Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Character Building Week

Sorry, I am reporting late on the week past again, and yes, it was a "character building" week. You know those weeks where you come back from being away from training and it takes an extra effort to get out the door, and even more effort to finish the tail end of the workout? That's been my week. "Character building" sounds a lot betta than "painful", doesn't it? :-)
  • Mon: Still recovering from the last virus attack
  • Tues: I knew it would be painful character building getting back, so decided to jump in the deep end and start with intervals in the office gym - only managed to do 4 of the 5 planned 1km intervals.
  • Wed: Just in case there is more character building I have to get out of my system, I did a 10km run. Yes, it was slow and uncomfortable, but I got it done.
  • Thurs: In Indonesia, and I rested.
  • Fri: In Indonesia, but managed to get in some character building strength training in the hotel gym on Fri morning.
  • Sat: Family day, so I went for a very easy bike ride with R1 & R2. This time, R2 decided to ride his own bike with training wheels (instead of being ferried on my bike) and got a good workout in the 7km or so ride. R1 claims that he did not even really work up a sweat. :)
  • Sun: 50km ride / 5km run. This was easily the highlight of the week. I have steadfastly refused to name my bike, but I am starting to understand why many do, because I was so proud of my steed - we caught up with a young guy riding a Cervelo P3C and managed to keep up with him! Sure, he kept pulling away but we kept catching him at the lights. ;-) Not often that I can say that about someone half my age (okay, maybe 2/3) riding a bike that costs twice as much as mine, so I'll take life's little victories as they come. :-D

While on the subject of character building, my car got towed to the workshop for the second time in 7 months. :-( Seems it is the clutch this time as the transmission was slipping very badly. The mechanic was kind enough to let me use a flaming red Mazda 3 in the meantime - it sure is humbling to see the Nitrox clan getting excited to exchange the family mover to the loaner. ;-) I am bracing myself for when I have to tell R2 that we are returning the shiny new car...

In the same vein, I have had to return my flashy test phone as it has now been productised. So there may be no more kewl pics from me for a while until I get my paws on another test phone.

OK, that's probably enough "character building" news for now. Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Monday, March 19, 2007

So Why Intentional Discipleship?

When I started this blog in 2005, I wrote long, winding posts like Intentional Discipleships and Triathlon Training, and So What's the Deal with Intentional Discipleships, but I don't think I ever articulated in clear succint terms what is Intentional Discipleship and why it is so important to me. So in the spirit of the "never say die" attitude in triathlon training, here's another go:

  1. I believe that Christianity is a process and not just a point of accepting Christ, because Christianity is about having a relationship with God, and the point of accepting Christ is just the start of this relationship.

  2. In order to have a healthy relationship with God, I believe that we need to have Intentional Discipleship in three crucial disciplines: prayer, reading His Word and honouring Him by how we live- i.e. how we treat ourselves (body and soul) and how we treat those around us. Hence the similarity between Intentional Discipleship with Triathlon Training where we have to constantly balance the three disciplines of swim, bike and run. Which explains my facination with Intentional Discipleship & Triathlon Training, and hence the title of this blog. :)

  3. At this point, some may object and remind me that it is purely by God's grace alone that we are saved. We are not able to do anything to save ourselves. They are absolutely right! In fact, it is a sin to even try to earn our salvation through works because only God can save. The crucial point here is the definition of salvation, and I believe that if we define salvation to be just entry into heaven and eternal life (as astounding as that is), we might have missed the fullness of God's incredible grace. I believe that Jesus came to give us fullness of life as He intended it to be (John 10:10), and the best part is that the offer starts now, not just when we go to heaven! And I believe that to unlock this fullness of life, we have to know Him in a very real and intimate way. We simply cannot learn from someone we do not know, respect and meet with regularly - hence the importance of Intentional Discipleship to get to know Him more and more. So in short, I don't believe that Intentional Discipleship saves my soul, but I believe it to be the key that enables me to start having fullness of life even now when I am still on earth.
And that's why Intentional Discipleship is so important to me. It is my prayer that somehow, we can journey together and learn together, and together unlock the fullness of life that Jesus has designed for you and me.

Train safe and may God Speed our journey of discovering the fullness of life!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Zero Training Week

Yup, it's been 10 days with ZERO training and counting...

By any measure of the world, this week has been a wash-out. It was the one week mid-term school break, but the entire Nitrox clan has been down with the flu bug all week. (Okay, technically it is a viral attack and not an infection, and hence not the flu as such, but ...) It started on Monday with Mrs Nitrox having high fever and R2 having cough/runny nose, slight fever and vormitting. By mid week, R1 got it bad - high fever off and on for 2 days(despite Panadol and Ibuprofen), totally clogged up (had spells of difficulty breathing - R1 has histroy of asthma), and the runs. My symptoms also got serious enough to warrant two days of medical leave.

BUT, as Mrs Nitrox and I were just musing, if we do NOT use the measure of the world, it actually turned out to be a pretty good week, and we have so much to be thankful for:
  1. If Mrs Nitrox and the kids had to get sick for a week, it's probably better to have happened in the week of school holiday then a school week. It would have been too much hassle and pressure otherwise - re-arranging for car-pool to school, getting medical leave for R1 and then helping him catch up with school work afterwards (yes, we get school work even at Primary/Elementary school in Singapore), stressing out about how much school the boys are missing, etc...
  2. R1 and R2 are blessed with "peds" (doctors) who really love kids, and who are also close friends in church. So quite literally, instead of getting antibiotics for the viral infection, we get good medical advice, prayers and follow-up calls to check out how the kids are doing! Thanks Dr(s) TK & Dawn, you truly are a blessing!
  3. We are blessed with a Care Group who PRAYS, and prayers always help!
  4. I got to spend just about the entire week with the kids, and for someone who travels so much as part of my job, this was a huge bonus. Mrs Nitrox was sick in the initial part of the week, and had a Sunday School retreat over the weekend, so I got the boys ALL TO MYSELF pretty much for the whole week. Yup, it was a little stressful at first coping with 2 grouchy sick boys, but I felt that the 3 of us really BONDED this week. Best part is, I only used up 2 days of Annual Leave (the other 2 days were Medical Leave). :-)
  5. In retrospect, R1 and R2 did get to do most of what they wanted to this week - not much schoolwork at all and lots of play and rest time. :-) We napped a lot, acted silly, flew paper airplanes, rode our bikes, watched "Open Season" & "Happy Feet", played "Battleships", bought some kewl new toys, and generally had loads of fun together.


Well, it's back to school for the boys and back to work for me tomorrow. I'm praying that we get over the tail end of this virus attack real soon and things get back to normal. For me, this means a "back on the saddle" week after almost 2 weeks of no training at all. From experience, it would be slow and probably quite painful... I'm looking forward to it! :-)

Until next time, train safe ya'all and God Speed!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hair Spray

Confession time: Ol' Nitrox is follically challenged, and I have been carrying with me a travel sized pump action hair spray dutifully in all my travels, believing that if I keep at it, one day, beautifully healthy hair would start growing again. (If only we were as consistent with our medication/treatments as our Quiet Time with the Lord - but that's another story.)

A few weeks ago, the hair spray got clogged up somehow. It would work once or twice, and then the whole thing would get clogged out. I would then dutifully take the spray bottle apart, clean out the spray mechanism, assemble the whole thing, only to have it work for one spray and then get clogged all over again. Some nights I do the whole dissemble/clean/assemble process 3 times a night just to get some of that precious fluid on my bald pate. All the while, feeling frustrated with the bottle, and more than a little unhappy that more of the precious fluid is literally going down the drain than onto my head. :-(

Last night, I noticed another similar bottle on the counter top, so I picked it up, and hey presto, the new bottle worked just fine. The sense of satisfaction that I got from having the new bottle freely spray the precious stuff onto my head is simply beyond words - I went to bed with a smile on my face, amazed at how a simple thing like a working spray bottle can make or break my night. (Okay, so I don't have much of a life, but that's also another story.) Just then, it ocurred to me that in a lot of ways, I am like that blasted clogged up spray bottle. As a child of God, I am filled with His love and Spirit, but my efforts to share His love through ministry are like the impotent putterings of the clogged spray bottle!

When I started out as an ursher in church, it was all great and rosey, but after some months, I started dreading my ministry. It came to a point when I contemplated switching church so I would not have to ursher! Then when R1 & R2 were toddlers, I started serving in the Toddler's Playgroup in church. It was great at first, the kids and I had a lot of fun, some of the parents were amazed that a father would bother to come and teach the toddlers (it's still very Asian for the fathers to leave parenting to the moms). But now that R1 & R2 have both "graduated" into the kindergarden classes, I catch myself wishing sometimes that I could stop serving at the Playgroup. Some of you know I lead a Care Group, and when we were doing a structured Intentional Discipleship program last year, it was great - I learnt lots and looked forward to Care Group meetings. But nowadays, I catch myself wishing sometimes that I was just a member...

So in my service, I am like the clogged up spray bottle. Imagine God's frustration that each time He would take the time and effort to "clean" me out, just so that I would work like I should only once or twice before it happens all over again. Wouldn't be long before He finds another spray bottle that is working fine, and I miss out on being used by Him. What a scary thought! I guess the lesson here is really to guard my heart against the euphoria and drudgery of service - both are just as dangerous, because both may be symptoms of serving for the wrong reasons. Just as in Cain and Abel, God looks at the giver and not the gift. When our eyes are not on the Lord, we cannot please Him with our service. Conversely, when our eyes are on Him, we cannot but please Him. It really is as simple as that!

Talking about being clogged up, the Nitrox clan is pretty clogged up with the flu. Mrs Nitrox has got high fever, and R2 is all clogged up and has a bit of difficulty holding his food down. R1 and I are both having some of the runny nose, scratchy throat symptoms ourselves. So the planned 50km ride / 4km run last weekend got canned, and I did what all cyclists do when they cannot ride - I brought my bike for some much needed tuning and then cleaned my bike. (Don't let the WD-40 scare you, I spray it on as a chain cleaner, dry it, and then lubricate with the expensive Teflon chain lubricant.) :)
  • Tues (6/3): 11.8km run (longest run yet!)
  • Wed (7/3): Strength Training in office gym - Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pulldown, Push Ups, Ab Crunch with Twist.
  • Thurs (8/3): Intervals on office gym threadmill - 1 km warm up, 3 X (1km run, 500m jog), 2 X (1.5km run, 500m jog)
  • Fri (9/3): 1.65km swim
  • Sat (10/3): 7km fun ride with R1 & R2 (R1 is the grouchy one - R2 is happy as he got to be a passenger on my bike) :-)

This week is school holidays week, so I am taking some time off work to take care of R1 & R2, especially when Mrs Nitrox is down with the flu. Looks like will be a light training week for me then. Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dancers Who Dance Upon Injustice

We were singing this wonderful song in church 2 Sundays ago - "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" - and the verse "Dancers Who Dance Upon Injustice" really spoke to me.

Some of you know that I have this romantic notion that our swim/bike/run training is kinda like "dancing" before the Lord because I believe that when we train, we are using our bodies in a way that pleases God. How many of you, when faced with injustice, frustration, and other similar tough times react by heading out the door for a swim, bike or a run? I tend to do that, because there is something about the solitude of training which reminds me of what's really important in life, of how small I am in the overall context, and of how blessed I am to be able to swim, bike or run. There's something about moving (how ever slowly) on my own propulsion that reminds me of the freedom that God has given us, the freedom to choose to do the right thing, the freedom to live life to the fullest ("The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" John 10:10). How kewl is it? That Jesus gives us all the freedom to dance upon injustice?

Last Sunday was my turn to take on the Toddler's playgroup in church. As usual, I procrastinated until Saturday night to start preparing for the lesson, which means, as usual, I was a little less prepared than I would have liked. But, God's plans always work in spite of our weaknesses. It turns out that another parent thought it was her turn, but did not have enough time to prepare either (at least she has a valid excuse - she was moving house on Saturday). And it so happens that she has prepared only worship and bible reading, while I was prepared to do the art & craft - so it all worked out perfectly. The kids were taught a new song, and had a "live" locust to look at when they were told about the plaques God sent to Egypt to free his people, and after all that, they got to make macaroni and cardboard fish necklaces. Praise God! Next week, we swap (I'll do worship and bible reading, and she does the art and craft), so hopefully the kids get another interesting session and learn more about our Lord. :)

On the training end, I didn't get to do much "dancing" in India - just 8km of intervals on the hotel treadmill followed by strength training (squats, lat pull down [back], bent elbow lat pull down, push ups and ab crunch with twist). Got back to Singapore on Friday morning (overnight flight - hardly slept), had a good rest on Friday, and headed out for a 50km ride / 5 km run on Saturday afternoon, but I found the bike to be really tough and even had to walk for 500m towards the end of the run. Can't understand why I felt so sore minutes into the ride even though I only did that one run and strength training (in the same session) while in India?!?! I was so wasted after the gruelling session that I had to stay in the cold shower for 10 mins just to cool down. Even had to lie down for a bit before I could play with R1 & R2. Maybe I am just getting old and all this travelling is finally getting to me... Maybe it is the MacDonalds dinner I had on Thurs before the flight back (it was the most healthy option - I did not dare try a cold sandwitch and I was sick of greasy Indian food from the cafeteria)... Maybe I shouldn't be training in hot humid tropical afternoons anymore... Maybe I should just shut up and head out more! :D

Until next time, "dance" safe and God Speed!