Join Me for Next Training

New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Up next: Mizuno 10km Mount Faber Run

Just signed up for the 10km hilly run. It's a great change from the usual flats. The last 'hilly' run I did was last year's Bintan Triathlon.

The Mt Faber Run's gonna be on Sunday 22 April.

I'll be training behind the golf courses at SICC and maybe Sentosa Satellite route since there are some challenging gradual but undulating hills there. Another alternative is the road up Upper Pierce Reservoir but there are just too many macaques there (thanks to inconsiderate suaku bastards who feed them with bread, peanuts and twisties).

Anyway I came across these useful articles on hill running:

Running Hills Can Be Key To Improving Your Performance

Hill Running With An Attitude!

Speedwork for Distance Runners

Stay tuned for 'The Prison Life'

Check this piece of news about Paris Hilton facing a possible jail term.

I bet this could just be another one of those attention-seeking publicity stunts for the poor little rich girl.

No more 'The Simple Life'. She's going solo for 'The Prison Life'. haha.. This time, maybe we'll get to see catfights with other inmates!

Excellent Article on Getting Started

This is not about triathlons, but it's about Weight Loss and Physical Activity.


Scar Treatment

I've tried so many types and methods of scar treatment - Cica-care, Centallase, and even some cream for post caesarean section pregnancy scars. Overall, I spent quite abit just to hide the scars. They look like centipedes. haha...

Alas, my scars on my left arm are still so visible, I bet NASA can pick them up from satellites orbiting above.

Then I met Joppa from my NS unit. He also had a similar accident that resulted in a similar pattern of scars (and internal 'metal scaffolding'). His scars are almost invisible and he swears by Vitamin E cream. I'm trying it out now. Stay tuned... ...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Review: Letters from Iwo Jima

I'm currently reading this book 'Letters from Iwo Jima' by Kumiko Kakehashi. The book is actually titled 'So Sad To Fall In Battle' - an account of the 2nd World War based on General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's Letters from Iwo Jima.

I guess the name-change was just to be in line with Clint Eastwood's movie with the same name. Perhaps a necessary sales-generating move to ride on the 'hollywood' wave. I mean, who really cares about the japanese' take on WWII, and especially about a japanese general who was the mastermind behind 25,000 'heroic' american deaths?

We've all seen movies depicting American victory and gungho might over evil Japan and Germany. Is it all about the Americans and their feelings?

The Japanese (and so-called 'enemies') were also human beings during the war!

Let's just say that I'm glad I picked up this book to read. So far, I'm getting drawn into General Kuribayashi's character. Absolutely brilliant strategist, yet so human.

By the way, I've already read James Bradley's "Flags of Our Fathers" and it's also a great book. Maybe I'll talk about it later.

Nope, I haven't watched either movies yet.

Birthday Wish List

Cannot cycle outside, so do indoor cycling instead!
But honestly, I've done indoor cycling on these machines before and I will swear by it for the following benefits:
  1. trims down the tummy (desperately needed),
  2. works on the core muscles (ABSolutely),
  3. builds forearm strength,
  4. great for heart rate training
  5. perfect gift for a left armstrong endurance junkie like me!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Singapore Biathlon 2007: More pics

Before the race with Tiong (7007). My number's 6224.
Getting out of the 1.5km swim in 38 minutes. I'm on the right side of the picture with the tri top.

Final 300m to go for the 10km run. Slow and steady. But I think too slow - I could have done better.

Completed! Officially back in action!

Monday, March 26, 2007

IMHO It's All A Farce!

The scene was so 'textbook'.
They were all just doing what they are good at.
They just stood there looking at the monk climbing up the building,
in the hopes of raising funds for the not-so-fortunate.

To all those donors who called to pledge your donations: What moved you to perform the non-dangerous, unpretentious charity act of donating your hard-earned money?

Was it the dangerous performance by the monk?

Was it the incessant public crying by Mediacorp artistes?

Was it the videoclips of suffering human beings?

Was it the repeating of phone numbers and prompting by the artistes?

Think further: DID THEY HAVE TO RESORT TO SUCH GUILT-TRIP TACTICS ? WILL SINGAPOREAN RESIDENTS LEARN FROM THE NKF SAGA? Or does this really mean that we are a resilient and philantropic bunch of people?

Instead of standing there and acting like a bunch of crybabies, why can't they encourage and cheer for the monk? I'm sure some encouragement would have let him climb that extra floor. Was it too difficult to scream "Keep going! You can do it!"? I've heard of encouragement as effective and realistic methods of pushing someone beyond their normal limits. Ask anyone who has done a marathon, triathlon or any race.

I certainly have not encountered gloomy sob-story methods of motivation. Have you heard of 'motivational' music that is gloomy and sad? Does crying and being awfully downladen with gloom pump up the adrenalin level? I don't see crybaby supporters at the finishing line. Apparently it works!

In fact, the only form of encouragement was from artistes seeking viewers to pick up their phones so that cash registers ring with $$$. Ah, so is this the magic formula?

"See him climb! Aiyoh... so scary... *sob* so dangerous *sob sob*"

"So hero. He's climbing because he understands the plight of those who suffer *boo hoo*"

"Quick! Look at him climb. Support the cause. Dial 1900 1234 5678 now and donate. *sob sob* it's so sad"



Embarrassing to say the least.

Some charity show it was, eh? That's why I think it's a farce. But that's entirely my opinion and I did not donate. I'd rather donate based on freedom of choice rather than being coerced into doing an act of charity because of some crybabies.

How about this as a suggestion for future charity shows:
Ministers and top Admin Officers pledge *just* 5% of their newly-revised salaries, and let it be an example for fellow citizens to follow. More than enough. No need to climb buildings and do daring feats. No need to cry father cry mother. No need to act. Everyone has a clear conscious. Everyone is happy. Just follow law!

Reservist: Then and Now

Sorry, no photos this time (except for one below but it was taken last year). Apparently SAF is now stricter with the use of camera phones and other image-capturing devices in camps. I'm sure there'll be blokes who sneak in a camera phone, but they do not have the intent to use the camera device.

Anyway, my point is that NS has changed alot since my full-time service days between 1993 and 1996. More than 10 years have passed and (I think) I just completed my 5th in-camp training (ICT). Between my active days and now, here is a list of changes I've had the opportunity to experience:

  1. Cookhouse food is no longer dished out by SAF cooks, but by aunties and uncles employed by Singapore Food Industries (SFI). Gone are the days of bouncing rice balls and tasteless kangkong with roots and rubberbands still tied to them. Where I used to dread bringing my personal steel foodtray to the cookhouse, I now actually look forward to being served by aunties and uncles on proper melamine dinnerware. Heck, someone's even employed y the SAF to clean my dishes!

  2. Ali Baba bags. My olive green ali baba duffel bag has been replaced by a black duffel bag with wheels! Whatever happened to "ALI BABA OVERHEAD!"? Where it was a common practice to run while we carry our fully-laden duffels overhead, the boys now roll their bags like flight attendants?

  3. My trusty bar of FAB laundry soap will no longer be needed. In its place is perhaps the powdered version. No need to handwash in the basin anymore coz there are washing machines and dryers in camp.

  4. Wait! I don't think I even saw any soldier brandishing brooms and dustpans for area cleaning! Instead I saw quite a number of cleaners (outsourced workers) doing the menial task.

  5. I'm labeled as a CUSTOMER?!?! A full colonel and a master warrant officer (both beasts of the camp) actually addressed us NSmen as 'customers'. Whatever happened to that 'I'm lowly and not worthy because my rank small small' feeling?

  6. The camp had an unusually quiet atmosphere and I understand why now. Last time, we would holler and shout for a person from ground floor to upper floors. It was common for the duty orderly to run out of the ground floor office, look up, and shout for a particular person to come down. Now, the use of personal handphones has 'tactically' made the job much easier and less embarrasing.

  7. Personal effects. It's all about comfort and ease. Dig these: flat-soled black 'taichi' canvas PT shoes versus New Balance cushioned running shoes. Steel-pot helmets versus kevlar helmets. Stiff and heavy boots with dimples as big as pimples (kiwi like hell) versus easy-to-slip-on comfortable combat boots. Velcro-ed nametags that make ripping sounds and used for 'degrading' purposes versus sewn-on nametags.

The list goes on. I shall not mention that the quality and firepower capabilities of the SAF has also improved with the 3G emphasis. Be afraid. Be very afraid! haha....

Having said that, there are also a few things that will NEVER change, and I'll mention 2 things here. I'm sure many NSmen will agree with me:

  1. Regardless of civilian lifestyle and culture, stature or wealth, once donning the No.4 uniform, all NSmen will somehow morph into 'fighting machines' replete of all other responsibilities except taking orders from higher military ranks. No orders means that we'll just sit down, relax, and wait and wait and wait and wait. The lower your rank, the easier it is for the NSman to squat and chit-chat. And somehow, the hokkien language proficiency is automatically upgraded to entire spoken conversations. The hokkien clan need not fear the loss of the beautiful language.

  2. Bubble-trouble and Street Fighter 2! haha.......

Next reservist: November 2007 High-key.... YEAH BABY!!!

Singapore Biathlon 2007

Swim time: 38:15
Run time: 1:12:46
Total time: 1:53:28
Improvement from 2 years ago. Can be much better if not for the slack run I had. The swim was tough on the last stretch - waves were choppy and surface currents were strong. I had to resort to gliding underwater to gain the mileage. Running bit was hot, so I took my time. But hey, I enjoyed it!
It's great to be back!

Friday, March 16, 2007

About jobs...

I'm quite confused by 3 media reports from channelnewsasia.

First report says that there were a record 176,000 jobs created in Singapore last year. This was supposedly backed by strong economic growth. Then later, the report says that there was an increase in the number of retrenchments (12,000 compared to 10,000 in 2005).

Second report quotes our PM saying that 'Singapore's job prospects have never been better as the government works to transform the country and prepare it well ahead for the next 10 to 15 years'. The report also mentioned that Singapore has attracted high quality investments and created many jobs.

Third report was about how 77% of employees in Singapore are not satisfied with their bonuses. And close to 75% of respondents were considering changing jobs within 3 months, and 47% of these prefer to start looking for a new job within one month!

okay, so what may I conclude from these reports?
  1. There are a huge bunch of dissatisfied employees in Singapore (conclude from third report);
  2. They are looking for the next better job that pays better;
  3. There will always be that next better-paying job, but is it better in terms other than bonus/salary?;
  4. They find that job because they hope it's better in the long run in terms of $$$ and other intangibles (conclude from 1st report);

In my opinion, this is a vicious cycle. It's not good in the long run. Well, according to the un-economist in me, record number of jobs created does not mean good businesses or exciting jobs (evident in the increase in retrenchments and dissatisfied employees).

So what does this show? It just shows we have a lack of good-paying jobs out there (lower than global market rate) and that employees are willing to take on any jobs given to them for that small increment in bonus or perks.

Consequences? False sense of record number of job creation equating to booming economy, a lower appreciation of professionalism and skills for the singapore employee.

No good......

Time of the Year again

I'll serve my nation with pride and patriotism.

I shall fly my flag up high.

I'll be back as a civilian on the 23rd of March!

Memories of last year's national duty......


Steadying for the comeback...

There's No Stopping Now!
9am tomorrow. East Coast Park.
Singapore Biathlon here I come!

You mean I've been consuming Goji all this while?

No kidding! Believe it or not, the Tibetan Goji berry is the same as the Wolfberry! Yah, if you don't know what a wolfberry (shame on you), it's the little red seeds your grandmother puts in your chicken soup. It's a herbal ingredient used very often in chinese cooking and it's dirt cheap. In cantonese, it's called 'kae-tzee'. I found this out when I saw this wiki entry on the Wolfberry.

If you bother to read that wiki article, it goes on to say that the marketing of the 'goodness' of wolfberry is under scrutiny in Europe as well as in Canada and US. In fact, the EU has given till next Friday 23 March 20007 for food businesses to back up their wolfberry (or goji) claims.

I quote the following from the wiki entry:
"In January 2007, marketing statements for a goji juice product were subject of an investigative report by CBC Television's consumer advocacy program Marketplace[52]. During interviews with the product spokesperson, Earl Mindell, critical questions were raised about the validity of numerous unverified health claims made by the product's manufacturer, FreeLife International LLC, as stated in Mindell's booklet on wolfberries (Bibliography below). None of more than 20 health claims asserted by FreeLife and Mindell has scientific, peer-reviewed proof of validity"

In other words, don't believe all these claims from Mindell et al. Don't waste your money.

Just be obedient boys and girls and drink up your grandmother's chicken soup. Yum yum....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First it was Noni, now it's Goji

I was just looking at yahoo top searches and there are - as usual - the names of celebrities such as Britney Spears and Brad Pitt, or daily top stories. Today, GOJI JUICE happens to be one of the top searches.

What in the world is Goji Juice? Check this out: Some Goji ad

I vaguely remember the hype about Noni Juice. A bottle of it costs quite abit. I can't remember the 'goodness' of Noni though. But did you know that the Noni tree can be found in many tropical countries such as Singapore and Malaysia? Yeah, the tree in your backyard could earn you hundreds of dollars if you juice the fruit. The only thing is that leave-cutting ants also like the noni tree. I figure they have some sort of symbiotic relationship.

I digress. I just think this Goji and Noni thing is just a wise-crack con job. Yeah yah, some doctor (of dunno what) discovered the secret of longevity, the elixir of youth in noni, and then now Goji. This quack is probably so filthy rich now and reeling in swimming pools of gold.

I mean, look at the ad again..... Magic shock? A certain Li Qingyuan lived to 252 years old (died in 1930). His longevity is supposedly due to drinking Goji juice and his philosophy of 'sit like a turtle, walk like a pigeon, and sleep like a dog'. To me, it's called 'living a carefree, lazy, and bo-chup lifestyle'.

Here's another article from a 'friendly skeptic' of this functional juice fad.

I'm now having thoughts of marketing my own functional wonder juice. I'll blend all the goodness of carrots, spinach, celery, madagascan hissing cockroaches, and unsold hotdogs into a power drink. It's an elixir to being forever young (subject to different individuals who may be allergic to the damn drink or have slower results, etc)

Anyone wants my 100ml drink for $25.00 a bottle?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Time for Govt to Accept Cycling as a Mode of Transport

I refer to this recent article on our government's efforts to improve bus services and review on current vehicle growth rates. As a practising traffic engineer, here are my thoughts:

The figures seem to be grim in terms of having enough land space for Singapore's growing population. It's a fact that the increase in human population will bring about an increase in vehicle population as well. The question is by how much will vehicle population grow? What will be the annual rate of increase of vehicle growth? For the past few years, transport planners have used the standard 3% annual rate of growth. Now, the government wants a review of the rate.

But will the growth of vehicles drastically affect the land transport system in Singapore? More importantly, can our road systems accomodate such rapid growth? And if so, what is the tipping point?

So based on annual growth rates and the corresponding (but much slower) rate of increase of length of roads, we might have a situation where we are absolutely chock-a-block in a few year's time? Well, this is what is 'kinda-sorta' painted by the grim facts. But seriously, will we become like the infamous Bangkok traffic? Think about it.

On the contrary. Well, at least not so soon. Didn't the report also mention something about improving the public transport system? Didn't the government mention that there would be more rail lines and even full-day bus lanes?

Wait a minute. Perhaps it might be easier for the public to understand the 'more rail lines therefore more people will take the MRT' bit. But full-day bus lanes? Isn't that a direct contradiction to that 'increasing lengths of roads' statement? Some people have asked me if full-day bus lanes effectively takes away a lane's worth of capacity, wouldn't that be detrimental to providing land space for the growing number of vehicles on the road?

The easiest way I could have answered would have been: "Aiyah, government decide then let them decide lor". Of course that wasn't the way i would have put down my own profession lah...

Actually, if there are proper demand management measures in place (and ERP being one method) and the fact that government is willing to promote public transport by having full-day bus lanes, then it goes to show that even with the loss of one lane to other vehicles, there is enough road space for other road users as well.

But think further will you, and stick with me while you're at it. What if these bus lanes are shared with cyclists?

It would be logical for the government to promote cycling on bus lanes. Here are the reasons why:
  1. Now they just have to contend with educating the bus drivers instead of the general driving population about road safety involving cyclists,
  2. Cycling and Cyclists will be accepted into the transport society more easily,
  3. There is no extra land required to share the bus lanes with cyclists,
  4. Promoting cycling helps in demand management and car usage - controls the growth in a certain way
  5. 1 car space is equivalent to 2, 3 bicycle space
  6. Cycling leads to better health,
  7. Cycling is environmentally friendly. Hey, transport ministry needs to tackle fuel emissions too!
  8. etc. etc...

So what do you think? It's about time to officially accept the cyclist as road user right? And with some due respect too!

Signs from the Deep

Some signs found in a local yet-to-be-opened-for-public-use tunnel:

In other words: There is no cafeteria or toilet in the tunnel; please use nearest tunnel exit to do your business

Slip Road or Sleep Road? hmmm....

Seen in a male toilet cubicle...

This 'friendly notice' can be found in a male toilet cubicle in a particular stat board. Thing is: there really is an open window behind the toilet seat which faces a public park, and if park-goers bother to look, they can actually see some 'flashing'! I'm sure this little attention on this matter would NOT be appreciated by passers-by outside!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Vagina mention lands three US students in hot water

This almost laughable news is found here.

How ironic.
The play 'The Vagina Monologues' is about female sexuality and it focuses on the abuses that women suffer. The play is based on interviews with several hundred women.

Now, these 3 high school girls get into trouble with school authorities because they kept uttering the 'V' word during a presentation of the play.

This is so ridiculously funny! I mean, this is a school presentation on the 'Vagina Monologues' for goodness sake! They cannot even utter the 'V' word? It's not as if they are muttering the hokkien equivalent of the female anatomy. Imagine if there's a spoof of the play here called the "The One Way CB Communication"

(and I meant CB as in Citizen's Band radio, and not the hokkien CB ok?) hee hee...

oh btw, isn't today International Women's Day or something like that? These girls should stand up for their rights!

Singapore Biathlon 2007

Yeah baby! I'm coming back with a vengeance and I'm gonna do this race after skipping last year's edition.

This'll be my first 1.5k swim/10km run race since last July's accident.

Training-wise, I've been trying to pile up the mileage to get myself in tune with the rigours of the race. That's why I have been doing the Sentosa brick trainings and I invite anyone to join me in a fun and almost relaxed pace. This weekend will be nice and leisurely 2-loop swim in the Tanjong Beach lagoon, and then a relaxed 7km run up and down the southern coast of Sentosa.

It's not all about putting on the mileage but also letting my body understand itself through proper hydration and nutrition. So come raceday, I should be prepared......

Singapore Biathlon - 1.5km swim, 10km run
I'll be in Wave 5 (I think - better double check).

2 years ago, I completed it in 2 hours.

This year, I hope the conditions will be better and I'll better my timing. :)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Almost NUS Biathlon

I wanted to take part in the NUS Biathlon today - I thought it would be a great comeback to the multisport scene since my accident. After all, the NUS Biathlon was my benchmark 2 years ago when I started attempting the sport (apart from the 2004 edition of the Standard Chartered Marathon when I tried the 10km 'fun' run).

Alas the sporting club (or whatever the name of the organising club is) from NUS didn't allow me to register for the race. You see, the club sent an email to past participants of the NUS Biathlons and Triathlons stating that the deadline for registration was on the 23rd of Feb 2007. When I finally decided to sign up on the 23rd of Feb, the website stated that the registration was already extended and closed on the 21st of Feb instead! i called the phone number of the contact person on the website, and a girl student said someone made a mistake.

Made a mistake!

At least the organising committee should have sent an email out telling us of the mistake in dates instead of shutting us out of the race!

In any case, I kind of half-expected this from the NUS committee. There are bound to be mistakes like these. What's new from them?

Okay, so I didn't take part in this. I'll try again next year. :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Simple Strategies for the Ironman 70.3

Short and sweet, this article from summarizes your training plan and how one should train not only for the Half Ironman event but also do some trials on nutrition, hydration, and transition as well.

It's a good and quick read.

Comeback with a vengeance

And a nose mask.
editor's note: cool! this post was done through my k800i phone! I can now blog while on the go! Now I've got thoughts of live coverage of trainings and races... ... and even reporting errant (idiot) drivers in real time! *evil grin*

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ohio Might Wanna Take Up What Singapore Didn't Want in 2002

I just read in today's Yahoo! News that the state of Ohio wants special car plates for sex offenders. State officials are proposing that sex offenders be issued with flourescent green licence plates for easy identification, following in similar fashion to what other states are doing to their drivers convicted of drunk driving (pink, yellow, or red plates).

I recalled in 2002 - and fortunately found the article over the glorious internet - that Singapore decided to ban certain letter combinations for its 3-letter licence plates. Private cars in Singapore currently use the SG series. I think the latest ones are SGS or something. Back in 2002, it was using the SD series and many were anticipating the probable use of the SE series. having mentioned this, I guess most of us by now should know which combinations faced the axe - SEX and SIN.

Maybe Ohio could use them instead. It'll be more straightforward instead of some fancy schmancy floursecent 'ohbiang' green plate!

This Time Is For Real

Okay, it's for real this time.

I'm back into this little game to challenge myself - of course at a steady pace, as usual.
Initially I wanted to start another blog to document this comeback, but on second thought I decided to keep my return journey within cyclingturtle.

Why cyclingturtle? It's got a new meaning this time:

7 months after fracturing my left ulnar and radius, my left arm is still weak. Mobility has no doubt improved through physiotherapy and I've since returned to almost 90% mobility in doing normal daily tasks like washing dishes, cooking, and swimming. But I still cannot lift shopping bags or attempt to open new peanut butter jars. Strength-wise, I reckon I'm only at 50-60%. There's absolutely no way at this point to perform push-ups or chin-ups, and I cannot cycle. I can't rest my wrists on the handlebars, drop bars, or get into aero position because of the position of the metal inserts in my left arm.

I'm not sure what are the long-term effects of the metal inserts. The doctor says I should be okay (for normal day-to-day activities), but he didn't say if I ever race on a bicycle again. I'd just have to listen to my body. So it's gonna be slow recovery if we're talking about cycling.

For now, I'll be swimming (alot) and running. I'll be focusing on biathlons and aquathlons this season.

First up on the multisport calendar: Singapore Biathlon on 17 March 2007.

I initially wanted to sign up for the NUS Biathlon on 4 March 2007, but I missed the deadline.