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Challenge Taiwan 2014 Race Report

6 months of preparation, we finally at TaiTung for the Challenge Taiwan 2014!

It's my 2nd half ironman distance triathlon, also the first time to do race organized by Challenge Family. I always prefer to do indie or non-M-dot races which I don't feel the pressure from the hype, adding the good comments from my fellas saying the how beautiful is the bike course, how clear the fresh water in the lake and run course alone the tree shade....I give my 2nd long course triathlon a go! I signed up in October and decide this is the race to re-gain my confident on long course!

We arrived at KaoHsiung airport at around 9:30am Thur and 4 hours bus ride to Taitung after running though some motorway and the beautiful Taiwan mountain to the east coast of Taiwan. We stayed in the small hotel which is only 5mins walk from the official hotel, inexpensive and very convenient for our daily supplement since the Family Mart is just next door with a few food stalls nearby.

As usual oversea races pattern, Thursday for bike setup, registration, stocking in daily supplement and eating with the team and have some good laughs! Friday morning for pre-race warm up, little bit of swim bike run with a few sprint set to get the muscle and body ready, afternoon bike check-in and pre-race briefing, and carbo-loading dinner!
Fully prepared on Thurday for this come back race #fightlikehell!

The race briefing was a bit confusing on how the transition bags will be arranged in T1 and T2, I think this is rather new for most people in Asia for a Challenge's race?! Eventually everything became better visible when we did check out the transition area.
We are happily ready!

It was a wetsuit legal for 23C water but I didn't care about it anymore, I felt better swim strokes without wetsuit.

The organizer was very considerate to provide bike cover for the overnight check-in!

It was great to have coach Kenneth with us since he could keep reminding us some detail towards the race even though we are all experienced triathlete, always good to have some reminder on detail and tricks! It was even great to know G's bike in perfect condition so we eliminated all mechanical issues that we may need to depends on the others. Janice, Elsie, Fanny, Brian, Eric, Yingho, Kent, Sacha and Gabriel also made the crew had so much fun on all meals we had together!

We had early dinner prior the race, finished by 9pm so we could rest up and went to bed early around 10pm, quite an ideal schedule.

Race Day

Alarm set at 5:15am, stepping out at 5:45am, shuttle bus at 6am, for 8am race start, another ideal rundown; And a very civilized start time for half distance race while full distance have to start at 6am; So we checked out our bike bag and run bag and watched Sacha swim finish since he is the only one from our team on the full distance start line along with other 200 full iron triathletes!
My setup

The Swim

Later on it was our turn to get into final warm up, I stayed with G and Janice on deep water start, I was very ready for the 8am gun start. No fear.

Gun started, I swam differently from previous tri swim, I sprinted off the first 50m and got away from the crowd, and it was waved start so I quickly find my own space and Janice was swimming next to me for the first few hundreds until two strangers coming in with their strokes without any rhythm, and then rest of the swim I feel like I am on my own, no feet to follow nor no one touching my feet, focus on the strokes that we had in the hardest training sets, pull to the end, pull to the end, the swim was hard, I was on L3.5 effort, approaching the swim finish, add more kicking, let's the blood flow into my feet and ready for the run, climbing up the step for swim exit, I heard Kenneth's voice, press my watch 39secs perfect! Running into T1, didn't see Janice she normally faster than me. Okay feeling fresh, volunteer pass the bike bag, got into the change tent, not too many people, perfect! Quickly put on helmet, gloves, race belt, sunglasses...oh only the gloves costs me more time....then Gabriel came in, Hey Gabs I go first! Garbed the bike, was feeling strong, and Fanny pictured on me, gave her a great pose!
The ride begin, looked back the lake, looked at the sky, cloudy, tail wind, I feel so exciting! It was my day I gonna go for it!!
Exiting T1 and pose for Fanny!

The Ride

It was 45k out and back along the coastal line, with lot of gentle rolling terrains, the course was truly scenic where we can see the mountain, the stream and the ocean, a lot better then Ironman Kenting. I prepared for the worst, give me any kind of winds I would take it, especially it was tail wind, it's my day! I prepared for the climb, give me 10-12% I would take it, especially it was more gentle than that, I followed my strategy, stay aero on the flat, off the saddle for 20s begin each climb and approaching the top, maintain the cadence, the plan worked really well! Eric passed me at 5k at rocket speed on the climb, I hardly hear the encouragement he gave me, he was really fighting for it! Then Yingho caught me at around 20k, I thought he would chase Eric but no, I was riding with Yingho, legally, on the whole course since then. I was more on my own pace, just Yingho and I keep riding pass each other. On the 45k turning point, it is the most scenic location on the entire course, and also the little climb that I went pass lot of people there! Super! Just coming back was head wind, but the wind was mild.

Approaching T2
Nutrition plan was okay on the bike, 1 gel per hour plus one snickers bar, just my sports drink bottle went wrong and pour away many, need to use the aid-station bottle, taste weird but drinkable. And I consumed more water than I expected.

Run bag and the changing tent at T2

The Run

Going back to T2, dismount was clean, smooth and feeling fresh! 2:52hrs bike split I was more than happy! Racked my bike, grab the run bag from volunteer, into the changing tent, nobody?! Oh then I know I ran into the tent for swim to bike rather than bike to run, alright it's not the ladies tent that's fine.
Yingho said hi to me I know he will take off on the run!
Ok 21k run the real deal, I felt fresh I felt fresh, don't walk on the first 5k, get out from the zombie zone quick! It was all in my mind. Then I started feeling the need of a toilet break damn! It was still in the first 2k I started searching for a overgrow I could hide myself and some leaves I can clean my bottom, damn I am on white shorts! Lucky me at 3k I found one proper toilet where I spent 4mins sitting before resuming the run! DAMN!
I was still running
I felt fresh when I resumed the run but after a while my diaphragm started cramping, (now I know it could be caused by excess inhale during toilet break) I need to slow down to the jogging pace for a long while! I think it took me 45-60mins to start picking up some reasonable pace....I started losing time on the run, I had 6hrs finish in my mind but then I extend to 2nd goal at 6:15mins. It already on cloudy day with mild wind, I should able to perform. I through of how we trained at Happy Valley, how we sustain that 1.4k laps after laps...  However the real situation, I only hardly run between aid-station and walk a little bit during refuel. Janice caught me at 15k she suggested to run altogether but that's the point I started slowing down....last 5k was in the total hurt box I minimized the walk time and keep run/jog like the others around me until the last aid-station, I saw 20k mark so I supposed to last refuel and walk, G was right behind me and shouted come on Charlie final 1km RUN!!! Damn she ran pass me and I quickly followed and tried to catch up, damn it just quickly turning into the train station where the finish line around, it was less than 1km I am sure. Finish at 6:14hrs. Oh that's what the half iron distance all about!
G cheering for my finish! The best moment!

Thank You notes!

My super G and I - the happiness that we well prepared and finish!
I need to say thank you to the first of all my lovely wife super G who keep supporting and motivating me towards this race, telling me what I did wrong and the importance of consistency. And thank you to my coach Kenneth's quality coaching and guidance to my technique and gradually raise up our level. Thanks Eric, Yingho and Brian who suggested this race and we signed up together; And suggesting the training route at Shek O for this race specific terrain. Thank Edwin Wong and Gabriel for the early months weekend ride, and Janice's motivation we share at training. I should also thanks Nicole's programme to G and I also got shadowed on.

Thank You my only coach Kenneth for these 10years!!
Gabriel one of my training partner!

Great work of Team Sonic

Lesson Learnt

Give me 3 x IF to turn this into better race? I'd only use two and say:
IF I could flush out everything from inside before the race, I'd shaved 4mins toilet break. (I repeated this fault from last Phuket Tri, and Aquawiz Aquathon)
IF I could have a better nutrition plan I'd able to perform on the run.
In short, it's the nutrition plan to drive the race, given my training had been solid and fully prepared for this race.

All in all, I re-gain my confident on long course and more understand how to prepare for that. 

#challengetaiwan I will do it again!
My G and I just next to each other - We are really happy!


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