Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Langkawi Ironman – 28 Feb 2009

After completing 226km of sweat, blood, pain and mental challenge, I'm still trying to believe that I am an Ironman.

3.8km in the sea 1:35:20
Transition 1 8:00
180km on two wheels 6:37:41
Transition 2 11:55
42.2km…the marathon 4:48:41

Finish 13:21:35

With a modest 15hr target to just cross the finish line, I'm ecstatic to have done a sub14 in my Ironman debut! Another surprise was when the time showed 13:36:04 as I crossed the finish line. 13:36 is my little secret wish cos 336 is my car number!
(we started 15min after pros were flagged off so minus 15min to get our official time)
13:36…336…What a strange coincidence as I did not have my watch with me to track time. Let you know why later…

Anyway, let me start my yabba yabba from 26 Feb. Six of us, Michelle, Siok Bee, Dr Ray, Yip, Lee and me left for LCCT Sepang at 530am. Checking in was rather smooth although we saw our bikes being treated harshly even when the bright red FRAGILE stickers were staring at the couldn't care less Airasia workers.

With the company's slogan being Where Everyone Can Fly, the luggage dept workers can use….Where Every Luggage Can Throw!!! Celak punya orang!
After a satisfying McD breakfast, we met up with more iron-athletes in the waiting lounge, Kevin, Emma, Randy & Ivie, Simon & family and some others. Flight was on time and we were in Langkawi at 930am. Out of the aircraft, scorching sun gave us a taste of trying to be the Langkawi Ironman.
4 bikes & 7 of us with luggages cramped into a van and off we went…
Zooming to Seaview Hotel collecting bibs & goodie bags, viewing swim, bike, run start & transition were enough to beep us for carbo loading lunch at Kenny Rogers together with Keat Seong, Bernard, Jeffery & mom. An afternoon of short bike ride to see part of the route and ensure bike was properly assembled, we joined carbo dinner opening ceremony at Dataran Lang only to find out insufficient food for those who arrived after 730pm. Terrible! We proceeded to have our own carbo loading dinner in Kuah town. Our tummies were obviously over loaded with some rice & noodles left to spare and none could take another bite!  Beautiful sunset at Dataran Lang

27Feb morning saw us taking a swim before event briefing at Langkasuka Hotel.
Perfect calm sea to swim in

Rubbing shoulders with so many pros was….wow! After digesting rules & regulations, we toured the bike route before ending up in Tanjung Rhu beach for lunch.
Bike, bike bag & run bag check in before race day was different from usual Olympic distance triathlon. We checked all that in the afternoon.
222...that's tomato bike!

We only have to bring along our swim bag on race day. All done & off we went for a carbo loading dinner at Oasis Restaurant. A wonderful chow down on the beach while watching sunset with soothing jazz music. What more can you ask for…

It's called Sr. Mick Jagger burger...beef pattie must have resembled the rubber lips!

28Feb…race day!
Had cup noodles plus PowerBar and PowerBar Endurance drink for breakfast. From Condo Astana to Jetty Point, we were rather quiet, unlike the usual hyper gila noisy bunch. Everyone was nervous.
Out of the blue I began humming a song which I haven’t heard off since childhood. Humming eventually became singing.

This is the day
This is the day that the Lord had made, that the Lord had made
We will rejoice
We will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it.
For this is the day that the Lord had made
We will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day
This is the day
That the Lord had made

Numbering, bike checking, photo taking, chit chatting and I was ready for 226km. Well, I’d better be!
Pros started 730am and the rest at 745am.
Apart from sea lice, sea was calm making the swim a smooth one. I’m one of the very few using the slower breaststroke and could view the free stylers edging each other zig zagging left and right. Although slow, at least I could swim straight and reached 1.9km U turn buoy in 53min, good time with 2min to spare. My swim target is sub2. Halfway back to shore, someone swam across my path and knocked off my watch. Don’t have any clue how it happened but at least I was not kicked or smacked in the face losing the goggles. That will be a tragedy! Nevertheless, angry in losing my watch, I increased pace to get in front of him and he better don't get to close behind my breastroke kick!
Near the shore, I got close to someone with PowerBar & Pacesetters printed on his tri top. It’s Lee. A chance to “sayur” a team member! Hahaha! Did it by 10sec and I’m pleasantly shocked at my own swim time of 1:35:20!!! Marvelous!!!

Jason Thiang was just about to leave when I entered the tent together with Lee. Changed into a more comfortable bike jersey, rubbed sunscreen lotion, loaded tummy with bananas and drinks, it’s a long 180km bike ride ahead. Starting from Air Hangat Road, kids were already by the roadside asking for water bottles. Many do not just ask for 1 or 2. They collect as many as they can to sell as Langkawi Ironman souvenirs. And they’re all along the bike route with some too close for comfort.

Around distance of 50km quads were twitching slightly so had to reduce speed & increase cadence as not to stress the quads too much. So down more gels to avoid cramps.
With caffeinated PowerBar gels, I simply had to go wee-wee more often. Caffeine diuretic effect was strong! As such, aid station portable toilet past the airport runway was my best friend. Never missed it on every loop.

Killer hill was located along Padang Gaong Road. First loop up the hill, ok. Second loop, still ok lah but third loop….WTF!!! I was cursing like hell going up at 6km/h and hoping quads do not cramp halfway. Thanks to supporters applauding riders who rode all the way up that killer hill. Same goes to Japanese and angmo supporters giving us motivation in doing the Ironman. Standing and clapping under the sun is not easy. Appreciated their support!

Being on an island, Langkawi Ironman is well known as the toughest show on earth with scorching heat touching 40 degrees. We endured that toughest show factor for a little while and lady luck decided to be on our side. Clouds began to visit Langkawi, giving us some cover from the sun.

90km…130km…and 170km meant no more killer hill to climb. Went straight past that dreaded Padang Gaong Road junction to head back to Jetty Point for the final 42.2km, a marathon.
Riding back along Jalan Penarak was rather slow, avoid runners coming from the opposite direction. Reaching bike-run transition tent, it’s super to have friends cheering and snapping photos. Met Ironman Ngae inside tent. He was using his trademark “kampong adidas” rubber shoes. I had to sit down for a short rest before changing into running gear. Swim and bike ride took quite a bit out of my legs.
Changing into PowerBar & Pacesetters tri top and comfy Nike Lunatrainer, it was time to have the last 42.2km of fun! Actually I was praying hard my legs do not protest with severe cramps or body throwing in the towel. Crossing the finish line in 17hrs will do just fine. However, being the rascal that I am, I was trying to chase friends who are in front. But that turned into “who cares who’s in front” after 3 loops with 2 remaining as knees and hips were starting to give up. It was a mental game for the last 10km or so. But going past the Ironman arch at Seaview Hotel meant everything is coming to an end. I slowed down in the final 1km, somehow preferred to have a slow motion finish. Truly enjoyed every moment of it. With lights shown on me and supporters cheering, the feeling was magical, priceless.

Finally, I did it!!
Pointing to Heaven, I shouted at the top of my voice “Thank you, Jesus!!!”

Here are some results…

Luke McKenzie 8:26:48
Elmar Schuberth 8:55:24
Belinda Granger 9:21:10

Wong Ah Thiam 10:20:20
Simon Cross 10:43:44
Emma Bishop 10:55:43

Kevin Siah 11:15:20
Don Khor 11:33:51

Carmen Leong 12:02:09
Wendy Wong 12:07:09
Dr Fiona Lim 12:11:16
Steven Yip 12:39:32
Lim Keat Seong 12:40:49
Ong Siok Bee 12:41:18
Dr Raymond Hee 12:50:14
Roger Yee 12:58:49

Abu Soffian 13:10:19
Randy Tan 13:15:40
Raymond Ng 13:21:35
Hugo Goosen 13:35:40
Tan Lian Meng 13:41:04
Nor Juliana Ali 13:42:27
Loong Hin Tong 13:51:09
Ben Swee 14:07:17
Chris 14:32:47
Bernard Tan 14:38:38
Lee Kok Khee 14:46:05
Yee Sze Mun 14:46:48
Michelle Looi 14:47:46

Ngae Kok Hieng 15:14:35
Kannan Murugasan 15:16:57
Iwata Takatoshi 15:31:09
Lee Puh Heng 15:33:54
Kalam Pie 15:34:04
Mohamed Sofian 15:38:38
Jason Thiang 15:39:42
Halim 15:59:10

May Senn 16:01:00
Adeline Lee 16:17:07
Dr Tan 16:58:16

1st Mar was a happy-sad day. Happy being an Ironman but sad it had to end and it’s goodbye to Langkawi. Airasia check in was tremendously slow, not to mention the usual delay and a new slogan…Where Every Kilogram Must Charge!

In the 1hr flight back, I viewed the whole Ironman challenge right from the day I decided to register & give it a shot. Being an Ironman means a lot to me as 4years ago, I nearly died and was hospitalized in a vegetable state after having brain aneurysm.

So, if I can do it, you can do it too. Believe in yourself and be amazed by what you can do. Nothing is impossible with Jesus by our side. Alleluia!

Many thanks to Dr Ray for encouraging me to do it this year when I just wanted to be a supporter.
Many thanks to Jason Thiang for the “if you join, I join” and securing PowerBar sponsorship.

Many thanks to coach Tony for guiding us in training.
Many thanks to already Ironman and new Ironman for group training, tips, advice, motivation and encouragement.
Many thanks to friends for all the support.

6 months effort…

13hours 21minutes 35seconds… a 2009 Langkawi Ironman…

And this is just the beginning…


yipwt said...

congrats tomato...u certainly did well for a first.

Lets go celebrate...

VetRunner said...


congrats man, u did the best on your 1st.......

John said...

Congrats once more!

kev said...

Yes, yes just the beginning. Come all to IMWA in December! With a flat and shaded bike route, you're sure to post a fast bike split! Congrats and well done! Also thanks for the mention :)

C-CUBE said...

I N C R E D I B L E !!!!

Keat Seong said...

Mr IronTomato, been a great pleasure to be with u on this life altering journey, definate we have to do it again! So proud of you! Ur an IronMan, no one can ever take this away from u. :)


Yap! It's 3088.. said...


jennifer said...


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