Training for my first Ironman 70.3

I thought it’d be nice to do a little recount of my experience going for my first IM70.3. To be honest, I had to correct quite a number of people on the completion of this lil’ feat and the differences between that and an actual full Ironman. The numbers 70.3 refers to the full distance covered in the race, in miles. Ironman 70.3 race consists of:
- 1.9km open swimcourse
- 90km bike course
- 21km or half marathon run course

I first got the hook when I took part in a couple of small races with a bunch of my JC friends (they were into the swimming part more than the running haha). From there, interactions with Lynnette and Heng Hong opened my eyes to the possibilities of completing such a demanding race. Of course, Yixiang and Peining also contributed to rub more poison into my system. ;)

Got my very first tri bike!

I made the decision to participate in the Bintan IM 70.3 for mainly 2 reason:

  1. It was on the day before my birthday, I thought it’d be good to accomplish something for myself. And I really like to challenge myself.
  2. It was during the Asian Games season, and prior to this I had made the decision to not let competing cloud my mind too much. Taking part in this race meant I would never be able to have second thoughts into wanting to represent and go for the games. A lil twisted, but i’ll leave that story for another time. ;)

It was gonna be my first long distance race, and I didnt have a coach. So I took a rather detailed training programme off the internet (I forgot where though) and plugged in training sessions leading up to the race in August. I know… not exactly a good idea to just get things off the net, but I was glad this plan seemed to hold up well!

See my actual training plan here.

I managed to clock about 50% of the training sessions I was supposed to do, mainly because I was climbing and competing again, plus traveling too. Some days it was hard to insert a training session because the hours were tight, and I had to juggle work, climbing training, and my part-time masters lessons in the far west. It was also a decision I intentionally made, in continuing to train and climb hard (see previous post), so no qualms about that!

The best of what I got out of the training programme was having more opportunities to swim, since swimming was the least familiar segment for me. I learnt to swim when I was doing my post-grad diploma for PE back in 2012, but I was goddamn slow. Of course the advantage of being a climber, is that I now had very powerful arms but inefficient legs in water. But at least that got me through the waters. HAHA!

Leading up to the race I felt it was important I had a few “practice” sessions to familiarise myself with the challenges that I would be facing. Heres a list of some things I did:

  1. Olympic distance triathlon 
    - gave me an insight into the duration in which I would need to put my body through. I surprised myself in my performance for this race, with a good run split time and overcoming crazy waters. Managed to work good transition times too.
Got to test out my new wheels during the Trifactor OD race
After my first OD race at East Coast Park with Yixiang & Lynnette

2. Open water brick sessions
- nuff said. To weather the salty and choppy waters

3. Cycle-run brick sessions
- to get used to my legs spinning into a run after cycling mad-long distances
- managed to cut down my adjustment time from getting off the bike

4. Bintan bike course recee
- much needed, to tolerate the slopes. I ended up cramping really badly, and couldnt progress into my run. So this was something that I needed to manage.

5. Mount Faber Hill rides
- more training for the legs. 
- Bintan was all hills, so had to get used to climbing (the hills)

So I completed my first IM70.3 within a time of 6 hours, 40 minutes. I was 7th in my category of 25–29 years old. I was hoping to podium (im competitive like that haha), but my cycle took too long :(

My swim segment was fantastic given the lagoon calm waters of Bintan. The waters were pretty clear, and I even managed to draft a little in the water to come out feeling good. I used to be afraid of the swim leg, but this time around it worked out well for me! 🙆🏻‍♀️💕

I took a very cautions approach in my cycle, in anticipation of steep turns downhill, and being ready for any uphill. I didnt want to burn out like I did during my recee, for fear of cramping up. To be honest, I do wish I still went faster, because cycling was one of my best discipline during training. Going into this race, cycling became one of my biggest concerns. I managed to get through to 80km with stops at water stations to fill up. Only started cramping in that last 10km stretch, and no amount of CrampFix could get me by. 🤦🏻‍♀️😭 So I struggled to spin my legs into the run off the bike.

It took me about 2km into the run to get my pace going and for the cramps to (sort of) disappear. Running through cramps in both thighs was something I had encountered during training. But this time it was a little worse than I had anticipated. My first 10km was pretty good at about 55 mins. But at 13km, I started to feel pain my feet and started to have to dragged myself through the last 8km. It was a biting sharp pain on the lateral side of my feet, and I had to use my arms to propel me forward to take one step at the time. It truly was quite a gruelling experience and one of the toughest (and maybe longest) physical challenge I had to endure (close to 80 minutes worth). 😫

I refused to give in to my body (although for future sake, I shd have haha) and I was NEVER a walker. So I pushed on and hobbled through the finish line. My pace dropped drastically and I was pretty disappointed with myself. To be honest, this is the first time I was doing such a long distance for a run. I ran a full marathon at 18 once, but I wouldnt say it counted haha. I guess you can say I was complacent because my run trainings for this race never went beyond 7km. LOL. 😂 And the maximum distance I had covered in one go was 10km during the OD race I did just 3 weeks ago. Lots of firsts for me this time around! Haha.

I suffered from a little peroneal tendonitis after the whole race and couldnt really walk properly. I pronate alot due to my high arch, I figured that it was that plus the legs cramping, that led to overuse. But I still could manage to put on my climbing shoes to climb! Even speed climbing wasnt affected too much 😂😅

Really thankful to have a “crew” with me on this first race. Without them, it would have been very intimidating and I would have been pretty lost. We sort of came together as a group because we all climbed (or used to)… and then began to venture into triathlon races and bikes. #triclimbers HAHA. Really glad to have training buddies to go on those long rides and crazy workouts with.

With the crew! Starting from left: Me, Lynnette, Amanda, Fauzi, Peining, Yixiang, Heng Hong

Another shout out goes to Yap Bicycle Compania for the bike checks and fixes. :) Really appreciate the little help they gave us, especially us being noobs at bikes with gears. LOL. Without Fauzi & Amanda’s intro, we wouldnt have gotten to know such a good family.

I guess that wraps up one of the biggest events in my life so far. And it also means I’ve gotten myself through most of this year as well. I’m not sure if I want to go into a full IM because the distance itself feels abit too much for me. I would say a full IM is about pacing and just completing the race at this point in time (compared to the pros). I do like the thrill and intensity of the sprints and shorter distances though!

Next, its on to the next race to plan, and train for! ✌🏼

With Lyn’s family and the training buddies