A China Man's Ironman – Adrian Li's Journey to an Ironman An Ironman Training Diary for Ironman Western Australia

Training for Ironman Busselton Week 7 9/30

Week 7 (9/30) Rest week Planned Work out Intensity Zone Actual Work Out
Monday Rest & Fast
Tuesday Swim: 2KM 2,3 Swim 2KM
Wednesday Bike: 1 HR 3,4 Bike 30 mins
Thursday Tempo Run 25 mins @ 5.20 Pace 10min WU/CD 2,3  Off
Friday Swim: Steady swim 2KM 3,4  Off
Saturday Bike: 130KM 2,3  Bike: 75KM 5KM Run: INJURED
Sunday Run 15KM 2,3 REST

Despite my rest week I still felt tired in this week. I think, given the combination of starting an internet company Qraved and Ironman training I had neither time to rest my mind or my body. Although the week started well with a decent 2KM swim – a combination of waking up late and general tiredness again forced me to rest up. I promised that I would make it up with a long weekend.

We had a great turn out at our long brick weekend with buddies Adrian, Doli, Eka and Azlan all joining for the long ride. I’d planned a 120K + a 5 K run for the weekend and was feeling good. The first 45KM went down easily – clocking a easy 30KM/H and avg. HR of just 135. So decided to turn it up for the next 45KM. However as we hit 50 the first of our accidents began. Eka hit a spanner on the road and blew his tire. Next just as we were heading off Azlan broke his chain. 2 men down. We decided to head on with our training but decided to train in Icon – a residential area which was likely to be safer.

We decided to stay in here for 3o mins – it was great training head down and in TT picked up speed to avg. 33KM/H + however just as we hit the last lap and were going to head out disaster  struck. Tucked into aero position with my right hand fiddling with my goo gel – a car appeared in a T-Junction without stopping. Panicking I reached for my left break (my only available hand) and propelled myself over my bike head over heels.

It all happened in an instant but my immediate reaction was oh $hit i’ve done it again – a flashback to 2006 when I broke my wrist just 4 weeks before UK ironman. Fortunately I got back up did a quick check – it seemed to be just surface injuries with a banged up knee. Z3D didn’t fare so well the left part of my Aero base bar was ripped and my front wheel had a slight tear.

In the end I have to be thankful both that I have not seriously injured myself and also for the very generous help from Adrian and Doli who helped get the driver, and forego part of their training to get me back on my feet. I’m also very grateful for the kind biking community who helped with the betadine and all their kind words and attention.

It’s a funny way of looking at it but at the same time I am slightly relieved. I felt that I was somewhat due for an accident – I had been relatively accident free for quite a while and believing that good things will always follow bad luck I’m hopefully that this is just a bump along the road to my Ironman.

I’ll be off training for a few days but hopefully back in shape for the upcoming weekend where i’ll be attempting my first 130KM!

Road Rash Road Rash 2 Road Rash 3 Z3D with a broken arm


Training update 9/23

Week 6 (9/23) Planned Work out Intensity Zone Actual Work Out
Monday Rest & Fast
Tuesday Bike: 1:15Hr form ride 2,3  Bike 1 hr
Wednesday Swim: Swim Intervals 1.6KM 3,4  Swim 1.6KM
Thursday Tempo Run 25 mins @ 5.20 Pace 10min WU/CD 2,3  Off
Friday Swim: Steady swim 2KM 3,4  Off
Saturday Bike: 130KM 2,3  Bike: 100KM 5KM Run
Sunday Run 15KM 2,3  Run: 10KM

This week I had  planned as a rest week with a lower training volume. With the large amount of work coming in from both my business Qraved and also imaginato I hadn’t really been sleeping too well at night so I decided to reduce my volume. This was still noticable on Saturday when on my usual training ride I was barely able to keep up with my training partner Doli while cruising at around 30KM/H. Anyhow, with still 10 weeks to go I decided that this was fine to reduce my training volume.

Training update for Ironman Busselton 9/16

Training update for Ironman Busselton

This was designed to be an easy week after my last training cycle and also knowing that this week I had to take a trip to Surabaya for a wedding. Despite being an easy week my training did not all go to plan. With my start up Qraved focused on dining it can some times becme a little too tempting to eat & drink too much!

Anyway last week is past and a couple of memorable sessions including the MV02′s this week were good work outs. Also the 1.5 hr 15KM on Sunday night at 2% incline was a new treadmill PB for me.

Focus now for my next 4 week cycle before a trip to HK at the end of October. Highlight of this will be culminating at a 150KM bike ride.

Week 5 (9/16) Planned Work out Intensity Zone Actual Work Out
Monday Rest & Fast
Tuesday Run intervals 4:30 Pace x 5 0,1,2% incl.  2,3  Accordion 750M@4:40/750M@6:40 x 5
Wednesday Bike: 2Hr+ Turbo ride 3,4  MV02 6 Sets Training (5mins/ 2mins rest)
Thursday Swim 2.0KM (400×2,80×10, 400×1 Skills) 2,3  Swim 400M quick set
Friday Bike: MVo2 6 sets training 3,4  No Training
Saturday Swim 4.0KM 2,3  Swim 2.5KM @2Min pace
Sunday Run 21KM 2,3  Run 15KM at @2% 6Min pace

Weekly Training Report: 9/9

Week 4 (9/9) Planned Work out Intensity Zone Actual Work Out
Monday Rest & Fast
Tuesday Run intervals 4:30 Pace x 5 0,1,2% incl.  2,3  Bike 10 mins warm up. 5 mins VO2Max x 5,
Wednesday Swim 2.0KM (400×2,80×10, 400×1 Skills) 3,4  Swim 2.8KM
Thursday Bike Tempo Ride 2,3  Tempo Run 20 mins @ 5.20 Pace 10 mins Warm up
Friday Swim 2.0KM (400×2,80×10, 400×1 Skills) 3,4  Swim 1.6KM – tempo pace 1.30/40M
Saturday Bike 120KM 2,3  Bike 123KM, 3hrs 58Mins, 1KM transition run
Sunday Run 18KM 2,3  Run ~15KM +urbanathlon

Overall this was a great training week which ended in a high with the 123KM bike which is the furthest I have ever ridden. I am now a complete convert to riding in BSD where the open flat roads make for safe and good training.

I also did my second session of wet suit swim training in the pool. This is something I should do on a weekly basis to adapt to wet suit swimming. while the overall feeling is of more buoyancy my legs tend to tire more easily with the wet suit on.

It is now officially 12 weeks till my Ironman and i’m feeling confident with my self coached training program at present. The with the unpredictability of running a start up Qraved – it is much easier to plan week by week and and the training each day than to strictly follow a complete 13 week plan.


Ironman 70.3 2013, Cebu, Philippines Race Report Part 2: Race Day

Ironman 70.3 2013, Cebu, Philippines Race Report

Part 2: Race Day


4:00AM our alarms went off and after a surprisingly good night’s sleep I was feeling good for the race. As anticipated it was still raining  but no surprises there. We made our way down to breakfast which started at 4:30.

For breakfast I had a selection of bakery items, some corned beef hash, fried rice and a good sized coffee. Items I had tried and tested 2 days prior so also no surprises there. From there I made my way back to the room to test my pre-race toilet strategy. Thankfully everything went to plan and feeling a couple pounds lighter, I collected my remaining items which were all packed the day before to await the bus.  A deja-vu of Phuket and Bintan appeared as Tevis, Casey and I stepped onto the bus to take us to transition – we all wondered “who had done the most secret training this time!”

When we arrived the transition area was already buzzing with many of the participants checking their bikes. It had been raining all night so bike seats were soaked – perhaps a good lesson to learn here is to always bring some bin liners to cover the bikes in case of rain overnight!

Pete & Macca's bikes in transition

Pete & Macca’s bikes in transition

Nutrition & Hydration Plan:

From the last few Olympic + distance triathlons I have participated in I have learnt that nutrition is key in maintaining good form throughout the race. A couple of the big mistakes i’ve made in the past:

- Only bringing one flavor of Gel/ too many caffeinated Gels! – Gels can taste horrible when you are on your 6th one so mixing it up helps. Also make sure you don’t take all caffeinated ones

-  Not drinking enough. I’ve realized that I typically need about 500mls/hour during the race. And considering you can’t drink during the swim that means over the bike leg i’m drinking almost 2 litres of liquid. Now, you have to be careful not to over hydrate so find out what works best for you during training but being properly hydrated is imperative. During IM 70.3 China I was severely dehydrated (lack of drinking during bike) and barely finished the run clocking in over 2 hours 45 mins.

So what did I bring? For Cebu I brought 5 gels  for the bike which I taped to the top tube for easy access. I decided to bring all my water bottles (3) which I placed on my torpedo mount and double tail mount. My thinking here was that I would go through my first bottle quickly to make up for the swim. I’d then dispose of that and have my remaining two bottles for the race and a spare cage for an additional bottle that I would pick up during the race. For the run I brought 4 additional gels and a pack of gel cubes – the course had plenty of water and Gatorade available so I did not bring a water bottle.

Race Start!

Swim – Sea Swells, Jelly fish and kicking!

The Cebu swim is beautiful. Perhaps one of the only races in South East Asia with clear visibility in the water. You literally are swimming with the fish! It was the first deep water start that I’d done so I decided to start in the middle of the pack. I’m an average swimmer with approximately 1:50-2:00 min./100m pace – this was a mistake. As the gun went off I was caught in quite a surge of legs and arms as athletes fought to secure a clear spot. The pack did not clear up for about 1KM and several times I had to stop to try and get to clearer water. The swim felt like it took an eternity  sea swells hindered regular bilateral breathing and a couple stings on the neck by invisible jelly fish made it a less “enjoyable” swim leg. However 39 minutes later (definitely one of my slower swims) I emerged to head to T1. T1 was quite a long run I took 4 minutes in T1 and probably around 2 minutes of that was running to my bike. Coming to my bike I noticed Tevis  leaving his bike station and it appeared that Casey  had already come and gone. Knowing I had a stronger bike this time round I knew I had to use this to catch up!

Race Day was raining!

Race Day was raining!

Bike –  Cross winds, drafting and rain!

The bike course takes you over the Cebu bridge onto a long highway which you double back on for 4 lengths before returning back to T2. For the most part the course is fairly narrow – this meant that in many instances it was impossible to not be illegally drafting as packs of 10-20 bikes were moving at constant speeds. Marshalls however were unforgiving and broke up backs by penalizing randomly people in the packs. Strong cross winds and occasional head winds also made parts of the course more difficult – especially for those with deep rimmed aero wheels and less experience in handling such winds. As my usual training ride in Jakarta often has cross winds I was  fortunately adequately prepared for this.

Upping my pace on the ride I decided to go above my planned speed to around 34KM/H to try and catch Casey and Tevis. However given the narrow roads I didn’t manage to make much ground until the highway – fortunately because of the turn arounds I knew that unless they had a big margin I would have the opportunity to see them. I saw them at the first turn around and this motivated me increase the pace further. Passing Casey at around KM 30 I moved ahead to catch Tevis. I soon reached Tevis and we rode together for about 3 Kilometers but as we neared the 2nd turn around I decided to use the outward bound leg and tail wind to make some ground. I accelerated to a avg. speed of around 35-36KM/H to overtake him. Tevis, with his “Macca Set” training, was a strong runner so I needed to get any advantage I could. The combination of focus on the bike in training and pushing to get more lead time on the run helped me proceed to a PB on my bike finishing in 2 hours 41 mins.

With Caroline Steffen winner of Female Pro's

With Caroline Steffen winner of Female Pro’s

Run – cool, amazing support, hitting a wall at KM 17!

The run takes you right out of the hotel (vs. left which was the bike) towards the tip of the peninsula. The roads are lined with supporters  the entire way with plenty of hydration and cooling stations. Coming out of the run I checked my watch and saw I was running a pace of 6:00/KM. Switching to my combined time on my Polar it looked like even with a 2 hour 10 minute run I could be on for a sub 5:30 – could this be true? This spurred me on but on every turn-around I was on the look-out for Tevis who had caught me with a devastating sprint finish at Bintan. At the large turn around on the peninsula I saw him – I figured he was probably about 800M behind – I thought I was safe.

The run takes you on two loops and the race marshalls hand you a red arm band on the first and a black one for the second. Much of the run was without shade so we were VERY fortunate it was mostly overcast on the day. Things all seemed to be going well until I got to around KM 17. Suddenly my legs felt like lead and daggers stabbed my hips at each step. My pace slowed to around 6:30 but based on my watch I estimated that was still on for a sub 5:30. Then to my surprise Tevis sprinted by – he looked like he was doing around 4:30-5:00 on the last 4 kilometers! Crazy?! I didn’t try to follow and instead focused on trying to keep things together for a sub 5:30.

Coming close to the finish – every spectator and marshall seemed to say it’s just round the corner but zig zagging around the hotel grounds to the finish line seemed to take forever. I finally crossed the line at 5:40 on the official  race clock and 5:35 on my official time. Only then did i realize that the combined time on my watch did not include my transition times when i stopped my watch!! (doh!).


Tevis finished 5 minutes ahead of me and Casey with a very respectable sub 6 so a great race for all of us.


Overall Cebu was a fantastic race – my only regret was to not stay an extra day and enjoy the resort more. The combination of the professional preparation, the “star” value with pro’s and celebrities and amazing support throughout the race make it a go-to event for Ironman in South East Asia. Next year is bound to sell out even more quickly (Fred predicts 3 days!) and will open registration in October. It’s already on my race calendar for next year but for now it’s all about Busselton at the end of the year.

Feel free to contact  me if you have any questions about the race – i’d love to share more!



Ironman 70.3 2013, Cebu Race Report: Part 1 Pre Race

Ironman 70.3 2013 Cebu Race Report: Part 1

August 4th, 2013

Summary: This post details my experience at Ironman 70.3 Cebu, Philippines, August 4th 2013. It is intended both as a diary of my experience and also to help provide triathletes an overview of this fantastic South East Asia race.

The last 6 weeks prior to Cebu 70.3 Ironman were not optimal for training as my wife and I had our first child. This resulted in lower volume and intensity training than planned and so I entered the race unsure of how I would perform. However a resulting 5 hour 35 minute finish time ultimately served as a great confidence booster for my year end Ironman Western Australia attempt and helped remind me that it IS certainly possible to train for an Ironman and maintain a semblance of a normal life! (You can see my week by week training plans here

Arrival, Hotels, Briefings:

I decided to arrive at Cebu on Thursday – two and a half days before the race. While I was flying from Jakarta and only 1 hour time difference I felt that having an extra couple of days to deal with any technical issues and also allowing for plentiful time to review the course would be beneficial.

We stayed at the Movenpick hotel which was not originally an officially sanctioned race hotel (despite being 5 minutes walk from Shangrila Mactan – the official race venue) but was upgraded as soon as the Shangrila was full. A word of advice here for future participants would be to book a room at this hotel early in advance as once it became an official hotel it was much more expensive.

We booked a 2 bedroom suite for the 3 participants (Tevis Ong, Casey Au and Adrian Li) which was very good value. We had a sea view from which we could see the swim course for the triathlon.

Arriving two days before turned out to be a good move. Tevis’s bike unfortunately had a damaged rear drop out from the plane and hence had to go on the hunt for a spare part. Also – the entire Ironman event at Cebu is like a show and the pasta party on Thursday night was complete with fire dancers, singers and celebrities.

With the Pro’s

Pete JacobsCaroline Steffen










The fun did not stop there. On Saturday the race briefing featured Pete Jacobs giving us advice on how to deal with the heat (although that turned out to not be a problem at all!). During an introduction to the Pro’s Black Eyed Peas Ap.le.dee appeared as the “secret” competitor and sang for everyone and the National weather man provided the weather outlook. During the entire pre-race the event was very professionally organised and provided a very family friendly atmosphere for all the participants.

Race Number


Meeting Fred, CEO of Alaska Milk and Sunrise Events – what started as a hobby (triathlon) has now also turned into a full blown triathlon company – Well Done Fred! Even Race Numbers were temporary tatoos vs. the usual permanent marker!








The race however would not be without its surprises. On Saturday morning we woke to a full blown typhoon storm. In what was later described as a “localised thunderstorm” we experienced a gale force winds, horizontal rain and lightening. It seemed like the much feared heat of the Cebu 70.3 would be the last of our concerns! During the race briefing the national weather man gave us the run down:


National Weatherman









The forecast was for more rain – with strong cross winds and perhaps some sun by noon. Suddenly everyone’s concerns about heat stroke and overheating vanished and were replaced with the prospect of battling cross winds and slippery roads (not to mention sea swells on the swim). The good news however was that the race would go on and that currently cancelling any part of the race were not on the plans.

After the race briefing we were stranded at the hotel as torrential rain continued to batter the hotel. We managed to find some black bin bags to cover ourselves as we walked back to the hotel. That night we ate early at around 6PM and were all in bed by 9 thinking about what the weather would bring the next day. With alarms set for 4:30AM and all our gear laid out and bikes checked we were as ready as we could be for the big day. Next up – Cebu 70.3 Race Day Report!

Ironman 70.3 Cebu Results!


Rank: 56
Overall Rank: 312
BIB: 580
Division: M30-34
Country: CHN
Swim: 39:02
Bike: 2:41:56
Run: 2:05:57
Overall: 5:35:45


Swim Details Division Rank: 70
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
Total 1.9 km –:– 39:02 –/100m 70 446 371
Bike Details Division Rank: 49
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
13 km 13 km 24:50 1:08:03 31.41 km/h
45 km 32 km 54:00 2:02:03 35.56 km/h
90 km 45 km 1:23:06 3:25:09 32.49 km/h
Total 90.0 km 2:41:56 3:25:09 33.35 km/h 49 284 254
Run Details Division Rank: 56
Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Div. Rank Overall Rank Gender Rank
1.2 km 1.2 km 5:12 3:35:00 4:20/km
10.8 km 9.6 km 52:40 4:27:40 5:29/km
21.1 km 10.3 km 1:08:05 5:35:45 6:36/km
Total 21.1 km 2:05:57 5:35:45 5:58/km 56 312 275
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 4:39

1 week before Cebu 70.3 tapering triathlon training

It’s just a week away from my Ironman Cebu 70.3 and with the reduced triathlon training in the past month with the arrival of baby Aaron I’m more than a little nervous! But lots of encouragement from my Tribuddies friends and my coach (email below) have kept my hopes up and I felt great during today’s swim (1.6K) and run (15K) brick.

In the week running up to the event I’ll be tapering my training further. The triathlon training plan calls for  3 short brick sets during the week:

Triathlon Training plan tapering

Triathlon Training plan tapering


“Whilst the last few weeks have not been ideal preparation for Cebu, I do think that you can still be confident of having a good race. On the positive side, you are still managing to get some training done on a regular basis, even though the volume is lower than what it would have been ideally. The planned training volume from this point forward is reduced anyway in the lead up to the race. You’ve been training for this race since March and you will not lose the endurance that you have developed quickly, so whilst I know these last few weeks have been a real struggle, you are still well prepared for a 70.3 distance race. I think that you need to go into this race feeling confident and look to enjoy the experience. The important thing with a race of this distance is to ensure that you pace yourself. The biggest mistake is to push too hard early on the bike and to therefore leave yourself struggling for the rest of the race. Ignore any other athletes who come past you, they are either very strong on the bike, or they are working too hard in which case you will most likely see them again later in the race. Keep the intensity as constant as possible and avoid any significant spikes in your heart rate. Use the bike leg as an opportunity to keep hydrated and get in your nutrition. Likewise on the run, keep the intensity under control and avoid the intensity to push too hard early on. If you’re feeling good, then try to pick up the pace during the final 4 miles, but don’t get carried away at the start…..” James Pryke

Cebu Goal Adjustment as a new father

The last few months have been quite a roller coaster. Our lovely baby Aaron Joseph Sai Yin Li was born on June 21st – just a week away from my own birthday and truly transformed our lives. After a long almost 12 hour labour my wife, Vanessa gave delivered our son in Jakarta at Medistra hospital.

Baby Aaron born June 21st, 2.9KG, 47CM

Baby Aaron born June 21st, 2.9KG, 47CM

While overjoyed with the happiness of the healthy birth of our first child it has certainly been a challenge to fit everything in and now with just 2 weeks till my Cebu Ironman and a heavily reduced training load in the past 1 month it looks like my original goal of a 5Hour 30 minute time are now greatly diminished. However, it will be an interesting test as to what my actual time will be given the reduced training. I am hoping that a sub 6Hr time is still achievable and if so that my full Ironman goal is still within reach as going forward Aaron has a more routine sleeping schedule and I can put in more  regular training.

My rough prediction for Cebu:

Swim: 1.9KM = 45 Minutes
Bike: 90KM 2 Hours 50 Minutes
Run: 21KM 2 Hours 15 Minutes

Total Transition Time: 5 minutes – not a lot of time for cushioning but here’s hoping to a strong result!


First 20K in a long time

Today was a LSR (Long Slow Run) but a few whiskies the night before never helped a morning run (tho’ the morning run always helped get over the few whiskies the night before!).

I’d rented Star Trek a good 2 hour movie to last the treadmill run so wondered down to the gym set the incline to 1% and pressed start! The movie definitely helped and the minutes went by – running at around 10KM/H by my foot pod and averaging around 160bpm. The run was a great confidence booster as it has been a while since running 20K and this one went by very painlessly!