May 4, 2011

Trying to Tri..

Trying to Tri..
It was about this time last year during a conversation that Ansley casually mentioned, “Maybe you should think about doing triathlons..” and what a far-fetched idea it seemed. I had, at that time, just purchased my road bike. My idea of a run was not more than the 2.4km we used to do at school, and I would lounge around after every two laps of swimming. Needless to say, something needed to be done about my fitness level first.

At the recommendation of the above mentioned friend, I joined Yellowfish Swim, not knowing what to expect. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened during the first session. It was countless drills and set after set of laps, and by the end of the first class I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had already paid for three months of class, so there was no turning back. Come tuesday evening, my heart rate would go up, and there would be butterflies in my tummy. After 8.45pm on tuesdays, the world would be a better place. Post-swim supper at Old Airport Road was a good way to unwind. There’s always something about “suffering” together that brings people closer (:

With the motivation of new friends, I had started running more and longer distances too. I signed up for the Yellow Ribbon run, and went on to complete the StanChart 10k as well. However, there was one fear I still needed to conquer – the dreaded sea swim. I was swimming fine at the pool sessions, but I had this phobia of entering the sea. Maybe it is the cool of the morning, or the colder temperature of the water, or the fact that the sea was very salty and had no boundaries, I would get a panic attack every time I entered the water. After three sessions, I still had not conquered my fear of the sea. I was labelled as one of coach’s “elites”, swimming small little triangles in the sea when everyone else was doing big loops. Then suddenly everything clicked into place, and I was swimming fine, and felt as if I could go on forever. Strange, but I’m thankful to God for it.

And there I was, swimming, cycling, and running. On separate occasions. I realized I had to do some back-to-back sessions (later I learnt that that was called brick, although I still have no idea why). Running after swimming was fine, but running after cycling was not. My legs would get all jelly-like and have a mind of their own.

Andy and Pat mentioned that Tribob was one of the most well-organized races for newbies, and encouraged me to take part. I signed up for the sprint distance, and before I knew it, it was a few days to race day. Messaging JacQ the night before made me less jittery. The advice she gave somehow seemed very logical and had a calming effect (: The next morning I woke the parents up at 6am, and they very willingly sent me to Changi. Having them there really made a difference, even though the three of us were clueless as to what to do or where to go.

As I made my way to warm up and get body-marked I saw a few familiar faces. While lining up for start of my wave I met Zaheera, whom I was blabbering to in my state of nervousness. She looked so calm and composed, and that made me feel even more scared =P The sea was calm and quite ideal for swimming at the start. About a hundred meters into the sea, I was kicked by a breast-stroker in the chest. I panicked, and frantically swam away from that person. The water began to get a bit choppy, making it quite difficult to swim at first. Someone I knew actually got stung by jellyfish, thank God I didn’t experience anything of that sort. The swim leg didn’t go too bad, and left me feeling that I could actually complete the race.

looking half-dead during the bike leg

The bike leg was the hardest. I was pedalling furiously, and there were all the guys from later waves overtaking me effortlessly. Jane zoomed past me, waving and calling out to me. Coach too, but instead of waving he shouted “Nat, down your gear!”. Pfft. Get disturbed by him even during race. I thought higher cadence was the way to go?

It began to get rainy during the run, and I was desperately looking for a toilet. I finally found one near the ferry terminal, but going to the toilet made my timing a bit slower.. The run was surprisingly shorter than I expected. I could feel a cramp coming on, so I slowed down my pace a little. Before I knew it, I was heading towards the finisher’s chute!

I was overtaken by a guy wearing a bikini-like trisuit (!!!!) at the last second who dashed in front of me and promptly proceeded to stop right after the line, blocking the way. Such an eyesore ):

After close to a year of preparation and training, I finally completed my first sprint triathlon. And I’m hooked. Thanks Alex, Ansley, Joni and little Shannen for being there to cheer us on, Varian, Chris, GY, Jacq, David and Nigel for your support, advice, and durian party!=D, and all thanks to God for bringing me safely through the race. Like Varian said, it’s time to train longer distances (:

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