Just when you think you're tough enough

Tough Takes Triathlon

Triathlete Jason Loh wins Best Malaysian at IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi 2017

Jason Loh (2nd from right) won Best Malaysian and the 25-29 age group at IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi 2017.

Triathlete Jason Loh finished as the Best Malaysian at the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, held in Kedah, Malaysia. He finished the race consisting of 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run around the Jewel of Kedah in 4 hours 42 mins, topping his age group.

The 25 year old Engineer is better known as Malaysia’s Elite duathlete in the Powerman series and ventured into triathlon, racing his first half-IRONMAN distance in Putrajaya last year. Since August, Loh has been training with an Australian coach on a personalised coaching program remotely.

On race day, Loh started the 1.9km ocean swim from the picturesque white sandy beach of Pantai Kok with a triangle out and back, the water was in perfect condition, calm and cool.

“Knowing that the organizer laid out the rope and buoy very straight along the course, I stayed close to the rope to ensure I’m swim in a straight line. Managed to steer through, cleared the front crowd and got a good rhythm after a couple of minutes into the swim.”

“Was looking around for swimmers who swim about the same or slightly faster than me, but couldn’t get one, either some of them were too fast for me or slower. Continue focusing on my technique and rhythm, driving hard on the arms and kept reminding myself that after this swim, there will be no more work for the arms anymore, I was pushing pretty hard!”

Exiting the swim on Pantai Kok (Fiz Said)

Out of the water and into transition, Loh continued on the 90km bike course heading out of Pantai Kok towards the rolling hills of Datai and the fringes of Kuah Town.

“Started off the 90km ride steadily, no rush, it’s gonna be a long day, so the ultimate advice of the day is – be patient, no surging. Took it easy on the 1st quarter of the ride as warming up for the legs knowing that there were some climbs at Datai.”

Climbs work to his advantage as he loves the challenge, and he gradually increased the pace as the legs were well-fired up after that.

“Was focusing and monitoring closely my Garmin power meter all the time, exerting not more than what I supposed to (240-250W), slowly catching up people from behind.”

“One hour into the ride, consumed a High5 energy bar to prep up for the second half of the race before it’s too late, and also had a gel every 30 mins on the bike. Ensured I always hydrate one water bottle (energy drink) per hour to maintain the body hydration status and replenish some energy. Overall, my nutrition strategy worked well, no cramps and I felt strong.”

(Garmin Malaysia)

Returning into transition in an unique indoor air conditioned hall at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Center, might bring a sudden chill to some triathletes. The 21km run course stretches beside beside the Langkawi International Airport towards the finish line at the picturesque Cenang beach. If you’re lucky, you might can a flight or two taking off or landing on the runway.

As the sun began to shine it’s might, heat was building up and Loh reminded himself to freshen up himself at every aid station with cold sponges and drinks.

“Was going at my target pace (4:30) until 13km mark. The legs slowly showing signs of cramping, I had to drop down the pace to ease it off a little, run with a higher cadence to let the legs feel a bit better to keep going.”

“A lots of monologues went through my mind for the last couple of km to keep telling the body to keep moving although the body was not in the optimal condition anymore.”

It all paid off in the end as Loh crossed the finish line as the Best Malaysian, winning his age category and coming in a respectable sixth overall in the race.

“Patience is always easier to be handled in a ideal/comfortable situation. But handling patience in a uncomfortable situation is always an art to master….. I still need to attend more art lessons.”

With the win, Loh qualified for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in South Africa in 2018, but has chosen to set his sights on the 2018 Asian Games instead. Lookout for him in the Powerman series this year as he sets out on the Asian Championships in 2018.

Story and photos from Jason Loh unless otherwise stated.