Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Post For Men—Surviving The Laundry

Mia and JJ had just departed for Vancouver yesterday evening for a month-long holiday. I will join them next Friday. Come to think of it, I should have arranged to fly together with them yesterday. Now I will have to make that long journey to Vancouver alone next Friday. 

After I sent them off to the airport, I decided to catch a movie, and of all the movies, I ended up watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm not really a big fan of that movie though, just as much as I'm not a big fan of the Twilight flick (to me, Edward Cullen is just too sissy). I suppose these movies are good merely for killing time. But it's beyond me how Katniss Everdeen can never run out of arrows no matter how many she'd used.

Anyway, there's a strange feeling of liberation now that Mia and JJ are not around. It's as if I suddenly have so much space at home; I can do as I please. But then loneliness soon crept in, and in less than 24 hours, I'm already missing them both! 

That's not all—it suddenly occurred to me that now that I'm on my own, I will have to deal with the laundry, and wash all those dishes in the kitchen sink! They're piling up fairly quickly, by the way. Unfortunately, I still need to go to work next week, so this morning after I came home from cycling I somehow, miraculously, mustered enough courage to check out the washing machine behind the kitchen. 

Now it's been years ago since the last time I used a washing machine. In the good old days, I could only afford the most basic of washing machines. It used to cost a few hundred bucks and was able to do the job very well for years. It hadn't very many functions on it, just the good old-fashioned type; you just throw in your dirty clothes, pour in some detergent, close the lid, and leave it alone to do its job. Then about half an hour later, the clothes were ready to be hanged for drying.

Little did I know the washing machine that I have at home now is the more modern type. The first thing that I noticed was the many, many buttons to press. I spent some minutes trying to figure out which button was for which function; and apparently there are many functions. Gone are the days when the machine simply turned the clothes round and round clockwise and anti-clockwise, drained the water, rinsed and then spin-dried. No, it's not that simple these days. They are many options available. There are options for woolen clothes, silk and some others; water temperature, and even the spinning speed can be controlled too. There are several other buttons on that forsaken machine which I haven't quite figured out yet, but maybe if I'm lucky, I might learn a thing or two more in the coming days before next Friday. 

A chore that usually takes about an hour for Mia to accomplish, I struggled and spent almost 5 hours today. I think I would have finished the job within half the time at leisure if I were to have used my own hands to wash the clothes. I spent a good 15 minutes just trying to figure out how to open the lid after the machine had stopped. But later on, I realised that it will automatically unlock itself a few minutes after it had finished washing. I think Mia would be pleased to know that I did not damage the lid.

I'm quite happy with my accomplishment for today, until I suddenly remembered that I will have to iron my own office clothes too! Horror upon horror. Let's see if I can do it without burning my shirts and pants. Damn! I really should be in the plane with Mia and JJ now—they should be arriving in Vancouver in a few hours' time.

Oh well, it's time to start checking out the iron. Let's see how many buttons are found on it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Modern Music

It's been like a hundred years ago when music was still music, and songs were still songs. Those were the good old days...

Last Saturday I clerked a closed treasure hunt for a bank. It was organised in conjunction with their annual family day, and the hunt was one of the team-building events that they had for the day. It was a whole day event, and it culminated into a grand dinner party in the evening which was attended by the VIPs of the bank. Ordinarily, the answer presentation would be held shortly after the hunt, but in my case, the presentation was scheduled during the dinner at about 8pm.

Now as you'd probably know, it is customary here in Malaysia that the VIPs are hardly ever on time when attending such events, and as the result the programme for the night had to be adjusted to fit into the now limited timeframe.

After the several speeches by the VIPs, I thought I would be up next, as it was already approaching 8:30pm. But that was wishful thinking, as next in line for the evening's programme was a life band performance. I was given to understand that this particular band performs regularly in a local club, and apparently they're quite good.

The ladies had extremely tiny dress; it made me wonder why bother with the clothes at all. I can't remember when was the last time I saw a life band performance. I sat there waiting for my turn, and when the music started, it was horrifyingly loud—I thought my eardrums would burst. Several musical instruments all seemingly vying to be louder than each other. Then when the singers started their songs, I couldn't make out a single word; I had no clue what the heck were they shouting about. And these people were supposed to be one of the best in the market. I can't imagine what the lousy ones are like. Seriously now, can the audience really enjoy these performances?...I mean, really?

Well, it was already past 9pm by the time I was up for my presentation because the singers had to stop for a short break. I rushed through my presentation, and wrapped things up in 15minutes I think. After that, I was happy to leave the venue before the band continued its performance. I arrived home at about 10pm and was in bed by 11pm. I managed to catch a few hours' sleep, but had to be up again at 4am for my 25km run starting at 4:45am.

I'm thinking perhaps if I consumed a few shots of strong liquor and became drunk, maybe the loud meaningless noises can sound good, I don't know. Hell, maybe the ladies can appear like they're without clothes too; not that there is much difference with that little piece of clothes they had on anyway.

Modern music—if that's what it's called—is an almost impossible thing to enjoy; yet so many people enjoy it! It's one of those big mysteries that can't be explained. Thankfully, however, my eardrums are still intact.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Malakoff Powerman Duathlon Asian Championship 2013

Perhaps this comes a little late, but I’m presently up against a bit of laziness in blogging. I was trying to search for some of my photos during the event, and then when I eventually found some, I somehow did not have the mood to blog. Instead, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time surfing the net, playing online games, as well as trying very hard to keep up with my training!

Anyway, I returned to the Powerman this year with some of my friends, including Teo Chen Lung, Paul Lee, John Chin, Hana Harun and Judy Liew. Anslem and Amy also joined again this year. Another friend, Aldillah from Labuan, also joined. Douglas was supposed to have joined too, but he had to withdraw at the last minute. A few days before the event, I was told that Doug had arranged with the organizer to give his slot to Ahmadul Tahir. Of course Ahmadul doesn’t need any introduction; most endurance athletes in Malaysia would have heard of him. He’s been in the business of endurance sports like forever. Although he’s racing the veteran category, and not training as hard as he used to, he’s still an athlete to be reckoned with!

After setting up our bikes on the eve of the event, we had a short ride to the race venue. On the way back to the hotel, however, Hana had a puncture in her rear wheel. Teo had to offer his spare tube and Ahmadul helped with the chores. The rest of us took turns helping to pump the tyre. That night, there was some excitement as they tried so hard to search for spare tubes for the race. Hana and Judy had spare tubes for the race too, although I don’t know why. I mean, Hana didn’t even know how to detach her rear wheel, let alone change the tube which was inside that wheel. And even if she did know how to, she did not have a CO2 or hand pump to inflate the tyre anyway. But of course women are not meant to be understood anyway, so I’ll leave it at that lah!

Well, it was still dark when we started from the hotel to the race venue the next day, arriving there with about half an hour to spare. We duly pushed our bikes to the respective spots within the transition area and prepared our stuff for the transitions. Then, since I had a few minutes left before the flag off, I decided to visit the toilet. To my horror, there were long queues at the toilets. A number of them in my group were also there in the queues, especially Hana who’s cursed with that curious bouts of diarrhea when excited. I sometimes wonder if she’d get that same reaction when sexually excited, but there was no time to think of all those—as I emerged from the portable toilet, it was already countdown for the flag off. As I was rushing to the starting line, and Hana was still daydreaming in the toilet, the start horn went off, and a huge procession of excited athletes passed the starting arch. 

My friend Teo, who’s training for an Ironman race next year, was supposed to be in the crowd, but I did not see him. For the benefit of those who’re new to this blog, Teo has a special talent in conjuring up killer face expressions during his races. Check out his half marathon finish in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon earlier this year as reported here. And here are some shots of him in the recent RHB 10km run in KK. 

However, for Powerman, he’s determined to start slower—a strategy which he had hoped could stretch him long enough to survive the last running leg without walking. You see, he raced the Desaru Half Ironman distance last year, and had to walk almost the entire half marathon at the end. He wanted it to be different this time! 

 I started the run with what I felt was a decent pace of about 5min/km, but about 3km into the race, I realized that I was running a little too fast. Accordingly, I slowed down slightly. It was a humid morning and it didn’t take very long for my sweat to drip like a leaking tap! The following photo was taken just as I completed the first loop (thanks Mohan), and I was still feeling fresh then. 

 I eventually finished the 11km run in about 56 minutes, and was still feeling fine. 

While in the transition area, I saw Amy finishing her run. I took my time changing my shoes, putting on my helmet and ate an energy gel, before pushing my bike out of the transition area. But once I was on my bike, I swiftly built up speed. The plan was to maintain an average of about 31-32kph for the bike leg. But in order to achieve that average, I would have to hit approximately 35-37kph on flat roads as I was expecting to slow down substantially when climbing some hills. However, my calves seized up on one of the climbs about 20 mins into the bike leg, and I had to slow down a bit. But later I increased my speed again to achieve my 31-32 kph target. 

Unfortunately, when I dismounted my bike at the end of the 64km ride, both my quads suddenly froze, and I had to spend some minutes to rest them while I changed my shoes at the transition area. I tried to run anyway, but only to stop again after about 50m. The nightmare of cramps that I dreaded so much had become a reality after all. De javu—It was as painful as the tail end of last year’s Powerman, and I knew that I’d be walking a great deal during this final run of the race. At about 3km into that final 11km run, Amy caught up and finally overtook me! But my main concern then was to survive the cramps and blistering hot sun. 

In the end, I took a horrifying 1:23 minutes to finish the 11km. What a big relief! My total time for the race was 4:30, and I’m happy to say that at least I’ve improved over last year’s time by about 3 minutes. A very small improvement, but PB nonetheless! 

Paul finished a few minutes after me, followed by Anslem and Judy. We waited a little longer, wondering what has happened to Teo and Hana. Well, Teo’s strategy did not quite work out as planned—he ran a cautious race, but about halfway into the final 11km run, both his quads seized up and he was reduced to a walk anyway! Eventually, he had to stop to seek help from the volunteers. Two women helped him by applying sprays and some ointment. Teo was on cloud nine, enjoying the moment with two women massaging his quads. I can only imagine the smile on his face, probably trying very hard to suppress the dreaded killer face from manifesting, much the same way Dr Bruce Banner tries hard to suppress the hulk. In fact, I fancy that Teo was even at the verge of getting sexually aroused, when suddenly Hana came passing by. That must have been a rude shock for Teo, and he had to cut short his pleasant godsend moment. He resumed the race again, but Hana, having gotten over her diarrhea problem, was just too strong on the small hills approaching the finish line. In the end, Teo had to content finishing after Hana; and this time, with a rarely-seen normal smile instead of his intimidating killer face.

Ahmadul had finished much earlier than us, and got 5th in his category. 

John Chin finished a little slower than last year, but still way faster than the rest of us anyway. Aldillah escaped the 5:30 cutoff by a few minutes, having suffered cramps during the last running leg of the race. 

Overall, it was a fun-filled event. It’s also the last race for me this year as I embark on serious training for a major challenge next year. The good news about having no race around the corner is that I can focus more on a proper training programme. But the bad news is that there’s sometimes the tendency to become lazy to train. Besides, I’m going for a long holiday to Vancouver for almost a month in December, so I’m not sure if I can find the time to slot in my training. In any case, I will just have to train whatever I can, however little. Bring it on!