October 18, 2016 by willeloo
This past weekend, I made a 40 hour trip back to Hong Kong for the first time since the 2014 ASTC race that started my campaign to qualify for the 2015 SEA Games. With the 2017 SEA Games selection coming up (the process might see some changes given that the Belitung ASTC race has been postponed/cancelled), it seemed appropriate that I’d get some racing under my belt back in Hong Kong.
This was going to be the first Sprint Cup I’ve competed in and also the first time I’d travel to race without Meryl and Ollie. Since I was on my own, I opted to try to keep the trip as short as possible. This meant taking the 1am flight from Singapore on Friday morning and returning on Saturday afternoon at 4pm. It didn’t leave a lot of time for sightseeing, but still enough to get the important things done – like testing my bike in afternoon traffic around the streets of Tsuen Wan and focusing on nutrition.
Training had been going well. I’d managed some good sessions. The only problem was that there wasn’t quite enough training going on. I had a mini crisis earlier in the week about how it seemed like an impossible task to train more than the bare minimum I have been managing. If I could just get 25 hours a day instead of the usual 24…Anyway, thankfully, Meryl snapped me out of it as usual and got my head back on straight.
The men’s race had a decent start time of 8am so there was no need to be up too early. I was up pretty often throughout the night checking my watch because I was paranoid about sleeping through my alarms, especially since I was in a single room. After a less than exciting breakfast of oats and coffee, we loaded our bikes onto the lorry and headed over to Sunny Bay for the race.
It was a windy morning and the swim was going to be a pretty choppy affair. We were there in time to see the women exiting the swim and it didn’t look like much fun. There were about 50 guys in the men’s race, which made for an interesting start to the swim. With it being a sprint race, it was going to be full gas from the start. I would have preferred “half gas or less”, no one else seemed to be keen on that idea. So the air horn goes off, arms and legs start flailing, white water everywhere, heart rate through the roof. My swim form has been really flat so I knew the swim would be a struggle. No one wants to be left behind in such a frantic start, so there’s a lot of bumping and sprinting, trying to hang onto the guys in front. By the time I was in some clear water, the field was spread out and athletes were scattered, getting pushed around by the current. I was in a small group as we exited the metal ramp, rather glad to be out of the water and on the way to my bike.
The bike course was a pretty lumpy affair. Basically, it just went up and down, up and down, u -turn, repeat. The one thing I was pretty happy with leading into this race was that I was riding quite well, so I was keen to see if that translated to a good ride during the race. I felt strong throughout the climbs and spent more time on the front than I thought I would have to, simply because so few were willing to come through and help. There was a small pack up about 30-40sec up the road after the first lap, but without some help, it wasn’t possible to shut the gap down. Knowing that I was woefully under prepared for the run, I tried to take some digs on the bike in the hope of tiring some of the other guys out.
We rolled through the last portion of the bike as everyone was focused on the run. I was approaching the run with a lot of caution, which might have been reflected in my pedestrian transition. You know it’s bad when you get a text from your dad laughing at your T2 timing.
I felt quite comfortable (maybe too comfortable) through the first lap of the run so I tried to wind it up a bit on the second lap. This was the first time I’ve been off the bike with Johan (INA) and it is something else watching a former 10000m runner do his thing. I might have needed to stay on my bike to keep up with him. I ran with a young Filipino junior, Remolino, in the closing stages and was feeling much better than I expected. I am totally lacking in speed work, but good to know that some of the 70.3 work from earlier in the year has helped with some aerobic fitness.
So, it’s hardly a timing to be excited about but I’ve come away from this race more positive than I was before it. I know there is a lot of work to be done, but now some of that is quantifiable. Before this, how bad I was doing was entirely speculative. Now, I know exactly how bad I am, haha. Just going to have to put my head down and work while trying to squeeze out more training hours. TAS should release a new selection process for the SEA Games team soon, so let’s see where that leaves us.
Well done to all the Team SG athletes that made the trip to Hong Kong. Big thanks to Meryl for holding down the fort at home and for always keeping me focused. All this typing has made be hungry…think it’s time for a second breakfast.
You can view the full results here.
See you out there!