5 April 2015 – A team from the International Medical University (IMU) won third placing in the male relay category at the Putrajaya Ironman 70.3 race. The team, which consist of medical stduents, Radin Farizuan, Ng Kha Sheng and Eugene Er recounts their experience training for the race and the excitement during the race day. We are medical students from IMU who are enthusiastic in our respective sports. We have been to many running events, cycling and swim races as individuals, but never once a team.
The Putrajaya Ironman 70.3 was one experience we would gladly tell people in detail, not only because we were able to take up the challenge of competing with the name of IMU but also because of the electric atmosphere we were drowned in on race day.
The event was full of dedicated international athletes that showed us what the human body was capable of and we were fuelled with adrenaline to make the most of this opportunity given to us to compete in this race. Work up to Race Day Being medical students packed with classes and assignments as well as postings to various hospitals, we had to work with whatever time we had. Most would find time constraint as a popular excuse to not lead a healthy lifestyle, but our take is that we should always make time to do the things we have to. On several occasions did we have to wake up at 4:45am in the morning to be able to run, cycle or swim out in the cold chilly morning while in Johor for our postings and on some odd days we would even train late in the night just to be able to keep on par with our training schedule. The sense of accomplishment on a day-to-day basis, being able to complete a workout, and getting one step closer to a goal, drives us and despite feeling tired and worn out at the end of the day, we could gladly sleep feeling complete.
Basically committing to this event taught us a lot about managing time and finding those little slots of time to put into good use. It was really a satisfying feeling being able to complete a day where we had sufficiently put enough time for studies, social, and training.
Race Day Jitters 5th April, it all boils down to this. Months of training leading to this one crucial day. We were clearly nervous, pacing back and forth, trying to imagine what we would face taking on our own course in blistering hot sun. We were physically at the top of our game but mentally we could not hold ourselves together. There were moments where we even laughed to ourselves thinking, “Why did we sign up for this?” but it was now or never. An opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime we had to put my head in the game and just go for it. The race started off with Eugene swimming 1.9km while Kha Sheng and Radin were waiting anxiously at the transition area. As soon as Eugene started swimming in the lake, he noticed that he was surrounded in a crowd of swimmers as almost everyone started off at the same time. However, he then swam towards the side of the course so that he could have a clear path to swim ahead and overtake. The water was not cold as he expected but was very warm and clean for lake water. The first 1km of swimming went by pretty quick and soon he reached the halfway mark. During the last 400m of the swim was rather hard,as he was nearing the finishing line look so near in sight but felt so far to swim to in distance. After 25 minutes, the first athlete came up from the water and it was no doubt the world champion leading the race. Eugene came up 3 minutes later as second swimmer in the category and dashed to the transition area to pass the timing chip to cyclist, Ng Kha Sheng, who then started his 90km ride of 2 loops around Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. The first 45km was surprisingly quicker than expectation however the weather was unforgiving, hitting a high of 38 degrees Celsius. Under such condition, Kha Sheng had cramps from the 60km mark, holding him back from maintaining the initial pace, finishing off at 2 hours 58 minutes, placed 8th in the category. Radin then took off with his 21km run at 11:00am. It was a comfortable cruise for about 6-7km until the 11.30am heat started to seep into him. He was getting more and more dazed and with every step he could feel his energy draining much like the charge of an iPhone battery. At this point the only thing driving him was the thought of friends waiting at the finish line to cheer him on. He could not have let himself limping back to a group of energetic friends hoping to see him zoom past – that would’ve been a sight for sore eyes. He kept persisting through and managed his fluid intake more carefully so that he doesn’t get a heatstroke and that he could last the whole 21.1km all the way through. 15km, 16km, 17km it was going by and he could almost feel the end nearing but that’s when he felt a cramp creeping into his left calf. It was coming fast and if not careful he might have had to finish the race with an agonising limp cross the finish line. He paced himself slower so that he could make a strong finish even though the last 4km might have been slow he was happy to go into the last kilometre with a bang. 19km, 20km, 21km! It was done. Radin managed to secure 4th position.
Overall, team IMU managed to get 3rd placing in the male relay category.
Radin Farizuan, the runner for the team, said, “It’s hard to train as an individual without a coach overseeing you or to have a partner that motivates and guides you. There were weeks where I had to find my own motivation and mentally tune myself to continue pushing and keeping track of the training regime. Thankfully for most of the other weeks I had a training partner who, although not always ran alongside me, motivated me when I needed that extra boost and kept my eagerness from overflowing which could have resulted in injury while pushing hard during training.”
“I learnt that, in almost everything we do in life, we would need a companion. Life is a journey meant to be shared, and it is taxing to weather the challenges alone. No matter how independent one might think they might be, friends and family are always essential to weather challenges.”
Eugene agrees and said “My advice to anyone who would like to take this challenge on is train very consistently as having a good stamina is key to doing well in Ironman. Moreover, another piece of advice I would give is that to have someone train alongside with you, as most of my trainings were long distance swims. Having a training partner training alongside you can help motivate you and make sure you don’t lose track of your goals. As sometimes it can quite lonely swimming laps and laps in the pool, having a partner to race beside you definitely helps. Also, keep track of your training daily routines and times.”
“Having a benchmark to compare to is very important as you can see whether any progress is being made. For example , I kept track of the stamina sets I did as the timings I achieved in each session. Lastly, for training do a variety of exercises instead of a same routine every time.”
“Our friends and family members often ask why do we want to endure all the pain while we could just sit home and relax. For the very simple reason, sports is fun! You get to stay active and meet awesome friends who will back you up when you require motivation during trainings. One thing for sure, the mental strength that we gain from enduring all the pain through sports will make us stronger in encountering daily challenges.” said Kha Sheng
“After the excitement has settled down, what is next? Is that all that we want to achieve? Way no! This is just the beginning and we will keep on pushing to improve on our individual fitness and if possible, come back stronger next year and hopefully achieve even a better timing or placing.”