Race Report – Hoohathlon 19 June 2011




After last nights disaster, I was hoping that today was free from drama. We arrived at the venue to pick up our race gear at about 6:15. As soon as I arrived, a few people had come up to me and asked, ‘are you Reza Ali’? Unbelievably, it turns out that they were actually people who follow my blog. So for a few brief moments I became a celebrity. The organisers were very enthusiastic about me turning up and had asked if they could interview me. I obliged (which was a big mistake) as I was rambling on and on. I can’t actually remember what I said. I hope the soundbytes are good. This is not the time to look like an idiot.

The most exciting thing for me during the pre race prep was getting my arms marked with my race number. I was told that I was the first one to register so I was given the race number ‘2001’ which I thought was quite cool.

After all that, it was time for me to start preparing my transition area. My bike (being racer 2001) was stationed right at the front near the bike exit area. We had gone through the transition area setup during the Triathlon Clinic and I was eager to put it into practice.


So this is my transition strategy:

Outfit for the whole race- Learner Top, 2XU tri shorts.

Swim – Goggles and the hoohathlon cap as well as my SPeedo Thinswim 1.0. I decided to wear this so that I can wear my Learner Top under it. It’s not tight enough for me to wear during the swim

Bike – Speedo Thinswim off, race belt on,sunglasses on, helmet on, my Nike Free running shoes on so that I can use the toe strap pedal and I don’t have to change shoes, a buff around my neck and another on my wrist. The one on my neck is so that I can cover my mouth during the bike leg. I noticed that stuff can get into your mouth sometimes. The buff on my wrist is to help me wipe my sweat off.

Run – Helmet off, calf compressor on, 2XU visor on and start running

So my transition station was planned accordingly and was looking quite neat.


Now it’s time to get ready to start. I was feeing quite ok at this point. I was thinking that the 150m is very manageable. I was part of the second wave of swimmers and as the first wave were flagged off I was feeling quite confident.

I got into my gear and started to put the swim cap on as well as my Speedo Thinswim. As the time got nearer for me to start I was still feeling confident and very optimistic.

I got into the water (luckily no dive start today) and waited patiently whilst testing my goggles to make sure there were no water. The temperature was just nice and I hung onto the platform trying to focus on the swim. When the horn went off, I waited patiently until everyone had left and I started the swim. Lina was also in the same wave as me and she was going to swim with the kickboard. When I started swimming I could just catch at the corner of my eye her struggling to move forward with the kickboard. I heard some commotion at behind me and I knew she was in distress. I turned around and swam back to the platform trying to find out if she was ok. There were plenty of people to offer assistance and when I was sure she was ok I started to swim again.

Swimming in the fresh water lake was strange as I soon discovered there was hardly any buoyancy at all. I don’t understand why but I can feel my heart started racing. I switched to the breaststroke in an attempt to relax but that didn’t seem to work as well. Just 30m out water had seeped into mu goggles and I had to hang onto the safety jet ski whilst I adjusted my goggles. Once done I started to swim again for the first platform just 20m away. Again, my heart rate went up and I had to switch back to breaststroke. When I got to the first platform I hung onto it for dear life. I was by now having difficulty breathing even with the breaststroke. After resting for about a minute I started to swim again this time heading for the second platform. Again, no freestyle, just the breaststroke. I got to the second platform quite ok. I was not last (but I was close to being last). When it came to swim to the final platform I hesitated twice and had to get back to the platform after only 2m.

By now i was getting quite depressed. I was thinking that if I had this much difficulty swimming 150m how on earth am I going to do the 750m in July? After some moments of contemplation I decided I got to end this drama and just swim for the final platform. I alternated between the freestyle and the breaststroke and managed to swim to the final platform in one piece. I was helped out of the water by the volunteers and I ran through the shower area and headed for the transition area.

Time for 750m swim – 9:00 ish


The first transition went quite smoothly for me and I was not going to rush it. I got my swimming gear off and my bike gear on. I reckon I must have spent about 2 minutes in the transition area. Time for the bike leg


The bike leg was by far the most enjoyable leg for me today. This is the first time I can really put my bike training to the test. I had gone though the route last night in the car and I knew there were going to be 3 hills I have negotiate with the last hill being (a flyover) being the the toughest. I was alone most of the time and I can see lots of other cyclist returning from the halfway point. I did manage to overtake a few riders though. It’s not much but it was still a thrill. Hill 1 was ok. Hill 2 was ok. Hill 3 was slightly challenging but not as tough as I thought it would be. I got to the transition area in one piece.

I really enjoyed the bike leg (did I say that already)

Time for 10km bike – 23:57


I got off the bike and started to get ready for the run. 2 problems came up. Firstly, I realised that if I wanted to put my calf compressors on, I would have to take my shoes off. I should have put it on in T1. Secondly, my running shoes were soggy from the swim. These 2 things were not major issues for me but it’s something I have to change for my next triathlon.


The run was interesting. I had done lots of brick bike/run workouts and was feeling confident about the run. Somehow, I stopped to walk at least 5 times. This is something that has been happening a lot in running events lately. I can run continuously very confidently during training but I found that I cannot run like that during races. Something is going on in my mind I think and it feels as if I am not willing to just let go (it’s probably the same thing with swimming).

When I reached the half way point, my left leg started to act up. I can feel a pain in my left ankle and I had developed cramps in the same leg which slowed me down considerably. I stopped to do some stretching just to get the cramps out. I wasn’t running normally from that moment on and I feel like I’m hobbling. My 5th and final walk came about 1.5km from the finishing line and I ran all the way there. Lina had caught up considerably by then and we crossed the finishing line together.

Time for 5km run: 45:10

Well. There you go. My first ever triathlon. Many thanks to Hooha.asia for organising the race especially to new friend Suren, Mr Hooha himself. I had a lot of fun and this was a memorable event for me.

Many thanks to the volunteers as well. Very cheerful bunch who was encouraging me all the way.

Many thanks to friends Terrence, Fern and Shannon for coming to support me.

Many thanks to sponsors TYR, Brooks and Rodalink (who helped me change my tyre tube).

Special mention to Cynthia for inspiring me with her running.

And of course to Lina for continuously showing the meaning of courage.


For other race reports, here’s an interesting one from fellow hoohathlete Grace.. Good job Grace. I wish I could swim like you…….

5 thoughts on “Race Report – Hoohathlon 19 June 2011

    • Thanks Malcolm. FInishing was a real thrill and though riding 10km and running 5km is something I’m used to, there’s nothing like the joy of finishing. Swimming will just be something I have to conquer. Nobody said it was going to be easy eh?

  1. Google-d “Hoohathlon” & rezaalireactivated was one of few on the results list. Nice work! You Did It! First you dreamed it, Then believed it — It’s not surprising.. With all that hard work & devotion.. YOU achieved it!


  2. Hey Reza! Thanks for the mention! You know, with all the trouble you had in your swim, you still finished faster than I did! If you’re ever in my neck of the woods (FRIM), give me a buzz – there’s a natural 25 m pool at Templer’s Park that would be great to do laps in and build confidence swimming in murky water. We might also be able to persuade Raymond Tan (a swim coach who was at the Hoohathlon) to give us some tips on swimming in the sea. Great work – keep it up!

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