CTC iron triathlon for 2014 was announced at the start of the month of November to be held on 20,21 December. As soon as I saw the poster I dropped a mail to Peter to ask him if it was possible to conduct the full and half iron on saturday just like any international event, just to make sure we had a rest day before starting the next work week. I was pleased to see him accept the suggestion and announced the triathlon date on 20th December. My swimming preparations were in full swing. Even before registering I tried a full 4km swim and noted my timing it was 2:20, same as international cut-off for swim of 3.9km and then registered and regularly practiced and noted my timing was going lesser and lesser and it was 2:10 one week before the event. I was pretty much sure of meeting the international cut-off time for swim during the event.
December 19th was our family day function from our office at Grand Chola. I was playing guitar for seven-song medley sung by our colleagues along with Karthick on Keyboard. We were there at the hotel even from the morning for the rehearsals. And meantime, Peter had arranged for road bikes for all full-iron triathletes from Pro-bikers and I had to collect it on the same day(day before the event) and I had to wait there for about 2 hours while they checked the roadie for me and was getting it ready, around 6 , I reached my home with the cycle, had Balaji waiting at my house for picking me up for the function as it would be late if I had to get back to office to get my pulsar, then managed to reach on time for our performance, played well and loaded carbs during the dinner and reached home by 9:30 and Bharathi also reached around the same time. I had packed all my things for the event a day before and so straight away hit the bed and had a good sleep. “When I woke up, I realized that I had left my swimsuit and cycling shorts at my hometown and had not picked up my cycle from the shop and I felt sad and later consoled myself that it’s ok and I could become ironman the next time” , having dreamt like this I woke up. It felt strange. I used to get dreams like missing the exams even now once in a while, so I thought it is okay and did not tell Bharathi about it and got ready, said my prayers “Lord, please help me to complete this ironman and come back to church next morning for the carols, if Your will.. ”
We reached ottiambakkam with Bharathi carrying the cycle in my bike, around 5:45. Then we changed to our swimsuits and got into the pool to get used to water after a warmup and then after few do’s and dont’s from Peter and Rahul, we plunged into the water for our swim leg. For full iron we had to do 13 loops of 150m to and fro. I was at my comfortable pace doing breaststroke ,at 12th loop while returning back I felt a slight pull in my calf muscles of the left leg, as I had my feet stretched open throughout the 1.5hrs of swim thus far. I reached the ropes stood there and relaxed my calf muscles by making a waving fin like action with my feet. I completed my swim leg with my personal best and well within international cut-off (2:20) in 2hrs. I felt very happy and great having completed the swim leg so easily and well within my target. It was 8:36 when I got out of water and heard from Bharathi that swim started around 6:35.
Then I got into my cycling suit and my next target was to complete this leg in 9hrs including all the breaks so that I could complete within international cut-off of 17hrs and also get some sleep in the night before catching the next day morning flight. In fact I had spoken to Mani and he had agreed to arrange a stay for me in his home and take me to the airport after waking me up at 4’o clock in the morning. I started cycling around 9’o clock after having sandwiches and some fruits. I started well and was going good, 1 or 2km just before reaching Thiruporur, back wheel got punctured and I did not notice till 100m or so from the aid station and luckily there was a cycle mechanic from Pro-bikers and I re-freshed myself while he set the cycle right, then I started again at 10:10 and when I reached the U-turn point it was 11:20 at Thirukalunkundram, initially I had planned to take lunch after completing first 90km, but the return from U-turn point was tough due to heavy head-winds and it took a toll on us and when I reached Thiruporur again it was 12:45 and I was drained and decided to take lunch there. It took a while to get back to senses and eat and around 1:15 started again towards infosys, Sholinganallur , reached there by 2:20, then got back to Thiruporur by 3:30, reached Thirukalunkundram by 4:40 and I knew we can reach Ottiambakkam by 7:30 at the max, now I was realistic since I had to take into account the headwinds. Reached Thiruporur by 6 just before the lights faded and thank God I was already in the city before it was dark, Now I was took some break at every 10km and also traffic started to grow and finally managed to reach Ottiambakkam signal by 7:10 and from there it was totally dark till the Agni college and during this short journey, back wheel got punctured again and it was luckily again only 200m or so to the college.
As soon as I reached I gave my cycle to the mechanic there and I was feeling something strange, I was not so comfortable though I had all the energy to complete. First thing was not completing in my target time (actually I missed headwinds, traffic and puncture breaks in my equation) , second thing was the fact that I learnt the running track was not lit so well and I have always been afraid of stray dogs, third thing was cough and infected nostrils due to drinking some water from the pool during swim, and the last was the next day flight and how much sleep I could get for the next day’s keyboard performance for carols. Even before starting the run, I told Peter and volunteers that I am planning to quit as I am afraid of dogs and I had no torch lights. So they arranged a cycle marshal for me. It was Allwin and he came with me through the first loop and we finished it in 1:20 comfortably by walk/jog as he accompanied me in cycle and he gave a good company and I was like I could walk/jog any distance in that climate, with a cycle marshal like him, then had some sandwich and again started 2nd loop, this time venki came with me for marshal, went well till 19km , it was 10:20 when I started to vomit and sat for 2 minutes when two drunk localites came and started speaking some non-sense to us about running all day in their village, as if they were responsible and we were irresponsible, I also realized that it could take another 3.5 hrs and running in this climate could only make the condition of my nostrils and throat worser, it was time to decide and the rest is history as my FB status read on the other day
“Completed 3.9k swim 180k cycling n 19k run in 15:50hrs without injury/cramp n had good amt of energy,at 19km started vomiting n realised i had got my nostrils n throat infected as i drank some water from open waters during swim, then had 2 options.1. To continue to walk after few mins of rest n complete remaining 23km which could take 3.30 at max in my walking pace,, tat means i cud complete 40 mins b4 cutoff 2.30am, risking my body condition further. 2. To quit n pull 4 hrs sleep b4 morning 6.30 flight so that i can justify my flight tkt bukd n perform well in carol service at church. I told myself “you know you can complete the rest just by walk n walking the rest was a mere formality n hence it is better to choose 2nd option” and i announced i quit. I must apologize to all ctc volunteers esp. venky n alwin, bharathi mani balaji n gokul for not completing it despite ur efforts in helping me n also thank them for bringing me this close to ironman. For ironman title, better luck next time “