Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday good day

Good cardio. No hesitation in the morning, even when I slept at nearly 2am. I knew I was going to have to put in some cardio today and there shall be no excuses.

Woke up, got ready, drank milk, then started. It was fast, and furious (for me) and too soon my heart started racing, legs burning. I kept to my pace, afraid of cramps. At the usual stop I did forward bends until I'm a noodle. Then I continued again, but due to the busy traffic (forgot that Selangor has to work) I have to be careful about the cars. It bothered my pace and I hate having to slow down especially when I'm on a roll. My legs seem to be quite heavy and I worked them hard to 'man up' to the speed. No mollycoddling!

At the last stop I picked up pace that really got my heart pumping and my thighs groaning. The whole distance felt short but I knew I worked hard today, pushed myself.

But when I came back from a hearty breakfast, I realised that it's not enough. I want to be doing more - so I went to the gym and spent about an hour there. I was dying of thirst afterwards.

Chocolate milk is such a good recovery drink. Just a thought.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday PAINFUL cardio

I can't somehow believe that the worst have passed. That I am in my home, all clean and showered, no gunk on my face and body, no grime and sand on my face.

Yesterday, I had the biggest, longest, (can I say torturous?) cardio outing ever. Without prior training. Why did I sign up for this? I kept asking myself, especially during the slow hours with the sun on my back. Why? But I know why, because I love coming home looking back to the worst I have just encountered. Worst is simply a relative term.

The first part I was buzzing. I kept a good pace, easy effort, no pressure on anything. I was enjoying the scenery. Reaching to the first stop I began to feel the cramps building in. I am disappointed and frustrated. Lately I seem to be getting cramps while doing long slow cardio - I never got cramps before. It started during Penang Bridge and now they come naturally like your period cramps. I've seriously got to change the way I prepare my workout.


Started again. Still on a roll, fair pace, albeit the slow build of muscle cramps on my legs. It felt ugly, like resentment or hatred, the kind of feelings you do not want to have but can't help having. The cramps weighed heavy, and I was worried. I rode into the destination town worried. Started to resort to deep heat, massage, stretches, the works. This time around, nothing helped. And I am kilometers away from home.

When we u-turned back, I was suffering. Kept the effort as low as possible while engaging my major muscles. I wondered if the pain was because I had a hard workout the night before. I am 4 hours away from the safety and comfort of my car. The cramps settled, a dead weight on my legs. At the rest stop I succumbed to one, doubling over. somebody sprayed me until I felt like the legs were on fire. No sooner than I started again the cramps attacked.

But I did it. somehow, somewhat, I did it. Major cramps, aches, exhaustion, but I sashayed into our RV place in one piece, shaken, stirred, but accomplished. Cramped perhaps, but still. The last 20% of the journey was all mental. and that mental was the reason why I keep doing this.

I am thankful for this capability. To be alive!

Friday, January 28, 2011


My new favorite term: Koyak.

Technically it means tear or it can also be a verb - to tear. But in the context of sports and exercise, Koyak means to suffer. or burn out, or to struggle.

Picked this up from the people I generally do cardio with. Especially during the long slow ones, with the sun burning on your back, surely one or two will utter these words - "Damn koyak weh!"

It's my favorite term because it means I am working hard and pushing myself. To get better.

Today was my first comeback to strength training and stretching class after a looong sabbatical. Of course I explained a great detail about my knee injury, my shoulder, and what-nots. I am glad I have an instructor who remembers my injuries.

First she made me do a quadriceps stretch that also massage the knees. It took all my effort to not scream out or move because the tension in my knees were building up. But it was not painful; it was merely easing through the knots of my tendons.

Then we started with ab works. I am glad to say that although I struggle through the sets, at least it wasn't that hard.

The hardest was the arm strengthener. We did a series of Cobra poses that just did my triceps in. When we got to the lunges, my head felt lightheaded. We did the whole thing with no ceiling fan or aircond on.

Can't wait for a totally punishing but no doubt satisfying cardio tomorrow. I am looking forward to Koyak!

Have a great weekend everyone. And Happy Chinese New Year to my Chinese friends!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Number Game

Of all the gadgets I wanted for my sports, a GPS watch is top on the list. The reason is simple: I want to know how far I run when I run. This habit started when I run events, therefore I train, therefore keeping tabs matter. When the interest wane off, I somehow like to keep track of the mileage just because I like to see the details all spread out over a period of a month. Or maybe I am a geek like that.

Last year, I trained by the numbers. I have a 10 ringgit wristwatch to keep track of the time I took to run my daily 5k, just to see if I have improved. When I swim, I glance often at the wall clock and made sure I do not go over the normal swimming time of my 1k. I used a cycling computer to tell me how far I am going and what my rpm is. I am jut short of not counting my heart rate, or my strokes, or my power output.

In short, it was all about the numbers.

Yesterday, I went for an outing with my project team. It was mostly fun and lightweight, but since there was a runner in the group as well, and she's reasonably fit, we decided to run. At first I was being careful, slowing down on the downhill, making sure my pace was steady. But after a while I began to zone out and just ran. I momentarily thought about my knees as I raced downhill with my colleague, zip zapping on the rocks. I was fast, springy, excited, and extremely at home. I thought, "Oh my god I am so dead," as we ran up and down the baby inclines.

But it was worth it.

Truth to be told, I left the world of 'training' after Penang Bridge but gained back the wonderful pleasures of just working out. It is not a Must not but a WANT TO, just like when I was a student. I stopped measuring all my performances - swimming, running, cycling, karate drills, in-line skating, etc - for the simple pleasures of getting sweaty.

I stopped relying on the numbers and begin again to learn by feel - the feel of the winds past my ears to gauge my runs, the burning triceps as I work on my strokes, the ease of climbing for my power output. I no longer am anal about my timing, or distance, instead merely asking my friends about them, to be jotted down into my fitness journal. I do write down the distance, and the time if not for routine. I still like data, although I don't stress about it.

Anyway, running the route yesterday was awesome. It reminded me that I am not dependent on any technology but myself, and that no amount of GPS data, or split timings going to make me a better athlete. Truth to be told, if I can trust my own natural fitness gauge, I feel like I have improved, a bit stronger, with or without all these stuff.

A friend is going to give me her hand me down cycling computer, and as much as I like getting things for free, I wonder what having it would do for me. I have enjoyed riding without knowing anything at all except how good it feels and how bad this motherfcking hill is. I save myself the trouble of feeling the dread knowing that I have another X km to complete.

One of these days, I will try to see if I could just workout without keeping tabs. But for now, I am pretty much, bound by a little bit of data.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Double Whammy Weekend

I'm still on my two feet, immobile, so the Open water swim was a great chance to reconnect with my swimming and also old friends. Have not seen these guys for some time, and Kash too.

To be honest I wasn't sure I was going to swim. I have stopped swimming 'seriously' and have not done any long distance swimming for some time. Compared to the rest of them I am the weakest swimmer, which goes to show that just because you're younger doesn't really mean you can't be smoked. The last time we did this, I got stuck in the current on the swim back to the shore Ian had to stay with me, which is a bit of a downer as you never want to be slowing anyone down. Also being the last made me panic and I was thoroughly drained when the swim was over.

I thought it was going to be the same thing.

This time around I did ok. I thought my main limiter would be my fitness since I've not been doing any cardio routine. I thought I would be struggling to follow the rest, and that my heart would be pounding, and I would be dying for a breather. But I kept to the same steady pace and routine of sighting that after the first few minutes I calmed down immensely and just, swam. Having Jaja beside me (doing a breaststroke - that was how slow I was with my freestyle) was also a calming point. At least we were both swimming side by side, going towards the same point. The rest has shot off far ahead except for Ian who was basically being a good soul keeping tabs on us.

I always wonder what went on in our heads when we were doing the distance. Be it running, cycling, swimming, most of the times it would be only us and our thoughts keeping us company. I believe this is why individual sports are so therapeutic. your minds just wander off somewhere and let your body auto pilot itself.

I think I have improved, and I can't decide whether it's because I was visibly more relaxed, or because I am just fitter. Strengthwise I still have noodle sticks for arms and maybe I have to surgically implant muscles there. Gary, one of the swimmers, had bulging biceps and I believe the swim was barely an effort for him.

Today what was meant to be a simple 4km of trail run-walk has turned into 11km of getting lost and dehydrated. I felt guilty because it was my idea to go to the Frim woods for some exercise, and my boss was into the idea and hence, all the project team were suckered into going. One guy brought along his pregnant wife.

The first part of the trail - 4km - were done in high spirits, I devised a game where we would sprint when we come to inclines. That got our heart rates up and bodies sweating. The we proceeded to another long trail where I devised a game of tag+pass the baton, in which every runner would run as fast as possible to make it hard for the runner behind him to catch him, and 'pass' the baton. It got us huffing and puffing and then suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. We were inside one of the botany gardens and the only way out was over the locked wire fenced gate. In the end, we had to go out via the drain tunnel, and it was a hoot to have our boss hoisted up from the drain. The mountain bikers even snapped pictures of these awkward looking joggers all coming up from the drain by the roadside.

All in all, it was a very tiring 11km Frim tour.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Broke My Back comeback

What a great workout. After 4 weeks off no serious cardio (except a 3 runs, 2 in-line skating with RPE of 8, and karate drills), I managed to complete this not-so-easy workout with great flourish. Except for some back pain and bodily aches (due to different steed and adaptability of the distance after a lay off) I feel fine. Totally fine. In fact, I loved this workou so much! Maybe we should do this weekly.

My secret? Karate drills. And yoga stretches - daily. Those things really helped. So many things could go wrong - wrong sized steed, shoes, heavier in general, lack of fitness, tough route, but aside from the two mother effer hills, I had a great time, I wasn't slow or slowing anyone down, I am actually ok, speedwise. I could use another bottle of water, but dehydration's part of my exercise anyway.

These past one week, I was cooped up in a meeting room for a weeklong discussion. It's called an IPF study, and being the green, newbie engineer that I am, I was glad I was thrown into this to learn. But all we did inside there was sit, think really hard, argue, and then eat. All the lack of physical exercise makes me wish we could conduct this study while on treadmills or something. Anything to keep us energized. So what I did was to bring weights in and use them around my ankles while we were discussing. Lifting both my legs up help strengthen my knees, and that's always a good thing.

Once I am back home I did my karate drills and an hour of yoga. No excuse no matter how pooped I am. I have made the conscious decision to be good to my body, at least 6 times a week. Last week, the gym of my condo was closed, and it was raining, and my knees hurt to run, so what I did was pop in my collection of CDs and had a mosh fest. I was breathing really hard at the end of the hour. I forgot how good music makes you feel, especially with the tunes.

For your information, I was listening to Smashing Pumpkins, As I Lay Dying, and Bush. Great tunes.

Off to clean the house. Another workout?

I end this with a sobering but uplifting picture:

If this kid can smile... so can YOU

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Joys Of

The joy of having your own personal space:

1) Your own rules. And no one else's.
2) Privacy. To do whatever you want - read in the bathtub (as I sometimes do), brush your teeth in front of the tv (yes... im a mutant).
3) Dancing with absolutely no reservation.
4) Wanting to paint the walls flashing red? No problemo.

Fitness Updates:
I've established more of less a stable, regular routine. It consists of cardio and a bit of stretching and strength. My aerobic capacity is definitely not like it was, but I have little doubt that should I return back to my favorite sports I would not have that hard of a problem staying on.

On days when it is raining, and the gym is closed I run up the stairs of my condo up till the top floor (19th floor) and take the elevator down to ground again. The first time I did it, the guards stopped me, suspicious. But then they note that I was a heavy gym goer and use the pool often and always wheel my bike out past them or jog into/and out past the guard house. They let me go.

Health updates:

Sleep times are stable. I have been getting 6 hours of sleep now. I take power naps of 10 minutes tops... never more. I try to eat healthily (TRY, TRY) but only this morning I walloped two polystyrene sized nasi lemak ayam goreng (breakfast, then lunch) and then half a slice of blueberry cheese cake... and then like about 5 Reese's Pieces. GASP! I blame the whole day meeting with the Engineering team.

Ok, gotta go and do work.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Workout Two

When it comes to sports, I have always been a hopeless romantic.

Ever since I was a kid, more so when I turned to a young adult, I have lost count how many times I dived into a sport (new and old) and thought to myself, "this is it... im in love."

The first few times I started swimming regularly, 2 years back, I remember slicing through the calm blue water and thinking to myself, "whoa, what a wonderful feeling. I love this."

Early mornings enjoying my solo spin along the empty deserted road I went, "ohmigod, I am in love and I won't let go."

In the middle of a super hard dolphin pose, "i... love... this!"

After a kickboxing class, "What a great workout! I love kickboxing!"

In my countless loop at the lake, the birth of many great things in my running, even my injuries - "I could die right now and I am at my happiest."

On and on it happened, be it hiking, surfing, field hockey, badminton and squash (damn... I miss squash).

None of these infatuations have to do with competitions. It was always about pure exercising, bad form, good form, low mileage and all.

Today was no example. I am still trying to pick up to where I left my fitness last - on the dusty shelf of my 'things to continuously do' library - and slowly regain back my exercising routine. It was a good Sunday. Woke up early, treated my parents to a nice breakfast of nasi dagang with ayam merah (the best, seriously) and vacuumed, swept, wiped the house. General cleaning done, suddenly I was in the mood to do a cardio.

So I did. I started out slow, telling myself its ok if I didnt complete the target. Its all about the warm up.

The main set was torturous. I nearly died twice trying to sustain the drills. Recently I am more interested in doing short hard intervals rather than long endurance oriented ones due to my limited time frame (and god only knows how I used to love endurance based workout!). Also, hard short workouts give more or less the same results as those who did long workouts.

Plus, I believe in the power of yoga. When I did yoga quite religiously all other cardio wasn't really hard. I sleep better, I climb up the hills better, I sustain better, you name it, yoga better-fy my athletic performance, even my life.

And right now I'm going to shower, clean the bathroom, do my weekly DIY facial, read a book and just become a lazy ass.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Return to Cardio

Yesterday after 14 days of recuperating I decided to go for a run.

The feeling has been building for nearly a week now but I as hesitant to jump into any activities so quickly after the accident. But yesterday it as was as good as it gets. It wasn't raining, I as in good spirits, none of the fatigue from work or anything, and I had time.

I decided to walk from my condo to the lake. It was a nice walk, probably about 1.5km at most, but I as warmed up due to the brisk pace I kept. It was probably more of a jog, and I try not to focus too much on my steps and let my paranoia disappear.

When I arrived I quickly increased to a trot. I felt my ankles and knees and calves like I've never before - 3 months of completely no running has shocked my system to the core. They weren't exactly complaining, but they made themselves known. I felt the ground beneath my feet, I felt my calves, I felt the wind rushing through my ears. I probably ran at a fast pace. I thought of slowing it down so I could last about 5 loops (1 loop is 1.1km) but I decided to just run at the pace I felt like running, all other 'should' or 'would' be gone.

As I as nearing my second loop I have yet to slow down. Also bumped into all these runners I have not seen for a while - this uncle who ran the opposite way from others - we smiled at each other, both unable to stop. He is a good consistent runner. The guy Rashid - whom I wrote in my first few entries of this blog. He was there too, and ran fast like it as a walk in the park.

I probably slowed down a pitch in my third loop, and as much as I wanted to continue and make it to 5 (I'm a sucker for keeping a routine), I told myself to take it easy on the first run. I stopped after the third loop, since I have another 1.5km walk back to my place.

It as a nice cool down walk home. I passed subang parade, carrefour and all these people miling around and about. I realized I'm blessed to live in an area where exercise is not a challenge but of abundance. It is here here I regularly go for a spin, my condo has a nice pool where I would swim for hours in (one time an old lady went down from her place to the pool and asked me"are you training for the olympic?" HAHAHA), and there's even the gym should I feel too lazy to go out. And running is everyhere!

I'm going to have to start registering my dad for races. He's been itching to run something and been pestering me to sign him up. I don't know whether I'd join him as I already enjoy running the same distance without wasting any money, but I have always liked the event atmosphere. all I know is, I know exactly what race I would be doing this year for sure and it is none other than the Penang Bridge! hahahah good running place, and good food. No complaints!

Yeay to fitness!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hello Again

2 years ago, I discovered sports events. My life somewhat changed, rather subjectively whether it was for the better or worse. For the first time after my university days I had a proper routine, and I was dead set to follow it. My friends and family thought I was crazy.

I was a 13 year old girl in love. Nothing mattered.

Three pictures I want to share with you guys:

This is a picture of my cousin who succumbed to leukemia at 23 years old. I took this picture, when we had just arrived in Bali. It was a cousin only trip - my sister and I, him and his brother. I can't remember how old we were when this trip happened, but he was in remission then, and just a regular old guy again, talking about girls and music. I still get pangs thinking about his absence in our family, and I think about him more so when I am exerting myself during a hard run, swim, ride, drills, pose, even when I am eating a good meal, or getting a good pay. Life is not always good, but at least we're living it. Thank You Ngangah, Assalamualaikum.

Lone runner in Hyde Park. Hyde Park remains to be one of the best place for me to run, and I don't know whether it's because of the whole scenery or the fact that it was such an emotional catharsis for me at one time. I must have ran it daily, sometimes twice a day, with the company of the album by Dirty Three (She Has No Strings Apollo). That was truly the time where I felt that running was a reliever, whereas now running has a meaning, or a goal, to be addressed. I am looking forward to have more runs like that this year, hopefully with none of the emotional baggage included.

If I want to sum up my sporting triumphs with just one picture, this would be it. I believe I have posted this up before, and will continue to be a favorite of mine. Why I love this picture is not really hard to guess: it was a picture of me haphazardly doing my first triathlon race. This picture for me captures the spirit of what I think sports should be: a mild passion of doing something you love, without caring about anything else. My bike was the cheapest and the worst off in the lot - I bought it for RM800. The tyres don't match, the frame was too big for me, my helmet was only 20 bucks (I still use it till today, until the accident cracked it), and I was wearing probably my favorite workout essential until now - a cotton tshirt. I have never embraced the dri-fit material. I had no idea what to expect, and I struggled badly during the transition, but I LOVED the bike portion. I passed about 12 women during this leg.

I got a better bike now, but to be honest I still think that my cheap ass bike was the best. It was steel, and steady like a boyfriend, and made me work harder than ever. It still baffles my mates how I was faster in the steel bike than I am in my carbon. I guess it was because things were new, and I had no expectations.

This year, I'm starting again my routine, whatever it is, after two weeks of complete abandon. And it will start today, insyaAllah.