Friday, April 30, 2010

Stairs or Escalator? Take the FUN option

I've blogged this before but my sister, Angela, just reminded me of it so check it out again, it's very cool. It's nice (although not surprising) to see that fun can influence our behaviour in a positive way.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quotes of the Day

"Daddy, only girls have babies because they like to eat a lot" - Siddhart Cross

"Yes they have to eat a lot to make room in their tummies" - Sebastian Cross

This had me in tears of laughter this morning.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ian's Birthday Party

My long standing business partner and best buddy, Ian, celebrated his birthday last weekend. 2am to bed and a 5am wake up for my long run was tough but worth it. Here are a few photos.

My lovely wife and I. As the song goes "Isn't she pretty in pink?". As for me, I have no idea what I was doing or why I was looking like that but it beats the standard photo face.

Shilpa and her Mom.

The girls doing what girls do best at parties...getting stuck into the dessert.

Ian and I saying our fond farewells - there was a "racy" picture to shock his wife but in the sober light of day he didn't send me that one.

All in all a really great night with good friends and great people - a miserable run the next day though, with great friends and great people too, but as you can imagine it was tough tough tough.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Mom Song

I blogged this a year or so ago but it's so good and Ian reminded me of it so here it is again. If you're a parent or if you were ever a kid then you'll love it.

Magic Roundabout

(Especially for Steve and Bill)

I was at Ian's Birthday party on Saturday night and as the wee hours of the morning drifted by I found myself in an impromptu "pop-quiz" with Steve, Bill & Hans. I say pop-quiz loosely because the word "quiz" implies some sort of a competition - it was more like a slaughter although Bill was determined to "get warmed up" (I hasten to mention that it was 2am in the morning at this point).

Scores on the doors: -

Steve - 0
Hans - 0
Bill - 3
Simon 601

One of Bill's questions which he delivered with an air of arrogance & confidence that belied the sorry state of his score vs mine was - "What country was Freddie Mercury born is?"

Naturally my answer was instant, delivered before the question was finished and most importantly right - "Zanzibar".

Bill was crushed - job done.

So what has this got to do with the Magic Roundabout? Well one of my questions was "Who had a hit with the song Funky Moped?" - I gave many clues such as "He is from Birmingham", "The song was so famous because it actually was a hit not in it's own right but because of the 'B'-side", "He had a hugely funny TV show which included a character 'Dave the Cardboard Box'". The hints were endless but the response still blank.

The answer was Jasper Carrot and the 'B'-Side to the hit was "Magic Roundabout".

Now to all you Brits born in the 50's, 60's and early 70's you'll remember the Magic Roundabout, it was on for just five minutes at the end of kids TV just before the evening news. Check out the start and the theme tune - (ahhh that brings back memories)

It was actually a French animated cartoon that the BBC discarded the original story lines and came up with their own. A real classic icon of a programme. Check out the episode "Dylan - Sculpture"

Jasper Carrot on the other hand thought it was a good idea to do a bit of a risque spoof of it - he was right - and here it is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Seb & Sid go to the Night Safari

The boys were terrified of the fire eaters but strangely calm about the 9 foot tall spider.

It's amazing what you can get four year olds to do sometimes. I must stop treating them as my play things (but not yet - [evil laugh])

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's official - I'm in

ITU Long Course Championships - British Team

Sid & Seb go to Singapore Zoo

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Singapore Tri - 4 years later

These photos are shot at Brewerkz Singapore and have become a bit of a tradition when I enter the OSIM Singapore Triathlon. (It's a micro brewery too so I always feel obliged to partake in the range of "testers" that they have there of all the different types of beer - yum yum - I was too sick to race this year on doctors orders but I did manage to get permission to have a small amount of the beer [much to Shilpa's disgust])

July 2006 - boys 6 months old

July 2008 - boys 2 & 1/2 years old

April 2010 - boys 4 & 1/2 (almost) years old.

July 2006 - Shilpa, Seb, Sid and me

July 2008 - Shilpa, Seb, Sid and me

July 2010 - Shilpa, Seb, Sid and me

Mercedes jealousy

(Courtesy of Mohan the Great)

The latest attempt by a Mercedes owner to disguise his vehicle as a BMW was recently discovered. (Note he doesn't even have built-in a hands-free mobile. Now that's just dangerous).

What is that?

If this doesn't bring a tear to your eye or put a lump in your throat then nothing will.

Monday, April 19, 2010


(Courtesy of Mike Williams)

BMW Germany's campaign for their factory approved 'pre-owned' cars.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Train but stay healthy

Ironic considering my recent bout of unhealthness (new word I just made up) - this article was sent by "Mohan the Great"


Feeling better

(Photo courtesy of Sam)

I'm feeling better today for many reasons. Having collapsed in the office last Thursday I did think that my number was up, but having done two Ironmans in the space of two weeks and then hit the party trail fairly hard over the last few days my body was open for all sorts of viral or bacterial attacks.

As it happens it looks like I had a viral AND bacterial attack all at once - the little blighters!

I had entered Singapore Triathlon, a race that I have had some good success at over the years. I was pretty confident about the race and more enthused than anything that this would be the turning point for the rest of the season after a disappointing Ironman China.

As it turned out I was barely given the go ahead to visit Singapore for a gentle family vacation let alone race all out. Very disappointing but when you consider I thought my number was up on Thursday then I think I'll get over it.

Today I got my blood test results and the Platelets count which had been on the decline in the 4 previous tests were back to the normal levels - very relieved and back to full on training now.

I did ask the doc if I should phase it in a bit but he said "No full on training is fine, you're totally recovered".

Cool, I shall phase it in a bit though as I don't think my muscles would cope at the moment.

Finally, Sam sent me this picture of me and Carmen shortly after I finished Ironman China. It certainly didn't take me much time to ruin a finishers T-shirt and it looks like I'm about to audition for a role as a clown but hey-ho I like the photo and this together with my recovery from almost certain death last week is officially the start of the rest of the season.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention, today I found out that I'm in the British Team for the ITU World Long Course Championships in Germany on August 1st. How cool is that? I'm following in the footsteps of such famous stars as Chrissy Wellington, Sam Pritchard and Malaysia's own, Sofian Ismail.

Very happy, so now it's back to blinkered rides down the highway and 32k Sunday runs, bottom up, head down - go go go!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ben's Rotterdam 2010 Race Report

Race: Rotterdam Marathon 2010

Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

Date: April 11, 2010

I had a really fun weekend in Amsterdam & Rotterdam even if the time didn't quite turn out as expected. Here's how it went...

Race Weekend

I caught a red eye on Wednesday night from KL to Amsterdam. I slept a bit on the plane and wasn't overly exhausted by the time I arrived 13 hours later. With the time difference I arrived early on Thursday morning in Amsterdam. After a short taxi ride from Schipol Airport to Amstelveen I arrived at my friends', Thijs and Marlies (and Juliet), home as they graciously allowed me to stay with them for the weekend. Both my and Thijs' last marathon was Boston last year, so we both were really looking forward to getting out there and running again.

I caught a quick nap after catching up with them a bit in the morning and then I got out the door for a short run. Thijs and Marlies live just over one km away from a great, big park in Amstelveen. It's miles and miles and winding trails through a woods. It's really nice – so that's where I headed to do my run. A simple seven mile run with the middle two @ marathon pace just to remind myself what it feels like to (try) and run 6:30 pace.

I walked around Amstelveen a bit and had a nice lunch at an old, hotel bar / restaurant. The four of us, had dinner together on Thursday night at their place to cap the day.

Friday was fairly uneventful as I just lounged around their place most of the day trying to rest my legs. It was my first day off from running in a few weeks so it was good to try and rebuild my muscles a bit more. That night the three of us, plus my new friend Bas, headed in to Amsterdam for a nice meal at an Italian restaurant. We walked around the canals a bit after and I fell in love with Amsterdam again. It's such a great city.

Saturday morning Thijs and I headed back in to the park in Amstelveen to get in a few miles. I did an easy four mile run with the third mile run at planned marathon pace. I felt comfortable and my legs felt good.

Then Thijs and I headed in to the city again to walk around and see the sights. I arrived a couple of hours before him because he had to take care of Juliet while Marlies was at the gym. The life of active parents must be so fun ;). I hopped off the bus near the Van Gogh museum and walked up and down the more glamorous shopping streets. One of my favorite brands, G-Star Raw, is a Dutch brand and has their flagship store in Amsterdam so I went and checked that out. After about an hour of walking around the Gucci, Louis Vutton, etc. type stores and realizing I don't make enough money to shop in the area I was in I walked over to Museumplein (museum square) to have lunch while relaxing in the sun.

Thijs arrived about an hour later and we walked around a bit. He took me through the other shopping streets, past the drinking squares, through the Red Light District, etc. Did I mention Amsterdam is a great city?

On Saturday night we cooked a big pasta dinner back at their place and they invited a few other friends over who were also running on Sunday. Lots of good food and good conversations, even if some of it was in Dutch!

Sunday morning I woke up feeling pretty fresh and ready to race. I slept well and was eager to toe the line. I had a small breakfast and then we hopped in the car to drive to Rotterdam along with my other friend Sander.

Luckily, for me, Sander works for Fortis so he got us access to the Fortis Running Home event. This was a pre/post race event put on by Fortis which allowed employees from Fortis, and their friends, access to everything you could ever want for a marathon. This included lots of good food, drinks, massages, etc. All in a hotel lobby / conference rooms within walking distance to the start. It was pretty sweet not having to stand outside shivering for over an hour before a marathon. I could really get used to that kind of treatment.

The Race

Just before 11:00am we walked over to the start. I found my way in to corral C and made my way to the front of the corral as much as I could. By the time I got situated I was standing about four or five rows back from the starting mat, pretty happy about that. I was able to see all the elites warming up before the race too which was pretty cool. Rotterdam is really big on pacers so there were a lot of fast-looking men and women getting ready to run.

The temperature for the race was perfect throughout – probably mid 40s and overcast. It was pretty windy (20-30km/hr) but because of the course setup you didn't have to fight it for more than a mile or two at a time before you were catching a side wind or a tail wind. I am certain that if it wasn't windy the WR would have been broken today (the winner ran 2:04:48, good enough for the fourth fastest time ever).

At 11:00am the cannon blasted and we were off.

First 5km

The race starts and finishes on the Coolsingel in downtown Rotterdam very close to the Erasmusbrug Bridge, arguably the symbol of Rotterdam. I have to say, for most of the race the crowd support was really great, especially on the Coolsingel.

It took me a few miles to find my rhythm because I don't think my watch was picking up a satellite early in the race. My lap pace was all over the pace so I switched it to viewing total time and tried to run based on feel. This was really hard for me to do because it felt like 2-300 runners passed me within the first mile. Plus, with the taper it was hard for me to tell if I was running 6:30 pace because my legs felt good that early in the race.

After about a mile or so we started one of the only hills of the day up the Erasmusbrug Bridge. Tug boats were lining both sides and spraying water into the air which was pretty cool. I actually got to enjoy this section of the race which was nice.

By not having mile splits working properly on my watch, at least for the first few miles. I started to rely on 5k split times as they had digital clocks every 5k. I forgot to write my pace targets on my arm but thankfully I remembered them from Boston when I had the same finishing goal. It was actually pretty simple – run each 5k split between 20:00 – 20:30.

One thing that I want to highlight about the race was the aid stations. This was the first race I've done where every cup of water included a sponge in the glass with little notches on both slides. This allowed you to carry the cup, drink from it, and not have it splash all over your face. Then if you wanted to use the sponge to cool off you could. This was a very nice touch. Unfortunately, the aid stations appeared just past each 5km mark. This was fine early in the race for me, but later when I needed the extra fluids and carbs it felt like a long distance between each aid station.

The first 5k was passed in 20:31 – feeling good.


Now I was hoping to ratchet the pace down a bit for the next 20-25km but I couldn't seem to run faster than 6:35/mile pace. When I picked it up a little more I felt a bit more uncomfortable than I wanted to that early in the race so I was content to keep running based on feel.

The only thing I can remember from this part of the run was following a group of five or six runners for a couple of miles. When we turned a corner and the wind hit us the group immediately slowed way down. Unfortunately I was following the guy in front of me too closely and clipped his heel. I apologized for it but he got all bent out of shape. Sorry dude, you slowed down and this is a race.

So with a bit of adrenaline now flowing I swung around the group and tried to maintain something close to 6:30 or 6:35 pace. In hindsight this was probably pretty stupid because I had to fight the wind by myself for the next mile or two. There were a few sections were I found myself all alone with groups too far in front of me to catch and groups behind me who were sharing the workload in to the wind. Stupid tactical mistakes that I'll avoid the next time I race in windy conditions.

Second 5k split passed in 20:27 – feeling better.


The only thing I can remember from this stretch was that I could already feel a slight twinge in my left hamstring. I expected to start feeling it at some point, but I was hoping it wouldn't happen until at least 21km. Oh well, the only option was to keep pushing until I couldn't anymore.

Third 5km split passed in 20:29 – feeling OK.

15 – 21km

I started feeling better during this stretch of the race. After a big loop the last 10km we started to make our way back north to the bridge so that we could tackle the big loop on northerly half of the course. However, once we started the short climb back up the Bridge the wind was really blowing now. This was the first time where the wind stood me up a bit. But that was out of my control so I didn't worry about it too much.

The fourth five 5km split was passed in 20:32 and I hit the half at 1:26:46. 14 seconds slower than I hit the first half in Boston last year. But the good news is that I was feeling good.


Despite feeling good at the half and thinking I might be able to maintain the pace (on target for a 2:53 PR) the feeling didn't last. I was bleeding time with each successive mile. My hamstrings were starting to tell me that they weren't strong enough for a flat marathon. It was only a matter of time now.

20-25km split was passed in 21:21.

25-30km split was 21:19.
There goes two minutes.


Somewhere near the 30km point I saw Marlies too. She smiled and asked me if I was feeling good as I passed. All I could mumble was a "No" and a shake of my head. Not exactly the right way to hit the tough stretch in a marathon.

Also, around the 30km point the leaders came back at me on the other side of the road at the 40km mark for them. I was keeping an eye out for Kwambai, who I assumed would be leading, but this was not the case. Two Adidas athletes (I later found out Makau and Mutai) were within a few meters of one another leading the race. Both had a look of total focus on their faces. I wish I could look that good at the end of these things. Makau ended up winning by 10 seconds in the fourth fastest time ever – 2:04:48. I am certain that without the wind the WR would have gone down today. The course is so fast that I now understand why so many fast times, and world records, have been run on it before.

About 5-10 minutes later I saw James Carney too. He was the lone American elite in the field and I knew he was targeting a 2:12 or so from reading his blog. He was all alone though and he looked to be hurting. I actually thought he was still on 2:12 pace but I found out later he finished in 2:15 high. I yelled "Come on Carney!" as he passed and he gave me a wide-eyed look. He probably didn't expect any other Americans to recognize him.

As for me, my legs were just about dead by this point. I started counting down each successive kilometer. I made a deal with myself that I would

run to each aid station and then walk through them while I took in extra fluids. For the next 10km I

really had a mental battle with myself to keep moving forward. I thought about quitting at least five times. I even stopped once for about 10 seconds in between aid stations and started walking. It was a mental lapse more than anything. I just wanted the pain to stop. But thankfully a spectator yelled something at me in Dutch and I figured it meant I had to keep running. So I started shuffling again as best I could.

30-35km split: 21:49. Nearly two more minutes gone – shucks.


Now I was in survival mode. I was barely extending my legs behind me because my hamstrings had shut down and my lower back was tightening up. This was really frustrating because I could tell my aerobic system was just fine. I wasn't having any problems keeping my breathing in check but my legs were shot. Looks like I know what I need to work on for next time.

The last 5km or so were with the wind at your back, thankfully. Had this section been run into a headwind I think I might have given up and walked it in. I was really hurting. I keep looking at my watch to try to figure out if I could still PR. I figured I would have to get back to running 6:30 or so pace to PR and that was not going to happen. This added to my misery. I started to worry too that I wouldn't even be able to crack three hours, but I didn't really care anymore. I just wanted the race to be over.

35-40km split: 23:19. Good lord.

40km to the finish

I was totally humbled during this stretch. The last 2-3km were wall to wall people on both sides and I couldn't even pick it up to finish in style. I keep trying to coax myself to kick but my legs weren't working. All I could do was finish at this point.

The last 400m on the Coolsingel was really loud. They had signs too counting down each 50m from 400m until the finish. Approaching the 400m sign I did a quick check of the watch…2:58:40…2:58:41…

All I had to do was run a 80 second quarter to crack 3 hours again. Come on I thought, kick! This thought lasted for about 3 seconds. I could only keep shuffling.

I finished in 3:00:36 officially. I thought I would be

at least five minutes faster today even if I struggled a little. I was wrong.

Lessons Learned

Racing a marathon is really hard. Having not raced a marathon since last year in Boston I forgot just how hard the last 10-15km is. I was reminded of this many times on Sunday.

I was also reminded about the need to train on the type of course you plan to run on. I did almost all of my long runs on hills, which is fine for building your quads, however my hamstrings were not strong enough today. Since I'll likely run Berlin this fall it looks like I better strengthen my hammies during my next buildup.

I also did not take in enough carbs or fluids during the race. Looking back on my race I believe I only took in water at the first stop (at 5km), four gels / water each 5-10k the rest of the way and a couple of cups of energy drink. This was not nearly enough compared to what my body needs. I am mad at myself for this tactical mistake. This combined with fighting the wind on my own for a handful of miles likely caused me not to PR today. Both of these mistakes were my own too, which is frustrating.

But things are not all bad. I never quit despite really wanting to on a number of occasions. Even though I am not happy with the time, I am happy with the effort I put forth. I know where I need to improve for my next attempt and I am confident I'll be able to crack 2:50 with another good buildup. But first things first, time to relax for a few weeks and not think about marathon training.

Happy running everyone.

Ben Zuehlsdorf | Accenture Management Consulting | ☎ +6012 258 1978 | ✉
Simon Cross
Sent via BlackBerry from ProMark Strategies

Friday, April 09, 2010

Collateral Murder - Wikileaks - Iraq

Simon says: - You won't enjoy this but you MUST watch it. I was dumbstruck. The first half of this video is traumatic enough but what happens when the wounded survivor is being helped is beyond belief.

After the "engagement" was over and two injured children were carried off a soldier is heard saying over the radio "It's their own fault for bringing their kids to a battle". There was no "battle", it was a massacre and the kids were in a van rescuing an injured survivor.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Brilliance from "Mohan the Great"

I just received this email from Mohan. Total brilliance although it'll take a bit of prep and I must say I will seek out "real" coffee whatever it takes as I love the stuff. What particularly excited me was the homemade salt tabs. I've enquired exactly what he put in whether it's just table salt or anything else (I'll update later). I hate paying through the nose for the "branded" ones which I use for Ironmans. I generally lose them or they get damp before the next Ironman or even worse you can't find any to buy in time. Homemade salt tablets for me from now on.

Hi Simon,

I remember reading that you need your shot of coffee before a race - me too...!

I usually have a strong shot of coffee about an hour or so before a race.....

Well.... that's easy to have when I am at home or staying in a 'proper hotel' when running an overseas marathon.

I had to seriously think of a "quick-fix-coffee-solution" when I was packing my stuff for the recent "Energizer Pacesetter Night Marathon" at Cyberjaya. I was following a friend's car from Singapore, and was quite certain that I would not be able to buy my 'kopi-kuat' anywhere near the race starting point.

Came up with an idea, which I think is pretty good.....

I 'capsuled' my instant coffee ( Nescafe ) - which I have named "Nescaps ". (See attached pictures)

How to take it? Just pop the capsules ( according to addiction ) with a glass of water.

"Back to basics,

a) I just need the coffee (caffeine) in my system - in the easiest way of course.

After popping the capsules, it breaks down very easily in the stomach, as the gelatine caps dissolves quickly.

Empty gelatine caps can be purchased easily at pharmacies. (In fact, I have been packing my anti-cramp salts in these gelatine caps for years)

b) For those who dislike the taste of coffee, this is a perfect way of getting all the ''kick without the taste''!

c) For endurance ultras or even tris, the capsules can be easily packed in small zip lock plastics bags and carried during the race.

Just thought I could share this with you!


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

This is a very cool piece of history.....

(Courtesy of Ian)

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape.. Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.

Someone in MI-5 (similar to America's OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system)..

When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:

1) A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2) A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3) Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war. The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get out of Jail' Free' card!

Xterra Malaysia

I've just registered for Xterra Malaysia - June 13th.

Last year it was the most fun I've ever had on a bike. I'd only ever ridden a mountain bike twice before the race (in fact only two weeks before) so it was a steep learning curve.

As it turned out I was second in my age-group and qualified for the Xterra Worlds in Maui (I didn't go but when I've got Kona cracked then I will).

Hopefully I'll go a little better this year - can't wait. It's in Kuantan again and I really enjoy going there too.

If anyone is in doubt about doing this race - don't be, just do it, you'll never regret it. Web site is HERE

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why lie when you can Teleport?

(Courtesy of Ian)

Awesome beer add - not sure the wives or girlfriends will like it though. Oh well ay!

My First Marathon

Hahaha, my first marathon - I just stumbled over this old picture - Oh how I hated the last 3k of this - ABSOLUTELY HATED IT - 4th March 2001

For Sale - Mon's QR

Hi Everyone,

After a very long deep thought and much contemplation, I finally decided to let go one of the love in my life, my Quintana Roo Caliente frame.

Really appreciate if you guys could help me to post this in your blog to help me to sell this bike frame only. Only if you guys are comfortable in doing so.

Frame only.-Size 51 cm. Aluminium with carbon fork and carbon seat stay. Good condition.

Very fast and comfortable aero tri bike. Even Pros like Chris Legh uses this bike in Ironman Australia.

Only wasted on a lousy rider like me. Hahaha… don’t post this. [Simon says - I'm just the messenger, I didn't write it! hahaha]

Please make me an offer. Can contact via

Thank you so much for your help.

There you go, fixed it!

(Courtesy of Ian)