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Friday, April 30, 2010

What A Day

Yesterday was a very good day for me. When I went to bed at almost 2am this morning, I was still smiling from ear to ear. Nasib baik tak ngigau terbang-terbang.

Life during working time yesterday was as what they always say, same ‘ol same **** (sendiri tambah lah). When it’s time for me to shut down my laptop, the weather was inviting for me to do another easy run at the park. This week the weather has seen some positive changes. More shines, and that’s a good sign.

While I was taking dinner with the nasi goreng daging campur ayam goreng campur telur separuh masak, a friend texted me and asked me to meet up for a quick chat later on. And when that session was over, the time was already showing about 10pm and as I passed by Skudai Parade, my eyes opened wide as I saw ‘it’, posted on the big wall.

“This must be the day!”, my inner self was talking.

Oh ya, from my previous observations worldwide, I get this concluded that every new showing will be on Thursday. So, yesterday was Thursday and I tried my luck.

I made a turnaround and instead of going home, I went to Skudai Parade, went up 6th floor and at the counter, I politely asked the lady behind the counter, “Excuse me, is there anymore showing for tonight for ‘that’ one?”, while pointing my finger towards one of the posters on the wall.

“Yes we do, at 11.30pm. Still plenty available sir.”

Without any further due, I took a red note from my wallet and get it exchanged with a small piece of white paper with some tiny prints on it that made me smile. It was among the best purchase of the day, for me.

And that little piece of white paper was a movie ticket for the most awaited movie (for me) for 2010, what else if is not

I R O N M A N 2

If the first Ironman movie was cool, this time it is hundred times cooler.

And if the first Ironman movie was awesome, this time it is (oh Gosh, I’ve lost count) much much much much much much much more... ok, lets’ just take a number then. This time, it is thousands time more AWESOME!!!!!

I kid you not!

Now you know why I went to bed smiling.

And I am still smiling as I post this entry, because I have another few plans to go and watch it again for second or third or maybe fourth times, while it is still showing on the big screen. I can't wait, hehe. Gelojoh dan haloba betul.

P/s: No movie preview or anything from me here (coz I'm not good at it). Go and watch it yourselves, ok.

Macho je style terbang macam ni, kan?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Appreciate Happiness

[Got this from a friend, via email]

Jadi Ironman lagi happy woo. Boleh terbang-terbang...

Eh, what date is today eh?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chink In Somebody’s Armor

Back in 2007, I first hit three digits on my cycling mileage on a single outing (going over 100km). And while doing so, I got my first experience of being torched by the sun. Literally speaking.

And every time when we do long distance ride, seldom we can escape from it. The sun light at noon gives the perfect condition for outdoor photography, but not for any other activities unless you are under the shades.

That’s why cyclists easily get tan lines. And quite rare we find pure runners having them for a simple logic that cyclists normally spend 2 or 3 more times under the blazing hot sun as compared to runners.

Last weekend, I didn’t do any long ride, not even a long run or swim. I had some plans for a long run on Saturday morning but there’s a little voice in me that told me to get back to sleep. The same voice appeared once again on Sunday morning. So, blame the voice (and the blanket).

However, my wife’s family put on an ad-hoc picnic plan on mid morning Sunday, at Sg. Pangsoon. It was nearby Gunung Nuang’s entrance, in Hulu Langat. At the time where I was supposed (read: I wanted) to hit the tarmac on Sunday early morning, I was helping them in the kitchen to prepare the tidbits we wanted to bring along for the picnic.

And while everyone else was busy packing their extra clothes and towels and foods into the car, I silently clutched my running gear. I had my own ‘ad-hoc’ plan of the day.

We arrived at Sg. Pangsoon around 11.30am. If I was not wearing any watch, I’d say the sun at that time would have implied that it was 1pm or 2pm. It was blazing and sweltering hot. After done with offloading the picnic stuffs, I told my wife that I had ‘something’ to do.

Drying up my feet before putting on my Avia Avi-Bolt.

To run under the sizzling heat, and see what happens to me, was that ‘something’.

Running cap and shades on, I braved the searing tarmac at 12:15pm. The last time when I ran at this time was during Desaru Long Distance triathlon – a 21km run after a torturous 90km cycling, back in 2009. And since this time it was only an experiment, I didn’t anticipate for a long run. I headed towards the entrance of Gunung Nuang, but didn’t really manage to reach the car park even after 15minutes out. My energy level was shattered and drained much faster that I thought it would, so I quickly make a turnaround and ended the run in 31minutes, slightly torched.

I totally dipped myself into this cool flowing river after the run.
Peace!

Despite of the short timing and distance, the heat really gets into me. I wanted to do more, but I just couldn’t. The rate at which my energy level dropped was beyond expectation. Somehow I knew this would happen, and this little experiment just proved to me that I need to work harder to adapt my body more into it if I want to become stronger in this climate we are in.

Ask any Ironman triathletes about the hardest thing they have to fight during their entire race. I’m pretty sure they’ll say something in the line of – “It’s the heat”.

There’s no short cut in this game we are in.

To be, or not to be. Period.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Don’t Think So Dude

On one fine evening while I was resting by the pool wall after repeating laps after laps of swim, a guy I haven’t seen before came near me. He’s in his 20’s, spending more time in the water doing nothing much other than, erm, not swimming. With no offence to anyone reading this, this guy is a bit big sized laterally, having a slight beer belly on his waist.

Him: “Bro, are you an athlete?”

Me: “Ehm, no. Not really.”

Him: “But you have the stamina to keep on swimming for long time. Are you not tired?”

Me: “Of course I’m tired, but this is part of the game lah, bro.”

We continued a little bit more of chat while I wait for my heart rate to stabilize. He then asked me how to get a lean body, and how to remove the excess of fat, especially on the tummy.

Me: “Go and run lah”.

I told him that with good cardiac exercise that one can get from doing stuffs like running, eventually the metabolism rate will slowly increase until one point where the excess fat will be easily burned for the fuel bla, bla, bla.. I was giving him some tips from the top of my head.

He was not so convinced, and asked me whether he can get the same result from swimming. He really wanted to know if there’s any short cut to reduce his belly size.

Me: “Yeah sure, you can also swim. But you need to spend plenty of time doing it to start trigger the ‘endurance’ which will then start burning the fat.”

Him: “Oh, I see. I have also started doing some weight lifting in the gym. Will that work?”

Me: “Yup, it will. But it takes longer time because that is an anaerobic exercise. It’s different from aerobic exercises. The discipline in body building sports is different from running or cycling or even swimming.”

I’m not sure how much he understood me or what I was trying to convey to him. Neither that he agreed, nor nodded his head to my statements.

Me: “Basically speaking, there’s no short cut into getting a flat abs.”

Him: “But my friends said ah, I need to lose the fats in my legs and thighs first, then the fat on my tummy will automatically goes down there to replace the ‘empty’ space. Gravity kan ada".

Upon hearing this, my eyes almost popped out in disbelief. I knew it would be rude to laugh at this point.

Me: “Really ah? I don’t think so lah dude.”

I didn’t want to say anything much, so I just continued on with my swims.

For me, this is scary.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Defibrillized

You all know what do the doctors do in the emergency room when one’s heart has stopped, right? They use the defibrillators to send some electrical shock signals to some sort of “re-starting” the heart.

When the ‘heart’ of my legs stopped for three weeks, it has gone into a serious state that my endurance and stamina dropped so drastically since I didn’t even do any maintenance fitness activities during the days where I got stuck in the office up till almost midnight. I almost call my insurance company for a review, in case anything bad happens to me due to this effect. Not wanting for it to get any worse, this whole week I went to the ‘emergency room’ to get myself defibrillated (I’m not sure if there’s such a word). I need a drastic ‘re-start’ shock.

Monday, I got a very small dose of a 30 minutes cycling session on trainer. Just to test the water. Takut terlebih bagi shock kang terus kojol on the spot tak sempat mengucap.

Tuesday, managed to increase the defibrillation factor with an hour of run at the garden, followed by a 50 minutes swim session. System was showing a good sign of being re-energized.

Wednesday, I got myself the biggest voltage shock! Started with a 1.2km swim, 6km run and a 30km cycling sessions. A big plate of nasi goreng kampung with telur mata goyang served as a perfect bonus to end the day.

Thursday, I was planning for another hour of run to which shall be followed by another hour of swim session. However, the thunder-stomerly-weather in the evening forced me to swap the plan with a 1.5 hours cycling session on the trainer at home. My new phylosophy for the day was, "better than nothing, and much better than staying in the office".

I'm defibrillized!

So now, I’m out of the emergency room. Next, I can’t wait for Ironman 2 the movie to hit the big screen. Seeing the ads on TV last night when it shows the screening date will be on April 30, I can use the remaining of my annual leave I guess. No harm, right?

Did I tell you before that when I grow up I want to become like this guy?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

7 Days Ago

7 days ago, I was awaken by a phone call from my wife at 1am that came with a very shockingly sad news.

7 days ago, I drove up from JB to KL (actually to Bukit Mahkota, nearby Bangi/Nilai) with my trusty seasoned car at 2am. The journey that normally took slightly more than 3 hours, was done this time with a personal best of 2hrs 40mins.

7 days ago, as I stepped into my parents in law’s house, for the first time I saw my mother-in-law lying on the floor, motionless.

7 days ago, for the first time I saw my whole in-law family members were in sober and shedding tears at the same time. I was not excluded.

7 days ago, many of my wife’s family members came all the way from near and far, to pay a last visit to my mother-in-law.

7 days ago, I was standing inside the grave during the noon, lowering down my mother-in-law into her final resting place before she wakes up again in the after life to meet Allah The Almighty.

7 days ago, I lost my mother-in-law. I have known her for more than 9 years now. And now I know how sadden it is to lose someone dear to your heart.

It was a sober moment to me and to the whole family. Her departure was really unexpected. For as much as we do not want this to happen yet, deep down inside we know Allah loves her more.

We only have one mum and one dad in this world. One of the three things that will definitely follow and help them in their next lives is, the prayers from their obedient children.

“Semoga Allah mengampuni segala dosa-dosa mak, dan semoga Allah merahmati dan mengurniakan Syurga yang kekal abadi kepada mak. Amin ya rabbal ‘alamin.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Out Of The Blue

For those who have been recently following my blog, you should still remember that I went to Langkawi last February to witness and support the triathletes. If you've missed it, I wrote about it here. Well, it’s been two months now since I came back from that wonderful experience and out of the blue, today I received an email from an Ironman from Singapore which I’d like to share it with you all.

From: Lucius ***** (lucius.*****@gmail.com)
To: nikfahusnaza@gmail.com
Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 9:58 AM
Subject: Hi...

Hello,

My name is Lucius from Singapore and I took part in IM Langkawi. I was Googling thru a friend's blog and you came up. I remember you very clearly as the supporter at the end of the run u-turn cheering everyone even tho it was very late in the race. I wanted to thank you dearly for your support and your endless cheering which was wonderful during the trying times where everything was low but seeing you really made me push on thru my first IM. Thank you again for the experience and you really made a difference for me. Cheers bro!!!

And here’s my reply to Lucius:

Hello there Lucius!

Wow, what a surprise to be getting an email from an Ironman! Thanks a lot.

I'm so honored, and I am so surprised that you can remember me where I was only a "nobody-cares" supporter standing there in the darkness at the end of the road. I was having fun though, cheering for all the triathletes during their final hours on the toughest race on earth, regardless whether I know them or not.

I am passionate about triathlon and I am aiming to do the IM, one day hopefully (if i can commit to the training in my ‘getting-busier’ worklife schedule). The chances for me to doing it in 2011 is however getting pretty low now due to the upcoming work commitment, but we never know, right.

Thanks so much for dropping by on my blog. Hope you enjoy it, even for a very little amount. If you also happen to have a blog, hope you don't mind sharing it with me. You can also add me on Facebook (though i'm not an active Facebook-er). Search me under the name Nik Fahusnaza and I’ll be your new friend.

All the best in your future triathlon adventures!

Cheers!

With this, if it happens that I cannot take part in Ironman Langkawi next year, I’ll try my best to be there once again, as a supporter at the end of the road, under the hot sun or inside the darkness.

Because, it’s fun!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Liking It No More

It has been weeks since my last workout. Busy work life that buzzed me has taken away my interest in writing too. I easily lost focus, enthusiasm, motivation and spirit, unlike before. Even to come up with this entry, I need a motivation booster in a form of a new blog layout.

I used to love being a workaholic. But now, I can proudly say I dislike it. Very much.

My new liking nowadays is to see sweats dropping off from my face, after I’m done with some hard workouts. The more I sweat, the more satisfied I feel. I simply love the feeling. Such a strong addictive pulling factor in my own little world of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s been weeks since my last workout where I sweat buckets. I'm missing it so badly and I hope I can make a return soon.

When a 40 minutes run felt as hard as running a half marathon, I know I need to double or triple my effort to regain my fitness level. I can feel that it's going to be a little bit painful too. With more than 3 weeks of hiatus from any fitness activities, the things I gained the most are, body weight and laziness!

Now I wonder why my jeans suddenly shrink.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let See

Let see why I couldn’t get what I targeted during the recent marathon. I just wanted to do some self evaluation about it, trying to see it from some different angles. And while it is unfair for me to compare my performance with anybody else, I’ll just do a simple analytical comparison between my ‘old’ me, and my ‘new’ me, with respect to preparing for and running the marathons.

1.0 Training
Training is the key factor. My philosophy (cewah) is simple – “If I can train for it, I’ll do the race”. I don’t mind missing some races if I know I won’t have the luxury of time to train for it. And being a weekend husband and father, my weekends are very limited for training as I want to spare much more time with my family, rather than being on the tarmac.

1.1 First Marathon
So, for my first marathon, training effort was just focused on getting the higher mileage endurance, since it was my first ever attempt. The mileage itself (42km) scared me. No speed work at all. I started off with 1.5hrs and then 2hrs running, then up to 20km distance, then up some more to higher mileage gradually every weekend until I peaked at 35km with some bad aches on the knee joints and the foot base.

Race outcome:
It was a big suffering after passing half way mark. My knee joints and foot base started to hurt so badly that I had to walk from 18km mark or so. Nevertheless, the endurance stamina built, managed to bring me to the finish line.

1.2 Second Marathon
Endurance felt good (so I thought), so I tried to include some speed training, trail running and stairs training (which was in conjunction to the few trail running events I took part prior to the marathon), but nothing was properly structured. The speed training was still minimal, but I could notice some little improvement in that department. In some of the trainings, I managed to score sub 1hr for a 10km distance. LSD was still done during the weekends, but peaking and tapering strategy was a little bit out of order. I didn’t once go beyond 30km-ish in any LSD, if I’m not mistaken.

Race outcome:
Well, I could feel I was running a little bit faster as compared to before, and quite strong for the first quarter. Somehow, fatigue crept in after half way mark and that forced me to start some walk breaks. Getting to 30km, pain paid me a visit at the leg muscles, and decided to stay until the end of the 42km journey. Getting the PB might be due to the speed training which I included in the training regime.

1.3 Third Marathon
Thinking that I need more mileage so that I won’t feel the pain beyond 30km as happened before, I re-focused my training more into LSD mode. Speed work and strength training was almost non-existence, trail run and stairs training were totally zero. LSD training was pretty good, considering the mileage clocked at every session was around 30km plus-minus, and managed to maintain that consistency for at least three weekends if I’m not mistaken.

Race outcome:
Although big cramps attacked me since 24km mark, my energy and endurance level was tip top all the way until I finished the race. It was the cramp pain that forced me to slow down. From the start until that 24km point, I managed to follow the 4:30 pace, with some few minutes advantage. It felt good to feel a little bit stronger than before, but when the cramps showed his face, the drama began and the whole scenario turned 180 degrees. I believe it was the sustained energy and endurance level that pulled me through for another PB, in spite of the pain I was having.

2.0 Nutrition/Supplements
Nutrition and supplements are my second concern, before, during and after any race. It’s definitely the fuel that drives the engine, right? Let see how different they were in these three separate real cases.

2.1 First Marathon
Being my first time, I had no experience and a very little knowledge of what should I intake before and during the race. I knew about PowerBar gel before. But little did I know about ORS, and also little did I know about Glucosamine or Calcium supplements. It was like an experiment ground, to see what worked and what didn’t, and what was lacking. I totally can’t remember about my hydration plan though. What I remember was that there were not enough drinks at some water stations.

Race outcome:
A big regret for not starting on the Glucosamine and Calcium supplements much earlier during the training season. The massive knee joint pain was the only thing that I remembered about my first marathon, until now. I can’t recall much about ORS though. Maybe because I was not running fast and had so many walk breaks due to the pain, the cramps only get into my calves on the final km. Not a biggie there.

2.2 Second Marathon
Lesson learnt the hard way earlier. So, Glucosamine and Calcium supplements have been taken continuously almost on daily basis. Much improvement I could say, as I didn’t get any more knee joint pains during and after any LSD training, no matter how long or how far I ran. So, that’s good. Anyway, during the race, I limit my PowerBar gel, but brought more ORS. As on the hydration strategy, I stopped at every water stations for drinks, and I only drank from my Fuel Belt when I already felt thirsty.

Race outcome:
Not taking enough PowerBar gel might be a wrong strategy and a mistake as I felt my energy was unsustainable after half way mark. Perhaps, I’ve gone into dehydration state once in a while too, with the improper hydration strategy. Cramps were kept at bay, fortunately. Thanks to the better ORS replacement tricks.

2.3 Third Marathon
Glucosamine and Calcium supplements were continued as normal. PowerBar gel intake was doubled during the race. But I took salt replacement (ORS) strategy for granted. I only brought along two Nuun salt tablets. One tablet was taken at the starting area (diluted into my Fuel Belt drinks), and the next one was taken already too late. The 10 minutes hydration strategy was applied, with the help of my stopwatch timer as a reminder.

Race outcome:
I will definitely remember to bring enough PowerBar to sustain the energy level throughout the race. Plus, I had no problem downing a gel without drinking water. And definitely the lack of salt replacement was a big mistake here. This might be one main contributor towards me getting the massive cramps that day. The new hydration strategy was truly awesome, I’ll be practicing it more often after this.

So, above are the two basic and very important angles I was thinking about on why it is still difficult to get better timing for a marathon. One is training, and another one is about nutrition. I’m not stressing out myself here with high aims or targets. And I still run for fun as a way to embrace a healthy lifestyle, more than for the competition. It’s just nice to know that we can further improve ourselves by what we do, and it feels even better to know that we can become stronger or faster, even at this elderly age. These are the bonuses, the icing, on top of the fun of the run itself.

Of course there were few other factors that gave either positive or negative contributions towards the race like the race course itself (hilly or flat), weather conditions, the crowds, race organization (especially water stations) and what was happening to us (physically and emotionally) the earlier days before we ran the marathon. But for me, many of these are beyond our control, so why bother so much, right?

And I’m still going to experiment few other things for my future races, insyaAllah, just to see whether my ‘future’ me can be better than my ‘current’ me.