I’m an individual like everyone else

Not in the best of spirits as I am two weeks exactly from Ironman Langkawi 2014 and I have just started with a cold, it means a little break in the timetable, where I should be doing something active, I am going to be resting, though that is not a bad thing. Maybe I will get some time to help my wife with the second album material and actually take a serious rest and allow my body to recharge.

Yesterday was very bad, I had a headache from hell and my wife too, sore throat, ah, you know, the usual stuff, but yesterday wa one of the worst I ever had had it, anyway, vitamin C and some pills for fever and I am feeling a bit (a very little bit) better. I am not a big fan of pills and medicine, I believe that the body can take care of itself in many situations, I’m not referring to cancers and serious life threatening stuff, just those things we think we can’t handle and the convenience of a pill, potion or powder facilitates our recovery.

I’m not trying to be a smart ass when I say I prefer not to take stuff, I take vitamins (Centrum), fish oils  and a mix called Tri Flex from GNC for my joints, I have to say, my joints are better, though I never had problems all over, just with one knee in particular, then I heard about rollering and decided that instead of thinking I am old and my cartilage is done, I would look at some of the muscular mechanics of my legs and see if there is something “off”.

After competing in the Putrajaya Powerman Duathlon 2013, which involves a 10km run, 64km bike and a further 10km run again, I was supposed to collect my wife from the airport at about 2.30pm, as the race (for me) would be done by around 11.30am, I had time to clean up and drive from Putrajaya to the LCCT at Sepang and still have time for a bite to eat before her royal wifeness arrived.

The race was ok, I wasn’t in super prime fitness then and I wasn’t taking myself quite so seriously and had a few beers the night before, I hadn’t trained properly and I wasn’t so concerned about the hows and whats of the day. I met up with Leon and Gina at the start and my friend and mentor Dave, said hi and bye to a few people like Tri Stupe and got myself to the start line. I knew it would be hot and I knew I would have to keep to my pace to avoid burning out. It sounds a reasonable race now after all the Ironman training, yeah, ok, 10km64kms and 10 again, meh… no biggy right?

Dave had told me 4 hours 30 in my state was an ok time, below 4 was incredible for any normal person, but below 5 hours was a must because there’s no ranking after 5.30…

I can’t say I really recall much of the first 10kms run, it was warm, not very shaded and I needed a pee on the first lap, silly boy…  with a tri suit on, it means I have to strip off half naked to pee, so I held on for a while, there were two 5km laps before embarkation upon the bike. I was hot when I got to the bike and did the usual drinking of my basket bottle, I had a Camelbak and lots of liquids, I took my time in transition and had a banana, nothing special, I was hot, sweaty but looking forward to the ride, I had never cycled around the roads at Putrajaya so it was going to be fun I though.

I try to keep a positive attitude, never see how far you are from the finish, think how close you are, tell yourself “ok, there’s ONLY xxxkms to go” truly it helps, once you strat fighting those demons, trying to stop you, it will be a battle with both your body AND your mind…. and the mind is the one that makes you give up…

Anyhow, it was ok, I was flying (by my standards) on the bike and catching people here and there, I came across Patsy Yap, one of my Hash and Ironman heroes.. or rather heroines, she was chugging away on the sprint, we exchanged out of breath greetings and I went on through the heat. It was getting hot, I have to say, it was a scorcher of a day and I was getting through the liquids pretty fast, I wasn’t pacing, I was just pounding out what I could, probably a big mistake, as I have learned in swimming, sometimes, slower is faster, especially over long distances, but I wasn’t quite so “expert” as I am now (ahem). Towards the end of the second lap, I was caught by a small group with aero bikes and felt good that I had managed to keep ahead of them all this time and we made the final ascent past the Putrajaya International Convention Centre and on towards the main stretch and second transition. I came into the dismount and got off the bike ready to run, but my left quad cramped.. what the hell? I never get cramps, like never…. I grabbed the bike to steady myself but ended up crouched on the road, the attendant called for the medic and I shouted at him “Don’t btring the medic here.. don’t waste his time!!” Actually it was more pride than actual concern, I didn’t want to get booted off either, so I calmed down and the leg relaxed and I trudged into transition.

I racked my bike and Dave was telling me to get a move on, but I sat down and filled the Camelbak again, ate a couple of bananas, gulped some more liquid, at which point another disheveled athlete came in and said he was done, he can’t take the heat and his wife would fininsh the race or something. It made me feel a little worried about my state of hydration and the leg, but eventually, I got up and started to jog, very very slowly, out of the transition, passing all the faces that are looking at me, cheering me and the others on, so I didn’t want to walk at that point, too much pride I guess, I am a strong Hash runner, I’m used to the heat and tough conditions..right?

As I got off the main stretch, I walked, almost immediately, whilst trying to find intermittent pieces of shade, from anything. I remember thinking, “Ok Rob, Come on…. just 10kms to go, you are a tough old boot, get on with it”.

Whe you catch and pass people it feels great, when you get passed, it can be quite demoralising, but, there are those who race wiser and have a full tank left for the end, then there are clowns like me, who don’t sleep enough, have a good few beers and not enough breakfast and who didn’t really train for it, so therefoe, at this juncture, I am paying the price for not being serious.

I couldn’t run, I just had no energy and was suffering with the heat, I stopped at every water stop and poured cold water on myself, I was in a poor state, but could still bash on. I walked, loosely, clumsily and got back towards the main stretch and the bypass for the transition, at which point (again for pride more than enything) I jogged slowly past the crowd, I must have looked bad, because I felt pretty crap.

As I left the mainstretch and made the  turn off , I found myself next to a tall lean young Malay man, he was jogging but at my sort of walking pace and as is my usual talkative style, I said to him”This weather is crazy, it’s so hot today” at which point he turned to me and said proudly “This is Powerman Malaysia bro” and gave a bit of a clench fist power sign.. I replied “Yeah.. lucky only 5kms to go”.. he looked sideways at me “You are on your last lap?” he asked,  “Yes” I said “I’m on my first” he replied back sounding a little less enthusiastic now, “Good luck” I said and gentle turned up the speed and moved off.

That moment of realising, there are a lot of people both infront and behind, all suffering, made me feel a little less alone and I tried to pick up the pace, but truly the heat had won, I was in pain, hot, saturated in sweat but… I was getting there.. slowly.

As I made the last awkward climb, stopping for water, I figured I would try a jog and I managed to take the last 1.5kms at a slow jog, but I was in a bad state and just wanted to go home, I grabbed an ice cream at the finish, had a shower and changed in one of the portable shower units and headed to the car to go to the airport.

Result?  4.37.. just off, but then I had a very long time in transition… almost 5 minutes for the first and almost 8 for the second, my first 10km run was 1 hour, my second was 1.17, the bike was 2 hours 7 minutes..

It’s not a long journey and I was there pretty quickly, I was hungry, hot and dehydrated, I was aching like hell and I decided that KFC would be great, however, I couldn’t sit for long as my legs would get stiff, so at the LCCT I went to get KFC, which by the way, was also being visited by numerous flies, which put me off but I was so hungry I ignored them and get a few pieces of chicken and a drink, sat down and ate, feeling happy to have polluted myself with fast food and fizzy drinks. I looked at my watch, 2.15.. ish, great not long to go, I got up, very pianfully and made my way to the arrivals hall to check the information board, but strangely I couldn’t see my wifes flight from Krabi, I was tired and confused, so I thought I was being stupid, was it the right airport? It was an Air Asia flight so I was at the right place, so where’s the plane? I though she had said 2.15pm, maybe its 2.50pm, I heard wrong perhaps, but surely it would be on the board.

After checking about 20 times and gathering my composure, I went to the information counter and asked about the flights from Krabi. Guess what?

The flight departs from Krabi at 2.50pm or something like that and takes almost 2 hours… great, now I cant go home as it’s to far and I would have to return as soon as I reach home, so, I have to stay… and…. to avoid the lactic acid taking over my legs and turning them to stone, I have to keep moving, however gently, so, that’s precicely what I did, I kept meandering around the airport, I had a few strange looks from people who had seen me “loitering” in the area for what must have seemed like forever.

Then, out of the blue, the same leg that had the cramp earlier, started doing some ridiculous twitching that threatened to turn into a full on Elvis Presley dance routine, right there at international arrivals and I was forced to sit down. My wife actually arrived around 6pm as her flight was delayed or slow or who knows what even to this day..!!

After that race I suffered on and off with hamstring problems and a knee problem, that’s how I found out about rollering and loosening the hamstrings, the benefits of stretching before and after and the mechanics of my legs. The tightness in my hamstrings (and when I say tight.. I can fire arrows with them) aws causing tension on my knee, my calf was also being pulled and the whole thing was awkward and painful.

I didn’t want to wait 3 weeks for an online order of a pro roller or whatever, so, I bought some plastic pipe 1 and 3/4 inches  diameter and used that to sit on during my time in my office,  I place it on the chair, perpendicular to my legs and close to the top of my legs, near my butt, as soon as I straighten my back, I can feel the pipe pressing hard against the hamstrings and though a little painful at first, it brings great relief, moving the roller position along the chair, I can slowly relax the backs of my upper legs, using two or three pipes at the same time also works well. I’m not rolling the pipes, just leaving them in one place and trying to get my back straight whilst extending my legs. It works for me, no more knee issues… so far…

I have learned that if I am going to race for 30 minutes 0r 3 hours or 13 hours, I need to look after my body and my nutrition, though we all like to think we are all individuals, some things about us are very similar indeed, I am not a tank or a superhero, I am a person, just like everyone else and it pays to remember that.

Rule 8……..

Self respect

No harm in letting go every once in a while.. but when it comes to serious stuff, try and be serious, treat yourself with respect, because you WILL pay a price, that might be overheating in the sun or perhaps not realising your full potential, perhaps others won’t take you seriously, rightly so, if you don’t take yourself  seriously at the important times, how can anyone else?



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