Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bintan Olympic Distance Race Report


We like to base our major life and business decisions on sporting events.

- The World Cup is on in Japan June 2002: “Right we'll leave our jobs in Sydney in April and set up Tokyo Physio that should give us time to be open and afford some tickets".

- The Bintan Tri is on May 18: Right we’ll arrive on the 17th and set up Singapore Physio by June.

The Bintan race is one of the favourites for Asian ex-pats, especially Singaporean and Indonesian as it’s an easy boat ride across, and a few make the trip from Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and even Tokyo. I’d wanted to do it for years but it never fit in and is a bit of schlep from Japan. It was in it’s 9th year and some big names were on the winner’s list including Olympian Courtney Atkinson and  Frederik Cronenberg. Most recently it has only been age groupers racing, I guess they stopped paying prize-money. 

I arrived in Singapore on the day before the race, boarding a 6am flight from Tokyo. I had a few meetings and we totally re-did the interior of Singapore Physio floor plans, got a short sleep and rolled out the door at 5ish for an 8am Ferry.

The return journey was not nearly as pleasant.

I got there in time to see Richard Waddington totally crush the Sprint Distance winning his AG and coming 4th overall. He was flying on the run. Go Rich! I had a squiz through the start list and saw none of the recognized fast (er than me) guys in Asia No Assad Antimimi (I'd need a miracle) Arnaud Selokuv (I would need my best, some luck and flat bike profile), No Dane Cantwell (his worst day and my best), No Michal Bucek (miracle), no Alex Poulis, (I’d need my A game and hoping he was still trying to slow down his stroke-rate - keep swim golfing Alex you can get it down further I know it!) and no Jess Ripper (I’d need to hope his coach had messed up his prep). The starters was quoted at 1,300, plenty of beginner-lookers, but still lots of fast looking guys walking around too.  But judging athletes ability by the way they look is like judging penis size: you never really know until it's time for action. “Damn”, I thought for the first time, “maybe I had a chance to win overall,  that’d be cool bucket-lister for a tri chump who pretends he’s a tri champ like me and also be good for the rep of soon to open Singapore Physio.

Tell your mates about us - even if I'm a crap triathlete.
 My mate Richard had surmised the same and started telling a few people that the this guy here was going to win it. I felt a bit of the expectation to win building and it “sucks” as PNF (six time Hawaii winner) had said; even though mine was 0.0001% of hers, but I’m claiming it, mmmK; and I did also enjoy the pressure a bit. It reminded me of the Year 7 school cross country where my PE teacher Mr. Middleton from Marsden High bet a bucket of KFC on me with Mr. McGuid's charge from those basterds at Malvina High. Being 'first years' (freshmans) each of us didn’t know what the other had, but Mr. M had faith in me after the 12min run in PE. I ended up winning pretty easily and he got me to go down to the nearby KFC and we spilt the bucket – sweet! 

Addiction often starts from an early exposure.

SWIM – 1,500m 23 mins

It is a beach start with a short run to the water, and I got a pretty good start. I did the duck dive, run two steps, duck dive. I was onto the feet of the fastest guy, but I couldn’t hold him. I saw my mate Alex Tanti next to me and him and about two other guys and me all went together, mostly they were on my feet. I knew Alex’s swim had improved from the days I’d greet him in the Murakami T1 despite starting in the wave behind when I saw him in Sunny Fish pumping out 10x on the 1.25. He's a great bloke and I was very happy to see him reaping some rewards for his hard efforts. "You're swim's improved" I said as I came up to him on the bike. "Thanks for the ride" he said. 

Cool swim in Bintan.

BIKE – 40kms 1.02

The bike mount is pretty sketchy on a steep incline. But once you were over that the course was not anything like I expected. The roads were marble smooth, just with constant rolling hills. Quite a few speed humps to navigate, but no mangy dogs, potholes or wandering cows, like most SE Asian races. I was pretty stoked. I spent the whole ride in 3rd, on my own, without an athlete in sight except a guy ahead that I got pretty close to by the end. I ended up coming into T2 pretty close on the heels of the front two. But I was thinking I had no chance to run over the guys ahead on the bike as I almost never do.

RUN 10kms DNF

While I was racking my bike I mis-stepped and put all my weight in between the spokes in my wheel and stood on it, making the bike fall over and my foot squeal. My front wheel only has 3 spokes and the long ridge between them is a bit sharp on top so when I bent over to put my shoes on I saw a new open wound under my forefoot. With fresh wounds it’s always hard to know how deep or how much they will bleed for a minute or so, so I spent much of the first half looking down to my shoes to see how much blood would soak through. Fortunately it was not much and stopped reasonably quickly.

Onto the course and I was stoked and surprised to see the two ahead were coming back to me and not going further away. The lead guy was bigger and heavier than me, and (I found out later) an ex-pat TT stud from Singapore. 2nd off the bike was a tattooed Thai guy but he had some guns and was not flying either, but could run a bit.

I ended up passing the big guy first who’d already been overtaken and then sat behind the Thai guy for a few hundred metres. I didn’t think I was running too fast, but from then on I was adding only about 2-5 sec a km on the Thai guy, and was about 30-40 secs up at the 8-9km mark. I though I had it in the bag. 

"Pop" What a let-down.

Then next thing I know I am looking at a circus style tent roof.

The next few hours were some of the strangest (non-pharmaceutical) of my life.

Not only did I not know what had happened, I did not know anything at all. Nothing. Not my name. Not what country I was in, was living in or was born in. I didn’t even know what a country was. I couldn’t speak, and was just trying madly to make sense of something. I was like a new born. There was another guy about my size lying opposite me on the sunbeds with towels over us. We were both shivering and vomiting regularly.

I was looking as these humans walk around and just was thinking that I was one of these ape-like beings that were walking around.  Well I reckon my IQ then was about 20 and I could still work that much out – (sorry Believers could not resist a dig!). Maybe I should have submitted a membership to the Nazi party while I had the chance.

Be careful of this one, he may vomit on you.
My great mate Rich Waddington was there and was asking me several tough questions that I couldn’t answer. "What do you do for work?", "Do you know what day it is?" etc etc. Eventually he showed me some photos of our dog, and I remembered his name, Yuki. That was a breakthrough. Then some shots of Vanessa and him and me on top of Mt Yotei and I got all those correct. He explained I was from Australia, live in Japan, was in Indonesia, but will be moving to Singapore – which is hard enough for anyone to get their heads around.

This shit is hard G!
I had finally worked out I had had a bike crash, and was at the Naganuma Criterion course in Sapporo.  All I could say was, “That was close” and “I was lucky”, as I was thinking about spending my life with a brain injury and knew I would be fine and the lovely Nathalie from Metasport and Rich kept reassuring me. Apparently I’d had 4 bags of drips.

Was crushing these like coke cans.

The two of us were transferred to Singapore, by Speedboat, which is a long 60minutes in the dark. We were taken to the A& E and it was midnight Saturday so a madhouse. There was a guy who was brought in with chains on his ankles and wrists with his arm in a sling surrounded by four police. He looked like an office worker. I guessed he probably stolen a steam bun.

I was playing with my zip on my one-piece tri-suit zipping it up to my chest and down again over and over – something kept bugging me about that zip.  Finally I worked out that it was  - I was not in bike bibs! I kept asking the docs to check my head for injury and they were never concerned and now it finally dawned on me that I had not had a bike crash. Damn what had happened then? I cant remember when I worked out maybe the next day. 

They asked if they could cut the tri suit off and I knew Dirty Harry wouldn’t let ‘em so no way I was going to. I got up, got nude and they put a nappy on me and lied back down. They then proceeded to smash me with icy towels repeatedly for about an hour. I was shivering the whole time asking for them to stop, but they’d stuck a few thermometers in my butt and it had to be done. Eventually the temp came down and they admitted me.

It sure was.
I spent the next three nights in the ward on almost 24-hour drips with blood checks 3 times a day. Without going into too much detail, my platelet count was very low and not responding as they should, which was strange. There was kidney damage and liver damage, but those had responded OK. They wanted to keep me in but it was all just monitoring and no treatment and no treatment in sight. The doc said I was "critical" but I was over the worse.  so I convinced them to let me go and they made me sign a “discharge against advice” and out I went.

It had happened on a small scale before, in Murakami and in eerily conditions 1-2kms from the finish of an OD with a key competitor pushing me as hard as possible and not drinking enough. I will not make that mistake again. It happened to Ali Brownlee too and he bounced back.

A few days later now and I am feeling much better, have been for an easy ride on the bike. I’m waiting for my test results and will decide what to do from here. Sorry it was so long.

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