Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ironman Korea - The Perfect Storm

Let's dealt with my part of the race first, just to warn you, it will be painful.
High Wind
On the day of the Ironman Korea, I woke up before dawn, psyching myself up for the big day. I couldn't feel more ready, the wetsuit had been the final piece of jigsaw, it was very restrictive on the first two times I wore it in Hong Kong. But in the practice session the morning before I finally feel the wetsuit had been wore-in, I cruised through one loop of the swim course (I have to do two loops in the race) without feeling out of breath. The wetsuit had really helped me glide through the water.

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Walking out of the hotel, the wind was strong and I knew it would be a rough sea out there. In fact the afternoon before, when I headed back to the beach, the wave had already been picking up. Descending the cliffside staircase to Chungmun Beach, I can see the swirling sea was brewing up a perfect surfing conditions. However none of the participants I met on the way were worried, in fact we were all eager for the challenge. This would make a perfect adventure, I thought.
Soon I got into the my wetsuit and headed out for a warm up, I swam about 200m out and could body surf back on to the beach, literally punched a few people on their way out in a Superman position.
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Angry Sea
Soon we gathered on the beach to wait for the start, at this point the sea was getting increasingly restless, the lifeguards out there couldn't even maintain their jet-ski and kayak in positions, the organiser delayed the start for 10 mins. 10 mins gone and we had no comfort but downpour, a few distant thunder and few gigantic waves that makes us wonder if we will survive the day. Then came the heartbreaking news, the lifeguard had declared the sea condition to be unsuitable for the race and they will cancel the swim leg of the Ironman, it would be a dualthalon. Brothers, you couldn't understand the pain it felt at the time, after 3 months of training and I am to play no part in the event.
The Vengeance
From that point Ironman has became a training camp for me, there were 12 unfortunately souls like me that day, most of them staff relay athletes, 6 of us gather back onto the beach half an hour later after the bikers have departed and we decided to finish the job that we come to do, even without lifeguards. Lead by a Chris Werner, a former German national swimmer and Ju Wei a current Singapore national swimmer, we charged into raging sea. A UK guy got hit by a wave and did a 360, he turned back after fighting through a few more waves. I struggled forward to keep up with the others, and after a while I completely lost sight of them. Swimming alone in an undulating water surface, I felt like a boat in The Perfect Storm. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but sometimes I was swimming upward and sometime I got thrown off a wave and slam face flat onto a trough. Eventually I felt less and less comfortable on my own and headed back. When I was back on the beach I realised I was out there for a full hour, and probably covered the distance of only half a loop. Michael the organiser of the Relay race was having a heart attack, as the other four is no where in sight. They eventually made it back 15mins later, a full loop completed. The two national swimmers headed out for their second loop.
Well I couldn't come back and say that I did the 3.8km but at least I have been out there and took up a battle.
coming up next: Ironman Korea - The pinnacle of Human Spirit

4 comments:

ahdont said...

i would have given you shit and a hell of a lecture and spat on you if you didn't even give it a try and take up the good fight. but under such extreme conditions and with all these devotions in your training and finally facing your own challenge, i must give you credits. i truly respect you afterall.
for your character, i doubt that you could sit down quietly, you must have ran or cycle or did something while you were there... waiting.
you know you can't have a perfect year after all the races you have done in hong kong. there's always another challenge.
by the way, i want my reading material ready for tomorrow morning which is night time over there.

Gabs Lau said...

what a guess, yes, I did not sit still, but the next blog post is not about me, but about all the other brave men and women out in the race. coming to a computer screen near you tonight!

Alex said...

First I would like I'm sorry that mother nature didn't allow you and the others to swim, but at the sametime I'm so damn proud of you for trying.

Hey maybe this is a sign that both of us should spend all of our free time over the next 24 months perparing for the full ironman in 2008 at Lake Placid.

Like I said before I do have an extra room for any visitor.

I only live 4 hours away from Lake Placid.

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