Monday, 7 July 2008

First Triathlon in Bali

I've been training for ths event ever since Euan Marshall (second from left in photo) announced last December that he was getting married to Margaret Hernandez in Bali. He actually set the date for September but moved it to July perhaps to coincide with the Annual MRA Bali International Triathlon event? Nevertheless, we - the groom, Raeanna and Glen Cranberry - decided why not join the race?
Jet lag and all, I found myself driving around Nusa Dua and Uluwatu with Euan and Glen at 3pm on June 28 (Saturday), surveying the bike route. We then proceeded to pick up our race packet at the Four Seasons' Coconut Grove and joined the briefing. Raeanna was there already and her bike was being assembled at the mechanic's tent. I was getting nervous because I didn't train while I was in New York (that's one week off); after driving through the steep hills, Euan repeatedly kept saying like a mantra that he didn't train enough and will do the relay instead; and lastly, my bike was arriving (c/o Bettina) at 8pm and I don't remember what Rene of Bike King said while he was packing my bike. Luckily, I was able to convince one of the mechanics to come to the hotel at 8:30pm to assemble my bike.

The next day, we were at Four Season's around 6am. The transition area was divided into two rows- left for men and right for women, and further divided into age groups with the 16-20 year olds in front. There were 185 participants and everybody seemed to be excited, stretching - they looked prepared and ready. By 6:45am and after downing two Gu-gels, we were herded to the beach. More than half were already in the water, braving the 1-2 ft waves.
When the horn sounded off, I let the gung-ho pros swim first lest I get run over. The swim was longer than 1.5km, it was a 2.2-km in ice cold murky, jelly fish infested Jimbaran Bay. There were paddle boarders deployed which made it easy to spot the swim course. It took me an 1:16 to swim (the fastest was Australian Pro Luke McKenzie at 27 mins).
The bike ride was tougher than hills of Subic Bay. It was a scenic 40-km ride but through 2-lane traffic and mostly all uphills until the University area which was a short downhill ride to Jimbaran. Biking is my waterloo. It took me 2:28 to ride (vs 1:03 of McKenzie). I’m glad I changed my bike’s crankset to a ‘compact’ one before leaving so managed the steep uphill assaults.
When I got to the transition area, I met Robin, a 56-year old silver-haired athlete from Darwin who just finished the race in 3-hours. I guess I looked knackered because she said in her sweet voice "honey, you don't have to finish the race. it was a difficult swim and bike. you've done enough." Found out later on, that she qualified for Kona ironman and Bali was a 'warm up' for an iron man event the following Sunday.
I acutally followed her advise and started taking photos, talking, and eating. My polar watch indicated a time lap of 20 minutes. As I was about to cross the street to the banquet area. I saw Raeanna coming in from the bike, she forced me to finish the race. Actually, she yelled at me for not running. I was flip flopping and quit twice. It took me 1:14 to run the flats of Jimbaran (vs McKenzie's 37 mins) and I think I was one of the last few who crossed the finished line. Euan, tbe one who didn't train enough, finished in 3:31 and Glen in 3:52. But its not their first time. Raeanna, the one who forced me to finish, missed the turn and didn't complete 10km. Well, I'm glad I listened to her and finished because believe it or not, I won in my age group! I won a trophy and a dinner for two. Not bad for a first timer. Next on the list is the New York marathon this November 2... Hmmm... that's four months from now, 42-km distance and in cold weather...

No comments: