Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thats's just life

Been reading a number of entries these days - which help me add on a few resolution for 2011

1. Do a Full Triathlon in 2011
- Join training if possible

Got inspired after reading my friend's entry on his Ironman

Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championshio Phuket - My Toughest Race So Far
by Eugene Lim on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 2:05pm
8 months ago, I decided to go for my 2nd Ironman 70.3 distance after I found out that i am able to qualified for the APAC championship in Phuket with my results at Singapore Aviva Ironman 70.3 2010. I was determined to do much better and i reflected on my weaknesses during Aviva. My swim was ok, bike was slow and run was less than satisfactory. There were just too many ‘grievances’ that i want to address in my next big race. I told myself, i must swim faster, bike stronger and run better in Phuket.

From then on, i trained hard. 6 days a week, often double sessions, huge investment on a new time trial bike and other equipments, mental barrier of solo training on morning rides, runs and pushing myself ever further in each training. I was glad that Wilson, who is a super experienced triathlete himself, was willing to coach me. His programme was tough but I told myself to grind my teeth and take on the challenge. After all, nobody said it was easy.

Leading up to the race, under the guidance of Mr Kang and Wilson, i felt that i was getting stronger. I learned a lot as an athlete during my build up. Being a triathlete is very different from being a pure swimmer, cyclist or a runner. Each sport demands different muscle groups to work but also commonly tax your cardiovascular system. Pacing was of utmost importance. In previous races, I usually slow down as time goes on and that was because my pacing was super off. To have better pacing is to train frequently and let your body know automatically what pace you are going at. Rhythm and momentum is crucial. I used to think that cadence in cycling was not important but Wilson taught me that cadence is actually one of the key in cycling. As I lack the muscle mass of a typical cyclist, having a high cadence would prevent me from tiring out my muscles prematurely. The starting phase was hard. My legs were tearing apart as i try to attempt to reach 90rpm on the bike but as i get used to it.. i was doing 90-95rpm with good effort on relatively harder gear ratios. My confidence for my bike grew and as much as I know i would not be among the fastest for bike splits, I could at least manage better than before. Likewise for swimming, Mr Kang’s rigorous training routine (think 1.5km ‘warm-up’ swims’, then all sorts of sets, and end off with 3 sets of 8 x 50m) pushed my swimming capability way beyond what i thought i could do. Mileage on the run and drills given by Wilson was beneficial and i felt my form for running is coming back gradually.

December 2nd came. Just days after my exams which sucked the soul out of me. I shook off the fatigue of exams and concentrated on the race. Bike packing, race preparation and nutrition were just part of the game plan.

Off we go, on the Silkair flight to Phuket. The hotel rooms were awesome (sort of entice us to sleep earlier and earlier every day!). Meals were great. It looks all set that a good race is on the way. Then came the route recee. Mr Kang insisted that we rent a vehicle to take us on the whole 90km route. So we did. During the route recee, we were shocked at how ‘bad’ the route was. There were climbs that could make our ears pop, descends that are freaking dangerous with hairpin turns and almost the entire route was undulating. Towards the end of the recee, we were all quiet. I began to have doubts. Can i finish the course? will i crash? how do i conquer the slopes? (which we come to realise that they could be as steep as 16%) is my preparation enough? I was scared. like very scared. I have not worry about completion before because it was all about timing.. now it is different. This inaugural race incorporated one of the toughest bike route ever and it was meant to challenge the best there, given its title as the APAC Championships. The swim ain’t easy either, as it consists of a sea swim and a lagoon swim. Two different bodies of water with different buoyancy and thus different style of swimming. The run was the ‘easiest’ as it was relatively flat but we cannot look down on the heat and humidity of Phuket.

We checked in our bike/run bags and bike the day before. I went to sleep with race jitters. I did a lot of mental training, tried to visualise the route as much as i can and planned my nutrition in take (before the hard parts). off the lights, and i hoped, quietly for a good race.

The next thing that happened was the sound of the start horn. Along with my fellow teammates, i sprinted into the relatively clear and nice water of Phuket and set off on my 70.3 miles of journey. Backed by my confidence was the rigorous swim trainings back home, i quickly found pace in the swim and maintain a good tempo. I felt extremely good exiting the sea and enter the lagoon. Mr Kang told us that instead of jumping straight into the lagoon, we should run on the left where there was a sea bed which stretches at least 50m out further into the lagoon. I took that route and while the other competitors were swimming that length, i was running through shin-high level of water. i plunged in almost 3 body lengths ahead of this guy who exited the sea with me. The water was green with a bad algae stench and taste. I couldn’t care more. I aimed for a 34min swim and i will do it. Once again, Mr Kang’s sound advice of kicking more in this mix of fresh/sea water lagoon helped. I propelled through the water and at this point of time (unlike previous races), i still feel very very fresh. The 1.5km warm up swims really made my body used to long distance swimming and it was not as tiring as before. Touchdown on mat and it was 34 mins! A big “YES!” sounded inside me and i did a PB by taking 3 mins off my swim as compared to my 37min in Aviva.

I ran along the mat to grab my bike bag, put on my aero helmet, race belt and shades and off i went. My strategy was to go steady on the bike and not be too overly aggressive. On hindsight, i maybe over conservative. Ben soon caught up with me on the bike and Xander later. I kept a tight watch on my nutrition and make sure i get my calories before my body get drained. Salt tablets, power gel, water, electrolyte.. it was a feast (i used to ignore race nutrition pretty much before Wilson told me otherwise).

Then it was the hills. It was my lowest point of the race. I couldn’t even spin up the first hill with the easiest gears. I was going up at 6kph and losing my balance. I knew i had to push up.. it was a moment of despair. I saw many zig zag up the 16% crazy steep slopes and i asked myself why i couldn’t. Was that the end of me? This was to be repeated on the 2nd set of climbs.. once again.. i was off my bike pushing.. it was really disheartening. The descends were extremely dangerous as expected and i was extra careful when i was going down.. I admit i am not a very good bike handler so this was tough for me.. i felt that i was almost flying off my bike.. at the same time, i was also hoping my teammates were tackling them safely. The course was extremely technical. At the back of my mind, i really though this was a super mini tour de france. It tests your climbing abilities, bike handling skills, cornering, descending and also time trialling.

Jiajie was sort of on and off with me since the start of the bike leg. He was a great companion and i’m glad he was there. i dunno why also... probably a friendly face in the midst of Phuket crazy hills was comforting. He passed me eventually and said “come on Fabian Cancellara!”.. that kind of spurt me on.. i was fading.. real bad.. a lot of things went through my mind.. the previous day, we were watching Chasing Legends and the phase “it’s time to eat shit” got into my head..

It was then.. probably 50+/60 km that i recovered and speed up. In Xander’s term, i switched on my ‘Twin Turbo”. This is the relatively undulating terrain of the course. I kept my cadence and a steady comforting pace of approximately 36-38kph.. I dunno what went into me but i couldn’t care more. I cornered hard and went manageably hard. I found strength to spin up the last Naighton hill. It was long but i spinned up! It was the home stretch of around 10km more.. I just went.. refusing to get out of aero position and tight turns, cutting every inch of a corner.. i was visualising how Cancellara was time trialling in the 2009 World TT Championships. Cadence was 90-95... I was feeling strong again.. Then i saw the turn into transition.. I smiled and dismount my bike, pass it to the bike catchers and grab my run bag. Game Time.

To my surprise, i saw Ben in the changing tent. Then i knew he got a 4 min penalty for drafting violation (kind of lame but anyhow still kanna).. He left the tent before me. i wore my shoes, visor, grab a drink and ran. Although the bike was the toughest physical part of the race, the run, for me, was the toughest mentally. I knew Ben and Lionel were in front of me because Ben was a better bike and Lionel was stronger in the swim and the bike. I felt very good when i first started out. The many brick trainings Wilson gave was helping.. my tights were not burning and my legs were not seizing. Weather was great, cloudy though still humid. I chased. Like my life depended on it.. People who raced with me before know how i look and usually don’t react to supporters or cheers (not that i am tao but i am just concentrating). In my head, i was just thinking of chasing up to Ben before i try to catch Lionel. Then at the turn into the Outrigger estate, i saw Lionel exiting. That means he probably got a 1-2km lead on me. I was a bit demoralized because it will not be easy to catch him. i shook it off and concentrated on catching Ben. I was going strong, sponges and water points were great. The race support for this race was nothing sort of awesome. There was cold water, power gel and electrolyte at EVERY aid station. It helped negate the pain a little.

After 3-4km, we came to this long stretch of sand dirt path. All i could hear was my shoes running on the sand and i was using that to pace myself. I keep looking for Ben and Lionel. It was not until the aid station at the 7-8km mark that I saw the two of them. I ran past them with a friendly pat on Ben. I didn’t care about time.. i was just running.. then a few guys was running with me to the end of the 1st loop. 10.5km done.. another 10.5km to the end of this... GO EUGENE...

Then, the sun came out. it was almost noon. It was baking me as well as everyone around. I felt my energy leaving me.. i ate my gel at 5/10/15km.. sponges weren’t as helpful anymore.. then GY caught up with me.. i ran with her for a good 2-3km before she powered off.. i was dying.. drained.. the bike course, heat and humidity are taking their toll on me.. All i could do now was to keep running and not stop to walk.. DON’T WALK.. EAT SHIT NOW.. it was tough.. i didn’t know where i was.. i was just running.. the heat wave were fuzzing on the roads.. the sand dirt path was like a sandstorm. My world went silent.. i couldn’t hear cheers from outside.. all i could hear was my body screaming to stop and walk.. i kept on going.. keep asking myself to move my legs and swing my arms..

The 19km sign came up. I dunno where this place was.. this is the 2nd loop and i am suppose to recognise this place.. but i couldn’t.. im shutting down mentally. I was trying to think of other things other than the pain.. Yimei is waiting for me to get home, mr kang and auntie elsie were at the finish line. I hit the dirt path (the elephant park) and i ‘regain’ consciousness. It was less than 1 km.. i ran.. and ran more.. i saw the clock.. ran towards the banner.. past the mat. YES I DID IT!!!!!!! I grabbed the banner, lift it up like how Macca does it at the finish line.. pose for the camera.. and with 2 hands on my thigh.. I waited for my teammates..

The race was done. my hardest and most mentally challenging race ever. All fears left and only the strongest can survive. We all did. The feeling of euphoria came.. and as Ben came past the line, i gave him a hug. We did it.. i could almost cry.. months of prepartion for this single day. I didn’t clock my personal best (5:24 in Aviva 2010) and obviously sub-5 was out of the picture in this kind of course. Yet i was contended with a 5:34 and felt that i really matured as an athlete.

The journey wasn’t easy. This race is a big part of me now. Whether i will come back or not is another issue but this experience is something that i couldn’t get anywhere else. And without the support of some, i wouldn’t be here.

I may not be on the podium or did a PB in this race. But finishing this race was, to me, a great achievement and racing among the cream of the crop was a unique experience. For now, it’s off season and i will be preparing for my exchange programme in Stockholm. The APAC Championship Ironman 70.3 made me love triathlon even more and i will (mark my words) break the 5 hours barrier one day.

With Love,

2. Carpe Diem - Live life to its fullest
- Make sure the life I am living now brings me joy, brings joy to my family and eb a support to my dear friends all around me

Traveling has been a topic between me and a friend for years. Back then was just a dream, day dreaming in fact. We will be planning the starting and the ending point of the route, to what we do, where we stay, etc. But years past and we are still where we are, struggling to pay debts, money is never enough. Maybe it was enough.. but never enough to save for a major trip.

Money is just an excuse, i realized. It is an important factor but it's also the least to be worried about. Its pay day every month end. And its "pay day" indeed. Paying everyone except myself. At the end of the day, i left probably just enough for survival. Instead of talking about how much I want to travel, and how broke i always am, i took the brave step and bought the first ticket in 2010. Whats the difference of being broke in Singapore, and being broke overseas?

Well.. at least i'm overseas. =)

Commitments. Thats another word i hate. There are too much things at home that i can't ignore. Debts.. cars.. family.. job.. And every other few months, i screw up one of those. People coming after me for payments; Dad's yelling at me for God-knows-what reasons; i fucked my job; my car died on me. Im sick of everything around me that is silently telling me that i should not leave, work hard and pay my bills. Logical? Sensible? But it never once gives me the smiles that i should have. On the contrary, i was starting to lose myself in this world of debts and payments, and dealing with people i deem brainless.

People see me as an insensible kid. I think it's a part of me to know how to totally ignore anybody and how people thought of me. Yeah.. if i can be bother, i won't be me anymore. And of course, this unique trait of me landed me into troubles, big and small, over the years. I decided to put this trait into good use - To stop pleasing people who are undeserving, ignore them, and do what i really what. There's only two i need to please in this life i have, God and myself.

Somehow someone will say.. Whatever you are doing is not responsible at all. I AM responsible of myself. And of cos, bills and debts are not to be compromised. If i could do this much with debts, what's more i could do without debts. I won't be here blogging. Probably at some unknown islands, whale watching, saving turtle eggs... yea, that's what i want to do.

The world is too big to stay in one place for too long.

3. Treat my family better
-Listen more. Time is too short to be unforgiving or angry. Love!

Aug 29, 2010

Difficult to accept a loved one’s suffering

Feeling compassion with a detachment is wise, but tough when it comes to Mama

By Lee Wei Ling

I awoke with a start, a while ago, from a dream. I looked at my watch. It was 4am.

It was a dream worth remembering, so I decided to write it down immediately. If I had not done so, I would not have been able to remember it later.

In my dream, I seemed to be simultaneously at home and outdoors at some unfamiliar place. Suddenly, a monster appeared and attacked me. I struggled with the monster but it matched me strength for strength. I did not utter a sound, nor was I frightened. Instead, I wrestled silently with it.

Suddenly my mother appeared. She walked towards us, but did not say anything either. Instead, she made a dismissive gesture and the monster turned tail and ran away.

That would be Mama’s way of tackling problems, I thought: no need for unnecessary words or actions; just do things quietly and effectively.

At that point, I woke up. I got up from the floor where I was sleeping and went into my mother’s room to see how she was doing. She was sleeping peacefully. I am now back in my room recording what I can still remember of my dream – for a ‘dream’ indeed it was, as it cannot be classified as a nightmare.

For two years and three months already, my mother has been too weak to get out of bed. But in that brief moment in my dream, I saw her again as she had been – physically normal.

I wished I could have dreamt on, and after some time, together with Mama, vanquished the monster in the dream and then walked off together.

In dreams, everything seems possible. That my mother appeared magically in my dream did not surprise me – either while I was dreaming or when I awoke. This is because between Mama and me, there was always some form of telepathy.

Once, when I was staying with my brother Hsien Loong, my toothbrush was worn out and needed to be replaced. I hardly ever shop, so I did what I had always done before: I told Mama I needed a new toothbrush.

Since we were in different houses and I did not want to wake her if she was sleeping by calling her on the telephone, I e-mailed her: ‘Ma, I need a toothbrush.’

She e-mailed back: ‘I am telepathic. I just got a toothbrush for you. But one day, the commissariat will not be around. If you don’t know the word ‘commissariat’ go look it up in the dictionary.’

She was correct: I did not know what the word meant. And since I did not know where the dictionary was kept in my brother’s house, that evening at dinner, I asked him what the word meant.

He knew, of course. ‘Commissariat’, he explained, is a department in the army charged with providing provisions to soldiers.

Now Mama is no longer in a position to be my commissariat. Worse yet, she is bedbound and no longer able to read – a favourite activity of hers.

Mama had wide interests. She knew things that even many highly educated people would not know or be interested in, as would be obvious if one rummaged through her bookshelves, as I did recently.

There were several books on the flora and fauna of Singapore. There was a hardcover book of children’s nursery rhymes, which she had used to read to her grandchildren. Of all her grandchildren, my albino nephew enjoyed reading the nursery rhymes with her the most.

There were several books on Buddhism and Hinduism. There was a King James version of the Bible printed in a large font so that she could read it even without her reading glasses. There were many books on the Indian caste system, and a book describing the ancient city of Harappa in the Indus valley. The city dates back about 4,600 years ago, and was an important trade centre in the ancient world.

Mama was interested in the Silk Route long before it became a fashionable subject of interest. She had a book chronicling the travels of a Victorian lady on the Silk Route.

There were six Malay kamus, or dictionaries. There was a book on Chinese customs and symbols. And of course, there were many books of poetry, including a collection of Rudyard Kipling’s poems.

There were also books relating to the early days of Singapore, including The Battle For Merger, a collection of radio talks my father delivered in 1961, detailing the early history of the People’s Action Party’s struggles with the communists. It is now out of print.

There were many books, too, written by others about my father, including Lee Kuan Yew In His Own Words, excerpts of his speeches from 1959 to 1970, edited by S.J. Rodringuez.

Mama also had the kinds of books one would expect to find on the bookshelves of someone so cultured: among other things, The Tale Of Genji, Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum And The Sword, Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto’s The Daughter Of A Samurai, the novels of Jane Austen, and a book I enjoyed tremendously as a child, Anne Of Green Gables.

Mama didn’t just collect these books, she read them.

It is now 5.30am. I popped into her room again a while ago and she was still sleeping. I comforted myself that at least when she was sleeping, she was unaware of her unfortunate situation.

Now I am trying to go back to sleep myself, but I cannot do so – not because of the dream but because of Mama’s unhappy predicament. It is acutely felt by her three children, my two sisters-in-law, and my cousin Kwa Kim Li, who is my mother’s favourite niece. But the one who has been hurting the most, and is yet carrying on stoically, is my father.

It is easy when thinking in the abstract, to conclude that being born, growing old, falling sick and eventually dying is what happens to all of us. I accept these facts with no resentment that life is unkind. I have had more than my fair share of bad luck, but I never resented it, for I think suffering built up my resilience.

But I find it difficult to accept my mother’s suffering. The Buddhist principle of feeling compassion but with detachment is wise, but it is not an attitude that I find humanly possible to adopt when it comes to Mama. I cannot see her suffering with detachment.

But there is nothing I can do to get her back to where she was before she suffered a massive stroke on May 12, 2008. She has been suffering since then, and so has my father. But that is life, and we all plod on, fulfilling our duties as best we can. Indeed by focusing my mind on my duties, I manage to temporarily block Mama’s suffering from my consciousness.

4. Volunteer at a girl's home / Orphanage - we have our parents to guide us so lets lead those who are lacking

From Chen Diya blog

What you see is merely the tip of everything else,Like Icebergs.Which in scientific figures, is only 1/9 of the whole portion...

Being a human being made out of flesh and bones myself,being a daughter,being a sister,being a Christian,being a singer,being a friend,being more than a friend,being me.

There really is so much to discover and learn about myself,more so for you.

Mothers, the mother of icebergs.My mum is one big one,with 1/9 of all her worries and concerns showing up,and the rest of the 8/9 of them underwater...

My family gave me a good foundation,I wasn't the smart one, and always had to survive the endless comparisons between me and my brilliant brother who aced all his exams with ease, who read books at the speed of lightning, who solved my maths questions in his sleep, who picked up the guitar and drums all by himself, and passed the grade 8 piano exam.

I was the one who played truant, ran around the house when my mum wanted to cane me, scraped my knee when out playing, fighting with a particular powerful Lee's son on the bus, and subsequently getting thrashed, joining gangs in primary school, selling packets of coloured twisted stapler bullet barb wire, cheating in class (well, in my defence the whole class did it together during a social studies test.), excelling only in things which couldn't be graded like acting, singing, and hosting.

My mum brought us up strictly, never allowing herself a break from it all.Uptight, Stern, and... loving.

I remember how she used to scream at me like a lunatic,throw me out of the house in the middle of the night,after giving me a good thrashing and throwing out a bag of clothes in anger,unafraid of what the neighbours might say,regardless of the kind of rumours people in church passed around about her abusing her children. (some even threatening to alert the police. what to do, we were too cute.)

Not because she was truly a lunatic.But only because she loved us so dearly.
Every red,blue,black stripe on my skin,was a deep cut into her heart.And I always remember the time she hugged me after,and I pushed her away, in anger and in a bid to retain some of my so called dignity.

I know of some friends who have hip and happening mothers,mothers they can tell anything and everything to,mothers who are more like friends.
I sometimes envy them,but as always, the grass looks greener on the other side.

The little iceberg that is me.Is a big chip of the mother iceberg,so much more than I can imagine.

I sometimes lament and question the fact that I am so much like her,in more ways than a thousand.

But as I was unlocking my gate today to come home,with slight annoyance,and with heavy feet because of a couple of incidents over the past few days.

I had an epiphany.I'm like my mum.Which means, I should understand her better than anyone else,the things that go on underwater,the maze that her thoughts wind around in,the emotions her heart echoes,the tears that roll off her dry wrinkled eyes.

When i get annoyed and frustrated with her,its like how people close to me get annoyed and frustrated with me.We're not good at expressing our thoughts and feelings,very careful not to hurt,and yet curious and very concerned.

But there's just too much in my life,too many things that could and would worry you.Reassurance is like a cup of coffee that would last you for only a day.But remember, you did a good job with this iceberg.The foundation has been lain.I'm strong enough to sink even a titanic ship.In his greater purpose, and his timing,our steps ahead are planned.

I may fall along the way, scrape my knee, play truant, lose my front teeth,but really, the foundation has been lain.And I could stray off, but never far.

I ask for your trust.I ask for all mothers,to trust and love us with also the remaining 8/9 of your heart.Leave the judging to God,and start living and being a light that warms every heart you meet.

I ask for all daughters,to never forget you are a part of someone you are unique to,to love and cherish with also the remaining 8/9 of your heart.

Too many unknowns in this world,everything is of face value,words are but words,actions don't always fit the exorbitant bill of expectations.

Because I may never be able to be the person you want me to be,but I'll always be a part of you,and will always want to be there to catch you when you fall,bring you a cup of water when you fall sick,make you laugh when you get angry,simply because no matter what you do or think of me,I will always be here.

I really hope you know,because I want to open my wings to fly and soar beyond the heavens,and face my own demons and the occasional lightning in my path.but I can't when I look down and I see you in pain,in pain because of the path of flight I took.

I'll do good. I really will.And my friends are great people,even those that take advantage of me.They do it simply because God gave me more than I needed.

Patience, and trust, and a pinch of faith.I love you, mum.I just don't know how to tell you all this face to face.

"Pain throws your heart to the ground, Love turns the whole thing around."- John Mayer "heart of life"

5. Go back into dancing - its a passion that I have disregard for close to 6 years - time to go back into dance training

The videos that inspired me


My past dances brought me many treasured memories

And lastly inspired by those who have lived their dreams - strive on! :)
Mint - whose having her concert soon

My friend Sara of 53A - who made music her passion

My cousin Adeline - who live for dance

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...