On Thursday, the day after the launch of Alaska teamTBB in Manila, I finally got flights booked to Thailand, for the Koh Samui International Triathlon, to fly out the following day. I spent the rest of Thursday getting my bike race-ready. Many thanks to Glenn Colendrino at Primo Cycles for my race tune.
I arrived at Koh Samui late Friday afternoon, quickly put my Cervelo P3 together, and jumped in the ocean for a nice easy swimmy. The ocean was warm and it felt great and relaxing to rest and float. Was pretty tired from camp activities, excitement of Team launch in Manila, packing, and now travelling, so felt pretty good laying down and going to sleep after swimmy for a very welcome rest.
Saturday after race registration I looked forward to some relaxing, but a head stem screw snapped when I assembled my bike on Friday – plus my front derailleur had received a bang in transport and needed some adjustment to stop it rubbing on one side. A day of super-frustration ensued.
After much effort I gave up trying to fix the head-stem bolt – I just carefully torqued-down the remaining three screws and hoped for the best. As it was this worked, and there were no further problems. I got it fixed when I got back to Manila after the race.
But the front derailleur went from bad to worse. The Koh Samui race mechanic played with both adjustment screws (why both??), then proceeded to play with the front derailleur cable attachment. After this “expert” intervention the front changer would change down, but would not change back up. I had gone backwards!
Argghhhhh, no Stuey this time to help me out but he was trying his best on the phone from Manila with evident frustration to help me.
At the 11th hour teamTBB teammate Aaron Farlow kindly lent a helping hand. But we agreed that any more tinkering might make it worse yet again, so we left it in the big ring. Aaron and I headed-off to race briefing.
Some very different rules for this race and with no road closures, and no dog, cow, sheep, cattle or chook control! It was going to be an interesting day. The roads were rough, had concrete cracks, and we were issued with a small plastic disposable cup that we carried with us on the run to get drinks. I wrote “cup” on my hand so I would not forget it!
Feeling a bit challenged by my race environment/bike technical problems I put money in my race belt, plus some Allen keys in case my front changer totally jammed. All set, I was first to transition to get organized race morning.
A solid swim coming out of the water 3rd, just behind Kate Bevilaqua, whom I swam behind the whole way. Caroline was about a minute in front, and the pack was about a minute behind. I was a little nervous out of T1, concerned about having only 3 bolts holding my bars, and having a badly compromised front changer on my bike.
Given this I eased slowly in to the ride, which took several kilometers, also giving the chase group a chance to catch me.
I ground up the hills in my big chain ring – those hills stung a little, but I love hills and figured it was worth keeping the bike in the big chain ring. The flats and down hills would be very tedious and slow spinning with a small front ring. If I could survive the hills the big chainring gave me the best chance of staying in contact with the chase group.
There were some technical sections early on in the course and I came close to coming off on a tight left turn. I was leading the group down a long steep descent that had a sharp turn at the bottom. I overshot the mark, the back wheel slid out sideways several metres, but I managed to stay upright and make my way back through the spectators, animals, motorbikes and yelling officials to catch back up. Close one.
In the ride my bod started deteriorating at about 60km, yep only half way in, as I’d lost my salt tabs at some point and the aid stations had only been handing out Coke for hydration – some of the pro-girls were screaming “WATER! WATER! WATER!” at the top of their voices at the aid stations, but it seems the message was not understood. I started to cramp like never before, noting of course that the weather was very hot.
It was too early in a ride for such painful cramps, they were in my hands, my feet, my hamstring muscles, in my stomach muscles plus my stomach. Quite odd places too, persistent and painful. I just did my best riding with the chase group.
Braking down some hills was scary with my hands cramping, but going up them on lap two of the course was a relief, to stretch out my stomach and legs. I ended up with only one bottle of water for the 120km, not really enough, but I’m used to the heat and am often dehydrated. The problem was the litres of Coke I consumed.
Despite these problems I finished the ride with the chase group, and was well positioned to match it with the other girls in the run.
My cramping was particularly bad in T2 when I attempted to put my shoes on. Belinda, Carrie and Jo were gone in a flash out of T2 and all I could do was struggle with the cramping and wait for the spasms to subside. I finally got my shoes on and gulped down some water I had in my T2 bag. I was ready to run and chase them down.
Ummmm, nup. Every attempt to run was confronted with pain and sickness in my gut , nausea and cramping. I tried and tried again in the first few km’s to run; a nice French support lady got off her motor bike to walk with me at about the 5km mark. Not long after I puked and puked and puked. Litres of coke on the ground, a grand unload, yuk, but so good to get it out.
After refusing a lift to Thai hospital and sugar cubes(???) the same nice French lady kindly went in search of something to help me hydrate. At the 10km mark she came back with something like gastrolyte, all mixed up in a bottle ready to go. Down in went.
At the run turn-around point, 15-16km, my stomach settled and I ran again. I realized that I was still in 9th place, still in for some $$, “keep it going” a little voice in my head urged. As I ran back to town the competitors were few and far between, the locals were in full force, and my somewhat absurd ”drinking cup” was no longer relevant – even shop owners were coming out to hand me water … bottled water!! So good.
The nice French lady was so excited she saw me running (not walking) when I got to her “area” again; she yelled something in French, positive I think. About 4-5km to go, my tummy bloated again, and I was running on empty. I was pretty over the whole race by this point and just wanted to finish. I walked in to finish in my virgin ON running shoes, all done.
No presentation for me that night, straight to the hotel to pack and to try and feel better for an early flight to Manila the next morning. Congrats teamTBB on the awesome double win, Dave and Caroline, 2nd for Carrie running super strong, and 6th for Aaron.
This race had character; I’ve learnt a few things about my bike, my body and racing in Thailand – I will return next year. I loved the weather.
Thank you to race director, Gerald Iacono, the volunteers, an emphatic “merci” to my friend the special French lady; and my sponsors, Alaska Milk, Cervelo, Campagnolo, 3T, 2XU, John Cobb (he has made me oh so comfy on the bike now), On Running shoes, Hamilo Coast, and Brett and Alex for making my race possible.
I am now back in Pico de Loro, welcomed back by the locals and ready to tackle a solid consistent block of training.