Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 24

Week 24 (20-26 Jun):

I've been asked a lot if my husband mind that I spend many an hour training, away from him and with other men.

So just the other day, after a long 188km bike ride and almost an entire day of absence, I turned to my husband and popped him the question.

With a smile, he shook his head.

Why not, I asked. I mean, the long hours apart, the company of men I keep, etc.

You set my heart at ease, he said.

In other words trust.

Besides, I get to do my own work too, he added.

He's a man of intense focus, and when he works on his projects, he does so unflinchingly.

Your temper has improved too, he concluded.

That came as a surprise. An improved temper with sports? As I thought about it, it made sense.

You see, I've always had trouble channeling my abundant energy to good use.

From the day I learnt to walk, I've been zipping in and out of the house, doing anything and everything perceivable to put my limbs to constructive use. Apart from an extremely varied sporting involvement in school, I frequently found myself at a loss for activities to engage in, sometimes getting into trouble; often times restless and listless.

Thus with a newfound devotion and commitment to a single sporting event that demands all the energy I could offer, my husband saw the good triathlon is doing me, and our marriage. Both he and I could focus our strengths and energy on things that matter to us; projects out of which we derive our greatest fulfillment. And with that, we have lesser opportunities for conflicts and argument, given that whatever time we have between us is valuable.

So there, for the many things I've been blessed with: a great nice big playground in Malaysia to grow up in, many a spanking lessons from my parents for getting into trouble, many a medals and trophies for putting my energy to effective sporting use throughout my schooling years, great and supportive friends and athletes that form a gregarious community to train and laugh with; above all these, I'm blessed with perhaps the largest hearted, most understanding, encouraging, edifying and visionary husband... thank you Larling!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 23

Week 23 (13-19 Jun):

First mistake: Riding against the traffic of a one-way street.
Second mistake: Speeding.

With these 2 mistakes set up against me, it was inevitable the obvious happened - an oncoming car approached my speeding bike, and in a state of panic, I squeezed my brakes and crashed to the ground, landing on my back and hitting my head hard against the road.

As I lay on the road, I was more angry than in pain. A second fall in just 3 weeks! How could I be so careless? Why do I keep crashing when I've only weeks to race day?

Questions, questions, questions. I'm not sure what cracked my helmet - the impact of the fall, or the bursting questions in my head.

Soon, help came - my riding friends, the driver and her passengers. I was helped up, my bike laid on the grass next to an ant-infested area, and I was made sure I hadn't broken any bones. All I sustained was some abrasions on my back and elbow.

A trained nurse on the way to a family day event, the driver brought a fully packed first aid kit, and very quickly got round to dressing my wounds. She was so very kind and friendly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Now, what are falls if not to learn lessons from? Here are the lessons learnt:

1. Can any man be an island? No way. We live and grow in a community; we struggle and shrivel alone.

2. Falling makes me human; and realized I am no almighty speeding demon. Not that I attempt to be one, but in my bid to improve my speed and ride faster, I lose the sense of clarity and focus sometimes - and what a price I have to pay for that!

3. Be thankful, always, every time. Our lives are wrapped in a bubble of protection because we have a destiny ahead of us, awaiting fulfillment. I know I am preserved from harm and danger for a cause, a very big cause.

4. IronMan training is more than just physical; it's also mental and emotional. I'm only just beginning to grasp this fact, 7 weeks into race day.

Apart from the agonizing fact that I have to endure long periods away from the family and a familiar weekend routine of breakfast and pockets of quality time, it's absolutely essential to train up a strong mind and heart - sometimes we fumble and tumble, sometimes we crash and burn; but which journey to greatness isn't filled with frequent obstacles and the occasional road blocks?

So, 'nuff said - failure is not fatal; giving up is. With that, I'll keep going, keep training; and keep TRI-ing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 22

Week 22 (6-12 Jun):

One of the beauty of training for an IronMan race is that you keep learning... because you're never quite there. Even if you're a pro triathlete, there are always better participants striving to outdo you, other competitors, or simply, themselves.

I'm appreciating this season of being down, down, down. No, I don't mean emotionally, but physically and mentally. I'm in a state of flux. Learning, applying, persevering, striving, overcoming, bettering. Acquiring physical and mental muscles to get me up, up, up for race day. Even then, I can't guarantee that I'll indeed be fully up come August when I stand nervously at the shore of the lake, as I behold over a thousand super fit and ripped triathletes about to lunge into the lake as I would, and battle out our bodies and hearts on the course for some 8-16 hours.

All I can say is, as long as I make it to race day, and stick the course, come what may, whether I cross the finishing line or not, I stand a champ for having worked hard and given my very best.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Journey to Ironhood: Week 21

Week 21 (30 May - 5 Jun):

What goes up must come down. This applies also to fitness. In sports, it's commonly understood that training + rest = improvement, and while athletes typically train 3 weeks and rest a week, we're expected to bounce back stronger in week 4.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case for me. After a week's hiatus following my fall while riding, my body spiraled into an all-time low. This shouldn't normally happen to one who has been training consistently the past many months, and fitness is not something that is lost overnight, or a week. But it happened alright, and I'm forced to evaluate my training regime. Planning a training regime for maximum results is an art, as any craft that desires to tune something as complex as the human body into precision, conditioning and performance would.

I'm on a continuous learning process. Even after 5 months of training, I still haven't gotten all of my training right. What can I say? I'm a work I'm progress, or more precisely, iron in the making. ;)