Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 20

Week 20 (23-29 May):

Ultra hyped up during the week. Swam on Monday despite it being a designated rest day. Ran intervals, stairs and tempo the next 3 consecutive mornings despite it being an unadvisable thing to do - that's too much stress on the leg muscles and insufficient time to recover. Will I ever learn my lesson?

Apparently not, because I was taught another lesson on Sunday. Riding on a flat road at just 30 kph, I was resting my arms comfortably on the aero bars, charting my training regime while smiling to myself at the prospect of increased mileage and training sessions on a week long holiday, when I veered off the road onto the pebbled area by the side and in a desperate attempt to steer my bike back onto the road, I lost control and crashed superman-style, with my hands stretched out front; scrapping my chest, hands and knees as I landed with a great big thud that alarmed my two friends riding ahead of me who quickly turned around to my rescue.

Lying face down in the middle of the road, unable to move with Scotty on top of me, I peered up at two oncoming cars that screeched to a halt. Out came a big man who quickly ran towards me and lifted my bike off me. I got up unattended, relieved that I have not broken any bones, and sustained only superficial injuries.

My two friends quickly sat me down and took care of my injury, washing it with water and fixing my bike, joking and taking pictures of my wounds.

Through this experience, I'm further convinced never to ride alone, because there is safety and rescue in numbers.

But more so, I'm convinced by the value of my friendship with them who takes tremendous care of me at all times, whether I'm at my strongest at the peak of my training or I'm at my weakest, when I crash and tumble.

I'm thankful for men - for the capability and security they provide, and for the responsibility they take upon themselves, to look out and care for friends and fellow triathletes alike.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Motivation leads; determination drives

Motivation leads me to dream;
determination drives me to strategize an action plan.

Motivation leads me out of bed;
determination drives me out the door.

Motivation leads me to the starting line;
determination drives me to excel.

Motivation leads me to lofty aspirations;
determination drives me to conquer mountains.

Motivation leads me to where I am now;
determination drives me to finish what I set out to do.

To IM Regensburg come August! ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

24 hours to running your first marathon

I jotted down these pointers for a friend running the Adidas Sundown Marathon this Sat, 28 May 2011, and thought I'll just open this and share it with anyone preparing to run your first or subsequent marathons. Of course, do take note of the difference in the race starting time - Sundown starts its race at 12 midnight; other races typically start at 5am; so adjust your sleep timings accordingly. Otherwise, all other pointers remain the same.

Basic principle
Our bodies are like cars. In order for a car to travel fast and far, especially to last the distance, it has to be fueled up. Likewise, our bodies need to be fueled up to keep running for a long time. Knowledge of sufficient nutrition and hydration is critical. If we prepare our bodies with this in mind, we'll have no problem completing a seemingly daunting 42km marathon (of course, training is the even more critical component here, but that will be covered separately). So here goes...

The Adidas Sundown Marathon begins at Sat midnight/Sun dawn. You need to rest the whole of Sat, enjoy the day, do things that you like, eat well, eat happy, and get sufficient sleep. I know it’s hard, especially when we’re not used to napping, but try to sleep a couple of hours on Sat evening leading up to your race at midnight.

What I did was to sleep from 5-9pm on Sat and get up to make it to the race site by 11pm.

Carbo load on Friday. Eat a little more than you usually do, loading in more carbs – rice, pasta, bread, potato, etc.

Happy breakfast on Sat. Indulge in pancakes, waffles, wholegrain bread, peanut butter toast, etc. Refrain from milk or dairy products as they are likely to make you wanna go to the loo.

Have a hearty lunch – pasta is always a good and a preferred choice by most athletes prior to their race. Pasta is good carbs for a long race.

Have a peanut butter sandwich 2 hours before the race. Or any sandwich you like. Peanut butter is also good carbs.

Take a power gel an hour or half an hour before the race, i.e. 11pm or 11.30pm. Gels usually kick in 15-30mins, depending on individuals. Take the gel to give you that boost to start your first few kilometers of run.

Take a gel every hour. Be religious about this, even if you don't like it. A lot of people dislike taking gel after a few, coz it’s not exactly the tastiest thing in the world, but it is essential to fuel you through the distance and hours.

Make sure you drink sufficient water to wash down each gel you take. Otherwise you might have stomach bloatedness from indigestion of gels.

Water and 100Plus are provided at hydration stations (100Plus at every alternate hydration station). My general advice is to hydrate yourself at every station. Take whatever is offered. If it’s water, drink it. If it’s 100Plus, drink it. If it’s 100Plus plus water, drink both. It’s extremely important to keep your body hydrated during the race – your body is going through a lot of stress and needs to be frequently hydrated. Remember that 100Plus is also extremely important to provide sodium to avoid your muscles from cramping. So if you can only down so much water and have to choose one, between choosing 100Plus and water, always choose 100Plus. You need sodium, otherwise cramps are inevitable. Why? Because your muscles are working extra hard during a long race.

Attire, socks & shoes – do not try anything new on race day. Stick to the attire, socks and shoes that you have been wearing while training, or risk abrasion or discomfort which can be magnified manifold on a long run on race day.

Run light – avoid carrying items with you, except your gels. Wear a fuel belt if possible, to carry your gels with you on the run.

Keep a consistent pace - don't go too fast nor too slowly. The key is a sustainable pace to get you to the finish line.

Set mini goals along the way, for example, “I’m going to run to the next street lamp”. Or “I’m gonna overtake this guy in front of me”. Or I’m gonna make it to the turn around point at 21km and increase my pace a little.”

Enjoy every step, even the painful ones. It's a great privilege to run a marathon. You are blessed with a healthy & strong body to undertake this challenge, so enjoy the process.

And finally, come what may, please, please, please do enjoy the run. Run strong, run well, and beat the sunrise! ;)

Journey to Ironhood: Week 19

Week 19 (16-22 May):

Be ambitious, but also be realistic.

Faith is a strong leader, but she must be carried on the hands and legs of hard work.

Life's journey is one of work (growing up, learning, getting educated, building a career, family, social network) - what makes an IronMan journey any different?

Week 12 has been a week of re-strategizing my training regime for the A-race in Regensburg come August.

An overly ambitious me need to push my body to the limits, while considering my time and commitment limitations, and avoiding the risk of injury.

With extremely experienced and helpful fellow triathletes I have the privilege of calling friends and mentors, I'm ready for the next 11 weeks of focused training and push to Ironhood! ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I have... a vision

I want a vision that I can pursue my entire life; no brakes, no full stops.

I want a vision that I can lay my life on the line for, and having fought a good fight, I stand victorious, satisfied at steps taken closer.

A journey that I relish every moment of, and not desiring the finishing line to come close.

A vision that I wake up excited to every morning, and makes me see life differently - in bright HD colors and 3D intensity.

A vision that so sparkles in my eyes it jumps out at people I talk to and draw their interest and support for mine.

I want a vision equipped with hands and legs to touch many, to give flight to those crippled by their circumstances; a vision that benefits and better others while I move along mine.

I want a vision that keeps my progress in check; one that makes me put one foot in front of the other, and moves me forward every time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 18

Week 18 (9-15 May):

What was supposed to have been a 20-week journey to IronMan China has now become a 32-week journey to IronMan Regensburg.

As one plan foils and another emerges, I take steps to put things in place. Yet through this time, new issues arise, particularly my many character flaws.

In my bid to pull out of China and register for a fresh race in Regensburg, Germany, I did so swiftly, brashly and selfishly. I did so, afraid of slots being sold out, and did not first discuss the matter over with my husband. I acted like my life was my own and I wasn't married. My husband, calm and composed, made me see the light and how my single-minded pursuit of the IronMan was potentially affecting our relationship. We ironed this issue out over breakfast, and now sorted, I'm thankful for timely interventions like this that burst my self-inflated bubble and keep me in check every time I dangerously steer out of course.

With 3 months to go till race day on 7 Aug, I'm glad for a longer training time to better prepare myself for this race. I'm ready to give my best shot in the remaining days and bring myself strong both to the starting line and finishing tape.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 17

Week 17 (2-8 May):

Weak start to just 3 weeks away from the big race in China. Plagued by a sore throat and a body badly in need of rest. Saw a doctor and told to take it easy. Tried to do nothing much but read. No, I don't know how to totally rest and relax. I have to be forced by circumstances to do so. Perhaps it's the kiasu (fear of losing out) and kiasee (fear of losing it altogether) mentally I've grown up with.

A journey to any dream is filled with discoveries, self evaluation and corrections. I realized that I'm measured, not just by my success in one area, but by my ability to balance a wholesome life: family, work, friends, sports, health. For that which I've neglected these past months of intensive training, I'm bearing a burden of guilt towards, and hope to make up progressively.

Realized also that I'm a hardcore Type A, only when it comes to sports. Not so for other necessary traits like a special grace and patience for household chores! I have to contend that we're all created differently. I may have tenacity and discipline in one area, but not the other. But we are brilliant just the way we are.

Rode 162km in Desaru and Singapore on Saturday. Clocked my personal best bike time to-date - glad for that! My last race-pace push. And this much I'm certain - I love the sunny, hot and long stretches in Desaru, and fear for my life with the treacherous traffic in Singapore.

But for now, it's back to rest and more rest. Body's breaking down a little, and I'm forced to listen and take many steps back.

Anxiously looking forward to THE DAY!!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 16

Week 16 (25 Apr - 1 May):

Mon morning 3am greeted me with a hot flushed body. There was no way I was gonna push myself to run 32k so I sat down, evaluated my condition and decided the best thing to do was to sleep in. I have 4 weeks to go and the best thing I could do for myself was to make sure I'm in tip top health.

Am sleep deprived - truth is, for many weeks now, I haven't
been sleeping well - my mind keeps its engine running even while I'm supposed to be sleeping! Checked my heart rate - below 50 resting heart rate - a good sign that I'm not overtraining.

Tue evening: Disheartened with my lack of progress. Unmotivated. Hit a wall. Slept early at 9.30am. Woke up at 4am on Wednesday and suddenly I was alright. A good rest is all it takes to cure an ailing heart.

May Day weekend: Rode in the cold wind, a painful 180km. If I may be plain honest here - riding over 6 hours on your butt ain't a pleasant thing, no matter how much I love triathlons and biking. I contemplated how my body's gonna hold up and bring me through a full marathon after a 180km ride. I have no idea how - I just have to trust that my training the past 4 months have conditioned my body to perform on race day.

Stayed over in the simple town of Sungai Rengit. No matter where I go, one factor always draws me in - the presence of communities - families fussing over their young children, friends chatting over food and drinks, coffee drinking elderlies, rowdy beer buddies.

Sitting at a table having a cuppa by myself while the rest of the gang were still fast asleep, I watched a young family with 2 kids. This could be another Ironman journey of it's own - except it lasts a lifetime. No, not a bad idea.

And there and then, a smile broke across my face. I was thrilled to be right where I was - watching people, watching lives, watching love among families, watching bonds being built; and being oh so thankful for each moment I live.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 15

Week 15 (18-24 Apr):

Recovery week. Lots of rest and less of training. Made dinner plans with friends, worked a little later and tried not to think of training. Was fine for a day or two, but came the third day, I felt restless. Or more accurately, distracted. I wasn't training and applying my mind to focus, and my mind spewed various voices that threw me slightly off course. Oh, the danger of not watching and guarding your heart and vision! I had to battle them for a number of days after, and reinstate my vision.

Yet through this week, I learnt an invaluable lesson, and it's one that I've been forewarned countless times by many well-meaning triathletes that have treaded the path before me - in your pursuit of Ironhood, do not neglect the other aspects of life that matter - family, friends, my other interests, etc. Admittedly, I haven't been diligent in ensuring this, and found myself tipped off balance; my emotional and social well sidelined and compromised. The result - a healthy and fit body, but an empty soul.

Thankful for the realization that came in the nick of time, to rescue me from sliding into an abyss of despair and destruction.

Now, with 5 weeks to go, let's rumble (actually, as I'm writing this, I've only 4 weeks to go, as my journal is always a week late - ha!)