Monday, February 10, 2014

Ironman—Castles In The Air

It's been a few weeks since the day I was involved in a bike crash with my friend, Teo Chen Lung, during a Saturday long ride as reported here. We were training for the Ironman New Zealand which will be on 01 March. Although we weren't cycling very fast, it was a serious mishap anyway—both Teo and I suffered bruises on the thigh, arm and ribs. I also landed heavily on my left knee, thus causing pains up to now. Over the last few weeks, Celebrex had been my daily staple. If not for my helmet, I would have suffered a severe head injury too. In fact, it could have been fatal.

While I'm still pursuing the Ironman in March, sadly, Teo broke his collar bone, and a few days after the accident, Dr Heng performed a surgery on him to install a titanium brace. It would take several weeks for the healing process, and perhaps several more after that for total recovery to the pre-accident state. That absolutely ended his Ironman New Zealand dream. 

This is the result of Dr Heng's artwork:

Knowing Teo and his expensive taste, I reckoned that he must have insisted that Heng install a 24-carat gold bracing instead of the titanium one. However, as you all know, gold is a good electric conductor; I cringe at the thought of him getting struck by lightning when he goes running in the rain.

Sometimes, it's strange how life has the tendency to be cruel. Teo has been training very diligently for almost a year now. So much time and effort had been spent; he's been training mornings and evenings almost on a daily basis for so long. He was so into the Ironman thing, I tell you! Yet, a bike crash ended it all just like that. But I know this fellow—he will be back again with the latest fashion in triathlon outfits; a new tribike as light as a feather complemented with all the accessories with the word "aero" in all of them; helmet worth a few thousand bucks, and he will get his hands on that forsaken Ironman medal, come rain or shine!

However, a friend of ours, Pamela Fletcher, made a brilliant observation. She noted that Teo took so much trouble to prepare for the New York City Marathon the year before last, but it was cancelled because of the devastation of storm. Having travelled all the way to New York, Teo eventually ended up running in the park that day. And now the Ironman New Zealand is also not happening for him. Pam suggested that maybe Teo should refrain from choosing an Ironman event with the word "NEW" in it. I'm inclined to agree with Pam.

You may wonder; what of this Ironman pretender? Well, to be honest, I have been trying to train as much as I could. I continued training even during the Chinese New Year holidays. But I just can't train as much as Teo did. It's not really a matter of discipline, but my old body just can't recover in time if I were to train mornings and evenings. I read an online article recently that said the minimum training for the Ironman is 15 hours a week, but I'm barely training up to 10 hours per week for all 3 disciplines combined. Looks like New Zealand is fast shaping up to be my worst nightmare. I'm not being stubborn; I just hate to quit without trying.

A few days after Teo said that he's out, Paul decided that he's not ready for the challenge because of lack of training. Hence he's also withdrawn from the race. So now it seems that I will be the sole Pretender from the Land Below The Wind pursuing the Ironman in New Zealand. It will be a lonely and sad trip for me. 

Considering the amount of time and efforts required for the Ironman, this would most probably be my first and last Ironman. What promised to be a fun and exciting trip for Moe, Larry and Curly, has come to the reality that only Moe will be there at the start line.

Castles in the air—that's what this is, really. I have never even swam in a wetsuit up to now. And I've never even tried 500m front crawl in the pool. Last Saturday I biked 165km and was totally exhausted in the end. It's beyond my wildest imagination how I'm going to swim 3.8km, then bike 180km and finally run 42.2km in New Zealand. But I still have a little less than 3 weeks to prepare a failure speech. It will be a long flight to New Zealand, so I have plenty of time to work on that speech.

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