Thursday, 17 July 2014

Osaka ASTC Sprint Triathlon

Sometimes misfortunes occur outside of you control, leaving you with nothing but a powerless feeling not being able to do anything about it...

Leading up to the Osaka ASTC Sprint Triathlon, I had been feeling great and confident. A small lung irritant arouse the Wednesday before my weekend race which I just shrugged off, thinking it was just a little discomfort (or fatigued) from all the hard track runs and Vo2 swim sets. Telling myself it was temporary and would dissipate soon so long as I watched my health as usual. It was a dry, lung emptying cough which started to immerge on the thursday however, that had me worrying. I soon had my bags packed and headed for the airport for what was to be an uncomfortable 6hr, midnight flight with no sleep, constantly disturbed by my own chain of coughing.

We were greeted immediately with warmth by Ms. Kiriyo at the airport, who took amazing care of us. She drove us straight from the airport to the pool for a swim, then to the supermarket for grocer shopping, and then to the hotel for check-in.

My condition remained the same for the next 2 days I was in Osaka. I felt alright during easy swims/rides only a little hard to breath during runs, although I had not realised how much it would have affected my performance at high intensity. (I didn't get much solid sleep too, waking myself up constantly by my own loud moaning caused by the need to cough... (Sorry Aldrian and Barry for being so noisy throughout the nights!).

On the race day itself, I felt good and confident, yet somewhat a little uncertain of my confidence. I has a quick warm-up with an Aussie who I met and trained with for a bit in Perth. The race began at 11:30am in a wet, post-rain condition. As the horn blasted, I set off for a solid start towards the first buoy hanging at the back of the chase pack. As we hit the turn however, I started to fade and was unable to inject any power. I felt very held back with the inability to use the full capacity of my lungs with only shallow breaths (lungs felt tight and breathing deep caused me to choke up). I dropped off the chase pack halfway through the swim, where I then joined the 3rd pack that caught up to me not long after. I felt this to be a disappointing swim considering that in my swims the past few weeks I had been clocking my fastest splits ever. The swim exited on steps which stretched out the large field of 75 or so men (which was good!).

Onto the bike, I was caught by the 3rd pack behind me which I then worked with together on the very hilly "up-and-down the bridge", 4 loop bike course. By "working together", I meant hanging on for dear life as I constantly broke into rhythm shattering coughs! The legs felt very inactive and did little to respond to my 110% effort. It was physically demolishing me, which again I suppose had a lot to do with not being able to breathe normally! Despite that, I grit my teeth and powered down with what remained of me. By the last climb of the last lap however, I had faded to the point of no return and dropped off before the peak, and was left to ride the remaining 3km back into transition solo. I had not lost hope... Well at least not yet anyway...

A quick (but shaky) dismount, popped on the shoes, and I was off for the run. Immediately I felt the worst I'd ever been, with stone-heavy legs and the inability to control my posture, nor my breathing. Mainly breathing though... I was attacked with waves of coughing. As one broke out, another would take it's place, and another, and another, and another-Until I had to pull up by the side and cough my lungs out and pose there to catch a breath. Determined to get back into the field, I got back on the road and drove one foot after the other. Things got harder from here as the coughs got worse and I would be so winded and unable to run from such tensed up abs. I dug deep and kept going. However, it got to the point that the sessions would take so much out of me that I would feel faint, and realised that I had done more than I could handle, and the day was at an disappointing end. I walked back (painfully and breathtakingly) to the medical tent and got myself checked up (thank god I didn't have pneumonia or anything!) and that was that.

- Coming back to KL, I was diagnosed with Bronchitis, which probably explained everything. I would say that it help subside the disappointment with the race, but only angered myself more for not listening to my body and pushing the boundaries.

We did enjoy our time however in Kyoto post-race, sight-seeing and experiencing the culture (half of which should be mine!). Stuffed our faces with sashimi, ramen, cold soba, and just about everything else. Got quite a workout walking the entire area the whole day too.

Back in KL now, and unfortunately still unable to get back into training just yet as it's still and ongoing fight with my bronchitis. Hopefully it'll go soon so I can get back into some quality blocks leading up to Port Dickson Tri, Singapore ITU and hopefully Edmonton Worlds and Incheon Asian Games!

Massive thanks to Azran (AirasiaX) for flying us, DSA, Rudy Project, Kenanga, High5 Sports Nutrition, and of course TIME for the support!

Very special thanks to Ms. Kiriyo and the organisers for putting such a fabulous event and such and amazing hospitality throughout the entire event. They event went as far as to personally drive me to a drug store to pick up some medications for me, which I think deserves some recognition.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Burabay ASTC Triathlon Junior Asian Championships

Kazakhstan… Who would’ve ever thought to take such lengths to fly there for a race, let alone travel for any other reason? Yet again, who shouldn’t?

Possibly an overlooked destination of choice for tourism, it’s immensely large land is decorated beautifully from the spectacular view of the Kazakh Alps peaking through the frothy coat of clouds from the plane window, it’s dead-flat lands like a blanket of wheat fields that stretches out to the end of the world, architectural wonders of the young city of Astana, the beauty of its postcard-like, picturesque environment, and just so much more. Having said that however, it certainly does add a bit of ounce of difficulty with hardly any airline operators flying there, and with no one speaking English.

A full day of travelling was laid out for our team on the Wednesday 29th of May, to which we were given an immediate environmental shock upon arrival at Astana with its (very) chilly climate and lack of development on it’s big plain fields, speaking from the perspective of our youths that have grown up around apartments, shopping complex’s and everything else we deem “normal”. A 3hr drive from the airport took us into deep into the woods before opening into Burabay town, far from any “tourist areas” & major developments. I was surprised that such an area so far from modern civilization would be populated, and even have their own little zoo!

Let's all just stop and cry at the beauty

The race-course was situated by a breathtakingly scenic location (I forget its name) with a lake that reached out towards mountains that touched the clear blue sky, layered with pine trees everywhere. The actual swim in the lake was nothing alike.. A water temperature of 13C lake and strong gusts of icy winds played throughout the few days, so cold that we couldn't stand still, nor "thahlk phroptherly" with numbed lips, our necks ached from shivering so violently. Just imagine us going "this pthrase, iths thso pheauthifhul!" and cracking up midway through any sentence. It was however, a beautiful clear blue sky on race day.  The showers had no hot water for the first 2 nights and alternated randomly after that, which I’m sure no one enjoyed anymore than I did. At least we had great ice-baths? Just kidding, I didn't shower for 3 days straight.

There was an opening ceremony on the Friday night and one person from each country had to be chosen as the country's flag bearer. It was I... 
I did not expect it to be so grand and I admit I was probably more nervous about this than anything else. Each country was called out and I panicked when the flag wrapped itself up and kept flapping in my face as I walked around the hall. How embarrassing!

The youths were gunned off in the morning, leaving the Elite Juniors to start in the warm afternoon. And it actually was warm!
With the generous time till our race, I retreated to my room after breakfast, popped my headphones and lay down on my bed, thinking through and visualizing the race.

It was a small field of only 28 men, but was no less aggressive than any other large-scale race. It was a fight through the choppy waters from the horn blast, and I was forcibly stopped twice, with lots of swimming over each other and hands catching and pulling on shoulders. I tried to keep myself calm and hold back from hitting the red-zone too early, but I might have held back a bit too much!

Busted my gut chasing him

I hopped out of the water 10sec down from a Japanese and 30sec down from the chase group. The wetsuit came off quick in T1 and I nailed my legs down right from the mount-line, up the long climb and gassed myself to chase the Japanese and the pack. I got into an aero position immediately after the hill and busted a gut chasing what seemed like a hopeless endeavor, as it seemed to do nothing but maintain the gap for the first 4km. I don’t think I have ever pushed this hard in any race, triathlon or road cycling itself and I was shocked to have actually caught them before the end of lap 1! The 4 of us continued to hammer down with the Japanese and I leading the majority of the time. Eventually we caught another 2 upfront, and slowly reeled in another pack further in front. Again, the Japanese and I worked most of the way despite the increase in size. I stayed up at the front as much as I could, going into narrow U-turns and tight corners to stay out of any trouble and knowing it was less effort to be chased out of those U-turns as opposed to the other way round. A 5-600m long hill at every loop played in my favour, as I knew I would be spending fewer watts than the others at each climb. By the 3rd and final loop, our hard work had paid off as we caught the group upfront. I got to the front of our pack (again to stay out of trouble), dismounted and had one of the quickest transitions of my life!

I blasted out of T2 together with the pack in front of us. The legs were feeling very heavy and in pain at this point with all the lactic from that intense ride, but somehow I was able to keep a great form with a very high turnover. I immediately outran all in my group as well as the other, except for the one Japanese that work equally as hard as me on the bike! I was worried I had gone off too quick on the first loop, but managed to keep the form and position all the way into the finish line to finish 14th place. I was also happy to later learn that I had finished 4th country-wise, after Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, and Japan!

Pretty happy with a solid performance and how I dealt with the different situations that came before me, especially on the bike and run. A smart ride got me saving more energy without any unnecessary expenditure at technical points and played with my advantage well at the hills. Of course, having Steve shout to me about the gap difference between us and the pack in front at every lap was what motivated me to push so hard! If not, I wouldn't have believed we could catch that group, and the results would have been so different! 
I ran hard and left nothing back. The swim however, still needs plenty more work but is something I am confident about, as long as I commit to putting the work in over the long period I will be in this sport!

It was probably the most fun as well, messing about at every chance we had (which you could probably tell from our ridiculous selfie's and videos). Wrapping Henry up at the airport was the best idea ever. We're wrapping him up completely at the next chance we get. Seriously.

Have a laugh:

I have to thank the organisers for putting together such a great race at such a spectacular venue, our coaches and parents for looking after us so well and organising this trip (which was absolutely hectic), our sponsors for all the support, and everyone else that supported us! This was a big step and an achievement for Team TIME and hope it will continue to grow!!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Perthy 3-4-5-6

- Wednesday
Another morning swim at 5:30am in Claremont Pool. 
Endurance and some efforts this time, with a total of 5k bagged in the warm pool. We had a bigger squad this time, and it was lovely to meet some new people, and also learn that one of the swimmers knew a friend of mine back in KL. It's a small world after all…

Had a great long nap in the afternoon, which I surely must've needed, and then headed off for a good hard run with a great bunch at the Challenge Sports Complex.
4x 2km effort, 1/3 at 10k pace and 2/4 at 5k pace, with about 2min rest intervals. It was showering, whichI would say was a perfect running condition! The grass was amazing

In the evening we had an amazing dinner with a huge cut of tea-infused smoked salmon cook deliciously by Sam, for Jane's birthday. Cheers man! W all had a great time.

- Thursday
The cold rain showered down early that morning with gusts that shook up waters at Swan River, Claremont. We waited in the warmth off the car and as soon as the rain died down, we got straight into the rough waters for a good swim. I sat on Paul's feet as we swam along the shore of the 1km stretch and then drafted off his side on the way back, switching from left to right at the 500m marker (which was a boat!). Out again, sitting on the feet, and back, this time hammering it on the last 500m.
It felt like we were flying on the way out, as if sat on a light stream. However, coming back was like swimming into series of brick walls and hurdles. It was a long long stretch of fighting through the water! It was a "proper" rough swim and we only managed 1:30 per 100m pace!

A short, hard threshold swim took place back in the pool again at 5:30am, with main sets: 6x100 on 1:30, 2x200 on 3min and repeated twice, with the second one using beepers.
I then went for my run straight after along the coast of Cottesloe beach and admiring the waves and scenic… Well scenic everything.

I can't deny however, that the best part was after-sun, when Sam took me out into the city for some pretty awesome drinks at hipster bars (that you will almost certainly never get in KL). We also went into "Pleased to Meet You" which had the best oysters and roast chicken. They were cooked to such perfection.

I cycled over to The Running Centre at 6:30am where I met up with Raf's running group and we headed off for a 5k warm up into beautiful King's Park. After a series of drills and strides, we set off for our solid session of 2x 5km at half marathon pace. The loop started off mainly downhill, with some small hills, before hitting a long hill towards the end. One of those routes that can gradually put the pain in, especially towards the end!
We then headed to Jugglers cafe which made amazing long macs, bacon wraps and chico-crossaints. Yep, I had them all and loved every bit.
After a good chat I had a long 30min cycle back, had a quick nap and whizzed off for an open water skilled swim at 1pm at the pool. I was pretty chuffed with my swim for 2x 500, swimming good times.

I definitely want to go back to Kings Park, whether for a run or passing by on the bike, and possibly head into that sweet cafe again!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


The first 2 days spent in Perth have been absolutely wonderful.

First swim session took place in Claremont Pool (which by the way, is superb) at 7am on Monday. Nothing too taxing with a technique session, but I guess I should be surprised that I felt a little "not 100%" after the past few weeks of travelling, which I'm still not quite used to yet. Still got through alright and enjoyed the swim, getting to meet wonderful people like Guy Crawford, Kate, and of course, Paul Newsome. 
After the first session with the swim squad, I stayed back for a 121 session with Paul. Some interesting gadgets and toys were revealed from his big square on wheels, and I was put into the water again but this time only swimming 200m with a camera following me.
It was then replayed on a computer screen with Paul explaining everything going on with my swim.
As it turned out, everything I thought I was doing right or wrong actually showed the complete opposite! It all seemed so simple, yet I would never have noticed it or been able to point anything out. One of the biggest shocker was the constant feeling of always having sinking legs, only to learn the body position is actually dead-flat, and the fact that the legs are actually having the opposite problem-kicking to high up!
Things were even more exaggerated with the wetsuit on too..

A couple of drills were done to help get a better feel of what to do and to correct things, using fins and some interesting, special paddles. I also had a headset attached underneath my cap so Paul could personally communicate to me through a radio while I swam.. Nifty!

Some free afternoon meant travelling about, seeing the area, having some good coffee (which I'll miss when I go back home). It was real nice of Jane and Sam take me around town.

Day 2: More swims

T'was a 5:30am 6k swim this time and included a good amount of warm up, drills, 400TT/200TT swims, 10x100m, 2x500 etc.. Just kept focusing on the techniques pick up the day before, but I guess it's a little harder to hold on the hard swims, at least for the moment!

I went out with Sam and Matt for a motor-pacing session on the bike in the afternoon, after stopping at a cafe for The most delicious coffee I've ever had. By motor-pacing I meant hanging on for dear life for a couple of minutes, only to get thrashed with Sam's monstrous hill climb and then just getting lapped on the 5k loop, over and over again. I just felt so flat that it forced me to fall back to having a steady ride instead. I was really squeezing the last drop out of myself sitting behind the wheel of Matt's scooter, it really wasn't my day on the road.. Cheers Matt for putting up with such slow pace back! 

...Well, it's still a ride done.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

New year, old goals

Here's my first post of 2014…

Ok, so it's actually almost mid-year but it counts as something right?
I'll just jump right into and play this through at 4x speed:

Winter training went well until my peroneal tendon (a tended that pulls the foot outwards at the ankle) on my right leg gave way after I stumbled on the wrong part of the uneven surface during a run. It took me off my running shoes for 3 weeks but I managed.

Metasprint Aquathlon (750m/5km) in February was first up and I finished in 2nd place, after a cock-up and running off course. Should've studied the race course a little more! I also started working for Xterra Malaysia as an intern, helping to liaise with the competing pro's and all their logistics. 

The following month,  Metasprint Duathlon was scheduled up next but a last minute call up by ASTC rescheduled me and I hopped on a flight to Chiangmai together with Tyler and Jia Wen (Team TIME youth team members) for an ASTC Development camp. Taipei, Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia came for this camp with a head count of 11 athletes. We were all closely monitored and coached by Luc Morin as well as Mr. Ki during or 5-day camp, and learned plentiful! I was pretty chuffed as well to have managed a 1500m run PB by about 20secs, and a 3000m run PB by 7secs despite little experience with pacing (in other words, I'm basically saying I'm pretty confident I could have gone a whole lot quicker!).

March is where things started piling up, so the pace slows here; I raced in the Metasprint Triathlon (April 16) to finish 3rd with 2nd place in Overall Series. the following weekend (April 23) was a long 5hr drive up to Kapas, Terengganu for a 6.5km island-to-land Swimathon which I finished 2nd place in. I was surprised I even finished it! Not scrappy for a first-timer eh?
On Wednesday the same week (April 26), Barry, Kim & I took a flight up to Shanghai and arrived at 1am. A little delay dragged us on and we only got to bed at 3am, staying the night at a hotel nearby the airport. The next morning we had a nice breakfast and lunch at the hotel, relaxed a bit in between and then hopped on the bus for a 5hr trip to Zhenjiang. Can't say it wasn't exhausting! We finally arrived at 10pm and had our bikes sorted before going to bed at 11ish..
The next day was very relaxed, with only swim/bike/run race course familiarisation all done before noon, and lots of sleeping!
Race day on Saturday morning went… Well, underachieved? They water was chilly but nothing uncomfortable, but I had a poor swim, which wasn't ideal in a field of only 30 fast guys (well it's not ideal in any situation anyway!), and ended up coming out of the 2x750m swim in the backend with only a Serbian to ride with. Needless to say, we got lapped on the 5th loop of 6x6.6km bike and the day came to a quick and gutting end. Putting a paperclip on that note…

Returning back to KL, I was planned for yet another busy weekend.. that makes 4 weeks of long travels back to back! Not a big deal for some but sure is for me…
I had a great swim for a relay with an amazing group of people- Tri-ing to Help Cerebral Palsy (please to check out their Facebook page and "like" them!! as an effort to raise funds for this cause.
I swam 18min, which I still don't believe despite others claiming it was accurate, and gave a great lead out for our team. Lloyd had a great ride and Jason finished off the run to claim us a 3rd place! Hats down to the team, both the relay and individuals. Amazing effort guys and privileged to be part of it!

I mentioned earlier that I worked with the pro's and was glad to finally meet them and had good chats. Great experience in both the work side of it as well as getting to know the pro's. Many thanks to Dave Spence for arranging everything from assigning me into this relay team to making Xterra Malaysia such an amazing event.

There very next morning, I boarded a plane for Perth, and now I am sat at the house of the Davis as I speak! Basically, I'm hear on a 10-day swim camp to work on my swim with a close guidance by Paul Newsome and his team that is the well renowned SwimSmooth. I am certain they will be able to fix my No.1 problem which has always been my swim, especially in open water. Of course, I'll also be riding, running, and enjoying myself in this beautiful country. As usual, goals are to be a better swimmer, a better, biker, a better runner and a better triathlete..

Everything start tomorrow. How exciting!!