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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Langkawi Ironman 2016 - My 6th IM Race Report

First and foremost, the race report delay was due to my heavy workload. Work is my priority and responsibility as an Air Engineering Officer is not easy peasy. I wrote this bit by bit during midnight to compile my 6th Ironman journey, finally I am done with it. So here is my race report :

2016 has been wonderful to me, so many goals achieved and plenty of success in my career. I feel really blessed to have supportive people around, life is good. As I had just kick started my career in Royal Malaysian Navy Air Wing, all my effort and attention goes to my career to make sure I pass all the boards. My working hours start from 0730 to around 1830, sometimes need to do weekend duty and so on. Very busy but satisfying in the sense that I learn lots of new things everyday. Career is priority but I just cannot live without doing sports. Just like a shark swims to breathe and stay alive, I breathe Triathlon. There was a period during my training that I suffered serious depression because I did not have time to do sports. I need to keep doing triathlon. This year's Ironman will be my 6th Ironman title, I never had any doubt with my ability to finish. Last year with only 2 weeks of training I could finish it, nothing gonna stand in my way.
Passed my Air Engineer's Certificate of Competency Board.

I do my own bike service at night. I learned bike servicing skills, gonna be useful when shit happens and save some money. No point spending so much money on upgrades. Upgrade the legs first!

Financially, it is a burden for me to squeeze RM2800 for the registration. My tasking was never certain so I did the late bird registration to stay on the safer side. The registration was done a week before I passed my Certificate of Competency to become an Air Engineer. My juniors contacted me and invited me to stay with them, all of them are Ironman virgin from UPNM. I drove to Kuala Kedah Jetty on Wednesday, bought myself the earliest ferry to Langkawi. Why Kuala Kedah? Kuala Kedah is less favored by people because of the longer travelling time at sea, most of the athletes will go by Kuala Perlis to avoid seasick so I can have more space in the ferry. My bike was the only bike on the ferry, and I only wrapped the frame with Insuflex. I paid RM 23 for the ferry ticket and RM 18 for my bike. Car park was charged RM 15 per day, missing ticket pay RM 50.

The kids molested my dear bike =p 

Wednesday and Thursday spent by driving around buying souvenirs, chocolates and cigarettes for friends. Post race shopping will be very tough to do, do it early. The race expo was better than before, Ironman merchandise super expensive as usual. I bought a pair of 2XU compression socks, selling at RM87. Race kit collected, we went home and rest. Everyday I will spend around 4 hours of sharing sessions with the UPNM Ironman virgin. As I always tell them, my "secret recipes" are used on race day for competitive advantage. We eat at cheaper restaurant to cut cost, and we lived in a homestay facing Gunung Raya. This year is my very first time using the Special Need bags, I put in Hammer Perpetuem Powder in my Run Special Need bag. Got everything packed and I dozed off.

Photo courtesy IM OP Kam. The only thing I bought from the expo was the compression socks. 

I bought Uncle Yee's book at RM40, he is still a naughty old man. In 2008 I was barely 18 years old, I was the youngest Malaysian Ironman while he was the oldest. He said to me "What the hell are u doing here? You are so young, should stay home and masturbate". This time around, he told me to do more Philipines and Thailand Half Ironmans, because girls are pretty and beers are cheap. Hahaha. What an old man. He is a multiple World Ironman Championship Kona finisher, and all of my Ironman finish combined is not even half of all his Ironman finish. 

Race Morning
Woke up at 0300 and left the house at 0400, reached race start at 0430. I did not have sleeping problem this time, the pre race jitters seems manageable. We were stopped from entering the transition, because transition open 45 mins later. Pumped up my tyres to my "race tyre pressure", training tyre pressure is slightly lower for more resistance and comfort. Filled up my aero bottle with Hammer Endurolytes Fizz, back bottle is mainly plain water for me to rinse my mouth after the 3.8km swim. Just before I passed the technical official for inspection before entering swim start, I was stopped! "Please take off your compression calves guard". People wear long compression was allowed, but calves guard are not? I don't see the logic. I turned back and took off my calves guard, ran into transition to put it inside my Blue Bike Bag. "Sorry Sir, the transition area is closed". Pardon me for all the cursing early in the morning =p OP IM Ramzul offered to keep it for me but I needed it after my swim. So I rolled them up like tiny swiss roll and tuck it inside my compression wear underneath my swim skin. I am gonna swim with it. The swim start was like washing machine, everyone was so aggressive despite the self seeding rolling start! The first loop was nothing less like underwater rugby, so much of punching and kicking just like any triathlon races. But hey, this is 3.8km swim, why swim so fast!? Some people are fish, born to swim fast. By the time I turned back to the beach to complete my 2 loops swim, I was bitten by sea lice uncountable times. My upper lip, my armpit, my quads felt the sting. Not a big deal, just keep swimming. 
3.8km Swim Time : 1 Hour 26 Mins


Picture Courtesy Mr Tey. He was at the swim start much earlier than anybody else. I was wearing the calves guard before the technical official told me to remove it. 

Double loop swim.


Picture courtesy Mr Tey. My first time racing in swim skin, thanks Doc Aktar for the gift. 

180km Bike 
I had a lot of information about this bike course. I knew the wind, I knew the surface pressure and humidity, I knew almost everything. I intend to PB this Ironman so my homework was really detail. The weather report is closely related to my job anyway. My training ground commonly reads 1012 surface pressure, very similar to Langkawi. Weather was never a problem for me. I got stuck in the transition area because of the compression calves guard! 5 minutes wasted. Once I got out of the transition area with my bike, I rinsed those seawater off my mouth. How many people peed or pooped during the swim, I don't know. Haha. At this time, I wasn't aware of my swim time. I went out with a goal to hammer the pedal around 120watt. First 20km we were challenged with the climb at Datai, nothing too hard because Datai is expected to be long and rolling. It is all about the mind. After completing the 3 peaks and made the turn, I made good use of the gravity to cruise maximum achievable speed, tucked myself tight and aero to score 70km/h. On my way out of Datai, there will be slight resistance due to the incoming headwind which I calculated the night before race. Not gonna fight the wind, just ride steady. Along Jalan Teluk Yu, I saw a bunch of riders around 30m ahead, I kept the power steady although I was so tempted to immediately overtake them. Stay safe, play safe. After the roundabout at Ayer Hangat, I had overtaken around 20 riders.
I love my road bike.

Thanks to the the less aero position on my bike, I could climb over those little hills in aero position. I got slight tail wind at Gunung Raya Golf Club, I still maintained 120 watts no matter what. Then we head back to the town to climb the LISRAM highway, many people start to push their bikes. Yahoo I love my road bike! Road bikes climb better! Managed to overtake those RM 30k TT Bikes, what a confident boost =p It is all about the legs! I gently pressed the pedal, made about 180 watts. Many spectators cheering for us along the climb, suffering faces make the best pics ya! Pedal stroke after pedal stroke, I dragged myself up to the first peak and slowly rode closer to the right lane. Took one last look to make sure no one is behind me before I hammer the pedal going downhill. I went down so fast that I dare not look back to check the rider behind me whom I believed crashed during downhill. Putting 100% trust on my bike handling skills. Thanks to Irene Chong who gave me some tips on going downhill. Twist and turn here and there, reached the 82 kilometer marker at Jalan Ulu Melaka, my legs were very fresh. Nutrition plan had to be changed because this time around, every aid stations offer us Power Gels instead of Power Bar. Huzaifah and Asyraf overtook me, they looked great and steady. This year we were blessed with cooler weather, I did not feel any burn on my back. I learned to ride with my head down for more aerodynamic, I have been riding head down in the naval base all the time. The risk of banging pot holes is very high, so I only do it when the road is straight and smooth. Tuck my head between my arms allow me to stretch my neck a little. I carried two tubes and two CO2 canisters just in case I puncture my tyres. I even had tools on my bike, so basically I have no good excuse to quit if I ever face technical problems.
Picture courtesy Mr Tey.

Long climb ahead.

2nd climb at Datai was surprisingly easy, my body was still okay. Some friends tracking me online said that I ride slower than expected, actually that was my game plan. No more than 120 watts! 2 weeks before Ironman, I swapped my 53T big ring to 50T pussy ring. Rides call the 50T pussy because it shows that the rider cannot hammer a 53T, I never cared because I don't wanna carry a ring which I could not hammer. With 50T, I was riding with big ring most of the time without burning my legs too much. Heart rate below zone 4 most of the time, no digestion problem. I showered at every aid station to keep the heart rate low. My liquid consumption at every aid station was way lower than all my previous Ironman thanks to the cooler weather. I could survive with one aero bottle till the next aid station.
Lonely ride. Picture courtesy Navy PR Team from HQ COMNAV3.

Kilometer 160 till transition was really lonely, no rider ahead nor at the back. I took off my shoes to prepare for fly dismount when I saw MIEC in the vicinity. Crossed my left leg over the top tube, glide and hop off! The technical officials shouted "Excellent dismount! Right on the line" =p There you go, I completed my longest ride of this year, my maiden 180km. I did not suffer at all. Having a super busy schedule and always on call in the weekend make it tough for me to do long rides. I could only cycle round the base again and again to achieve 100km just in case anyone call me back to squadron, I could get back in time. Serving the helicopter unit of our Navy puts my life in alert mode all the time. Any emergencies, helicopters are the first choice of asset to be deployed. Screw those excuses, I am still gonna finish Ironman. I spent only 1 mins 31 secs in Transition area, no hanky panky and no messing around, I PB my transition and ranked no2 fastest. Haha! Put on the Skechers GoSpeed 3 and off me go. 
180km Bike : 6 Hours 28 Mins 44 Secs

42.2km Marathon 
I mixed Hammer Perpetuem Powder while running out of the transition. The more triathlon I do, more and more funny skills I learn. Some are really disgusting ones =p Having my heart rate monitor chest strap on, the heart rate data was directly sent to my Garmin Forerunner 920xt. First 10km was a breeze, I ran around 5.30-6.00mins/km pace. Sometimes I accidentally ran 5.00mins/km. The marathon plan was to run 30mins slower than my marathon personal best. Every 2km I will sip my Hammer Perpetuem, all went well for the first 10km. I have told many people that I never liked this marathon course, so many turns and give me many false hope when I thought that it is the turning to go for the last loop. Haha. In the midst of my enjoyment, my stomach called for immediate pit stop! Gosh I could not find the mobile toilet! Ran faster to reach aid station, too bad no toilet! Next aid station was 2km away. I am sorry, I ran off the course and I did what I had to do. I discharged all the Marathon Baker's bar, then I ran faster after that.
Picture courtesy Navy PR team from HQ COMNAV3.

Kilometer 15, I took my very first cup of Lucozade and I peed immediately! From there on wards, I felt the pace went down due to my weaken body. I slow jogged and peed while running, yea this is one of this disgusting skills I learned from triathlon. Time is precious so don't stop for toilet =p Not long later, I walked. I was overtaken and lost my lead. The enemy from within is the biggest enemy. I wasn't suffering as bad as I had experienced in all my previous Ironman, but why didn't I run then??? What was I thinking??? Coming back for the 2nd loop, I mixed another bottle of Hammer Perpetuem Powder and also Hammer HEED into another bottle. Both bottles were stored at the back of my compression top. I saw Abang Puzi the ultramarathon legend cheered for me, "Chan just keep moving okey! Keep moving!". He knew I could do better than this, I am less hungry for PB this year. Talk is cheap, said wanna PB but not willing to dig deep.

The walk that I will always remember. Picture Courtesy Mr Tey.

In my previous Ironman I could do with numb hands and scalp, body shiver so badly and even bonked could not stop me from slow jogging. Slowly walked with Fazzreen the UPNM junior, he told me he had nothing in his tank. We came across Ruth and Belut, both were moving. I have faith that they will pull their ass to the finishing line, but Ruth's face was really worrying. She never had any Half Ironman experience, and a day before the race she had menses! We went to pharmacy to get contraceptive pills hoping to regulate it, she asked me "Sir would u want to come along". I went in with her, suddenly clicked in my mind "Going into a pharmacy with a girl to buy contraceptive pills???? The pharmacist surely think that this is another unwanted pregnancy!" Hahaha what a sacrifice of my water face! =p Thunderstorm rain came pouring, some parts of the course was soaked with water ankle deep, feels like doing Off Road Ironman! I saw the lightning, heard the thunder and felt the smacking rain. Nothing new to me. This is the same feeling as last year when I ran with Ironman Henry Wong. Tadonamo set up a tent somewhere near the Go Kart circuit, the supporters shouted "Hey mai la makan". Hahaha! People are suffering out there and they just enjoy the show.

Picture Courtesy OP IM Kam. Once the mind gave way, the body follows. I will come back!

We walked and walked... saw many friends cheering for us, saw Mr Tey and Orange taking photos. He shouted "Don't walk! You are my Idol, youngest Malaysia Ironman don't walk!". I just shut my brain and walked. I find all the aid stations are well prepared, never ran out of supplies. As the night fell, the organizers queued so many cars along the race course to illuminate the running course. This amazing idea gets a huge thumbs up from me! The long stretch of cars looks life traffic jam. Turned into MIEC for one last time, I had lost count on how many times I peed in my shorts. Whatever I take in, it goes straight out in less than 2 minutes. No cramps, no pain, just mental block. I had given up half way during the marathon to score my PB once I calculated that I could not do below 12 Hours. The last kilometer, Fazzreen and I ran slowly to finish hand in hand. 
42.2km Marathon : 5 Hours 57 Mins 54 Secs

Total time : 14 Hours 00 Mins 14 Secs


Crossing the finish line together with my UPNM junior Fazzreen. 



I AM A 6 X IRONMAN FINISHER
3.8km Swim - 180km Bike - 42.2km Marathon

I rested at the medical tent, asked for IV drips and laid my body flat. I was very well attended by the medical team. It helps to speed up recovery. Then race director CG Lim came in to check. Abang Sherul Tadonamo was there too, he saw me threw up all the fluids in my stomach while laughing. Hahaha. When you have done enough Ironman to understand the challenge, you can laugh about the misery. I don't remember taking so much of fluid during the run.  After 30 Mins, I felt much better and I went out to enjoy the meal served. I had a lot of thoughts in my mind at that time. Definitely I did not dig deep enough, I did not overcome the mental block. Finishing an Ironman is almost a certainty given that no technical problem occur, I can only discover my real ability if I dig deep enough which I did not. Some participants showed the dark side of their character, pushing someone to their very limit will discover their true character. Some people are werewolves hiding under a bear bear costume. Hahaha. Mission unaccomplished, I would come back for avenge! This kinda timing is not good enough. Coming here just to finish a race is not the kind of goal I pursue.

My 6th Ironman Medal for my collection.

On the up side, I believe everything happened for a reason. I told Rebecca that if I ever score below 12 hours to break my PB, this might be my very last Ironman so that I can do shorter distance races. So now I cannot stop doing Ironman yet! I drove back to Lumut one day after Ironman because I need to report to work on Monday! The more Ironman I do, the better my body cope with the stress. I resumed my routine, not much soreness. Till today, I regret for not kicking another gear for faster pace.
The UPNM Ironman Team 2016. After so many years, I am the only one who is still doing Ironman. The rest chose to be Fatman. 

From Left : Syafiq technical team,IM Fazzreen, Myself, IM Ruth Ting, IM Syafiq Belut, Anas Technical Team, Staff Amri. Thank you so much and big congratulations to all of u. I have done my part to make more Ironmans for UPNM, I hope to see all of u continue racing. Special note to IM Ruth, you are now the Youngest Malaysian Ironman (Female) at 20 years of age. Sorry, I did it at 18 years old so my record stands =p

Thanks to my family and friends for tracking my progress. Thanks to TriClubs IM OP Triathlon & Tadonamo & UPNM. Thank you Sponsors 2ndskin, Garmin, Hammer Nutrition, LifelineID, Skechers. Thanks to Royal Malaysian Navy for paying me monthly for my hectic job, this is one interesting job. Thanks to Rebecca for those airtime sacrificed for my training, you are the sweetest. Thanks to the organizer for such an awesome event, it gets better every year and I hope Ironman Langkawi will not just stop here. Hey many people just started Ironman la! I wanna race many many more Ironman Malaysia. Thanks to all the volunteers, it is not easy to stand so long under the sun. You guys are just as hardcore as the Ironmans! Thank you to all Police, Technical Officials and Marshals, we raced safe because of you. Thank you to the people of Langkawi for sharing your land with us to race. Thank you to all Ironman supporters, hope we put up a great show for u! In Ironman, everyone goes through the same distance but finish with all sorts of interesting stories. Lastly, congratulations to all first timers and old timers. Life will never be the same once you joined the Ironman club. Most importantly...

YOU ARE AN IRONMAN