Monday, July 31, 2006
There may be an important clue here to help us to better understand our Father and His will for us. I remember reading that when Jesus sent out the twelve Apostles, He gave pretty specific instructions to "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town." (Luke 9:3-4, NIV) Later, when He sent out the 72 disciples, again He said "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals" (Luke 10:4, NIV), he again told them not to "move around from house to house" (Luke 10:7, NIV). Why travel and minister under such "deprived" conditions? I believe it is God's will that we are given what we need day by day, so that we will continue to lean on Him day by day.
Perhaps this is also why in Luke 11:9 (NLT), Jesus instructed us to "keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened." This is the essence of Intentional Discipleship - that Christianity is a intentional process where we grow day by day by praying and seeking Him day by day. It is not about a sudden enlightenment or enpowerment that comes from above, neither is it about a single act of salvation/redemption, but a day by day process of learning, growing, and even receiving His loving grace day by day to cleanse us from our sinful nature.
Guess what? This is such a strong parallel to training for a Triathlon/Marathon/Half-Marathon /Century ride, etc... It is an intentional process of training and growing stronger and faster day by day. It is also a day by day dependence on the Lord to heal our aches and pains, injuries, colds/flus, whatever gets between us and training. There are simply no short-cuts! :) So now, I am somewhat content to grow a little faster and stronger day by day. It is the process that matters, perhaps even more than the end result!
On the training end, my ego took a big beating in the New Balance practice run last Sunday. I did 10km in 65mins despite running my guts out (I felt like puking when I finished). :( It was rather hilly and the beach run in the middle was pure torture. To add insult to injury, my two buddies (let's call them NL and PT), who both claim to be not quite up to their usual racing form, totally kicked my butt without really trying. Sigh... Looks like it will be plenty of running day by day before I can get any where near being a credible runner. ;) Been feeling a bit "off" after the run - the usual runny nose, itchy throat feeling - so I guess this will continue to be a rest week. :(
Before I sign off, I was pleasantly surprised by the interest in the Black Chicken Soup in my last post so I scrounged around in the Internet and found this recipe for the adventurous. :) The noodles I used were just rice noodles which I guess can be substituted for any noodles. They are cooked seperately and added only after the soup is done to avoid clouding the soup. I have been told that if you cannot find black chicken, you can substitue with free ranging chicken and it would taste just as good. But really, Cliff got it spot on when he said "What does it taste like? It tastes like chicken." :D
Train safe brothers & sisters, and God Bless!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
So what is a black chicken anyway? If you have not seen one, they usually come with white feathers, but the skin, fleah and bones look like they have been dyed black. When cooked, it looks like boiled chicken that has been dyed black - not the most apetizing of sights. :) But I find black chicken to be usually more lean and thus has better texture and taste than the normal variety. Oh, and they usually cost quite a bit more too.
The funny thing about them is that they seem to all have white feathers. Go figure!
On the training side, I have been taking it easy this week for three reasons:
- Work has been very stressful and as such training time is scarse.
- I am doing the practice run for the New Balance Real Run tomorrow (Sunday, 10km) so I did not want to push too hard in the week. The organisers of the run (i.e., New Balance) are nice enough to conduct practice runs in the actual route every Sunday for a few weeks prior to the actual run on 20 Aug. To further sweeten the deal, we get to try out their latest models on the practice runs, so my buddies and I are going to check it out tomorrow.
- I managed to pick up an ear infection somehow, so no swimming for me for a few days. :( Been feeling a bit tired after the increasing training volume for the last 3 weeks so I guess I will call this week an inpromptu recovery week. :)
Until next time, train safe and God Speed!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
- Would allow her hubby to head straight for a run after getting off the plane, even though he has been away for a week, with absolutely no complaints.
- Would prepare double boiled herbal chicken noodle soup for her hubby so that he gets the protein and nutrients to sustain his work and training life. She would even re-heat the soup three times on three different days, just to make sure that forgetful hubby eats it, never once getting mad with her disorganised hubby for skipping meals or just forgetting.
- Would encourage hubby to go for a bike ride even though it means she will be stuck with the kids again. Would even wave and be proud of her hubby when he gets home from the two hour bike ride, just to head straight out for a run to complete the inpromptu brick.
- Would take the kids swimming with her because her hubby is too busy doing swim drills to watch the kids, even though he is in the same pool.
- Would not complain about her hubby travelling 3 weeks in a roll on business, only coming back for the weekends. In fact she would even plan ahead and volunteer to take the kids to church on Sunday early on Sunday so her hubby can go for his practice run with his mates when he is back in town.
- Would get her sister to get Staminade from Australia for her hubby (because there ain't any in Singapore).
- Skimp and save on her clothes/accessories while her hubby splurges on tri clothes, running shoes, races, etc...
Been quite tied up with work lately, but will try to post some Intentional Discipleship/training updates soon. Meanwhile, train safe and God Speed!
P.S. Sorry but I have had to re-enable "Word Verification" - too many henious attacks by some anonymous comment posting bot. :(
Monday, July 17, 2006
Well, since finding T-Rex, we have been keeping him in a plastic container, but he has out-grown that, and we have been stressing out about where to keep him, especially given that we did not plan to have a turtle to begin with. :) This weekend we finally have some time to take over a old fish tank from my parents, and thanks to some scrounging around, managed to make T-Rex a comfy new home. Total cost? Absolutely nuthing! That makes Cheapo Nitrox happy and I must say T-Rex looks mighty pleased with his new home too! :)
I'm also pretty pleased that I managed to clean up the bike drive train. No fancy stuff - WD-40 is relatively cheap in Singapore, so I just spray it on the chain as a de-greaser to remove the gunk, wipe off the excess with an old rag, and leave it to air dry - all that while leaving the chain on the bike. A lot of bike gurus would not touch WD-40 as it strips grease, heavy oils and drys up the drive train, but that's exactly what I want. After a couple of days, I will add a proper bike chain oil for lubrication purposes - again spray on and wipe off excess. See how my drive train is shining! ;)
On the training front, I managed to get in a 53km ride and 1.5km of swim drills this weekend - I'm starting to miss the hand paddles, so hopefully I will find a good set soon.
On the Intentional Discipleship front, something embarassing to share. My sister is a Christian but she has not been keen to go to church with us in the past, and over time, I just stopped inviting her. Sunday morning, for some reason, I thought I would send her a text message invitation and amazingly, she accepted! :) Later, she shared that she was thinking about attending church more regularly on Sat night, but did not think much about it since I stopped inviting her. The very next morning, she got my SMS inviting her to church! Best of all, she enjoyed the service and wants to attend regularly now. Yay! Praise God! Lesson learnt here is that persistance pays - it's embarassing that I gave up inviting her, when God clearly hasn't. Not an example of Intentional Discipleship at it's best then. :"( I am calling this incident a divine intercession by the Holy Spirit and it is giving me renewed faith that my parents will be saved yet! PRAISE GOD!
So all in all, a great weekend of training, catching up with some chores and a humbling lesson from the Lord. Tomorrow I travel to Indonesia, so I am hoping to get in a run today before I have to live out of a suitcase again... Train safe and God Speed!
Friday, July 14, 2006
First a quick thanksgiving - my back (left shoulder blade) is much better now and I am back to swimming and pull-ups. My toe is also much betta - there seems to be some clear water-like discharge but it doesn't hurt much and I'm back to running too. Thanks for the prayers and praise God for His healings!
OK, I am totally stoked becoz on Wed, I went out and swam 2.2km!! Which is a HUGE distance for me, given that prior to this I have not swam beyond 1.6km or so, EVER. This was made all the more dramatic by the fact that I swam in my dinky little 27.5m apartment pool (yes, I finally measured it) - started at dusk and literally swam till it got dark and the lights came on. :D I focused on staying loose, smooth entry, smooth strokes, slow kicking, just ENJOYING the swim - I think the swim drills are really helping (Thanks Keith and James!). I took 55:26 to finish the swim, but I was not as winded/exhausted as I normally am after a shorter swim! This really boosts my confidence about the O.D. (Olympic Distance) Tri next year, maybe I can even do a Long Course (starts with 2km swim)? :))
On Thurs though, reality came crashing down on me when I went for my 5km "tempo" run. I can do this in 28min on the treadmill so I thought I would go under 30mins out on the road. Well, I ran till I ALMOST puked, and it was still 30mins. :( BTW, I read in the International Triathlon Union site that the professionals run 10km in 30mins in the O.D. Tris!! Oh well, I've never seen Aquaman run much in the cartoons so he can't be a good runner either.
On the Intentional Discipleship front, I learnt today that Jesus knows the value of taking time to rest and re-charge too. :) Just prior to the miracle of feeding 5,000, John the Baptist got beheaded. You can imagine the depression and fear that must have caused to Jesus' followers. In addition, it has been such a busy day that they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31). Jesus' response to the apostles was, interestingly, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Although the people were still coming to Jesus and His apostles with their needs, Jesus called a "time-out" so they could rest and be re-energized - quite literally, the world can wait, because burning out does no one any good.
The plan was thwarted when the crowds followed Jesus and, out of his compassion for them, Jesus decides to teach them and later on even fed the 5,000 (not counting the women and children) with only 2 loaves of bread and 5 small fishes. But what's interesting is the first thing Jesus did when the crowds were fed and presummably His disciples were re-energised by witnessing the great miracle - He went up a mountainside by Himself to pray (Mark 6:46). Even Jesus needs that time of refreshing and re-energizing. How much more do we?
Let's resolve to make time this weekend to rest and re-energize in the midst of training and family/social commitments. Train safe and God Speed!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Firstly, it tells me that when Jesus wore our sins on the cross, He was momentarily wearing God's scorn/wrath on our sins. How painful that must have been for Him, far above the physical, emotional, and mental abuse that He suffered. This is quite literally Spiritual suffering, and I am once again moved by the length and depth that our Lord went to to redeem us.
Secondly, there is actually a cross reference from this verse to Psalm 22, which starts exactly with this verse. This tells me that this was not a cry of frustration from Jesus, but actually the start of PRAISE (Psalm 22 is a beautiful Psalm that starts with a lament, but ends in glorious praise)! Praise that came from meditating on scripture even as He hung in extreme discomfort on the cross. I know quite a few of us meditate on His word when we train, but perhaps there is a bigger lesson for us here on how to deal with difficult times?
Sorry for the "sermon". Like I said, I get excited about such things. :)
On to the "mundane" then... I ran 11km on Monday and rested on Tuesday. What has that got to do with the picture of my foot? Well, if you look VERY closely, you may notice that the circled toe nail is a little red - it's sore to touch and I am hoping the nail does not fall off. Okay, I don't care what everyone else thinks - I am following Cliff's example and calling this my first sign of becoming a "real" runner! ;)
So what did I do on my rest day, you ask? I visited my parents after work and brought back a large cardboard box, so I can make a el cheapo "PlayHouse" for R1 & R2. Check out the video evidence below of how much they appreciate my handiwork. [Sorry, I have tried but failed miserably to try to rotate the video so you don't get a kink in your neck viewing it. Any advice/pointers from the blogging experts would be much appreciated.] Move over Little Tikes, there is a new toy maker in town! :D
Until next time, train safe and God Speed!
Monday, July 10, 2006
- This is the first stage win via a break away win in Tour De France this year! And if you are into cycling, you know it is all about the break away. :)
- He was the under-dog - "It's fabulous!" Calzati enthused, " especially when you think I was the last rider to be picked for the Tour de France team. Last year I crashed out injured, but today I told the team's mechanics that I was going to be at the front."
- Yes, he's French, but you can't fault him for that. ;)
Sorry for leaving my last post sort of hanging in mid-air. As TriBoomer said, the answer is right in my heart, and my heart has been telling me it's time to give up my pride at work and take the high road. No surprise nor earth-shaking revelation, just another case of learning to listen to my heart. I guess this is the essence of Christianity here on earth: A process of Intentional Discipleship bringing us from head knowledge to heart knowledge, to actions, and ultimately to a victorious life in His power and grace. Praise God!
Went for a 11km run on Friday after a laspe of more than a week (been doing only 5km runs), and boy, did it HURT. But I am glad I finished, as it does wonders for my confidence for the coming 10km New Balance Real Run. :) Talking about the Real Run, it seems to be organised for the young army boys, so I guess I will be running at the back of the pack and getting passed often - no different from my usual runs then. ;)
Saturday was swim drills again (1.5km total):
- 6 X 50m front crawl warm up
- 6 X 50m kicking (with kickboard)
- 6 X 50m "chicken wing" (to practice arm recovery)
- 6 X 50m "catch up" (without hand paddles this time) to build some much needed arm power
- 6 X 50m front crawl tempo
Monday morning, crawled out of bed, looked at myself in the mirror and reached to my right for the towel and ... OUCH! I sprained my back (left shoulder blade) somehow! I have NO IDEA where this came from as I did NOT do anything significantly different from any other day. Given that Sunday was a rest day, It's can't be over training either, so I have to chalk this one down to just being a "non training injury", most likely cause - old age. Another case in point of leaning on the Lord for healing while we train - who has time to worry when we can pray? Praise God! :)
Train safe all, and God Speed!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
The beautiful cups and Matthew 23:25 today reminded me to be REAL to myself and to God. To what extent am I like the Pharisees - cups that are washed and clean on the outside, but hiding all kinds of dirt inside?
This week my intentional discipleship challenge is how REAL is it to me that my treasures are supposed to be in heaven?
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will have eternal life. But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then." Matthew 19:29-30
Such a simple concept, yet one that is so difficult to practice in this "real" world (I say "real" becoz I believe the spiritual controls the material, which kinda puts a different spin on what is real - the spiritual or the material world?).
In "real" terms: Do I continue to be obssessed about the promotion at work that I feel really deserve (to be honest, in my pride, I felt I deserved that promotion a year ago, but that's another story)? Do I continue to let the bitterness in me grow and allow the inner voice to keep telling me that I can do a better job than those above me? Or do I truly work with all my heart, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23)?
Am I really able to take the high road, which means to STOP TRYING so hard in my own "cleverness" to secure my own job, get the promotion but instead to put my whole heart in contributing to my employers, to accelerate the growth of my team members - even if it means empowering them so they have the chance to learn/grow at my personal expense of extra effort and opportunity cost of fixing their mistakes, even if it means helping them to "catch up" and surpass me? In the uncertainty surrounding the impending merger, do I stop sitting in the seat of mockers (Psalms 1:1) and not allow the negativity to get to me, and instead be a voice of encouragement and hope?
I think the question behind all that is really: DO I TRUST GOD ENOUGH TO LET GO? Indeed do I REALLY believe God when He says that He is a good God who will make it all worthwhile in the end? If I REALLY do, then the answer to the above is YES.
Have a safe training weekend guys & gals, and God Speed your endeavers. I will be swimming and biking this weekend.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
But before that, thanks for all the helpful advice in response to my last post and please do keep them coming. You all know I need all the help I can get! :)
Like I said, a lot of very wise and encouraging comments, and the general concensus seems to be
- Keep the bike shoes - the efficiency gain is worth the hassle.
- Keeping the shoes on the pedals for a running start and hop on is tough and probably as painful as it looks. :) So I think I will stick to running around in my cleats for now...
- Lot's of good advice about bricks. The intention is to get used to running after the bike, so I can actually just squeeze in a short (15 mins) run after I bike to get my legs used to running after biking. Also, first concentrate on building an aerobic base, then when I am 2-3 months from the event, I start focusing on speedwork (intervals) and strength?
- As expected, I need to run MORE, but not to get too obsessed by speed too early on. I particularly like Jessie's reminder that "intervals are my friends". :)
Thanks Guys/Gals, you are a GREAT bunch!
Okay, onto the video... so I decided to try posting a video straight from my phone to YouTube, and hey, it actually works!
Here's a video of R1 and R2 grooving to a hip Korean song courtesy of our number one Korean soap opera fan - Winnie!
(In case you are new to YouTube, click on the play button in the middle of the screen. Sorry about the picture size, it's a small file from my phone so the resolution is pretty poor...)
And specially for family and friends, click here for the extended version. If you follow this link, you may want to click on the button right next to "Size:" at the right bottom of the player to make the screen smaller and more visible. Enjoy!
That's all folks, that's taken the time for my 10km run tonight, so I guess today is a rest day for me. :) Train safe and God Speed!
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
That's how I feel most times - not reading or learning enough, not joining a local tri club, just blundering along and hoping I am not too far off. Well, perhaps it is time I benefited from the collective wisdom of the blogsphere - or at least from my 5 or 6 regular readers. :)
- Bike shoes or Running shoes?
I will be doing only Sprint events this year and my first Olympic Tri next year. Last year, in both Sprint Tris I put on my cycling shoes in T1, but they were really awkward for running out and into the transition area, and I just about destroyed my cleats. So my question is: If the bike leg is only 20-40km, do proper bike shoes and cleats really make much of a difference, so should I just use running shoes and save some transition time?
- Bike/Tri shoes - leave them on the pedals or put them on in T1?
For those of you who use tri or bike shoes, do you leave them on the pedal or put them on and run with them in the transition area? If you leave your tri/bike shoes on the pedals, is it easy to learn how to jump on the bike and put your feet into the shoes? How about the grit/sand that gets picked up on the run out of the transition - does that become uncomfortable during the bike leg?
- When to do what?
OK, so I know I am supposed to build an aerobic base, and then move to strength and speed. Question is, how far before the event do I start working on strength and speed? Some people tell me that I have to do strength training even now to prevent injuries when I run, so should I be doing different types of strength training as the event draws nearer? Oh, while I am on the subject, when do I start doing bricks, and are bricks just bike/run or is it worthwhile to also do swim/bike bricks as well? Do you do the entire swim/bike/run as a extra long brick training before the event?!?!
- How do I get faster?
This is a source of frustration for me. Despite best efforts, I can't seem to get any faster in the swim, bike nor run! Perhaps this is just a lack of training volume, but I have read that interval work helps with speed. Should I be doing that, or should I leave it till when the event draws nearer?
Oh, and I will probably sign up for the New Balance Real Run on 20 Aug - 10km cross terrain. Hopefully I will be able to get a few good friends to sign up as well. It should be fun!
Train safe everyone, and God Bless!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
1st, more about "Brian" the dog. 13 years ago, I decided to get a boxer puppy, and Brian came into our lives (I know, weird name, but that's another story). When I got married and moved to an apartment, he stayed with my parents because we felt he would be happier in a house with a garden. He's aged a lot lately, and has recently been diagnosed with heartworms (don't follow the link if you have a weak stomach). Was searching for some old digital pictures of Brian and I found this one from 5 years ago (picture - left, above), which presents a rather striking contrast to how old and gray (white?) he looks now (picture - left, below).
Positive testimony to share about Brian: Some weeks back Brian suddenly went off his food/water, and went so weak in a day that he couldn't even walk properly. Took him to the vet and found out he had some sort of viral attack and early stage of heartworm. While waiting, I felt so sorry for the old, weak dog that I laid my hand on him and prayed for healing, peace and comfort for him - the amazing thing is that as I prayed, I could FEEL him relaxing! It's like God's hand came upon him and then and there I knew he would get betta. While at the vet, he drank up two bowls of water (refused to have any water the entire day/night before), and of course pee'd all over the vet's floor - much to my embarassment. But as I was mopping up all that stinking urine, I had a HUGE smile on my face. PRAISE GOD! He was given some asprin and anitbiotics but the vet did not want to treat the heartworms until he got "a lot stronger". Praise God again, that in the few weeks that followed, he got betta and betta, and last week we brought him back to the vet, who has prescribed HeartGuard and asprin for him - since it is early stage (baby worms) and Brian is really too old to go thru a more extensive treatment. Brian is now eating well and looks like a happy, healthy (albeit old) dog again. Truly our God is a God who loves His creations!
So why do I feel like an old dog myself this week? Well, "exciting" 1st week back at work plus the typical 2nd half year kick-offs means busy days and late nights with too much food, beer and wine. :( Was totally not able to do any training Monday to Thursday, but finally managed to make it to the gym at lunch yesterday. So I did intervals on the treadmill - 1km tempo run, 500m recovery, repeast twice more, then close with 500m sprint - total distance/time 5km/29 minutes. May I ask the expert runners here if this sort of interval work is effective for making me faster on Sprint and Oly Tri distances (5km and 10km)? Should I be adjusting it to longer or shorter interval/recovery?
Train safe this weekend. I know I will be. God Speed! :)