Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am NOT a runner...

... I am NOT a swimmer either... MANY years back I cycled a bit, but I am NOT a cyclist either, as proven by this experience I related in my comments to Robin's post sometime back (by the way Robin is such an accomplished cyclist now that she does NOT clip out going 'em hills anymore):

Maybe this will make you feel betta about clipping out in the hills. Singapore is so FLAT that when I was in the university in Vancouver, I went for a leisure ride with the cycle club and was DEAD last. Turns out they went to an island with rolling hills and these Singapore legs just could not cope. There was one particular hill, where I REFUSED to clip out (1st generation LOOK pedals back then), but got into a full on cramp midway and could not move a muscle (literally). I slowly toppled to the side, which thankfully was grass, with my back on the grass and my legs still locked in position above me holding the bike up. To make things worse, I then proceeded to slide ever so slowly all the way down the hill, upside down. Since then, I have had no issue about clipping out when I need to. :-)

So why do I train for triathlons? I attempted an answer last year, which is still very valid, but I still get frustrated at comments from my runner friends like "Doesn't EVERYONE run a sub 1 hour 10km?". No, I don't. Not even when I am fresh. Yes, I run 3 times a week now and I train 8 hours a week, but I still do not run 10 km in less than 60 mins. I am also frustrated at the 40 min swim cut-off in Singapore for 1.5km - I can only just make it, barely, but it feels disappointing to know you will be one of the last, and there's always the risk of missing the cut-off... Maybe I am expecting too much too soon, but I get discouraged when my buddies seem to just head out and swim/bike/run so much faster than me when they are not even in training. Sigh... Must be a beginner thing...

Anyways, I have signed up for the OSIM International Triathlon (my 1st ever Olympic Distance Tri) on 29th July and also the 10km Saucony 100Plus Passion Run on 8th July to "blow out the carbon from the pipes" before the OSIM Tri. It should be fun.

Oh and if you are praying for me, please continue to do so. My sore throat has indeed become a runny nose / cough thingy. I am getting depressed from the training and family time that I am missing (don't wanna pass on the germs to my boys). :-(

On the home front, I am incredibly proud of R1. He has been asking for a set of roller blades as a reward for doing well in school, and we finaly got him a pair. He's been on 'em every chance he gets and has perservered despite falling countless times. In just 2 days, without anyone teaching him (besides some advice from the older neighbourhood kids) he is up and skating. I am so proud of him that I feel like I am about to burst! As you can see below, R2 seems a little unimpressed with the fuss we are making about his big brother. Maybe it's time to get R2 some skates too. :-)

Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Week 6 of 15

Sorry for another post-dated reported on last week. It's getting tough to keep a balance on work, family and blogging nowadays. Been getting stressed out at work with the merger now at the stage of forming my team - organisation and people. It ain't easy trying to be fair to everyone, setting expectations, conforming to changing HR and global guidelines, AND getting the right people for the new organisation.

Anywayz, the good news is that I had another 6/6 week!
  • Mon: Swim Intervals - 550m Warm Up, 6 X (110m sprint, 30s recovery), 550m Cool Down.
  • Tues: Run Intervals (Dreadmill) - 15 mins warm up, 4 X (3min@11km/hr, 3min@8.5km/hr), 15 mins cool down;
    Strength Training - Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull Down, Push-ups, Bicycle (Abs).
  • Wed: Rest
  • Thurs: 13.3km @ 8.7km/hr - Longest run ever!
  • Fri/Sat: Unscheduled Rest - Work & family calls.
  • Sun: Long Swim - 2km (I have now reached my long swim distance goal and will focus more on speed in the coming weeks);
    Brick - 52 km bike / 7km run - Longest brick run ever!

The bad news is that I have developed a sore throat since the long brick on Sunday. :( I have not been sleeping well - too much stress at work and at home (merger at work, and R1 has been getting a little out of control lately) - and I think the lack of sleep and breakthrough workouts may have caught up with me. So Mon and today (Tues) will be rest days for me, and I will get back to strength training and swim intervals the next couple of days and hopefully be able to get back to aerobic training soon. Sore throats are usually the first indication of a coughing/runny nose infection for me, so please pray for speedy recovery!

Until next time, train safe and God Speed everyone!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Week 5 of 15

Week 5 of my 15 week Olympic Distance Triathlon Training Plan was tough, and I scored myself 5.5/6, but before that... please allow me to take detour thru the "Hill of Foreskins". Yup, that's Gibeath Haaraloth, where Joshua circumcised all the Israelites with flint knives - ouch! (Joshua 5:3). ;-D

Sometimes when I read a Scripture passage, it seems to jump up at me and shows me an immediate application or area of sin/rebellion in my heart. Other times, it just sticks in my mind for weeks/months... This is one of the latter. The situation is this: God has just stopped the Jordan river mid-flow and brought His people over the river into the promised land (Joshua 3:15-17). Only problem is that the promised land was still inhabited with its native population who are not thrilled that a whole army has crossed over to take their land. So imagine the entire Israelite population dressed for battle and hyped up about their God stopping the entire river to bring them over. Victory has been promised, the natives of the land are trembling with fear (Joshua 2:8-11) and the Israelites are ready to kick ass. But then, God reminds them that the entire generation of Israelites has not yet been circumcised! Talk about a let down. Talk about being vulnerable. The people had to literally lay down their armour and arms, and get themselves circumcised - I would imagine that movement alone would be tough for a few days, let alone defending themselves against any sort of attacking forces or wild animals (Exodus 23:29) now that they are literally behind enemy lines.

Has that happened to you before? All ready to go and then there's this soft, persistent voice at the back of your head reminding you that perhaps you might have missed something even more important? It's happened to me too many times now. After a long day of work/family/training, I am all ready for my 8 hours of recovery sleep, only to remember that I had forgotten about my QT (Quiet Time with the Lord) - so what's it to be? Trust in the recovery from 8 hours in bed, or trust God to honour my QT? Another one I face pretty often goes something like this: Back from a week of business travels and missed work-outs, can't wait to head out the door for my run, and R1/R2 says "Can you play with me Papa?". I still struggle with these sort of decisions, but one thing for sure is that AFTER the Israelites were circumcised behind enemy lines, nothing came to attack them, until they have re-committed themselves to the Lord, and we all know that they then went on to capture much of the promised land. Praise God!

Okay, back to week 5:
  • Mon: Rest (Just too much going on at work, and the office gym is closed for a month due to the merger and re-locations) :-(
  • Tues: 12km Run - Dark clouds started forming from the point that I left the house for my morning run. As I ran, I was praying hard that God will hold back the rain so I can finish the run. And you know what? God has a sense of hunour - the rain started coming down at exactly the mid-point, where I had no choice but to run all the way back. This was not a drizzle, this was a tropical storm, where the rain goes side ways. It was the first time that I ever felt cold running in Singapore, and I think it helped speed me up, as I was running harder just to get warm!. :-)
  • Wed: Swim Intervals - 550m warm up, 6 X (110m sprint, 30s recovery), 550m cool down
  • Thurs: Another unscheduled rest day - work is really getting busy.
  • Fri: Run Intervals - 15 mins warm up, 3 X (3 mins sprint, 3 mins active recovery), 15 mins cool down
    Strength Training - Squats, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull-down, Push-ups, Bicycle (Abs).
  • Sat: 50 km Bike / 6 km Run (Brick). I bonked on the run - had lunch too early and got hungry in the run. Probably pushed too hard on Fri too. Had to walk/run a bit after 4km or so. Terrible cramps when I finally got back. Felt better after I stuffed myself with raisins, almonds and peanuts.
  • Sun: 1.9km swim.
The sliver lining is that the parent teacher meeting confirmed that R1 is doing well at school (that's my boy the Star Student on the right). He has also discovered some new found interest in sports this week - football (soccer) & badminton, which is encouraging, as I have been starting to worry that he may be a bit too much of a "home body". :-)

Next week I go to Indonesia again, so again the training plan requires some tweaking. Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Week 4 of 15 (Rest Week)

The reason why I have this photo of an empty airport lounge is that all the other passengers managed to get on the flight except me and my colleague. :-( That meant another 3 hours in the lounge without even Internet access, and no chance of getting back early on Fri to get some training done. That just about sums up last week for me - I read that we are supposed to keep to the same number of sessions in rest weeks, just reduce the volume/intensity, but I was not able to do that with the travels to both Indonesia and Phils in the same week.

All I could manage the entire week was Swim Intervals (6 X 55m sprint, 30s recovery) and Run Intervals (10 X 1min hill sprint, 2min active recovery). With all the travelling (and probably also the stress of the huge merger and missed financial targets at work), I have not been sleeping well, so despite the lapse in training, I don't particularly feel refreshed, so when it was time to do my weekend bike/run and it was drizzling, I decided to spend my 2.5 hours on this instead...Yup, that is Luke Sykwalker at the front with his light sabre, while Chewbacca, R2D2, Hans Solo and Princess Diana chill out behind him (there's one other character in the cockpit of the X-wing fighter, but I can't figure out who he is). This Lego set was R1's birthday present last year and the poor kid has been waiting 6 months for his negligent papa to fix it with him. Now that R1's exams are over and it's rest week, there really is no excuse for us to put it off any longer, so Voila! We are proud to report that, despite being only 6+, R1 built all of that himself - all ol' nitrox did was to help him find the lego bits from the hundreds in the box. R2 also helped by taking a nap so he wouldn't be tempted to go running off with the tiny Lego bits. :-) As you can see, R2 was a little over-whelmed by how much got done while he was napping. [ BTW, the picture on the right was also taken last weekend when we went shopping for MORE TOYS! :-) ]

So all in all, I can only score myself 2/6 for the rest week (only 2 of 6 training sessions done), but given the work commitments, I think I did well to spend time on what's important - family. :-) Praise God!

Until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Week 3 of 15

Another 6/6 week! But just barely... My floor pump broke just when I was about to head out for my Sunday bike/run and I had to scramble to get a new one (see picture, I got the Park Tool Home Mechanic Floor Pump, what a beauty!). Thankfully, I managed to squeeze in the bike/run before my flight to Jakarta this week, it was pretty stressful, as I was running scared of missing my flight to Jakarta! ;-)

So here's my training stats this week:

  • Mon: Swim Intervals - 550m warm up, 10 X (110m sprint, 30s recovery), 550m cool down
  • Tues: Long Run - 12.2 km
  • Wed: Rest
  • Thurs: 15min warm up, 8 X (1min sprint, 2min active recovery), 10min cool down;
    Strength Training (Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull Down, Chin-ups, Ab Crunch with Twist)
  • Fri: Rest
  • Sat: Long Swim - 1.95km
  • Sun: 52.4km bike / 6.4km run

As you can see from the total training hours per week above, this is the most training hours that I have ever logged in 3 consecutive weeks, and probably the most structured training I have undertaken since my Army days more than 20 years ago. The last bike/run I did on Sunday, I actually felt pretty strong and the fear of missing my flight actually pushed me to a 9.4km/hr pace for the 6.4km run, which is BOTH the fastest and longest brick run that I have done so far! I know the speed and distance ain't much to you ironmen/women and marathoners out there, but that's a brick run PR for ol' nitrox! :-) What a great way to go into REST WEEK this week! All in all, I feel tired and a little sore, but satisfied with the 3 weeks, and looking forward to cranking it up against after a week of rest.

This probably falls into the "too much information" category, but I remember that after the 2006 New Balance Real Run, my speedy gonzales friend N was remarking to me how he gets nipple abrasion on long runs, and I was like "erm... No, I don't have that problem. And I don't think I know you well enough for that conversation buddy!" Then last week, I jumped into the shower after my long run and "OUCH" - nipple abrasion. I guess I have arrived as a runner. :-) I already use vaseline on my bike seat (it helps me slide forward in aero position and back when climbing), so maybe... just maybe... Any suggestions welcome from you avid runners out there, and until next time, train safe and God Speed!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Rubbers & Gels

Somehow, this seems a particularly apt subject while blogging in the Bangkok airport (waiting for my flight home). :-) Yup, boys and girls, you gotta love your rubbers, and ol' nitrox just got myself a pair of lovely white-walled rubbers. My OEM tyres were starting to fray at the side walls, so I picked up these beauties at the LBS last week. Vredestein Fortezza Tricomps are apparently racing clinchers with recommended pressure of 145psi, but my pump can only go to 140psi, and my wheels have a 133psi limit, so I am running them at 140psi (which is still 20 higher than my usual 120psi on the OEM tyres). If these are anything like car tyres, they probably need to be "broken in", but initial impressions are positive (except Mrs Nitrox took a look and pronounced them "Ah Beng", which is Singapore speak for "Bling" - in my defence, the LBS guy picked the colour and I did not know they come in black until I started surfing the 'Net). Coming from OEM tyres, I found the Tricomps to be much grippier - I used to slide on wet cement floors and have my OEM tyres break traction going up steep hills, but did not seem to have this problem with the new tyres. They also seem "tougher" - the 120tpi casing shows itself as feeling thicker and tougher than the old rubbers. I was initially concerned about them being slower due to higher rolling resistance (more grip = higher rolling resistance = lower speed?), but the higher pressure must have helped, as I seem to be ~2km/hr faster on the straights (have yet to quantify the effect on average speed, which really needs a few rides). Will keep you updated if they are indeed faster than the OEM tyres.

Following my questions about Nutrition for Olympic Distance Triathlon, I decided to do some testing and picked up a pack of Hammer Gels (Raspberry). So far I have been just taking 2 bottles of Powerade on my weekend 2.5hr bike/run (approx 35kcal per 100ml, so a total of 350kcal). Don't think I can drink 2 bottles on the bike leg come race day, so I am thinking perhaps a gel (86 kcal) just before the swim, 1 bottle of Powerade (175 kcal) during the bike, another gel in the run leg (86 kcal), and another bottle of Powerade (175kcal) split between quick gulps in T1 and T2. That would give me a total of 522kcal for 3:15-3:30 hours. Think that is enough?

So last Sun, instead of taking 2 bottles of Powerade on the bike for my planned weekend 50km ride / 6km run, I took 1 bottle of Powerade, 1 bottle of water and 1 Hammer gel for the bike. I left out another bottle of Powerade so that I can take quick gulps between the ride and the run (I managed about 3/4 bottle). Just like the pros, I taped the Hammer gel on the top tube of my bike so I can rip it off one handed. In true ol' nitrox style, I managed to get my fingers and glove all sticky in the process - looks like more practice is required. :-) What did it taste like? Well... Kinda like warm, melted candy (except it is less sweet), which is not entirely a bad thing. I was apprehensive reading about how gels make some people hurl, so was relieved that the other 11 gels in the box won't be going to waste. I had naively expected a magical power boost but of course it never came. I guess the fact that I could successfully take in the gel and bottles is good news in itself. The gels should come in handy to keep energy levels up in the O.D. race (3:15-3:30 hrs)when I may not be able to stomach so many bottles.

Oops, almost boarding time, so until next time, train safe and God Speed!