Chin up Mei See, there’s always next year

Chin Mei See created history when she was the only Malaysian female to compete in the 2019 Vega Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (Oct 11-13).

Although it didn’t go as planned – she finished 60th in her age group with a time of 12’08:06 – when she was targeting a top 40 finish.

“Unfortunately, I failed to meet the mark and was disappointed. I had missed many sub-four marathons and will need to regain my confidence again. The most important lesson I learnt this year is to let my injuries fully recover,” said the 41-year-old RC Coaching graduate.

She had booked her berth to Ironman’s pinnacle showpiece this year in splendid fashion when she finished first in her age group at the 2018 Ironman Gurye Korea.

The soft-spoken engineer described Hawaii as an experience of a lifetime.

“It was my first time and I was excited as soon as I landed there! I felt the Aloha spirit from the start, with the friendly ground crew and immigration officials welcoming me,” said Chin.

“The island was simply magical too, with so many beautiful beaches that were not populated!

“At Kailua-Kona (race venue), it was filled with participants and huge crowds eager to see us in action. It was like a carnival-like atmosphere, with people busy shopping, and having photo sessions with the pros.

“There were participants training every hour along Alii Drive, and everyone looked fit and are good shape regardless of their age.”

While Chin stood out at Ironman Malaysia a year ago, she defines Kona as a different ballgame altogether.

“I was only at an average level in Kona, in terms of physical and mental strength. I hardly overtook anyone in the bike, while an older age-grouper overtook me in the run. But it’s all an experience and something for me to improve on.”

Like most triathletes, Chin’s ambition was never about putting herself through gruelling routines.

She concedes her road to fitness only began upon university graduation where she started short distance running.

After a substandard year by her high standards, Chin is bent on fulfilling her goals in 2020.

“My target would be to finish in sub-11-hours in my home country at next year’s Ironman Malaysia. This year has not been the best, but it taught me some good lessons.”

The Perak-lass also has some sound advice for Malaysians who want to emulate her feat with an appearance at the World Championships.

“It’s good to check through the top five results for your age-group for races in the region. Their results are a good benchmark to see where you stand and how big the gap is,” she said.

“If the gap is big, then be patient and have a longer-term plan to get there.”