IRONMAN 70.3 Putrajaya Duathlon Race Report Chapter 1: The Set Up

The Sunday before last (3 April 2016) I participated in the Putrajaya Duathlon. This was part of The Putrajaya Half Ironman Triathlon event and, as the Organiser's had said, the format was introduced for those that didn't want to or who couldn't swim.

Before you accuse me of otherwise this was most definitely not the reason why I chose to "Du" it as they like to say in the world of Duathlon.

The reasons I chose this event was because of it's distances. As my wonderfully cynical but lovable friend Simon Cross put it (for those that don't know him here's a picture of him below in one of his more sensible reflective moments) somewhat impolitely but accurately, it was the "kids event" compared to the Half Ironman .

My lovable friend Simon Cross

Simon's reference to "kids event" was specifically because with a 5km run to start, just one 45km loop on the bike and another 5km run to finish off with, it was significantly shorter and ergo less "manly" than the distances involved in a Half Ironman event. These for the unfamiliar involve biking 90km followed by a run of 21km which are both preceded with a swim of 1.9km (equal to 70.3 Miles hence it's abbreviated name of the 70.3).

To add to the "junior" status of the event there was only one age group, namely "Open". This meant that this 50 something and approaching 60 year old would be racing against yes "kids". Not that I mean to cause offence to the young lads also racing but with teenagers, 20 something's and 30 somethings making up the bulk of the 243 racers the average age of my fellow competitors was clearly going to be a lot, lot younger than mine.

There was an added bonus for me in that the shorter distances meant that it would be over quickly (like most things that young men do) and therefore I'd be able to make my other commitments that day which required me being back in Ipoh for a lunch engagement.

I'm happy to be teased by Simon and others at my lack of manliness for doing this "kids event" versus the 70.3 as this year isn't about going longer. It's all about being faster and wherever and however possible getting to be faster over a 1.5km cold water swim, a 30km bike leg and a 10km run set of distances which are the distances I'll need to cover in as short a time as possible at both the XTERRA World Championships in Maui and the ITU Cross World Championships in New South Wales later this year which are my two "A" Races this year.

XTERRA Maui World Championship

Pitting my old single stroke diesel engine against the finely tuned Formula One like engines of youth was therefore far from a "cop out". Nor was it a silly piece of self inflicted bias. It was a deliberate intent to push an old frame and engine to new limits.

In short it was  to perform at maximum RPM (revs per minute) aka "red line" my ticker and be at or near my MHR (maximum heart rate) for what I anticipated would be a 2 hour non stop cardiovascular endurance stress test.

The two hours was based on two 5km runs of 22 minutes 30 seconds (4:30 pace per km) and a 75 minute bike (36 kmph) which I felt I could do if I could maintain performance at or near my "red line" limit which I'd set for 140 beats per minute e.g. 85% of the maximum beats per minute (220) - age (55).

In my experience, there's no better way to go to new levels than to get out of your comfort zone and go into unfamiliar and uncharted territory and this sustained heart rate would be most definitely unfamiliar as it's on the point of breathlessness for me and definitely makes conversation impossible whereas the 120 bpm I generally use for a long distance event like a 70.3 allows conversation and control of my breathing.

Focusing on only this target time and my MHR not even contemplating a position was a liberating experience and a reminder of the importance of having quality process (MHR) & performance (Time) rather than just outcome (Position) goals. The mindset actually allowed me to go into the race with a more care-free attitude than I can ever remember having allowing me to be more relaxed and mindful of myself which I have to confess felt real good and something I would really recommend.

On the night before the race I stayed with Paul McCalman in Bangsar. Like most of my other Mates Paul was doing the Big Boys event as part of their build up for their big event in 2016, Ironman Langkawi. Thanks to his hospitality & organisation we arrived at Putrajaya just as transition opened.

During the journey I had executed the first phase of a new approach to my nutrition in terms of the way I race this sort of short distance event to try to squeeze out some extra speed. This involved me scaling back dramatically on the amount of my standard oatmeal, nut and fruit energy breakfast.

I did this by eating just a few mouthfuls of this and using a Glukos Energy Nutrition bar instead that I had decided after some extensive research to start using as an experiment to help me increase the sustainability of my race energy which I'd really noticed in Saipan was dropping off as the race progressed.

I used their Apple & Cinnamon version which was pleasantly and surprisingly tasty. This helped me feel topped up from a fuel perspective but without the usual bulk and corresponding heaviness associated with my normal full tank of wholesome but heavy duty race fuel.

Glukos Energy Bar - Apple Cinnamon

The remaining 60 minutes until transition closed was spent setting up and checking the bike, making  an appropriate "pit stop", storing all the non essential race equipment in the appropriate places outside of the transition area along with my usual aimless social "walkabout" through Transition to meet up with close friends, familiar faces and meet some interesting new ones as well as ogle over the odd bit of bike "porn".


The most amusing one of these encounters was when I bumped into a rather panic stricken Jack Ho. Jack is a young elite Athlete who was returning to Triathlon after a lay off of 6 years and was clearly struggling to work out how the transfers that he needed to apply to his body worked. Despite his youthfulness he wasn't familiar with these and was used to the old style inked body markings. It was great to see Jack back racing (he'll be at the XTERRA Asia Pacific Tour Championship as well) but it was also a great reminder for me at how easily and quickly it is for us all to become somewhat obsolete if we are not careful to stay on top of things and relearn and reinvent ourselves. Things that "Kids" do of course naturally and intuitively ;-)

As is my habit now after my disastrous PD "Du" experience when I returned to T1 after a blistering first run to find my bike with a flat rear tyre courtesy of a pin that had appeared in it's rear wheel. After posting a new PB that day on my run, thanks to the pacing of Terry Gallagher, and intending to do something similar today I was one of the last to leave transition at 6:59am. Giving both tyres a reassuring squeeze as I left to ensure that there had not been a repeat of this incident whilst I'd been away socialising and so, as far as possible, I was all set and good to go when I next arrived into Transition.

The remaining 30 minutes before the flag off of our race were spent doing a light warm up (jogging and dynamic stretches) and a few short sharp bursts to elevate my heart rate before arriving back at the start line where I was relieved to see a few other more mature faces amongst the "kids" that were restlessly itching as only "kids"can to get started.

Amongst these was the bright and ever young Kenny Kwan who was chirpier than a canary and brighter than one in his yellow race kit. It was also great to meet Roberto Guerra who I only really knew virtually thanks to us both being in a WhatsApp Triathlon forum. Also present was the wonderful Pei Leng who seemed unusually nervous. I asked what was the matter and being the wonderful competitor that she is, she voiced serious concerns about how young and fast everyone else looked and how old it was making her feel.

KKK, Pei Ling & DD

I told her to immediately remove such thoughts from her mind and to replace them with a vision of our own youthfulness. I finished by giving her a stern reminder that age was merely a number and to all intents and purposes a meaningless one at that. I may have done this a little too sternly telling her off like a School Headmaster scolding a naughty schoolgirl (if I did I sincerely apologise Pei Leng for being too Headmaster like, as really I'm just a naughty School Boy and you're still like a School Girl ;-)

(To be continued...)


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