Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Inaugral Olympic Distance Triathlon That Was NOT To Be...

I collected the finisher's medal but did not do a Olympic Distance Triathlon at the OSIM Triathlon today. There was a Category 1 Thunderstorm (i.e. high chance of lightning) mid-way through the swim start waves, and the organisers had to stop the race and pull everyone out of the swim and bike legs (my wave has not started yet, but some triathletes were actually told to stop the race midway thru the swim and bike). When it re-started, the race got shortened to a 20km bike and 5km run for the rest of us (yup, no swim) due to time constraints. :-( As you can imagine, it was not a popular decision as this was a ITU race where some of the participants were fighting for placement points.
I am feeling kinda bummed myself too - I don't think there is another Olympic Distance Triathlon in Singapore this year, so this may well mean that I have to wait one more year before I get another shot at a Olympic Distance Triathlon. Not good.
Will post more details once I am better able to collect my thoughts...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

One Day to Go...

... Before my 1st ever Olympic Distance Triathlon attempt at the OSIM Tri! So I am afraid this is one of those totally unorganised, "spill-my-guts" type of posts where I try to work thru my insecurities...

1st of all, sorry for not keeping up with my buddies on blogland. I have been too caught up in self-pity for catching a cold so close to the race, having such a late start, work pressures, etc... Yup the race is tomorrow, I guess it is normal to feel a little unprepared? This is all the training I managed to do in my 15 week training plan, sure hope it is enough:As many of you rightly pointed out, "enough" training or not probably depends a lot on my race goals, which are

  • "C" goal - Finishing my 1st ever Olympic Distance Triathlon
  • "B" goal - Finishing under 3:30hrs
  • "A" goal - Finishing under 3:15hrs

Given that I am still snorting/coughing out yucky stuff this morning, I am going to put aside timing ambitions tomorrow and just lean on Him for the strength to complete my 1st ever Olympic Distance Triathlon. It's gonna be a long 3.5 hours or so, but I am going to try to remember that this is my special "dance" for the Lord. No reason, no special sacrifice, no special occasion just something that I enjoy doing, and something that I am able to do only with His awesome blessings and protection. Must admit that I was contemplating not going for this due to my cold, the hot weather, etc... But He has healed me (just about) and He has brought clouds and rain for the entire week now, I guess I better stop whinning and get out there and do it!

And now, to end the pre-race post with a game of "Spot the Difference". Can you tell the difference between this previous picture of my bike (top) and the current (bottom)?Yup, the black plastic disk between the rear casette and the wheel spokes is gone! Affectionately known as the "dork disk" in roadie circles, it is often an indication of a newbie cyclist - "experienced" cyclists usually remove it so the bike looks "cleaner". I have never bothered to remove it, but when the mechanic at the LBS was tightening the spokes on Wed, he also took it out (in case it was contributing to the squeaking noises). So I guess I am finally a "serious" cyclist now. :-)

Okay, I betta go pack my stuff for the race, train safe and God Speed y'all! But before I sign off, I just HAVE to share with you my kids' prayers for me tonight:

R1: "Dear God, please don't let the sharks or anything bite my father tomorrow. Please don't let another swimmer doing the front crawl pull him down and swim over him [Oops, he must have overheard my conversations]. I know it is very hard, but please help him to do [the triathlon]. Please protect him when he is running and cycling because it is raining and it could be slippery."

R2: "Dear God, please accompany my Papa everywhere he goes, until he is very old and dies."

Funny how even though I did not communicate my fears to them, but they seem to know JUST WHAT to pray for! ;-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Showers with Thunder

This is what the local Met services guys say, and judging by the weather these few days, I am inclined to believe them.

So, I could whine about:
  1. Flooded transition area.

  2. Extra murky/yucky open water swim (the storm sewers discharge out to the sea, so we have encountered branches, plastic bags and even old rusting buckets in the sea after a storm).

  3. Running in wet, heavy shoes.

Or, I could Praise God for:

  1. Cool weather - I'll rather be wet than be over-heated (race starts at 11:15am!) or dehydrated. Although it says max of 32 C / 90 F, I don't think it has passed 30 C / 86F the last couple of days. It ain't much, but a few degrees make all the difference in hot and humid Singapore.
  2. Prior experience of doing my last Sprint Tri after after a over-night storm - flooded transition area and extra murky/yucky open water swim (so I know what to expect this time).

  3. Recovery from the cold I caught - still snorting out a little yellowish stuff, but I feel much better.

  4. Kewl New Balance race belt that came with the race kit - almost bought the same thing some weeks back. (Yup, I've collected the race pack, the pressure's on!)

  5. Since I could not train (thanks to the cold), I did the next best thing -> I cleaned off all that gunk from my chain & drive train accumulated over the many months, and re-lubed everything. That *HAS* got to count for something.

  6. LBS managed to (FINALLY) locate and eradicate irritating squeak from my rear wheel - it took me a lot of persistence and 3 visits to the LBS, but they finally narrowed it down to the spokes on my rear wheel (GASP! Was I about to break my wheel?). The mechanic tightened the spokes and *hey presto!* no more irritating squeak! Sometimes, it pays to be PERSISTENT.


Thanks so much for the prayers and words of encouragement. Train safe and God Speed!

Monday, July 23, 2007

I've caught a cold

Not sure if it was the day at the zoo in the pouring rain, but I managed to catch myself a cold.

6 days to the OSIM Triathlon.... :-(

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Singapore Zoo Keepers Dissolve in Water" & "Cold Feet"

Yup, that's the conclusion that I have come to - the Zoo Keepers in Singapore dissolve in water! Ol' nitrox volunteered to be one of 3 parents accompanying R1's teacher and his class of 35 7-year-olds to the zoo yesterday (hurray for taper period) and as you can see, it wasn't exactly a beautiful sunny day. So here we were standing in the rain, the animals were standing in the rain, but they cancel not one, but two animal shows due to the rain, and I cannot fathom why except that the Zoo Keepers are soluble. Some kids were whinning when it was time to go, "But we haven't seen anything yet?!?!"...
On a totally unrelated note, I am starting to get cold feet about the OSIM Triathlon in less than 2 weeks. I found out that my wave starts at 11:15am, which means that I will be swimming, biking and running through the HOTTEST 3.5 hours of the day, and this is no laughing matter in tropical, HOT (80-90F) and HUMID (80-100%) Singapore. Had I known this earlier, I would have spent more time training in the early afternoon to condition myself to the heat. Did I prepare enough for this?? I am 4 days into my 2-week taper, which so far has meant sitting around and getting fat, and I am pretty sure that is not what tapering is about. So I betta get off my (fattening) ass and figure what I am supposed to be doing...
Train safe and God speed everyone!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Week 13 of 15 - Injury, Hot Trot & Open Water Swim

Hi folks, I am back from Thailand, and just about on track for this week's training. Sorry for anothe long training post, but this is my final training week before taper, so please indulge me. :-)
  • Mon: Tempo Run - 20mins warm-up, 22 mins tempo (10.3km/hr), 20 mins cool down.
  • Tues: 550m Warm Up, 6 X (220m sprint, 30s recovery), 110m Cool Down.
  • Wed: Work was just CRAZY. Could not squeeze in any training before my flight to Bangkok. In fact, I arrived at the airport after the flight has closed but I was able to convince the check-in guy to let me onto the flight! Phew...
  • Thurs: Strength Training - Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull Down, Push-ups, Bicycle (Abs). I injured my left shoulder blade (upper back) while I was doing push-ups, of all exercises - and I thought it is the safest exercise of all! I was into my 2nd set of push-ups when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder blade - not good. I could not even lift up my left arm. A prayer and some stretching later, I felt much better and managed to complete the push-ups and bicycle (Abs). Praise God! I'm not too worried about my shoulder given that next week I start to taper, so I will just think of it as a reminder from God to pray for Cliff's shoulder. :-)
  • Fri: Long Run (15km) - Woke up late to a cloudy day and decided to do a mid-day run. The sun is pretty brutal in my part of the world, so I figure that I should get in at least one hot run before race day. Just realised that I am in one of the last waves, which means flag off is 11:15am or later - I am praying for cloudy skies or it's gonna get REALLY HOT (32 C / 90 F).
  • Sat: Plan to do a 1.6km open water swim later this evening - we'll make it a family outing to the beach with another buddy (who is doing the Sprint) & his family. The plan is for the dudes to try out open water swim and the missus to watch the kids. My buddy will do 800m and I hope to do double that, which means I will be swimming alone for at least half the time. This may be my 1st and last open water swim before the O.D. Tri in 2 weeks (last month we managed to get to the beach, but I swam all of 10 mins), so I am a little nervous - I have not done any significant open water swim since the Sprint Tri's in 2005. This time, I have fashioned a simple open water floatation device - fancy term for a bit of rope tied on one end to my race belt and the other end to my pull buoy. I hope my feet will not get caught up in the rope - have tied a slip knot on my race belt in case I have to jettison the whole thing mid-swim (it's actually pretty easy to take off the race belt mid-swim if I have to, but better safe than sorry).
  • Sun: Long Brick - I plan to do 50km bike / 10 km run. I like qcmier's suggestion to do a "tempo" brick, and will do that next weekend as part of week 1 of my 2 week taper. I am thinking that in taper, we reduce volume but increase tempo, right? So maybe a 60mins bike / 40 mins "tempo" run is just the ticket?
Well, that's all folks, 2 weeks before my 1st ever Olympic Distance Tri! Until next time, continue to train safe and God Speed!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Week 12 of 15 - Bubble Baths & TT week

Something occurred to me while I was giving R1 & R2 a bubble bath this weekend... Like all kids, R1 & R2 loves bubble baths, so once in a while, we fill up the big bath tub in the master bedroom bath and give them one. R1 & R2 love taking baths together, but now that they are getting older (6+ and 4+ respectively), they are starting to want their own space. This time in particular, they were so busy hoarding the bubbles on their respective ends of the bath tub, and fighting with each other over who has more bubbles, that they totally forgot to enjoy the bubble bath. As I was watching them, it occured to me that sometimes, we are like that too. God, in His love, blesses us with good things, but how often are we so busy hoarding them that we forget the simple act of enjoying the very blessings that He has given us? As I watched the bath disintegrate into a fight, I realised that when God blesses us out of His love, it must be incredibly frustrating for Him to see us fighting over the very things that He has blessed us with. When we do that, we take the good things that He has given to us, and turn them from blessings of joy into seeds of enemity. Let's take the time this week to simply appreciate and enjoy the many blessings He has put into our lives - family/children, health, fitness, material well-being, the ability to race, etc...

On the training front, I have decided to call this week a TT week. Some of you already know that I had the 10km race last Sunday, but on top of that, I decided to also do swim and bike TTs this week:
  • Mon: Tempo Run. 20 mins warm-up, 20 mins @ 10.3km/hr (quit laughing, that's tempo for ol' nitrox), 20 mins cool down.
  • Tues: Swim Intervals - 550m Warm Up, 5 X (220m sprint, 30s recovery), 550m Cool Down.
  • Wed: Long Run. 15.1km, 1hr 44 mins. Yups, that's my longest run yet!
  • Thurs: Strength Training - Leg Press, Seated Row, Bent Elbow Lat Pull Down, Push-ups, Bicycle (Abs).
  • Fri: Bike TT. 40.2km in 1hr 19mins. (It was a very flat course, but that's as fast as ol' nitrox can go).
  • Sat: Swim TT. 1.65km in 40 mins. Following Rachel's very informative swim post, I was concentrating on using the top of my head to point ahead, keeping my finger-wrist-elbow straight and using it as a paddle, pulling a full stroke, and it seems I made a breakthrough in the swim! 1.65km in 40mins ain't fast for you ironmen/women out there, but it's 1-2 mins faster than ol' nitrox had ever done it! I'm so hoping that this is not a flash-in-the-pan fluke. (If you are heading over to Rachel's blog, remember to check out her HAWT new Tri Bike.)
  • Sun: Run TT. Saucony-100Plus Passion Run 2007 - Official results just out - 62mins chip time (my watch says 61mins) which is slower than more than half of the guys in the Men's Open. Either way, I did NOT meet my target time of 60mins. Still, it's 6-8 mins faster than when I was running 10kms as long runs back in March, so I guess I can't complain. I'm lousy with race reports so I'll just say that overall, I'm actually pretty happy with the run, as I managed to meet my secondary objectives of (1) running at a steady rate, (2) getting a negative split, (3) test out my el cheapo racing shoes (they worked great - can't say that I noticed the weight difference when running, but I had no problems with them at all), and (4) being able to get to church on time after the run. :-)
This week (week 13 of 15) is my last training week before tapering for the OSIM Olympic Tri. I will be travelling to Bangkok this week, so again I will have to juggle my training schedule a little. Still can't decide if I should go for a mock O. D. Tri this weekend, or just do a long brick (50km bike / 10 km run). What do you think? Also, do I need to do any swim/bike bricks? Have not done that at all this time.

Until next time, train safe everyone, and God Speed!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Week 11 - Giro D'Italia & Bike Stuff

Congratulations to the Saunier Duval - Prodir team - for winning the team championship at Giro D'Italia! Must confess that the only reason why I am excited is that they ride Scott USA bikes (just like ol' nitrox).

On a marginally related note, some latest bike stuff:

  • I finally decided to drop the hammer on the Rotor System Q Ring. I have used Shimano Biopace chainrings before - they were all the rage in the 90's, but frankly I did not notice any significant change between the Biopace and the round ones. Let me tell you this folks, the Q-Rings really work! Going from my current round chain rings to the Q-Rings, there is a noticeable "smoothening" of the pedal stroke - they are supposed to reduce the dead spots in the pedal stroke and I can confirm that they sure do. I certainly do not remember having anything near this "smoothening" effect on my pedal stroke with the Biopace chain rings back in the 90s. In fact, with the Q-Rings my pedal stroke felt so smooth that I was pushing a bigger gear for much of my 50km ride today. This one is definitely worth a try, guys & gals! Alas, it felt so nice and smooth that I simply pushed too hard on the bike and paid the price in the run (had to adandon at the 5km mark - was planning to run 9km). Oh well, it's rest week anyway, so I am not too bothered by it.

  • While I am on the bike, I thought I will post an update on my clip-on aero bar - Deda Clip One (1st reviewed in Jan '06). I got this bar 18 months ago as I was looking for a clip-on aero bar that was light and minimalist in design. There are now many other sexy choices in the market, but I can't fault my Deda bar. :-) It was a challenge getting comfortable on the bar on my road bike, and having no access to bike fit professionals meant a lot of trial and error, but I finally got myself a zero off-set seatpost (used, off a mountain bike) and managed to sort out my bike fitment. Here's a picture of the seatpost (on the right) showing my current saddle position - almost all the way to the front. Once that was done, it worked great - I have always been a believer that simple things work best, and the Deda Clip One bar is a case example in my books. Here's a couple of pictures showing the current alignment of the bar on my bike ('06 Scott CR1 Team):As you can see, the bar is angled downward (handhold on aero bar slightly lower than the brake hoods), and slightly extended beyond the hoods - approx 2-3" out. Here's a close up (please excuse the cheap looking grips, there are actually zero cost grips - I basically cut out discarded mountain bike grips and slipped them on):

And now, a final picture for the parents out there who have tried taking pictures of their bike when the kids are around. :-)

Tomorrow, I get back into training week, and have a "tune-up" 10km race on Sunday. I will not taper for the 10km, but just take it as a training run.

Train safe and God Speed!