Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Skytrex with Sid and Seb

We recently took the boys to Skytrex which is canopy walking by another name. We did the kids version which was still scary enough. A very cool day for sure.

Gladys loves watching this - yeah baby!

Best Parents of the Year Awards

(Courtesy of Ian Hay)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Killer Whale takes a guy off the beach

(Courtesy of Ian Hay)

I read that this was a fake but blimey it looks real to me and quite upset me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

AISM Triathlon - My proudest triathlon moment

Sid and Seb entered their first ever triathlon, (Seb had done an aquathlon before) the race was at the Australian International School and organised by Damian Baynes and his colleagues.

There were categories from Open all the way through the age-groups to the blue-ribbon event, the Under 6s.

There were 18 under 6 boys entered in the event including Sid and Seb. We were surprised at how many there were and some of the bikes the little tykes had were amazing, some were also on training wheels too which was really cute.

We'd done a fair bit of training in the build up to the race, in particular focusing on the transitions where so much time can be gained or lost especially in such a short race. It was 25m swim, 500m bike and 300m run.

Seb in Lane 4 and Sid in Lane 7
We registered and then spent the whole morning waiting for all the other waves to go and then at last it was Sid and Seb's turn. I have never been so nervous before a race, I mean really really nervous, on edge and totally stressed. I did my best to hide it, Shilpa was the same.

Seb heading to T1
The Under 6 boys and girls swam together so the pool was a bit cramped but both our boys got away well. Seb was second or third boy out of the water and Sid was not far behind albeit a few places down.

Sid in close pursuit
They moved so rapidly to T1 it was hard to keep up. Seb struggled a bit with his second shoe (they're a bit small for him now so difficult to get on). I helped him get it sorted and then turned round to help Sid...Sid was gone already...AWESOME.

I raced out of the transition entry gate to see the boys come flying past. Sid doesn't seem to commit himself on the bike so a bit of "verbal support" got his head down a bit. Seb was after him like a man possessed, he was giving it everything.

Again in what seemed like a flash they were coming back to T2, OMG, Seb had got himself into first position, Sid came in about 5th just a few seconds behind. Their transitions would have made a pro-triathlete beam with pride.

Then disaster struck, Rowan, probably the strongest boy in the field took a right turn too early and having just overtaken Seb, Seb followed him. OH NOOOOOOOOOOO! I'd been heading back to the finish and as I turned round I saw Sid ahead of both Seb and Rowan as they came back from their detour and back onto the race course.

Sid coming to the finish line in 2nd place
I shot through the school to the playing field for the finish, there was Sid zooming round the track with a real focused look in his face, SECOND PLACE! WOW.

Seb still giving it everything
Seb was no where to be seen, then there he was, still running hard but looking dejected, Shilpa was there shouting encouragement and then she told me his shoe came off in a huge mud puddle that they had to run through, Rowan's too. It had taken Seb ages to get it back on again and by the time he finished he'd slid down to 6th place (one place outside the trophies). That was so harsh considering he'd been in first place out of T2.

Shilpa and I are so proud of them both, they both tried their best and despite Seb's problems they seemed to really enjoy themselves. Shilpa and I are both heartbroken about Seb missing out but I guess these are life's lessons that mould us and make us stronger.

As Ezer commented on Facebook "The TriTwins Saga begins"...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Night Mountain Biking - Belly laugh funny

(Courtesy of Hsing Ling)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The great Danny MacAskill's at it again - brilliant

A picture says a thousand words - haha

(Photo courtesy of Moey WS)

This pretty much reflected what I thought of my performance - haha

Monday, November 14, 2011

Powerman - a very unsatisfactory day

(Thanks to everyone for the photos, greatly appreciated)

Great start picture (I'm on the extreme left)
I was bitterly disappointed about two aspects of this year's Powerman. One was about the race itself, not only bitterly disappointed but furious and angry in fact, but I'll come on to that. The second thing was about myself and how I reacted internally to the first point. So what were the issues?

As anyone that was there will testify, the extent of drafting in this non-drafting race was unprecedented. It's the worst I have ever seen at Powerman. It appeared to be condoned by the marshalls and positively encouraged by many of the so called "competitors". Or should I call them cheats? Nay, I shall refer to them in the correct technical term that they duly earned..."CHEATING BASTARDS".

The packs were enormous and blatant and those that chose to draft are a disgrace to themselves, their country, their sport, their parents, their children and anyone that knows them.

As you're reading this, if you think that perhaps I'm referring to you and singling you out then by the fact that you've even had this thought should tell you that YES I PROBABLY AM.

So many chose to cheat, some didn't care and others justified their actions with "because everyone was doing it". People that had trained hard and knocked themselves out to get a lead on the run were unfairly losing out to huge packs swarming past them on the bike. Surely it was justified to tag along? Sorry no, this is CHEATING AS WELL!

If we all have this attitude then you might argue that we have a level playing field and we have a drafting race by default. BUT, the rules state that it's a non-drafting race and so long as there's one person that abides by this rule then everyone else that doesn't is a CHEAT!

So what should anyone have done in such a situation? Firstly, confront every single person in the pack and make it clear to them that they are cheating (including the Pro Women assuming it was true that they were in a pack too - they should know better). There were marshalls and they were taking down numbers, they were just spineless and didn't DSQ anyone. It then becomes easy, try to remember as many numbers as you can and protest them after the race. The marshall's clipboards will corroborate your claim. I can tell you from past experience at doing just this in Powerman, your protest will be upheld.

Other than that I have to say that the race was, as usual, magnificently organised. Additionally, credit to Melody, the race organiser, when I congratulated her on putting on a great race the first things she acknowledged was the drafting problem before I even said anything on the subject.

For what it's worth, I have a solution for future years, I have spent a lot of time (too much time) over the last 24 hours mapping it out in my head. It mainly revolves around managing the competitors perceptions prior to the race. Yes, it will lead to the most hardened and blatant cheats being disqualified, it may lead to some of these cheats being very upset and refusing to ever race Powerman again - AND HOW BAD IS THAT? Melody, Adele, if you're interested in hearing my thoughts I'd be happy to share, let me know if you're interested?

I'll come onto the second point of later, it was brought on by the drafting issue above but the anger an the blame lies solely with myself. But first the race: -

RUN ONE, 11k, 43mins ??Secs

I hadn't slept well the night before nor the previous few nights. I could have done but I didn't focus on early nights and only have myself to blame. I'd also trained heavily the week before which was part of the plan as this race was just to be a tune up for Phuket 70.3 in 3 weeks. However, when I started warming up for the race I realised that I was having trouble breathing, my heart rate was elevated super high and something wasn't quite right. Not to worry I thought, the body will respond, I just have to make sure I'm properly warmed up. Things got better and I lined up at the front for the start.

It was a two loop run and I got in quite nicely with a fast group of locals and expats. I was testing the red line all the way through which is where I wanted to be. In a race this long I don't believe in holding back or "saving yourself" but equally it's essential not to spend more than a few seconds anaerobic (in the red zone) every now and again.

Last time I did this race 2 years ago, over the exact same course, I ran 41:05 and expected something very similar this time (if not a little better). I was shocked to see my time approaching 44 minutes at transition. Mmm, never mind I thought, I'm united with Gladys (my trusty stead), this is where we tear up the road.

BIKE 64K, 1hr, ??mins

I started reeling people in immediately and few were fast enough to even think about guy jumped straight onto my wheel. "NO...!" I shouted and swerved to the right. He backed off. I looked behind ten seconds later and there he was again. "NO...!" I screamed a little louder, if that were possible, and again he backed off. Ten seconds later he was back. I seldom lose my temper but the anger that welled up inside of me was unstoppable, a primeval, guttural "F@CK OFF...!" emanated from somewhere deep within the chasms of my body which immediately saw him drop back 50m in a flash and to be quite honest with you, I even shocked myself. The viciousness and clear threat of imminent violence actually scared me, so I can only imagine what effect it had on him. CHEATING BASTARD he deserved it.

I reeled in Uncle Don and did a wonderful impression of a police siren as I went past him, it made me chuckle anyway. I reeled in Richard Tang, going past him at a speed that assured me that I wouldn't be seeing him for the rest of the day (oh how wrong I was). I went past Chris Williams, at quite an impressive pace I thought (later that evening he said, "Yeah, when you went past me you didn't look very good", haha, seems he knew what he was talking about and I didn't!). At the first turnaround I started seeing the packs forming, being an out and back course you can see the packs ahead and behind. I started getting angry again, I started painting pictures in my mind in terms of who was in the packs ahead (as it happens, considering how my second run turned out, I should have been more worried about the ones behind).

This is the issue that angered and upset me most about the race, not the drafting but rather the way I let it negatively impact my mind. Normally I'm very good at channeling adversity into opportunity or at least in channeling anger into effort. Today for some reason I didn't do this, I simply let it get to me. It's totally contradictory to my personality and my default way of thinking, I can only put it down to tiredness and a lack of sleep. I'm just so disappointed with myself, I really let this mindset spoil my day. I must not ever let that happen again.

The bike continued and Damian came past me, I've never been passed before on the bike in Powerman, so that didn't help my mindset either. Not only that but a guy I was slowly catching sat on Damian's wheel and that's the last I saw of him. I was even more pissed off!

Heading back on the second loop of two I caught a pack of five guys blatantly drafting each other and shared my thoughts with each one of them. It made not a jot of difference and they continued cheating. Then one of them made the mistake of jumping on my back wheel!!! Talking of thick skinned or what! I screamed at him, and told him if he didn't get off my wheel I'd protest him. He immediately obliged and came up alongside. He clearly realised I was pissed off and in an effort to appease me he explained that he hadn't intended to cheat at my expense but that we could cheat together "We take turns, OK?". That was pretty much the final straw for me. I shared a few choice words with him regarding it being a non-drafting race and I think the term CHEATING BASTARD was used more than once. Strangely that's the last I saw of him.

I got to T2 and considering that I'd managed to persuade myself that there were at least half a dozen people in my age-group in the packs ahead you can imagine my surprise to see the entire bike rack empty. I was in first place. BUT...I was in trouble BIG TIME.

RUN TW0, 10K, 55mins ??secs

I started running and felt my left Achilles tighten all the way from the heel to deep into the calf. It was strained, it felt like it was going to pop at any second. I was running but actually trying not to use my left ankle at all. Thinking about the forthcoming Phuket 70.3 I almost stopped, not wanting to cause any serious damage. I continued on gingerly though, I have had dodgy Achilles for many years and I know that sometimes they can loosen up when you start running, especially on the flat, provided that you're uber-careful. The key is for that to happen (or to stop) before the sinews start tearing. (I didn't get that balance right in Bintang last year, OUCH!).

As I continued running they got slowly better over the next k. The next problem was soon apparent, my heart rate was going through the roof. It was already 10 beats higher than the red zone that I'd played with on the first run. This was going to get ugly. However, in Powerman the second run is always ugly, the temperature was going through the roof, the heart rate was out of control I was getting dizzy but hey, isn't this normal?

Then Richard Tang came flying past me. I couldn't have taken out more than 2 minutes on him on the bike, a reflection that Richard obviously had a great bike and also that Chris Williams was indeed right, I really wasn't looking good!!!

1k into the second lap the wheels fell off. My legs were gone, my heart rate was unsustainable and I did something I have never done before in a duathlon, I walked. OMFG!!! The scary thing was that my heart rate barely came down, I'd start to run again and it was through the roof. I then came across my next door neighbour Nizz who was doing her first duathlon and only her second multi-sport race. DAMN! Now I couldn't even walk until I was at least around the corner haha. She is great, had a big smile on her face and was enjoying herself despite the tough conditions.

Last effort to the finish
Goodness knows how many people passed me. With about a k to go the expat guy in the blue with white sunnies (see the second photo above) came past me during one of my walk breaks. No Ferking Way I thought, he could well be in my age-group and I'm not having it. I took off, ran the last k hard and finished in what turned out to be 13 minutes slower than two years ago, 2nd in my age-group with a time of 2:24:48.

RM1000 (USD330) richer but not happy with myself
If I'd have raced well I have been happy with 2nd, hell I'd have been happy with 10th but with the poor sleeping habits leading up to the race and especially the negativity during the race I only have myself to blame.

I expressed this on Twitter and Facebook and I really appreciate the words of support from friends but I'm not sulking, I'm not looking for pity, I'm definitely not making excuses and I'm absolutely NOT being too hard on myself. I've reviewed the aspects that went wrong, I've evaluated them, dismissed what I couldn't have affected and hopefully learned from my mistakes.

Blame is good but only when it is accompanied by learning and then most importantly executing solutions. Good sleep in the days leading up to the race I could have ensured and channeling the anger in the race positively rather than negatively may have made me faster but it certainly would have led to a more enjoyable experience.

I'm looking forward to next year's race already and be warned I'm gonna ride with a mini video camera for all you CHEATING BASTARDS.

Disclaimer: - I'd like to apologise to anyone that was drafting that I have NOT offended. It was not my intent to be politically correct, increase readers to this blog or make any any new friends with anyone that thinks cheating is justified. I just thought it imortant to make that clear and to hopefully upset the last few thick-skinned drafting cheats that may have read this far without being thoroughy upset with me.

PS Be upset with yourselves and do us all a favour go do another sport.

PSS The facial growth is only temporary and is in conjunction with Movember (Google it if you don't know what Movember is).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Miri Olympic Distance Triathlon

Having had a good night's sleep I was quite optimistic about the race but still not believing my run was going to amount to much. My bike is always sorted and the work I've been putting into the swim is paying dividends no only in time but confidence too. If you know you're getting better then you're inclined to push more. This is certainly the case for me anyway.

The swim looked like it would be quite short, two loops and the sea was fairly calm again. I came out for the beach turnaround with Stephanie Chok. She's always been one of my swimming heroes so you can image how stoked I was about that. I came out after the second lap with Steve Lumley again, spooky! Again the long run to transition and we were off on my favourite leg, the bike, my territory.

I picked up another strong rider fairly early on and we set off in pursuit of the packs. I was looking in particular for Razani and the Czech guy who beat me last year. Slowly but surely we collected riders although few did much work. Then at about 10-13k we came up to the target pack.

I knew exactly how it was going to pan out and I knew the drill. No point in me nailing myself to the wall here as there was only myself, Razani and the guy that came with me capable of pushing the pace so I forced myself to hang back and wait for an opportunity. I can't tell you what willpower that takes. At the 20k turnaround we saw a massive pack with Wong At Thiam and Shahrom steaming along like a high speed train and probably catching us at a rapid rate. Every time the Czech guy found himself at the front he actually used his brakes, haha, I made sure I was behind him ready to pounce but as he braked so did I. An even bigger HAHA.

It was madness, we'd be around 45-50kph and then when he was at the front he'd brake and we'd be down to 26-27kph in 30m. I didn't care, I knew I wasn't going to be able to drop the pack unless the dynamics changed. And then it happened, there was a flash of green and one of Malaysia's national junior riders whizzed past. He was doing the relay and with fresh legs looked awesome. So I did the only thing that made sense, I let him go...going...going...oh my goodness...can I wait any longer...and then BOOM, I chased him down with the hope that I hadn't let the gap get too big and that I could drop the rest of the pack.

NOW I was nailing myself against the wall, big time. It was a huge effort, I'd hoped we'd got away but alas the pack was just about hanging on my wheel...or were they? A 30 strong pack was now about 10 and the Czech guy was blown out the back. Credit to Razani, he's hard as nails and no doubt anticipated the break, he was still there looking as strong as ever.

My work was done so I did my share of the work (or maybe a little less, certainly not more). I hung on up the hill, had a fabulously fast decent and created a decent gap between me and Razani going into T2.

A quick transition and I was off, no time to find running legs I needed to get away quick and try to win this from the front. Haha, who was I kidding, after about 2k I heard the inevitable quick stride of my rival closing in on me fast. He cruised by me and eased ahead. I didn't panic, I knew I was running well and I knew there was a lot of running left in this race. I felt that trying to stay on his shoulder would have been suicidal and intuitively I felt that running within myself, at least for now, was the answer.

He was about 50m ahead at the 2.5k turnaround. My next worry was where were the Czech guy, Steve Lumley, Rob Harries (not to forget Tony Harvey and Don Khor, not my age-group but I didn't want them chirping at me after the race. haha). Everyone was in check and I was having a ball, I haven't run so smoothly for probably 18 months. I was keen to encourage everyone else on, I just love the camaraderie in triathlon, the fact that yes we're racing each other but all suffering together too, brothers-in-arms so to speak. Cheering the others guys coming the other way also took my mind off the pain and seemed to help me gain energy too. Not only that but Razani heard me and started looking behind. Now I was 40m behind him, then 30m, then 20m, blimey I thought I'd better make a pass and make it stick.

I felt brilliant, I didn't surge but just kept the pace going. No need for silliness just yet there was still another lap to do and about 7k to mop up. I didn't look behind and kept cheering all the other guys and girls. Through T2 again, systems all still feeling brilliant.

This was a test race for Phuket 70.3 in a few weeks and the training plan said to take it easy. I wasn't about to give up on this race but I did promise myself an easy last k if I had a lead. As it happened no one was in sight and I literally jogged the last k and won by 3 minutes.

My time was a 2:01:54 which is credible but not forgetting that the swim was short.

A super weekends racing. In the end I won my age-group (RM1500) and even came in 3rd overall (RM300) a nice additional USD600, shared between the wife, Sid & Seb and the maids that leaves me with...nothing and an hotel bill to pay. Haha.

Finally I can't leave without mentioning that both the Sprint yesterday and the OD race today were both won outright by a girl! Radka Vodickova, she's a Czech pro and flipping awesome. I'm not even the slightest bit embarrassed about being chicked by her, she's amazing and a lovely person too. Very humble and amazingly fast.