Sunday, October 9, 2011

Desaru 116 International Triathlon 2011 Race Report: My Mish Mash!

For Mama

Pre-Race Training
Unfortunately, training wasn’t as much as I woulda liked. I had a relapse of my autoimmune condition early in Sept that left me quite weak. I readjusted my goal and training from trying to do well, to trying to finish. As I pulled out of the relapse, I gradually increased training, which was mostly done at home on my Pseudotrainer. If I could keep going for 2 hours, I would be able to finish the race.

Friday, The Day Before the Race
At lunch break I started throwing everything into my suitcase – packing for Desaru and also a week in Singapore after (Note to self: don’t pack last minute, or you will 99.99% forget something!). At 5 pm I rushed from Kepong to pick Ma up in Cheras. After traffic jam and everything, reached Cheras at 6 pm.

Grace  : Ma, you ready ah?
Ma       : Yes. I packed dinner for you also.
Grace  : Ok, we eat on the way. Let’s go!
Ma       : …. *looks at me*
Grace  : What?
Ma       : I shower first can ah? Quick one.
Grace  : Aiyo, cannot shower when you get there meh?
Ma       :   ….
Grace  : Ok ok. I go and teet teet money at CIMB while you shower.

15 minutes later:

Grace   : Ma, let’s go! You got everything? Sleeping bag?
Ma       :  Yes. You got your passport for Singapore?
Grace  :  ….
Ma       : Haha, you kidding right?
Grace  : ….

Ended back up in rush hour traffic 1.5 hr all the way back to Kepong (totally opposite direction from Desaru) to get my passport. Left for Desaru at 8 pm. Haizz…  Ma and I had a nice long yak, and she kept me so entertained with her story-telling (she just graduated a Story Telling Course), that I forgot to check the fuel! Near Senai, the fuel gauge was so far below ‘EMPTY’ that it was scraping the bottom line already. PANIC. Turned of air-con, slowed to 80 kph, started praying! Nuvi (our GPS) found us a Shell, and we put in RM80.41! Pecah rekod man. We rolled into Desaru at 1 am and passed out for a few hours at Desaru Penawar Inn (nice! Info HEREbefore waking up to go Lotus for the 116 Long Distance race start.
Saturday 24 Sep 116 Race
This involves a 2 km swim in the famous ‘washing machine’ seas of Desaru, then a 92 km bike ride on some monster hills, and wrapping up with a 22 km run also on monster hills. The atmosphere at the beach was so festive! About 400 racers and supporting hordes of family and friends milled around chatting, taking photos etc. 

Uncle Chan gave a mini-race briefing, then with a blast of the airhorn, ‘GO!!!!’. 

Representative photo of swim start from Tri Stupe's 2008 Desaru Race Report

The swim would be two laps of 1 km, where racers would exit the first lap, run 10 m on the beach and back into the water for Lap 2. I handed Syerol’s Gatorade to him when he exited Lap 1 and he thirstily chugged down half. I took lotsa photos, and stayed to cheer the last swimmers on. It looked like a really rough swim for some. People were puking on the beach after the swim even. 

Ma is the Milo Truck’s best customer. She drank so many cups (‘free mah’) that she skipped lunch. I ate my packed chicken salad, then went with Kay to pick up our race kits. We also visited the Milo Dealer and fixed Laila up with a hit.

Every so often an ambulance would pull in and disgorge a semi-conscious racer who would be promptly put on a drip. I chatted with Denis Oakley from Beyond Transition and gathered that race conditions were b-r-u-t-a-l. The Heat and the Hills were literally bringing racers to their knees. While the first triathlete Arnaud Selukov came in at 4 hr 46 min, heroic racers were still coming in at Hour 9. True grit displayed on the race course that day. 

Racer #2041 please come and claim your photo :p

At 5.30 pm I met up with Kay and Farah at the beach for a test swim. The tide was coming in and the waves were about 3 ft high. It definitely looked rougher than this morning. 

Ok ok, well, it wasn't that bad, but it felt that way at first. The above pic is from a triathlon in Cali that actually cancelled the swim leg (

The first minute swimming out to sea, I was SCARED. I was tossed about so much I couldn’t freestyle, and was forced to breast stroke. At about 25 m out, I turned around to look at Kay and Farah. They looked scared too. Farah turned back, while Kay and I went out a little further. It wasn’t safe swimming out because jetskis were zooming around and they couldn’t see us. We then did a few 20 m laps parallel to the beach, within the small area cordoned off for swimmers. By the end of that we all felt more comfy in the water. At the Sprint race briefing, Uncle Chan told us that bad weather and rough seas were forecast *gulp* … BUT assured us that safety would be adequate. He also gave us a ‘discount’ – the course would be shortened to 600 m swim, 17 km bike, 4 km run.

Sunday 25 Sep Sprint Race
Had my usual breakfast of four soft boiled eggs at 6.30 am, and was being body-marked by 7 am. I had a great time chatting with my fellow transition rack-mates and got to know some really cool gals, not least Agnes (who still owes me an autograph. Malaysia Boleh!!! :p). Sam Chan came up and told me ‘Grace, it’s time you got a proper bike!’. Then I realized that I had the only mountain bike in that race! 

Down at the beach, I was relieved to see a semi-calm sea, similar to yesterday morning. It was a very enjoyable swim. I practised the stuff I learnt in Total Immersion about breathing and high elbow recovery, etc. I exited the water in 18 min, jogged to Transition and spent ONLY 3 min there (unlike the PD tri where I dwaddled 9 mins!). I glugged oats drink, put on my shoes and helmet and got out quick as I could. 

Only got time for one photo hee hee

It wasn’t long before people were passing me. About 100 people passed me! (That's almost everyone!) I was going as hard as I could, but everyone seemed to cruise effortlessly by me like I was on a spinning machine hehe. It was a lovely ride though – I rang my bell, said hi to all the marshalls and couldn’t wipe that smile off my face. After 43 minutes of that, I was back at Transition. A quick minute to put on shoes and race belt, gulp some 100+, and on to my fav part – the Run! Except that right out the starting blocks was this HUGE 45 degree hill that did a pretty good job taking the wind outa my sails! I slow jogged the entire uphill, and had a blast sprinting downhill the rest of the way to the final stretch. Run: 27 minutes for a total time of 1 hr 32 min!

The best finisher pic EVER, by Jonathan Lee. 

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was to be able to complete this race. Even when I found out later that I came dead last in my age group, I was still smiling like I won the whole thing hehe. I’m smiling right now. I love triathlons (Why? Here’s Why). You all are a huge part of why triathlons mean so much to me. You know who you are. Thank You.

The only thing that could be better than me finishing a triathlon, is me finishing a triathlon side-by-side with my hubs. The Phuket Tri is gonna be our first ever triathlon together and a honeymoon of sorts (we love honeymoons hehe). It won’t make up for the one and a half years apart that we’ve lost, but it will be special.

xo Gracie

p.s. Check out Eng Hui's race vids on Youtube (Here and Here), plus the Desaru Waves HERE. Race Reports by K3vski, Corinne, Fairul and Hsien Ming.


  1. I totally agree!!! The best finisher pic EVER!!!


  2. Hello Gracie,

    I saw you at the race and you were so cheerful :) i read your story and felt so relived that you are living your dreams and achieving things that you have decided to do. Yo are an inspiration to many =) all the way gracie

    Hsien Ming

  3. Hi Hsien Ming! Thanks for your kind words! I was equally inspired watching all of you put your heart and soul out there on the race course that day. Congrats 116 Finisher!!

  4. Come Nov at Phuket you will be using yr dun play-play bike rite??? Then u can start reeling 'em in!

  5. Paul! You make me laff!! Hee hee. I'm actually afraid of my 'dun play play' bike - I phobia of going fast!

  6. Enjoyable read! The van ran on empty again last week and I filled her up rm84.25! I love Laila's big eyes...and the Milo also.heheee

  7. Love you Mama. And PLEASE don't try to break anymore records with the van gas refilling!!!

  8. the best!!Keep it up.....and good luck for Phuket Triathlon....wish to be there too!

  9. Kay, YOU, hot mamma, are seriously The Best! Thanks so much for sharing your first tri with me and jom berbasikal treneng ya!


I LOVE hearing from you! Please do leave a comment!