Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pictures from the Corporate Triathlon...

Bike Leg Finish Line

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!

I am going SOFT!

In more ways than one... Today marks one whole week since the Corporate Triathlon and I have not exercised at all! Brought the boys to their swimming class yesterday (Isn't it strange that kids would listen to the trainer but not to Daddy?), but I couldn't even bring myself to do more than a few fast laps.

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

Why "Kewl Nitrox"?

Ok, I have been asked enough times "Why do you have such a 90's name?" that I will post an explanation.

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!". ;)

So there!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Corporate Triathlon Results

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:
  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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...

A Tragic Accident in the Triathlon

There was a tragic accident on Sat. One of the participants of the relay race drowned - more details in this article on Channel News Asia.

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

My 2nd Triathlon!

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

God’s “911” – Psalm 91:1

‘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.


Do You Dare To Be Happy?

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

Christian Music Internet Radio

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, 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 625X on the Scott CR1

Ok, even as I write this, I am conscious that not many may actually benefit from this, but I feel kinda compelled to share this info - especially I have already taken all the pics! ;)

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.