers,  especially the veterans that were faster than me.


A few of learnings from experience, and other swimmers.

  • My sighting strategy varied from 4 strokes to 10 strokes. It was a balance of sighting and swimming technique. If easier to sight, focus more on the swim. Get lost more often, sight more.
  • My arms started to feel tired in the first half as I think pushed a bit hard earlier, and the top of my feet/ankle hurt the last quarter. My guess was lack of training, but I was advised to do more strength training /conditioning. 
  • No signs of sea sickness. Overloaded on ginger pills, 2 per 2 hours on the drive to kk. 2 before sleep, 2 on waking, 2 before, during and after ferry. Actual ginger during dinner,  2 before sleep, 2 on waking, and 2 before swim.


The closing ceremony was supposed to be at 11am, but we were informed it was going to be 11:30am, I was worried about checking out of my hotel at 12pm, and getting a ticket for the ferry back to KK by 1pm. So I left without attending the closing ceremony.

Arrived hotel,  took a bath,  checked out, bought ferry ticket, had lunch at KFC again. And went off to KK. Off to my first Borneo International Marathon.

To be continued to part 2.