Last weekend I made my first trip to Asia for the Bintan 70.3 triathlon. It was a quick visit but well worth it. I wanted to get in another race before the qualification period for Kona ended. I thought I would be able to get the points needed in Ironman Canada...but I also didn't think it was going to be 40 degrees and rainy! So, the only races left were in Ecuador and Indonesia. I went for the cheaper option, a flight to Singapore was $700 less than one to Ecuador. I almost psyched myself out of the journey when I realized there was a ferry involved and two different countries. I had visions of boat rides I've taken in other countries that are open air and choppy and scary. However, I quickly realized, this is 70.3 race, not ITU style! Hundreds of people with bikes way nicer than mine were making the journey from Singapore to the island of Bintan in Indonesia, too. And, the ferry looked like a train inside and served drinks.
I arrived to Singapore early Friday morning and slept at a hotel in Changi. This happens to be where a lot of people ride and run in Singapore. It was on the coast and had been somewhat recently undergone an urban renewal project which created a boardwalk and path and beautiful park. I stumbled upon it on my run and almost didn't even feel like I had just flown 24 hours to get there.
Later in the morning I made the ferry trip to Bintan. As I described above, it was pretty easy. For $15 I got my first visa to Indonesia and landed on the island. Another big, nice ferry terminal. I realized that ferries are a big thing here! From there I caught a bus to the Bintan Lagoon Resort. On the way I saw two monkeys and some interesting birds and dense trees and bushes. That's when it hit me - I'M IN THE JUNGLE!! Triathlon has taken me many places but this one was definitely the most unique.
When we got to the resort and I saw tons of people with golf bags, I suddenly got tons of pictures of the golf course in my head...I worked on a story for T+L Golf about it! There is a Nicklaus course there that is really pretty. It's a quick weekend golf destination for people from Singapore.
I settled into my room and assembled my bike and went to be early. The next day I got up and swam at the hotel beach. Perfect water. Then I headed over to the expo in the heat. We got our numbers and instructions and then it was time to start prepping for the race the next day. I know, I didn't give myself much time!!
On race morning we had a 4:30am shuttle to take us to the race venue 12k away. I don't do well on buses and it was SO hot and stuffy. I immediately got carsick. I texted Bec and she just said, CLOSE YOUR EYES. DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PHONE AGAIN. I followed her advice and by the time I got to the transition area I started feeling better. Pre-race buses are not my thing!! Just a note, if you are planning to do this race, there is a hotel at the venue that requires no bus.
I got my things together and headed to the start. The swim venue was beautiful and in calm, clear water. It was a bit hazy and hard to see the buoys so I started off going the wrong direction. I got back on course and found myself next to Gina Crawford. I led us for a while and then realized I could not see anything and let her go around me since I thought she might know the course better. So, thanks Gina for navigating! We exited the water almost 2 minutes ahead of the next girls. I got on my bike and started trying to execute my plan of going hard for the first 25k. But at the first big hill, my legs were dead. Gina came screaming by me, doing the type of climbing I usually do when I'm riding my road bike hard. I tried to respond but nothing... I just put my head down and tried to hold off the rest of the field. About an hour in to the race, Cait Snow caught me. This was the part of the race where things got very interesting. The race directors had sent each of us out with a motorcycle escort, which I thought was odd until we got to the interior of the island. Chaos! We were no longer in resort land, but real Indonesian living. I was pedaling hard but I did take the opportunity to look and see my surroundings. The road looked as if it were freshly paved and was twisty, turny and hilly. Cait and I went back and forth for about an hour through dogs, scooters, people, and chickens! It was scary, but also fun and entertaining. When we came to a village there were kids enthusiastically cheering us on. I threw out my Osmo water bottle to them as a souvenir - it was like a crowd going for a home run ball. I think we really made their day and it was cool to see the kids so happy and excited.
After the hilly bit we came to a flat section and my legs, which had come around for the hills, were dead again. Cait dropped me after about 10 minutes and I was on my own for the rest of the way, losing a lot of time. I knew my power wasn't where it usually is and my foot started hurting badly, which has never happened. I told myself not to let those things bother me and just keep going. I started the run in 4th and had no idea how far behind I was. It was hot, but I loved it. However, I took a step and realized the foot pain was still there like a stabbing in my arch. For 6 miles I just did my best to ignore it. We ran around a lake three times. It was flat with no shade but the back half of the lake had a strong wind. It was a headwind but felt so good and really cooled me down. I really didn't know what was going on with my foot (never felt that before) and wanted to stop and look at it. But, right about then, Candice Hammond came storming by. I tried to maintain the gap but that second lap was rough. When we went through for the last lap, suddenly my foot stopped hurting (maybe it finally stretched out?). I started pretending everyone around me were girls in my race and ran by them one by one. Then halfway through the lap I could see Candice. I couldn't believe how good I was feeling, and started running the pace I actually trained for. I caught Candice and she stuck with me for about 2k. With 1k to go I surged and thought of the 3:30 1k repeats I did in training. I thought, I can do just one of those, and there's no way anyone can stay with me. It worked and I crossed the line with a minute to spare. Huge props to Candice who has a 5 month old baby!! She put up a strong fight and made me work hard. Having a race at the end made me remember how much I love head to head racing and fighting for every second.
I want to say a huge thank you to the fans along the course for cheering for me by name! I couldn't believe I was in Indonesia and people knew my name. Thank you if you are reading this!! Also, many, many thanks to the MetaMan team of race organizers. They put on a flawless show and looked after the professional athletes extremely well. I hope to come back to more of their races. I was one place away from the podium, (again!!), but Gina, Cait and Katey had great performances - congrats to them!
After the race, I packed up my stuff (special thanks to Cait for helping!!) and got back on the ferry to Singapore. I met up with a friend of a friend- basically just turned up at her doorstep - thank you Phing for taking me in!! She took me all around Singapore and to a late night dinner of Indian food. Spicy, fried things and cold drinks. I slept one hour and then got on a flight to Tokyo and then LA. I am still tired, but it was worth it!
Check out my instagram: @athletestyle for more pictures from my travels. I tried to keep everyone posted along the way. I'm still awaiting news on Kona qualification, but you can't say I didn't try!