Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Race Report IM Langkawi 2009 Part III

Feb 28th RACE DAY
I awoke once in the night, made a Milo put the iPod lullabies back on and then finally got up at 5am. Still feeling pretty calm at this stage, I did the ritual toilet thing x 3. I know it is boring to eat the same food every morning whilst training BUT the body gets used to it and you know how it is going to react and work so while it may be a culinary bore it is sensible (in my book anyway). Planned to go down for brekkie early before the others but on my first trip downstairs I forgot my bananas for my pre-race/training ritual of a banana sarnie. So up I go again to the 9th floor. Tried to get in my room and the darn key didn’t work. So down I go again. And then up again. By the time I actually got to breakfast S.Sam, Carmen and the Tan’s were already there on a table of 4! They looked at me, I looked at them as if to say, what the? They then said it’s okay we will join the tables. I said, no worries, turned the Pod up, focus music on cue and Emma sat on her own.
We (Sexy Lady Chris, KK Sexy Martin, Kona Carmen, S.Sam, Tan & Tan, Smiling Meng, Disco Dave and Emma “no nickname Bishop”) assembled in the lobby and got the Wan to the jetty. Plugged into Pod, still calm but there were some nerves circulating in the tum. Waiting for the marking and that was it; I was now officially in a mess, smiling was not an option in fact crying was. Very emotional, I no longer had Pod to help me switch off so did my best to remain polite and upbeat (I said I did my best).
Still concerned about George’s wheels and how to let the pressure down (if I got a flat), a little tip for you all; hotel cotton-buds! Take off the cotton wool – they work a treat! One problem solved. Pumped tyres, fannied around, not as many photo calls as last year, I basically avoided seeing the guys until the last minute. Nothing personal but they are so upbeat. Randy always smiling, in fact everyone was smiling except lil’ ol’ me – it had to happen.
So there we all are, waiting at the pontoon, goggled up and ready to go. The time had come. Into the water, bobbing about, the past 21weeks of brutal training, discipline, highs and lows had come down to this one moment as I bobbed about waiting for the horn, there was just seconds to go. What was going through my mind at this stage? Something to the effect of “Oh for Christ sake just sound the bloody horn already I wanna GO”!
Swim: 1:24:16 (IM2008 1:45:55)
I tried to attack the swim a little more than my usual hang back efforts. I am a lot more confident in the water than one year ago and believe it or not I am quicker, just not quick enough...yet. So since I am no longer the slowest of swimmers, Coach Vinnie suggested push hard to the first buoy and then try and get in a group to a comfortable pace. Problem is when I am getting bumped rather than plough through which I should do because I am a big strong girl, I slow right down, maybe tread water, breaststroke and wait for clear water and start again. This is error number 1. The out was actually not too bad, I felt good and was swimming efficiently from buoy to buoy. But after a while and before the turn something started going wrong on my left shoulder. I have had an on/off problem for a while from a past wrong technique. The pain I was getting was new. Unsure of what it was I just tried rotating more and pulling through with long strokes. This felt good and was working but was never ever consistent enough.
On the turn, the pain continued. By this stage I knew something was really wrong and my left side basically was not giving much propulsion. Quitting was not an option. I started the race and if the shoulder was completely buggared by the end of the day I would deal with it then. For now it was just about getting the swim done.
On the turn I overtook Sexy Lady Chris. This made me feel better but I knew I was still lagging behind where I should be. On the return, swimming buoy to buoy was not easy as the current kept pushing me left and a guy was constantly kicking my face. It seems anywhere I swam to try and go round he would suddenly appear again.
Once you get into earshot of the announcers you know you are home. I get out the water and straight to transition.
T1: 2:23
Bike: 5:19:50 - Average Heart rate: 144. Average Cadence 67 (IM2008 6:25:43)
With all the training over the past weeks I had absolutely no clue what I was capable of. I was focused on two things: cadence and heart rate. Actually not too fussed about the ticker as long as it just kept pumping! 10weeks ago I told myself 5:45 was achievable. Since then I have been moving the time down (in my head). You should never ride an IM with a bike time in mind (well not Langkawi so I am told), because you have to run off the bike. But it is good to know what you are capable of; it gives you some confidence and assurance. I had plenty of positive feelings and know that I have got stronger than one year ago but as to what I could do – no bloody clue.
I started off and straight away picked it up into the big chain, big gear. Totally comfortable with this style of riding, love it. The heart rate was pretty up there with some sporadic highs but from my little experience the asthma seems to affect me more out the swim and it takes a while trying to settle everything back down.
I would like to add at this point when I left transition I left at the same time as another girl in my group. Her shoes were clipped on, mine not. I keep telling myself to learn to do this. For short OD races I guess it would help, but if you are not really GOOD at this approach you actually loose time. I whizzed past her before she had even one foot in.
I absolutely loved the bike. I do like riding, some training rides I have not wanted to ride long because I was so tired and fatigued. But when you are tapered and champing at the bit, feeling strong and riding a bike you feel 100% comfortable with in aero, is a dream. I used the aid stations as a gage to see how my progress was and realised pretty soon I was doing over 30k an hour pretty comfortably.
It got quite hot out on the course and I think this is where the damage for many of the athletes was done. Still cool by Langkawi standards, the route was exposed and interspersed with fast roads and concrete crap (out by the airport). There were winds, but I didn’t notice them. I overtook a lot of people, the only ones who overtook me were pro’s I am proud to say.
I saw Adzim, 10minutes into the bike and gave him a cheery hi. Emma was smiling. Then I saw Sofian and then I saw KK “I know that butt anywhere” Sexy Martin. I was happy, relaxed and in a groove.
Alex who is probably one of the busiest guys there with TBB donned a ref shirt and I saw him on the bike. Gave me words of encouragement! Cheers Alex. I then saw Neil and Aaron who had shelled out for the flight to come and support and volunteer their services as bike ref’s. Great stuff, again huge thanks for your shout-outs.
At 90k’s I had clocked 2hr40min. It was now that my mind started thinking about time. Initially I had though 5:35 with 5:30 being a dream. 2hr40 meant I was on for a 5:20!!! Cannot be. Without meaning to sound arrogant I was worried something was wrong or that I had miscounted because I was totally within myself. There was plenty more in the tank, in fact I asked myself should I go faster? But I knew the pace was already pretty solid and that I had 42k’s waiting for me so settled down and just maintained. I passed Randy who was having a nasty time out by the airport and suffering with a bad back, we exchanged greetings and off I went.
I drank, I ate, I peed x 3, body working well. With 20k to go in the distance there he was, S.Sam. I had finally caught him. To say I was pleased to catch up with IM Sam on the bike is an understatement. He is always encouraging, full of enthusiasm and an awesome rider and bloody outstanding on hills, which is probably the only reason I caught him today because it was just rolling stuff.
We rode in together, Sam giving plenty of support (verbal not drafting), telling me just to stay focused and concentrate. Very easy to screw up when you are just on the home straight. This is where I usually have a chat with myself and it is usually out loud. Stuff like, “Good job Emma, nearly home, keep it together.”
The only problem I encountered on the bike was when attacking hills, I got out the seat as often as possible, it is a style I prefer and feel strong at. The heart rate elevates but the payoff is it is only for a short duration and it gives the back a rest and moves the lactic around using a different muscle group. Today though getting out the saddle killed me every time. My shoulder was really giving me gip but bahhhh, nothing like the pain I had gone through in training so Grin and Bear it!
Got off the bike with Sam, gave each other slaps on the back and off I toddled into transition.
T2: 2:22
Run: 4:05:43 Average Heart rate 145 (IM2008 4:33:32)

I was hoping for a sub 4, didn’t quite make it. I will next time though. The great thing with all the sadistic training is running off the bike after 180k is actually easy. Never ever think about it. Never thought ooo my legs hurt, they feel like jelly. Nope straight into a rhythm. I am not saying it was an easy run. It was not. Here is what happened:
I am known for having a game face, not smiling at all. Now let me explain why. In the past if I connect with everyone around me when I am trying to give my best effort I get very emotional, all your support, shouts of “GO EMMA” really really touch my heart. I love it. But if I react, my respiratory goes mad and trips into an asthma attack. So I try to keep my emotions in until the end and then only then it usually all comes out. Today though was a new experience. While I had been nervous on the swim, I was smiling on the bike and as I started that run and heard my name being called I realised I was smiling, this fact was confirmed when announcer Whit yelled out “Number 680 Emma Bishop and there’s that smile".
Loop 1 great stuff: Yet again Alex was out on the course supporting teamTBB and everyone else he recognised, he also asked me if I knew where I was placed. I shook my head, didn’t know at all, I did know I had to do my race and not try and chase someone who could have been 5 minutes or 30minutes in front. Do that and I would blow up.
Loop 2: looking good still smiling. When we ran back into the turnaround point before the blip of a bridge the anticipation of what was waiting round the corner lifted me every time. The iamcylist van with Ivie, Bobby and many many others whose names I cannot remember, my sincere apologies if I haven’t mentioned you, but BIG thanks. On the other side of the road people are yelling out my name too. I loved it. This is my home race, let’s face it Malaysia is my home. Going into the turn around to get the next band was another buzz, with Razlan announcing your name, Goosebumps, an extra little kick, support works, don’t ever think there is no point in shouting out. Even if you yell "Hey you in the PINK TRI SUIT keep going", it is good enough! (Okay so if I am having a bad day I may well come over and punch you and tell you to SHUTUP, but I was having a good, no GREAT day).
As my run was nearing the end I started seeing many familiar TTH training buddies, they still had a long way to go but ALWAYS gave me their support.
And so to the last lap, I had been unable to lift my left arm up without searing pain to grab sponges and water throughout the run. It was hanging by my side and seriously bothering me to the extent that on lap 4 and 5 I felt really sick with the discomfort. Don’t stop I told myself, just keep the legs turning over. And that is what I did, all the way to the end. I got to the finish shoot and a sprint (it felt like a sprint) emerged and with a huge smile arms in the air I crossed that line in 10hrs55min and change, and then almost promptly fell over!
I loved every minute. I am still hooked, raring to train, looking forward to the next one and looking forward to going to Kona one day very soon. x


Anonymous said...

Sis Emma:

Can u register u TTH members's bib in my pmtey2 site or FB ? tks..

Ec for me to upload friends I know in my site,cause I can't upload all of my 6k plus pics.


Congrate u super form ,u got a lot of "pia"spirit foto !


Emma said...

Will do tey. Thank YOU x

Tweet and Ribbit said...

Hey Emma, my friend Lynn and I were there to support you for Langkawi. You did an awesome job! CONGRATS! I believe Lynn sent you some pictures from her camera. I have a couple taken on mine... not very many but I since Lynn had the more professional camera, I let her take most of the actions shots as they were hard to capture on my point-and-shoot. Drop me a note on how to get them to you.

Chin Chin

Emma said...

Hello, wow I am flattered with the support from everyone and then the effort you all go to to contact me with the pictures. Thank you very much. You can email the pix to
Once again, I know I say it a lot but thank you :)

Lawrence said...

Well done Emma! Bloody good timing. Great report! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

Emma said...

It's an absolute pleasure Lawrence. Plenty more to come so stay on the bus!