Sunday, June 15, 2008
It was with great pleasure and joy when I read the triumph of our Rafiq Khan in completing his first triathlon recently in Melaka. I was away in Kelantan and Bali and somehow managed to miss my favourite traithlon. Upon returning, I sent Uppiq a congratulatory SMS and he was joyful! I was extremely happy for him. Also to the fact that according to him, he did gain some aspiration and "semangat" from the rest of our batch be it being moral support and at times from my cerita dongeng that I write at times. He asked me to write a story. Well, I wasnt there to write about it. But I do have the story of my very first triathlon done just about three years ago. The theme is the same as what you achieved big guy, its the average guy just outdoing himself.
I won some money writing this story back then. (USD 25), so here's to you Uppiq! Currently my number one idol!
Warning: long story. Possible time waster in office!
Doc ala usat
Tasik Kenyir International Triathlon
3rd April 2005
On the 3rd april 2005, the light and easy team comprising of three average Joe's in me (doc), azman and steve competed in the first triathlon of the year in Malaysia. And by doing so managed to prove that despite being average regular guys, with a little bit of training and perserverance and a bit of gung ho attitude, even average Joe's could complete what seems to be an impossible task....the triathlon. A few days ago, even I thought that the discipline of swimming 1.5km followed by a 40km bike ride and to top it off with another 10km run was way out of my reach. Happily, I was proven wrong.Here's our story...
I really cant recall when the decision was made to enter the triathlon. Probably it was one of those light and easy running or biking days we've had. I guess it was probably Steve that promoted (boasted maybe) heavily on doing the Triathlon. (he's done one before last year in Port Dickson). If we can do running races and are competent enough with bikes...why not do the whole monty of swim-bike-run? Anyway you survived the marathon, did the Duathlon in good time. Why not? Yeah man ...why not? And so it was, without knowing it I made the jump 2 weeks before the race date. We had the duathlon coming in the week and followed by the actual Triathlon the week following. Not a great deal of time to train but what the heck...here we go! According to Azman, he had always wanted to compete in the Triathlon but never had the gang and motivation to do it with. So here we go Man.
The biking and running was not really my main worry as I've done longer distances before. But the swimming was my greatest fear. You have to ask Mat Gan about how blatantly crap my swimming was(still is). The honest truth is Mat Gan just thought me how to swim 1 or 2 months back. After just beginning to be able to do 200metres of breast stroke, my weekly swimming with him at Bukit Jalil was put aside as work commitment for him and other training preparations for me took over. I was involved with the biking group and even though we call ourselves bikers, we seem to be doing a lot of running lately. So my swimming remained really poor.
Without knowing it,it was 1 week before the triathlon! After just completed the Duathlon the previous week, I had no time to train! The Tuesday pre race weekend was supposed to be my proper train and planned for a follow up on Thursday with a combined swim and bike. I only managed to swim that tuesday! With Azemy, Zabil, Steve, Azah (zabil's wife) and their daughter we made the training count. Zabil and Steve did 40 laps non stop in an hour. That was free style mind you. I had Azemy who havent swam in years to keep me company." Lets do 2 laps at a time", was my suggestion to him hoping that we could do 30 laps which was the distance required.After stopping and puffing at every stop, we barely made it....in almost 1 and a half hours! Oh dear....I was in real trouble. I really dont want to be out of the water last during the race. That would really demoralise me.Off course not to mention the bike and swim that followed. And to make it worse the following Thursday on which was planned the swim and bike had to be cancelled as I was stuck in the hospital till 8 pm! Shit! there goes my careful planning...off course to make it really complete, I hadn't touched my bike sice the Malakoff Duathlon race. I guess this is how average Triathletes train....in chaos!
We travelled the day before from KL on Steve's pick up. I picked Azman up at the LDP and ferried our bike and stuff to Taman Tun to rendezvous with Steve. Steve wasnt feeling too good the past few days being down with a viral infection of some sort, and Man due to work, couldnt train as much as he would like. How very average of us all!
Anyway after waking Steve up and unloading our stuff on his pick up, we were off.1030hrs saturday morning. The drive to Kenyir was smooth. I volunteered to drive. We followed the new Karak Kuantan east coast highway. On the way passed trough Sg Dua, Bentong and other places where we have ridden before. I brought my CD's and obviously the theme of the journey would be retro 70's with songs from The Eagles, Police and off course the driver's favourite...Alleycats. After repeated hearing, Im sure Azman and Steve would have memorised the lyrics by now. After a heavy lunch at Temerloh R and R, we proceeded on. Took the exit at Gambang before Kuantan and headed North. We diverted away from the coastal road and followed the in land route following Bandar Bukit Besi and in the process passing trough Agricultural settlements of KETENGAH. Some of those places had funny names like Ladang Gajah Mati, Sg cetek etc. The in land route was less busy and we saw a lot of heavy vehicles.After some time we were getting worried that we werent seeing anyone with bikes heading our way. Were we on the correct way? Is the race today instead of tommorrow? Man theorised that the race may have been held on the Saturday as Friday and Saturday was the weekend holiday in Terengganu. Oh dear...here we go again. I also forgot to confirm our hotel bookings. It wasnt until the town of Kuala Behrang that we finnally saw a car with 2 bikes on its roof. Ok guys we were on the right track. For such a large tourist attraction, Lake kenyir sure didnt have too many signages to direct tourist. We finally entered the Lake Kenyir compound and was immediately terrorised by the endless undulating hills as we approached the lake proper. Just like that, the weather which was hot and humid earlier turned into heavy downpour. After the long 7 hour drive, we were glad to finally reach the Hotel car park to unload our bikes. The first thing that greeted us was a nearby parked car with Pacesetters stickers.We drove all the way to meet up with our good friends! Next to us was a Thai registered van offloading a couple of very fit and toned girls.Oh shit, we were in enemy territory.After looking around like fools, we managed to find the registration area. The area was in the Kenyir Lake Resort. We were by now tired after 7 hours of travelling and were getting wet in the rain. Equally distressing was the hotel lounge was filled with very fit looking triathletes wondering around almost naked with their tight attires. The three of us....The overweight mat salleh, the under weight doctor and the construction worker from kelantan strolled into the lobby no doubt looking very miserable. "Which way to the Triathlon registeration?" I asked the reception. With a shocked and amused look, she directed me. As we lined up at the registeration, the girl at the counter immediately took out the sprint relay list, no doubt expecting all three of us average Joe's to be in that race and not in the triathlon proper." Race category sir". said the shocked face at the counter. " Men. Open please." The whole registeration counter stopped doing whatever they were doing then and we were instant celebrities.The sight of us three really made their day I guess. T shirt size? Steve: extra large please. Sorry only L. Doc: S please.Sorry only M.
We shared a chalet of some sort with an extra bed for Man.It was quite a comfy place overlooking the lake. In the evening, you could see the waves crashing into the lake shore. Azman and Steve apparently saw some big fish, Toman maybe and fortunately didnt tell me about it till the race ended. We had our dinner at the local eatery....carbo loading of some sort. One plate of nasi ayam goreng followed by mee rebus. The rest of the triathletes were carbo loading at the hotel buffet and here we were eating in the rain at the road side stall. How very ordinary.
We were all in the chalet by 2130hrs. After getting our stuff ready and cracking a few jokes after attending the race brief, we couldnt believe it when we saw this Mat salleh dude running in the dark. Obviously this chap was one of the pros. This guy was training and we were on our way to bed. Man was very informative telling us the who's who of malaysian Triathletes. That guy there, he did the Ironman 5 times. That chick there, ran for malaysia in the Marathon. That guy there....Me and Steve was only interested at the fit looking girls around. Some of them were quite pretty, but some of the hard core ones really looked tough and beefy. With well toned bodies and hard core looks......I surely wont be fantasising about them tonight. Some of them really looked outright scary!
After warning Steve not to snore and man watching TV, we were settling in bed. At this time my panic attack and fears regarding the swim surfaced. " Dude, You really think I can do it man?" I asked Steve repeatedly that night. Perhaps lying to make me feel better or maybe just to make me shut up came his not really convincing reply " yeah , sure you can".........Steve didnt snore that night, but he woke up a few times to clear his nose and was tossing about in bed all night. I dreamt of finishing last and being rescued by the race officials.
The alarm was set at 0500hrs, complete with a wake up call....however we only managed to rise at 0530hrs, with me and Steve struggling to the breakfast buffet. Man, cleverly stayed in bed and asked us to tapau something to eat. Once again, Me and Steve made our dramatic impact by entering the dining area full of beautifully toned athletic bodies. The watermelon and the pair of chopsticks made everyone stare. Steve was clearly overdoing the buffet bit by grabbing all that was on offer. I sneaked in our water bottles and filled them all with orange juices. Steve grabbed some pancakes and bread for Man....no doubt making some people whisper in amusement. Out we went the back door with our grubs trying our best not to look foolish and being caught when out of the blue we bumped into the mat salleh dude just coming in from his early morning jog. Oh dear. After the usual pre race banter and again asking man and Steve if they thought I could make it safely around the lake.....we were off at the starting line. The place was buzzing with activity. People jogging around, doing their stretching etc..I was more concerned with the water.
The lake was calm. It looked rather green and murky. We went in for a test swim and were immediately struck by the fact that the water was warm. Expecting our balls to shrink in cold, it was a pleasant surprise. We were body marked with our race numbers and was told to wear the given race cap. Steve told me to get my cap numbered too just in case.....I did the extra thing by walking around the rescue team with my race cap on. "tolong tengok nombor saya ye 143.....Kalau lemas....."
To be honest, even up to this point, I was still undecided about my chances of finishing the swim. I wanted to ask the race marshall if I DNF the swim, could they allow me to continue with the run and bike........suddenly the horn went off! And we were all away. Shit! Hearts pumping, We jumped into the water. Steve could sense my anxiety and he offered to swim with me to the first bouoy and let me take it from there. Within a few minutes, we were already at last place. It was only me and a few people who swam the course using breast stroke.We were immediately fighting for last place. The swim was in the lake around a triangle 250 metres on each side marked by a bouoy. Do it 2 rounds and you get 1.5km. Easy...
I finally reached the first buouy, and Steve with good nature told me that I wasnt last.....almost last. ..and he was off. I continued with my breast stroke slowly trying hard to remember what Mat gan and steve told me. Glide longer, keep your butt up and look down. Or was it look at someones butt and keep down? I cant remember. I do remember that the lake was dark and you could only see a few feet down. Good I suppose, as I dont want to see any Toman having a go at my organs. I was swimming alone. Calm and serene especially when everyone was way ahead. At 500meteres, i felt waves crashing next to me....a human torpedo with effortless motion sped past me. Shit! I was being lapped! Turned out 5 to 6 of the fast ones lapped me before I could reach the turn. I continued onwards. Passing the 2nd round, the swim was calm again as basically I was one of the last few in the water. At the last 250meteres, I was "escorted" by a lady in a kayak (my would be rescuer) till the end. "Am I last?" I asked while gulping in lake water........"No....almost last" came her answer. She was very supportive giving me shouts of encouragement. She was my mermaid angel. I wanted to kiss her for keeping me afloat. Without realising it, I was nearing the jetty and the cheers from the crowd was getting louder. Come on Doctor! were they cheering me on? I hope so. Nearing the jetty, I thought that i saw soft ground and stopped swimming and tried to walk.....I sank and suddenly was gulping water.Dumbass! Belum sampai lagi la! Sikit lagi!. Shit! I finally brought myself out of the water in the deafening ironic cheers and claps from everyone there.44mins. The VIP who started the race was still there. Come on. You can do it. With cameras on me and everyone looking, I needed a smart ass answer to look cool (not stupid). "I guess I can kiss my 1st prize money good bye huh" was all that I could muster. Everyone thought that was really funny. Sure..it wasnt really. I looked behind and saw two other people coming out of the water.......Alright! Im not last after all! I felt really pleased with myself till I saw that the 2 person were Patsy my friend, who is a 68 year old ironwoman, grand mother and a 71 year old man who was the oldest competitor that day. Oh No!......I was immediately brought down to earth....
On with the bike! The interchange was smooth, especially when your the only one there. The TV cameras was focussing on patsy and the old guy and i was left to fend for myself. I took off my yellow swimming cap, dried my feet, gulped down some fluids, put on my helmet and was off. I was still pounding from the swim but i was still a bit confident as I knew biking and to a certain extent running was my ok point. Immediately after the first turn, the bike course went up a steep gradient of a hill! Aduhh!! I was cursing my luck then but i would later realise that the hilly course was to be my "leveller" with the others. The bike course is designed around the lake compound with bikers having to pass 2 loops of 8km length smooth tarmac road with another few km coming out and in to the transition area. the view was fantastic! The sky was blue with low set clouds. What a relief after the long hard swim. At the end of the loop, the road ended next to a waterfall. Beautiful. Oh yeah. Did I tell you that the course was hilly? Thats the beauty of it. At first i was cursing but after realising that most of the roadies especially those with expensive bikes and drop down aerobars arent really good climbers, I began to feel good. Coming from a mountain biking background, those hills were treated with disrespect. Even Man and Steve who were the only 2 out of 3 persons on mountain bikes felt good. They (and me) managed to overtake many of the roadies. I caught up with my first roadie after 3km on the road. I felt good. From 3rd last, now Im 4th last. without realising it I was overtaking people. I was really speeding now. I managed to pass Man and Steve as they were coming on the opposite direction. As always, the light and easy team was the most cheerful lot with shouts of encouragement to everyone and anyone willing to look at us. We found that the average joe's out there were more responsive, some smiling and waving back. It was wonderful to see familiar faces .....faces you see at the jogging track, like Bernard Ho 60plus age who's a regular at Taman Tun. The pretty girl you often see at KHS but never had the guts to say Hi to. The uncle who swam past you and kicked some water in your face. Suddenly the biking was enjoyable.
Did I mention that there were hard core, dumbasses, arrogant bums out there? Oh yes they were as off any race, you get the PROS who are well behaved and get on with their job and also the Pros wannabe who are slightly better than us but dont have a chance in hell to win. But still they behave like they own the race. These are the guys who wear those tiny gayish suits, swear to tell you to get out of their way, ride those expensive carbon but climb like a dog up tree. I hate them! Bloody hell, some were outright rude.Drafting (allowed in the race) dangerously and overtaking from the left. Dicks. Anyway I got my revenge up those lovely hills. Though they were short lived as they drafted down the hill past me at 70km/hr. Never mind, see you at the running section. 1 hr 20min 55sec later, I completed the biking and was entering the running section. I passed a lot of people by now and was enjoying myself. I could see Steve leaving the transition a few minutes back. Lets go man! A quick change to my faithful asics and I was gone in a flash. I forgot my power gel. I forgot my cap. I forgot to drink. Dumbass! 500metres into the run, I started to feel the hunger pangs in the stomach. Headed to a nearby water station for the bikes and grabbed a cup of water.Gulped it down and felt the pangs go away.
The running is a 2 loop round a 5km hilly and winding course. As I was starting my run, The winners were finishing their race. The MC at the finish line was this Indian dude whom I suspected had a few drinks too many the night before. He was introducing the runners who were finishing and those passing by for the second loop as each runner passed the line.Finisher from Maalaaysiiaaaa Eugene Chaaaaaaaan! Coming for the second lap...from Singapoooooore.....Willliammm tannnn. You can do it! But give credit to the dude as he did his homework well. He would give additional info on the runners like 2 time Ironmen finisher.....Razali. 5 times Hawaii ironmen. The youngest competitor. The oldest competitor. etc etc.. When my time came , all he said was From Maalaysiiiiia dr Hisyam.........! Go doc! I stopped by him and whispered " Dr Hisyam Salleh: 2 time woodenman finisher" The dude immediately followed " From Maalaysiiiaaaaaa Dr Hisyam 2 times woodenman finisheeeeer!" Everyone there laughed. What a dick head. He had no clue what he was talking about.
During the run, I managed to overtake Steve. "shit doc, next time I'm not gonna give you any more swimming tips!" I continued with my pace. The watering station was at every 2km and the weather was now overcast. Not a major problem as far as hydration goes. But could my legs take it.? Surprisingly they could. I stumbled with a group of Pace setters from KL whom I've seen before....not very friendly people. They were clearly struggling even with their Impossible is nothing t shirt. I gave them as much support and encouragement and told them not to stop. Those familiar unfriendly faces became warm smiling beings. I ran with a navy commando(paskal)...Shah ..and we talked a bit. Apparently the Navy sent a few teams there as part of their "leisure activity". Aktiviti riadah. Hmm. Anyway Shah was completing the 2nd round and I was still in my first! With that he was off. His target was a sub 2 and half hour race. I think he made it. My next company was this fit looking Thai girl who spoke in halted English. She was ok. I think she wanted to concentrate on her brathing rather than talk with me. The course...well it was full of hills. Many people walked and I used it as my opportunity to overtake people. Approaching the finish line I could hear the MC dude in full action. "Coming in to finish is the youngest competitor age 13....... "me? I thought he was making a mistake. I looked to my left and there was this Punjabi boy running next to me. Oh No! I dont want my finishing to be spoilt by a boy! Azman who had finished the race shouted from the side "come on doc! budak kecik tu nak potong" I was almost beaten by grandparents and now I was about to be beaten by a kid. No Way! I sprinted the last 200 metres and left the boy....he he he From Maalaysiiiiaaa......Doc........
I crossed the line at 3hrs 3 min 07 secs.
Grinning all over. I managed to wave to everyone like I was the winner. I asked the MC if I could intoduce Steve as he ended his race. Sure doc, ok by him.
"From Canada. Average Joe. Steve!" I wanted to say fat ass but decided against it. Me, Azman and Steve huddled together enjoying our achievements. Without realising it, it was time to go home.The long drive back.
" I never thought you could do the swim doc" was Steve's honest remark. Sure man. Im a swimmer now. And I have a bright yellow cap to prove it.
Azman Swim 35.25(116) Bike 1:17:32(94) Run:57:46(86) 2:50:43
Doc 44(144) 1:20
:55(106) 58:12(89) 3:03:07
Steve 32:06(101) 1:24:32(113) 1:10:08
PS: Its been 3 years since that first tri, and im proud to say a lot of OP's (our batch and others- bean, kam, stupes.....now Uppiq) have been encouraged to do the same. Some have even done the Ironman. Sadly too, we lost a fellow OP last year during the swimming leg of the port dickson tri.
Whatever the outcome, I hope to encourage more people to be active and adopt a healty lifestyle. Now we have a big guy to look up to.
Doc ala usat