I had nasi briyani, nasi lemak, akok and ketupat palas. Perrghhh... sedap giler beb... I love race day because i can eat a lot more than any other day. Important for glycogen and salt build-up mahhh.... haha....
After breakfast about 7am we went straight to Marang jetty to register. Unfortunately, Mr Chan came 3 hours later and started the registration process at 10am. Shisshhhh..... what a waste of time and the waiting game made us lethargic.
We reached Pulau Kapas about noon and checked-in. the room was cosy enough for five of us. The weather was scorching hot, humid and unkind, so we took a short nap. At about 2pm, we woke as our stomach was growling already.
However, IM Azmar nih gatal sket... he suggested we take a stroll to the other side of the island and claimed that we'll have McDonald for lunch. Haha.. Nice try buddy... he also forgot to tell us that the journey to heaven include two very steep climbs and most of us were equipped with selipar jepuns only. Urgghhh... hungry, hot and selipar jepuns were definitely a concoction for a disaster.
After almost 40 mins of trekking, we decided not to continue and turned back. Well, we failed to get McChicken for lunch and instead of training for swimathon, we got an extra dose glimpse of what Xterra could offer.
We got back to the chalet and set-up the kayak. The kayak was specially brought here so that IM Kam could accompany/escort me personally throughout the swim. hahaha... anak manja... kena babysit larrr...
We had a simple lunch and chit chat while analysing the landing point for tomorrow's race and strategize our approaches. Met Nurina and family at the makan place too.
After makan, IM Stupe, IM SK and IM Azmar swam back and IM Kam kayak. I had to walk again. Honestly, i started to feel the butterfly in the stomach after watching the distance from the island to the mainland. Quite a distance i tell you. It did rang in my mind that whatever i am going to do tomorrow was a nuthead act. Simply crazy. It a case either i am sure about the challenge or i am just oblivious with the challenge ahead. i guess more of the second one as i have no idea how does it feel swimming in an open sea.
Anyway, the boys challenged me to take a dip and head for a buoy which was located about 300m offshore. IM Azmar, IM Kam and me had a body system test (BST). We headed to the buoy and turned back. I came out from the water feeling good. No muscle strain, no anxiety attack and no fear feeling. Good sign. Morale boosting.
Later, we had a briefing with the organiser followed-up with carbo-loading dinner. IM SK checked his iPhone 3G.. yeah, his proud new iPhone 3G for weather forecast and it did not sounded good. Weather was forecasted to be raining for the next three days in Kuala Terengganu which is a stone throw away from Marang. Thus, we should expect added challenges should the weather turned bad, sweeping current, bigger waves etc. It was making me more nervous. haiyaaahh....
i slept very early. 830pm dah masuk gol. I really needed the rest cos i know my body require at least 8 hours of sleep before any long distance event.
I woke at 5am. After 2 rounds of toilet visits and solat, we prepped up for the race day. We had a quick breakfast, lined up our bags at the jetty and had our body marked. Me, no 272.
Photo at the starting line is a must. Haha.... Mejar kalam, Nurina, Danial, Azmar, SK, me, stupe and azmar's friend. During the race briefing, we were told that two of the six buoys had been swept away last nite. Jeezzzz... i thought... you can see many of them were smirking or surprised to listen to the news. Something ugly was brewing in the sky and under the sea. haha...
We were told that there will be about 230 participants at the starting line but i have a feeling it's less judging from the number of people there.
The horn went off at 733am and all swimmers were running and splashing into the water. I let them go first. I knew the distance was far and there's no point rushing in. I am not going for podium finishing anyway... haha... I just wanted to know whether i have the courage to swim in the open sea and stay in the water for as long as possible if situation permits.
I started quite well i think, by my standard larr... The waves were also kind as it was not as bad instead i was riding over it going towards marang. The 1:30 hr was good and i think i covered about 3km and truly believed that i could just complete his challenge. However, my lil whisper spoke too soon.
Just when i was feeling i could do it, suddenly, Kam told me that i had drifted quite considerably to the left and heading south. The landing site which was supposed to be on the left side of Mt Fuji suddenly appeared to be on the right side. Pulau Kapas was supposed to be right at my back and now it was on my right side. Danger, danger, danger.Something had gone wrong here. Pulau Kapas was supposed to be parallel with my back, not on my right..!?
My most loyal escort, IM Kam. scanning the horizon and thinking what we should do.
Anyway, i tried battling the current. It was getting stronger and stronger. I got drifted further and further away heading towards the South China Sea..! I could see no jellyfish. Maybe they had been swept away too. haha... All i could hear was the water splashing into my face and the helicopter hovering over me. I admitted that being alone in the vast open sea can be a mystifying experience.
Amidst the severe condition and obstacles, i had the chance to reflect my life while swimming. Believe it or not, my life flashed clearly in my head. My wife, my kids, my mom, my dad i.e. almost all the people i love and closed ones kept flashing in my head. Ironically, the more i see them in my head, the more determined i had become. The power of the loved ones goes beyond your imagination. It can be summoned anytime you want especially when your back is against the wall. It kinda gave you a kick on the butt and suddenly you felt energized and motivated to overcome the obstacles. I could also hear myself talking to me silently.
Anyway, after 2hrs30mins battling in the harsh water, rough sea and sea lice - i stopped for awhile. I assessed the situation. I noticed the sky was getting heavy, the current was gaining strength, i was drifted several kilometres away and practically, i was alone in the water with OP Kam. I decided the situation was getting a bit dangerous though i can clearly see the shoreline already. I could even hear the announcer's voice from the PA system. I must be about less than 2km away from the shoreline. My lil voice said i might just make it. However, I have a choice whether to continue to swim to the shoreline though off target or quit due to deteriorating condition.
I decided to quit and not risk any adverse event. Safety first. I know i sounded like a lame excuse but honestly, the situation was getting worse.
Kam raised his paddle and the rescuers came and scooped me out of the water. I am not sure how far i had gone but the navy guy said that should i had swam on a straight line, i would have reach the shore. Whoaaaa.... that's a blardy 6.5km of swimming distance! However, i stand corrected on this but i believed i had swam the longest distance in my life.
I had no regrets that i didnt finish the swim at the actual finishing line. It was tough. Toughest challenge thus far.
Nonetheless, the feat was definitely a big giant step forward. An inch closer towards achieving my goal.
Personally, i think i've slayed another demon in my soul. I strongly believe the demon is gone forever.