Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dreaming To Become An Ironman

Almost a year ago, shortly after the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain IRONMAN NEW ZEALAND opened for registration, I signed up for the race. If I can conquer the challenge, it would probably be my first and last Ironman race. It will be on 01 March.

Truth be told, just a few years ago, I did not even entertain the possibility of attempting the Ironman. You see, swimming is just not my thing—I can do the breaststroke, but somehow I struggle with the front crawl. Of course it is still possible to complete the Ironman with the breaststroke, but I'm not born a natural athlete, so I know that if I tire out my legs in the swim leg, I would struggle and probably fail in the bike and run legs of the race.

I have of course posted about my lousy front crawl here, so I shall refrain from repeating myself in this post. All I want to add is that I've since learnt a bit more about the front crawl, and I will try to find the time to share with my readers on how far I've progressed (which is unfortunately not very far!).

If it were up to me, however, I wouldn't have signed up for the Ironman; at least not so soon. The main reason why I did it was because my friend, Teo Chen Lung had registered for the New Zealand event. He tried so hard to convince all his friends to register too. You see, I've got a very strange relationship with Teo; one might describe as a love-hate relationship. Although he is a good 11 years younger and bigger built than me, he has a curious obsession of challenging me in sporting events. Over the years he's been gradually gaining on me, and although I realise that sooner or later my old body will fail to defend my pride, I'm secretly enjoying the challenge too! That's why I've decided to take up the challenge of the Ironman New Zealand, so that I can go head to head with Teo. If it's a matter of endurance, I'd be confident against Teo. But now I'm faced with the issue of skills. It's most definitely a bigger challenge, but I love it! Another friend, Paul Lee, is also racing with us.

While Teo has been diligently training very hard for the Ironman for almost a year now, Paul and I haven't been very disciplined. I started training quite seriously last November, but had to be interrupted during my long holidays to Canada. But I resumed training again as soon as I returned from my holidays. On paper, I'm facing an uphill task against Teo. But I love the challenge anyway!

Teo and I frequently take a jab at each other with our unique sense of humour. For example, because of my very stiff swimming style, he teased me with this photo.

Unfortunately, apart from swimming, I'm not very good in cycling too. For those of you who're not into cycling, let me tell you that these days there's a lot of sophistication in the sport of cycling. Too many researches have been done on improving performance. When I started cycling about 3 years ago, I was quite at a loss for cycling jargon such as "bike fit", "aerowheels", "aerobars", "TT bikes", "Roadie" etc.

One has to choose a specific size for best performance. Even the height of the seat can be a big factor too; otherwise you will lose comfort, and ultimately, perform poorly!

Heck! Sometimes, even the colour of the seat matters too!

Until very recently, Teo has been training mainly on his own. He would go on a very long solo ride of way over 100km for months and months. But in recent weeks, I've started joining him on his Saturday rides. This morning we had another one of our rides. It was a scheduled 160km slow ride which we had expected to finish within 6hours. Actually, I don't mind riding solo, but I have the weakness of controlling my pace, and I have the tendency of riding too fast at the beginning and then struggle at the tail end of the workout. In fact, I had very similar problem when I first started running some years ago. 

But this morning, fate would have it that at approximately 70km into our ride, as I tried to avoid a pothole I ended up swerving into Teo's rear wheel, and both of us fell heavily onto the hard asphalt road. It happened so fast. Within seconds both of us were groaning on the ground. I struggled to detach my shoes from my pedals. The whole of the left side of my body went numb for a moment. I tore my shirt and I was bleeding on my knee and elbow, as well as bruises on my thigh, hip and chest. Thankfully, I had my helmet on—it cracked upon the impact of my head on the hard road. Always ride with your helmet, people!

Teo suffered severe pain on his left arm; he could hardly move it. He suspected that he must have dislocated or fractured his collar bone. The first thing I did was to call our friend, Douglas, to help. He came in a jiffy, but we still had to wait for a good 20 minutes before he arrived. In the mean time, I was rather annoyed that instead of worrying about his collar bone, Teo was more concerned about his RM400 2XU top. He tried to take it off before reaching the hospital because he said the doctors would cut it in order to perform the X-ray. He also started considering about his options in the Ironman. If his collar bone is broken, that will of course affect his swim and bike legs. Maybe it's still doable, but much slower. Things were indeed looking grim. I was overwhelmed with a strange sense of guilt even though this was an accident and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, Doug eventually arrived at the scene, and took Teo to the hospital. I got onto my bike, sore legs, bleeding and all, making my way home which was quite many kilometres away. Then we waited anxiously for news about Teo. The suspense was unbearable. We kept asking each other if anyone had any news about Teo. In the end, Dr Liaw, who's also working in SMC sent us news in the form of the following photo:

Speaking of the devil! All the worries, and he was happily having a first class service, served lunch in bed and all! For a moment, I had the crazy idea to go over to break his other collar bone! Luckily he's doing fine. I'm beginning to suspect that he's doing it on purpose so that he could enjoy the pampering in SMC for a bit! We're all happy for Teo, and he's back in the game again!

Even she is happy for Teo too.

So now, we are still GO for the Ironman New Zealand. And here's Teo's version of what he perceives the 3 of us will look like when we return from New Zealand in March.

No comments: