Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Become One - "You are an Ironman" say from Whit Raymond

Ironman - A 3.8km Swim, 180km Bike and 42km Run
The purpose of the swim is to get you on the bike. The purpose of the bike is to eat for the run. The purpose of the first run lap is to put money in the bank to pay the monkey that will jump on your back the second lap.The Second Lap Monkey. He is very a big monkey. If this is your first Ironman, you have probably felt in your training everything that you will feel on race day, except the Second Lap Monkey. You can’t train for that. The Second Lap Monkey carries a big stick, and its name is Pain. Love it, hate it, get angry at it. Breathe it with every breath, feel it with every step and use it.It lets you know you are still alive, more alive than most people will ever be in their whole lives. The clock keeps on ticking and everything bad must eventually come to an end. All you have to do is keep running in a straight line until someone tells you to stop.(Anon)
The race is located at Gurye, Korea. Remote countryside with lots of paddy field. Temperature is cool at the morning and evening say 17 C and can reach hot and sunny in the noon around 28C. Language is a problem, none of us can communicate with the local or even understand the menu. We take a flight from Hong Kong to Incheon followed by a 4-5 hours bus ride with heavy luggage  - bike box logistic. Thanks Charlie doing all the loading and unloading works for me. 

Pre race
The transition area and the Finish area is scattered around 2km by walk. The hotel (Blue Sun Resort, never again) we stayed is around 6.5km from transition. Before the race we have to do the following in different day per the event schedule: 
- Athletes check in 
- Race briefing 
- Bike check in together with the Bike & Run bag drop 
- Race day Bike and Run Special need bag drop, street wear bag drop 
- Swim course open for test

Even though the above sound a bit hectic with not so well organised shuttle bus around, I'm still feeling great and happy, no pressure and all i want is just Eat, Sleep and DO IT!!

Race day - 10 Sep. 2017 Sunday
Wake up at 4PM, i have made myself a boiling water in our room for my dry veggie meal (Salt, rice and veggie) great loading up and i really need the rice recently. Put up my timing chip, put on my suit and a jacket with the street wear bag with a stand pump, we leave our room at 0445 and take the shuttle to the swim start. I'm not panic and rather familiar know what to do, step by step. Thanks Andrea's head lamp when it is still dark and a bit cold. I take out the bike cover which is full of water, lubricate the chain, pump my tires and put on the power food and load the water. There are some girl asking me to borrow my pump(Again and WHY?) but i rejected it. (I have had lots of unhappy memory about the pump and i'm not willing upset myself again! Either i cannot use my pump after i borrowed to someone or make someone bike's flat, or i have wait them to finish it 1 by 1, thats not my responsibility and EVERYONE SHOULD BRING THEIR OWN PUMP!) I discharge myself at the bike area and pick up my pump and went to meet Charles and Andrea nearby the swim start, we stayed away with the hyper Korean man. I put on my very comfy ORCA wet suit and lubricate myself at the neck and underarm, zip up and went for a jog. I'm so clam under the heavy fog with this beautiful mountain landscape, so clam that i can't even justify myself i'm soon will start a race.

The Swim - 3.8km in a foggy lake (1:28:31)
And i told myself
"I knew it, the day is finally NOW, at THIS MOMENT, I'm going to put all my hearts out and live my day!"
And I'm jump from the pontoon by a rolling start, i swim far from the buoy and way away from the crowd. Yes, and i liked it. Swimming all alone by myself and was urged couples of time to swim close to the people. I swim really effortless, didn't feel any tireless or pain. The swim is started at the outer loop of 1.9km clockwise then we have to go through a small bridge with time chip sensor to make another 1.9km loop anti-clockwise. It is pretty easy to me to swim that distance or may be i really didn't push hard to it. I just enjoyed the whole way in the lake water with the fog without seeing anythings from 30meter ahead. This time i wore my old Timex Ironman (Cost HKD 100 only) watch as i don't feel comfortable with the Garmin Fenix 5S. I dont care about my time too, and i feel pretty comfortable with it :) Come up from the water without dizzy or collapse feeling and i made it one third of the race now! HAPPY!

Bike - 180km rolling to me (7:40:35) 
Went to the transition tent with my bike bag is a bit chaos! There have around 10 ladies in the tent either sitting or standing on a bit muddy grass, i sit at the corner and immediately take out my wet suit and pour some fresh water from my bottle outside the tent. Quickly change into my new speed suit, gloves, eat the energy jelly, put on socks and bike shoes, sun cream and get out of the humid tent and look for my bike.

The bike consist of country side paddy field road plus going to south of the city for 3 loops. All the way long up and down gentle slope which i'm not familiar with. Have to hold my brake most of the time.  At the first beginning of a tough short climb, the person in front of me crashes with the opposite person due to the road is narrow and the opposite line is coming from a sharp turn down hill. I immediately turn left to the road side and avoid any accident. During the ride, i told myself not to have any accident hit by someone, i force myself to be highly alert on that, otherwise the effort i made the last 6 months will be gone! I maintained my slow pace and rolling around this 180km bike course. Of course there have lots of people took over me and looks like i'm the last batch of the 300 riders. At the bike special need bag area, i saw a lots of things which is new to me. People can enjoy cup noodle there, drinks, rest, sleep. A pair of couples is riding together and the ladies seems to be in pain after the 90km and the guy is doing a massage to her! Shouldn't this allowed?
At one point when i'm climbing up in parallel with a guy, suddenly i feel that my left leg is hit by a front wheel. WTF? I dare not to turn my head but immediately i realised there have 2 guys on my left overtaking me, which means 4 rider is riding parallel occupying the road. I slowed down and give way. I'm scare at that point as anything could stop me from the race. First the wheel, second is accident, third may be careless mistake or eating issue. No, no one can stop me at this point! Hold on the handle bar and keeping moving!
I made my hammer drinks at this last stop and finished half bottle of it and carry the last batch of nutrient to ride the rest. The whole ride i keep hydrate and eat, hydrate and eat, without any mistake with Hammer. The weather started to drop when i'm all the way back to the boring highway seeing some people is already running made me a bit upset and discouraging. When my bike turn the last loop close to the T2, i saw Jing is running out and he is looking good, tall and proud. I told myself i should be run like that too! And i only left the last leg.....

Run - 42km, a Marathon after 9 hours of continuous workout (4:39:24) 
I took my Run bag and just sit on the grass to change my socks and Hoka shoes. I sit on the lawn is feeling q enjoyable despite i'm in hurry mode. Thanks god i made a good decision with a better cushioning shoes instead of my all time favourite Newton Running. I need the cushioning to lift myself up the entire way. I run out the the T2 with my fuel belt and cap (All black this time), after 5 km of the first part of the run, i reach to the crowed and saw Charlie and Andrea is there, they are so happy to see me. I smile to them, grasp a coke and this is so dame good! I walked at this section and enjoying this special moment cheer from the crowd with music. The second part of the run consist of 3 laps of 11-12 km. Q discouraging and boring, especially you saw some people already with the neon ribbon on the hand and you have NOTHING YET! (The neon ribbon is a mark that you finish the first and second lap) I keep focusing the pace that i can hold and looking straight to the road. After the first lap, it became complete darkness. The little light bulbs partially on the road ask me not to give up, when theres light theres a hope! I keep moving each little steps and walked whenever i wanted. I passed so many peoples in the run which i cannot believe it. I didn't stop at each aid station much, i drank the coke until my body  said NO. The last 10km i did not stop at aid, just keep moving forward. There have a Korean girl run with me at the last 10km towards the Finish, I knew i can speed up a bit to hold the remaining 8km, so i pace up a bit. The girl started to yell and may be she say why i speed up. I neglected and focused to the FINISH. The last 8km is really in suffer mode, i did not want to slow down but i knew at some point my body might stop. So, i'm pushing my body to the limits without a sensible control. Hardly climbing up the last section and wandering through the approach to the FINISH line. Is my day! And i nail it, pushing through to the finish is unbelievable amazing feeling! My expression say it all and i waited to this day for so long. And heard Whit Raymond saying that "You are an Ironman" I just couldn't believe my ears! It was so emotional and all my scarification, my money, my efforts paid off!

"Everyone can do it!" WRONG! 
I'm huge believer in PROGRESS! PROCESS! PRACTICE! No one is magician! (Of course i can say it now and loud!)
I've been training Triathlon since 2004. I still clearly remembered there have 1 girl asking me 2 years ago Did you finish an Ironman. I say No, it takes long time to prepare and get into there to make a good time. I would rather prefer to stay at 70.3 distance to ramp up. She was so surprised and saying to me with an example of XX is completed an Ironman and she just been in Tri for few years within a cut off time with an admire expression. I told her, yes she is good to just finish but i don't see her in progressing anymore rather more fail each time now. Sorry, thats not what i wanted. I wanted to be in good shape with progress! I'm so sorry for her in fact!

It tooks me really long time to prepare with scarification. I tried to train my first marathon 2 years ago, in the same year i placed myself in a very difficult challenges in Gobi for a 100km stage race and later on a Ultra trail race by the end of that year. I want my body to get prepare all this suffer, she adapt it slowly. And knowing that there will have a big job coming up. After a year, and coincidentally i decided to go back to school and take some time off. And i take this time to train for my first.

People somehow is forgetting and believing everyone can do it, as long as you dare to it and in a result it might be fail, injured, mentally ill and never returned to this game. From the last 13 years in Tri, i witness this and i told myself I did not want it! I want to be in Triathlon forever in my life and enjoy it with improvement and pushing myself to limits. Muscle have memory, you cannot run a marathon without progressing your training volume and intensity by just short period of time. Same as your mental brain, they need some buffer zone to get into it, prepare to suffer in a uncontrollable condition which is unavoidable. Such as unfavourable weather, accident, mental breakdown, lonesome hours . But this can be earn from year to year with your experience.

I hope you find it benefit. There are always a race to you, but Injury will stop you. Don't sign up a race spontaneous, evaluate yourself if you are capable of the distance, training hours, intensity that balance your social and work life. I knew one of the lady in HK, from the day i knew her she is at her Olympic age group champion and she is now mother of 2 and standing still on the Olympic age group champion in 3 groups older. Our best role model. (Not me) If you want to know, i can give you some hints.

Becoming mad when approaching to FINISH, laughed to myself and i don't even know there have a camera. I told myself, every steps i cannot fall otherwise all the effort i made will fail. Photo: 

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