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Getting back into the game

Posted by on March 6, 2020

It’s been exactly 10 months since I gave birth to Ollie. 10 months prior to that, I probably didn’t even have the faintest idea how different my life would be 20 months into the future. I was training hard for World Champs in South Africa, and thinking that THAT’d be the one of the most difficult yet greatest achievements I would succeed in. How very wrong I was.

Life as a mom, as you all know, is not without challenges. Our little bundle of joy, is also a bundle of energy and a bundle of dirty diapers and spilled food. Oh, and being a semi stay at home mom (SAHM) means he’s also very attached to me. So when they say it’s not easy to juggle motherhood and life in general, they weren’t joking. And the optimist in me also decided to throw “Training for a triathlon” into the sardine packed mix. And although I have managed to juggle things a lot better these past couple of months, it is still not easy.

SO, on to my race report for the Port Dickson International Triathlon 2020.

I did not train much. Honest to God. I trained as much as I could, snatching little time opportunities here and there, with the greatest help and support from my family, Gary and my in-laws. But to say I had enough training would be a denial. I trained okay. But to be fair, I have been able to perform pretty decently in my runs, and my bike has also markedly improved of late. So that eliminates the fear of not being able to complete it. I just may not be able to go very fast once I put all 3 together.

The one and always fear I have would be the swim. I swim about a total of 1800-2000 m IN A WEEK. I am slow, in fact, I think I still swim like I am pregnant. Heh. BUT, I have ONLY been doing the front crawl, and have not once did any breast stroke. So in a way, that has improved. I’m finally comfortable with front crawl….somewhat.

Race Day. I was nervous. But also excited to begin. I wanted to feel what it was like again to be in a multisport event. I met all my friends, new and old, and actually felt quite happy to be in the transition area as a participant again. My fellow Mama triathletes, Serena and Jessica were also taking part. These two are so strong, you’d think they never had a baby. They’re amazing, and I look up to them greatly.

The Swim. When we were flagged off, I was pleasantly surprised that I felt quite comfortable in the water. I began my strokes and just swam like I would in the pool. I wasn’t pushing it, but then again, I really don’t have any other speed apart from that speed when it comes to swimming. So I just swam, stroke after stroke. I sighted quite a lot, and the little orange safety buoys everyone must wear confuses me, because I can’t really see which one is the BIG ORANGE buoy I am supposed to swim to. I had quite a few people around me for the first half of the my swim, but by the time I made the final turn to head back there were not many left in the water. When I finally saw people could stand up, I was super happy.

Photo by SoonPeng Lau

The Bike. This I was quite excited to get to. I have been putting in some solid indoor and outdoor rides and was eager to see if I had anything to show for it. I had a quick transition (luckily not so gelabah and could remember how to transition), hopped onto Princess Ava, and ate an N8 Refuel gel on the way out of Admiral. My legs felt strong, and I thought, this must be why everyone keeps saying switch to front crawl swimming. heh. I had one goal. Push as hard as I can and see who I can catch up to. I know I was way too late to catch any peloton trains. I had to do this solo. All the way I pedaled till my quads burned but as cliched as this may sound, my spirit burned even more, and I was on fire. I had to make up for the swim time, and in the past, my legs have never failed me on dry land. About 5 km in I overtook a guy on a roadie, and he soon latched on behind me. It didn’t bother me too much, I was just going to race my own race, and if he could hang on, so be it, but if he could go faster, he’s more than welcomed to overtake. Turned out, he hung on almost all the way, although there was once he went ahead of me and signaled for me to draft him instead, but after 3km, he gave up and said sheepishly “sorry, I tak boleh, you’re too strong!” I laughed. I said “Thanks anyway!” and went on ahead while he stayed behind me. About 4 km before the u-turn, I saw Serena on the other side riding strong in a fast train. She shouted out, and I felt ever so inspired to push even harder, though 8 km gap is really quite impossible to overcome without any pelotons to work with. After the U-turn, I worked with the tailwind and pushed even more to bring myself back as fast as I can. My drafter finally came in front and helped me in the last 5 km back to Transition, which was really good, giving me a small recovery window for my legs to attack again on the run.

Photo by Fali AG

The Run. Now this is usually where I shine the most, but this time I was slightly nervous. My legs felt like lead after pushing so hard on the bike. And I have not done any brick sessions yet! But thankfully, my New Balance FuelCell Rebels made it easy to find my running legs and in no time at all, I was crunching sub 5:00 on the tarmac. One by one, I chased down the women. I felt like I was a hunter. I actually felt a little bad when I had to overtake some of my gal pals. I’m sorry! But I really needed to do well to gain my confidence. When I hit the sandy stretches, I told myself to “Run Light!”. Briefly, I remembered the days when I was much younger and raced in adventure races, where we ran on road, trail, sand, you name it. We’d run with life vests, swim with shoes, and run with soggy shoes. So compared to that, this was a piece of cake! When I came into the finishing chute, I know better than to expect any sort of position. The OD distance is never my pet event, but I gave it a good go anyway :)

Photo by Ahmad Hufaizah (baby pouch can be seen here)

Turns out, I came in 9th position, and when I cross checked my timing with my 2018 results, I actually did about the same time in both the bike and the run, with only the swim slower by 2 minutes. That’s already a win, getting back into full fitness after having a baby. :)

Official results vs my Garmin results

Thanks for reading, if you have read all the way here. A lot of drama over a small family friendly race. But it meant a lot to me, and I know I told some of you that I was slightly disappointed because I was the last new Mama triathlete to finish, but I’m ok with it now. Like I said, they are amazing women whom I respect immensely. I felt happy to be able to race with them :)

With the Lougong. Photo by Albert.

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