Monday, 23 December 2013

2013... another chapter

Today is my last working day for the year. Only a couple more sleeps before Christmas and just over a week before the year ends.

2013 has been interesting to say the least. Moving to Canada early this year, the other side of the globe with a time difference of over 12 hours and climate difference of over 40 degrees Celcius during winter. The snow has been coming and going. Yesterday was a first where although it didn't snow but we have crystalized ice all over the roads making them into skating rinks and the car was frozen with a layer of ice that I could not break. I stayed home a while more and went to the gym later when the ice have thawed.

Having a new job at the hospital on a contract basis in the finance division and dealing with physicians' finances was another experience. I have less autonomy and there is more red tape than my previous jobs but I'm getting used to it. Took me over 6 months just to get to know what's going on and I'm still learning as I go. Only another 9 months more in my contract and I doubt I'll be able to know everything at the back of my hand by then, but hey, that's the way contracted work goes. Just try to do my best in the given timeframe.

Starting my small coaching service for fellow triathletes back in Malaysia was something I've been thinking about for some time. So I'm glad that things took off pretty well with the athletes I coached achieving their goals with flying colours. And I hope to build on this next year, as I'm competing in Ironman Malaysia myself so it would be exciting going through the same training cycles with my athletes and racing on the same course with them on the day.

On the side of my own training, it has been fun training with taskmaster Coach Sheri and Team Sheri athletes. The dynamics of the group is very diverse compared to the Break Your Limits team back in Perth. Not better or worse, just different. And I look forward to training with Team Sheri once again in summer - Splash N' Dashes, Megadays and Niagara camps, can't wait!

We'll be off to Li-Ann's cousins this Christmas and then to Niagara Falls to usher in the New Year. So my next blog post will probably be in the 2014 year.

Until then, thank you all for reading this blog for another year. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

From the other side...

I've not mentioned this in my blog before but I started a small coaching service for triathletes in Malaysia specifically for those aiming to race in a half Iron or full Iron distance. It was something I have been thinking about for a couple of years now but I didn't make it happen until sometime middle of this year. I've done triathlons for over 10 years now and although I've had my fair share of training and racing experience, coaching is a different ball game altogether and I'm conscious of imparting wrong information. As we all know, what works well for an individual may not work or even be detrimental for another!

Anyway, after being coached for the last three seasons under former pro triathlete Bill Scanlan in Perth, and currently by Sheri Fraser, the grand dame of Ontario triathlon, I decided to take the plunge and see if I can give something back to the Malaysian triathlon community. As I'm geographically thousands of miles away, technical aspects like swim stroke analysis was going to be difficult. So I roped in my brother, a former state swimmer, to conduct these sessions for me. All my athletes were impressed and most made separate arrangements with him to have ongoing sessions. From there, it took off further through word of mouth and referrals, he's pretty much booked out for most of the week with stroke correction sessions. It's great to see my baby brother (okay, maybe not so baby anymore) having such a success with this.

Coaching athletes was definitely not without it's challenges. There are many things I've taken for granted as an athlete myself. I've been blessed to be given the opportunity to train overseas, with world class facilities and top notch infrastructure e.g. a 75km bike path with no interruption from road traffic. Li-Ann is very supportive and quite often, she's occupied with her research work, so I don't feel too guilty being away and logging the long miles during the weekends. Yes, I have it easy and it did take me a while to realise that the athletes I coach have it different. Very different. One's a pilot who travels several times a week. The other works night shifts. And finally, another one gets last minute calls for business trips. Plus the heavy traffic in Malaysia suburbs makes it almost impossible to log in mid week outdoor workouts. And with young families, long training hours on the weekends would be a massive hurdle to overcome.

But hats off to these guys for being determined and pulling through these challenges. The past few months of coaching came to the final test in the past couple of weeks. One competed in Challenge Laguna Phuket, the other two at Ironman Western Australia. I've never been so anxious tracking live results before! The end result? I'm happy to say each one of them achieved their goals... and more. I've always had my heart skipped a beat each time I see a finisher line or a finisher medal picture. But seeing pictures of these guys celebrating their race finishes is even more special... much more. I felt that a part of me crossed the line with them!

But the credit should really go to them. The effort is mostly theirs and they all deserve the rewards. Congratulations and well done, guys! You guys inspire me. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share this truly humbling yet invaluable experience with you. I'm already looking forward to the 2014 season. With Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya and Ironman Langkawi making their comeback, I hope to be able to work with many more to achieve their goals.

In the meantime... for those looking for a triathlon coach, you know where to reach me *wink*