By Paul Fisher & Lisa Tong
BY PAUL FISHER : FIRST TRIATHLON, NEWBIE TRITON
I started the weekend having never completed a triathlon so treat this race report as “through the eyes of a novice...”
I was intro’d to the Tritons through Swimlab but had never met the majority of the 25+ crew who’d made the trip to Goseong, South Korea. Everyone was exceptionally welcoming to Ross and I (another rookie) and the weekend was great fun from start to finish.
Language barriers were in full force in Goseong meaning a request for a taxi could result in a serving of (very) cold buckwheat noodles and our breakfast menu had dubiously translated dishes such as “Republishing Bureau” featured. The weekend ran smoothly however largely thanks to Lisa who had the plans seamlessly organised for the entire group (many thanks Lisa!).
I stood no chance of keeping my inexperience discreet and had to have explained that “transition” was an area to get changed in and not a part of my bike.
We spent the days pre-race cycling the picturesque bike course, which had many coffee houses with stunning views, and sampling the local delights of bibimbap, Korean BBQ . Out of pure curiosity the aforementioned breakfast dishes (“American Blac First” as it was written on the menu, turned out to be “American Breakfast”).
Arriving at transition on race day we were greeted with an awesome sunrise and a Korean drum band played as the swim started.
The view from the bike course was stunning with views across the inlet and paddy fields, with green hills and islands in the distance.
The run sets off with a passage leading through a giant model of a hatching dinosaur egg... quite random but made for a good photo.
Damian and Fed got there World Champs places as did Ross who was also doing his first ever Triathlon! James, Mandy and many others were also offered received spots. Isabelle, Connie and Jerry were awesome supporters.
All round a fantastic weekend and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Media Interview: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx4_oT8BYdO/?igshid=zn77h4oehzf
BY LISA TONG: One word for this race: Fighting!
I have great and fun memories of this race! For starters, it was a big team event with 17 Tritons and 22 in the group altogether. First time for such a big group for me and with an immensely talented and diverse group of people, it was never a dull moment! I truly enjoyed everyone’s company.
Race morning started early as always with 4:00 am alarms. Transportation turned out to be a nightmare because our hotel was not super close to the transition site and the organization didn’t have buses arranged (originally). So we checked 5:00 am taxi pick ups a billion times in an area of Korea that has limited English. I slept decently and had my staple breakfast of 2 packs of oatmeal and managed to finish the washroom business (super critical in such cases). The taxis were prompt and we loaded whomever showed up and left right away with a 5 minute drive to the transition area. The sun had already risen, dawning bright and happy, but my nerves were jittery and unsettled. I was scared as expected and began meditating when I could, trying to regulate my breathing. The test swim the day before was in choppy waters and I knew it was cold, so I checked out the water to see some semblance of calm. I seeded myself with Grace, Steph, and Shum in the 31-40 minute range with hopes of coming around the 40 minute mark, but also getting advice from others to expect breaststrokers and seed earlier. Perhaps everyone had the same idea because the first group (25-30 minutes with the rest of the Tritons) had so many racers! In general, seeding was smooth and I found myself in the waters pretty quickly. Coach said to focus on technique and just go with it, so I tried, but honestly, every 5 strokes or so, someone would grab my foot, push me, slap me, or try to swim over me. This was the most aggressive, pushy, washing machine-styled swim I’ve ever had! I had to regroup myself at least 8 times over the entire course of the swim and never found my rhythm long enough to settle. I remember looking at my watch and thinking that it sucked. In hindsight, I should have gone wide and taken on more yardage instead of being beat up and wasting time hanging sadly to the lane line where I was still pushed around because guys were just pulling themselves along the lane line! It was pretty manic and traumatic and I ended up finishing the swim relieved, but pretty pissed. This was an all out open water fight fest after all and I shouldn’t have expected niceties, but definitely first time experiencing a serious pounding. Not fun at all. And completely unlike any other swim start I’ve had in previous races.
Transition 1 was solid. I really appreciated seeing Jerry, Yijia, and Connie waving me on. To be honest, all I heard in my head was my coach, “run the transition, don’t dilly dally, and treat this race as one long time trial”. So I ran, like Forrest Gump. Tea party’s over kids.
The ride was the highlight of my race. When I was riding, I didn’t think of anything else but maintaining my power. It was a pretty technical course with 6 u-turns, some single-laned tight sections, lots of people drafting, and roly poly curvy roads. I probably rode out of aero more often than in. However, I had so much fun, especially on the descents! It’s this overwhelming sense of freedom and I loved it! There was really never a dull moment on the ride. Volunteers of all ages, ringing cow bells, were cheering “fighting fighting” the whole route and they had closed all the roads just for us! The aid stations were oddly spaced out with the first one in around 36K and the last one pretty close to the final (which I skipped), but the volunteers were smiling and cheering. At the last 15K, I felt awesome, I basically left what I could on the road and burned rubber home, passing tons of people similar to my Taitung experience. I was happy to see Grace already on her run and Connie and Isabel as I made my way back into T2. My only one hiccup was that I dropped a gel out of my bento box and knew I needed to make up the calories somewhere… but other than that, best ride – ever!
Transition 2 was also go go go. No walking for the weary! Because I was so focused on cutting down my transition times, I vaguely remember someone cheering me on, but can’t for the life of me remember whom!
The run started out pretty cool running through a giant dinosaur egg tunnel, however, after I redid my hair (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and started to run, I panicked and my physical induced asthma (or whatever I have now) kicked in. I couldn’t breath and the more I thought about it, the worse it got. Three times, I tried to run, only to be caught suffocating myself. I can’t explain it. It just happens. The trauma of the swim finally caught up as the adrenaline dried up and the sufferfest began as I realized I had another 21K to run. And then, my big meltdown. I saw my teammates, Evie (cheering me on as always) and JeffW with his bike (omigosh, he’s done? I have another 2+ hours…..). I walked up this giant hill, took even breaths, regrouped, and carried on. In some ways, it’s like my reset button. I have to feel sorry for myself first and wallow a little bit before I become seriously pissed and then steeled determination takes over. It’s like this magical formula and that’s when I know, I will finish, no matter the circumstances. The run was as tough as I predicted. As I ran the first loop, I visualized myself running the second and third loop and somehow, one foot after the other, I was actually running the second and third loops! There was this one hill smack dab in the middle of the course and I honestly had no energy to run it, so I power walked it. This probably worked magic on my glutes and I was amazed how fast I could walk when I put my mind to it! My HR never really spiked to a sustained race pace, so it was my body that was holding me back. Coach says this is probably because of energy deficiency, which I agree with. It was still encouraging as I saw other Tritons on the course and very thankful for their words of encouragement. All I could muster by then was a silent wave.
Coming down the finisher’s chute, I saw my teammates who were amazingly supportive and cheering me on. As soon as I passed the finish line and got my medal and towel, I burst into tears. The accumulation of every struggle, every fight, every frustration, every seed of fear, doubt, and relief came spilling forth with no reservations. And of course, the girls, Mandy, Steph, and Evie, hugging me and asking me if I was alright. So just to lay this out there right now for those who don’t know me, I cry every race. Every. Single. Race. I’m not hurt, I’m not in pain, I’m just overwhelmed.
The big surprise? A PB by 4 seconds on a <censored> hard course. I finished feeling like this was the hardest race – ever, and it was. I even had doubts in my mind about how I would finish Busselton somewhere along the course. But never mind that. As I’m writing this race reflection, I’m thinking that it was a pretty damn fantastic race!! Actually, the whole trip was pretty damn awesome. I am SO grateful and blessed to have had this opportunity and experience. I have to thank SO MANY people!! I am truly inspired.
@DVV forletting me chase my dreams.
@LoloTTCTfor your love and support (wish I jumped earlier for Nice now in hindsight).
@CoachM&Ffor pushing my limits to new heights and allowing me to think in possibilitiesabout myself. Next chapter!
@Evie forbeing an AWESOME roomie and teaching me how to clean my bike (finally).
@Grace for your friendship, encouragement, food, and smiling face. So glad to have had you as a roomie and I wish I could join you for Xiamen! Next time!
@Jer,Connie, Yijia, Isabel for on the ground support, photos, and massivecheerleadering.
@JeffWfor organizing with IM our moment of fame and dealing with translationnightmares.
@Stephfor your fighting spirit and hugs at the end and prepping me for Busso.
@Damofor accompanying me to Busso and your amazing drive at this sport (ignore thekids).
@Shum,James (donuts!), Tyler, Dom forbrilliant coffee stops, yoga poses, yoga offers, and giggles.
@Mandy(sorry, I was 3 seconds late!), Cae, Mark, Fed for our mechanical cow, soju,and helluva international professionals post race celebration. Haven’t laughedthis hard in awhile.
@Paul,Ross, Robbie, for sharing this experience and joining Tritons (and writing theofficial race report).
Now… what’s next? You wouldn’t believe that I’m now committed to Shanghai 70.3 in October before Busselton Full Ironman in December. I keep replaying in my head that I can totally PB a flatter course with decent transitions and I’m seriously looking for redemption on the swim and run. Is this what they call an addiction? Muah-hahaha….
BEYOND THE LINE SWIMRUN
70.3 Pays d'Aix
Tritons Triathlon Club Hong Kong
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The Tritons Triathlon Club, HongKong, was founded in 2009 by athletes who were participating in the IHP Triathlon Training Program.