Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Tip Of The Iceberg

I have been keeping myself active in sports over the last few months, and I spent the time participating in several races, ranging from the full marathons in the Borneo International Marathon and the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (achieved a personal best in 3:52:08), to a half marathon in the local La Salle Charity Run (finished 8th); to Challenge Iskandar Puteri (Half Ironman Distance Triathlon—2nd Runner-Up), to the Labuan International Duathlon (finished 6th).

All these races were just a few weeks apart, but my next event will be a full Ironman race in Langkawi in mid November. I don't intend to join anymore short races until after the Ironman, so that I can really focus on endurance training. Although I'm happy with my general fitness, I'm a little worried about my endurance. You see, the Ironman is altogether a different beast. It comprises a 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and finally a 42.2km run, all to be done one after another in that order, and to be completed within a cut off time of 17 hours.

Last Saturday, I finally cycled 120km, a distance that I haven't done on my bike for ages. It was such a painfully exhausting workout because it just so happened that it was a windy day. Then yesterday, I rode another 120km. I had wanted to do more than that, but a freak storm forced me to shorten my workout. It was still an exhausting workout anyway; enough to result in sore legs today. Then in a short while, at about 2pm, I'm going to run 21km in this ridiculous heat. Hopefully, if I'm still alive after the run, I will go for a short recovery swim at the Likas Sports Complex at around 5pm. I much prefer to swim at the Sutera Marina, but it's closed for repairs; it's been closed for a few weeks, and I'm not sure how much longer they'll be closed. So I have no choice but to swim in Likas where the water is just too awfully cold. Since tomorrow will be a public holiday, and if the weather permits, I will go for a short recovery ride, followed by a short run.

The reason that I'm sharing all this is because when I do reasonably well in races—and I don't do well all the time, mind you—way too many people would say that I'm gifted, that I'm naturally strong or fast, that I'm genetically made for sports, that I have some sort of unfair advantage over others. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Some people would be pleased to get such comments from others. But not me. To be very honest, I'm rather frustrated when I get these comments, because for the simple reason, it's just not true. The truth of the matter is that I had to put in a lot of time and efforts in order to do well in races. It most certainly did not happen because I'm gifted; neither was it due to genetic superiority.

People have the general tendency to judge one's abilities from his or her performance during races, but they are not aware of what happens when he or she is not racing. It's a lot like seeing just the tip of the iceberg floating in the sea. For that portion of the ice is just about 20% of the whole thing; the remaining 80% is below the surface of the water and therefore hidden from sight.

It's too easy to forget that like many other things in life, in order to get good results, one has to put in the time and efforts to achieve them. At times, the kind of sacrifice that needs to be made is beyond imagination to most people, and a lot of the fight actually happens there rather than on the race day itself.

It's very hard to appreciate the value of proper preparations for a race until one experiences it for himself. This is overwhelmingly true in whatever "race" or competition in life. The sooner one can accept this as a fact of life, and start putting in the efforts, and sacrifices, to achieve whatever it is that he aims to achieve, the better are his chances of achieving it; and achieving it well. Pay more attention on the part of the ice that is submerged in the water, because after all the part that is above the water is supported by the part below it.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Scientific Study & Its Implications On Some People

Having been postponing my Ironman training over the last couple of months, I finally embarked on an intensive programme from last week. Typically, one would require at least 4 months (6 months for most people) to train for the Ironman race. But now I only have about 2 months to train for the Ironman race in Langkawi in November. 

Frankly, I'm somewhat in panic mode right now. Luckily, I've been keeping up with shorter races, and I'm sure the training for those races can help at least a bit for the Ironman. Last Saturday I cycled 120km, and then ran 21km on Sunday. I woke up with epic sore legs on Monday morning and had to rest my body. It's at times like this that I would wonder why I registered for yet another Ironman race.

This evening I had to force myself to go for the usual 10km run, and thankfully, I met Dr Peter at the track. If he were not there, I might have been tempted to shorten my run to 5km only. We ran together in the rain. I got home, had a shower, dinner, and then just shortly ago, received a message from my friend, Teo Chen Lung, through Whatsapp. He sent me a newspaper cutting of a study, which I have since searched online. Here is that study.

The study, as you can see from that article, found that "sex later in life puts men at a higher risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems like strokes and heart failure, but actually lowers the risks for hypertension for women."

According to Teo, he's sharing the article with me in order to warn me to reduce sex. Didn't know that he's so concerned about my life, but that goes to show how blessed I am for having such a friend in him. I'm not sure what's giving him the impression that I'm overly active in sex though, but truth be told, I'm not even sure what's the use of this study. I'm thinking, maybe a lot of men would say something like, "To hell with heart attacks—it's worth it bah!... if I die, die lah!"

While I now have a scientific explanation for my mother-in-law's hypertension, I must say that I'm not fully convinced with this sort of study. I mean the kind of sports that I indulge in is much more demanding on my heart than sex, and I'm inclined to believe that if I'm gonna die because of exertion, I will die in one of my races, rather than while I'm pretending to try for a second child.

Having said that, however, I've been seriously considering toning down my indulgence in sports this recently, for I feel that my body is finding it increasingly harder to cope. Over the recent months, I feel like it's taking longer and longer for my body to recover after a long training session, or after a gruesome race. Perhaps that is the cue for me to take a rest from the Ironman after November. Maybe I will just limit my triathlons up to the Half Ironman distance only beginning from next year. That's what I said to Dr Peter during the run just now. This is not a promise to myself, of course, because I do realise that this kind of promise is extremely difficult to keep!

Oh well, it's impossible for me to know when I'm gonna die—maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe in 20 years from now. But one thing is for sure; I plan to live life doing the things I enjoy doing, until my body can no longer do it. If I die while doing what I enjoy doing, then so be it—that's just too bad!