HITTING THE HIGH ROAD: It was a wet morning on 12th May 2012, when I bundled my roadie into the car and headed off to Port Dickson at precisely 5AM for a triathlon meet organised by Grace & her Tado Namo gang. By 6:10AM, I’m at the holiday town of Port Dickson: Apart from petrol pump stations & 7-11 convenience stores, all other shops were still unlit and closed. Like an agitated moth, I homed myself to the only breakfast stall along the main stretch which was already opened for business. It cost me only two ringgit for roti canai & teh tarik, and for sure, it was more tasty than the ones served in Kuala Lumpur. As I made light work of my brekkie, the rain poured down even harder. As it happens, my final destination, Avillion Cove was less than 2km down the road. Apart from one car belonging to a hotel staff, I was the only other vehicle in the gravel parking lot. I was really looking forward to this event because I had missed the previous 4 installments due to work commitments. While waiting for the others to arrive, I was willing the rain to stop. Before long, event host, Nurina, arrived with her 3 boys, and the rain slowed down to a slow drizzle. I changed into my tri-suit in the plush hotel restroom nearby; nearby I caught a glimpse of the beautiful marina where only one speedboat was docked. Its water was quite clear, and I could see a school of Discus fish swimming merrily along.
THE BRIEFING: After signing the waiver form, the participants made their way to the beach which was next to the car pack, and the weather played its part; the rain stopped and blue skies appeared. On the white sands, Iron Man Richard gathered all 25 of us for a race briefing. The swimming route was straightforward; we had to swim 400m straight out to a buoy and it was up to us whether we wanted to complete 1 or 2 loops. Given that I was in training for the big PD Triathlon on 7-8/July/2012, I opted for the 1.6km distance. Richard told us that we will start the bike leg in a group to make sure we crossed the main road safely since there were a handful of first-timers like me. Then we gathered for the obligatory group photo to mark the occasion which also happened to be volunteer Nurina’s birthday: “some of you kneel down in the front…get closer together,” – says the photographers, before clicking away.
THE 1.6km SWIM: By 08:30AM, everyone was in the water swimming towards the 400m buoy. Iron Man Shahrul and another volunteer monitored the proceedings from their kayaks. The sea was calm, extra salty, and the water visibility was almost zero. The water temperature was warm. My swim went along smoothly, and I don’t recall swallowing any sea-water once even. I was out of the water in about 50 minutes, and we showered 4 persons at a time at the hotel’s standing showers by the beach gate…it’s always more fun to have a group shower…hehe
THE 40km BIKE LEG: Then, we walked back up the short pathway to the parking lot where we unloaded our bikes. Swimming always make me very hungry, so I swallowed a small power gel pack to keep me energised. By now, the hot sun was showing us who was boss. Race leader, Richard explained the bike & running routes: “Turn right on the main road, and left at the first roundabout. After 2km, turn right at the traffic lights. Look-out for the 20km marker on the road where you will turn back. Don’t miss, this U-turn or you will end-up in Malacca. Those of you who are not going the full distance, do not turn until you see the 1st cyclist coming the other way. For the run, you turn LEFT at the main road and you keep going until you see the Petronas station which is the 3.5km check-point. For those who want to run the full 10km, go further until you come to the other Avillion hotel which is the 5km marker and loop back from there.”
My Le Tour: The road from the hotel to the traffic light was flat. Once, we turned into the old trunk road, the road was filled with many uphill & downhill stretches. The roads were flanked by oil palm plantations but there was no shade from the relentless blazing sun. To make matters worse, both my tyres were not fully inflated which gave me a huge extra challenge. The speedy and seasoned front pack were long gone over the horizon, and one-by-one the cyclists were overtaking me. The Sime Darby entrance marked the half-way point for the triathlon sprint distance. Despite the heat & soft tyres, I persevered on until I saw the white 20km marking on the tarmac and then, I looped back immediately. Overall it took me 2 long hours to complete this leg, and I knew at this point that I would need to train harder if I was going to achieve a respectable time for the upcoming Port Dickson Triathlon.
MY 7km RUN: By this time, my legs were feeling like lead. After raiding the cooler box for any kind of cold liquids I could get my hands on, I greeted the midday sun, and started my run slowly by turning left at the main road. Most of the stretch, there were road shoulder to run on except for the hill portion which only provided a narrow grassy path. Although, the sea was close to my left, the temperature felt close to 40 degrees, and there was just no shade to cool down in. What I realised only later was that I was suffering from severe dehydration – my first one ever! The sight of the Petronas gas station was a huge relieve, and to my surprise I was greeted by a jovial volunteer who introduced herself simply as Ibu. She gave me a ice-cold can of 100plus & a Magnum ice-cream (generously sponsored by one triathlete Gladys. Ibu was proud to say that she was born before Malaysia’s Independence, and it was En. Syerol Nizam (petrol station owner) who suggested her to spend time helping-out at the station instead of rearing chickens on her farm. The most outstanding thing about Ibu was her infectious zest for life and her positive and happy energy which runners need when they have hit the wall as I obviously had on this occasion. I doused my head with some ice-cold water before heading back the same way I came. The run back was no easier, and I decided to stop an ice-cream man on his bike to buy another ice-cream to take my mind off the unforgiving heat.
THE FINISHING LINE: Being the last one to cross the line in 50 minutes, I was greeted by a big cheer from the other participants. Volunteer Syerol presented me with my first finisher plaque, and he quipped that the finisher plaque was given only to the last one to complete the race. Not knowing that he was only kidding, the other triathletes were all groaning. Their groans soon turned to smiles and laughter when the cheeky Shahrul started to give each of the participants a Tado Namo finisher plaque of their own. Birthday girl, Nurina, offered everyone a slice of her cake, and she was presented a framed photo of the Tado Namo group as her present. To my delight, I was given the last icy can of coke to celebrate the joyful occasion.
ANOTHER GREAT DAY OUT: Firstly, let me thank all of the organising members (not just Syerol, Grace, Nurina, Richard, KC) and their dedicated volunteers for doing a superb job and for showing me that triathlons can be fun too. It was great to meet-up with Loi who opt-out of the running leg because he had to reserve some energy for the PJ Dawn Half Marathon. Congratulations to Mr. Yip who was swimming & running for the first time after 20 over years! Thank you, Mr. Yip for giving-out the” Share Our Roads” car stickers. Also, I am always happy to meet new passionate friends who inspire me to do my best. As I drove out from the parking lot, I recalled a Facebook posting which said, “Even if you come in last, you are still better than those who are still on the couch”. I will be more ready when I return here for the big PD Triathlon 0n 7-8/July/2012 where 2,000 participants will be strutting their stuff. Meantime, I still need to find a suitable accommodation for that event as most of the surrounding hotels have already been booked.
PARTING WORDS: Follow my FB page, and join me on an incredible journey of self-discovery and self-improvement – the key to unlocking your true potential 🙂