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First Triathlon Story - Completing a Triathlon at 49

Khor Woh HockI am turning 50 this year and I have always wanted to do a Triathlon to keep myself fit & healthy.

I was diagnosed with diabetes 5 years ago. After that I went through a period of extreme exercise and careful diet. I lost almost 15kg in three months. When I went back to my doctor, he tested me again and found that my diabetes was miraculously healed. However my doctor advises me to continue with my lifestyle change in my exercise and diet.

To maintain what I have achieved I begin to take up various sports like weight lifting, cycling, running, biking and swimming. However my doctor advises me that if I want to get the maximum benefit out of my exercise, occasionally I need to exercise to my limit. The one sport that I could think of is all 3 sports in Triathlon which will really push you to your limit.

But the thought of having to do all 3 sports one after another without resting was just too much for me to stomach. However I was still very keen to do it and I began to read and research about it and found the website Triathanewbie.com which was really helpful. I read with great interest especially the column ‘First Triathlon Stories”. All these stories about people competing in their 1st triathlon and their experience really inspire me to do my 1st Triathlon. With the support of my wife, Mei and my children I begin my training at the beginning of 2012.

The greatest concern I had is my running. I had knee operation on both my knees few years back because of the meniscus plica and since then I have not been doing too much running as I am afraid that the pain might tear the plica again. I check with my gym trainer, Fredrik Carlswärd and he began to do devise a plan for me to strengthen the core muscle and the muscles around my legs. This really helps in my running and biking.

I set my target of doing at least one triathlon in 2012 and as I am based in Cambodia, the nearest race is in Malaysia – the Port Dickson International Triathlon. As a beginner I just want to complete in a Sprint Distance and test my stamina, endurance and strength to finish it.

The night before the race, I could not really sleep. I told my wife that I was nervous of the swimming. I have been swimming in the pool all this while. Swimming for 1500m in the pool is not a problem for me and swimming 750m in open will not be a problem for me, so I thought initially. In March I participated in the Mekong River swim which was only about 800m. This was my first open water swim and I was in for a shock. I almost gave up half way through the swim. I found out the hard way that swimming in open water is so much different from pool swim. However this also opens up the opportunity for me to realise that I need to train in open water which I did.

I woke up early the morning of the race. Pack all my stuff in a plastic bag and ride to the registration area and had my numbering done. I arrange all my stuff in the Transition area, then off to warm up at the beach.

The night before there was heavy rain and the organizer told us that this morning the water will be rough as it will be high tide and the waves will be strong. This makes me really nervous as this is my first long distance open sea swim. When the swim start everyone rushes into the water, I took my time to walk to the water and started swimming. I was kicked and punched by swimmers in different directions that I decided to slow down and let them go through. Then I started swimming at my pace and complete the swim. When I came out of the water my family and relatives were there to cheer me on.

Moving to T1 took more time that I should have as I was wearing my HR monitor, gloves, helmet and shoes to start of the Bike race. I really enjoyed the biking. It was just 20km and the organizer and police did a good job in opening up the road for the biking. The course was simple with a few slopes up some hills.

Coming back to T2 and continuing into the run was fast as I do not need to change shoes. I started running in a pace that I am comfortable with. However my shin began to get painful. The run were through some on road and off road track with some slope which make it a little bit more challenging. I stop and walked twice due to the pain in my shin before continuing to complete my race.

When I came into the Finish line, my family and relatives were there to cheer me and my wife gave me a big kiss say “You did it”. I just said “Praise the Lord” that I manage to finish it in below 2 hours which was my target. I am also proud of myself for completing it. My next target is to train for an Olympic Distance race next year.

The thing I learn from all the training and the race is to listen to your body and keep the consistency in your training to be better prepared for the race. And lastly, the support of your family and friends is also very important and invaluable especially to your mental preparedness. Happy Tri!

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