Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Doodling do...

When I was young, I always had an interest in art (as in drawing... and not photoshop, you new-age techy people!). I enrolled in art classes when I was 10 and had been going for those lessons until I was 17. I actually wanted to become a graphics designer or an architect... but nearing my later teens, as I took art as a subject in SPM, my interest in art faded... and art was just a subject that could help me get an extra grade. I no longer had the passion... drawing only to 'answer' the exam question.

Anyway, I never regretted taking the art lessons. I had won prizes in several art competitions thanks to them. I still believe I have a bit of artistic views in me, that made me look at things in a more interesting way. So here's a tiny tribute to my art teacher... he has actually seen me grow from the little kid in primary school to the adolescent teenager in the end of my high school days. Mr Nick Loong... he always drove a yellow Fiat Coupe. I sat in his car a few times, and he'll VROOM VROOM... Not sure whether he's still driving the same car. The ladies in my family think he's very good looking. I remember the first day I went for class, and my lil' sis (who should only be 7 then) was charmed by his good looks and wanted to enrol too! He should be nearing 40s now... wonder whether he's still not married hahah.

Just so to clarify that I did not randomly suddenly think of my art teacher... here's a news article that came out in The Star today... that brought me back the memories... I wish Mr Nick all the best!

Friday, 23 February 2007

All's well, end's...

As of yesterday, it has been 8 months that Li-Ann and I have been together... though out of these 8 months, we only celebrated 5 months of our monthly 'anniversary'...

My CA results was due to come out today... I started the morning with a good run... clocked another sub 4:18 average, 36:27.07 for 8.5k... my fastest time since the injury in August last year. At work, I managed to complete most things that have been delayed for the past few weeks. Surely, all these should point to a good day... and results come out at 4pm...

We had a big lunch at Il Padrino, an Italian woodfired pizza place. It was also the vacationers' last day, so lunch was on the manager.

Back from lunch, 3.50pm (don't you just love the Aussie Friday lunches?)... fiddled around until slightly past 4pm, logged onto the CA website and... the website was BUSY! Everyone around the office was anxious... it was 30 minutes past... and still no one could access their results! Finally, someone got hold of the CA number, started calling and we got to know our results off the phone.

Yeah, I passed... pretty relieved that I did but upon knowing that another colleague of mine got a merit... (he also got a merit for the last module), I somewhat felt unsatisfied. Oh well, I did leave the exam in a hurry, and I did spend the 3 weeks before the exam holidaying in Malaysia. And a pass was all I needed anyway... self comforting...

Li-Ann touches down in less than 4 hours time...

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Give and take

Matilda Bay Triathlon... organized by the Rotary Club of Matilda Bay, less than 500m away from my home. It's a small affair, about 200+ participants... bike racks were not numbered, so you can place the bike anywhere you liked... we were also not given swim caps, so everyone had different coloured caps, some didn't have any on at all.

Race rego (registration in Aussie slang) was at 6.30am. Race was at 7.30am. I had a good night sleep at 9.45pm as I was dead tired from shopping and watching Ghost Rider in the afternoon (it was quite good actually, still had cheesy comic book lines, definitely not Spiderman standard) I woke up at 6am, to do my stretches, not intending to eat brekkie as the race was so short, I didn't think I would feel hungry during the race.

Checked in my bike to as near to the swim as possible so that I wouldn't get lost finding it with my poor vision. This is the 2nd time I'm doing this race, so can say experienced lah! I gambled by eating an expired Powerbar... good thing it didn't cause me any problems during the race.

I met a colleague, Craig... he's only starting to take up triathlon. So I said to myself ... Die, die also cannot lose to him. Then I saw UWA Guy, the guy whom I beat at City of Perth OD Tri but I think he suffered bad cramps during the run then. Okay, I'm up for a challenge...

My age group and the junior males were the first to start. The water was really cold, probably that's why they allowed wetsuits to be worn. The swim was straightforward, I positioned myself in front as knowing that swim is my strongest leg, and most elite triathletes don't take part in small races like this. I started off pretty well... can feel myself pulling away from the back. However, the kids were really quick, can see them getting further in front. I felt some soft stuff in the water (yeah visibility was still low)... I avoided immediately, didn't want history to repeat itself as I was stung pretty badly by jellyfish during a race before.

Coming into transition, somehow my limbs felt numb... must be due to the cold water. I struggled to wear socks (yeah, I still do it even though it slows me down... don't want to develop blisters). I noticed a guy (and this guy had been winning races) who puts powder in his shoes... maybe I should try that instead. Anyway, UWA Guy came in soon... followed by Craig, so I thought I better pick up the pace.

Out on the bikes, I was still leading UWA Guy and Craig. 5 laps altogether. I tried looking at my watch to gauge my lap times but after a while, I couldn't be bothered. The race was too quick and too short for me to keep on looking at my watch. Just had to maintain a 30+ kph average.

UWA Guy overtook me at the end of the 1st lap. Like I said, I sucked at cycling. Each and every lap, I see him moving further and further. Craig was closing in too. He overtook me at the 4th lap. Haiya...

In from the bike, out on the run. I ran past Craig the moment we came out of transition. UWA Guy was no where to be seen. I didn't run as quick as I wanted to. Legs still feel a bit stiff. I skipped all the drink stations too. Had a few drinks while cycling already. Then... I saw UWA Guy on the returning lap. Well, he got me this time.

When I got to the turnaround point... I noticed it was nearer than it was previous year. My watch showed 6+ minutes... definitely shorter than 2k, so total would probably be about 3k, not 4k as stated.

Finished the run in 12:26. Came in 18th overall (but the other age groups started later). UWA Guy was already eating watermelons. I took the initiative to speak to him. His name is Rio and he did notice me in the gym, around uni area etc. He's also doing the same CA module as I am. He's intending to do the Ironman at the end of this year... well, so quite in a different league. Craig also came in shortly after that.

I checked my bike speedometre once transition was clear. It showed 16.78k not 15k as originally stated. Well, give and take lah. I averaged 31.3kph too... so was quite happy.

Prize presentation... Rio actually got 2nd in his category! He told me he came in 8th overall. I wonder how many between us were from our category... He won himself a package of hair products. Yeah, the prizes were quite cheap also... but that's not why we're doing this right? There were no lucky draw prizes but there was a box of water bottles and other goodies that the organizers were giving out... it went ZZZzooommm, so no freebies for me.

All in all, an enjoyable race... I can't tell if I met my target because the distances were stuffed up but I made a new friend... can't complain.

*Edit* Results just came out... I got 3rd! Too bad they only gave prizes up to 2nd place.

For full results, go to http://triwa.org.au/results0607/MatildaBay07.pdf

Saturday, 17 February 2007

YEEEAAAAHH...! Kiong Hee Huat Zhai!

One of the areas for improvement that was brought up during my half year performance review was to work on communication skills, and thus, improve on developing my subordinates, managing people, both upwards and downwards. My bosses still feel I'm a very shy person and feel that I struggle when communicating with people. To me, I just think it's harder for me to warm up to my ang moh colleagues due to the cultural differences and I'm not most comfortable trying to speak Aussie english.

Anyway, my performance manager is really concerned about our personal development, so he registered me for a seminar yesterday on "How to become a better communicator". Hey... a day without work, I'll take it anytime.

The speaker was really good. I normally struggle to stay awake during talks and seminars, but I paid attention most of the time (I still can't shake the after-lunch drowsiness). He's from the United States, most of his examples were about former US presidents but were somehow still relevant. He's a BIG guy but he also said that he's on a target to loose 100 pounds and he's already lost 60. He heavily promoted the world's 3rd best selling book, "7 Habits of Effective People" by Stephen Covey. My company only paid for the talk, not the books unfortunately.

Well, I did learn a thing or two. The concepts made sense, applying them would be another story. He talked mostly about conflict resolution. Just to quote some examples... starting with "I feel..." rather than "you..." when giving negative feedback as this would lighten the impact and create less tension. How to deal with different people: director-controller, thinker-analyzer, socializer-promoter, relator-supporter. When someone lashes out at you, you should be saying YEEEAAAHHH on the inside and smile for this would surprise the other person, and gives you time to think to say the right words.

.... This is my second year of celebrating Chinese New Year away from home. CNY in Perth is an uneventful event (excuse my pun). But this year was a lot better than last year as a lot of us are working here now and we don't get to go back for CNY. A friend from uni organised a pot luck dinner party. There were pork curry, potato salad, beef rendang, pork chops, wanton, chicken wings. I bought fried rice, hokkien noodles and crispy noodles. And for desert, there were chocolate cheesecake, red bean soup and custard cream puffs. Needless to say, that we had too much food. I've already brought back some of the fried rice and pork chops.

This was the only picture I could get. The host, Jer Sie and Marc (ladies, he's still single!) No pictures of food or the other guests as they were camera shy.

That about sums my CNY celebration. Unless there are other invitations. On CNY day 1 itself, tomorrow, I am actually doing the Matilda Bay triathlon near my house. Not actually in a very pumped up mood. Feet feels a bit funny too but I could be paranoid. A short race is just what I need to keep me motivated.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Romance D'Amor...NOT!

This is my first time that I am attached on Valentine's Day... what did I do different compared to other years? NOTHING... Li-Ann's not here, I didn't send her any flowers or anything like that. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Mr Romantic but I DO like to do something sweet for my sweetheart once in a while, and especially on Valentine's Day. But being the practical and selfish person that I am, I felt that Valentine's should be celebrated by couples together. So we decided (or rather I decided, and she helplessly agreed) to celebrate on Chap Goh Meh (15th day of Chinese New Year) instead. Actually, I got this idea from a friend of mine (Tan Li Choong, if you are reading this, you have been acknowledged!). Less stress, less congestion, more fun at lower prices, and we get to be culturally closer to our roots too as Chap Goh Meh is Chinese Valentine's... I think.

But upon yesterday morning, when I saw a few female colleagues having bouquet of flowers delivered to them... how their faces lit... how other female colleagues crowd around them with excitement (and envy as well)... I thought about how left out Li-Ann might feel.

I really have to make up when she comes back.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Father figure

Here's to wishing my dad a very happy 52nd birthday!

My dad... who ran a full marathon, 42.2km with minimal training. Both my sis and I have yet to do the marathon despite the intensive training we put it.

My dad... who was able to come home from work at 5.30pm, always there to have dinner at home with us... while other children barely see their fathers because they work so late.

My dad... who taught us the importance of keeping healthy, no matter how busy we are. Quote, "Are you busier than the Prime Minister? Because even he has time to exercise."

My dad... who fetched us home from house parties at past mid night when we were too young to drive and never complained even though he isn't much of a late night person.

My dad... who together with my mum have raised me to the person I am, and brought to the place I'm in.

Thank you, dad!

52? Don't you think he looks 25? Hehheh.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Deadlines or datelines?

I figured out that if I only blogged about triathlons, training, races etc. this blog would pretty boring. Although my target readers are fellow triathletes or those who share the similar interest, a bit of variety won't hurt anyone.

So deadlines or datelines? My client assignment for the past two weeks had been... interesting. Not only was it 45kms away, trying to stay awake while driving on the freeway was quite a challenge... we had quite tight reporting deadlines (today) as we were given instructions from Holland.

Now, the client's BIG BOSS also flew in from Holland as we need them for sign-off. They checked on us regularly, asking the status of the audit, whether we can meet deadlines etc. The local client had some trouble meeting our requested information.

But so far everything went on track. We were able to gather the required information, we finished the audit work, we had our meeting with the client and their BIG BOSS to discuss the issues, they were happy, they gave us the final numbers, I drafter the required reports... but just 10 minutes ago, my manager decided that we couldn't make it for the deadline as he hasn't reviewed the work... we would postpone to report next week instead.

So comes to make you think... that no matter how important a dateline or DEADline is... it is flexible, and no one would DIE if it isn't met. Hehheh... good philosophy of work eh? Less stress for everyone.

P/S - I have also decided to register for a short triathlon near my house. 400m swim, 15km bike, 4km run. Just the right distance to keep me motivated after some post-race sluggishness but not kill me for weeks. Targer 1 hour, previous year's time 1 hour 2 minutes.... Oops! I did it again! Can't help posting about triathlons... hey, this is my obssession after all, right?

Monday, 5 February 2007


The only picture of me that was available on the race website. I look so constipated...hahhah. Notice my flapping number belt?

For more race pictures (and most likely more attractive men and women), clicke *here*.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Oh what a beatiful day!

I guess you can tell that I was pretty happy with my race this morning. Well, I'll just share the experience in chronological order...

The night before the race...
I had trouble falling asleep. Could be the hot weather (the maximum was 42 degrees yesterday in Perth), could be the excitement (but then again, I have taken part in so many races before... oh yeah, this is different. Olympic Distance!) I went to bed about 10ish after speaking on the phone with Li-Ann for some good luck. I think I woke up a few times in the middle of the night.

Race morning
Woke up at 5.35am. Had Nutri Grain cereal for breakfast. I normally do stretches at home before heading to race venue, but transition area closes at 6.45am and my race only starts an hour later. So might as well make use of the time to stretch there. Drove to the city, was contemplating riding there (it's only 7kms away) but better save my energy. The weather was forecasted to be maximum of 32 degrees (good, not too hot!) but windy! Well, you win some, you lose some.

Race venue
Race venue was packed with people. Apparently the organizers had a record of 590 participants this year. Unlike back home, I always feel lonely racing here in Perth. Although there are some familiar faces I see, it is hard to warm up against them when they are in their own clicks and I'm by myself.

I had my body marked, checked in my bike. A guy who I've seen a couple of times at UWA gym (from here onwards shall be called UWA guy) checked in next to me. He's one of those who lift bigger weights, run harder lengths at the gym classes. I have not raced him before, but somehow I wanted to beat him today.

For security reasons, transition area would close before the race starts. As I need my glasses for my race and I have left it with my bike (maybe I should start wearing contacts), good thing I brought along my old pair to help me see because I'm 3/4 blind! Did my usual routine... stretch, eat Powerbar, drink lots of water to wash down Powerbar, go toilet to release all the water. The Juniors started first, then followed by the Enticer distance...all short course. About 30 minutes after that was MY race, the Olympic distance...

The swim
The males over 60 years and all females started first... which I found quite weird because normally, the younger age groups would start first, so that there won't be much overtaking involved. Anyway, my age group started last of the 4 groups.

The water was pretty warm... 26 degrees. That is why wetsuits were not allowed. This would give us swimmers (including myself) an advantage, as wetsuits tend to artificially help non swimmers. Water was quite murky, couldn't even see my hands. The beginning was alright, as I stayed in the pack. The usual collision with other swimmers ensued, someone actually kicked me in the face! Luckily no bleeding gums or nose. Further on, as the pack dispersed, I had trouble trying not to swim off-course. The route was quite simple actually. Just swim up and U-turn back. But there were not many float bouys to guide us. I almost swim into oncoming traffic from the earlier groups! Upon reaching the U-turn, I saw something funny... swimmers walking! Yeah, it was THAT shallow! No point swimming because our hands would hit the ground. Some walked, I did dolphin dives... something I learnt from watching live races on television... though I'm not sure whether it helps a lot.

The transition
Up from the swim... officials were helping the swimmers up from the water onto the slippery made-shift ramp. The crowd was cheering (may not be for me, but who cares?). One thing I find about the Aussies, it they sure are a supporting lot.

Ran to my bike, no sign of fatigue yet. Follow the same transition routine that I had visualised... wipe dry with towel, put on race belt, then shoes, glasses and watch (I'm not a fan of wearing my watch during the swim. Always think it might be damaged with all the collision with the other swimmers). As usual, I still need some work on my transition. But it is getting a lot better with my new tri suit.

The ride
5 laps of 8km each. I looked at my watch, it was about 23 minutes since the race start time. Should be on target... as I target 22:30 for the swim. My bike speedometer is always on 'Distance' mode. And I use my watch to track the time.

The new aerobars were great! It made cycling almost effortless! Although on some occasions, I almost lost my balance... First half of the lap was against the wind. Was averaging about 26-27kph. At the 4km U-turn point I looked at my watch... about 8 minutes since I started my ride. The half lap back was wind assisted, averaged about 35-26kph. Upon completing the first lap, I looked at my watch again... 7 minutes since the 1st U-turn! I might actually achieve my almost impossible 30kph average (1 hour 20 minutes for 40k) target!

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th lap were pretty much the same. I drank water from my bike drink cage at the end of each lap. The motivation was fuelling me... based on these lap times, doing the sub 2:30 slowly became a reality.... FOCUS, KEV! You still have the run... don't count your chicks before they hatch!

As usual, being a swimmer, I'm normally the first few ones off from the swim but cyclists tend to overtake me after that. UWA Guy overtook me at the 3rd lap. But I was not concerned, as I'm making good time, I can't go any faster. He may be just a better triathlete.

On my 5th lap, I felt something flapping against my side. My race belt snapped! Maybe sis did tell me something about it snapping easily, I can't remember. But it wasn't detached totally, the buckle was still on, only the strap came out from the clip, so it's just flapping by my side. I slowed down to adjust it. Checked my watch at the U-turns... was happy I was still doing the same time.

The run
Into the transition, out to the run. I don't wear bike shoes, so I'm pretty quick at this transition, not having to change shoes and all.

The usual tired legs kicked in, not too bad though. I think I'm only going slightly slower than my usual morning run pace. 3 laps altogether... the race belt was still loose. I should have stopped to tie a knot. But I thought that would be wasting time. All throughout the run, I was adjusting it... putting the strap through my suit, and it kept falling off.

I overtook UWA Guy! He was bending over, maybe adjusting his shoes. When I made the U-turn, I saw him on the other side, running hard... he may catch me later on...

1st lap 14:26! Wow, another almost impossible target of 45 minutes for the 10km run may actually materialise! On the 2nd lap, I felt tightness around my quads-knee area. Okay, better not over push myself... posting a slow time is not half as bad as not finishing at all! I also felt stitches near my rib cage area. It could be the water that I drank from the drink stations at every half lap. 2nd lap 15:15...

I'm still doing a sub 15 minute average for each lap. I drank from the drink stations when needed, the sun was coming up, so was pretty dehydrated. The stitches were starting to subside too. At the last U-turn, I saw UWA Guy stopping again on the other side. I think he's having some cramps. Well, he can kiss my behind then! (I'm so mean...hahhahah!)

Last lap 15:39... giving total 10k run time of 45:20! And my best 10k run alone (without the swim and bike) before this was 44:15... I'm beginning to think I should stick to Mizuno shoes forever...

Post race
Went straight to the refreshment tables, drank Powerade, took a banana and an apple. Did my stretches and went to collect my bike. 1:19.29 it said... average 30.6 kph! I was doing the maths... with my run time, the only way I wouldn't achieve my 2:30 target was if I went over 25 minutes for the swim+transition. Well, can't tell... as the dolphin dives cum walking on shallow water did slow me down. Will wait until evening, when the results are posted online.

The elite race started at 11am after that. Athens Olympian Simon Thompson and triple World Champion Peter Robertson to name a few. I guess I should be watching them, maybe I could a trick or two. But I queued up for the free massage... hey, had to make full use of my AUD105 entry right?

Word of advice... DO NOT HAVE GO FOR MASSAGE FOR YOUR TIGHT QUADS! I was in agony... but I guess it did help loosen the muscle, and probably better for me in the long run.

I also looked at some tri wear on sale. There was a matching pair of 2XU tri top and tri pants for about AUD 80 each before 25% discount. Red colour too (to match my red bike) and S size too! (I have to wear S size in Australia here, I'm not THAT small...) But decided to wait for winter sale. After all, my tri suit is still new.

12.30pm, prize presentations. No, I'm not bothered about who topped their age groups (although the times posted by these Aussies are really amazing!). I'm looking for the lucky draw prizes! Some really attractive prizes they have, wetsuits, bike shoes, running shoes, sunglasses etc... but today was not my day to win any prize.

Anyway, the results just came out. Hey, I've achieved my target...with 11 minute PB too! Who cares about the lucky draw? 2 hour 30 minutes... you've been demolished!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

No turning back

Well, the much awaited race is finally here... City of Perth Olympic Distance Triathlon. 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run. Target: 2 hours 30 minutes. Previous (and only) best: 2 hours 39 minutes. 9 minutes... seem a lot to me. I have to cut 4-5 minutes each on my bike and run, as I know I can't improve any further on my 1 and half minutes per 100m pace for my swim. Maybe I should just settle for 2 hours 35 minutes. But I have a new trisuit for transition and new tribars for my bike now. See how lah...

Gee... a lot of people sure like the name Scott...

Had my swim session this morning. I'm one of those who don't believe in doing absolutely NOTHING on the day before the race (I think that I would become soft by doing so). I felt pretty strong this morning, was able to push myself to do some quick times... yeah, I should be taking it easy though. Anway, it's good for morale.

Collected my race number in the afternoon. Lucky 52, do y0ur charm! (and I don't mind winning some lucky draw prizes either... I have the tendency to do that... okay, better not jinx it!)

Finally... a race in perth that gives you a FREE t-shirt!... and as usual, some other freebies and discount vouchers that I probably won't use.

What I would be wearing
throughout the race...

What I would be struggling on for more than half of the race...
Bike... my least favourite...bleeargh!

What would be helping me stay in the race...
Thanks to my sis!

What would be helping me get to the finish line...! Love you, dear...

City of Perth OD Tri tomorrow... I'm pooped... gonna nap...