After weeks (or months?) of being told to "not do anything stupid" by Ben, the A race finally rolled around.
A few weeks before the race I got quite tired from some really big training weeks coupled with a busy time at work. My motivation to train went out of the window and I spent my mornings mainly sleeping until the children woke up and then playing with them until I went to work. In the evenings I was either at the office until late or going to bed early as soon as I had tucked the boys in.
Despite the lack of activity my appetite didn't decrease. I tried to be a bit careful what I ate but the sheer quantity meant that in three weeks I put back on 2 kg that I had lost over a few months.
A week before the race I took my bike to Integrated Riding for a service and on the Friday morning before the race I had a lovely surprise from SingPhil in the form of a brand new blueseventy transition bag - certainly an upgrade from my mother in law's 25 year old (no joke!!) green, antique back pack!
After lunch we collected the boys from nursery school and went to meet the coach to take us to Putrajaya, Malaysia. We had clear roads, good weather and short queues at the border so we arrived in Putrajaya at a reasonable time in the evening. Alex, my best friend from school, met us from the coach in her truck, took us back to her house and then out for a curry! We slept well the first night in Alex's bedroom that she so kindly let us use and then next day, apart from going to check in and drop my bike at transition, we had a lazy day, playing in the pool, drawing, and wii.
The night before the race was a different story....
I went to bed once the boys were settled, but soon enough son #1 needed a wee, so son #2 said he wanted to as well. About an hour later son #1 woke up because he had lost his rabbit. A search operation was mounted, only to find the rabbit right next to his pillow.
For the next 4 hours or so, all was well and we slept. When I woke up it was about 1am, I was drenched in sweat and I had mosquito bites all over my leg and even on the sole of my foot. Husband had thought the children were cold, so turned off the fan and opened the window - forgetting that there were quite a few mosquitoes waiting outside to suck our blood. Soon the window was closed and the fan was spinning again, but from then on I woke up every hour or thereabouts. Not a great night's sleep!
At 5:20am, for breakfast I had cold rice porridge, peanut butter, a cup of coffee and a banana. Then I woke Alex up and made her a cup of coffee too. She drove me to the start of the race when it was still dark, to get me there just after 6am. Such a lovely friend... she even offered to stay with me until the start of the race!! I sent her home back to bed.
Setting up transition was a bit slow because the lights were not very bright. I chatted to Kari, the Canadian girl who was racked next to me, while we set up. After a quick look at the swim in and bike in, working out how I would find my bike after the swim and where to put it back after before the run, I went out of transition towards the swim start. Ben and his wife Ee Lyn were waiting just outside of transition. We had a quick talk about how to approach the race and then I scurried off to the portaloos!
The pros started half an hour late which meant we did too. While we were waiting Kari, her husband and I sat on the grass and chatted.
The water was quite warm, the visibility was awful - as bad as the sea in Singapore - and it tasted like mud. For the first 400 metres or so I was on my own, but then found a girl in my wave swimming at about the same pace as me so I stuck next to her hip or around her feet until about 300 metres from the end when she swam really wide off course. I reckoned that the extra distance was not worth the draft...
The swim time was neither super good nor very bad. It was a little slower than in Cebu but that could be because the draft from a much more crowded start in Cebu pulled me along more, or it could have been the extra buoyancy from the salt water in Cebu versus the freshwater lake in Putrajaya. Regardless, I was second in my category out of the water and the fastest through T1.
The roads were fantastic. Wide, quiet and hardly any potholes! I was soon flying along on my super smoooth Maxxis Campiones. On the downside, there was no shade at all and the rolling hills just kept coming, and coming, and coming... After 15km I had emptied my two bottles of elete electrolytes and from 30km I started taking two bottles at each aid station because I could feel myself heating up already. By about 50km my fingers started cramping - not a good sign, and from thereon in I tried taking 3 bottles at each aid station and each time had nothing left long before the next station came along. I started to worry when I could feel the mini cramps twitching in my hips and thighs. Then just to top it off, shortly after the 75km marker I changed gear and my pedals suddenly seized up. I tensed, cramped and almost fell off.
The chain was stuck firmly between the small chain ring and the bike frame. I tried pushing the pedals round with my hands to free it, I grabbed the chain with both hands and tried to pull it out. It didn't move. After about 50 people had passed by and I had spent a few minutes pulling and swearing I took a well
aimed kick at the right pedal. It moved! I pushed it a bit further round with one hand and pulled on the chain with the other. Finally, the chain was back
where it was supposed to be and I started pedalling back to T2, grabbing as much drink as I could along the way.
My legs felt like wood as I ran back into transition pushing my bike. After
racking it and taking off my helmet I bent down to pick up my right shoe and
both quads cramped up. I almost had to sit down. After what seemed like about
10 minutes, I managed to get my shoes on, grabbed a bottle of elete electrolyte drink and ran out gingerly with both thighs and one butt cheek twitching with small cramps. Straight out of transition Ben shouted at me to "take it steady for the first few Ks... it's hot". Really? Nice of him to think I had a choice!!
My thighs were cramping for almost 3km. I got into a rhythm... a pretty slow, hot one. At each aid station I put ice in my hat, down my back and down my front and drank, eventually the cramps stopped. I had chosen to wear my Intuitions, which are fantastic shoes and (I thought) better suited to longer distances than the 3sum tri specific shoes which have much less support and cushioning. Only thing is the Intuitions don't have drain holes, so as the ice melted and I threw the remains of each cup of cold water over my head, my shoes filled up with water... should have worn the 3sums.
At almost every aid station I walked. My Mio Alpha said my heart rate was still in my steady zone, but I just could not go any faster. I could feel the heat coming up from the paving slabs and there was very little shade. By the end of the first lap of the run I was ready to quit... hating every second of it. But then, I ran past the finish line, Alex shouted at me, I saw my husband and the boys, I threw my sunglasses (which had been annoying me since I got off of the bike) at Alex and I thought I heard the commentator say that I was in third place.
Suddenly I felt much more positive. Very soon I passed Ben again. He said I was second, and to 'just keep building'. The second lap went by in a bit of a blur. Trying to ignore the fact that my shoes were full of water, imagining all the ice and cold drinks there would be at the finish line and thinking about my family.
At the finish line, I had a cold shower, took off my shoes (and quickly regretted it when I realised how hot the ground was), had a chat with James and Ben, then went to find my family and friends. Just as we got back to Alex's car, Leo came running out with the boys in the pushchair. Son #2's mouth, chin, neck and t-shirt were covered in blood. Looked like he'd split his lip so we took him over to the medical tent to clean up before we took them home.
The boys went down for a nap as soon as we got back to the house, and Alex put steaks and all sorts of other yummies onto the BBQ. I ate half a pizza as I had a shower and then had a look at the race website. There was a number 1 next to my name. My first thought was that I was reading it wrong. My second thought was that they had made a mistake. The time looked about right, 5:31:04 and everyone else's time was slower... so, I had won!
By some miracle, I also had the fastest T2 split.
While the boys were still asleep and Leo was eating and packing, I got a taxi back for the presentation and the world championship slot roll down. My new friend Kari was second, but there was no podium on the stage... a bit of an anticlimax, so we did our own "podium photo"!
Several of our race mates were in quite a bad state on the coach back to Singapore. Some vomiting from heatstroke, some with very bad sunburn, but mostly just very tired. The boys went to sleep a couple of hours out of Putrajaya and from then on the rest of the journey went quickly.
Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya was probably the best organised race I have competed in, with the best volunteers. It was also the hottest, hardest race - which is clearly reflected in most of the finishing times.
I'd do it again...
Allthat is left to say is a huge thank you to Alex, for having us to stay and forfeeding us and driving us around; to Alex's family for coming to cheer me on toher dad for carrying my bag after the race; to Ben - thank you for all theadvice and encouragement; to my husband and my children - without your love, helpand support I wouldn't even make it to the start line. Thank you. I love you.