My First Triathlon – Singapore International Triathlon
The easiest part of my first olympic distance triathlon was the registration and signing up for it. Everything else from then on was basically pain and some swear words I re-invented myself during the training sessions.
If you are someone who thinks that life is just not hard enough and want to challenge yourself even more, or going through a mid-life crisis, then it is time to sign up for one.
On hindsight, I should have started with a sprint distance which has half the pain of the olympic distance : 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, five-kilometer run, nothing like those monster Ironman courses, which range in distance from “long” to “are you insane?”
Training sessions leading up to the race led me to learn two very important phrases – “Why am I doing this?” and “I will never do this again!”
My wife, the ever supportive person that she is kept pushing me on and motivating me with those fabulous dishes that she whips up after every training session as recovery meals. I started to think that maybe I am doing this just for the recovery meals.
As race day neared, I was filled with a mixture of anticipation, high hopes and delusion. Heightened by my wife and mother-in-law volunteering to accompany me for support. On one hand I am happy, on the other, expectations of not letting them down were high. Which means – more nervous.
After racking up the bike the day before, watching my wife sleep like a baby half the night, thinking through excuses and reasons for getting out of the race, morning finally came.
With nails bitten almost to the nail bed (now I know why God gave us nails), I started to prepare for race day.
Placed myself at the front thinking I could get some clear water with no obstruction from the other athletes. The smile I had from thinking it was a good idea immediately changed to confusion once the horn sounded for the start an everyone was rushing towards the sea. Caught up in the moment, I ran with them and “dived” into the sea only to realise when I surfaced that I was surrounded by thrashing hands and feet. (now I know how it feels like being in a washing machine).
Hyperventilation set in as quickly as the thought of swimming back to shore and calling it a day. Decided to give it another try since my supporters were there waiting for me. Threaded water to catch my breath and after a couple of minutes with less thrashing around me, I started to swim. This time, it felt much better and much more relaxing. The current of the Singapore east coast sea was not helping but at least I did not have any thrashing arms and feet to contend with.
Finally dragged myself onto shore and saw my wife standing waving at me all perspiring. Found out later from her that she was wondering if I had swam to a different beach.
After the swim, instead of having my recovery meal prepared by my wife (that should be the second leg of a triathlon), I now had to cycle 40 kilometers which is basically 6 loops around East Coast Park. Almost similar to hamsters going round and round in their cages.
Was just able to squeeze in a quick smile to the camera just before starting the bike leg which I thought would be one of my stronger segments and an opportunity to catch up on lost time.
After one loop of pushing for 6km, I started to realize that this catching up on lost time plan may not be working out so well, especially when the bikers in front of me kept getting smaller and smaller.
Good thing there was no photographs taken of me pedalling into transition and dismounting the bike. Because after 40km, my legs started to have a mind of its own and I started running like an Air Tube Man…
But the misery wasn’t over.
It was time to run a 10K. With the strength of an Air Tube Man, I was off.
The course was flat though I felt it was uphill all the way through. After 2km of moving like the Air Tube Man, I found my legs again and started putting in some better pace. Of course that did not last long as I was visited again by the Air Tube Man towards the end.
There, miraculously, in the not-too-far-off distance, was the finish line. As I crossed it, wife was there again cheering me on, this time looking like she has waited the whole day for me.
Got my finisher medal slung over my neck, which is what everyone of us are paying and training for – the small metal medal which would probably last only a month before it is used as paper weight. Well at least I would have the bragging rights of completing an olympic distance triathlon!
“Congratulations, I am so proud of you!” my wife yelled.
“I will never do this again,” I said.
Then the following week I got an email for another triathlon. The swim promised calmer conditions.
The bike course was hailed as scenic.
Not a chance.
The run was guaranteed to be flat.
Well …. maybe.
The finishers’ medal is going to be bigger and the finishers’ t-shirt design is stunning.
Where is my credit card?