Monday, November 14, 2011

Powerman Malaysia 2011...

Event: Powerman Malaysia 2011
Venue: Seri Manjung, Perak
Date: 13 November 2011
Time: 7.30am
Distance: 11KM run, 64KM bike, 10KM run
Shoe: K-Swiss Blade-Light Race
Bike: Ceepo Katana
By Frank

Powerman Malaysia celebrated its 10th edition this time round and boy it was a tough one. With zero training and not a single simulation session, chasing the illusive sub 4 hour timing isn't on my to do list this time. Instead, I will be aiming to save my legs for next week's Penang Bridge International Marathon which will be my main race as I need result from there for something yet bigger.

I began my journey to the small town of Seri Manjung up north in the state of Perak on a late morning on Saturday. Had a slow drive and saw some fellow friends like Tony zoomed passed me on the highway. Upon arrival at the usual Lead View Hotel which Tony booked for us, I quickly joined him, Yip, Nik, Mahizzan, Adeline, Sue and Yusran for lunch before resting up back in the room with Yip

Soon, I realised a mechanical fault on my bike. My rear wheels isn't moving as the brake pad is stuck on the rim. I am pretty sure it was fine when I pushed it out of my house before loading into the car and can only suspect that it was "misaligned" during transportation. I panicked and asked Yip for help. He helped align it and the problem was solved but I was still worried. After all, I did not send my bike for service this time round and it was based on last year's setup.

Evening came and it was a nice dinner at Kampung Cina, this time joined by Shih Ming and Saya whom both I've not seen for a while. Had an enjoyable dinner catching up among ourselves and I'm pretty happy to say that I actually enjoyed the food too! Have to thank Tony for this for knowing the way to find good food. Back at the hotel, after some final preparations, it was then lights off at 10.30pm. However, I couldn't get a good sleep probably due to me worrying about my bike.

Race morning and the first thing I did upon waking up was to look out the window. "It's going to be a hot race", I told myself. While Yip was still asleep, I slowly prepared myself and soon we were both ready to leave. One last check on the bike was the rear wheel was still spinning normally. Let's hope it stays this way but I had my doubts.

We both left for the race site at 6.30am and quickly was greeted by friends including the first sneak preview of the weather ahead. Was surprised that my bike parking was just next to Yip and just opposite Yim. Yip and Yim, now that rhythms. Hehehe... Quick catch up with some friends and then performing the usual warm up and stretching, and it's out to the main road to gather for the start. The race environment was great and Adele filled it up with her beautiful voice and my focus is on the run. Bike part, I can worry later.

The devil and the sword...

7.30am sharp, the individual full distance was flag off. I settled into my zone and just let others get on with their run. I didn't want to be distracted but soon I had my own problems upon hitting about 2KM. I was hungry and I can smell the usual dreaded barbecued chicken being sold by the roadside. I kept chewing on my GU Chomps and it did help with my hunger prank. Slightly more than an hour later, I completed 2 loops of the running course and off I went into transition for the bike.

Now here's the worrying part. How long will a problem free ride last? The condition of the road will be the huge deciding factor. I exited the transition area with Saya and pedalled together exchanging places at times. First 10KM of the ride was fine and I was cruising on a comfortable speed which I really enjoyed. The first and second bridge came and then the third dreaded one where we have pedal hard for the climb. I remembered clearly last year where I pedalled too hard up and ended up with a calf cramp and therefore this year, I took it lightly. However, as like last year, my front crank was stuck on the bigger side hence there was still some unwanted resistance.

Successfully conquered the bridge and carried on to the u-turn point where I rehydrated before continuing with the way back. Disaster struck at about 24KM. I struggled with my pedalling stroke and I knew I was in trouble. As I can't see my brake calliper as it was hidden below the bottom bracket, I can only try to listen for unwanted noises. And then, I heard it. Brake pad was rubbing the rim. To stop to try realign it risking cramps or to carry on, it was decision time and I soon chose one, which was the latter.

I was pedalling hard but I can't get the desired speed. My quads was screaming and I was getting burnt out there. I lost Saya after she gave me a smile as I lost my speed and I was on my own. "Push hard but nurse those legs" I told myself as there was still al long way to go. Let me get through this and I can slug it out on the run later. Mechanical failure is always the worrying part in multi sport events and this is my second experience with it. And from here on, I paid extra attention to nutrition as I know it's going to be tough on the body, especially the legs.

At the second bridge again, I forgot to stand up on the bike and was hit hard on the bridge's joint and I shouted "MY BUTT"! It was pretty painful but the main thing was no further fault on my bike. The third bridge climb this time was tough but Yusran was there to cheer us all with his everlasting cheeky jokes. If only he was still there on the return climb as I was just pedalling to survive the climb. Probably the slowest part of my entire ride. Upon conquering it, I got only about 13KM more to go and prayed hard it will be a problem free ride.

Meters and kilometres, I pedalled away and soon was greeted with the transition area after pedalling for almost 2.5 hours. At the transition area, Yip had already completed his race while I was just starting my second run. Off I went as I tried to my find my legs. One step at a time as it was just too sore. The first loop was about recovery and upon starting my second, Azuria offered me some Coca Cola which was a wake up call for me. I soon my found my legs a little and increased my pace a little. The caffeine effect to kick in and as I ran, I tried to cheer and pull other runners, a few I remembered was Jeya, Doris and Liew. At the final kilometre or so, a sense of relief and probably satisfaction too, as I knew myself that I overcame an unwanted obstacle and slug it out on my determination to complete my third and probably toughest Powerman in a time of 04:38:38.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Made my way into the race village again and caught up with some friends before rushing back to the hotel to clean up. Yip won third placing in our age group and he was still back for the prize presentation. I took my time to clean up and rested while waiting for him. Everyone perhaps has left the small town but the both of us took it slow and even had a late lunch before leaving at 4pm. A slow and lonely drive back but most importantly, I made it back safely.

Overall, I still enjoyed Powerman Malaysia this year despite zero training and worrying at potential mechanical fault. But the joy was actually to complete it with determination and injury free with no stops during the entire course of the race. I do hope Powerman Malaysia will continue its tradition annually to be held at the small town of Seri Manjung and live up to its trademark of being the hottest in the world. And with this, my focus will be on my next big one, the bridge!