Sunday, 25 March 2012

Aviva 70.3

I return from the Aviva 70.3 with so much more returns. Much more than I can possibly imagine.
I have mixed emotions as to how my race went. As this year I am no longer racing for myself but rather, I am racing for a foundation that I very much support. They are a non-profit charity organisation who raises funds for children with clef lips called Operation Smile. I have the responsibility of racing for a good cause and to me, which is a very important factor why I should be racing. I did not manage to accomplish my goal of setting a new women’s course record in breaking the 5hours mark. I prepared and did everything I physically could for it but that’s the beauty of triathlon. You can never be totally prepared and sure of what is going to happen. I am still a student of the sports. And I am humbled by this very experience.

On a lighter note, I did however break my previous course record, aviva 70.3, of 5.08hrs and came in 5.07hrs. Ran a personal best for a 70.3 at 1.50hrs. So I guess the record is still mine and remains unchanged as the fastest local female for now. The weeks pertaining to Aviva were extremely stressful. I am not a professional athlete so I need a day job to pay the bills. I do not seek this as an excuse as we all are the choices we make in life.

I guessed the most disturbing part was that I develop a lump just next to my previous accident operation scar, under my right foot 4 weeks before Aviva and it affected both my rides and runs a lot. The lump had a growth inside and hurts very badly whenever I churns the pedals harder, affected my running form as I am unable to take much impact and pounding on my foot, and I grew increasingly frustrated at it.

Multiple visits to different doctors, x-rays with no results and doctors who misdiagnosed the lump and asked me to go under the knife. So many different opinion and conclusion but the one thing that was affirmative across the doctors was that racing was definitely not possible for me.

Miracles do happen to people who believe in it. And it happened to me.

Just a week to go before Aviva, the lump had some secretions coming out from it. I got Alan to make a puncture with a sterilized needle as we attempt to squeeze out all the pluse. Countless painfuls tries later, we more or less got everything out. The sigh of relieve I had was indescribable as I felt immediate relieve and assurance that everything was going to be okay and racing was once again the top of my agenda. Four weeks having to deal with the lump, I must admit it was draining to keep up with a positive mind at time and hiding it from everyone else so as not to show any sign of weakness. I did everything within my abilities to salvage what I could do in the final week.

Race day came and all my close friends came by to support me. I managed to find a quiet spot for some tranquility to do my pre race rituals and final preparations. Everything looks set in place.

The sound of the horn went and I soon plunge myself into the human washing machine just like any other triathlon races. I got hit on my arm from a few other swimmers but to be fair, I too gave a couple of blows back to fight for my rightful position. Thoughts were running through my mind as to how I should execute my race plans, it was probably for this slight moment of thinking did I dropped a few positions back. I let a few swimmers pass by me taking into consideration that the race is still long ahead and that I could easily make up the few positions on the bike. That decision proved costly.

I went into transition 1 hoping to be able to make up time on my bike. As I ran across the wooden walkway, I slipped and flung myself backwards. Landing my right ankle in an awkward angle, I stood up and realised immediately that something was not in place. My shin felt sore all the way down to my ankle as I pick up my bike in a hop-jog manner out of transitions and back onto the race course.

A million thoughts went through my mind and my legs definitely did not felt good. I could barely push down hard on the pedals and it really did play with my mind, ever more than I could imagine. I was definitely in a position that I was not used to. I held back for the first 30km and by the time I realised it and going into my 2nd lap, I was already too far back on my target. I could not let this happen, I needed to press on to make up whatever time I could, as much as possible. It’s not just me I am racing for, it for all the children of Operation Smile. The bike course was a fairly technical one with a couple of sharp and slippery turns and a ramp midway into the course. I could work in a group with the boys but I would lose time everytime we hit the turns. Eventually when I came back into transition 2, I did a below par timing in my opinion and once again, it played in my mind. 
All my supporters were shouting and cheering me to press on along the run course. It was because of them, it spurred me to press on even harder for the run. I needed to put up a good fight and show for them even if the odd of breaking the sub 5 was stacked against me. First and second lap went pretty well as the course was still fairly clear and I ran in a good tempo. The final lap was a lot messier as the majority of the age grouper started their run with the less experienced one running all over the place and deviating from their line. At the last water point, I had to really shout and shove just to fight for my drink as the water station was crowded with the weather taking its toll on all the competitors out on the course. I could barely remember who I passed and what I did; only crossing the finish line matter now.

I raised my hands to salute all my friends and supporter and had Alan already waiting for me at the finishing line with my recovery drink. I could barely stand when I crossed the line, this had really been a emotional race for me with so many moments and happening.

I must say I was disappointed in not making a podium place but I was still consolidated with the title of first Singapore Women’s finisher and still being able to break the last year course record by a minute. With all due respect to the top 3 ladies, it would have been even sweeter if one Singaporean Woman could have been represented on the podium for my age group and also as a representative of Operation Smile. Triathlon will always be a part of me and I dedicate my love towards it. This race has been truly humbling for me having dominated the previous age group for 3 years. I now seek a even bigger challenge to put myself up there in the bigger and much more experience league in the 25-29 age group as a true competitor and I am already looking forward to the next edition of the Aviva 70.3 Singapore. I am fuelled to want to perfect myself to strive better.

Congratulation to all aviva 70.3 2012 finisher and of cost to a good friend whom i got to know for my KONA ironman 2011 experience,
李筱瑜, being the fastest female age group of the day.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a special thanks the following people and sponsors for beliving in me unconditionally. They are:
Entro cycle for all my biking necessities.
Key power for my 2XU race suit and newton racer.

Last but not least Alan. Thank you. ☺