It was the first time I had to wake-up at 4AM for any sports event. Without my knowledge, waking-up early on Sundays would be a common occurence in the many months to come. After fitting my bicycle into the car, I headed to Precinct 16 in Putra Jaya that morning in May 2011 under the cover of darkness.
Upon arrival, I first collected my race bib and goodie bag. Then, I had to get my old mountain bike inspected to ensure it was race-worthy. To my surprise, the bone-jangler had passed the inspection but I could only use half the gears available. I got to the transition area, and had arranged my cycling & running gears as best I could. There I had noticed that all the other participants’s bicycles were truly expensive racing bikes as opposed to my second-hand & rustic mountain bike.
When the first light of day casted shoned through, the breath-taking scenery of the lakeside aquatic centre uplifted my spirits. The clear & stillness of the lake calmed my nerves and I first time I knew that it was going to be a good day.
All the participants, doned in their swimming suit and orange swimming caps, assembled by the pontoon and listened to the race organiser providing us with last-minute instructions.
Soon after, each of the age groups were flagged-off. The water was surprising clean, clear and odourless. It took me 5 minutes and 50 seconds to swim the 150 metre distance. My transition to my bike was a seemingly long 3 minutes and 7 seconds due to my inexperience.
The 26 KM bike leg was very eventful, and it proved to be my race-defining moment. For you see, I was totally caught-up in the moment and I had forgotten all about my gear problem. The result was a slipped chain. It took me a good 5 minutes to fix the chain. Meantime, there were many passing racers who volunteered to help but I refused their assistance because I did not want to slow them down on my account. In all, it took me 31 minutes and 5 seconds to reach back to the transition point and another 2 minutes and 46 seconds to park my bike and prep for the last 5 KM run. The route along the lakeside park was unbelievably stunning and we, even, managed to run across a dam bridge which was normally closed to the public. The running leg took me a 33 minutes and 24 seconds to complete. As I crossed the finishing line, I was given my very first race medal. The feelebudsing was of utter elation. In fact, my total race time was 1 hour, 16 seconds and 10 seconds; good enough for 13th position.
After a shower, we cheered the victors who collected their prizes on the winner’s podium, before tucking-into a scrumptious barbecue. Food never tasted so good before. Later, I was to discover that my taste-buds and appetite is very acute right after racing. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. It was at that very moment, inside me, something had decided that this was not going to be my last race….