Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ironman Number 22

I did it!

On 3 June 2018, Sunday, I crossed the finishing-line of the Ironman Philippines in 14:30. It was a terribly hard day at the office, yet it was one of my sweetest moments. I completed my 22nd Ironman race: 3.8km swim, 180km ride, and marathon (42.2km).

It was a straight-forward race for me: Arrive on Thursday, race on Sunday, and depart on Tuesday. I did not have adequate preparation, working on time-crunched sessions positioned before work, after work, or on my off-days. With sub-optimal training conditions, I knew I would finish with a struggle, even do the 'Walk of Shame' during the marathon.
I had a satisfying swim, with a few moments trapped between desperate and panicky swimmers. I survived these assaults and onslaughts, thanks to 14 years of open-water experience and wisdom. I faced a mild current on the way out, and enjoyed the push on my return segment of the 2-loop swim. I emerged in 1:38, which was on-target. I felt fresh, not panting, and enjoyed my cup of water. I ran up the long transition. With human obstacles lined up along the narrow row of bike-racks, I wore my shoes at the Mount-Line.
The ride occurred on the hottest part of the day, with temperatures feeling like 40 degrees Celcius. A short burst of torrential rainfall made riding risky, however provided respite from the engulfing heat. The rolling course sapped my legs on the second loop, however conservative pacing deflected premature fatigue. Lots of congregating riders at the aid-stations was annoying, yet I empathised with those attempting their virgin race. I sipped on my Hammer Nutrition 'Perpeteum' every 30 minutes, chased with water. It pays to lose time at the front-end so as to earn time on the back-end of the ride. I arrived in T2 in about 6:45. Not a quick time at all, however considering the challenging bike-course conditions it was all good. I had no punctures, sat stable, had no gut issues, and completed it safely.

I wore my running-gear at my transition-rack. I put on the compulsory race-belt on, after wearing my shoes and cap. I ensured I carried my Hammer Nutrition electrolytes and sports gels. Then I was off on my final discipline.
And disciplined I was not, after 10 km. That was where my wheels fell off, became squared, and I made compromises. As reminded by multiple-Ironman champion Belinda Granger, I got into some 'dark places' early in the marathon. I walked for about 20km, electing to finish my race, rather than risk heat disorder. I either drank or took a 'cold shower' from each of the generously-placed aid-stations. Each turnaround point was cruel, especially the one headed into town. It had more twist and turns than an season of 'Lost'. I was only too glad too walk-jog the last 10km, thanks to a few buddies who were hauling butt like I was. And, my Garmin watch went to sleep at the 30km mark. I was running (walking, too) 'blind', and by intuition.

On crossing the line, with applied etiquette - I let the guy in front who was prancing/dancing enthusiastically go ahead - I was greeted by Craig 'Crowie' Alexander, who crowned me with the finisher's medal. I thanked him gratefully. How often do you get a 3-time Ironman World Champion wear a medal around your neck? Adjacent to him was 6-time world champion Dave Scott who shook my extended hand and he said to me: 'Go rest your feet!'

Why do 22 Ironman triathlons? It was not my original goal (from 2006). One race became, multiplied through time and experience, ambition, and personal challenge. Each 226km triathlon meant slightly different things. This one defined me for my ability to get things done, stay committed to a goal, and refine my competitive attitude. It also tested my resilience, on how I bounced back from disappointing results and outcomes, fighting an aging body, and wanting to excel in an elusive and complex sport.

Will I do Ironman number 23? It would be likely. However, this is a matter for another day, as I have two half-Ironman events to complete and the Chicago Marathon. Time to recover fully, recuperate, and reset my brain. A 226km field examination saps the brain of its sanity and willpower. So, more easy days ahead before preparing for more intense sessions and new strategies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Unless you are time-crunched or embarked on a fat-loss challenge, I would only suggest running at noon as a last resort. Imagine running at 30-33 degrees Celcius at 75-90 percent humidity…not fun, is it?

In a hot and humid climate, what deters runners to do their thing outdoors include:
1) It raises and races your heart-rate rapidly.
2) Dehydration is a major issue due to increased sweating.
3) You can increase your risk of heat disorder should intensity be kept too high.
4) Looking sweat-soaked like a limped biscuit is not glamorous.

Thus, if you opt for the Spartan, outdoor-gym, remind yourself:
 a) Hydration is a must. Drink every 2-3km as you would in a marathon. Stash your bottled-water at key landmarks, especially U-turn points. Remember to remove your thrash.
b) Keep your intensity/speed moderate to medium. Zone 2 heart-rate would be good for an easier run, while Zone 3 would be pushing it. Your heart-rate will go north of your normal due to the uncontrollable external heat, and still controllable internal heat buildup.
c) Wear light clothing. Cotton-shirts soak fast, and may give you nipple-rash, or worst. Get a Naked waist-band to hold your smartphone, money, keys, a pack of sports-gel, and a water-bottle.
d) Run where it is most shady – no, not in underpasses or in the air-conditioned gym. Most of the large trees in local parks are of the equatorial or rainforest varieties. They provide a larger umbrella of umbra/penumbra. Shift to where these are, even if it means moving from road to grass to sand. Just be alert when running on uneven ground.
e) Slow down if you are panting. Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale as an invaluable guide. Your HR-monitor is part of your backup. In fact, intensity directs how long you may run. I have run from 60-120 minutes, with less discomfort.
f) Hydrate with water upon cessation of running. While you cool down, you can do some deep stretches. Fuel up with a sports-drink (read: sugar and electrolytes) thereafter, and a carbohydrate-rich meal within an hour. Recovery takes place upon cessation of sports.

Running outdoors requires smartness extended beyond your phone. It is better to be under-cooked than be over-cooked. And, if you suffer heat disorders, your remaining workday may be impaired, as would your subsequent workouts.

Leadership Lessons: Be prepared for any emergency or exigencies. Keeping our senses alert for risks and surprises, balances the benefits to be accrued from a certain activity or intervention. For instance, when would a ‘working lunch’ be useful? It can infringe on employee rights, and personal time. Be mindful about how our personal action affects others.   

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Ironman 70.3 Philippines 2017: Thankfully, did not walk except between aid-stations
This concludes a two-part series of my tacit experiences and wisdom gleaned from racing in endurance sports for 14 years.
11) Stretch whenever you can, systematically would be best. However, in its absence a sports massage, or self-massage (with a trigger ball or roller) helps in promoting recovery. Learn to knead, jostle, press and pummel sore muscles.
12) Water-based activities like swimming or water-jogging, reduces undue impact from land-based activities like running. Use aquatic activities to release the body from gravity-based sports-induced stress. Also, cross-train by including other activities (swim, ride and run are examples).
13) I never had a major spate of injuries, save for one case of a hairline fracture on my toe (2 months NO running), mild plantar fasciitis, and being hit by a taxi while riding (beyond my control) where I sustained a cheek fracture in 2010. Staying injury-free means being disease-free. Move from dis-ease to ease!
14) Increase your intake of antioxidants, and choose those that suit your body (natural and packaged). Include tonics made from herbal remedies and concoctions. Bone-broth or soups are very useful.
15) Seek the help of physiotherapists, chiropractors, bodycare specialist, nutritionists, massage therapists, and the like - they help remind us to stay mobile, nimble and functional.
16) Include High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions, occasionally. 1-2 such sessions awakes the body to new-found activation and, perhaps, speed. Use strength-based , gym sessions to supplement your development of musculature.
17) Seek a coach to help you with plateaus and form/gait correction. Seek a coach if you wish to be competitive and improve on your personal best (PB) timings.
18) If you are racing, then train to race. You cannot work beyond your trained threshold of intensity.
19) Seek your motivation: If you train with a team, it has its inherent 'push and pull' factors. If you prefer the occasional solitude, then do your long sessions alone. If you are uncomfortable with toxic members, steer away from them. Mix with those who help you achieve your Best Version of Yourself.
20) It is a life-long journey towards personal excellence, so there is still much to learn, educate and glean from personal experience.


After being in the endurance game since 2002, I wanted to share my mild wisdom sustaining my performance over 4 competitive age-groups.
1) Have more than 6 hours of sleep each night. Get a comfortable mattress, curtains drawn, and away from electronic devices (if possible).
2) Skip a day of exercise, if you feel like it. It is, after all, an extreme sport. You need not be extreme about life, in general.
3) Nutrition is one of the keys to recovery: Eat sensibly, guided by what is healthy for you.
4) Reduce your intake of refined sugar and refined grains. Whole-foods, relatively-unprocessed, home-cooked, allows control in this option. Pack your home-cooked food to work.
5) You need not live a monastic life: Exercise may be part of your lifestyle, and may not be your only life. Exercise is a form of self-expression.
6) Race occasionally to test yourself, however each race is an intense workout that requires full recovery. Our races validates our hard and consistent training.
7) Focus on good sources of fats: coconut oil, olive oil (EVOO and normal), butter, eggs, and animal fat. Figure this one out on your own as it is very subjective based on beliefs and practice. Reduce the GMO-versions (corn & soya), when possible.
8) Have 'easy' days intersperse 'hard' workout days. Off-Season, focus on Low Heart-Rate, Distance-Training.
9) 80:20 Rule when it comes to eating. Use your intuition and tastebuds as your guides.
10) Check for food allergies. Once identified, reduce or eliminate that food type.

*This was first posted on my Facebook page.*

Monday, April 3, 2017

Which 10 Life Hacks Do You Do?

1)   Exercise regularly
Movement is life. Exercise is ‘prescribed movement’. By doing exercise at least three times per week – a combination of short & intense, versus longer and enduring – we can activate muscles, stimulate hormonal secretion, reduce mental stress, and engage our nervous system. Exercise is know to reduce the occurrence of mental depression, and retard some of the effects associated with aging. While you are at it, exercise in the sunlight, sometimes.

2)   Read
Reading helps us nourish our mind through the provision of ideas, knowledge and opinions. Words help us form images in our minds and bridge both cerebral hemispheres (both left and right sides of our brain). It also allows us to access our imagination. Reading is a form of ‘quiet time’ or meditation for our self. Read for information, education and entertainment. Read, consider, reason, argue and discuss –activate your thinking (cognition) through engagement with others.

3)   Write (express yourself: teach, share)
This is a way of expressing yourself privately and openly. It gets our thoughts onto paper, or on-screen. Writing is a way to think in words, phrases, and sentences. It allows us to express random thoughts, and place them in logical perspective. Writing helps the introverts express their inner feelings and deep thoughts ‘outwards’.

4)   Eat well
Eat as natural and unprocessed as often as you can. Apply the ‘80:20 Rule’, and eat as well as you can afford to 80 percent of the time. Eat your comfort and ‘cheat foods’ the remainder of the time. Focus on foods that do not encourage inflammation. Inflammation has been associated with a wide range of maladies and diseases. Focus on foods high in antioxidants, filtered-water, and herbs to cleanse your body and encourage healing. Keep fruit (and fruit sugars) to specific times, as it tends to stimulate hunger.

5)   Frame and re-frame my mind
Positive psychology is about learning to apply mental strategies and techniques to quell negative thoughts. We learn to focus on positive matters, like results instead of failure. Re-wording helps us appreciate another perspective and dimension in our communication. Our ‘self talk’ can be filled with excuses, blame, disappointment and resentment. By re-framing, we can focus on more useful parts of our communication with others. We take responsibility in the quality of our conversations with others, so that we can benefit from each interaction. Positive and optimistic people are also more fun to be with.

6)   Posture
This is about how elongated and stretch your spine is when you sit, move or sleep. Proper posture concerns us on how we move with ease and comfort. Pains, strains and stress place undue discomfort on our body, so that we do not breath deeply enough. When that happens, it disrupts our digestion, blood circulation, and how we use our body effectively. Minimise excessive time spent sitting. Sit on large balls or stand at your workstation.

7)   Seek Experts & Learn From Them
The Room is the expert. In almost every social setting, we can meet somebody of distinction. This may be an area of expertise, or self-mastery. Even hobbyists can be passionate in talking about their hobbies. Most of them are knowledgeable about that area which excites them, and provides them with a form of expression. It can be delightful to hear someone talk passionately about what they enjoy doing, or what they are competent in.

8)   Challenge yourself and measure your progress
Challenges allow us to expand our abilities. These can be translated into goals, and we can direct our resources and commitment to achieving them. As we measure our results, we can ascertain our progress. Part of the reason why people do sports, is to test their mental and physical limitations. Excuses surface when we test our limits, and we learn to curb them when we face chores, work, duties and other discipline-required matters. Challenges also provide us with a sense of purpose, so that goals can be created around them.

9)   Be inspired and motivated
Be curious. Be excited by new things. Enjoy new experiences. Nature can inspire us. People and their actions, can inspire us to be better versions of our selves. Read inspirational stories. Consider engaging some of their ideas into your life. Once we develop a sense of purpose and strength of purpose, we can act on our dreams and goals.

10)                  Sleep well

Sleep at least 7.5 hours a day. Six hours would be an absolute minimum. It is a single non-activity that allows our brains to do ‘housekeeping’. A comfortable mattress, a firm pillow, drapes drawn to keep our light, can help us sleep better.  Dreaming helps us in an unconscious way. If we sleep well, we awake refreshed and clear-minded, without the mind-fog that caffeine cannot fully vanquish. Tart Cherry juice can stimulate sleepiness and gives more sound sleep.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


‘It is not the last dog left in the fight, but the one that has many fights left in it.’

The future holds many uncertainties.  We can predict with certainty that changes will happen without disruption.

We have to be versatile to stay relevant; even semi-retired and retired people must seek some form of activity and busy-ness. We must continue to re-invent ourselves to stay employable, stay in business, and even to stay put.
Stasis, or inactivity, merely invites trouble if you are not prepared to face the challenges that come at us.

‘Offence may be the best defence!’ to quote from X-Men: The Last Stand’. We must attack the future with confidence and fervor. Waiting for things to happen, procrastination, and being hopeful (without action) is ‘blind’.

Here are some Life Hacks for your future consideration.

1)   Ask yourself this: How seriously and importantly do I want to stay in employment?
2)   Which are the professions you will enjoy working in, in the long-run? What are you doing to ensure that?
3)   To seek new employment, identify these 3 questions: What do you know? (KNOW WHAT/HOW). Who do you know? (KNOW WHO) Who knows you?
4)   Examine your options: Seek employment, self-employment, be in a business, or up-skill/re-skill yourself.
5)   Do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities  & Threats). Be honest about yourself, your abilities, expertise, and capabilities.
6)   Complete your SWOT Analysis, and seek three people who can give genuine and honest feedback about your Strengths and Weaknesses. Strengths include wisdom, skills, work experience, working knowledge, expertise, achievements, areas of mastery, attitude, and character.
7)   From your Weaknesses, identify which skills, experiences, knowledge, relationships, and certification will you need to learn and develop within the next six months? Next 12 months? Next 1-3 years?
8)   Which of your skills will become redundant? What will you need to learn stay employable? (Writing, presentation, relational, transactional, accounting, promotional, educational, and more)
9)   Who can you seek to guide you in your profession, business, and career? Who are your mentors, teachers and coaches?

10)                   Review your attitude and mindset towards people, life, work, recreation, and your lifestyle. Lifestyle is how you ‘style your life’.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Do We Race?

To complete?
Training to be our best.
To compete?
Moving past the rest.

Go fast or go slow,
Race your own race.
Go along with your flow,
Progress at your pace.

There is no disgrace,
For struggling and succumbing.
For this is your race,
Complete it even when stumbling.

One foot forward,
One pedal around.
The finishing-line is reward,
Where euphoria abounds.

A battered body the next few days,
A painful fate we will face.
Therefrom, recovery it will replace,

A hunger for the next race.