Thursday, December 29, 2005
"In the spirit of sharing positive testimonies, the Lord has also been reminding me to think of my role as a husband/father as a Ministry unto Him. So when I got upgraded to [biz class] on the way back, it was easy for me to give up the seat to my dear wife.
To be painfully honest, I would probably have given my wife the seat anyway (not that it has happened before - I have NEVER been upgraded before). The difference is that I would have done it out of (my own) common decency and probably spend the whole flight stewing over what a great sacrifice I have made, and how tough it was to manage the 2 boys by myself in cattle class, and how [my wife] would have to be extra nice to me because I am so nice to her, etc... :) Instead, this time I did it simply because I remembered my ministry to be a good hubby/father. Of course, God honours the lil things we do for Him, and His grace is more than sufficient when we obey Him, so I had a great flight with my 2 boys in cattle class - we had a blast travelling together, spending some quality (and quantity) father-son time and I even managed to get them to nap on the noisy flight. God is good, He answered our prayers for a safe, fun and pleasant trip home, even though it was abt 15 hours door to door. The boys weren't even grumpy at all (neither were the parents). ;)"
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Vacation Day 1 (16/12/05)
Kids had a blast with the computer games on the flight to Aus. All hope of them taking a nap during the flight vanished as soon as they discovered the games and movies on demand. Result: Two very grumpy boys and tired parents means MacDonald's takeaway and a stay-in night.
The digital camera decided not to work, so all the pics from this trip will have to be taken on my phone - another reason for a camera phone!
Vacation Day 2 (17/12/05)
Lazy morning - Woke up late and took the bus to Chinatown (I know.. Sigh..) for some quick shopping/lunch. In the afternoon, babysat the boys while the wife went off to meet her old friend. New definition for frustration - sitting in a dark hotel room, watching the boys nap, knowing there's a great gym downstairs but I just can't get to it. :(
Vacation Day 3 (18/12/05)
Another lazy sleep-in morning - this is becoming a trend. :) Went for a quick obligatory walk near the Sydney Opera House, snapped some pics, then it's off to my sis-in-law by train. It was a pleasant enough 2 plus hour train ride except that we met some wierdo red neck on the train who kinda felt that we should not be in Aus - good intro for my boys to the real Australia, I guess. Also a good application of Proverbs 15:1 - "A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Anyway, no harm done, kids weren't even intimidated, and we had a good time catching up with my sis-in-law and family.
Vacation Day 4 (19/12/05)
Brought the kids to a farm today - actually it was more like a play park with farm animals, kangeroos, and of course koala bears. Everyone was given some food to feed the animals, even the kangeroos! (We did not get to touch the Koala bears, which is a good thing - I've read that it could do the poor animals harm to handle them too much.) The kids also got to bottle feed the baby kids (as in goats not boys/gals) and lambs, which actually resembled a feeding frenzy of frantic baby animals. ;)
After we got back, I finally felt guilty enough to head out for a 10km run - weather was a nice and cool 20 degrees but the track was quite hilly (unlike Singapore).
Vacation Day 5 (20/12/05)
A lazy day today - only activity was a trip to the mall to do some Xmas shopping. Felt so bored while the wife and kids napped that I went for another 10km run!
Vacation Day 6 (21/12/05)
Definitely in full holiday mode now - did absolutely nothing today except for a short trip to the neighbourhood mall for groceries and donut/coffee. I probably won't run today - still sore from the last two runs.
Vacation Day 7 (22/12/05)
Went on a dolphin watching cruise today! It was a great day for it too - the sun was out and the sea wasn't too choppy. Praise God! Seems everywhere we went on the boat, the dolphins just appeared, much to the confusion of the rest of the passengers. Praise God again! :) The kids had a great time watching the wild dolphins swim and jump and play at close proximity (almost close enough to touch).
On the way back, we decided to make a unscheduled stop at the tobbagon ride - much to the delight of the kids again. Everyone went for two rides, which left a considerable hole in my wallet, but seeing the happy kids made it all worthwhile.
After all that, I even managed to squeeze in another 10km run. Praise God!
Vacation Day 8 (23/12/05)
Sigh, the holiday is drawing to a close soon and I am starting to set expectations with my boys about the long trip back in 3 days. They love it so much here with their cousins & uncle/aunt that it would be hard to leave. On my end, I must admit that I am a bit of a boring old "home body", so despite the fabulous hospitality of my bro and sis in law, I won't mind being back in the comforts of home. ;)
As a last "adventure" before Xmas sets in, we brought the kids to the nearby park today to feed the swans/ducks and have a picnic lunch. The kids had a ball, although my older boy learnt today that swans peck and that hurts. :)
Vacation Day 9 (24/12/05)
Blistering hot day today (40 degrees Celsius / 104 Farenheit) - this has gotta be the warmest Xmas I have ever had! In this heat, even going out for lunch by the bay was a bit of a chore, but the kids loved cooling down with ice creams afterwards. We'll probably head out to the beach for a swim in the evening when it get's a little cooler.
I'm starting to get stressed out about the return trip in 2 days - it's gonna be a long trip of train, taxi and plane rides. I am praying that the Lord will bless us with a safe and fun trip home.
Vacation Day 10 (25/12/05)
Christmas Day! Of course, da kids got up before I did to open all the presents. On the way to church we had a puncture so my bro-in-law and I were late (women & children went on ahead in the other car). It was a very cozy church and we all enjoyed the simple yet personal Christmas service.
My sis-in-law out did herself with lunch (I have gained 1kg since getting here), I ate all too much (again). The day ended with a visit to yet another another perfect beach (see picture) - kids were thrilled to get another chance to play in the sand and surf.
Vacation Day 11 (26/12/05)
"D" Day - Left early in the morning to catch the train to the airport. The train ride was long (3 hours), but the kids had fun looking out the windows and playing with their toys. A very nice surprise was waiting for us at the airport – I got a free upgrade to biz class!
The Lord has been reminding me that being a good hubby/father is one of my ministries, so I did the right thing and gave up the seat for my wife, and had the boys all to myself in cattle class. The boys had a ball on the flight – largely thanks to kids’ meals, ice cream, yogurt and in-flight movies/games, and even managed to get a nap! Talk about answered prayers, I can report that God met every one of my concerns about the trip back. I really need to learn to relax and trust Him. :)
All in all, a wonderful holiday and we got back safe and sound. A special thanks to my bro and sis in law and their lovely daughters for their wonderful hospitality. I can't say this enough because this is truly the warmest Christmas I have ever had, both in terms of the weather and the hospitality/love shown to us.
Thank you Jesus!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
If I add up all the time in my life spent doing what others expect me to, or worrying about what others think of me, it is a lot of wasted time. But if we all set about doing what we REALLY want to do in our selfish hearts, there would be utter chaos/destruction in the world. I guess that's where religion and laws come in - to regulate our behaviour so we do not destroy ourselves. Except that if all we had were rules to live by, we would end up being miserable because we would'nt be able to do or think that we really wanted to deep down inside.
Perhaps this is where Christ comes in - He came over 2000 years ago to bring the kingdom of God to us here and now. The good news is as simple as this: That when we believe Him and love God with all our soul, and all our strength, and all our mind, and we live our lives to please Him - knowing that His ways are to prosper us and not to harm us - we can find true happiness (peace, joy) EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of our lives!
Merry Christmas everyone! While you are out celebrating a white Christmas, remember those of us experiencing a 40°Celsius (104°Fahrenheit) Christmas here in sunny Australia. :)
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Hi all, Christmas came early to ol' nitrox this year - I have installed my aero clip on bars. Have not had the chance to try them out but Elmo seems to like them very much! God willing, I may still be able to squeeze in a ride late tonight after Care Group meeting - the last few days have been absolutely crazy at work and at home, but I am still trying valliantly to go for a ride before leaving for Australia tomorrow morning.
Yup, we will be heading to Australia for the Christmas so there may not be any new posts on this blog for 2 weeks - unless I find myself in an Internet cafe with time on my hands. :)
Have a Blessed Christmas all, Praise God for coming to earth to dwell with us! If you don't already know Him, you are missing a lot, so please remember to check Him out this holiday season. :)
Here's a parting thought for those of us training through the holidays...
Saturday, December 10, 2005
All that time busy at work means my tri training and blogging have taken a step back, but I am happy to report that I am still sticking to my Intentional Discipleship goal of daily Quiet Time (QT) with the Lord. Thanks to my daily QT, although I have been busy, peace still reigns and my stress levels have been largely under control. Praise God!
So in typical male fashion, what do I do when I am missing out on training? I buy fancy equipment. :) I have just ordered the DEDA Clip One aero bar (the black bar in the picture on the right, NOT the yellow bar).
[ So sorry Tri-MaMa, I still can't believe I missed your very kind offer by 30 mins! :( ]
The DEDA Clip One is similar to the DEDA Clip Black (picture in my previous post on clip on aero bars), except it is made of alloy (instead of carbon), 10g heavier (400 versus 390 grams), and half the price at $170 Singapore dollars (about $100USD). Yes, once again the "bargain hunter" in me surfaces. :) Best part is that it arrives at my friendly LBS (Local Bike Store) on Tues, so I get to use it for at least one ride before my holiday in Australia. That kinda makes up a lil for the dissappointment in missing Tri-Mama's comment.
[ Cliff, I will be posting pics of my bike with the new aero bar, accompanied by a full report on what I have learnt about clip on aero bars once I have a chance to try mine out. :) ]
No, not wearing less when running but making sure I can be seen when I run at night. :) I have also been thinking about wearing a running light - something that may be relevant to my Northern brothers and sisters where the nights are getting longer and the days shorter. So here is my "bargain hunter" edition of a running light.
- Some months back, I went to the local army surplus store and asked them to make a race belt for me out of the bountiful (and cheap) thin belts and clips. Cost: $1.50 USD
- I rummaged through my old bike stuff and found a old LED light that I don't use anymore. Cost: $0 (okay, maybe $10 USD if I have to buy this new)
- I put the two together and, hey presto, the world's cheapest running light.
Not exactly rocket science, but I just love it when junk comes together like that. ;)
Monday, December 05, 2005
I had intended to go for a bike/run brick when my kids were napping in the afternoon, but my wife wanted to take the boys swimming, so I had to scrap the idea and head home after my usual 50km ride. After the kids went to bed though, I managed to sneak out for a 9km run. So I like to think of it a bike/run brick with a 5 hour transition - to bring the kids swimming, have dinner, and put them to bed! :)
Saturday, December 03, 2005
So my questions are
- Should I get one?
- If so, should I get a mini clip-on bar (like the DEDA Clip-on (pictured above), VisionTech Mini Clip-Ons or the Profile Design Jammer GT, or the Syntace XXS) or a "full size" clip-on bar (like the Profile Design Carbon Stryke or the Syntace C2 Clip)?
- And of course, which is the "best" (price/performance) from your collective experience?
Should I get one?
I think the answer here is pretty much a "yes". Having tried both with and without, I am pretty sure that I want one. Question is now (so I can use it to train), or when it is closer to July (so I can shop for a bargain on 2005 models - forgive me, Singaporeans are all bargain hunters). ;)
Mini or full-size clip on?
I am leaning towards a mini, as I don't want to mess around too much with my bike fit. I figure with a mini, I may not need to shorten my stem nor get a "forward" seat post, as I will not be reaching too far forward. I will just keep my bike fit as it and lower the stem by about an inch (which I have been planning to do anyway). This way, I figure that I probably can find a comfortable position both on the road bar and the clip-on - like I did on my old bike. Does this sound like a good idea?
Ah, the toughest question. My priorities are: (1) Function (it's gotta work and not fall apart after a few miles), (2) Price (remember the "bargain hunter" bit?), (3) Weight, (4) Comfort (don't intend to go much further than Olympic Distances). I like the Syntace stuff in terms of construction and weight, but they are probably too expensive unless I can find a used set on ebay. 2nd option would be the Profile Design Jammer GT, but even they don't look "mini" enough (oh yes, I forgot that "looks" are important too). :) I kinda like the DEDA clip-ons (picture posted above), but can't seem to find them in Singapore.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
How am I doing currently? I am swimming 1500m in the pool now - takes just below 45mins. I am doing 50km rides - takes just below 2 hours (and there are only two hills enroute). I have not even reached 10km in my runs yet, but yesterday I got inspired by all you iron men/women running in the snow/wind/rain, and went for a run in the rain (never gets below 24 degress Celsius here). :) Did 9km (longest run ever) in just under an hour. See what I mean when I say I am SLOW? At this rate I stand a good chance of being the LAST to cross the finish line in July...
The plan is to try to run and swim once a week, and do a swim/bike or bike/run brick in the weekend - basically, total of 2 runs and 2 swims and 1 bike. There is just no time to do more - trust me, I have looked long and hard, but my priorities are my time with the Lord, the job, the family and then only when the kids are napping or sleeping do I train. So far I am failing miserably to do even that - I am lucky to do one swim, one bike and one run a week and sometimes it is even just one run and a swim/bike brick in the weekend.
So I am truly not over-stating it when I say that only the incredible grace of God can help me reach my Triathlon goal in July!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Let me first say that I am not one of those people who can eat what they want and not gain weight – that would be my slim sister. I have always been the sibling who seems to put on weight just smelling what my sister eats. But somehow, since starting Sprint Triathlons and now working towards a Olympic Distance triathlon, I have been getting thinner steadily. Not a bad thing at all, but the weird thing is, I am not losing much weight, it’s just all my clothes are getting loose – I think I actually need a whole new wardrobe now (not funny when you consider the extra costs). I remarked the same to a couple of my athletic friends and their answer was that I must be gaining muscle mass. Well, I look into the mirror daily and I sure don’t see much muscle mass so where is everything going?
I must confess that it is pretty annoying to be told that I am losing weight too fast (when technically, I am not - not according to the weighing scale anyway), and especially when I am feeling out of place in clothes that look a couple sizes too big, and at the same time wondering how to find time to train just that little bit more… I know everyone is doing it out of love and concern for me, but it is really starting to make me wonder if there is anything wrong with me? Is what I am going though healthy/normal?
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
So what do I do? I worry. I worry about
- My ministry - What can I do to bring the Care Group closer together and closer to the Lord?
- My lil one, who was finally diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his finger after a second consultation with the doctors. Was I too callous? What should I do now?
- My work - New role (Praise God!), new challenges, can I manage? Will I rise up like a hero to save the day or fall flat on my face? How do I impress my bosses, and my colleagues?
- My career - How do I rise up from the miry clay of middle management to the "enlightened" world of senior management? What do I do to accelerate the process? Why are my managers getting younger?!?!
- Olympic Triathlon - can I really do this? Can I complete it in a "respectable" timing when I can't even complete one of the swim or run events today?!?! Do I do intervals, strength training, drills (you may be surprised that I currently don't do any of these - don't know how and haven't got the time) or do I just keep plodding on with my boring old swims, bike trips, and runs?!?!
Noticed how many times "I" appeared above? Fourteen! Okay, must admit that was a bit of a set up, but the point is that the good Lord reminded me that when I do that (worry), I am actually telling Him that while I trust him for spiritual salvation, but I don't trust Him on His many promises to prosper us.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
This is one of my favourite illustrations of how God works and I hope it encourages you as much as it continues to encourage me. Recall the time when the Israelites finally left slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses, but the Pharoah changes his mind about losing His biggest labour pool and sends his army after them. The army caught up with the Israelites right at the bank of the Red Sea (this is just before the famous parting of the Red Sea, or some say the Sea of Reeds). At the height of this calamity, what did Moses tell the Israelites to do? Surprisingly, he did not say "HURRY! Get up and escape!", neither did he say "Get up and fight against this army of opressers!". Instead, he said
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14
WOW, how much faith does it take to "be still" in the face of calamity? When every instinct is shouting either "GET UP AND RUN!" or "GET UP AND FIGHT!"? I believe being "still" here does not mean sitting down and not doing anything (the Israelites did get up and cross the Red Sea, remember?). :) Instead I think it means not to panic or worry, to have the peace of God in your heart, to KNOW that God is in charge - which allows you to go ahead and do the right thing(s) in faith. To borrow the words of one of the fathers in the New Testament (whose son was finally healed by Jesus),
"... I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Been reflecting on the year (almost) past and the year to come. 2005 has been a blur – committing to Intentional Discipleship and Sprint Triathlons were both totally new, and it is questionable how much I achieved in the year.
Must admit that there were times when this picture seems to reflect the situation for me both in the area of Intentional Discipleship and Triathlons. :)
Well, perhaps not so much as regrets (don’t believe in them), but here’s a confession of the areas where I have asked God to come rescue me from myself:
- Intentional Discipleship
o Care Group – Sigh... Really, REALLY need His help here. I was worried about being asked to be the leader at the beginning of the year as I am the youngest (in terms of my faith, not age), and it seems my fears have come full circle. Attendance is at an all time low (hovering around 50%), and the group seems to be growing apart - partly due to couples becoming parents this year, extensive traveling of those with regional jobs, and heavy work schedules of the rest. This is a tough stage for my group, where young children and career ambitions come at their strongest to distract us from meeting together regularly, but I believe if people see value in coming together they will. So I am praying that the Lord will help me overcome my immaturity, travel schedules, and most importantly help us add value to the group so we will keep coming together.
o Toddlers’ Playgroup – A few of us started the Toddlers’ Playgroup ministry in church this year with the main objectives of (1) teaching/sharing the love of God with the lil ones (kids under three) and (2) freeing up the young parents to be more involved in church. The ministry did take off (Praise God!), but it never got to the well-oiled child care service that I envisioned it to be (a vision that probably few shared anyway). Still, it is always a joy to see the lil ones sing and dance for God. :)
”From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2
o Quiet Time – Has been off and on. Took a bit of time, but I think I am finally in the groove of doing my QT (almost) daily. Yay!
– Old Nitrox is no ironman. :) I did two Sprint Triathlons in 2005, which is one more than I thought I would be able to do when I got off the couch back in April. The challenge I have here is more like what Tri-mama alluded to in her comments about “being in but not of [the world of triathlons]” – in short, making sure that God takes prime position in my heart, mind and soul.
With the grace of God, I hope to focus on the following in 2006:
- Intentional Discipleship
o Care Group – Will move to a rotating leadership model (everyone takes turns to be the leader). Hopefully it will address the leadership/participation issues we have had in 2005. I am also thinking of moving back to meeting weekly (changed that to bi-weekly sometime this year), hopefully that will draw us closer together as a group.
o Toddlers’ Playgroup – Have decided with the wife that I will quit this ministry and spend the two hours before Sunday School with my boys. My prayer is that the Lord will bring “new blood” to this ministry to take it to where He intended it to be (because it feels like I sure didn’t). :(
o Quiet Time – Maintaining consistency is the key for me in 2006. Bottomline: I will not do any training nor blogging until I have either done my QT or “reserved” an immovable timeslot in the day to do so.
– Once again, old Nitrox is no ironman (if I say it often enough, one day I will remember that). :) My main limitation is time. I am very clear in my mind that my priorities are my faith, family, work and then if there is time left over, triathlons. This effectively means that I will probably never do more than an Olympic distance triathlon, so I might as well enjoy what I have time for. :) I hope to be able to complete a Olympic distance Triathlon in 2006, and I stress COMPLETE, not compete. This might seem a whimpy goal to you iron men and women out there, but even a O.D. is a big deal for old Nitrox, given that I have only done Sprint Triathlons and O.D. is double the distances! Time is gonna be a real challenge as doubling the distances (from a Sprint Triathlon) probably means I have to double my training time, and I am not sure if I have the time for this… So to the three readers of this blog - stay tuned! ;)
Monday, November 14, 2005
I'll admit things looked pretty glum at first. I had just travelled for 20 hours to find that I have somehow misplaced my return tickets - 1st time in many years of extensive traveling. This led to a few hours of anxious wrangling with the Luftansa, SAS and Singapore Airlines counter staff at the airport and even long distance to the call centre in Singapore.
The short of it is that if you lose your tickets in a city where Singapore Airlines flies to but does not have a ticketing office, there is pretty much nothing they can do for you. I eventually found my way to the local representative office for Singapore Airlines and the lone staff (thank you Hanna-Leena) there was kind enough to offer to help me sort it all out.
And so it was, more than 24 hours after I left home, I found myself in a European style hotel - see the small and bare amenities - not the most inviting place in the world at my (then) state of mind. This is one of the rare moments when I regret being spoilt by the luxrious and relatively cheap hotels in Asia. "The silence is opressive!" I remember myself thinking once I closed the door to the small room and decided to head out for some fresh air. The surroundings were pretty enough (the pictures here don't do it enough justice), but all I wanted was to take a hot shower, have a hot drink/scoff, hit the sack and head to the gym for a run the next morning.
Strike one - there is no kettle in the room, no room service and no dinner for quite a few hours yet. "Okay, might as well check out the gym" I thought.
Strike two - there is a gym, but I can't figure out the treadmill - spent a few minutes fussing with it and decided to give up. Looks like my training plans this week is down the toilet - it's 5 degrees celsius outside and I did not bring my cold weather trainers (in fact, I am not sure if I even still have them after so many years in sunny Singapore).
Strike three - called home and head that my lil one had a bad fall and may have fractured his finger.
That was quite a low point for me. Must admit I kinda suspected that the devil would pull one on me after all the posts about being happy, but he still took me by surprise when he did. :) Funny thing is, once I opened up the Bible for my Quiet Time, it started to occur to me that I have so much to be thankful for - (1) I have been chosen to attend this management workshop in Europe, in a beautiful country where many in Asia may never have a chance to visit; (2) Praise God that He was watching over my son - that he did not hurt himself in a worse way or bump his head; (3) I will take this week without the means to train as a "retreat" for my personal development and for spending quality time with the Lord.
As it turns out, I had a terrific workshop - learnt loads and made some important friends in the global organisation. We also had great evening programs (dinners and team building) which took up just about all the time, so I didn't really miss the gym at all. And the missing return tickets? Not only were they re-issued on time, I even managed to get on the earlier (totally full) flight as I was back in Singapore one whole day earlier than planned!
I guess this is indeed a case in point of living what I preach - to choose to be happy regardless of how the situation looks, simply because we trust our God to His word...
The beauty in our Lord's kingdom is not that there will never be trouble, but that His grace is more than sufficient for us to bear up, and even to triumph over whatever life brings us. Praise God!
Not the best situation to come home to, and not the best business trip that I have had either (but more on that later).
Well.. Praise God that He answers our prayers! The doctors just called to confirm that there is no fracture at all. Just a bad sprain, so as soon as the swelling goes down, off comes the splint.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
The message today was on "Celebration", and it started with the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. A familiar story - a father has two sons. One asks for his inheritance and spends it foolishly, then returns home broke and repentent, and is received with a celebration. The other son, who doggedly stayed by his father's side got a bit upset that so much fuss was being made over his brother, and his father explains
"... we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." Luke 15:32
The word "celebrate" above is actually more like "rejoice" when translated from Greek - it indicates happiness and joy. Too often we are so occupied with the stresses/worries/issues/ambitions/desires of life that we simply forget to be happy. When we laspe into that, we are effectively allowing the devil to steal our peace, joy and happiness - the very blessings for which our God paid a terrible price.
So why do we celebrate/rejoice daily?
- We celebrate liberation - God's kingdom is here! Jesus has come and proclaimed the Lord's favour upon us all.
"The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."" (Luke 4:17-20)
- We celebrate salvation/forgivess for ourselves and for each new soul added to the Kingdom of God. Jesus says
"... there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10)
If even the angels rejoice over our salvation/forgiveness, how much more should we rejoice here on earth!
- We celebrate restoration. God's kingdom is alredy here (see pt 1 above), and His will is established on earth (remember The Lord's Prayer?). His will is to restore us to the place He wants us to be. As a continuation of pt 1 - the time of the Lord's favour is already upon us,
"This is what the LORD says:
"In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, 'Come out,'
and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'
"They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water. "" (Isaiah 49:8-10)
The subject of restoration probably deserves a whole new post, but I believe that Jesus came not only to save us, but to RESTORE us to where God wants us to be, and we know from the Bible that He wants us to RESTORE us to good health (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically - has Jesus ever turned even one sick person away when He was here on earth?), peace/joy, and all the good things we ask from Him (Matthew 7:9-11).
- Lastly, we celebrate and rejoice out of the love that God has put in our hearts, that we may be a witness and a testimony to the world of His goodness and grace. Exuberance for the Lord can only be passed through action and not through words, so start celebrating today!
So, do you trust Him enough to choose to be happy?
"... But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15 )
Friday, November 04, 2005
3% Improvement - Marginal, I thot it would be more than that since I front crawled the whole distance. I did feel a lot more comfortable both during and after the swim compared to OSIM (no cramps and sense of vomiting after swim this time), but I am pretty disappointed with the minor improvement here. Boy do I need those swimming lessons! :(
11% Improvement - Whoa! This is pretty huge considering that I did not ride much at all (a total of 8 rides in almost 4 months!). It was also a technically slower distance (they halved the course and doubled the number of laps from OSIM). So I gotta attribute it to the Scott CR1. Probably also helped that I eased up a bit on the swim so this time I did not have to slow down because of cramps, etc...
7% Improvement - Minor improvement, so the treadmill sessions while I was travelling paid off, I guess. Still trying to get below 30mins for the 1km run in a Tri/Brick though...
8% Improvement - Like I said, minor improvement, which is probably in line with the training level that I put in.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Click on the thumbnails above to see a larger picture. Don't you just love the professional cameramen? They can make anyone look like a pro! :)
The prints are really expensive though, so I will just have to make do with these low resolution shots...
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Finally, the 1st photos from the New Balance Corporate Triathlon (only my second ever triathlon) are out. Details on race conditions and how I did are below. I am too cheap to purchase the official photos so here are some "edited" pictures. :)
It's mid afternoon now, the sun is fiercely burning, and the wife & kids are napping... Much too hot for a run, so I guess it must be time for a bike ride!
Enuff said, it's time to ride!
Where is the motivation and self discipline? I have been surfing blogs of Christian Triathletes, Triathlon Dads, Triathlon Rookies, etc trying to spur myself onto the next swim/bike/run.
The pain, the endlessness of the training, the futility of it all... And is this a cold/sore throat I feel coming on? Maybe I should rest more... Afterall, I am still only doing Sprint Tris, should I just give up? Been trying to remind myself...
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Friday, October 28, 2005
Ol' Nitrox started a website in the (you guessed it) 90's and the name has stuck ever since. The site has since been removed by GeoCities (Yahoo), but it was mainly about my youthful passion in cars. The idea then was to choose a name based on my two passions (then) - cars and scuba diving, and nitrox was a common thread in both. Why "Kewl"? Well... That was just a 90's thing, like "rawk on!". ;)
Monday, October 24, 2005
Okay, there's no hiding now, the results are already out. Compared to my 1st Sprint Triathlon, there was minor improvement in my race timing for all 3 events, which is consistent with the (lack of) training I have been putting in. The biggest gain I made in terms of timing was on the bike, and this in spite of me not being able to ride my bike much at all due to recent business travels. so I guess my investment in the new bike really paid off! ;) In terms of race position, I was slower than two thirds of the participants! Guess there are a lot of fit young men in Singapore...
In the spirit of sharing and learning, here's some learning points from my 2nd triathlon:
- Having a Triathlon Pre-Race Checklist helped cut my packing time in half. Felt almost professional getting everyting ready. No last minite jitters and sneaky feelings about forgetting something this time!
- Remember the learning I had from my 1st triathlon on getting properly working equipment? Well, this time I have the Polar 625X, and it worked great with no major drama except (a) during the swim, the watch was not able to receive my heart rate measurements in the sea water (worked fine in pools), and (b) during the bike, the watch could not receive my cadence measurements as I did not bother to transfer the watch to the bike attachment. I think next time I may forego all the hassle and just wear a simple watch... Somehow the engineer inside me is driven by the need to collect data and the Polar 625X is just the tool to do that!
- Extra socks is a great idea even if there is no rain. It rained the night before and the transition area was literally a mud bath- my socks got wet even before the race started just by sloshing around in the mud looking for my bike parking spot. It felt great to be able to change into dry socks before the bike leg.
Photos of the event will come once they are available...
I was in the same race, but started much earlier as I was taking part in the Individuals event. At the end of the run, I saw somone being stretchered off into a waiting ambulance. Fellow participants were saying that someone was plucked from the sea after most of the participants have finished the swim. A colleague of mine at the race actually saw him, and said he looked very pale.
The seas off the East Coast can be deceptively choppy - most of the people I know (myself included) had a bit of difficulty the 1st time we swam there. The visibility is also very bad (1m on a good day), so it takes a bit of getting used to. However, there were many marshalls out in the sea in their kayaks and jet skis, so it is a mystery how this tragedy occured.
A very tragic accident at the end of a generally well run event...
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Yes, it's official! By the grace of God, I have completed my 2nd Sprint Triathlon yesterday - the New Balance Corporate Triathlon. Official timings and pictures have yet to be published, so watch this space for updates as I get them. :) All in all, I think I was quicker by a couple of minutes compared to my 1st Sprint Triathlon.
It was pretty much the same course, except there was a storm the night before, which turned the transition area into a mudbath! My original transition spot was about ankle deep in water, and just as I was about to panic, some kind soul diverted me to a dry(er) spot further down the line. The bike push and run lanes were all soggy and wet, and everyone ran and biked with wet shoes. I have never got so much mud on a road bike before, and it didn't help that my bike is only a few weeks old!
The swim stage was pretty much the same, with similarly disorientating currents, but my Aqua Sphere Seal swim mask worked great, and I did not experience the same nausea after the swim that I did last time around. The bike leg was technically slower - half the distance, twice the laps, and wet in some sections - but thanks to my new feather-light bike, I am pretty sure I went faster than the last time. The run was pretty much the same, but a lot more comfortable than last time as this time I wasn't feeling like I was gonna puke! Also no cramps this time.
Praise God indeed for a fun and safe day out!
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’ Psalm 91:1
More thoughts to follow my previous post on daring to be happy in the Lord… Psalm91:1 is such a simple verse, yet one that speaks volumes! To me, this verse reveals the key to peace and happiness in Jesus. There is a simple condition set out, which is to “dwell in the shelter of the Most High” – i.e. is God the Most High in your life? Or do you find something else when you look up? Are you setting your priorities in life on things other than the Lord – e.g. your career, family, sports, money, even health? The word “dwells” means “to live with” or “to reside” which indicates a daily/continual existence. Do we constantly put him at the highest place in our lives?
So can anyone really “dwell” with the Lord on a daily, continual basis? I believe so, there are many examples of such people in the bible, like David – just look at how he pours his heart out to God in the book of Psalms. I must confess I still struggle with this, in the hustle and bustle of daily life at work and with the family; it is easy to forget to live as Jesus would – especially when I feel like I am being unfairly treated and the ol’ hackles start rising. :) However, I am now convinced that the key to dwelling with the Lord is simply to spend time with Him daily. Even as I strive to develop the Intentional Discipline of daily quiet time with the Lord, I find that more and more, He is drawing me to Him, and helping me to “dwell” with Him on a daily/continual basis. As with all things with the Lord, we just have to make the commitment and act in faith, and Praise be to Him, our God does the rest!
When you fulfill the condition of dwelling in Him, the promise is beautiful. The word translated as “Almighty” is actually “Shaddai”, which means (don't laugh) "the breasted One". This imagry is only funny when we forget that God made both men and women in His image (Genesis 1:27). So why did God call Himself “Shaddai”? I believe He is alluding to His motherly love for us. The next time you feel threatened/upset/depressed/unloved or unhappy for whatever reason, remember that our Lord promises that when we dwell in Him, He lets us find rest and safety in His embrace, and when God is holding you in His arms, NOTHING can snatch you away.
I think what sets Christians apart is that we dare to be happy. :) It comes from knowing that God is in control and that His plan is to bless and prosper us.
‘For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28
This does NOT mean things are always bright and rosy for Christians – on the contrary, many Christians are still beng persecuted on a daily basis – you can read more at The Voice of the Martyrs website. What it means is KNOWING that God knows and wills what is best for us, that His love drives Him to bless us and derive the best out of every situation for us. This also means being ready to accept God’s answer even when it differs from what we EXPECT, simply because we know His ways are higher and His will is to bless us. A good example is the prayer of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel’s buddies) when King Nebuchadnezzar was going to throw them into the furnace for refusing to bow down to the image of gold that he created.
‘If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." ‘ Daniel 3:17-18
On the surface, they seem to be totally confused – on one hand they profess faith that God CAN and WILL save them, but in the same breath they profess that EVEN IF God does not save them, they will not worship other gods (because of their love for God). But I believe that such is the crux of the Christian faith in prayer – we tell God the desires of our hearts, we trust that He CAN and WILL deliver us, but at the same time, we need to check our hearts that we will indeed accept whatever answer God gives us. This stems from the fact that our love must be for God and not for His blessings/provisions. Sometimes it is hard to fathom God’s thoughts – like why are there still babies that suffer from birth and die, and why there are tsunamis and earthquakes that kill thousands??? This is when we ask the Lord for His wisdom, to help us to understand why some of these things happen. And if it is beyond our hman capacity to understand this, it does not change the fact that we love Him, and that we dare to be happy in Him!
So do you dare to take the leap of faith, give up your hurts, questions, doubts and test our Lord by trusting Him and daring to be happy? Or are you content to hold on to your security blanket of logical thinking, past hurts, personal cleverness? Has any child ever refused to turn on the lights just because he/she cannot understand why flipping on a light switch will turn a dark room into a bright one? My challenge is that you give God a chance – He will astound you!
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:7-8(bold accents added by me – you have to try Him to know Him!)
Friday, October 14, 2005
I am stuck in some foreign city working over a couple of weekends, so I have some time to surf the 'net, and of course to run & swim (alas, my bike stays in Singapore) - did I mention that the Corporate Triathlon is in 8 days?!?! Miss my wife and the kids though, sigh…
While trying out internet radios a couple of weeks ago, I came across an internet radio site http://www.cmradio.net/, which hosts some pretty cool Christian music. Been stuck on it since – I even bought a set of headphones for my notebook so I can tune in wherever I am in my business travels. My favourite channel on the site is “The Best Mix” – a cool blend of comtemplary Christian music, definitely not the hyms and hill songs that ol’ nitrox is used to. ;) Sorry for my ignorance, but it is indeed refreshing for me to find a source of different types of Christian music that rivals the selection of secular music on the airwaves today. Two favourite tracks that I now keep a listening hear for are
1. “Complete” by Andy Chrisman From: “One” (2004) – very cool track. [Click here to have a listen to snippets from the album.]
2. “Omega” by Rebecca St James From: “Prayer” – Rebecca has a voice that certainly attracts attention, and I find the lyrics of the song to be very encouraging. [Click here to have a listen to snippets from the album.]
This site has been a real blessing to me. I believe that part of being a Christian is the priviledge of enjoying the fellowship and presence of the Lord. It is probably something that a lot of us don’t do enough – just put everything aside (including the bible) for a while and just be still in His presence. I find that Christian music helps me to do that, to literally tune out the world and tune in to God. In truth, I do not truly cease all activity and tune in (as perhaps I should), but I find that just listening in to Christian tunes while at work reminds me of His love and grace, and helps me to focus on Him even in the midst of a busy day.
May the Lord's grace, peace and overwhelming love be with you this day as you strive to walk in His ways!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Polar makes speed, cadence and power sensors for the bike so that you can use the same watch (which can be mounted on the handlebar as shown in the picture on the right) to monitor and record your heart rate, speed, cadence, power, etc... Too cool right? First off, I did not get the power sensor (which would negate the speed and cadence sensors) because (1) it is expensive and (2) it can de depressing to know how much power (kW) I am actually putting out compared to the likes of familar things like cars and motobikes. ;)
So I've got the speed and power sensors and found some minor complications when installing them:
- The CR1 is a carbon bike with clear coat on top of the carbon fibres which, according to some forums I read, tend to chip or scratch easier than traditional painted alloy bikes. This means some sort of paint protection is needed before I mount the sensors on the bicycle frame. The CR1 also has a rather different tube profile from the traditional alloy bikes: (a) the top and down tubes are rather FAT (probably to increase rigidity), and (b) the forks have a very cool bladed shape (aerodynamics), both of which makes mounting the sensors at the right angle a bit tricky. After reading and asking many questions, I finally decided to just cut up some old inner tube (courtesy of my local bike shop) and put them between the sensors and the bicycle frame. Probably not the prettiest solution, but hey, it works - protects the paint and gives the sensors good grip on the frame which enables positioning in the needed angles.
- There were some riders who had difficulty getting the sensors to transmit to the watch (which can be mounted on the handle bar). I am not sure if this is due to carbon frames absorbing some of the transmissions, but the guys with carbon bikes seem to have this problem. There is actually a way to increase the transmission power of the sensors and you can find it here, but I am hesistant to do that since it will mean shorter battery life. I found that with some experientation of where to fit the sensor and the angle of the sensor, I can get both the speed and cadence sensors working just fine. Here are some pointers:
(a) Speed sensor - There are two mounting options for this - on one of the front forks for use with the front wheel or on one of the rear chainstays for use with the rear wheel. Some prefer the rear wheel so that the speed sensor can be used with a trainer. I don't have this need since I live in Singapore, so I just chose to mount it on my fork. Even then, the speed sensor needs to be mounted as high up on the fork as possible so that the distance between the sensor and the watch is minimised. Since I do not want to block my nice "CR1" decal, I positioned it just below it (as you can see in the photo on the right). So that's my speed sensor done.
(b) Cadence sensor - There are also two mounting options - on the seat tube or the down tube (purely esthetics as far as I can tell). I have a buddy with the CR1 who could not get the sensor working from the seat tube, so I went to the down tube straight off since that is nearer to the watch on the handlebars. Even then, I found that if I mount the sensor pointing down, it cannot reach the watch. The cadence sensor has to be mounted pointing up (as shown in the picture on the right) for the transmission to work.
So in short, there are two primary areas to watch for. The first I have not spoken about, which is getting the sensor to sense the magnet Polar provides for the spoke (for speed sensor) or the crank (for cadence sensor). This is relatively easy as there is a small light that blinks each time the magnet is sensed, so just make sure that the cable ties around the sensors are not totally tight and adjust the sensors until they can sense the magnet, then and only then do we tighten the cable ties. The second I spoke about at length above, which is positioning the sensors such that they can reach the watch.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Well, carbon actually makes a very good material for bicycle frames as they provide directional stiffness – the carbon fibers can be laid over in such a way as to provide varying stiffness in different directions – which in theory makes it possible to make a bicycle frame that is “stiff” (reduces power loss, improves handling) and yet “comfortable” by allowing some flex in crucial places. I say in theory because just like in car suspensions, stiffness/handling is usually the anti-thesis of comfort – a race/sports car is never as comfortable as a saloon car. Having said that, it really feels that an optimum balance between stiffness and comfort has been reached with the CR1 - it feels as comfortable as my old steel bike, but with sharper handling and faster sprints/climbs due to the much lighter weight.
In truth, another reason why I am so “fixated” on a carbon frame is that many, many years back when I was a young high school kid just getting into road racing, I would spend hours at the local bike shop drooling over the few exotic carbon bikes there, telling myself that one day I will ride one. I may never own a Ferrari, but this is one dream the Lord has graciously allowed me to fulfill! ;)
Why a Scott CR1 Team?
Once I narrowed the choice done to carbon frames, the next biggest consideration was…. budget. I soon learnt that it is cheaper to buy a “complete” bike than to try to assemble one at the local bike shop by choosing the frame, wheels, drive train, brakes, handle bars, etc, separately. In terms of drive train and brakes, I am very happy with my 17 year old Shimano 105 group, so there is really not much incentive to pay more for a pricier component group. So the criteria of carbon frame, 105 group and budget narrowed it down to either the Scott CR1 Team or the Giant Composite 3. I did briefly consider the Orbea Orca/Onix and Cervelo Soloist as well, but I found the former too expensive and the later a bit “dated” (okay, okay, truth is I could not get past the fact that the Soloist was not a carbon frame).So… between the Giant and the Scott, it basically boiled down to which local bike shop I trust for on-going support and service – I also decided to buy the bike from one of the bike shops nearby as I am too lazy to drive my bike to and from the bike shop for servicing. The local bike shop that helped “re-activate” my current old bike carries the Giant bikes, but did not inspire much confidence in the services they provided and the answers to my questions. There was one shop (Cycle Craft) that I felt most comfortable with in terms of price, quality of service and trustworthiness, and they only carried Scott, so in the end the choice was an easy one to make. As it turns out, the Scott CR1 Team costs a bit more than the Giant Composite 3, but has better wheels so in terms of cost effectiveness, they were on par – both are excellent value bikes.
Why a size “XL”?
This is a question I get quite a bit. I learnt another funny thing - bike size seems almost a religion with cyclists – it’s a very personal subject! I suppose after spending a few thousand bucks, no one wants to be told they have the wrong size. ;)
Ok, so bike frame sizing seems to be a mysterious blend of science, art, fashion and perhaps some superstitions. You will be able to find many books and websites on how to choose the right frame, but it kinda got too much for me. I am not planning to do ultra long rides and I am not a very serious racer, so I figure as long as it fits and I’m comfortable, fine and well. I basically fell back on two resources to decide my bike size – (1) My current bike size, and (2) the sizing tool on http://www.wrenchscience.com/. Scott only has sizes in S, M, L, XL, XXL so it was possible to find yourself in between two sizes and that’s what happened to me –I could either take a L or a XL. Most roadies in this situation would go for the smaller frame – lighter and more agile –but I decided in the end to buck the trend and go for the “XL” instead of the “L”. Why? I found the XL to be slightly closer to the measurements of (1) my current bike, and (2) http://www.wrenchscience.com/ sizing tool. Another reason is because I ain’t a vigorous, flexible youth anymore, and at my age, comfort rates higher than speed/agility/looks. ;) But what REALLY clinched it for me is that I felt it is what the Lord wanted me to get!
“WHAT?!?!?!” I hear you say, “Is God really interested in what size your bike is?!?!”. Well, I think so. I believe our God is not just a broad brush, high in the sky kinda God, He is a God of INFINITE love and wisdom who walks with us in our daily lives and cares about the intimate details of our lives. I truly believe that God is interested in every detail in our lives, that is part of what makes them an awesome God. Ok, there is actually a rather convoluted story behind why I believe God wants me to have a “XL”, so here goes…Following the thought process described earlier, I went to the bike store to get a “XL” but they claim that the bike is out of stock globally, as the bikes have all gone out to the bike shops that pre-ordered them earlier. Somehow, they managed to find a “L” and assured me that it would fit just fine. I also spoke to quite a few friends who all assured me that the “L” will fit. So I place my order, fork out the deposit, only to have them call me a week later to say “oops, sorry but some other bike shop beat us to getting the last size L”. I figure that perhaps it is not God’s will, so went to collect my deposit. I was also starting to think seriously about getting a Cervelo Soloist. When I was at the bike store, they offered me a triple chain ring size “L” (I ordered a double chain ring since Singapore is rather flat) for a little bit more than the agreed price. I told them “no thanks”, and rather than lose the business, the bike store was motivated to cover the costs of getting a triple chain ring and converting it to a double chain ring with no price impact to me. I was okay with that, so no change in plans.
I remember that after I got home, I sat down and prayed about it as I was feeling a little cheesed off and suspected that the bike store may not be 100% honest with me. While I was praying (more like complaining to God), it suddenly occurred to me that I should call them up to ask if they can get a “XL” triple chain ring (they seem to be in less demand than the double chain ring) instead since they are going to have to convert it anyway. Few days later, a happy bike store owner calls up to say that somehow they found a “XL” double chain ring model – win-win for all – I get the size I want and no conversion costs for them to bear! So I take this as a confirmation that the “XL” is what God wants me to have, and that’s cool by me. ;)