As a traveler, some days are so completely relaxed that wicked abberant ideas seep into your brain, similar to sipping a cold coke through a straw after a long bus ride over the hills of Rajasthan. It just goes in and down so smoothly, feeling so refreshing, that every bit of the idea, or the coke for that matter, feels right.
Our idea to compete in the MetaMan Triathlon in Bintan was precisely a cold coke through a straw. Out of nowhere, we had signed ourselves up for a new, exciting and refreshing challenge. For Rob that meant a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike and a 21.10 km run, the distances for the 1/2 IronMan. For me, a smaller sip, the Blitz Category, which is a 1.2km swim, 55km bike, and a 7km run.
The setting: Bintan, Indonesia in Lagoi Bay. If you google the area, you can see why I easily went along with this idea. The beaches of Lagoi are gorgeous, resort like for certain. So, our first step was complete, the sign up. Now, as we sat in our warm damp bungalow on a beach in Koh Tao, almost a thousand dollars down, we needed to make a plan. We had exactly 2.5 weeks to train and make it to Indonesia, all while still exploring destinations such as the south of Thailand, Penang, KL and Singapore. The task was not that simple. It actually meant that we needed to give up going to some of the destinations I really wanted to travel to again, like Krabi and Koh Lanta. But, it had to be done. And as you see in my previous blog posts, we still had a lot of fun, in even short spans of time.
We trained mostly while we were in Malaysia and Singapore. In Penang, Malaysia, we actually found an Olympic sized pool to swim in, which was great, minus its affinity for certain “shower offerings”. Once in Singapore, we had to arrange bikes, the ferry and our stay in Lagoi. This time, our rash coke like decision, came up like heartburn. Lagoi doesn’t just look resorty, it IS resorty. Lagoi is totally the weekend getaway for rich Singaporeans, meaning there are no cheap hotels for backpackers and certainly not a hostel in sight. There are only resorts. We thought we could get a place in Tanjung Penang, in the south of the island, but to trek up North the morning of the race would have been impossible. So we searched and searched for a decent place that was not 300 USD a night. In the end, we found a hotel for $70 a night, still way out of our budget, but it was our only choice, especially being so last-minute.
Our split decision was beginning to hurt our pocket more than planned. But, our hands were already on the bottle, so we decided that we better make it worth it and kick complete ass at this Triathlon. The day of the race, we ate our protein bars, drank our salty drinks, and headed out to the beach with big smiles and a gut full of both nerves and determination. Rob’s group went first. So I stood nearby, wishing him luck and watching him get all geared up for the long race ahead, jumping up and down with all the other crazies to the beat of electronic music and the enthusiastic voice of our Aussie host. The moment had arrived. Boom. Into the water he went.
After seeing him off, the realization that I was about to also dive into the ocean with hundreds of others, racing towards the other side of the bay, became very real. Shit, I thought. I hope I don’t get kicked in the mouth. With my nerves rushing vigorously through me, I slowly walked up to the starting gate. I decided that I would stay in the back of the start gate with the other newbies. My goal was simply to finish the race, not to win it. Soon, I heard the twang of our announcer, and saw those in front of me jumping up and down, just as Rob had. I did a little hobble, just to not feel so nervous. And suddenly, I was diving in. Feet at my head, arms at my side, feet behind me, all but four being my own. Now, I regretted staying in the back. Fighting my way forward, I finally came to an open space where I had room to actually swim. One by one, I began passing both men and women. It felt good. To my surprise, I was amongst some of the first contestants out of the water. I swim better than I thought! And then off to throw on my tennis shoes and find my rental bike, whose gears I have no clue how to really work. Perfect. Keeping up a good pace, I hopped on and went for it. For some reason, I had thought that being on an island, the bike part would be rather flat, but it most definitely was not. I was cranking up really long ascents. The bike ride for me was the most difficult part. But, it was also the best because local children and whole families stood on the side of the road, cheering each of us on, with big smiles and warm hearts. A little over an hour and a half later, exhausted, I rode my bike back into the stalling. Now, off to my favorite part, the RUN. Here is where my competitive spirit really kicked in. With every one of the seven miles I ran, I tried to not let anyone pass me. Instead, I tried to only pass others. One by one, I knew I was shedding numbers. And by mile 7, I came in 90th place out of 425 contestants.
With a ridiculously large smile on my face, I searched for a place to sit. Rob was beginning the run part of his race, which meant time for food, water and rest for me. So, I sat near the finish line, happy, waiting for my fit-ass husband to come running in! Rob came in 49th out of 284 contestants! We did it!
Thank goodness for coke.