September 1, 2016 by willeloo
Bintan 70.3 was part 2 of my two half Iron-distance races in two weeks and I don’t even think I was fully unpacked from the previous trip to Iskandar Puteri. Meryl, Ollie and I hopped on a fast craft from Tanah Merah and an hour later, we were in beautiful Bintan. Bintan was especially beautiful this time round as Singapore had just been swallowed by ridiculously bad haze (PSI in the 230s) that morning.
I signed up for Bintan pretty late and really lucked out getting a nice room at the Swiss Belhotel, just a couple of hundred meters from the beach, food and event village. The idea was to use Challenge Iskandar Puteri and Bintan 70.3 to revive some of my fitness as we approached the business end of things in the last quarter of 2016. I guess it has worked…sort of.
Having just made you read a similar type of race report two weeks ago, I’m going to try to cut back on the rambling and get to the point with this one. Try, I will. How successful I will be, I am not sure.
Race day started at 6:13am for us in the 30-34 years AG. Ken and I haven’t done a 70.3 together since my last Singapore 70.3 in 2012, so I was looking forward to it. We hung around on the right side as competitors gathered near the start line for a semi-deep water start. Ken seemed to be in a real rush, going off the front once the horn sounded. I jumped on his feet and finally managed to settle into my rhythm as we rounded the first turning buoy. The Bintan swim course was one loop of 1900m in clear and fairly calm waters. Ken and I swam side by side most of the time, taking turns to lead. There was a bit of bumping and jostling towards the end as we wanted to take different lines to the finishing chute – we probably should have discussed this before hand as our underwater communication was obviously rubbish. Anyway, it was cool to have company on the swim and I think we kept a good pace, bearing in mind we had a bit of work ahead of us. Out of the water in about 27min and it was time to find our bikes.
The bike course was one loop of 90km. It took has on a clockwise loop of the island, starting inland then coming back along the coast. Bintan is pretty hilly. Don’t pay attention to the Slowtwitch.com race review that said the course was “largely flat”. The road conditions were great and I really enjoyed having the police motorbike escort…while it lasted. I was holding my target HR as much as possible with the rolling hills, but the inevitable pass happened at about 35km. Nikolai Jenkins blew by me like I was standing still. You would think that since he was in such a hurry, he could have left the motorbike escort to keep me company. I’ve been enjoying riding my TT bike in the last few weeks and I felt I was still going quite well even as the fatigue started to build in the last 20km. We passed several small villages during the bike leg and it’s really cool that the kids come out and wave to us. I hope they were okay with my waving at them when I didn’t have bottles to leave behind. Their excitement and smiles were very uplifting on an otherwise draining course. I backed it off slightly in the last 5-10km to try to preserve the legs, but it might have been case of too little too late.
As I turned into the Lagoi Bay area, Oscar Feryanto overtook me heading into T2 and that was pretty much the last I saw of him. He was running really strong and eventually moved into 2nd place in our AG. Anyone watching my transition would not have been impressed with the speed at which I was going about my business. I turned off the bike Garmin, sat down to wear socks and shoes, fumbled with my run Garmin…I wasn’t super excited to go run another 21km ( 3 lo. I did a loop of the Lagoi Lake two days before and it wasn’t too much fun. The lake looks quite small but it has all these hidden dog-legs that can make getting to an aid station take much longer than you might think it will. The run started off promisingly enough. With the temperature and fatigue levels rising, I tried to focus on my form and not forcing anything. I planned to walk through every aid station and believe me, I definitely stuck to that part of the plan. I was making good time on the first lap but by about 8-9km, I began to suspect that it would be a long day. I really hit a rough spot towards the end of the second loop but I got a boost from seeing Meryl and Ollie as I ran by the hotel. I made it to the last aid station at about 18km, walked through that, then decided to keep walking a little more. It was about that time, when the only thing going through my head was “one foot in front of the other…one foot in front of the other…”, oh and “save energy for looking cool when you see the photographers.”
I very happily ran through Plaza Lagoi and made the left turn onto the red carpet of the finishing chute. One final hug and kiss from Meryl and Ollie, and I broke the tape at 4:39:12, 4th in my AG. A minuscule improvement over my time from two weeks before but very far from the top guys today. I had a great swim, was happy with my bike but was left feeling a bit disappointed with my run. I’m very realistic about my training and accept that this is about as good as I can be at the moment, but as an athlete, I think we always hope for a bit more from ourselves – realistic or not. So after two 70.3 distance races, I have a better idea of where my fitness is and what I have to work on – swim more, bike more, run more. I’m glad it’s so simple.
It’s always special to have Meryl and Ollie at the races with me so I’m glad we decided to sign up for Bintan and got away for a few days. It was even more enjoyable since Ken and Des were there to race as well. The race is well run by Metasport, the course is challenging and support from volunteers is excellent, I’m sure I’ll be back again.
So that’s the end of my 70.3 adventures for now, I think. The focus now shifts to getting fit enough to race Olympic Distance again. Boy, it’s going to hurt. TAS has just released the SEA GAMES 2017 triathlon selection policy so it’s time to get cracking. If you’re interested, you can read it here.
See you out there,