Just when you think you're tough enough

Tough Takes Triathlon

Newbie Triathlete averts disaster and perseveres through Everly Putrajaya TRIFactor International Triathlon 2019

Coming from a running background, I had stepped into the multi-sports world only recently and was excited to participate in my first Triathlon at The Everly TriFactor International Triathlon 2019.

Part 1 : Pre-Race
Could not sleep very well as my heart is beyond excited and nervous all at the same time about my race. After a nice hot cup of Milo, we made our way to Putrajaya and found ourselves in the transition area in a jiffy.

Prepped our transition as how my hubby cum coach trained me to prep. Walked through and double checked to ensure everything was in order; reality hadn’t hit me yet.

Headed off for my first ever swim in a lake! It was so daunting, the water was dark and it was scary as I swam out in relative darkness.

Thankfully, the water did not have any smell or funny taste. I swam and slowly got into key trying my best to keep all negative thoughts at bay.

Part 2 : Let the games begin

As the emcee called for the Elites who were taking part in the SEA Games selection, I took this time to gather my thoughts and run through what needs to be done. Sitting by the lake, watching the athletes take off, I found a serene calm and acceptance that I’m just going to get this done, and I will do my best. Come what may, that’s all that matters.

And then just like in the movies, someone in my category comes around and dramatizes the entire zen atmosphere, and says that “OMG ITS AN OVER DISTANCE SWIM! 950M!”.

This ticked me off so badly, it took me so long to collect myself. Thankfully my coach was there by my side and he kept reassuring me that I could do it.

Before I knew it, it was already time for my wave to release. Took deep breaths to calm myself down, walked down the pontoon steady with a new friend who was there to reassure me before we flagged off in the swim.

The OverSwim 900m
It was a water-threading swim start, something I’ve never done before.

It was chaotic and I was pretty nervous for 10 minutes with people fighting for position around me, kicking, pulling and elbowing me.

I was struggling to catch my breath and lower my heart rate and get into the zone. This was intense and the toughest part of the swim for me. I almost gave up here as the kayak lifeguard actually asked if I was okay. Kudos to the water safety personnel, really well prepped as there were two kayaks per wave from what I saw.

Slowly as most of the pack went off and I had my own space, I found my stride and got to do my own thing.

The 20km bike
Came out of the water looking around, expecting my coach to catch up to me, to no avail. So I had to be independent, remember what was taught to me, how we ran through the transition simulation the night before, and that helped me to get through the transition.

Gelled up, shoes on, helmet on, drink electrolytes, glasses and got my bike to chase down the other girls in my category. Went on solo, pushed as hard as I could on my new bike. Fortunately, my coach had taken me on a bike and run course recce the weekend before, so I could knew roughly what to expect.

Paced myself at tempo effort, got in the rhythm and overtook a few on the bike which made me proud of myself. Just last year, cycling on 2 wheels was an impossible task for me.

There were plenty of marshalls along the entire route, traffic was very well managed and the route was relatively flat, wide but beautiful for speed. As I approached the return high-speed leg of the bike route, I finally saw my coach, which gave me a slight sense of relief.

Maple Chan en route to crossing the finishing line of her first ever Triathlon. (Facebook/AKU Wong)

The 5km Run

Loved the run route as it was mostly flat with good amount of shade to keep us cool, with god sent breeze. Ran up via the main road on the walkway, back down to the lake for nice cold water blast at the first water station.

After another approximately 1km, my legs were feeling like jelly, but I knew I had to do my best and push it. My coach was there being my gel and electrolyte camel, at the same time pacing me all the way so I wouldn’t give up on myself.

At the last 2km and I could already see the finish line just across but I struggled with a bad stomach cramps, I tried my hardest to push through – the hardest 2km I’ve ever done.

It’s true that the temptation to quit is strongest when you’re closest to your goals.

Till now, I remember the feeling of euphoria when I saw the swim exit yellow balloon gate, knowing that I’m that close to the finish line.

I gave it all I had, crossing the finishing line, hearing the crowd of spectators cheer along the way. What an amazing feeling.

Truly this was a race like no other. Overall, this is a race I will surely target to make a comeback. I now know what my weak points are, and will work to make a stronger comeback surely.

More about the author

Maple Chan now at the peak of her running with countless running events and marathons under her belt, she searches for new adventures with multi-sport events like Powerman with the ultimate goal of completing an Olympic Distance Triathlon.