Monday, December 12, 2011

Back from Thailand with a Phuket 70.3 Race Report

I just got back from the most wonderful trip! I got to spend 2 1/2 weeks with my daughter in beautiful Thailand and the bonus was I also got to do my first race of the season.

I proposed the race to Coach Jesse a week or two into our training. He was very apprehensive but I assured him that I would not let the result effect me in way. I was going there merely to get a boost in my fitness, see my sister and to get the feeling of a race under my belt. There would only be good things that would come from this trip.

I had not seen my sister in 3 years and I miss her and her family so much so I just had to go! My sister has been traveling around Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia on a boat for the last year and a half. They were going to be in Phuket the same time as my race so I just had to go there to see them.

So Sydney and I packed our bags ready for an adventure...which it sure was!

It was a 16 hour flight to Hong Kong, a short over night stay and then a 3.5 hour flight to Phuket . Not to forget the 12 hour time difference! We had made it to the other side of the world, minus alot of sleep which always comes back to get you around day 4 or 5.

Noodles for breakfast..Whatt???

Sydney getting a jump start on schoolwork on the plane!

My sister and her 2 amazing boys were there to greet us and take us to our new home. Their 54 foot catamaran Micah would be our new hotel for a few weeks!

Sydney took straight to boat life, loving every minute of each new experience and I went off discovering the island on my bike.

One of the selling factors in going to Phuket was Thayanpura, a beautiful new sports facility that is nestled off a busy road and has one of the best 50 meter pools I have swam in , a brand new track and a organic resturant serving the most amazing food right on the property. They also have a mind centre, yoga retreat and a hostel and soon to be athlete hotel coming.

Every morning my sisters husband Brent ( who is a world champion open water lifeguard) and I would head to the pool and get my workouts done. I was so happy to have him to train with and I think he was happy to be getting back to a routine of swimming.

The Laguna Phuket Triathlon was to take place the week before the 70.3 so alot of my rides were done on the marked course. I was amazed and shocked at how many steep hills are in Phuket. The first day I rode the course I came back all nervous as I could not believe that I had to race such a tough course on 12 weeks post crashing on a downhill. These hills were no joke at a 21% grade...22% descents...SCARY! Probably the steepest I have ever rode my bike on! I could not believe I had signed up for this! Was I crazy???

Our days leading up to the Asia Pacific 70.3 Champs were full of all fun things.
Once we left the marina and started sailing around the island we were doing stunning ocean swimming!
The kids would get some home schooling in...then off to different beaches we would go. We would all pile in the rubber duck, bike included and we would go flying straight onto the beach..very impressive! I would then go off and get my bike or run done. Most of the time I had no idea where I was going but I loved it. Always new things to see and it gave me a way to really see the whole island.

As the race grew closer the reality was setting in that soon I was to do my first race in 4 months and I was not feeling very fit.
Phuket hosts a great week of triathlon starting with the Laguna Phuket on a Sunday, then an ocean mile swim on the race course, a kids race, plenty of talks and events at Thayanpura and ending in the Asia Pacific Champs and by the looks of it one crazy awards party!

I was so excited as my nephews decided they wanted to participate in the kids triathlon. What a well run fun event and I was so proud of them to just jump in to this event with no training and with such eagerness. I loved being there to support them and it was definitely a highlight of my trip!

Next up Brent got to do the ocean swim race...I was really proud of him too as he was not super fit but he stilled pulled out an impressive 7th place finish!

Lastly it was my turn. After the kids asking me a million times if I was going to win and me saying no...I just wanted to finish. My day had come.

This race was one of the most challenging course I have ever raced on...(very similar to St Croix actually)

The swim would be a 2 part swim...1st section would be in the crystal blue waters of Laguna beach, then a beach run over a hill and then into a very warm lagoon for the remaining 600m.
My sister and the fam came out on the rubber duck to see me start and took these cool shots!

Sydney waiting for it to get light for the start of the race!

I was happy with my effort on the swim coming out under 30 min...not bad for me after only a few weeks of real swimming. My surgeon had only given me the go ahead to do full pulling strokes 2-3 weeks prior. So with a big smile on my face I headed onto the bike.

Now I knew this was going to be way around it! Coach Jesse had given me very doable watts to ride and I started out on plan. Although a few minutes into it Natasha Badman came flying by so fast that I really had to rethink my plan. But I decided to stick to the plan and just ride conservatively (pretty much IM pace!) One by one age grouper guys would fly by me as the first 20 km is flat and fast. Then you hit another crazy part of the course. A ramp up to a bridge that crosses over a highway. You have to dismount and run your bike up the zigzag ramp across the bridge and then mount again. You hit this part of the course 2x. Shortly after come the hills. Yes the first one I hit I passed a pro girl walking...I took turns out of my saddle/and in saddle riding up all of them. Unfortunately it was at this point that the rain started coming down. Monsoon rain and the roads became rivers where you could not see if there was a pothole under the water or not. I was clearly rethinking my race. I was slowly passing big guys walking along the road. I had said if it rained I was going to DNF as I was clearly still a little traumatized from my downhill crash. I basically just continueed on my ride making it a slow trainer ride. My watts fell to Zone R (recovery watts)

I prayed alot and once I hit the last section of hills and saw a few bodies lying on the ground all scraped up I was assured that I was making the right decision by going slow. All week I had seen triathletes that were bandaged up from taking the downhill turns to fast. There was a 12mph speed limit on the downhills for a reason.

One hill at a time and I made it to the end. At this point I knew I was out of top eight contention so I just decided to finish the run and try stick to the run plan Coach Jesse had given me. The course was thankfully flat but most of it was on a golf course, along trails and it had plenty of muddy sections. The sun at this point was trying to squeeze out so the humidity and heat was at am all time add adding to the challenge. I really enjoyed the 2 loop run and was so happy to see Sydney, and my sister Sharyn and her family cheering me on!

I was so HAPPY to be done as I ran through the finish line with the biggest smile on my face. I had conquered the hills and my fear of crashing again and I was so thrilled to have had the endurance after 8 weeks of training to get me through this tough course!

Sadly Sydney and I only had three more days post race to absorb it all and really relax!!!

Thailand and Phuket in particular is a friendly place with very few rules. People wizz around the island with whole families on their scooters. Babies and small children clutching on with no fear with no helmets. Sometimes they ride on the wrong side of the rode onto on coming traffic....The roads are lined with endless telephone wires and the smell of food cooking is everywhere. People turn there homes into outdoor shops/cafes selling grilled chicken, fried rice, curry, pancakes, fruits, smoothies or anything you can think of! The shanty like buildings are interspersed with brightly colored monuments and temples. Dragons and elephants are always in the paintings. Elephants are seen everywhere....on the beach, going for walks at restaurants. They are like celebrity's posing for photos everywhere. Sydney and I of course got to ride an elephant. Food is cheap and Thai massages go for about $10 everywhere. I got one on the beach that was amazing and one post race that was heavenly! The beaches are calm and I treasure our dinners on the beach under the moonlight. I overdosed on Thai green chicken curry and Sydney ate enough noodles and fried rice to last a year! Common sitings while biking around the island were packs of stray dogs scampering around. I was always afraid they would chase me but came to realize they just don't. Cattle could be crossing at any time, barefoot children wave as you ride by, every morning and evening you can hear prayer and loud music playing over loud speakers. Tourism is plentiful especially in the town of Patong. A busy red light district where lady boys are seen everywhere and bootlegging and rip off products line every store.

The kids lighting a lantern and making a wish! Priceless!

Sunset was my favorite time to be in Phuket on the beach with the occasional sundowner, watching the wish lanterns rising and fireworks go off!

I am so thankful to my sister and brother in law that made sure I got all my workouts in (well most of them ) and supported me everyway they could. I had the best time with Cody, Caden and Cally my sisters beautiful energetic sweet children. I love them dearly and loved seeing the bond Sydney formed with them!
I am so happy I made the decision to go race!


Last sunset!


Jamie said...

What an amazing trip! Spending all that time on a catamaran sounds like my dream trip.

And glad you managed to survive the monsoon without another crash.

Jacqui said...

Thanks Jamie...Yes it was an amazing trip!!! Loved every minute!

Lindsey Jerdonek said...

Jacqui, nice post about your trip and race--what a memorable experience to share with Sydney! I'm glad you're back in action.

Bre said...

I'm so happy that you got to do this race and see your sister. What an incredible thing to be able to share with Sydney too! Definitely going to add this race to my "to do" list! Thanks for being so inspiring- can't wait to watch you own 2012 :)
Happy Holidays to you and your family!!

Jacqui said...

Thanks Lindsey and Bre!!! Felt great to be in a race atmosphere again! Sydney and I shared such special times together!!! Merry Christmas to you both! Looking forward to seeing you both do some kick ass racing!