47:52 10000m Track Run PB

The Northface 100 Duo that is coming up is not exactly a race that I am preparing myself for. I signed up as a milestone for myself to see myself complete it. Am not expecting a good timing because this will be a harsh run for me through the trails which I did not prepare my legs and body to do. I have been training more on speed for road runs, especially the marathon in December. Target? Trying to run a 4 hour marathon this time.

Preparations towards the 4 hour marathon took a toll of my legs last week. So this week, I went gentler on the rides. The usual Wednesday ride saw myself on the trainer spinning away for 45min only. Even then, it was hard. My legs were still feeling heavy and didnt help that I did another round of 10x1km with 2:40 recovery 200m in between each set. The joke was that I misread Andrew’s email – was suppose to have done 8×1.2km at 1:48 per 400m. Purpose was to stretch the speed for a longer distance, by a mere 200m, compared to last week. So, it looks like I will have to do this set next Tuesday instead.

Decided to rest my legs a bit more and swam on Thursday instead. Found an interesting set in last month’s Triathlete magazine: 700m warm up, 5x100m all out with 6 min recovery swim between each set and 700m warm down. I did 300m recovery between the 5x100m main set instead of 6 min recovery, except for the last set of 100m. And swam 500m warm down instead. Told myself to go easy since it was the 1st time I was doing this routine. Next week, I shall complete that next week.

Today was a good day. 10km at 1:55 per 400m. Basically the purpose is to push my 10km run below 48min. Finished it in 47:52. A new achievement for me. The last time round I did was 49:15 a couple of weeks back. So yes, a mental barrier that I had crossed this time. NICE!

Work had been crazy. No time to catch my breathe. Week had been crazy with the social gatherings I had to attend to catch up with some friends and army mates. Keeps my mind alive with the guys. Cool!

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Desaru Century Ride – Totally Wasted!

Speed sharpening phase. Week 1 – the speed phase done 2 weeks before Megatri should not be considered as part of the programme as it was taper the week before race and recovery the week after race.

Tuesday. 10 x 1km with 200m recovery. Target was 1:48-1:50 per 400m, which worked out to be 4:30-4:35 min/km pace. Recovery took me on average of about 2:30, with 2 recoveries about 2:45.

Thursday. 2 x 5km. Target was 1:52-1:54 per 400m. Managed the 1st 5km in 23:37 (almost 4:44 pace) and the 2nd in 23:57 (about 4:47 pace). I was losing speed very fast. Even the 1st 5km was tough. Recovery between the 2 sets was 6:10. I needed the time to get my mind ready for the next set.

I kind of think that my Wednesday’s bike session had affected my Thursday’s tempo run. Instead of doing the usual biking on the road, I humped up Mt Faber, from foot to the summit. 10 times. Continuously. Decided to go gentle on myself for the time being and not do more than 10 times, lest I get injured. Gear couldnt shift down to 23 cog and was biking up with 53-22 most of the time. It was a teeth gritting session of more than an hour. The 9th and 10th loops I decided to go for 39-2X to go easier on the legs. Concluded that I need to this more often in hope that I can get stronger on hill climbs. Yes, think Norseman 2015…

Friday’s swim was a lazy day out. Nothing planned and knowing that I had strained myself a great deal on the Thursday’s session, I merely did some short drills. 100m of kicks – with higher cadence – followed by 200m of pulls with pull buoy. When I first started with kicks, I was kicking 2:45 per 50m? Dropped to 2:10. Since last year I was doing about 1:45. With the increased cadence – and of course raised heart rate in the process, not to mention, tired legs and hips? – managed 1:30. Total distance including warm up? A mediocre 1.2km only. Hopefully will bring the mileage up again this week.

Saturday was a 30km aerobic run. A session meant to clock the mileage and no other objective. I suppose Andrew knew that I would probably not be in good shape to chase after the time. I went out of the estate for the run again. Came back in 2:53 – footpod said I had completed the run. Mapmyrun.com also computed the distance to be 30km. I am still not quite sure of the accuracy because I didnt think i was running too quick a pace – at least not 5:46 pace? Felt more like a 6:00 pace or something.

What was more fascinating was the Sunday’s 100km bike to Desaru with 6 other guys from the regular Desaru riders. Was the first time riding on my Cervelo that had been converted into a road set up. And I was crazy enough to hit a 100km with it on my maiden ride on a true roadie. The moment I had bought my Soloist, it was a tri bike set up already. Never had I ridden on this geometry.

Headwind right from the start at 0815. With more effort put in, I was picking up speed to 30 kph and it stuck there. Pushed slightly more and it went up to 32-34 and no further. I kept telling myself, the wind will change sooner or later.

The wind NEVER changed. Even on the return journey. If anything, it just got worse.

U turn was at Lotus Desaru resort where we did our refuel. We were all trying to see anybody we knew at the hotel – they were there for the Desaru 112 triathlon – but only met a few guys. Turned out that most of them were still in their rooms recovering from their race on Saturday.

Anyway, Vijch did the best in zooming off all the way during the ride. I was all overheated – temperature soared from 37 to 39 degrees, legs refused to fire and absolutely dehydrated. Looks like it is time to get a rear hydration tail for my roadie if I want to embark on Dearu rides with it.

Either that, I change it back to the tri setup. I must say that I missed my tri bars badly during the ride. Arms were numbed. Back was aching. However, I think if I had ridden it the right way and not lean too much on the handlebars, I would have trained a stronger set of core muscles.

So much for my attempt to be a roadie. A total body-and-mind-wasted session. Never mind, 1st session. If I still cant get use to this in another 3 months, I will switch it back to tri set up and give up trying to be a roadie…

*Photo credit goes to Vijch.

F1

Nope, not the frequently used “Help” key on the keyboard. I was at the Singapore’s 4th edition of the Formula 1 Grand Prix Night Race on Saturday night. Started with the Carrera Cup – fast turbo charged Porsches thumping down the track. As I was near one of the corners, I could hear the downshifts of the gear boxes as they slowed to maneuvre through a corner., with a braking distance of 50m going at 180kph (roughly?)!

Got a chance to see the safety car too during the race as well.


As it was the 2nd night of race only, the qualifyer was at 10pm and the practice at 7. For 45min (practice was 1hr), I was sitting at the grandstand trying to take pictures of the screaming cars. They were zooming through my section in 2s maximum? Not quite easy to take the pictures with my non fixed aperture zoom at night and whipped out the 50mm F1.4 lens instead.

No, I didnt pay for the passes – somebody gave them to me. I realised why I wouldnt have paid for the premium tickets. I am not an ardent F1 fan, as much as I like fast gleaming cars. Moving my head from right to left in 2 seconds repeatedly just didnt seem like entertainment. I am an action person. I have to get into the act. I suppose this explains why I hardly watch sports on TV as well?

It was my first time experience with the howling engines of the F1 cars. Not even with another round of free passes. Unless… there is another round of gorgeous Shakira and her hips shaking performance… Ok, not a fan of Shakira too. Concert was good entertainment between the practice session and the qualifyers. And yes, I left an hour into the concert and skipped the qualifyers. Had a morning Desaru century ride on Sunday.

Unsung Heroes

I tried to look for names of these heroes through Google, and true to the term, I really dont know any of them.

But I have learnt that there are many who lived in our midst, who did what they do without any complaints. And I got to know one through Facebook. They were the photographers who braved the rain and chill last Sunday morning, while the few athletes went about their chores racing their race. They were the ones who didnt mind their expensive equipment to be in contact with the rain. They were also the ones who took the time off their Sunday rest, to be standing by the road to try to catch the athletes on digital media.

It is a thankless task. Face it, they dont get thanked by many of these athletes because if they were not connected by friends or the social media, the athletes will not know of the existence of the pictures. Neither do they get paid to do what they do best. In fact, I know of this chap, who lives across the causeway, travelled over just to fulfill their quest of sports in action.

Yes, at his own expense.

So to these photographers (those I know, Richard Leong, Le Giang, Boon Yeong, Tey Eng Tiong, and many others), a huge thank you for all the great job done!

***

After Megatri 2 Sundays back, it was a time to slack. Hardly did much because I planned to rest. And I was in no shape to do anything, much less any speedwork. Swam on Monday, Thursday (stopped after 1km) and Friday (did 2km). Wednesday did a 10km run with Andrew – a recovery run but at a wrong place, i.e. NUS, filled with unending steep slopes. This probably resulted in the rubbish condition during Thursday swim.

Saturday did a 24km run in 2:13 before meeting the athletes for anniversary lunch. Felt good for the run. Suppose ample rest? Enjoyed the lunch but just couldnt stay long enough for the fun company. Had family stuff to do. Still, a nice get together – should have more of these!

And Sunday, decided to sleep in and spend time with the family, rather than go cycling at Desaru with the gang.

Yup, quite a lazy week it was after the race. Well, I am preparing myself for the weeks to come. Speed sharpening sessions. Starts tomorrow…

Mega Tri 2011

I didnt sign up for this Long Distance course as an A race. It was more of a replacement of the Desaru Long Distance Triathlon – which I have done for the past 2 years. But because I was keeping up with my training, I thought I might as well give it my best shot with proper taper for the week before.

2km swim

1st loop on the swim

2 loops of 1 km. My wave was the largest group that started. Even then, it was still considered small by comparing with other races. Actually, this even should be considered a very small once because the number of male participants totaled 128 finishers with a few DNFs or DQs (perhaps?). And because of the small wave start, didnt feel much of the washing machine effect. Partly also because I was standing very near to the front.

The diving technique learnt during Monday swim came in handy. For a good 10-15m I had to do the dophin dive to get out into the deeper water. Water was really shallow. I was also using the new swim technique that Wilson had corrected for me. It was less energy draining for sure and I was gliding more. 1st loop, 18:48. Nearing the shore at the end of both loops, had to do the same dolphin dives again. 2nd loop, 19:12.

Had nobody’s legs to sit on for the swim. And looking at the official results, the fast blokes had all zoomed off far far away. I just couldnt find those who are of the same speed around me some how. Oh well, this happens most of the time. To make things worse, this was a small group of swimmers. Average swim speed has its woes.

T1 – 1:15.

102km bike

Uturn point at the start - back to the loop a loop again!

6 loops. Used my watch as a lap counter, and not as a split check coz I kept forgetting to press the watch at the u turn point. Flat course but exposed to the typical strong wind in one direction. Again, very few cyclists spanned the route. I didnt want to hammer in on the ride too much against the element because I wanted to save some for the run. 1st loop, I had a tinge of stomach seizure. Had to sit up for a good 10-12km before the seizures went off and allowed me to take advantage of the tail wind to go on my aerobars thereafter. This silly problem has been a persistant problem. Only IMWA2010 didnt have problems. Tried to read up on this but cant seem to find a satisfactory answer on the internet. Coach said it was because of the sudden switch from horizontal swim to vertical and cramped up posture on the bike. But why only me? Havent heard of anybody with this issue, yet.

Tried a new technique from the 2nd loop onwards. As my speed slowed down to 35 kph and below against the headwind, I stood up and hammered it up back to 35 kph again to cruise at that speed, hoping that the disc would get the momentum going against the wind. And it worked! Until the last loop, that is. The wind just picked up strongest then. No matter how I worked on it, the speedo just died at 30-31kph. It was then that I decided that I should just spin it out and cruise at the speed for that direction.

Bike splits, 29:55, 27:56, 28:18, 28:56, 29:19, 31:36.

T2 – 1:51.

27km run

Home bound run - Look! No sponge boobies and all zipped up!

Flat and wide for most of the course. It was also a cool, cloudy day. Except for the Changi Village portion, where we had to run up and down 2 narrow windy boardwalk bridges – one way. This meant doing the boardwalk twice in a loop. And we have 3! So with few athletes it was a blessing because there were less people to knock into along the 4 feet wide path.

I did try to run a sub 6 pace. As it turned out, if the distance marker was right, then I managed about 5:30 pace for the 9 km loops. Cant be happier with the splits of 48:19, 49:36 and 50:20. Am satisfied with the consistent running speed although I was getting slower under a min for every lap. Thats pretty acceptable by my standard.

Total time taken – 6:05:15.5. Ranked 11th in my age group of 30-39, consisting of 61 finishers with recorded times. Ranked 21 over 128 male long course athletes. And 1 girl beat me – Choo Ling Er – and the same one who was faster than me at AVIVA 70.3 as well. Oh well, she is a Kona 2011 qualifyer anyway.

Picture of Enrico and myself at the end of the whole race, getting ready to go home. This one is for you Coach!

*Photo credits: Richard Leong, Le Giang, Phoon Tuck Seng, Vijch, Runevent Shots and Key Power International.

Thankful

Before I started triathlons back in 2008 – not too long ago – I was the chauffeur of the family for the longest time. I enjoy driving and dont mind it one bit. Except for the occasional bad traffic, otherwise, it can be quite pleasurable. My children have enrichment programs over the weekends and mostly back to back. I had never let my wife drive my cars despite her having a license for almost 10 years – and we have been married for 12. Which meant that she lacked the exposure to driving on the road for a long time. The reason for not letting her drive was – I was and probably still am obsessed with the cars and just couldn’t allow her to have a hand in them.

However, with my long bike ride on Saturday mornings, long run on Sundays – either morning or evening – she has learnt to overcome her fears in driving, moving my kids from venue to another, effectively taken over my role as the chauffeur of the family. She is also working. Comes back from work and helps out with the children’s studies.

I am thankful that I have her support in my triathlon lifestyle. The time spent away from home and enjoying the great outdoors. The amount of money I have to spend on equipment purchases as well as replacements. No, triathlons dont come cheap. I am surprised myself. The starting cost is high and the maintenance is not any cheaper.

I am thankful that after 3 years, I have yet to encounter any serious injuries that impedes me from training for the sport. Training safe is what I intend to do even if the improvement is not that fast. After all, more haste, less speed? And yes, my moto, Slow is the new Fast.

I am thankful for the like minded friends whom I have the good fortune to meet who are not one bit arrogant (unlike some athletes I have heard of), and selfless in sharing their experiences and thoughts. Whom we dont have to be pretentious when we get together for drinks, food and training sessions. The laughter, the stories, the pain. You know who you are.

I am thankful for Coach who has brought me through the 3 ironman races I have completed coz without his professional guidance, I wouldnt have gotten so far in my journey.

I am thankful that I still have a job that I still enjoy despite its frequent roller coaster rides. After all, as Matthew had always said, “its the job that feeds our hobby”. I have had my fair share of great colleagues as well, many whom I can call good buddies.

On my 38th year of my life, this entry is dedicated to my family and friends. May there be more good sporting years!

Human, Humility – All From A World Class Ironman Chrissie Wellington

Chrissie Wellington’s interview in August issue of Triathlon revealed how much of a human this one superhuman being of an athlete she is. An all inspiring iron-woman whom I follow on Twitter and whose blog I read eagerly. In the write up, Hall of Fame section, titled “The Power of Positivity” showcased how she only turned pro only at the age of 29 and what followed was an amazing accolade of champiobships and world record.

Like any other job all of us hold and despite us looking in awe at the professionals who had all the time in the world to train, we must always look at it from their perspective. It is really not that much different from what we do in our day to day chores too.

“Training, eating, sleeping – thats all I do. My life is so regimented and monotonous and monkish.” and she does this for 11 months in a year, 24/7.

Superhuman turned out to be a human after all. She had her fair share of accident as well as sudden illness – as seen from her 2010 last minute pull out from Kona. However, what I appreciated was her admitting earnestly that it wasnt easy to have a positive psychological outlook when she was down with her injury.

Early 2010 Chrissie broke her arm after skidding off black ice while riding in winter.

“Yes, it hurt. But nothing that a bit of morphine couldnt sort out. I counted myself lucky. There are people coping day in day out year on year with life threatening and debilitating illnesses and injuries. I had a broken arm, but it wasnt the end of the world. I believe you can derive positives from any misfortune, and ensure it makes you a stronger, focused, flexible and resilient athlete and person. Doors close, others open.”

“I realised that the psychological impact of an injury is just as, if not more, debilitating than broken bones. For me the key coping mechanism was to maintain a posittive outlook. It sounds simple, but isnt. I dont think that things necessarily happen for a reason. But I do believe that you derive positives from any misfortune, and ensure that it makes you a stronger, focused, flexible and resilient athlete and person. Having broken bones gave me more time to spend with my friends and family and made me realise just how much I need and value their support.”

Piece of advice so many age group athletes fail to listen, preached to and read from books so many times. This is from the woman herself. Rest!

“However, you have to be cognitive of the toll it does take. Its not normal to train as much as I do for four to six hours a day or more. You have to be aware of that, whether you are an age group athlete or professional athlete, listen to your body, be in tune with your body, and really respond to the feedback that it does give you. Thats how you mature and grow as an athlete.”

“People ask me ‘how can I get stronger and faster’? Its not all about training harder and faster and smarter. Its about developing personality traits that make a successful athlete. The ability to relax, to listen to your body and act on what its telling you, the mental strength you need to be a successful athlete.”

My favourite quote. What I always tell my own children and my students.

Wellington has built up a reputation as a ‘superwoman’ – the fittest woman on the planet. “Its probably genetics, but genetics are nothing without practice. Talent is nothing without practice and the ability to endure boredom, day in, day out, the willingness to work on your strengths and weaknesses. You need drive, determination, perseverance – that compeittive fire. Some of the most genetically talented people in the world may not necessarily find themselves on the top of that podium because they are not prepared to do the work they have to do to get there.”

And this is something that I like in particular, coz it gives me hope that I can still be stronger in the sport despite not being strong in any of the 3 disciplines. Alright, may be just a glimmer of hope.

Does she have a favourite discipline in the sport? “You cant,” she says emphatically. “You have to be consistent across all three. I am not the strongest swimmer in the sport, I am not the strongest biker, I am one of the strongest runners, but probably not even THE strongest runner. But I am the strongest across all three.”

Fear at the start. We all get it. I am already getting my jitters thinking of my swim start on Sunday.

Does she get nervous? “Of course, everyone gets nervous and apprehensive. It wouldnt be normal not to. You have to channel that nervousness and use it. But I go into a race knowingI have done everything I possibly can – because I do. I give my heart and soul to being the best possible athlete I can be at that race. And I cant ask for more of myself than that.”

Humility and being human?

After a blitering performance, Wellington insists on standing at the finish line to cheer other competitors home and present them with their medals. “Thats so important. But for me, my biggest supporters are the age group athletes that drive our sport. What better way can I have to thank them than to be on the finish line when they cross? When I am racing all I hear is ‘Go, Chrissie Go.’ Its not from the spectators, its from the other athletes. I think ‘you can spend some of your precious energy cheering me on. The least I can do is be at the finish line when you cross’.”

I sure hope to be able to do the same race as Chrissie. Maybe, just maybe I could receive the medal from her.