Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Polar Software Update!

STOP THE PRESS! This just in from Polar and it contains a bug fix that I have been waiting some months for (more on that mysterious bug later)...


Polar Precision Performance analysis software update

Polar Precision Performance is an extensive training analysis software.

The update file for Polar Precision Performance Software 4 (version 4.03.044, size 3 233 KB) is now available.

Please note that you must have purchased and installed an earlier version of the Polar Precision Performance SW 3 or 4 before you can install the update 4.03.044.

We recommend that the software update is done on all PCs having Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP as operating system and older version of PPP SW 3 or 4. Windows 95 operating system is not supported anymore.

The update contains software fixes.

You can download the software update 4.03.044 free of charge directly from here:


There are also updates for the Polar Uplink Tool SW and the Polar WebLink SW but I am most excited about the Polar Precision Performance software because it contains a totally irrelevant bug fix that has kept me waiting for months! You know how the Polar software on your PC dispays different exercises in different colours? (E.g. By default, Run is Green, Bike is Blue and Swim in Grey.) Well, in the previous version, when you have more than one exercise in a day, it just uses the colour of the first exercise in the calendar - something that was observed by this old and vain Novice Master Triathlete within a week of getting his polar HRM. Now, FINALLY, it displays them in a nice soft blend of two or more colours (see picture on the left). Too Kewl! ;)

Train Safe and God Speed!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Foosball Anyone?

This must be the biggest foosball table that I have ever come across. Saw this in the Munich airport with my colleague, but we were short of maybe 6 other players to get in a game! :)

Otherwise, Munich was pretty much what I expected - too cold for this tropical Novice Master Triathlete to get in any training. :( I did manage to load up on quite a bit of carbo (i.e. beer) and protein (i.e. bavarian food - a lot of pork and very little vegetables, unless you count the sauerkraut), and even had a room in a 3 star hotel with a interesting view. So much for the German sense of humour...

I must say that I found Munich to be a very beautiful city - I had a quick walk around the city centre the day I arrived, and it was very refreshing to see a entire shopping area built into an area with such a strong historical background. Germany being the land of PlayMobil, I was a man on the mission - to carry home as many PlayMobil toys as possible for R1 and R2! :) We are all hooked on the Knight playsets so I was very pleased to find a "Germany only" Knights Playset! Mrs Nitrox thinks I am more excited about PlayMobil than R1 & R2, and I have to agree - I grew up on those toys and I'm still hooked on 'em!

On the training front, it has been a slow two weeks for me in Sydney and Munich. I managed to squeeze in a 6-7km (rolling hills) run in New Castle (Australia) on Friday (2 weeks ago), and a 11km run and 1.6km swim on Monday (last week) before flying off to Munich. I was hoping to do more in the weekend in Singapore between Sydney and Munich, but was "zonked out" from the Sydney trip and decided to apply Joe's rule of "when in doubt, leave it out". Same story when I got back from Munich on Friday evening - I was "zonked out" all weekend (I must be getting old), but pushed myself to go for a 53km bike / 3 km run on Sunday. One thing I have to share is that despite my rather punishing travel schedule, and the fact that I am a light sleeper, I have not had to resort to any sort of medication to get over jet lag, not even melatonin. Not that I don't have difficulties adjusting (my two weekends of feeling "zonked out" testifies to that), but somehow, the Lord just brings me through them and gets me back on track. Praise God!

On the Intentional Discipleship front, last week in Munich was the first disruption since my commitment to daily prayer. Somehow, between the jetlag and the hassle of travelling, I just left prayer out of my daily bedtime routine - how deceitful is the human heart! It was only when I was back in Singapore that I "realised" that I have been missing prayer time, and that as a result I have lost intimacy with God. It's funny how life seems to screw up when prayer goes missing! ;)

Well, I am glad to be back in Singapore this week and look forward to getting "back into the program" where training and Intentional Discipleship are concerned. On the former, I will get back to swim/run and strength training, and on the latter, I get to lead my Care Group this week in our chosen series - Step by Step through the Old Testament. Looks like it will be a good week, and I hope the same for you. :) Train safe and God Speed!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

An Ode to a Old Friend...

Today is a rather heavy day. We had to euthanize Brian the dog, and I was not even there to say good bye - I was home taking care of R1 while Mrs Nitrox napped with R2.

Brian came to our lives almost 14 years ago, and was an almost constant companion of mine for the first half of his life. I remember that when we first got him, he was not yet fully weaned (over-eager seller lied about his age) and we had to get formula milk for puppies which cost more than infant baby milk. That sort of set the tone for the 1st 2 years of his life - a small and thin puppy, prone to skin disease, probably because he was weaned too early.

Thanks to the puppy formula milk, good food and some tender loving care (I remember taking turns with my parents to rub olive oil onto the dry and bare patches on his skin just about every night), he grew a beautiful brindle coat and was indeed a handsome dog. I used to play fetch with him for hours daily (how he loved those old tennis balls), and when I was getting ready for military service, he was a faithful and eager running companion. As a result of all that exercise, Brian grew into a pretty impressive dog - he was quite literarily rippling with muscles. :) He also had an exaggerated underbite, which gave him the look of an almost permanent snarl. I remember that when we walked or ran with him, passers by would sometimes stop and remark how imposing he looked. But we knew better - Brian was just a playful puppy wrapped in the form of a muscular, big dog.

When I got married and moved into an apartment, I had to leave him in the house with my parents, and that began the second half of his life as a guard dog and faithful companion to my parents. I still saw him regularly whenever we visited my parents, but Brian had become "my parent's dog". Being animal lovers themselves, the bond between my parents and Brian deepened very quickly. I remember going over to feed and water him when my parents were out of town, and how much Brian missed them in those occasions. The neighbours used to complain that he would howl at night when my parents were away!

The last 6 months or so has been terrible for Brian. He was diagnosed with heart-worms, and was frequently ill, especially in the last couple of months thanks to the very wet monsoon season. For the last month, he has been persistently coughing/choking, and had difficulty even getting up - my parents had to carry him so he could stand up and pee, and his appetite has been even worse than normal. The vets said he only had a matter of months before expiring as he was getting so old. Before leaving for Sydney, I advised my parents to consider putting Brian to sleep - I didn't think he was comfortable, and I could tell it was getting tough for my parents to continue taking care of him with their aching back and knees. Still, they persisted - they just could not bear to part with their old friend. Last week, while I was away, he got really bad - the vets diagnosed liver failure and fluid in his lungs, and Brian started howling at night and got us really worried that he was in pain. My father decided that if he does not get any better by today, we would euthanize him.

And that's what happened today - we let our dear friend go. My parents seem to be okay, but they have never been public with their grief. Mom admitted that she felt terrible a few days ago when the vet suggested euthanasia, but has come to accept that if he was in pain, we should let him go in peace. Me? I'm glad to know that he is no longer in pain, but feeling lousy that I was not there to say goodbye. Somehow I always pictured that I would be there cradling him as they injected him, but when the time came, I wasn't there. I was too busy.

Brian, you have been more than a dog, more than a friend... You have been a very real and precious part of our family. I thank the Lord for blessing us with you, and hope that as you closed your eyes for the last time today, you were thinking of the balls you chased, the smiles we shared, the warm nights out on the patio, and the butter rolls you loved.

Train safe everyone, and God Speed.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Good News... Bad News...

Good News...
  • Function won over Form - we decided on the Giant YJ251 instead of the Schwinn Stingray. That's R1 with his new champagne Giant YR251 and R2 with the rainbow Polygon 16" MTB just taken over from his brother. The YR251 seems to be Giant's "low cost" Asia only model, as opposed to the more popular MTX125 available in the more affluent parts of the world. In comparision, the MTX125 costs twice as much but comes with 7 speed and a ALUXX frame, while the YR251 comes with 6 speed and a steel frame. I decided to let R1 use the heavier bike and grow some leg muscles. :D
  • The weather in Sydney has been simply beautiful - between 20C to 25C. I managed to finish my work 1/2 day earlier so I get to visit my sis-in-law while I am here. It will be a long train ride (3 hours) but well worth it to see her, her family and the new house!

Bad News...

  • Too many wonderful muffins, brownies, and coffee in the day, and great food, beer, wine at night. Coupled by NO exercise at all this week means I am starting to feel heavy. :(

  • Looks like this planned rest week will be followed by another unplanned rest week - I just found out that I am heading to Munich next week. Sigh... I am really not looking forward to the long economy flight, and another week of too much food/beer/wine and too little exercise.

I plan to squeeze in a tough weekend of training (as soon as I get home on Saturday evening)before I have to leave for Germany. Yawn... It's almost midnite here in Sydney, so I'm off to bed. ZZzzzzzzz... Train safe and God Speed!

Monday, January 08, 2007

You know there is headwind when...

  1. you smell roadkill way before you ever see it
    riders passing you in the opposite direction all seem to look smug

  2. you are going slower downhill than when you were on the flats

  3. when you finally pick up some speed on the downhill, you feel your chin strap strangling you because it is keeping your helmet from flying off

  4. you start looking forward to cars and trucks buzzing by because you get to speed up a little

I am sure you can add tons more... :)

Been shopping for a 20" bike for R1 so that R2 can finally go from his 12" to R1's current 16" bike. Is it me or has kid's bike prices doubled in the last couple of years? :( I have my eye set on a StingRay, but Mrs Nitrox is not so sure - says it is too much of a poser's bike. It's either that or a Giant MTB that comes with gears (but no suspension, figure they are just extra weight on a kid's bike). What do you think - hot rod or MTB (no, there aren't any 20" Tri bikes)?

I've had what counts as a good training week (for this oldie Novice Master Triathlete):

  • Monday - 53km bike, 3km run

  • Wednesday - 5km run, strength training

  • Saturday - 1st open water swim in 2007! (55mins, 2km?) Was at Sentosa with the family - there are some kewl beaches/lagoons there, not to mention our favourite pizzaria where the kids get to pretend to make their own pizzas. Took the opportunity to squeeze in a swim - the water was warm (tropical Singapore) and very very cloudy. There was some traffic (tankers and tug boats) out at sea, so I got the chance to swim across some choppy waters - swallowed some sea water when I turned to breath in the direction of the coming waves, so bilateral breathing helped. :)
  • Sunday - 53km bike, 3km run

Tonight I head to sunny Sydney for the week, so I will sneak in some strength training before my flight and call this my 1st rest week of 2007. Will be bringing my surgical mask for the long red-eye and over-booked plane ride - I've never worn a mason a flight before, but Joe Friel's book says that our immunity drops 24-36 hours after a breakthrough work-out, so this time I will be playing it safe. Will also bring my running shoes and try to fit in a maintenance run at least. It feels fantastic that this rest week was planned for and not ad-hoc for a change!

So until next time, it's "G'day!", train safe and God Speed!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Injury Prevention for the Novice Master Triathlete

Annette asked about injury prevention in her comment to my ealier post on the Novice Master Triathlete. I am a beginner myself in Triathlon Training, but here are some random observations and learnings from the Triathlete's Training Bible by Joe Friel:

  • 10% Rule - Most of you will already know this, but never increase training volume (i.e. time/distance) by more than 10% at a time.
  • "When in doubt, leave it out" - Joe mentions this a couple of times in his book and it sticks to my head as it is good "common sense" advice. Triathletes and runners tend to be highly disciplined people who believe in pushing themselves. Hence there is always a point when you ask yourself "Do I have another set in me?", "Can I run another km even though I have reached my 10% increase in distance?", etc... Joe's advice is that if you are unsure, don't do it. The rationale is that there is no point pushing ourselves to the point of injury, which does a lot more damage to our fitness than whatever gains is in the last set/km. The objective should be to train CONSISTENTLY and not to "kill" yourself in every workout.
  • Keep to rest days - As mentioned in my previous post, us "oldies" need more rest for the body to recuperate after a workout. :) 2 or 3 days rest may be needed after a heavy workout.
  • Strength training - Also mentioned in my previous post, but Master atheletes may need to do strength training year round to prevent injuries related to losing muscle mass - i.e. less muscle mass means extra strain on ligaments, joints, etc...
  • Stretching - According to Joe, studies have shown that athletes that only stretch before exercise (and not after) have a higher probability of injury than those who don't. Having said that, he does encourage stretching post workout. I tried going straight to a workout without stretching, but it just did not work for me - I felt "tight" and uncomfortable. I think this is another area where we have to discover our individual perculiarities. I happen to be someone who needs a proper warm-up and stretching before exercise, so I do it. What is universal seems to be that post exercise stretching (after a bit of cool down or at night as a form of speeding recovery) is ALL good. :) We just skip it too often because there is so much else to do, but this is a discipline worth cultivating. One point to note about stretching post exercise is to NEVER stretch a cold muscle - do some light warm-up (e.g. light running in place) to get the blood circulation going if stretching is done hours after the workout.
  • Warm-up - As opposed to pre-exercise stretching, warm-up is ALL good. :) This could be starting with a light run, swim or bike before the actual work-out. E.g. when I bike, I usually start the first 10 mins spinning a high cadence (90-100 rpm) on a very light load (low gear - small chainring, big cog).
  • Pray - Since this is a "Intentional Discipleship & Triathlon Training" blog, I thought I should keep things in balance and say that from personal experience, prayer helps a LOT. :) There has been too many instances of nameless aches/pains/strains/sprains and even cold/flu symptons that has gone away overnight thanks to prayer. God is GOOD!

Here's my workout at the office gym yesterday:

  • 5km run (treadmill) - 29min?
  • Bent Elbow Lat Pull Down - 3 sets of 15 reps (intended to do 20 reps but I picked a weight that is too heavy)
  • Leg Press - 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Sitting row - 3 sets of 15 reps (again, I picked a weight that is too heavy)

Had to cut it short to make it to a dinner appointment last night.

Yaaawwwnnn.... I am feeling the effects of getting up at 6am two nights in a row to send R1 to school. Unlike you hardy ironmen/women and marathoners, I am NOT a morning person. Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back to Life...

... Back to reality, Back to the here and now yeah... Those of you old enough will remember the 1st two lines of this song from Soul II Soul. :)

It pretty much sums up this week - time to put away the Christmas decorations and pack up the school bags. R1 goes to a new Primary (i.e. Elementary) School tomorrow (and so this year onwards we start weekdays at 6am), R2 goes back to the kindergarden and I go back to work right smack in the middle of the 2006 financial review.

On the Intentional Discipleship side, I am keeping to my daily prayers, but still struggling to get the bible reading in everyday. I will return to serving at the Toddler's Class at church every 1st Sunday of the month, and will also be leading bible study in the Care Group a lot more often than last year. I'm excited because so far I seem to be keeping to my Intentional Discipleships resolutions for 2007. Praise God!

On the Triathlon Training front, I have started training again. In addition to swimming, cycling and running, I have also started doing some strength training for the first time in my life, and hence have a ton of questions for the experts here. So far, the following is what I am doing, and consistent to the Anatomical Adaptation (AA) Phase in the Triathlete's Training Bible (Joe Friel), I am doing 20-30 reps per set. Everyone I spoke to is telling me that this is WAY too many reps, but I am sticking with Joe on this one, as I am not looking to build mass but to build strength. Being lazy and averse to the risk of injury, I did not try to find out what is my 1RM (1 Rep Maximum) weight for the exercises. Instead I am picking weights that give me some burn in the muscles (and sore muscles the next day), but not so heavy that my arms and legs are shaking at the end of the work-out. Is that heavy enough? Or will I get better results by going heavier??
  1. Squats - I find doing this with a weight bar on my shoulders to be quite tough because I have to lift the weight bar over my head to get it on my shoulders to begin with! ;) So now I am thinking to just do this with dumb bells in both hands, what do you think?
  2. Bent Elbow Lat Pull down - I like these.
  3. Knee Extension
  4. Chest Press Or Push Ups - I actually find that plain old push ups are a better workout for the chest than the machine.
  5. Back Pull Down (replaces the seated row as my gym does not have that machine)
  6. Abdominal Crunches - Again, I find the plain old crunches to be a better workout than pulling on the machine.
Does my strength workouts look about right to you?

I have started running again too, and yes, it was painful and slow. :) I am too embarassed to tell you how long I have stopped cycling, but when I pumped up 'em tyres yesterday for a ride, they were at 40psi! :D

Here's wishing you a BLESSED 2007! Train safe and God Speed!