Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 1 training set with 120 days more to go

Off and on I was able to get back in shape no matter how far back I got in the days when I was super fit. At 40 hitting 41, the motivation to pick up the shoes to run or even bike gets harder. I really needed to get inspired to do that run lately. Remember the days when you were a school athlete and the mantra then was "no pain no gain", I lived that motto to the T, I ran so hard I got shin splints. The shoes I had got worn out in 3 months. I even ran from home to school when I was 14 years old. They were the days of real hard running, when I was able to push my body and soul, thinking, there was Satvinder Singh, Maran and Adrian Singh who will be doing the exact same thing, running hard.

This week, I have decided to have fun, not to run hard anymore. It does not have to be hard push every day. I decided to look at the trees and even stop to have a drink when I started to run this week. That had made me enjoy my daily workouts even more. This week I cap my training session with 3 runs and a bike ride.

The bike ride lasted 48K, with 8 K long run accompanied by two 5k runs.

So instead of working your butts off, I have decided to pay attention to the journey instead of the race. John Wooden, in his book "Wooden on Leadership" wrote an insightful piece on leadership. Success is what you find not in the end, but how you run your race. Its about,
- Planning
- Preparation
- Practice
- Performance.
That made sense for me. The journey has to be better than the Inn. So this is my journey now. Heres a link to his life accomplishments should you want to read it.
120 days more to go before the Aviva half ironman 2010, the D-day for my race.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Running and Climbs

Its been a while, I have had the time to make an update on my blog. In between, I was grappling with the time to manage my son's examinations, developing a marketing campaign and developing new curriculums that we can market for year 2010. Well my son's examination are ending and so begins my downtime to just focus on work and running back to shape in the weeks to come.Todays run, took me out to the Punggol Jetty and back, about 4 km to the jetty and 4 km back. The time taken was 44 min 35 secs, I was in the zone for 28 mins averaging 158 hbts, with max of 176 hbt. In lieu of a training partner, the next best thing is the heart rate monitor.
How do calculate your max rate, all you need to do is use this formula:
220 - 41 (Age) = 159
Work out 80% of the answer you got (which was 159 for me) working out to, 122. Hence technically I should be running at 122 beats per minute, but this is not taking place in my training runs. For an easy run my training zone has been targeted at between, 160 - 165, hence the 158 results I got today. There are days when I am able to sustain 170 range for a 5 k run.

I am enjoying my runs now, because, before starting my work in the morning, that run, creates a sense of focus, I don't usually get if I had stuck to doing my daily routine. It feels so good, I would be doing a bike ride tonight after tutoring my son for his last paper on Tuesday.

I am looking at my own experiences and the way Musiab is developing. I have realized that for me to push Musiab to go beyond his capability will require setting, hard goals that he can reach comforted by physical activities that will invigorate him. For a ten year old, he has since started to rock climb with me at Climb Asia every Friday night. A real joy for me to see him enjoy this activity and as a father creating a bond with him as I belay him.

Team performance starts with a commitment that is required on part of any team that comes together for a purposeful goal. As a parent it starts with you. How do you teach a 10 year old to stay focus, I saw the answer, when I saw Musaib rock climb. He began to understand the routes in the wall and he also realized that each has a defined difficulty marked by a route. I used the rock wall to get him to understand what I meant by saying "Be focused" and always finish what you start.

As a family and a Team, be committed to ensuring we play the part to see our children develop to be best they can be. This translates to sacrifices you are willing to make for your children and your spouse. It relates to my training runs as well, focus on the training zone, I don't need to get distracted by the competition around me, cos at the end of the day, I am still able to push my body hard at age 40 hitting 41 in January. Likewise, hitting the 40's now, my focus is my family. Fatimah at 6 is starting to surprise me as she picked up a book her brother was reading. Either the book was two simple for him, or the phonics classes has started pay its dividends as she finished 17 pages out of 120 pages on that book.

My family is packing off to India on the 24th of Nov and 1 crazy dream I have is to spend 1 week biking up north and see how far I can go on my bike. That will help a lot to break, the rut and push the mind and the body just one bit further. I did a 400Km ride at age 22, nostalgia is gearing me to do this again. All I need is a tent, a good collection of MP3 songs and podcasts and I think I am game enough to do this.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trifactors 60K

This is us, my son, my training partner who has been training real hard in preperation for his Ironman race in 2010 and the struggling father who has been working hard to esnure Teamworkbound rides the current economic crisis. On the13th of June my first cycling race using my Leader bike took place in the Trifactor series 60K bike ride. My son's new bike Raliegh was tested out today as well.

My cheer leader Fatimah Zahra who was there to cheer as on. Though introverted, she showed a cheeky side in her every time Young Sheong was around.

Musaib at the starting line and in this race both father and son learnt a very big lesson. the father who made a lot of assumptions and the son, who did not listen hard enough. I was unfair to my son and expected him to know the loops and rules that he was not familiar with, hence he had a tough ride.

This race was a datum of sorts for me for I realized I still have some decent finish in me yet, even tough have not trained hard in cycling this year due to work. I was able to complete the 60K ride in 2 hrs 08 mins, in the 4 laps ride, that I will describe as an eye opener. I was able to maintain 30K/hr speed for 3 laps and at one point, when I saw my son, my speed even went up to 34 k/hr, that andrenaline shot at lap 3 was a surprise for me.

My race data: 60K ride
Avs: 28.9
Time: 2hrs 08 min
Feeling: Felt great and I know I can do better

Musaib had a tough race, as one of the youngest competitor he rode hard on a montain bike. At night when we slept together after that race, he looked a me with a sad look in his eyes he recounted about his race. He made a wrong turn, and during his ride when he kept close to the left and the track had enough space for 5 bike riding side to side, one Jerk who rode a Cervelo, shouted expletives at him for riding on the left. A 10 year old boy was riding his race and the Cervelo jerk, shouted as if he was a tour de france cyclist. To this jerk, my resolve to race you down in any race I take part in, I am not too sure who you are but to use such a word in a race on a 10 year old boy is uncalled for. It showed the mentality of a typical Singaporean, at best described as Kiasu. Is this us, living in a developed country without the trappings of being civil.
For me t felt great seeing him on the bike and he was my motivation to finish this race. I have not rode 60K for close to 6 months and this ride would not have happened for me if not for my son. Watch us on this video, I am the dude in purple and thats my son with his blue raleigh frame.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Monfort Boys 4F

This blog is dedicated to motley crew of primary 4 boys who represented 4F in the school's sports day. A team of 10 boys who did not make the cut to represent the class in the premier events such as hurdles, passing the baton of the any of the individual event. These boys were picked to take part in the fun event and they performed like a team and were the only boys in the class to bring back a medal.

It was amazing to say the least, to watch the boys run. As stood in line, by son, who was a member in this team sat reclusively hoping to win and but knowing well enough that some of his team mates did not take the event seriously and others had many a times dropped the ball from the cone, hence diminishing their chance to win even in a practice session.

I told my son, it did not matter, what event he took part in, he still needed to make sure if was 100% effort on his part and he must run the race according to the rules. The boys in this instance did more than that, they had teamwork and a will to win. Their Teacher Mr. Lai, also believed and encouraged the 10 year old boys and it a joy a to see the team win and more so for the father who was watching his son run.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Morning Ride - Aphroz's journey

Today's morning ride started at 6.30 am, I finished my fajar prayers in the morning and decided to commit to my regime to get fit. We have recently bought rubber bracelets for the company. Embedded in the bracxelet is our logo Teamworkbound. The bracelet has to have a meaning behind its wear. Lance's bracelet is about living strong, mine is about the Struggle, to overcome. Like my wife, who made the momentous leap from a sleepy rurual village to partnering me in my struggles in Singapore. My wife Aphroz, is my far the most patient, empathetic and kind person I have known to date. Her kindness to me and her will to leave behind her family and freinds in India is quite extraordinary. I have taken that for granted and never much appreciated the sacrifices she has made for the family. From raising our two kids and looking after my parents, she has done her part to the best of her ability.

Last year after 10 year, from the time she left school, I enrolled her on a dipoloma course to learn financial management. She studied at Temaek Poly 3 times a week, undergoing the stress of studying online during the day and completing the examinations during the semaster ends, whilst making sure the children were taken care of and helping me out in our buisness. If was hard for her to say the least. It would have hard for anyone else too. I remembered the days, when I made my demands to get the financial invoices out for the company and she required help for assignments and very intentionally I did not provide any. I wanted her to earn her own diploma, the hard way, the essence and fruits of that journey will be valued more. She cleared her examinations and got her diploma on her Birthday yesterday.
These were my thoughts when I rode this morning.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tipping Point

On sat, I met Paul, an Australian, ironman aged 49. He finished his 1st triathlon at the age of 42. He was browsing the timex watches and was wearing Langkawi ironman Finisher's T-shirt. He finished his race in 11 hrs, a phenomenal time to say the least. He runs bike shops in Australia and his wife looked very much like Afroz. He gave me an advice that excited me enough to commit hard and train progressively for my ironman. It has to be progressive and the training session much work around my schedule. I had a massive project the last two months that would have made a difference to our survival as a company. I had to take care of that. Hearing his accomplishment set a resolve to train hard consistently without injuring myself. 

My son trained with me in the pool on Sat nite and for the first time in his life he has completed two laps using the breast stroke without resting on the side. He is getting better and he completed 10 laps that day. I saw Boon San,a swimming coach now, my friend from Officer's Cadet school who used to work in IBM. I will sign up Musaib with him this week end so that he gets whipped up in shape for his triathlon in May. 

As we train, I have realized how exercise has kept my sanity to push on hard even when the tide and reality of the business worked against me. I have also realized how, at times it was the run or the bike ride that made the difference for me to see things in a different perspective. 

Yesterday, I met a proud parent who spoke about his 7 year old girl who just finished reading the quran. I was amazed, primary 1 and she has finished this phenomenal task. To finish reading the quran is an ironman for me too. Inshallah, that conversation, tipped my thinking again. I have decided to send my daughter who is 6 for her quran reading classes twice a week at Abdul Gafur mosque. 

I wrote today's blog, title as a tipping point, its about conversations you make with strangers that impacts you to such an extend, you start to act. That happened over the weekend in my conversations with 2 complete strangers. 

It saddened me even more to read about the boy from NTU who jumped after knifing his professor and a Capt who was found under a bridge in Melbourne. What were the tipping points for both of them is something I wld not know. I wished they had not holed up in their corner's playing a video game ...... that cld have an impact on the choices they made. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The straw that pained the camel's back

Jan had been a tiring week with projects that we had to deliver week after week. With Feb kicking in I found the going hard enough to juggle both work and my resolve to training harder. The heart is getting stronger and all my runs now amount to at least 5km run each time I run. My swim distance is getting longer too and on my weekend swims, my hands tire quite a bit to the extend it becomes discomforting when I sleep at night. Stress and use of a cheap pillow has resulted in a stiff neck that I was able to get around by using a hard pillow now. 

With all that taking place in Jan, for Feb I completed a spectacular run at Macritchie Reservoir after sending my son to his religious school on Sat. The famed run that took me around the coastal side of the man made lake to the fitness stations and back cross country style weaving through 2 hills to the starting point. There is a hill at the start point that meanders up on a 45 degrees incline, I decided to run that portion all the way up to the memorial land mark of Singapore's famed soldier Lim Bo Seng. An intellect who was an astute soldier. I believe, his children, many of whom have served in the Singapore Elite Specialist Force, Commandos. On the subject of commandos, will I be able to take on some of the boys in this elite unit. I think I can and I will be working towards a fitness level that will allow me to compete neck to neck with these boys in the months to come. The fast 6 K run ended on top of this hill that would have been about 150 m from ground. The mind, is stronger that you think and I finished that day's run with a sprint that took the life out of me at the finish. This will be my routine every Sat in the months to come. 

I will be roping my wife to join me for this run next week. Today we purchased 3 pairs of running shoes at Queensway shopping centre. I kept to the same Asics Cumumulus model thatI  used last year and my wife and son decided to go with New Balance. My son was in class today and I had to choose his shoe for him. The pair that he got, excited him enough to go for a 4.00 pm run today as I took an afternoon nap nursing a sore back. That run yesterday was the straw that pained my fragile lower back. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Morning run at 5.30 am

Today I started the morning at 5.30 am. My son woke up at 5.00 am and decided to wake me too. I decided to start my early morning run, because I knew today with a meeting and work stacking up, all the signals was pointing to a day where I might just miss my run. The last 4 weeks when I left my home at Punggol for work, I was amazed to find runners on the road, pounding the streets at 7.00 am. Serious runners of all sizes training for a race and keeping fit. When I reach the famed Bidadari cremation site, I will see one of the fittest soldiers the legendary gurkhas doing their run. Nearly hit a car, for losing my focus and looking at the runners, as the cars pile up to a jam. 

Lately in the last few years, the spouses of these Gurkha soldiers have started to run as well. Many years ago, you will able to sight the reluctant housewives in their traditional sarongs doing a run or a brisk walk. What a funny sight, and I would just laugh over it every time I see them doing that. As of now, they have progressed quite a bit, in their runs. They are running really fast, in their Nikes and Adidas and dressed in their sports attire. And they are really fast too. My guess they will be able to outrun some of own boys doing their national service in the military institutions.

Today' s run was invigorating to say the least. I also met my climbing friend who once held my life in a thread, on his new Cervelo bike doing his morning ride. Mike will be having his 3rd kid soon and any temptation to go to KL with me and my son to watch the tour de langkawi, was a no no. This is us now, fathers and corporate rat racers, who can only train in the windows of the  early mornings or at night. Finished a 6 K run and got home just in time to shower and send my son to school. 

What was I doing? I am influencing my son, not through words, but through actions and deeds. What are the gaps that we grapple with every day. Do our words match what we do? Are we telling our kids or are we modelling behaviour for them to follow? I watch my son a lot and he wears his watch on his right hand, though he is not a left hander. Where did he pick that up? He picked it up from me. As fathers. if we only knew the impact we make on our kids, we will think many times over why we have not done enough. Have you done more that you can for your child, think that over and perhaps today, plan a day with your child. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Life trials

Today I have decided to blog again after a prolonged silence where I was chasing work and trying to make sure Teamworkbound survived the challenges of 2008. We did make it through and It includes momentous firsts since we started this company 2 years ago. I got my driving license after 3 months of lessons at Comfort Delgro. We did not purchase a brand new vehicle instead we found a 4 year old van a very decent lady was about to give up. Yvonne who was 56 was wrapping her business for good to retire and It really felt good to purchase the peouget partner from her. It was beaten up with scratches all over and the rear had hit a tree. She was honest to say the least and we purchased this van for this primary reason. After $2000/- worth of repairs we are finally up and running with this van. This van symbolically was the fruit of one single mindset, never to give up even how tough the circumstances around you can be. I remembered the days when I worked shifts in SIA. On one night shift, I was caught in a rain and I completed the work at night drenched, I was using the hand dryer in the toilet to dry my socks and my underwear, to stay warm. On one shift I skidded on my bike during an emergency brake and I rushed to work with my shirt torn and my hands bruised. The manager for the flight control centre stood behind me and incidently he was also a nominated MP then and all he could whimper was how long it will take for me to photo copy. 

Let me relate to you my first job interview. I attended the National Institute of Education interview panel as a 19 year old to apply for a job as a PE (physical education) teacher. The interview panel were less then generous and in parts of the interview they even laughed and asked what I hoped to achieve in 5 years. I was not able to say much, did not have the financial support to pursue a degree hence I just looked at them blindly, not knowing what to say. It has been 20 years now, the very Institute that did not accept me for their diploma program, accepted my application many years later for a stringent Master's course, in Instructional Design and Technology. I completed this program in 2 years 6 months, sponsoring myself in this pursuit. In my class of 40, most of whom who were teachers had the ministry that sponsored their pursuit of this master's degree. 30 of my fellow classmates, who were mostly teachers, decided to to complete their master's program by undertaking 2 extra modules. They have since become heads of departments and perhaps in time to come they may become VPs and principles and that will be an irony. The short and sure way to the finish line to complete this course. In fact they graduated 3 months before me gleefully stating and 
boasting about the mini thesis they completed
Myself and 9 other classmates took the route of writing a thesis, a research paper in lieu of the 2 extra modules. Master's program graduates who gleefully insist that they did a mini thesis by completing two modules is an absolute farce, because what what they wrote sits at home whilst a research thesis sits in a library referenced by master's students and undergraduates. I left my full time job to complete my master's thesis over a period of 6 months and I did graduate. Of the 10 heros who went the thesis route, only 2 have since graduated, whilst the 8 are still trying find a way to clear this program. I owe my heartfelt gratitue to my supervisors, Michel Dale Williams and Lim Cher Ping also known as Cherp. Cherp was not my supervisor, but I had to approach him to help me when I needed advice. Sanjana, who helped me to vet my thesis, is one person I owe a lot. 

Life trials are at best a moment a defining moment where you can make a choice to give in or just do all you can to get around it. I struggled to swim 2 laps using front crawl once upon a time, I have since broken barriers, by swimming 20 minutes non stop using the front crawl stroke last week. I have since transitioned to become a coach as well, coaching my son in swimming. The lesson I want my son to take with him, is not to give up. However painful it can be whatever the circumstances the environment can throw at you. I ran 10K last Sat, after sending my son to his Madrasa classes, and finished that run in 65 minutes, as a young 15 year old, I did the same distance in 48 minutes. I need to revisit the days when I ran like a gazelle outrunning other boys.