Sunday, September 29, 2013

It Had To Happen!

I have been affected by illness, less than two weeks out from the Big Dance. I suspected that I might succumb to it, eventually, considering I had my several sick or convalescing students in class for the past four weeks. I reason that I should get sick, then recover in time for my 226km triathlon in Kailua-Kona. My premature taper has begun, yet I am treating 12 October as another hard hit or assessment of my athletic abilities against/with some of the harshest conditions known in the history of the sport. Heat, humidity, strong winds, and other punishing conditions can take its toll on any athlete's body, at any time.

The holy grail of long-distance triathlon is an elusive one; like the Boston Marathon is to marathoners. Gifted, hardworking and dedicated age-groupers attain triathlon nirvana by winning a podium position, and subsequently, a possible slot in the 35-year-old Ironman triathlon born in Hawaii. I respect and admire the age-groupers who earned their slots the hardest possible way. They are a coterie of the finest athletes, carved from determination, tenacity, resilience, courage and many other empowering values. I personally know many who have worked their way to the watery, deep, start-line at Kailua-Pier.

Nevertheless, those who attained their special slots by way of lottery, charity or vote also deserve our praise. It is so easy to be elitist and frown on those who got their entry by the 'easy way' in. The lottery is an opportunity for the Everyday Man who dreamt about completing an Ironman on the mythical and mystical island of Hawaii. They still need to do their hard-yards - hardened by hours of swimming, cycling and running - to earn their rightful place alongside serious contenders. Every participant has their place in the 'food-chain' or 'eco-system' of the race. I reckon it is a sport that expresses respect, recognition and reassurance of the highest order. We embrace each other as much as we embrace our lives.
John Collins, co-founder of Ironman said: 'Swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles, and then run a full marathon. A chance to brag for life!' These words amy seen shallow and fallow to non-participants, but for many it is akin to a game of life-and-death, where personal failure packs a painful punch. Endurance sports is the true test of one's determination and athletic ability. 

All the best to those doing this year's edition of Ironman World Championships at Kailua-Kona. I salute those who attempted and completed before us. You inspired us forwards in our personal quest. We hope to do, likewise, in the years to come.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Can Lightning Strike Twice?

Clearly, it did for me. Whether it is a divine stroke of luck, destiny, karma or pure chance and coincidence - I was conferred twice the honour of winning another lottery. I, finally, earned my Boston Marathon ticket after my second Boston Qualifier (BQ) time in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon on 7 July. This time, my margin of about eight minutes gave me enough leeway for a shot at the holy grail of marathons (and the oldest modern-day marathon in the world).
It is about two-and-half weeks out to my fulfilling my Kona dream. I am, currently, down with a mild sore throat. It was probably an accumulation of bugs from the past month, when a heavy teaching schedule exposed me to students who were unwell. I reckon, better sick now, than on race-day or before. I rather lose some fitness and be healthy, than be fit then sick (to race). The assessments (races) over the last four months have been consistently positive, and assures me I am getting fitter. I am confident to complete the race and do my best (meaning: I will dig deeper than I ever did).

This came in last Monday, after registering for it three days before.
My race-plan is going well, safe for a final bike-service, and awaiting my race attire from my sponsor. I am fortunate to have sponsorships from four partners, ranging from products to coaching services to race fees. I am fortunate to earn this distinction, especially for a Masters-class amateur athlete.

The special pre-race function I have been waiting for.
I will make a few key decisions this week, as race-week will be chock-ful of events and activities. Being conservative, and taking a conservative approach to the Ironman triathlon I intend to race my race, and keep it for my marathon PB. I am realistic about my goals, and my main goal is to complete strong, safe and enjoy the event. I intend to complete what I started. No excuses, no sabotaging thoughts, and no-nonsense. 

The pain is temporary, but the memories will be endless.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Powered by Jabra: Sports Wireless+

The Jabra Sports Wireless+ is a new-generation model of head-sets designed for active people. This new edition of the Sports series has a built-in receiver for radio. The ear-piece fits comfortably around your ears, as the cochlea-design sits snuggly even when you run. You have up to seven styles of ear-gels to fit into your ears. I took my review set for several runs and walks, and found that the radio works best when there are few high-rise buildings surrounding me. It can sound static when the volume is low, and when obstruction like trees, fences and buildings are in the vicinity; otherwise, it works well alongside a mobile-device (such as notebook, or smartphone). 
The trademarked Jabra Bluetooth function works well with any Bluetooth-enabled device - a significant feature of Jabra's products. I watched videos online as well as downloaded films, and they sounded good including an amplification and clarity of sound, and prominent bass. Each function is pressure-responsive (just tap on the buttons), from increasing/decreasing volume, to changing FM radio stations. When you press the easy-to-locate touch-button mildly longer, you change radio-stations (without the need for a mobile device). Certainly, if you want to listen to pre-recorded tunes, you may do so when you carry your smart-phone or mobile device with you on your arm-band or waist-pouch.
Charging is fast, and you can do so through your notebook. An attractive female voice reminds you of the battery levels and 'Power On' or "Power Off'. Built to military standards, it took the rain, sun, shock, and sweaty conditions well during my 10km and 21km off-road runs. Talk-time is four hours, and you can take calls or mute them.

My only mild complaint: For first-time users to the sports music device, you have to watch the review videos on Jabra's website to discover how to charge the Jabra Sports Wireless+. This is because you have to peel the cover for well-concealed slot which is located on the right arm of the ear-piece. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Boston Strong 2014: Boston-Bound

I finally received it (this morning)! This entry is affirmation and validation of a decade-long collaboration between my Iron-Mates, Coaches and the endurance community. Thank You All My Partners and Collaborators! The holy grail of marathons is near.
The Real McCoy: The real-deal will be the race-kit in October.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Last Hit Out Before The Big Dance: Yellow Ribbon Run 2013

This was my last hit out before Kona - the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run (YRR). I have ran this race for the past four years. My magician's club - International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) Ring 115, Singapore - was there in large force, to entertain the finishers. The event featured two formats: the non-competitive 6km, and the competitive 10km. I, obviously, opted for the competitive segment as I use this race as an assessment of my fitness and race-readiness. I also use this race to crack my personal best (PB) time for the 10km. This morning, I completed the course in about 44:50 (gun-time). I emerged 43th overall (out of 4579 runners), with a time of 44:42. Last year, I skipped it altogether due to my stress fracture of my left foot (sounds like Christy Brown's biopic). It is a rolling/hilly route and certainly challenges the legs and lungs. The underlying message of the YRR is to 'Unlock the Second Prison'. Ex-convicts deserve a second chance from society, and not be marginalised for their mistakes. These reformed members of our society provided most of the entertainment this morning; mini-moon-cakes baked by them were also given out to all race participants. This is a race worth doing, as evident by more than 10,000 runners today.
 Photo-credit: Run Shots (Me, halfway into the race. Cloudracer shoes from On).
  Photo-credit: Run Shots (From L to R: Fellow-runners Anthony, Danny, Jerry and Dennis).
 Some of our volunteers from IBM 115 who put up a splendid performance of close-up magic.
Flanked by my two magician friends. I have not gotten a chance to perform over four occasions since I always participated in the run. (From L to R: Derek & Joel).
First-half of race: 13.7km/h; second-half: 13.2km/h - 43th overall (gun-time). Position (nett time), 38th.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Finishing Strong

When you are well-trained, well-rested, fully recovered and well-nourished, your finishing 'kick' says it all. It is the icing on the cake for a long-distance race. To complete a triathlon or marathon with a nice burst of speed, assures the competitor that his/her days of training mattered and counted. This was my finishing shot for Ironman 70.3 Cebu, where I sprinted home down the long chute with a fellow compatriot. I learnt that I was on-track for Kona, at the pace I set for myself. The post-race, recovery meal was generously laced with beer, Krispie Kremes doughnuts, sorbet, coconuts, mangoes, and roast-meat. I am awaiting 1 October for next year's registration.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Singapore Bay Run/Army Half-Marathon 2013

Sunday, 1 September 2013, runners for the 21km race were flagged off at 5.15am. This year's circuit, that passed through scenic landmarks in Singapore's Bay area, was an anti-clockwise loop that ended at the iconic Padang (F1 Night Race, end-point). I used this race as one of my last two assessments, and to keep myself in competitive shape (for my target sub-4 hour marathon in Kona). I narrowly missed my PB by 5 seconds, but was pleased for my new running gait and ability to hold the same pace since 2011, and while being Ironman-fit. I appreciated meeting many old friends, as well as overtaking a few (who I have been chasing for years). 
 I was one minute behind the start-line when I was flagged off. The podium standings were based on gun-time.
 Flanked by these very good runners (from left: Jeremy, Andrew, and Michael).
Photo-credit: Run Society
Tanjung Beach swim swimmers and fellow triathletes. Photo-credit: Run Society
Flagged off, with race-focused face, and attempting to weave through human traffic. Photo-credit: Run Society
Final results! Earned top-1 percent ranking, with 5 seconds off my best timing in 2011.
Raced on my light, minamalist, On Cloudsurfer shoes.
Homeward-bound. Maintained a 4:29 min/km pace throughout despite a 6-hour indoor ride on Wednesday, and 3-hour run last Sunday.