Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Life is a Race... Part I

Was reminded that the apostle Paul likened our walk on earth to a race (1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 5:7, 2 Timothy 4:7), if so, us tri-bloggers should definitely ace this! ;)

If life on earth is a race, then salvation must be a PROCESS and not an INSTANCE in time - i.e. are we really "saved" at the point of accepting Christ as saviour and Lord? Personally, I don't subscribe to the concept of "once saved always saved" - i.e. the concept that once I accept Christ, I don't need to worry about losing my salvation for the rest of my life. It simply does not gel with God's tremendous sacrifice just to give us free will/choice, neither does it gel with what the scriptures say. I see salvation as a PROCESS and not a point in time - hence when I accepted Christ as my Lord and saviour, my sins are forgiven and the PROCESS of changing me and saving me has started (and will come to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6), but WE ARE NOT THERE YET.

I guess the crux lies in the definition of "salvation". According to David Pawson (whose VCD on "The Normal Christian Birth" my Care Group watched last month), if we limit salvation to "saved from hell", instead of the broader process of "BEING saved into the fullness of God's Kingdom (to serve)", we may have missed the point of Christians being Disciples of Christ. We may also be missing all the wonderful blessings that the Lord has for us when we intentionally run the race as disciples. In the words of David Pawson, when we accept Christ we are JUSTIFIED (through forgiveness of sins) to have a relationship with God and to serve Him, and we will reach the point of SALVATION when Jesus comes again and restores our physical and spiritual bodies.

"What? We are not saved yet?!?!". But the beauty here is that us Tri-Bloggers understand what it means to ENJOY the training/race, and I suspect even my boys do too. Every Sat, I bring R1 and R2 for a bike ride (to the nearby club for a swim) which invariably ends up in a race between R1 and myself/R2(passenger on my bike). The prize is usually ice cream or some other treat, but look how serious R1 is when he is racing - he clearly enjoys the race itself (and of course the ice cream when he invariably wins). ;) Seen in that context, if life is a race then it is a beautiful and joyful thing to race for the Lord.

Sorry, pretty heavy stuff for a Triathlon Blog, so I betta stop. ;) More coming in Part II. Meanwhile, train well, keep safe and God Speed!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sombre News...

Been terribly busy at work since coming back from the business trips, but I have sombre news to share. One of the participants of the Singapore Biathlon (1.5km swim, 10km run) on Sunday (26 March) died 600m from the finish line.

Colonel Bernard Tan was 39 and leaves behind two daugthers aged 2 and 7. More details here. Being a rather senior officer in the Army, I would expect that he was reasonably fit. The cause of death is still unknown.

This is very sad news indeed, made all the more sombre by the fact that back in Oct, there was another death - heart attack during the swim - in the Corporate Triathlon. In that case, the deceased also left behind a family with young kids.

For a country like Singapore, where the people are just starting to exercise a bit more and participation in multi-sports is growing, this is terrible news indeed.

Must confess that I am a bit shaken by this, and of course the wife is again questioning why I am doing all this training. I am still not sure how to react, but I am not about to stop training. A friend of mine commented that this is a reminder for us all to to watch what we eat, enjoy training, and don't sweat the small stuff.

May the Lord watch over you and keep you as you fulfill your mission in life as a triathlete.

Train safe and God Speed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Breakfast of Champions

Inspired by Sean and his yummy breakfast, I was after peanut butter & honey on toast for breakfast while in India (2nd trip this month). For some reason, the hotel does not have peanut butter so I had to settle for honey & butter on toast. Sweet!

Still not feeling 100% - still not much of a voice, but I did squeeze in a 5km in the hotel gym treadmill despite the long working days in Delhi. Will start to pick up training again this weekend after being sick last week.

I realised upon re-reading my post on the last India trip that I may not have been fair to Delhi and India. It is a beautiful country, I just don't get to see the beautiful sights like the Taj Mahal (a few hours drive from Delhi) while business trips. On the contrary, what I see is life in the city - congestion, dust, lots and lots of people... I actually prefer observing how "real" people live in the cities I visit rather than go to the tourist places.

Talking about real people, while on the road in Delhi, I came upon this family moving - there has been a couple of tri-bloggers who have moved or are moving lately, so here is a suggestion on how move everything and the family in one go. ;) We may think it is dangerous, dusty, uncomfortable, etc, but the family seems happy enough. Once again, joy is something that comes within and not without.
Had to snap the pictures in a hurry on my camera phone while we were driving past, so please excuse the reflection of the car seat in the 1st picture.

On the family front, R1 still has not fully recovered from the cold/flu he caught in Malaysia. In fact he now has both an ear infection and conjunctivitis (pink eyes). The poor lad has been thru a spiel of colds/infections and hates the eye drops, so he is not the happiest camper at home. At least he enjoys his abacus (ancient Chinese calculator - a skill I never did learn). ;)

Train safe everyone, and God Speed!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sick :(

Yes, I am sick. Not sure what it is but I have a runny nose, sore throat and I even managed to lose my voice while in Manila this week. (Sorry, I stole this photo of a Jeepney from another website - it's one of the most popular modes of transport in the Phillipines and a very common sight in Manila). Sigh... another no training week. :(

Business travels is picking up - just got back from Manila and heading to Delhi (again) next week, so decided to take the kids to the zoo today.

I just love this picture of R1 and his best buddy in the zoo today. Somehow it reminds me of the days of innocence and freedom before "cooties". ;) Seriously though, it also reminds me of life before the negativities like fears, worries, "what ifs", pressures, compromises came into our lives. Walking hand-in-hand with your best buddy in the zoo on a nice sunny day, without a care in the world, without the world on your shoulders, just KNOWING that all is taken care of - Life does not get much better than that. :)

Perhaps this is what Christ has come to give us... A very wise friend of mine remarked that if we limit Christ's salvation to just "saving us from hell", instead of "saving us into God's kingdom", we may have missed the whole point of Jesus' sacrifice. Imagine how disappointed God may be if we are still hesitating from entering into His Kingdom today, even after He has come and paid the full price of admission. Yes, TODAY, not when we eventually go to heaven, but TODAY. The kingdom of God has come. Some say that because we live in a fallen world, Christians live behind enemy lines, but I like to think of it as God's grace enabling us to have His joy and peace even now, here on earth, despite the circumstances around us.

I've shared before that Psalm 16:8-9 is my current favourite verse and I really think it is the key to God's Kingdom here and now. Here it is in two of my favourite translations:

"Day and night I'll stick with GOD; I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.
I'm happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed." Psalm 16:8-9 (The Message)

"I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure," Psalm 16:8-9 (NIV)

My prayer this week is that we train and live without fears, without doubts, without compromises, revelling in the freedom that Christ has bought us.
Safe training and God Speed! I will be bringing my running shoes to India. :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An Expensive Trip...

Wow... The trip to Malaysia to visit my in-laws turned out to be such an expensive trip. Not so much in terms of $$$, but in terms of health and lack of progress with regards to my training.

Sorry, not many pictures to share here because both my kids fell sick (common cold which led to throat/ear infection for R2 and sinus/ear infection for R1). When we got back to Singapore, my dear wife fell sick too with fever and I had mild food poisioning. All in, zero personal time, zero training time, but at least we got to spend some quality time with my father-in-law.

Just two pictures to share then, 1st the breakfast of champions in Malaysia - Kaya on toast! Basically, take soft fluffy white bread, toast them over a charcoal fire and add kaya (a local jam made with eggs, sugar and coconut milk - sounds gross I know, but it is yummy. Just ask R1 and R2!) ;)

Lastly, a challenge... Does anyone know of fully functional electric sewing machines older than these two (spotted at the local seamtress)? I'll have you know they churn out some pretty fine dresses on those things. ;)

More hotel rooms for me, I'm afraid. Will be on business travels for the next 2 weeks - does not look good for my training plans. Sorry Keith my mysterious swim guru buddy, don't think I will be able to swim much for the next 2 weeks again. Sigh... :(

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Went shopping today and judging by all the swim stuff I now have, one would think I am a pretty serious swimmer, but those of you who have been here before know betta. ;) Just bought these yellow hand paddles together with the pull buoy so I can start to work on isolating and improving my stroke. At the bottom is my trusty old Aqua Sphere Seal Swim Mask from last year - this is probably my best swim investment yet. I also use R1 & R2's kick board which I have not included in this picture. But back to the swim mask - this one happens to be the "dragon" model which is made for Asian faces (i.e. lower nose bridge). They are very comfy and provides great visibility - I could not even see where I was going with my old goggles in my 1st Sprint Tri - they fogged up quite a bit. When I used this swim mask for the other Sprint Tri last year, I could even see my wife and kids on the beach waiting for me to return from the swim leg. Absolutely amazing and helps remove some of the claustrophobia of swmming in a large group. Judging from the Total Immersion "FreeStyle Made Easy" DVD, it is also the only thing in common I have with Terry Laughlin. :P

Of couse, R1 looks much betta in it than I do so I have asked him to model it for us!

Inspired by Keith my mysterious swim guru buddy, I went out and did 5X100m of kicking drills yesterday (30 sec rest in between each set) - warm-up and end with 250m Front Crawl. Total distance of 1km, which is not a lot, but I think doing the kicking drills straight up without swimming in between did me a lot of good. I think I can actually vary how fast I go when I kick now - used to be that no matter how fast/hard I kicked, I pretty much plodded on at the same pace. I will concentrate on both kick and stroke drills for the next 3-4 weeks, and only start stamina swim trainingn after I get some form improvements.

We are driving across the border to Malaysia for a short holiday this weekend, so I am trying to squeeze in as much training time as possible before the weekend. Come back and see my updated training log next week to see how I went. :)

OK, gotta go finish some work - trying to squeeze in a bike ride today. Train safe & have fun everyone, God Speed!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Impressionist Playdoh

Old nitrox ain't much of an artist - I am the only one I know who failed art in elementary school - but have a look at this PlayDoh creation by my R1 which he has named "Tiger in Australia". I dare say there may yet be some artistic gene in my family line after all. R1 did say that the yellow sun is supposed to be up in the sky, but an artist is often limited by the medium. :)

Just to be fair (and to concede to my vanity), R2 wants to submit this picture of me in what he calls my "thin man costume" - he thinks I magically gets thin when I wear this bargain basement USD$9 BODS bodyknit top (clearance sale - remember how old nitrox can't pass up on a bargain?). My wife, in all her political incorrectness, just calls this my "gay suit". Tsk... tsk...

As anticipated, training this week took a hit due to my India trip. All I managed to do was a 6km run in the gym while in India and some swim drills last night. Somehow I had foot cramps in the middle of my kicking drills - started with my big toe and went down to the bridge of my foot, so I had to stop sooner than expected. :( I am hoping to do a 10km run and a 50km ride this weekend, but the trouble with being away is that when I am back, I try to spend more time with the family, so getting both the run and bike in may be a challenge. Will update my training log tomorrow so you will know if I made it or not...

Incidentally, as a "postlude" to my posts about India: The recent email update I received from The Voice of the Martyrs quotes Gospel for Asia (GFA) as saying that "the level of persecution against Christians in India has reached new levels in early 2006, as Hindu extremists work to incite violence against believers. The fight centers on Hindutva, literally "Hinduness," a growing ideology that has a purely Hindu nation as its goal. At a recent large rally, Hindu nationalists called on the states to make their own anti-conversion laws." This probably explains why one of the taxi drivers kept speaking to us in Hindi and was rather rude when we told him we don't understand/speak Hindi! A timely reminder of how blessed we are to be in countries where there is religious freedom and relative harmony, and I guess also a good reminder to keep our Christian brothers & sisters under persecution in prayer support.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Incredible India

Just back from the red eye flight (over-nighter) from India and struggling to stay awake, but I am insipred by Mr Sanguine's Photo Blog so I will do a quick post of some photos from my trip (all courtesy of my Nokia 6680). :)

The picture above is actually a poster in the New Delhi airport that I took while waiting for my flight back to Singapore, but it pretty much sums up India so I thought I will start with that.

Now in proper chronological order...

This is what greeted me when I got off the plane in Delhi - as you can see, I wasn't kidding about the boom in visitors to Delhi in my last post.

After eons in the immigration queues and then the infamous Delhi traffic I arrived at my hotel (Taj Mahal) close to midnight local time - pass 2am Singapore time. It ain't much I know (especially considering that the company is paying USD$300 a night for it), but it sure was welcome relief after the tiring trip. Again, the contrast between the rich and the poor is pretty startling - the hotel is quaint and very well maintaned. Service is superb (bordering on intrusive), with a buttler call button in every room that works 24X7! Went to the gym while I was there and it was the 1st time ever in my life that someone comes up and offers me water and a COLD towel at the treadmill! Personally I prefer modern hotels that are a bit more impersonal (yes, I am an introvert)...

Every morning, I wake up, draw the blinds, and see this - another smoggy day in New Delhi! Now you know why I choose to run indoors on the treadmill when I travel. :)

Reason #236 to get a camera phone - you can snap pictures in a taxi discretely without looking like a tourist and attracting touts. :)

Here are some more random shots from my daily 1 hour commute to the office in heavy traffic...

A typical Indian signboard, also managed to catch a cyclist - there are MANY on the dusty roads. Check out the dirt road just beside the "highway" we are on - this is Delhi for you, dusty when dry and muddy when wet.

Driving in India consists of tearing madly into gaps in the traffic and cars bumping off each other to jostle for space on the badly mantained roads. Which probably explains the general state of the cars here... Notice how the driving mirrors are all bent back - no one uses them here and anything extended outside the car will probably get knocked off in a few minutes anyway!

You won't find a gasoline tanker like this outside India - what gorgeous hand painted graphics! What you see in the background is the commonfolk queuing at a bus-stop.

One last picture, this is a building near our office, and I like this picture as it again plays up the contrast between the gleaming new office building and the sqalid surroundings around it.

That's India for ya! A land of contrasts, colour, smells (not all pleasant) and DUST (or sloshy mud in rainy season).