I hadn’t done a triathlon in more than 5 years, the last one being in Moganshan in China.  I’ve had lots of excuses since then, mainly being pregnant, taking care of infants, and living somewhere not very conducive to riding a bike outside.  Then I saw a post about the Penang Urban Triathlon, and something inside me clicked: I used to love it, I was going for it.  So I borrowed some books, dusted off (oiled and pumped up) my road bike and trainer and started training.  I had a spreadsheet and everything!  Then I did something stupid; blinded by the glare off a weekend at a top resort and spa, I booked a holiday smack over my race.  Luckily (?), Tim was not well enough to go so we postponed beach and brunch with hornbills, and the race was back on.  Whew!

I was nervous leading up to the race.  Nervous and anxious and excited.  Tim wasn’t helping, saying “you can win this thing!” Packing my things the afternoon before, I forced myself to calm down and just enjoy it, keep the expectations low.  It was my first race in a long time, since becoming a mother, since becoming a trainer myself, first in Penang.  However, that fact about Penang kept playing in my mind.  Contrary to what “doing triathlons” means in Austin where it seems everyone does one of the hundred races a year, in Penang it is kind of hard core to be even thinking about doing one.  And to actually go there…wow.  Probably like triathlon 20 years ago in the US.  That means Fun!

I slept well before the race, and arrived at 5:30 for body marking and lining up.  The race was small, with about 150 athletes in tri and 200 in duathlon.  The swim was a seeded start in a pool, one swimmer going off every 15 seconds and snaking up and down 8 lanes for 800m.  Based on estimated time, I seeded 11th (of 150! yikes!) and was the 2nd woman in the water, the first being on the Malaysia national team.  Eek.  Despite this, I was passed only once and passed two people before climbing the ladder to the transition.  The bike was 20km on a double loop course and was pretty uneventful as I carefully navigated traffic, dogs and burning hamstrings while realizing I really didn’t train properly for this part (I had only ridden on the road twice before the race!).  I quickly got my running shoes and hat on for the final leg and headed out with high expectations for my run. I was certain I had trained well here, but my backside from my waist to behind my knees was jelly for about the first kilometer of the 5k run.  I felt like I was leaning backwards and hardly moving!  Finally I loosened up and was able to finish strong.

All day I had been smiling, through every event, and crossing the finish line, I felt fantastic!  I do LOVE this stuff!  It was such a good time, well run,  the crowd was small and it was fun to meet people and cheer on friends.  The nature of the course made it very difficult to be competitive – staggered start, bike loops, intermingling of tri and du – made it very easy to just relax about what everyone else was doing and just push myself.  Tim’s prediction did not come to fruition, but I was very happy with my time and placing.  Mainly, I really just had a great time.  Good thing I liked it, I had already registered for the Penang International Olympic Distance Triathlon in March!