Monday, October 30, 2006

Video Proof...

... that bad swim strokes are hereditary. :)

Here is R1 doing the front crawl...

And this is me doing it...

Sorry for the poor video quality - these were taken on my phone - but I would very much appreciate some swim stroke advice please. It still takes me 40mins to swim 1.5km in the pool, so I am not getting much faster, although I am less exhuasted at the end of the swim. When this video was taken, I could still have a conversation after I finished the 1.5km - maybe I am just not swimming hard enough? There doesn't seem to be any Masters swim classes in Singapore, so any advice that you can give will be much appreciated. E.g. Do you use hand paddles? Do they really help build speed? What sort of swim drills do you do?

Have a great week ahead, train safe and God Speed!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bring on the Pain!

I am so stoked by Steven's post that "The Truth Hurts". In this day and age of over-whelming advice against the dangers of over-training, over-stretching, etc..., there is a place for good clean PAIN. As Steven aptly puts it "The truth is...anyone can run faster. But sometimes, the truth hurts."

As you know, my training volume had been dropping, and last week I started cranking up the training volume again (from 1 run the entire week before to 1 swim, 1 run and 1 bike/run brick). On Monday, I did my 1st swim drills in weeks and it hurt. Just last night, I was thinking, "Just what am I doing? I was never an athelete, and here I am almost 40, my body is going South, and I am trying to swim/bike/run faster? Am I deluding myself?!?!" This morning, I went for my 1st 11km run in weeks, and it was slow and painful. But the truth is, coming back from a hiatus will always be painful. While it is wise to train safe and avoid injury, there is also definitely a place for pushing it despite the pain sometimes. Afterall, training is all about over-stressing the body, and then resting to build strength and fitness. There is still some truth left in the old adage "No pain, no gain" - if we are not over-stressing our bodies to begin with, what's there to rest from? :)

On a seperate note, I read on Ironman Live that Team Hoyt did not make the swim cut off in Kona last weekend. It's kinda sad that it was probably their last ironman attempt - at 66, Dick feels it’s time to change his focus to the shorter Ironman 70.3 series. That has got to be painful - swimming 3.8km (2.4 miles) towing his son on a dingy only to miss the swim time cut off - but it does NOT subtract from the awe and inspiration Team Hoyt brings each time we read or watch a video about their indominable spirit. Go Team Hoyt! Way to show us how to live life to the fullest!

So train hard, but train safe, and may the Lord speed your efforts as you push yourselves to the next level!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Many of you already know that Singapore has been affected by a haze from the peat forrest burning in Indonesia. This following is the PSI reading (Pollution Standard Index, anything below 50 is good) from the East of Singapore over the last 10 days (you can find the detailed version here):

  • Sunday (15th Oct '06): 93
  • Monday (16th Oct '06): 91
  • Tuesday (17th Oct '06): 86
  • Wednesday (18th Oct '06): 75
  • Thursday (19th Oct '06): 73
  • Friday (20th Oct '06): 96
  • Saturday (21st Oct '06): 75
  • Sunday (22nd Oct '06): 67
  • Monday (23rd Oct '06): 78
  • Tuesday (24th Oct '06): 45!!!!
Yup, the PSI dropped off a cliff to 45 today! According to this news report today, it is due to "a turnaround in wind directions". Was it a coincedance that today is R1 & R2's outdoors birthday party by the beach and we have been praying against all odds (and weatherman forecasts - this report from Monday 23rd Oct was still calling for haze till the end of the week) that it would be a clear day this morning so the kids can have a safe and fun time outdoors today? You decide.

All I can say is that we did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to deserve this, but God is just THAT GOOD!

I know that a lot of you have races coming and are already into your taper periods. I praise God that He is helping me to build the faith to know that He has kept you safe in training and will continue to speed your efforts!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

60,000 Angels

For some reason, the number 60,000 sticks in my head...

"Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" Matthew 26:53 (NIV)

That's what Jesus said when the mob came for him, and Peter rashly drew his sword and cut off the ear of one them (Matthew 26:47-56). I believe a Roman legion in Jesus' time had about 4,000 to 6,000 fighting men (later reduced to 1,000 men in the late part of the Roman empire), let's call it 5,000 - so 12 legions wuold be 60,000! When I read this passage, I imagine that when Jesus was humiliated, tortured and finally crucified, there was 60,000 angels ready to come and rescue Him, and probably lay waste to this world that has done everything to reject its Maker. To me, that's power - Having the ability to stop the torture and punish the world, but having the strength to hold back and take the torture/death because it was the only way to reconcile us to Him. I am ashamed to think of all the times I retaliated at someone else, for no better reason than because I can - that's not power, not strength, in fact, in my case, a lot of times it's just pettiness. Don't get me wrong, Jesus does not expect us to be push-overs. In fact, He taught the apostles to be "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16), but too often have I fallen into the trap of reacting/retaliating first, and then trying to rationalize what I did. I don't think that makes God happy. Mental Note to Self: Real power sometimes comes from exercising graceful restraint, not from retaliating just because I am "clever" or "powerful" enough.

OK, on to the review of my new headphones as promised - the Sennheiser OMX 70 - I brought them to the gym for a 7.5km run (intended to do 10km). As with all headphones, sound quality varies very much with positioning of the "speakers" in your ears and thanks to the bridge behind the ears and small rubber rings on the "speakers", they stayed pretty much in the same place. The headphones came with seperate sponge covers and larger size rubber "rings" for a better fit, but I found that I really didn't need them - the standard stuff that it came with worked great. The first time you use these, some positioning/adjustments is needed in front of a mirror (the "behind the ear" bridges are adjustable), but once that is done, it is pretty easy to get them to seat right (I still check myself in the mirror just to be doubly sure the "speakers" are sitting nicely in my ear). Oh, and the bridge behind the ears are made of soft rubber, so they are pretty comfortable. Folks, let me tell you that ol' nitrox sweats buckets - especially in the hot & humit weather in Singapore. I am one of those folks you don't wanna run too close to, because I literally drip from my head, shorts and hands, so if these work for me, chances are they will work for you too. :)

Despite what the weatherman said, it seems to be getting a little less hazy, and I was able to get in a ride/run on Saturday. Praise God! I was starting to feel kinda guilty that the only action my bike saw in the last couple of weeks was as a over-priced catapult - that's R2 in the picture, using my aero bar and a rubber band to shoot folded paper pellets at his brother. I was trying hard not to see the indignant look the bike was giving me! :)

On the training front, I must confess that my training volume has been dropping consistenly for about a month now, culminating in only one 5km run all of last week. No excuses this time, just plain lazy. Of course work and family continue to press for time, but I am just not managing my time dilligently, and giving in far too often to the desire to sleep in or take a nap. :( It's too easy to keep using my travels as an excuse for not having any sort of training schedule. I think I really gotta go get myself a copy of The Triathlete's Training Bible - I've seen it heavily recommended by you guys/gals, more importantly I gotta come up with some sort of training schedule and KEEP IT SIMPLE AND FLEXIBLE. Will start training more in the mornings, and maybe just call my travel weeks speed/interval weeks in the hotel gyms. A plan is hatching... I am just too tired of my "stop and go" attempts in triathlon training! :(

Thanks for all the advice, encouraging comments, and being a sanity check for me. Train safe and God Speed!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Toy!

Check out these cool sports (sweat proof) headphones! Just when I had given up on finding water proof headphones, my office had the "one day only" 10% discount off Sennheiser stuff. Praise God! There were a couple of designs, but after trying them on, I decided on these (OMX 70) as they feel the most comfortable and secure (you should have seen me shamelessly running and jumping in the showroom just to make sure they won't pop out). :D I am hoping to bring it for a run today before I post a more detailed review.

The haze has receded somewhat over the last two days. Praise God! The weatherman calls it a freak, but I am calling it God's grace and praying that the clear skies will hold. As you can see, my bike has been sulking in the living room and if I don't take it for a ride this weekend, our relationship could be somewhat strained...

On the Intentional Discipleship side, I was reading Acts 18:24-28, when it occured to that I could very well be like Apollos - someone who seems to know the Scripture, but yet does not know the Holy Spirit. Acts 18:25 describes him this way: "He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism." (New Living Translation). John's baptism was a baptism of repentance from sin, but Jesus' baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, where life is found in faith in Jesus Christ. While I have encountered the Holy Spirit before, and I do feel His presence (sometimes) when I worship, I have not spoken in tongues, and sometimes I wonder if I have actually already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit... I know that some people teach that speaking in tongues may not be an indication of having been baptised in the Holy Spirit, but why do I still try so hard to do things my way, instead of being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:5-8)? And is this why my ministry feels so "stop and go" and not fully "empowered"? Sorry if I have lost the pre-believers reading this, but this is a bit of a tough one for me to get over right now, and I just gotta be the dreamer that I am... ;)

Until next time, train safe one and all, and may God Speed your endeavors!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Polar Opposites... Part III

Plenty of great comments again. :) In particular, Ellie reminded us that when Jesus said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", He was praying Psalms 22 - which begins in a desperate cry out to God but ends in Praise. At the risk of exposing myself as someone who re-cycles the stuff in my posts, I will stop going off topic and just point you to a longer version here. ;)

Actually, what got me started on this topic was a personal observation that I made 2 weeks ago in Tokyo. I wasn't having a good week and the funny thing is that often when life presses in, the quality of my worship actually improves. Well, I made a rather simple but yet profound (to me) discovery - when I am immersed in the depths of worship, I become incapable of sinful thoughts/temptations!

Perhaps this is what Paul referred to when he said:
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)

So it seems to me that worship and sin/temptation are polar opposites. Somehow, I cannot praise God and yet habour sinful thoughts. It certainly took no effort on my part to work out that I was not being fair on my senior managers & colleagues who were travelling with me - I simply cannot praise God for His love with a hard heart! Now if only I can be CONSISTENT in worshipping the Lord... ;)

On the training front, today's headlines says it all - "Singapore maintains health advisory over haze". It has been incredibly frustrating that when I am finally back in town and can be away from the kids for a few hours, the haze prevents me from heading out for a swim, bike or run. While it's summer in Singapore all year round, this period of haze effectively brings on a "off-season" for any sort of outdoors training. :(

Thanks for the well-wishes and prayers. R2 is much betta this morning, Praise God, but we kept him from school as he still has a fever.

To you guys/gals that are still able to train, do it safely and God Speed!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Polar Opposites... Part II

Papa Louie left a very pertinent comment about 2 Corinthians 5:21 - "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV) - which really brings to bear the extent of the sacrifice that Jesus made.

I am guessing that what hurt Jesus the most is probably not the pierced wrists, the thorn of crowns, the whipping/punches/kicks, not even the insults and humiliation, but the fact that as He hung on the cross, He became sin, and felt the full scorn/wrath of God. Perhaps this is why He cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). I can imagine that as God looked down at Jesus on the cross (His very own incarnation and Son) , for a brief moment, He saw the sin that Jesus represented on the cross, and withdrew His love even from Himself. God is spirit, which is why I guess that is probably the greatest hurt that Jesus felt on that cross.

Another pertinent comment from Papa Louie is how do we share about Christ to those who feel that they are living a good life and don't need God? This is a tough and very worrying one. Even Jesus said "I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent." (Luke 5:32, New Living Translation). I am the most worried about those around me who feel they don't need God. So many people find God in a crisis that sometimes it seems that our God has to bring a crisis into our lives just to bring us back to Him. But, if that's what it takes for my loved ones to be saved, so be it. Better a crisis in this life than to forfeit eternal life in God's kingdom.

R2 is sick with stomach flu - high fever and throwing up just about any food we put in him - so he is quite a miserable lil' camper. Thank God that he is at least able to retain some fluids and is still peeing (a good sign that he is NOT dehydrated). Gave him some good old Staminade so we can get some carbohydrates and salts in him. Hope there's no side effects in kids! Maybe it will make him the Iron Man that I never will be. :)

Oops, got carried away as usual, looks like what I had intended for Part II will now become Part III once I have some time to post. Train safe and God Speed!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Polar Opposites

What are polar opposites? In my book, it means things that are the anti-thesis of each other. Things that cannot exist together by definition of what they are. A good example is light and darkness. By definition, there is no light in darkness and vice versa. Another example is God and sin. The definition of sin is everything which detracts from God's perfect love and will for us, so there is no sin in God, and there cannot be anything Godly in sin.

This actually helps me understand why God is so hard on sin, and why there is a hell. By definition God abhores sin, just as nature abhores a vacuum (where there is a vacuum, there is no air, and vice versa). Because of that, sin seperates us from God. In spite of His awesome power, God cannot help that, because that is the very definition of sin - the decision to exercise the free will God has given us to choose to not to respond to His perfect love and will for us. Just like I could not help the fact that some of the gals I fancied in my younger life did not quite accept my affections. :) So sin seperates us from God, and each sin we commit pulls us further away from Him. He cannot say "never mind, all is forgiven" without giving up who He is. And frankly, I would not be impressed with a God who is not consistent with who He is - can you imagine the chaos with an unpredictable God who changes His mind? The only way God can get rid of sin and bring us back to Him is to pay the price for sin, all sin. The rest is, literally, history (get it? His Story). :) He stepped out of eternity and into time, suffered physical, mental and spiritual abuse, and He died to pay the full price for sin. I could even say that He did that just for you, because He has no control over who will accept His sacrifice (grace) and come back to him. So technically, He would have done the same if the only person in the world who accepts His grace is you. WOW! Praise God!

So why is there hell? My theory is that hell is simply "where God isn't". At some point (let's call it judgement day), God will have to seperate those who accept Him from those who don't. He will respect the decision of those who choose not to be with Him. I'm not sure if there will be eternally burning fires and other horrors in hell, but I'm willing to bet that life without God for eternity is pretty "hellish". It scares me to think that my parents still do not accept His grace. It REALLY scares me. :(

On a lighter note, I ran naked in Tokyo today. ;) Did not to bring my HRM, not even a digital watch (stopwatch). The weather was great - 72 °F / 22 °C - what a difference from the hot humid weather in Singapore! :) Ran for 30mins and thanks to the weather I did not even feel tired for more than half the way. Praise God!

Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm a Babe

Sorry, but seriously, I am a spiritual baby, and I am ashamed about it.

"You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food."
Hebrews 5:12 (New Living Translation)

For too long now, I have been a spiritual babe. I have not yet truly learnt that life/work is not about fame and riches, but rather it is about love, peace and joy - unspeakable and unshakable joy. Just this week, I have been feeling like I am an order of fries short of a Happy Meal. I have been looking at the senior people I work with, their expensive suits, business class travel, lavish lifestyles, all the "clever" comments and thinking to myself just what is keeping me from reaching that level (it is certainly not ol' nitrox's age - 'em senior management types are getting younger by the day). To make things worse, just when I was consoling myself that at least I have a life outside work, I found out one of them runs 10 km under 45mins DAILY. ;) In short, I have been allowing the riches and the worries of the world (Luke 8:14) to poison my heart against the unspeakable joy of the Lord.

This is where Christian Music Radio comes in. Thanks to my iPOD and a MP3 recording software, I am finally able to listen to recorded segments of Christian Music Radio on the long flights and train/bus rides, and I can tell you it is simply WONDERFUL to be able to blast the music, close my eyes, and let my heart and soul sing/shout to the Lord inside. While God enjoys our worship, I don't think He needs it, but we sure do. Personally, being able to worship Him in song (even though it is listening and silent singing inside) has helped me to stay centred in Him. He has reminded me to think about what Jesus would do in my circumstances - He would not really care that much about the outcome, rather He cares much more about the people we encounter and what we go through. Keeping that in mind, helped me to see the senior managers for who they really are - senior individuals with passion to help us close the deal. It also opened my eyes to the value of the high level relationships and wisdom that they bring. PRAISE GOD!

I got back to Singapore yesterday (Sat) evening to a CHOKING haze. Visibility was about 100m and being outdoors felt like being trapped in a room of smokers. So we prayed, the family and I, so did many other families, I reckon. And Praise God, He swept the haze away - this morning (Sunday) the skys were clear. I cannot call it anything else but a miracle - the PSI (Pollution Standard Index) was 150 (anything above 100 is "unhealthy") and I was choking, this morning it was below 50, and now under 30 - I can't even smell the smoke anymore, so I'll be heading out for my weekly ride/run brick. :) Like what my dear wife said, "God ain't gonna let the haze keep His people away from church". AMEN!

I simply cannot say it enough - GOD IS GOOD! Train safe everyone and God Speed!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

God is Good...

Come on, say it with me, "ALL THE TIME!" :)

Okay this has been a TOUGH week. I am travelling with two senior managers this week, trying to close a deal, and if you have been there, you will know the pressure, follow-up work, "servanthood" that I have to put up with. Worst of all, I will only get back to Singapore Saturday evening, effectively cutting my precious weekend in half. :(


God is good! I managed to squeeze in 2km of swim drills before I flew off to Hong Kong:
  • 10 X 27.5m = 275m front crawl warm up
  • 4 X 27.5m X4 = 440m kicking drills (with kick board)
  • 4 X 27.5m X4 = 440m chicken wing (single arm pull/recovery)
  • 4 X 27.5m X4 = 440m catch up (with hand paddles)
  • 20 X 275m = 550m front crawl tempo

God is good! I got my paws on the beautiful black iPOD nano in Hong Kong. I got the exchange rate wrong - it ended up costing about the same as in Singapore. ;) But I am so stoked that I managed to rip a few long segments of my favourite Christian Music Internet Radio segments and they sound fine on the iPOD! Now to get it "water-proofed" so I don't kill it with my sweat.

God is good! I even managed to squeeze in a run this morning at the gym.

God is good! Turned on the TV in the hotel room and managed to catch the 2006 St Croix 70.3 - how cool is that? Ol' Nitox is too cheap to have cable at home so it is indeed a treat to catch some Tri action on TV. :)

Another testimony of God's grace enabling me to get through a trying time. PRAISE GOD!

Until next time, keep those podcast, Internet Radio, streaming/download music tips coming, train safe and God Speed!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hazy Days are Here Again

Sigh... it seems the haze is back. Over in Indonesia, forest fires are raging (mostly man-made - to clear the forrest for industrial or agricultural use) and this time of the year, the wind changes and it blows the haze into our sunny island Singapore. Besides the obvious inconvenience and discomfort to any sort of outdoors activity, it is rather sad to know that somewhere in Indonesia, another forrest is dying... :(

On a more positive note, I managed to find a freeware that "rips" Internet Radio into MP3 files. If you would like the link, email me (sorry can't remember it off hand and I probably shouldn't be promoting a software that I have only just tried myself). I hope to get my paws on the iPOD later when I get to Hong Kong, so I can try the sound quality of the ripped Internet Radio segments. The word "rip" actually made me wonder if I am doing the right thing - am I depriving the artists of the royalties that should be going to them? On the other hand, I am not ripping out the songs individually, I am recording the entire Internet Radio broadcast over a couple of hours so I can listen to it again. Is that unethical? I think what I will do is that as I listen to the ripped Internet Radio segments, I will take note of my favourite songs and purchase them on iTunes, so the artists get their royalty and I get my proper CD quality songs. :)

Meanwhile, any "tips"/links to kewl Christian and/or Training podcasts, Internet Radio, sermons, streaming music, etc... that I can download for the iPOD would be very much appreciated. Any kewl Christian contemporary music sites - pop, rock, worship, etc... - is especially appreciated. Thanks in advance!

This week I go to Hong Kong and Japan. Will try to squeeze in a run at the hotel gym. Meanwhile, train safe and God Speed!