Thursday, September 30, 2010

Contador at it too - who next?

(Courtesy of the BBC)

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador tests positive

Contador is a three-time Tour winner Cyclist Alberto Contador, winner of the 2010 Tour de France, has said he has tested positive for a banned substance.

Contador's press officer said he had tested positive for clenbuterol during a rest on the Tour in July.

In a statement, the spokesman added that the Spanish rider was the victim of "food contamination" and would hold a news conference later on Thursday.

Cycling's governing body, UCI, later confirmed that Contador had been provisionally suspended.

Japanese Human Art - Men in Slow Motion

(Courtesy of Cheong)

Simon says: -

I'm lovin' my Japanese Human Art, the Japanese can be considered a strange bunch but incredible talented and creative, this is fabulous, cool to start with and totally gripping by the end - fantastic, love it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One for the wives

(Courtesy of Mohan the Great)


A married man left work early one Friday, but instead of going home, he
spent the weekend partying with the boys.

When he finally returned home on Sunday night, his wife really got on his
case and stayed on it.

After a few of hours of swearing and screaming, his wife paused and pointed
at him and made him an offer. 'How would you like it if you didn't see me
for a couple of days?'.....

The husband couldn't believe his luck, so he looked up, smiled and said,
'That would suit me just fine!!'

Monday went by, and the man didn't see his wife.

Tuesday and Wednesday went by and he still didn't see her.

Come Thursday, the swelling went down a bit and he could see her a little
out of the corner of his left eye.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Guy fairytale

(Courtesy of Nick Flynn)

Having 4 1/2 year old twins I get to read all the old fairytale classics (which I enjoy no end and probably more than the little ones, they're not allowed to sleep until I finish haha). Also I've been married a while too so I thought this particular twist on a classic fairytale was very relevant and poignant. Although it probably means that Nick will never be allowed to stay at our place again. Hahaha.

Once upon a time, a Prince asked a beautiful Princess... “Will you marry me?”

The Princess said “NO!”

And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode his bike
and went swimming and running and played golf
and dated women half his age and drank beer and scotch and cognac
and had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up
and farted whenever he wanted.

The End

Paint my porch

(Courtesy of CK Chew)

Santa Singh, who had recently arrived in the US , wanted to earn some money. He decided to become a 'handy-man' and started looking for some work in an up market locality nearby. He noticed that a beautiful bungalow belonged to an Indian family. He went there and asked the owner, if he had any odd jobs for him to do.

"Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?" the owner asked. Santa responded, "How about $20?"

The owner said "Fine, there's a can of brown paint and brushes in the garage."
The owner's wife, inside the house, overhearing the conversation asked her husband, "Does he realize that the porch goes all around the house? That's a whole day's job."

The man replied, "He should; he was standing on it. Plus, he's an enterprising Sardar. Do you think he's dumb?"

"No, I don't think so. I guess I'm just influenced by those stupid Sardar e-mail jokes we keep receiving."

A short time later, Santa came to the door and asked for $ 20.

"You've finished already?" the husband asked.

"Yes," he replied, "and there was paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed, the man reached into his pocket for the money and handed it to him.
"And by the way," Santa Singh added, "it's not a Porch it's a Ferrari."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Newton 25k (26.1k) Hillfest

What to say? IT WAS TOUGH. I turned up not having run more than 6k in two weeks and having done a 120k ride the day before. Normally the ride would not even have been mentioned, a ride of that distance (it was the first ride over 100k I'd done since IMKY) would have been short for a Saturday but these days I'm really in bad shape mentally and physically.

By that I mean that every morning for the last month I've been waking up with more and more pain in my legs, back, neck, arms and feet. I have been taking (as few as possible) prescription painkillers and anti-inflamatories (don't panic I'm not Michael Jackson - one or two a week only, and they were prescribed to be taken twice a day). The point is that everyday the pain got worse and most worryingly it was most noticeable in my right hip.

My uncle and my Mum have both had hip replacements and it seems like it might be a hereditary problem. Anyway, I did something that I've never done before and decided to take so many people's well intended advice and rest. The more I rested the more pain I endured and the more intense it got. I started getting quite depressed (although I tried to keep that to myself). I felt that perhaps age wasn't really reversing and maybe I wasn't Benjamin Button after all - I worried that this was it, perhaps I wasn't immortal and this was the start of the slippery slope to oblivion.

AND THEN I HAD A THEORY...Perhaps that this is really just muscular atrophy, click to see what I'm on about (I did and wished I hadn't - seems like I might have cancer, AIDS, congestive heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or renal failure). Anyway, I'm assuming that I have none of these ailments and my theory is working on the basis that rest is rubbish and in the process of your muscles decreasing in mass (muscular atrophy) to the size of mere mortals there's going to be a lot of pain involved - think the incredible hulk in reverse.

So Doctor Simon, what do you prescribe?

Answer: Start training like there was an important race in 5 weeks, train hard, Suck It Up and don't look back. (Fortunately there is, two actually, Miri Sprint tri and Miri OD tri).

So on Thursday I re-entered the world of active pain (rather than in-active pain). I did my spin class, then stretching and core. Friday I couldn't move haha! Saturday I rode with Sam and the gang 116k and played silly games racing with Sam up the hills - he gave me a good lesson there [my time will come again though Sam, my time will come!]. I got home and once again could barely walk. Which brings me nicely to the Newton 25k run.

I'd been told that it was going to be hilly and long. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to run the whole thing with my current lack of training, soreness from the last couple of days and added girth (I'm getting fat again).

I got there nice and early, about 5 minutes before the gun went off! Met a few friends and hung out at the back. This race was huge, I suspect the biggest turnout for such a long race in Malaysia - partly due to the free running singlet, 2XU compression socks and finishers T-shirt. We Malaysians do love our free stuff.

I eventually got over the start line after a minute or two shuffling along and then we were off. I started running with Keat Seong and stuck with him like a limpet. He told me his game plan was a steady eddy 10k and then try to open up a bit if he felt OK (He's training for the Taiwan Marathon - I was instantly scared). So I knew I had a great pacer for 10k at least. He was telling me how hilly the course was but the first few k's the hills were there but nothing terrible, nothing debilitatingly steep. But then they kept coming, they were relentless, hill after hill after hill - not too steep but long. Either up or down, almost no flats at all.

The pain was there from the first kilometre and never went away, fortunately for me Keat Seong wasn't feeling great and decided not to up the pace at 10k so he had to suffer me feeding off his pace for a few more k. We were still going at a good pace and having started at the back were overtaking loads of people which is good for motivation; although a couple of people asked us why were were so far back AND GOING SO SLOW? hahaha. Thanks guys that helped NOOOOOT!!

At 15k we eventually caught the legend they call Sofian Ismail - he was going at a cracking pace. Keat and I slotted in beside him for a while before we slowly (very slowly) pulled away. I think the only reason we did was because we saw Chris up ahead. Now this is one lady that is "sweet as pie" but clearly "hard as nails". She was going at a super pace and has come on leaps and bounds as an athlete over the last few years.

We chatted for a while and then we left her behind...or so we thought...she came zooming past again at about 18k - impressive! It was about this time that I felt that the pain was increasing and the moderate pace wasn't helping. The sun was high and getting super hot and with 8k left I thought it was time to test the body and further test the theory that there was nothing wrong with me other than TOO MUCH REST. I set my mind on the last 8k of an Olympic Distance Triathlon, the race took about the same sort of time, I knew that it was gonna hurt but I'd done it a hundred times before so now it was a race to the finish line.

The hills were still in abundance, about one every kilometre I reckoned, by the time the pain was too much going down the hill, I was then going up, at the top before the legs and lungs folded I was going down again. It was a very long 8k but with about 2k to go I saw Ralph Dixon (fellow Marathon Des Sables finisher & all round good guy). I caught him and not finding anything motivational, demotivational or funny to say I simply gave him a very gay pat on the bottom and trotted past.

At the finish I was spent but elated, stoked and above all surprised - my cardiovascular fitness was clearly still at Formula 1 standard even if my muscular systems were at Demolition Derby level.

Time 2hrs 17mins 03secs - 20th (chip time) 22nd (Gun time) in Junior Vets out of 218

I went in search of isotonic and decided that the volume of the stuff was coming out too slow so I went behind and helped myself. Before I knew it I became one of the volunteers serving up the drinks...that was kind of fun actually.

I met up with Julie later, she has been plagued with injury for ages and has only been able to run alternate days recently - still she finished 2nd woman overall - how good is that?!!!

Finally, I have to say a great big WELL DONE to Uncle Chan (the grandfather of Malaysian Triathlon). The race was excellently organised with great gifts, plenty of COLD water and isotonics on the course and all in all a wonderful experience.

So I don't think I'm dying, I think (and always have thought) that rest is over-rated and unnecessary, an "off-season" should probably be on a Wednesday (but you decide), I am Benjamin Button after all and anyone that doubts me check back in a few weeks and you can either call me a freak or say "I told you so" if I break into peices as I test the envelop of my threory. It should be an interesting time.

And finally...
Almost NO HIP PAIN this morning...mmm...interesting. I wore the 2XU compression socks straight after the race yesterday and my feet and calves feel better than I can possibly believe. My back is a little stiff but less than it was on Friday and my quads hurt, probably due to all the downhill running (and lack of run training). My stiff neck is totally fixed. My attitude is back from the toilet and I feel alive again.

Did I say finally?...
A few thoughts for when you've just achieved a big goal like an Ironman and are wondering how much rest and time off you should take: -
- The best form of recovery is blood circulation i.e. active recovery not just rest.
- The best way to put weight on is to train your metabolism to a peak of efficiency and then stop exercising.
- Use it or lose it.
- It doesn't matter how bad you feel before a workout you're guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
- It doesn't matter how much you don't want to do a workout you'll be amazed that you even considered not doing it afterwards.
- Whatever your state of fintness and however much you like sleeping in, there's no better feeling than meeting friends before the sun comes up, partaking in something physically and mentally challenging, finishing and then seeing all the vibrant, smiling and energized faces that have shared the experience with you. Take a mental picture of that and then another at the shopping mall later in the day of the other 99% of the population that just got out of bed - THERE IS NO COMPARISON - which do you choose?.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Husband Down on Aisle 22

(courtesy of CK Chew - made me guffaw with laughter, good one Chew thanks for the laugh)

A husband and wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart.

The husband picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart.

'What do you think you're doing?' asks the wife.

'They're on sale, only $10 for 24 cans' he replies.

'Put them back, we can't afford them' demands the wife, and so they carry on shopping.

A few aisles further on along the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream and puts it in the basket.

'What do you think you're doing?' asks the husband.

'It’s my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,' replies the wife.

Her husband retorts: 'So does 24 cans of Budweiser and it's half the price.'

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seb & Sid's first day at Alice Smith School

Fresh Air Fund - New York Marathon

The Fresh Air Fund is still looking for runners and sponsors to join our Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Marathon on on November 7th. We have until September 30th to register our racers, so we need to fill the spots quickly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hahahahahahaha - Made me laugh

(Courtesy of Nick Flynn)


Pretty Boy

Check out this pretty boy from years gone by. No dodgy moustache (I was never that sad) or winged colours (only when I was really young) but I know what you're going to say - yes the hair!!! It's awful isn't it? But that's before I started triathlons and realised that hairy legs weren't a good look hahaha (What? You were referring to the hair upstairs!!! - get out of here, that's gorgeous).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Head for heights?

(Courtesy of Ian Hay)

This is mental. I was feeling decidedly wobbly by the end of this clip. What a daft job.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fabulous Tour De France 2010 Photos (2nd installment)

(Courtesy of Chris Wayman and


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hot or what? Temperature not the rider

A guy called Matt Rice contacted me on Facebook and asked if I'd done the Louisville Kentucky Ironman. The long and short of it he sent this picture totally out of the blue. What a nice chap. His website is HERE His Ironman phots aren't up yet but judging by the dates of the other posts he has then they'll be there soon.

Anyway, I didn't think I was sweating that much on the bike but guess this picture tells another story.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ironman Kentucky - the most painful of posts

This post starts with a most painful revelation - I just found out today that I qualified for Hawaii at Ironman Kentucky on August 28th as a roll down qualifier. The painful part of the news is that I felt so letdown by my result that I couldn't bear to go to the roll down to see all the qualifiers get their spots knowing full well that there wasn't a chance in hell that I'd get a spot. I was wrong and I feel physically sick as I write this.

It seems that some of you still weren't aware that I sneaked off to Kentucky to try a last ditch qualifying effort so I shall tell the story and give an account of the race - which by the way I thoroughly enjoyed and haven't regretted doing for one moment - it was a secret adventure and I loved it.

I couple of weeks before the ITU Worlds I felt that my calf tear would at least be repaired enough to get me through the race. At which point I suddenly started thinking "What if?". What if I could get a Foundation entry to IMKY and use the ITU race as a training springboard to get fit enough to qualify for Kona? If I trained throughout my holiday then maybe...

A lot of ifs and maybes but there was a seed of an idea and a basis of a plan. I contacted the race organisers and explained my situation and that I couldn't commit until after the ITU Champs. They said Foundation spots (You have to pay an extra USD600+ for them and this extra goes to local charities or community projects) were 55% sold and if they didn't sell out they'd close entries anyway 2 weeks before the race.

I got my office to explore tickets to Kentucky from the UK and whether my return flight to Malaysia could be changed. Accommodation was sourced and now all I needed was to be injury free past the ITU Long Distance race; Or so I thought. A few days before the race I checked the Louisville, Kentucky Ironman website and to my horror ALL ENTRIES WERE CLOSED.

I started writing desperate emails begging for a place. Unlike other full Ironmans the guys in Kentucky replied in a very timely manner and did not entirely close the door on me as I'd expected. They basically said finish your race and then let us know and we'll see what we can do.

To cut a long story short I came out of the ITU race with a wonderful but painful experience and most importantly injury free (sort of). I got my entry to IMKY, albeit an expensive Foundation slot but I was in and very grateful. Shilpa wasn't entirely happy but was resigned to the fact that I have to get this out of my system, I on the other hand committed to training as much as I could around the family holiday and minimising the disruption as much as I could.

Over the next few weeks,in between, beer, wine, pizzas and ice-cream and while holidaying/travelling in Germany, Belgium, France (Paris & the Alpes) and the UK (my parents place in the Midlands & the Waymans in the South)I managed to get some training in of sorts including runs of 34k, 30k & 24k, one long ride of 180k plus swims of 3k, 4k and an open water wetsuit swim in Dover harbour. Lots of other moderate swims, bikes and runs too but these were the crucial long ones.

We had an awesome holiday and all too soon it was time for Shilpa and the boys to head back to Malaysia and the next day I flew to Louisville, Kentucky via New York for a date with my destiny (or so I hoped). Immediately, I loved the atmosphere, everyone polite and friendly, a mix of the hospitality of the South and the directness of the North.

There were almost 3000 participants and 494 in my age-group alone. I was a little taken aback but I knew that there were unlikely to be 10 people in my age-group that could beat me if I put together a solid race. Having said that it was now clear that it was going to be a hot race - my Nemesis had followed me here once again. DENIAL kept my confidence high.

On Friday I registered, checked out the expo and then went for a 40-50k ride to check out the course and the bike. I got lost and found myself in the middle of nowhere when my front derailleur cable snapped...Nooooooooo! Oh well, I still had a day to fix it but amazingly as luck would have it I was 200m from a bike shop - the chances of that AND finding it were probably 10 million to 1. I fixed the cable myself (cool guy in the shop let me use the tools, I service my own bike, no one else to blame then), in fact it was only the outer cable housing that needed replacing. A fiddly job but one I know well and USD5.30 later I was riding back to the hotel with a very good feeling about Louisville.

A quick change and then to the pasta party and briefing. It was a great atmosphere and a very civilised pasta party with plenty of top quality food for 3000 people and very reasonable queues.

I was at this point that I found out that it was a non-wetsuit swim - so much for my Dover harbour dip. Never mind, I had my speedsuit and it was still legal until the end of September.

Saturday started with a swim in the Ohio river, a quick jaunt on the bike and then dropping the bike and bags off before an early night to bed.

Once again I was impressed how efficiently they processed almost 3000 athletes. there was literally no lining up for numbering and the portaloo lines were very reasonably and once I got into a portaloo I didn't want to kill myself. (At Ironman China people were literally vomiting as they entered and left the portaloos with excrement overflowing out of the doors - not pleasant and sadly no exaggeration in my description).

Like China the swim was a time trial start with 6 athletes going off every 2 seconds. A last minute poo was more important to me than starting early so once done I started heading towards the back of the line. After about a kilometres I laughed out loud at how long the line to start the swim was. Little did I know at that point that I was only halfway to the back. Once the gun went it took over 40 minutes to get everyone into the water. Different from the usual mad start but a very cool way of doing it if you ask me.

I loved the swim and it turned out to be quite good for me time-wise for a non-wetsuit swim. I came out without having been beaten up and feeling a lot fresher that at the ITU Champs plus I felt that I'd been consistent from start to finish rather than struggling over the last kilometre - those dreary sessions at the Oak Park Recreation Centre's 25m pool with all those 'orrible kids had paid dividends.

SWIM TIME 1:11:30

Pretty good I thought although I was a bit distraught to find my speedsuit zip had come open during the swim - can't have made much difference though but annoyed with myself that I hadn't locked it down properly before the start.

T1 TIME 4:21

Now it was time to rock and roll. Having gone out too hard in Ironman China I was very aware of the numbers and keeping my heart rate down to around 130bpm from the off and cadence around 84.

Things were going well and it was a constant stream of bikes I passed for the entire bike ride. No one passed me but I guess I did start near the back of the swim. The course was just beautiful, rolling hills like the MEX hwy in KL but a constant headwind (all the time it seemed) and of course hot. It was a dry heat so very different from Malaysia and one that as I found in Alpe d'Huez LC Triathlon it's easy to get dehydrated without realising it as the sweat simply disappears so there are few visual prompts that fluid is escaping from your body at a rapid rate of knots.

My disciplined approach to heart rate and experience of other dry, hot races helped me minimize dehydration but even so it wasn't enough. At about halfway I sensed the power failing in my legs an soon after I couldn't keep my heart rate at 130 anymore it was dropping as was my power. The last 15k of the bike were probably the longest of my life (just about everyone I spoke to said the same thing too). I think the combination of the hills, dry heat and wind took their toll on most people out there. I was satisfied with my bike time and together with my swim and transition knew I was competing for a Kona spot...and then I got off my bike...

BIKE TIME 5:15:21

My bike was taken away and I was hobbling along in my cycling shoes feeling very unstable. My right ankle which hadn't responded to treatment over the last 2 months was totally shot so I decided to walk through transition and revisit the race once on the run. Getting changed should have been a quick affair but it wasn't, I was spent and couldn't believe just how hot it was, AGAIN! Soon enough though I was on my way.

T2 TIME 7:43

I walked out of T2, got doshed up with sunblock and then started a gentle jog. My heart rate went through the roof and I was forced to walk within a few hundred metres. Never mind I thought, we're still in contention, build up to it and then get into a rhythm that'll carry me through to the end. At mile two I realised that it was never going to happen, I'd walked most of it and I was breathing heavily even just walking. By mile 4 I'd given up any idea of qualifying and reverted to plan B (actually this was part of plan A and straight out of the Bryan Payne Ironman manual - enjoy the race WHATEVER). I had been enjoying it and I still was. I had a job to do and I didn't come all this way to go home without some good memories and a smile on my face.

After about 2 hours of walking I was starting to get quite delirious, I was spinning out and in desperate pain. People ahead of me were lying down under trees which was so tempting - it seemed the sensible thing to do, sleep for three hours and then finish before the cut off in 16hrs+, the medal was the same after all! What stopped me was that every time someone lay down I felt compelled to make sure they were OK and just resting rather than needing medical assistance - I knew others would do this too and if I was trying to sleep then these kind Samaritans would have driven me potty.

For a period of about 2 hours I was spinning out and close to collapsing mid stride, every 10-12 seconds I had to blink and refocus on something (usually a different piece of tarmac).I kept telling myself I was fleeing from Nanking and the Japanese were coming, if I lay down to rest or collapsed then I was a dead man. Somehow it worked and when I was about 3km from the finish I ran to the end with a huge grimace/smile on my face. YOU ARE AND IRONMAN the commentator shouted, I've heard that 16 times before and it rang a little hollow today, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR would have been more like it.

RUN TIME 5:58:06

I saw the Wongstar (Jocelyn Wong - Journeyman Pro, Team Bike Boutique), she wore her trademark smile, this was her 17th Ironman too and she'd done Malaysia and China as I had but she was also doing all of the USA races as well so she's got IM Wisconsin to do next in a couple of weeks (not to mention all the others she'd already done this year). If you ever need cheering up then you don't even need to talk to this lady, just look at her smile, it's always there and totally infectious. Made me grin as I was lead off for my 2 litres of IV drips.

TOTAL TIME 12:37:02

I woke up the next morning not feeling great but not feeling too bad physically but even though I genuinely enjoyed the race and knew that I'd made the right decision to come I was desperately disappointed not to be going home with the nightmare scenario of having to train for Kona and the Ironman World Championships in a few weeks time.

It was a long shot coming here, off the back of two serious injuries (one which I still had), not enough training and a 4 week family holiday, not to mention the ITU Long Distance Champs a few weeks before. Had the weather been 5 degrees cooler I have little doubt that I would have been in the top nine and qualified on my own merits or at the very least been so close that I'd have got a roll down spot. As it was I was 111th in my age-group, I completed but hadn't competed and this realisation and disappointment kept me away from the Kona awards and the roll down. I just couldn't bring myself to witness others getting their coveted spots yet again knowing that I'd not even been close this time.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not selfish in cheering on other's success in fact I love to and I was there later front and centre at the awards ceremony to cheer and applaud the category winners and the Pros.

As it turned out, had I gone to the roll down I would have been going to Hawaii after all. The last spot ended up rolling down to 130th place in my age-group. I felt sick to the core when I saw that today. Shilpa, to make me feel better suggested that I wouldn't have felt good qualifying that way and to some extent she is right. However, I felt I'd done enough at IMMY (Langkawi, Malaysia), I'd qualified there in every age-group except my own, I was 9th amateur overall but 5th in my age-group with 10hours 15 in awful conditions. The irony of missing out there and being gifted a place here would have cancelled each other out but instead...

Well let me tell you what is INSTEAD. Today, I'm hurting but tomorrow begins a new campaign for 2011, I'll be meaner, leaner, more focused, smarter, probably not fitter (that would be difficult) more race hardened (i.e. more & longer hot brick runs after long, hot bikes) than I was before Langkawi. I shall take the frustration and the anger and channel it into SUCCESS for next year - I have spent my life doing this so this will be no different. One thing that I will also ensure though is that IT WILL BE FUN (thanks for that Bryan, sometimes we need someone to constantly remind us of why we do what we do in life).

Check out Bryan's Blog - Training Payne. Bryan and I did Ironman China together. He recently qualified for Kona at Ironman Lake Placid and is now desperately trying to get rested enough and trained enough for Hawaii. Bryan has done 3 Ironmans this year while smoking more cigars than you can shake a stick at and consuming more beer (albeit "light" beer) than Oktoberfest.