Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Approaching The Last Corner & Looking Ahead

It's hard to believe that we're approaching the end of 2011. What a year this has been—I've run 3 full marathons and several half marathons, a 100km cycling challenge, a sprint triathlon, and a 100km ultra trail marathon. But apart from finishing all those races, I was also able to achieve personal best times in the full marathon and half marathon. A truly exhausting, but fulfilling year!

While I'm reducing the intensity of my workouts during this festive season, I'm excited to look forward to another fruitful year beginning with a 100km ultra trail marathon in February in Hong Kong.

However, what I'd really like to do next year is to focus on the sport of triathlon. The sprint event that I did in Miri at the end of October was just to get a feel of doing 3 disciplines in a single race, but next year sooner or later, I will want to do the Olympic Distance (OD) triathlon. The OD comprises a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run.

The way I see it, running the marathon is a more challenging sport. An average athlete can quite easily complete the OD triathlon within 3 hours, whereas it would take almost an elite marathoner to complete a full marathon within the same time. That's as far as endurance goes. Nevertheless, the triathlon is a much more technical sport when compared to running.

Most people are not very good swimmers; and strangely enough, most people are not willing to spend the time and effort to improve their swimming technique. Regular readers of this blog would know that I'm not very good in swimming—at least not as far as the freestyle goes—as reported here. But next year, since I'm trying to do well in the OD triathlon, I will have to work on my swimming technique somehow. For the moment, I can't even begin to imagine swimming 1.5km in the open water with the freestyle, but I'm convinced that if I tried hard enough, it is doable.

Then there is the question of cycling. I've started cycling using a secondhand road bike since about half a year ago. I'm not a very regular cyclist though. At best, I'd cycle once a week on a Saturday, but even then I've missed several of those rides too to make way for my training for other events. So next year I will have a lot of work to do on my cycling too.

Most of my friends are using more sophisticated bikes, and much more expensive than mine. Teo, for example, is currently using a bike which has been upgraded to a worth of over RM20,000, i.e. about 5 times the worth of my humble bike. But even then he's not satisfied; he's planning to buy a triathlon bike very soon.

This past few months, I've been thinking more about my bike, and I'm now itching to buy a triathlon bike too! I can't see myself spending a fortune on a bicycle like Teo, but I might buy a slightly better one than my existing bike.

I was discussing with a female friend about bikes via exchanges of text messages recently (Yes, because of the availability of Whatsapp, people would actually conduct discussions via cellphones these days). I was explaining to her the difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike. Check out the photo of a triathlon bike below which I've downloaded randomly from the net:

As I was saying to my friend, the triathlon bike comes with the aero handlebar whereupon the cyclist can rest his elbows, thus supporting his upper body while the lower body does the work. The idea is that because the upper body is not very active, energy can be saved, and the cyclist can last longer that way.

Of course I had to interrupt myself to remind her that I was still talking about cycling, not about sex. I didn't think her mind would wander from bicycles to sex, but because of the description of the activity, you'd never know!

Well, anyway, I've been browsing the net, and to my horror, found so many available brands of triathlon bikes, and prices ranging from a modest RM8,000 to the astronomical RM20,000! I'm thinking perhaps the RM20,000 ones can move on its own for the entire 40km by a single push of the pedals? I asked Teo about this theory, and he confirmed that that is indeed the case. Only that later on, I found out that he was talking about motorbikes, not bicycles.

At any rate, I won't immediately rush into triathlon in 2012. First, I will be focusing on the 100km ultra trail marathon in Hong Kong; and then very likely the Sundown Ultra Marathon (100km) in Singapore in June. I'm gearing for the OD, hopefully in Port Dickson in July; and if I can do well, I might even consider attempting the half ironman in the later part of the year.

Other possible events in my 2012 sports calendar include the Powerman (cycling and running), and TMBT 2 in September. I'm hoping to run at least one full marathon, but I can't see when I can squeeze that in in 2012.

Oh! By the way, I've volunteered to help in organising the 5th edition of the Borneo International Marathon which is scheduled to flag off on the 6th of May next year. This morning was the official launching at the Likas Stadium. If you are a runner, please register soon here.

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