November 20, 2016 by Soo Ee
The noob’s Duathalon story.
Race: CSC duathalon.
Date: 19 November
Venue: East Coast Park, Singapore.
My virgin bike+run race. My nerves were all over the place before we were flagged off. You see, I accidentally registered for the standard course, which was a 10 km run+36 km bike + 5 km. I was told it could be tough for a first timer. I decided against buying a padded cycling shorts. Read instructions carefully. I didn’t. I found out the ankle timer had to be returned. I saw people putting it on their ankle so I did. I shouldn’t have wrapped it around my ankle so tight. I was puzzled why there were two bibs. I discovered one for the front, the other for the back. Super noob. I am very thankful friends who generously shared some very useful advices. I believe the advices made a difference and were one of the reasons I made it to the finish line.
I am thankful to friends who were there to ra-ra the noob. Looking out for them on the course helped distract me from the ‘oh my gawd’ thoughts in my head. The road deities were merciful. My bike and I were spared when I crashed in the fence on the last cycle loop. I suffered some cuts and bruises but nothing was broken.
Flag off at 8.50am was a shock to my system. I very rarely ran this late in the morning. While I was running, I drank up at every hydration station. A headache would mean I was dehydrated and having a headache in this sun would be really bad. I drank even when I didn’t feel a thirst coming on. I wasn’t used to having so much sugar in my system so I alternated between electrolyte drinks and plain water.
After the 10 km run, when I got to the transition area, my spirit was up by a notch. One down two more to go. I wasn’t tired out because I paced myself and went slower than how I would normally run a 10km. I remembered the advice to rehydrate. Drink up. The night before, I filled my water bottle with the prescribed two satchels of Pocari salt to 400-500ml of water. I downed half of my water bottle before I started on the six loop bike leg.
I noticed everyone was cycling faster than I was, even when they weren’t peddling as fast as I was. I wondered whether setting the gear higher or lower was ideal. I felt I was faster at a lower gear but then again I might be miraging and imagining I was. I probably need two water bottles on the bike. I stopped at a toilet area on the third loop to refill my bottle. I was moving too much in front of the bike seat. The padded seat isn’t working as I expected it to. I now know why everyone who cycled wore tights and I was not looking forward to the chafting that was coming at the end of the ride.
My bottle fell a couple of times because I didn’t want to take my eyes off the road even for a few seconds to put the bottle back on the cage. I wasn’t very confident on the bike but I was surprised I could still be moving on the bike while I drank from the bottle. I initially planned to stop to rehydrate. I felt a cramp coming on the calf and back of thigh when I got off the bike to pick up my fallen bottle. I rehydrated more. I saw cyclists along the way who were stretching what could be cramps.
I lost focused a couple of times but always managed to catch myself in time when I veered close to the edge of the road. Losing focus became dangerous at one point. I crashed on the last loop. For just one moment my mind wandered off and when I came back to reality I was moving too close and too fast to the metal fence and before I could move away, I crashed into it. That painful lesson taught me biking was different from running. When you run, you can mentally switch off but not for the other. I developed a deeper admiration for triathletes. I have to stop daydreaming while moving if I am ever going to be one. I have to be one with the monotone and the pain.
I wondered why my toes became numb during the last two ride loops.
I am seriously thankful to be in one piece. One step closer to the triathalon dream.