Thursday, December 29, 2005

His Grace is Sufficient

Was sharing with my Care Group (fellowship group) about our Australia trip, and it occurred to me that even this small act of giving up my (1st ever) upgrade to biz class is an example of how God's grace is more than sufficient for us even in the little things in life. Here is an excerpt:

"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

Christmas Holiday

Sorry, but this is going to be a long post which has not got much to do with Intentional Discipleship nor Triathlons. I have been keeping a daily log on my phone and dgc did ask me to put up some pictures, so I thought "Why Not?"...

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

Merry Christmas!

I was sitting in my niece's room last night watching the digital clock tick by, thinking about how quickly the holiday (and indeed life in general) is zooming by, when it occured to me that life is too short to be a fake.

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

A Riddle...

Hello from sunny Australia!

Here's a riddle from my niece:
"What is greater than God, poor people have lots of it, rich people don't want any, and if you eat too much of it you will die?"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Have a Blessed Christmas!

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...

"The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Aero Bars & Running Lights

Phew, it's been a really busy week for me. I picked up a new role - or should I say an additional role since I am still doing my old job - so I've been spending a bit more time than usual in the office. Just as well that I am taking a couple of days off work next week and then heading to Austrialia for a well earned Christmas holiday after that. :) Thank you Jesus!

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!

Aero Bars
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. :) ]

Running Lights
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

5 Hour Transition!

Sunday was a Great day and a round up to a good week. It started with my son telling me "Jesus is my super hero, he is better than superman or batman or the incredibles!". :)

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

Clip-On Aero Bars?

Sorry, but I need some expert advise from the "serious" bikers out there. Ok, I am one of those people who uses a road bike for Triathlons. Partly because road bikes are less expensive (pound for pound) and more available in Singapore, partly because I thought I was gonna continue my Saturday group rides (which has now kinda died away), and partly because I don't think I will ever do anything more than a Olympic Distance triathlon. Bottomline, I still love my Scott CR1 Team (I'll post a full review soon), and enjoy very minute of riding it, but I am starting to miss the clip-on aero bar on my old road bike - all said, they do offer a more comfortable and aerodynamic position which means a faster ride.

So my questions are
  1. Should I get one?
  2. 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)?
  3. 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?

Which one?

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

Coming out of the Closet!

Okay, here it is - I am a SLOW swimmer, cyclist and runner. Been trying not to post any timings to hide my inadequacies, but just thought that I should get it out of the way so I can focus on getting ready for the Olympic Distance triathlon in July. I also realised that I should not be stealing from the Lord's glory by under-stating the challenge of trying to finish the Olympic Distance Triathlon in July.

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!