Monday, April 30, 2007

Week 2 of 15

Week 2 went well, considering I had a business trip to Jakarta. But before that, please allow me to share R1 & R2's latest creations of which I am immensely proud. On the left is R1's attempt at Pop Art, while R2 painted a duck who loves his boots so much that he wears them even on sunny days. :-) (sorry for the formatting, can't get the pictures to aligh properly...)

  • Mon: Long Run 11km (Yes, that's a long run in my books.) :-)
  • Tues: Swim Intervals 8 X (110m sprint, 30s recovery) (Yes, it was a pool with a weird length)
  • Wed: Run Intervals 6 X (1min hill sprint, 2min active recovery)
  • Thurs: Long Swim 1.8km, Strength Training (Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull-down, Push-ups, Abs Crunch with Twist)
  • Fri: Rest (return trip from Jakarta)
  • Sat: Unscheduled rest day (family commitments)
  • Sun: 52.2km ride / 6.2km run (Brick)

So in short, I am thankful to report that Week 2 of 15 is again 6/6! :-) I had to take my scheduled rest day last Sunday on Saturday instead - BEFORE my Week 2 bike/run instead of AFTER, which should make this week's training interesting... Also adding to the challenge this week is a 4 day business trip to Bangkok, which will again push my swims, long run and ride to the beginning and end of this week. I will be travelling with my boss, who is recovering from bronchitis, so I will be praying for good health this week!

Thanks for following me on my 15 week journey. I also did a bit of shopping, and got some new rubbers and gels (sorry, no kinky stuff, I am a Singaporean) this week, but more on that next time. Until then, train safe and God Speed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Olympic Distance Triathlon Nutrition?

Taking a cue from IronPol, I am reminded to ask if I need any special nutrition plan for an Olympic Distance Triathlon? I am aiming for 3:15-3:30 finish time, which means I will be using good ol' Staminade, but do I need gels and energy bars?

I take Staminade with me on my 2 hour ride - 2 bottles, approx 1 litre which is about 222 Cal (kcal) - because I read that I should take in 150-250 Cal per hour on the bike. But my Polar HRM says that I burn >900 Cal in my 2 hour ride, what's with that? Am I supposed to replenish only a portion of the calories I burn or all of it?

Based on my weight, RunThePlanet says that I am burning 800 Cal per hour when I run (my Polar HRM says approx 650 Cal, close enough I guess). I never take any sports drink or gels during my run because currently I am running less than 80 mins. Should I be?

Recovery drinks - do I need them? This is one area where I am totally confused. I started with Accelerate last year, but found it expensive. Then I read that low fat chocolate milk or even skimmed milk with some sugar works the same. So I started taking low fat chocolate milk / low fat milk after work-outs (I read that the 30mins after work-out is a good time to take in some protein and carbohydrates). After a few weeks, I started suspecting that I may be lactose intolerant (a condition I had in my teens). So now I try to take soy milk (reduced sugar) instead.

Of course on top of all that I am trying to eat right - more veggies and fruits, green tea instead of the 2nd cup of coffee, more fish/chicken, etc... But I am certainly not on any sort of diet. In terms of weight, I am hovering at 80-82kg (1.85m height), which puts me at 23-24 kg/m2 (which puts me just below "overweight" cut off at 25kg/m2 for Asian populations).

While we are on the subject of nutrition, R2 is getting so thin that some neighbours have asked us if he is sick. :( He is a finicky eater, so we are doing what we can to get him to eat MORE - including bribing him with a brownie-on-a-stick. :D

Quick update on training front: Week 1 of 15 was indeed a 6/6! I managed to get the planned bike/run in on Sat. This week I am travelling to Indonesia, so I will push the long run and swim to the start of the week and leave Strength Training and Intervals to the hotel gym. I will be back in time for my weekend bike/run, so God Willing, week 2 looks to be on track too.

Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Week 1 of 15

The inaugral week of my 15 week Olympic Distance Triathlon training plan has gone reasonably well, considering that I was off track from day one due to work commitments:
  • Mon: Plan - Run Intervals. Actual - Unplanned rest day due to work commitments.
  • Tues: Plan - Swim 1.5km. Actual - Run Intervals (4 X 1km run, 500m recovery).
  • Wed: Plan - Run 10km. Actual - Swim Intervals (6 X 110m, 30 sec recovery).
  • Thurs: Plan - Strength Training. Actual - Run 10km (on dreadmill, due to heavy rain), Strength Training.
  • Fri: Plan - Swim Interval. Actual - Swim 1.65km.
  • Sat (tomorrow): Plan - Bike 52.5km / Run 4.5km
  • Sun: Rest

So in short, I managed to catch up on the week's training plan today (Fri) and hope to get in the Bike/Run tomorrow as planned to make it a 6/6 training week. :) I am feeling a bit tired as I have not done so many sessions in a week before, but still hopeful that I will stick to my 15 week plan.

Judging by how much fun R2 had with the neighbour's pedal kart, the need for speed must run in the family. I have been reading about speedwork in Triathlete Magazine and have decided to follow their "ladder system", which means starting with much shorter intervals (100m X 6) and gradually increas the interval durations. Apparently it increases neuromuscular capacity so that this ol' brain can fire off more muscle fibers when fatique sets in... Sounds good to me! :)

Met an ol fren 2 days ago. We have not met in years so he has not seen the new, lean me...

  • Ol' Fren: What happened to you? You lost so much weight! Are you sick?
  • Ol' Nitrox: Em... No... I have been exercising.
  • Ol' Fren: But you LOOK sick. Is everything okay? You can tell me, it's okay.
  • Ol' Nitrox: I have been doing some triathlon training.
  • Ol' Fren: I have never seen anyone do triathlons and lose so much weight. They tend to stay the same size and just do triathlons. Are you sure you are healthy?
  • Ol' Nitrox: Buddy, I assure you that I am very healthy (exasperation made me say it). It's normal to lose weight when you train 5-6 times a week.
  • Ol' Fren: 5-6 times a WEEK?!?! Is something wrong? It sounds like an obsession. Why are you so obsessed with it?
  • Ol' Nitrox: I guess I'm just the kind of guy that likes to put 100% in what I do. I think guys that play golf put more hours into golf than I do.
  • Ol' Fren: Ya, but they don't do it everyday! Are you sure you are okay?

Sigh.... Some people just DON"T GET IT. In hindsight, I could have talked about the freedom and fullness of life that Christ came to give us. Ol' Nitrox has always had blindingly brilliant hindsight. Sigh... Until next time, train safe and God Speed, y'all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2nd Try...

Thanks to the last bout of cold, my 17-week Olympic Distance Triathlon Training Plan has become a 15-week O.D. training plan. :-) I am not sure if it was an allergy, but I was coughing out nasty green/yellow stuff and I thought I better stop and recover. Anywayz, I am glad to be finally rid of the cold and able to start training again.

Some of you may have noticed some revisions to the previous plan, my current thoughts are:
  • Instead of trying to increase the interval distances, I will keep it to 1-1.5km but keep increasing speed and incline. Will also mix in some Strides.
  • I will gradually increase my long run from 10km to 18km or so in 10% increments.
  • The weekend brick has also been modified to a more reasonable length to keep my max workout time to below 3.5hrs.
  • I have put in 2 mock races where I intend to do the full O.D. distance - I think I need that confidence boost, and to practice transitions, nutrition, etc...
  • Every 4th week is rest week, where training volume is cut by half. If I am feeling tired I won't be too fussed about skipping work-outs.
  • Strength training is reduced to once a week.
  • Flexibility is key especially since this is my 1st "serious" training plan - no idea how well my body and my personal schedule will take to this plan, so I will probably modify the plan as I go. E.g. if I feel comfortable about the training volume, I may add one mid-week short bike to work on speed, or if I am feeling tired even after rest week, I may cut down on volume/intensity. Still, I believe it is important to have a plan as a baseline to make sure that key training objectives are met.
  • I may introduce some "work-up" races as I go along, depending on availability and my own readiness (e.g. there is the Oakley City Duathlon - 1okm run / 40km bike / 5km run - would the 5km run at the end be too much?)
  • I have yet to figure out what I am going to do in the last few weeks to race day. Right now, I have a rest week, followed by a single training week, and then straight to taper, which is kinda weird. Will sort that out as I get nearer to the race, but once again, would very much appreciate any insights you can share with me.

On the home front, primary one for R1 is getting more "serious" than I thought. There is so much pressure from the school in terms of the coming May and Nov examinations and this is just his 1st year in primary (elementary) school! I can't believe the school actually gave us a manual for how to prepare R1 for his coming Chinese (Mandarin) oral examination. What happened to SLOWLY introducing the kids to the rigours of academia? I am trying hard not to get too caught up by the pressure from school and from other parents, and to make sure that the boys have time to be boys, but sometimes I really wonder if I am doing the right thing to bring up my kids in Singapore... Being the appointed Chinese teacher for R1 & R2 - poor Mrs Nitrox has every other subject, I think I will need to become a morning person and move all the training to the early morn so that I will have more time with them. Something I have planned to do but never done for months now...

Okay, back to the daily grind then.... Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Be Strong and Courageous...

... because Jesus Christ is alive!

I've come to realize that it is so easy to fall into the trap of being a hypocrite when writing a blog. I say that because I have a tendency to post about some things happening in my life but not others, and in doing so, I am probably portraying myself to be a better person than I really am. There is a HUGE gap between writing and doing, and ol' nitrox is still struggling mightily with a lot of the things I write about, both in Intentional Discipleship and in Triathlon Training. Suffice it to say that in both areas, I am still sputtering along in a on again, off again fashion, and probably in danger of not finishing the race in both senses (Hebrews 12:1)...

Especially in the area of Intentional Discipleship, I have been consistently allowing the world to come into my heart and steal the unspeakable joy and the unshakable peace that Jesus paid such a high price for. I will spare you the details, but I have been choosing to wallow in self-pity, anger, frustration, even depression, rather than to take hold of the incredible gift of grace from God. I have allowed even the little things in life (e.g. the ol' family mover breaking down when my neighbors are sporting new Mercedes Benz's & Porsche's, falling sick on my 1st week of the new training plan, irrational worries about the merger going on at work, etc...) to displace what should be unshakable and unspeakable.

"Coincidentally" (I am starting to wonder if QT - Quiet Time with the Lord - topics are ever coincidence?) in my QT, I am reading about Moses handing over the reins to Joshua before the Israelites crossed the Jordan over to the promised land. You will remember that Moses was not allowed to cross the Jordan into the promised land, he was allowed only to see it. Why? Because he did not trust God enough (Numbers 20:12) to take control of his emotions. Instead he allowed himself to get angry with the whining of the people, and in anger he struck the stone twice (Numbers 20:11) to get water for the people (when God told him to just speak it, Numbers 20:8).

So when Moses handed over to Joshua, what was the one instruction that was repeated not once, not twice but EIGHT times in the bible's account of Moses and Joshua? You guess it, "Be strong and courageous" - Moses said it to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:6), and to Joshua again (Deuteronomy 31:7); God Himself said it to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:23, Joshua 1:6-7, Joshua 1:9); the Israelites said it to Joshua (Joshua 1:18); and Joshua repeated it to the Israelites (Joshua 10:25). Actually, generations later, even King David encouraged his son King Solomon with the same words (1 Chronicles 22:13, 1 Chronicles 28:20) - we're not even counting these last two occurrences in the eight times. :-) (Just for fun, the phrase "be strong and courageous" is repeated one more time in the bible, anyone know where that is? Hint: Use the search function in BibleGateway.)

I think when a phrase is repeated so many times in the bible, it is probably worth looking at. So why did Moses, Joshua and the Israelites place so much importance on being strong and courageous? And more importantly, how does this exhortation apply today? Well, I think it still takes tremendous courage to choose to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to take hold of the freedom/victory that He gives us by doing the "right" thing despite pressing circumstances. As I look back in the past few weeks (and much beyond) I know that I have chosen in weakness and cowardice to wallow in self-pity, anger, and frustration, instead of being brave enough to to take the high road and do the "right" thing. A current example may be ol' nitrox choosing to worry about my job security/scope, choosing to assume that management is lost in politics and/or empire building, rather than choosing to find my security in Jesus, and trusting Him enough to be the voice of re-assurance and hope in the midst of the merger at work. In doing so, I have lost yet another opportunity God has given me to be a witness at work.

I believe God, in His infinite wisdom and love, has already prepared/supplied everything we need to do the "right" thing everytime. The only uncertainty in the whole equation is our free will - He is gracious enough to respect what we choose, even if it means that sometimes we choose to give up the precious freedom/victory that He has bought for us. So one way to look at it is that all we need to do is be strong and courageous enough to choose His way, and He will do the rest.

Perhaps another way of looking at it is that fear is the anti-thesis of faith. For some who live where there is no religious freedom (and there continues to be many such places right here in Asia), this is the very real fear of reprisals, social exclusion and even grievous bodily harm to family and self in the midst of persecution. For ol' nitrox, it is ultimately the fear that what God has promised just ain't good enough - I know that God has promised unshakable peace and unspeakable joy, but I really don't think I can be happy without my current job/pay, without a shiny new sports car, without "respectable" timings in my 1st O.D. Tri, etc... Crazy but true. My co-leader in Care Group once said that when we sin, we are really choosing to find happiness/peace by our own means. Like the early Israelites who made for themselves a golden calf when Moses was in Mt Sinai talking to God (Exodus 32:1), we are taking things into our own hands, and finding peace and joy in what we can create/control. The end result is always that we find the end point less than fulfilling, because we are trying to fill a "God-shaped" hole in our hearts with something that we fashioned with our hands.

Today, I choose to be strong and courageous. I choose joy and peace, and I hope you do too. Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Freaking Out

Sorry for the picture quality - that's a dragon fly on Mrs Nitrox's finger that has R1 & R2 freaking out. Sigh, I am the father of 2 true blue city kids... :-)

Sorry also for freaking about the 17 weeks to my 1st O.D. Triathlon. What can I say? It's been a rough week by all counts... (By the way, if you have any advice for my O.D. Tri Training Plan, I would very much appreciate it!)
  • One of our pastors (whom I have come to dearly love and respect) had a terrible family tragedy, and all we could do was pray for him and give him a hug...
  • The HUGE merger at work is now underway, and there is STILL no news about what our roles are in the new company months from the start of planning. As expected, some folks have been busily building "empires" while the new organisation is being formed, and it really ilks me that the rest of us seem to be at the receiving end of their posturing and "land grabbing". I KNOW God is working to prepare the path ahead for me (just as He has always done), but my lack of faith makes the journey more than a little unsettling. What a clear example of the difference between HEAD knowledge and HEART knowledge! Lord, help my unbelief and restore me to the fullness of life in accordance with Your perfect will!
  • On the training end, I finally had a break through last Sunday in the 50km bike / 5km run - for the 1st time ever, I actually felt strong on the bike AND the run, and got some respectable timings. And then the very next day, the familiar "runny nose, sore throat, cough" feeling came back. Sigh, what a let down! :-( It's been stressful since then trying to toe the fine line between meeting my training commitment and getting enough rest to fend off another full-blown infection. Not a good thing to start my 17 week plan by missing work-outs, but it looks like this is exactly what's gonna happen.
However, in spite of the cloudy skies, I have been totally OVER-WHELMED by the outpouring of love, advice and encouragement from all of you via comments and email in reponse to my shameless plea for help - Thank You RobTheRunner, Tri-Mama, IronPol, PapaLouie, NancyToby, Cliff, Tryathlete, Tammy, IronJenny, Wylee, Tri-Dummy, Lisa, Annette, Commodore, TriFeist, Flatman, and other kind bloggers who have yet to offer wise words to my O.D. Tri Training Plan. Thanks again guys/gals, you really made my week!

Quite a few of you reminded me that I did not state my goal for the OSIM 2007 Triathlon in my last post. Well, it was semi-intentional. ;-) My timing for the last Sprint I did end 2005 was swim 21:36, bike 41:56, run 32:22 (inclusive of transitions) so I figure that I should aim for 2 X my Sprint timing which would take in account the on/off training I did in 2006. So my goal for OSIM 2007 is swim 40mins, bike 1:30, run 1:05 for a total of 3:15, which at this stage looks pretty much like a S-T-R-E-T-C-H target. So there it is, I have publicly declared my time target, now it's SERIOUS BUSINESS. :-)

Some initial thoughts/changes to my training plan after all that great feedback:
  • My original plan is probably too ambitious, will have to scale down the distances somewhat and accept the fact that I will probably miss some sessions due to travel, family, etc...
  • TriFeist reminded me that my ambitious Saturday bike/run distances will take a LONG time - I had forgotten to take training time per session into consideration. Duh... So some weeks I'll do 60-70km bike/5km run, and other weeks do 40km bike/10-12km run. I'll probably keep it random based on how I feel. I hear it is good to shock the body sometimes. :)
  • Will limit run intervals to 1km or so and increase speed and/or number of repeats progressively. Will also introduce some stride work as suggested by IronPol. I also like Tryathlete's idea of running 2.4km time trials (like in the army).
  • Will try to increase my long run and long swim distances - I think I'll need that extra boost of confidence come race day.
  • Cliff made time during his vacation in Hong Kong to give me some pretty specific advice. My favourite being to week one in each 3 week training block with a lower volume and progressively add until rest week. I like that idea very much, my previous plan to rack up the mileage from week one was probably a little too unrealistic.
  • I am also seriously looking at how I can insert a mid-week bike ride, maybe in place of a strength training session. Hmmm....

So it's obvious that the training plan needs more work and I will try to put up a revised plan this weekend. Meanwhile, train safe and God Speed! I will be going for Maundy Thurs service tonight and going to bed straight after, hoping to wake up feeling good enough to go for my missed 12km run.

Happy Easter everyone! Remember that Christ died to buy us fullness of life, so don't let the world rob you of the freedom you already have!

Monday, April 02, 2007

HELP! 17 weeks to My 1st Olympic Distance Triathlon!

Okay, here's where the rubber hits the road... I have only 17 weeks to my 1st Olympic Distance Triathlon and something akin to panic is just about setting in...

Been trying to put together some sort of training plan, and discovered that I have SO MANY questions! I have been reading Joe Friel's book and also the "12 weeks to a Olympic Distance PR" series of articles in the last 2 issues of Triathlete Magazine, but it seems the more I read, the more confused I become! So I am rather desperately appealing to the collective wisdom of the athelete's in blogsphere to PLEASE give me some pointers.

First my current state:
  • 3-4 kgs above my target race weight of 80kg/176lbs (1.85m/6ft), which shows up in the embarassing bulges above and below my cycling tights. :-(
  • The "W13" (Week 13) row in the table below shows what I did last week.I am reasonably confident of completing the O.D. Tri, but I think I need to work on both my endurance and speed.
  • In the area of endurance, I probably need to focus on the run (longest run yet prior to falling sick was only 12km).
  • In the area of speed, my 1.5km swim is about 40mins, 50km ride (flat course) takes just short of 2 hours, and I need something like 1:10 to run 10km, and we are talking about doing each event FRESH. :-(
My current plan:
  • Taking into account the training time I have, I will aim for 2 X swim, 3 X run, 1 x bike, 2 x strength training a week.
  • For the swim and run, I will have a intervals or drills session per week to build speed, and one aerobic session per week to build endurance.
  • I intend to keep it simple and make a rough weekly plan as follows:
    Mon: Run (Intervals), Strength Training
    Tues: Swim (Aerobic)
    Wed: Run (Aerobic)
    Thurs: Strength Training
    Fri: Swim (Drills/Intervals - will alternate between the two, drills one week and intervals the next)
    Sat: Bike/Run (Brick)
    Sun: Rest
  • With the amount of travelling in my job, there will probably be more than a little shifting and doubling up missed work-outs.

The table below shows my targeted distances:

And now finally, my long list of questions:

  1. Do the Run:Interval distances look right to you? Should I be doing anything longer than 3km x 4 Intervals for an Olympic Distance Tri?
  2. Do the Bike and Run:Brick distances look right to you? Do I need to go beyond 64km rides for an Olympic Distance Tri? How about the run? I was thinking that running 12km after my ride will help boost my confidence to finish the event...
  3. Should I be focusing more on repeating bricks in the last week - i.e. instead of 64km bike / 12 km run, should I be doing 20km bike / 5 km run X 3?
  4. Is it a good idea to do a full mock race (i.e. 1.5km swim / 40km bike / 10km run)? If so, when's a good time to do that?
  5. Do the Run:Aerobic distances look right to you? Should I be doing more than 15km for an Olympic Distance event?
  6. Do the Swim:Aerobic distances look right to you? Should I be doing more than 2km or so for an Okympic Distance event"?
  7. What am I supposed to do in the rest weeks? Do I do the same number of sessions (i.e. 3 runs, 2 swims, 1 bike, 2 strength) and reduce the intensity/distance in each, or do I allow myself to miss a few sessions (e.g. instead of 3 runs, do only 2 but at the same target distances as a training week)?
  8. What am I supposed to do in the taper weeks? Is 2 weeks for taper too much or too little?

Sorry to be inundating you with all these questions, but please forgive the procastinations of this middle-aged Novice Master Triathlete and share some of your valuable insights with me and other would-be triathletes out there!

While I am at it, please allow me one LAST question. :-) This here is ol' nitrox's steed: a Scott CR1 Team, full carbon frame road bike which came standard with Shimano 105 group set and Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels. As pictured, I have added a zero off-set seat post, Arione Tri saddle, and a Deda clip-on bar since getting it in Sep 2005. I've been thinking of giving myself some extra motivatin for the O.D. Tri, so here's the question: What is a better investment? Upgrading my 105 group to Ultegra, or getting a pair of 'em sexy Flash-Point FP60 wheels?

Thanks again Guys & Gals, and until next time, train safe and God Speed!