Saturday, June 27, 2009

Safety Nets

I have always found trapeze acts in the circus very intriguing. Those people are hanging upside-down on a swing; and the others do acrobatic stunts in mid-air before grabbing on to the other guy. But all of these acts that I've seen before had safety nets at the bottom as a precaution, just in case someone makes a mistake and falls down to the ground.

Some of us are naturally gifted when it comes to safety nets. My brother, Dennis, for example, is one such person. Whenever he is up to a challenge—any challenge at all—whether it's a physical or mental challenge, he would always prepare "safety nets" at the bottom, so that if he fails in the challenge, he won't fall flat to the ground!

Dennis happens to be in my treasure hunting team. He takes turns with Edward as the driver of the team. When we first started out as a team, I used to be the driver. But that proved to be quite a waste, because I'm just not good enough to drive and solve clues at the same time. Both Dennis and Edward are not very well-versed in cryptic clueing in spite of the many training hunts I've given them. Later on, I assigned Dennis as the diver and we improved a little. But since the last 2 hunts, I've made further changes and made Edward the permanent driver of the team. So far, it's been a winning formula. As you can see, it takes a bit of time to make all these small adjustments to the team for its optimum performance.

I don't know if it's because Dennis is conscious of my high expectation of him, but each time before we start out on a hunt, he would almost automatically say something like, "Last night I didn't have enough sleep," or "I'm not feeling too good this morning—I think I'm coming up with a fever," or "My stomach isn't feeling well; I must have eaten something bad last night." These are his "safety nets", so that if he can't perform well for the hunt, it must be because of lack of sleep, or the fever, or the stomach upset.

Maybe Dennis is an exceptional case, but actually all of us have our own safety nets. The only question is how frequently would we do it, and to what extent?

I want to share about my failed attempt at installing my own safety net for the Borneo International Marathon 2 in October this year. A couple of months ago, I signed up for the full course, i.e. 42.2 km. Last year, I did the half marathon (21.2 km) in this event. I survived the distance, though I failed to make it in under 2 hours—I did it in about 2hrs 4 minutes. Since I'm doing the 42.2 km this year, I have to train much harder than last year. This will be the very first time I'm doing this distance. I've been gradually building up on my distance, but although I've managed to avoid injury so far, I'm beginning to find the training very, very demanding. I have increased my runs to 4 times a week, i.e. 3 short runs during the weekdays, and 1 long run on Sunday mornings. Of the 3 short runs, I usually do it on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But I find that the short runs of 10km, 13km and 10km respectively are very punishing; and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up.

Mia and I were at the dinner table a couple of days ago, when we started talking about our respective training programmes. She's training for her half marathon this year you see. And then we started building up our respective "safety nets". This excuse and that excuse—it's kinda funny when I think back about it now. I can't remember all the excuses I offered to her, but I think I said something about age catching up; lack of sleep; weight problem; the need for vitamin supplements; lack of time for the training etc.

But Mia cut me short by saying, "Yeah right, but you don't have to worry about having period every month!"

And that absolutely shut me up. There's just no way I can outdo that kind of safety net. Oh! I'm so glad that I am a man! Har har har!

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