Racing in the World Championships is a dream come true. I know that I am extremely lucky to be given this opportunity. From the moment we stepped foot into the race village and expo, the atmosphere has been phenomenal – athletes from all over the world, young and old, big and small and all beaming with confidence and strength. And meeting the pros! Gary and I had the chance to meet a handful of pros and it was like meeting super rockstars!
SWIM: The water was reported to be 15°C and my heart sank. I managed to get my breathing sorted the day before but I don’t know if I can do it again. Anyhow, when it was my time, I ran in and shut my eyes and tried to dive into the oncoming 🌊. But as soon as the cold water hit my face I felt the same chest tightening sensation again. Everyone around me disappeared and the wave after me have started making their way past me. Breathe, breathe, I kept telling myself, trying to force my head into the water but I couldn’t. I choked and spluttered about and in short, I had to stop and hang on to 3 different kayaks in the first 800m of the swim. But I owe it to these lifeguards on kayaks, they were very encouraging and one guy made me promise him that I will not give up and give my absolute best. I owe it to him. I told myself, if Harum Delima can swim 3.8km, I surely can do 1.9km. Further out, the water became warmer and I finally managed to control my breathing, and after I made my first turn (800m) I managed to keep swimming all the way. I stuck to breaststroke because I lost all sense of water confidence. I made my way onto the beach and I wasn’t even sure if I made the cut-off (1 hour). Thankfully it was 55 minutes, and I can still race! There were wetsuit strippers and it felt a little weird but whatever, gotta keep racing!
BIKE: As I guessed, my bike was sitting there alone. But it’s okay. It’s my race against my own time. I tried to transition quickly. And as I exited, I saw Gary 😄. I tried to ride strongly out, but the moment we got onto the coastal way, the wind came from everywhere! My nose was running like a tap and the rough road surface was extremely uncomfortable, it was difficult to really push because so much energy gets sapped away through the vibration. My fellow competitors were zooming by but I felt strong enough to to keep up with some of them. At about 33km in, I noticed my BTA bottle had lost the top piece (which locks it in place) and it was shaking loosely. From experience, this bottle will not be able to stay without the lock, and I didn’t want to risk it flying away and endangering somebody else, so I stopped by the side of the road, put the bottle by the side and bid goodbye :(. Onwards and forewards, I fought the wind and rough surface to the best of my strength, and then came the hills. Wind + rough road + hills = very very exhausting. I noticed it also slowed down many other cyclists, so I am not that bad after all, heh. Just told myself to keep my head in the game, watch my power, and keep my legs moving. Soon, it was on the way back to T2, and the wind direction slowly changed from head, to cross, and finally in the last 15km stretch we had a bit of tailwind to give me that last boost all the way home. Sub 3 hours was impossible to achieve, so I had a target of 3:15, and thankfully I managed 3:12:50 so yay, me! As always, I was ecstatic to be off the saddle, and looking forward to hit the pavement in my New Balance race shoes now!
RUN: My legs were pretty pumped from the tough bike course, but the weather was a wonderful 20 deg C and the sun was shining, so I was determined to run like I stole Lucy Charles’ bike! One huge difference racing in the world champs compared to any other event, EVERYONE hits the ground running! Not a soul stopped to walk. And EVERYONE was running at a 4:45-5:15 pace. I guess I was used to drawing inspiration from overtaking people, but this time around I drew motivation from keeping up with some very strong women! It didn’t take me long to observe that I was running alongside women with grey hair and wrinkled skin but were holding up very strongly! I kept my pace up, and after the first loop, I tried to push a little bit more and finally I made my turn into the finishing chute. I reached into my back pocket, pulled out my Malaysian flag, raised it above my head and sprinted to the finish! Run time was 1:49:45.
Total time: 6:06:45. It’s far from my best, but it was a world of experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m so glad I pushed through the cold water, I powered though the bike, and smashed it on the run. I’m so glad that I did not give up nor did I give in. Because this big ass finisher medal is worth something money cannot buy.
Huge shout out to Gary Fong, my husband, my manager, my chauffeur, my number one fan, and my reason to finish. My family in home and in Brisbane, my friends back in KL, and in some other parts of the world, thank you for tracking me and sending me all the good vibes! Thanks to my product sponsors Lifeline-ID, New Balance Malaysia, Garmin Malaysia, Aftershokz Malaysia and Giant Bicycles Malaysia for your undying support.