Taking Selfies to a whole new level

I’ve always been an outdoorsy girl, I love hiking, trail running, rock climbing, swimming in the ocean, cycling on the highways, despite our warm tropical climate, the great outdoors always call out to me. Because of that, anything that says its water-proof, shock-proof, scratch-proof, (idiot-proof) always bling like diamond to me and I’d be drawn to it. On top of that, I do like my gadgets too, and I definitely love cameras.

So, enter the CASIO EXILIM Ex-Fr100. This neat little compact camera was introduced to me a couple of months back and I’ve been taking it for quite the spin in my active, outdoorsy life! It’s a sporty little Lifestyle Camera, which is made for adventurous people who likes to live on the edge and is not afraid to share their views with the world.

20160608_140420For starters, my camera came in a sporty bright yellow and black colour and it fits right in my palm. It’s lightweight allows it to fit into just about any pocket in your clothes of backpack. The camera consists of a lens and a console. The lens is actually the “CPU” of the camera as it houses the operating system and memory card. The console acts as a screen for you to view, select, edit, or delete your images and videos. 20160608_140501The COOLEST thing about the Ex-Fr100, to me, is its detachable lens. Do you know what this means? It means you can detach the lens and out it anywhere you want to take the ultimate selfie or wefie you can imagine! It’s connected to the console via Bluetooth, so Hello, wireless!. All you need to do, is put the lens somewhere that’s within Bluetooth signal, and you can check your frame out using the console in your hands. When you’re happy, snap away! Which I most definitely did!

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The camera has a 16mm wide angle lens, so fitting a room full of people is a piece of cake! It is wide enough to take your entire football team, but not a fish-eye lens that it distorts everybody on the side. My friends have all grown quite fond of my little Ex-Fr100, and nowadays I’m usually the one who takes the wefies!

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Then one day, I decided to pop the lens onto a Selfie stick (which came with the pack), and completely revolutionised wefie photos! We put it high above our heads and because of its wide angle lens, people actually thought we brought a drone in!

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With its 30 frames per second high speed shutter, jump shots are a must! You won’t miss the best shot this time (and Slow poke Jack can get some rest for ruining the picture)

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20160608_140642And of course, I wouldn’t be into it if it didn’t withstand water & shock! The Ex-Fr100 is water proof up to 1.5m for 60 minutes and shock proof too (not that I’m a klutz). CIMG1047It takes being dropped from up to 1.7m (1.3m when joined with its console) and the cold of down to -5℃ (which I don’t have the opportunity to test out, unfortunately). It takes pretty clear photos under water!! The Bluetooth signal doesn’t comply under water so the console doesn’t really work under water. But all you need is the lens!

We even tried to do some videos! This camera boasts 240 fps high speed movie capture in HD! It’s anti-shake function gets the video a lot smoother. Here’s a short recording on sitting in a 4WD going up to Gunung Brinchang the Mossy Forest.

The camera also has it’s own movie making function, where you can choose a group of photos & videos from a certain date, and it will pick the best shots and make a movie out of it! You can choose a 15 second, 30 second or 1 minute video. It also has 7 background music you can choose from. Here’s a family hiking trip I did with my family up to Gunung Nuang.

The EXILIM phone app is easy to use and free to download, so it makes file transfers effortless! Just a few seconds and you can upload the photos taken onto social media right from your smartphone. So you won’t have to keep throwing back and latergramming your photos. :)

I’m sure there are plenty more functions and features that I have yet to explore, but needless to say my Ex-Fr100 is a nifty little gadget that has added so much more colour to my adventures. Thanks Casio!

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On inching closer to 30.

39 days after my last post was undeniably the biggest day of my life. I crossed that finish line in Langkawi, my family and friends cheered, tears of joy were streaming down my face, and I was walking on clouds! It was a phenomenal feeling, a sense of accomplishment so great, I even went on to write a book about it. In the world of Ironmen and Ironwomen, it’s not that great of an achievement, but in the world of Me, that’s pretty huge.

Now what? These days I feel a little hollow on the inside. It’s a strange and unsettling feeling, seeing that my hay days are no where near coming to an end. Heck, in 6 months I’m marrying the love of my life, something I have been dreaming of ever since I knew the meaning of boy girl relationships. I should be thrilled and enthusiastic about the months to come and the life ahead of me.

I am happy, though. Happy with what life has given me, with the people around me and the daily shindigs I get to dabble in. I am happy. But is it possible to be happy, yet…blank? I feel like I struggle to find meaning to train any more. Is that me being burnt out? Or is that just me being lazy? And not just that, I feel a little hopeless, to be honest. Hopeless that the economy of my country is rollercoasting downhill and I can’t do anything about it. Hopeless that impending hard times are unavoidable and I don’t have the smarts to grow my funds and guarantee sustainable living for myself in the future.

And I feel bored. I yearn to go bungy jumping, or abseiling, or white water rafting, or DO SOMETHING. It’s been so long since I had an adventure of any sort, something with uncertainties, something with a little bit of danger. I feel like I’m in dire need of solo backpacking, or adventure racing or just going for a nice camping trip.

Is this what post Ironman depression feels like? I read somewhere that people go through that. Or is this some quarter life turning-30 crisis thing? I don’t like seeing a number 3 in front of my age. Or is this just cold feet? (Technically we’re already married, and at that time I couldn’t be happier to sign the papers). Is the wedding THAT big a deal?

Yesterday while driving, I almost cried. CRIED! Tell me that’s not depression. What did I cry about? About the fact that I am no longer a hot, strong triathlete rockin’ it. Haha! Humour me please, even if you never thought so. :) It is blasphemy, but I almost cried when I thought about it. About how my glory days are over, the best has come and gone.

So silly right? Thank God Gary was there to hug me and cheer me up and got me laughing again in no time. I think I scared him. Does this mean I am predisposed to depression later in life?

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T-39 days to the Big Eagle

It’s just a little over a month to Ironman. I had initially wanted to write a post with my thoughts about my whole journey at exactly 30 days to Ironman, but I happen to have some free time right now, and my notebook is fully charged right this very moment, so I figured why not now.

It’s been roughly 8 months since I started my “Road to Ironman” adventure. I had toyed with the idea of taking part in what seemed like an insanely difficult task for a few years now, though I always brushed it off with a laugh at precisely how insane and impossible that idea seemed. My brother, Kevin, has done it numerous times and seemed to love the sport very much. I have had my fair share of Olympic distance triathlons and have uttered the words “I will never do an Ironman” a few times. So what changed?

I guess it all changed last year, when Ironman came back to our shores. After a 4 year hiatus, Ironman Malaysia came back with a bang, and as soon as the registration opened, everybody jumped on that bandwagon. At that time I was still in the state of mind that I will never ever do an Ironman. It was just way too far out of my league. Little did I know, though, that my mind would be changed by the people around me very very quickly.

To cut to the chase, my friends who bike and run were all signed up for this big event and suddenly I was immersed in the Ironman conversation day in and day out. Externally, I shook my head when I read or hear about the training sessions they put themselves through but in my head, something chipped away at the mental wall I had built inside, and slowly I felt a desire to be one of them. I have always had a competitive streak in me and I couldn’t help but think that if my friends could do it, so could I. That’s right, I could do an Ironman, I totally could!

But even for someone like myself, who usually wings it, I was a little wary of the amount of work I would have to put in to survive the Ironman. I am no longer 21 years old and I knew (as much as I try to deny it) that I couldn’t just rock up and swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42km with no physical and mental preparation whatsoever. This is a different ball game.

So in April 2014, I completed the 70.3 Ironman Putrajaya. It was painful. But the satisfaction was indescribable. I knew for sure, then, that the full Ironman is no joke. But I was prepared to take it on. I started to take training a little more seriously from then, with the support and help from Gary and my big brother. I knew I wasn’t ready to do it in 2014. I wasn’t ready to give up so much time for it, yet.

Come 2015, February, as Chinese New Year rolls out of the picture, I decided I was ready. I was going to start taking my training seriously. I was going to set some rules, plan some routines, and told my fiance that if I wailed and whined, he would just need to say “Suck it up, Buttercup” and tell me to stick to it. And this happened on many occasions, to be honest. *oops*

The progression of my training was slow. I started up with just a bike trainer session once a week. Then I ventured into adding a swim session in on a weekly basis. As time went on, I got in long rides on the weekends. Did my first 3-digit ride with my friends, and then did a few more until 3-digit rides became the norm.

It wasn’t until I finally signed up for the race in June, when sh*t actually got real. I don’t really remember how, but suddenly it was minimum 1 hour training every day, 2 trainer days a week, 2 swim days a week, long rides on weekends and just finding time to swim, bike or run whenever I get some free time. Gone were my naps, gone were my breakfast out with mom and dad, gone were watching tv series on my notebook. I was so tired at the end of every week, Monday just seemed impossible to wake up to. I was on the brink of burning out, and much sooner than I expected.

I know myself very well, and I am not afraid to admit that I am lacking in discipline when it comes to training. Hence, to make it even 3 months long, I think that is quite a feat. I love keeping fit and working out, but I also love relaxing and having down, low key times. So it got too difficult too fast and many times I found myself cursing this Ironman and what it has done to my life. But I usually try to take 3 deep breaths and thank the stars above for sending me kind, patient and loving Gary who bears the brunt of all my worst days and still sticks around to see me pull through.

So that leads me to here. Now. 8 months into my “Road to Ironman”. Am I still training like a maniac? Mm…not really anymore. Is it time to taper down already? Probably not, still got 5 weeks. But I am cutting myself some slack for my mental health. I am doing okay. I have worked hard and the results are showing in my performances in the past couple of 113km races. I am cycling better and running stronger. I complain less about the water. I’m on track even though I know I could do more.

Right now I just want to do my best, without sacrificing my life, and my job. I need to work to make a living and I need to spend some time planning for other aspects of my life. But am I still Ironman focused? You bet.

And on November 14th, 2015, I will cross that finish line, and I’m gonna be an Ironman. Don’t believe me, just watch. =)

Categories: Because I love me, Ironman, Muscles, Run! | 1 Comment

113 Bukit Merah International Triathlon 2015

All throughout last week I was searching through cyber-space for my past blog entry which told the story of my first encounter in Bukit Merah. I know I had taken part in a tri here before, but what distance, which year, I really could not remember, until I finally found it, my blog post entitled Red Hill Biathlon & Triathlon. Year 2007, it was, and I was a wee 21 year old, still holding on to my baby chubs, as you can see from the photos then. I’ll put one here for you. Don’t laugh. :)

In the comments on that post, I think I made several promises to my friends to do a full Olympic Distance Tri someday. So 8 years later, I returned to Bukit Merah, not to do an OD, but in fact to do my 4th 113km (or 70.3 mile) triathlon. It’s pretty cool when I think about it. =)

Okay, race report! I’ll keep it simple.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect much out of this, because I have been working pretty hard on my bike, and I know that my run has improved too. But I dared not say it aloud because expectations are killjoys, and I was much happier not expecting anything and treating this as just another triathlon training session for the Ironman. I had my big brother Kevin with me at this race, and that’s always a nice change. My brother is a bit of a superstar in the tri arena, and I always feel proud to be walking next to him. :)

Got there after lunch in Taiping, checked in, and my brother said “Let’s go try out the route a little bit”. Everyone I met along the way had mentioned about the BIG HILL just outside. So Gary, my brother and myself hopped on our bikes and went to check it out. They weren’t kidding. 22% incline, about 2 km up and another 2 km down. And we had to do this 4 times. I laughed for lack of anything else to say because the next day was going to be EPIC.

Sunday morning, I got up at 5 to get ready. I was feeling okay, slightly nervous but mostly calm. I kept telling myself to treat it as training, and to just do my best, because, that’s what it should be. If I did better than expected, then it is a bonus and a testament to my training. The race started late (again), and it was a mass start. I stayed behind and swam my breaststroke comfortably, trying not to kick anyone (too hard). I had a pretty dreamy swim though. My head was filled with thoughts, and I constantly found myself thinking of work, thinking of wedding plans, thinking of so many other things BUT the fact that I am actually racing! So I knew that I wasn’t clocking on PBs on this swim, and when I finally came out of the water I checked my watch and realised I did about 51 minutes. Oh well. It’s just training. I heard Kanan, the MC saying “First female youth out of the water!” And I went, “wait..whaaaaat?”

11999645_966311433421639_1712154377576261711_oPhoto courtesy of SeanWorld Of Marathon

Ran to the transition area and wiped my face, squirt some water, wore my gloves, socks, shoes, helmet and stuffed all the gels into my pockets. I came out of the water with a few others, one of them even thanked me for swimming breaststroke as he had used me to navigate. I was trying to go out on the bike as fast as I could because I knew that all these guys will be passing by me in less than 20 minutes.

Hopped onto my bike and braced myself for the first climb. Andrew said to me, try moving zigzag to tackle the hill. Okay! So I zigzagged my way up the incline, and to my surprise it felt much more doable now. On the downhill, my fingers were held firmly on the brakes. Once we got to the bottom, it was a long straightforward route with gentle rolling hills. And though this might favour most people, I personally find routes like this to my disadvantage. I am not a fast cyclist, but I have the mental strength to push myself up any hill you throw at me. So I lose out on a flat terrain because I ride on average 27-28kph only (though its a huge improvement from my 23-24kph 6 months ago). I saw my brother at the side, and I had a sinking feeling he had pulled out of the race. He assured me he was okay though, so I had to wait till later to ask what happened. Anyway, as predicted, many people called out my name and zoomed past me and I just smiled. “Just enjoy the race, Karen” was all I could say in my thoughts. The bike route made us go through that insane hill another 3 more times, and I saw many hop off their bikes to push them up. I refused to. I stayed on my saddle all the time, and made it into Transition2 quite happily. The bike course was a little short – 85 km. But I guess what it lacked in distance was completely made up by that crazy hill x 4! I clocked 3:29, definitely a PB for me! :)12006579_1086002641418861_2035543873911157964_o

Photo courtesy of Running Malaysia

Off the bike, and saw my parents. Changed to my shoes, grabbed my visor, and off I went. I started my run pretty strong. I was feeling great, doing a 5:30 pace! It wasn’t long till I saw my brother running and he did a u-turn and ran alongside me. Although I was happy to run with him, immediately I felt a slight increase in intensity. But still manageable. Gary joined us for a bit, but soon he stopped to take photos of our friends, while my brother continued to run with me. At one point, I noticed our pace was 5:17! Okay, time to bring it down a notch. After 1 loop, he was done and I went on the second loop solo. I kept my pace to the best I could. I saw Gary again and he was my motivator. I ran steadily, even though my pace had gone down to 5:59. As long as I could keep it under 6!

I finally crossed the finish line in 6 hours 34 minutes! I saw Nik poised at the Finish at his camera and I made one giant leap of joy to cap it off! Happy, I am. :) What made it more awesome, was totally winning it! 1st place baby! Haha, to be honest, my esteemed competitors were all not present, and there were only 5 participants in my age group. But a win is a win, and I’ll take it any time. :)

11942298_10153095405712322_7329304301549027529_oPhoto courtesy of Nik Fahusnaza

Now, I’ve only got Kuala Terengganu Marathon, Port Dickson Triathlon and Melaka Century ride coming up. And then, in only 66 days from now #imgonnabeanironman.

Would like to thank my family, mom & dad and brother and Gary for their love and support! Thanks also to N8Endurance by Egonutrition for the race nutrition and gels, Compressport Malaysia for the awesome candy coloured calf sleeves, RSH Malaysia for the Saucony Isofit Zealot (best tri running shoes ever!), LifelineID for the peace of mind (especially in such crazy terrains), J Cycles Garage for the carbon wheels which helped me fly and all friends and supporters present! You guys rock!

Categories: Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Run! | Leave a comment

Desaru 113 International Triathlon 2015

The Desaru 113 triathlon happened earlier this year (June) than it did last year (August), so it definitely doesn’t feel like enough time has passed since we last bundled ourselves into a car and drove many hours down to this little town called Bandar Penawar in Johor. With the memory of last year’s race still quite fresh in my mind, I had a bittersweet feeling this time around when I was Desaru-bound with Doc and Bryan.

Last year was painful, to say the least, with me bonking on the bike route, and crying as I went out on the running leg because I was in so much pain. But this year, I knew it was going to be different. I had put in a lot more training this year, and although still not quite enough for Ironman, I was confident I could do a lot better this year in Desaru.

So come Saturday morning, I was excited and raring to go. I remember making a mental note to myself that, it didn’t matter if the route is over distanced (as was the case last year), I was going to give it my best, because I felt I was strong enough this morning.

Swim
At about 7.27 am according to my watch, we were flagged off. The tide was much higher than it was last year. I ran towards the water, but held back a little to let the faster swimmers go ahead. Strangely, I didn’t have the same fears I had about swimming last time. Jumping into the water felt somewhat familiar, another testament to my training paying off! I begun my first few strokes of breaststroke, and then when it got a little too crowded, I switched to free style to get past some of the bigger slower guys. It worked last time, it worked ever more brilliantly this time round, as my front crawl strokes have gotten a lot stronger too. I should also mention that the water was SO CLEAR. THE CLEAREST  I had ever swum in in a triathlon event. I could see everyone swimming around me too. I saw Doc and Bryan close by. I tried to keep close to them. Towards the end of the first loop I saw Lini swimming next to me! However, throughout the second loop I kept kicking her with my breaststroke kicks! (Sorry, Lini!) Kept on swimming as hard as I could till I was turning around the final buoy and towards the finish! When I got onto the shore, I checked my watch and it was 8.14. YES! (Improvement #1)

Coming out from the swim leg, huffing and puffing. Photo credit: Shanaz

Bike
Ran into the transition area and despite feeling quite happy, I was also feeling quite spent! I told myself to take it a notch down, lest I end up bonking again. Grabbed my little sweet potatoes and 1 Accel gel, and off I went on my bike.

Heading out onto the bike leg, with my CO2 canistor adapter thing in my race belt, looking like amo. Photo credit: LifelineID

Legs were feeling pretty strong. I drew on the memory of my trainer sessions, and how hard I know I can push. averaging 28-29 kph was a lot more doable this time. This brought a smile to me. :) I drank my N8 Endurance mix from my bottle, and rode until I go onto the flat, straight road. I then proceeded to rip off the first Accel gel from my bar. I felt strangely full at this point, probably from all the water I had been drinking. But I was feeling really good about myself. Kept on going strong until the start of the rolling hills. Shifted my gears and tried to maintain my cadence on the uphill. As I rolled onto the downhill slopes, I pedaled with the momentum, and carried on strongly onto the next hill, and then the next. This felt so good, to finally feel that I am somewhat a cyclist now! I didn’t feel like I was a struggling runner, feeling extremely uncoordinated with this machine between my legs. For once, I felt like I was actually riding my bike well, and I felt so proud of myself. It wasn’t long before I saw the u-turn at the end of the loop. With a happy frame of mind, I continued to push hard on my pedals all the way back, and onto the second loop. Throughout the way I ate 3 of my sweet potatoes and drank almost all of my N8 Endurance. It wasn’t until I was halfway heading back that I decided to take my 2nd Surge gel. The weather slowly changed and it started to rain. My bike meter was showing 85 km and I knew damn well that there was definitely more than 5 km left of the bike route. This route was over distanced by at least 5 km! At this point Alvin came up next to me on the bike and offered to let me draft him. I took him up on his offer for a while, but soon decided against it because for a fleeting moment, I thought that maybe I could actually get a podium finish in this race (Drafting is illegal in triathlons, so I didn’t want to risk getting disqualified). I soon laughed it off, because that thought was hilarious, but I told Alvin to go ahead anyway because I was still feeling pretty strong, and wanted to see how well I can go without drafting.

In the rain, I knew there was not much to go, so I pedaled continuously. I checked my meter at some point and noticed the distance of 93km and at that time the timer showed 3:31 minutes! (Improvement #2) This was enough to spur me on till I saw the roundabout and then all the way to home base.

Run
Last year I had a giant knot in my throat as I went onto the run because I really wanted to give up. I was crying but did not have enough energy to actually cry, hence no tears actually came. This year, though, I was so excited to get on the run. I changed into my Saucony Virratas, had a quick swig of water, and off I went, smiling from ear to ear. Apple came and spoke to me and wished me good luck, knowing that this was my favourite part of the race! The rain has also stopped by then. Perfect.

My mind was so focused I even remembered to start my Garmin, let it calibrate, and then start the run mode. I felt like I was running on wind. I saw that I was doing a 5:05 pace in the first km and almost laughed! This is not good. I had to slow down. Next km, I did 5:10. Next one, 5:16. I wondered how long could I sustain this. Not long, though, I found. As soon as the my legs hit the gradual incline, my pace slowed down tremendously. I started to feel strangely weak. Soon after, I had the most uneasy feeling of my period coming. Shit, this cannot be happening. I didn’t know for sure, but all I knew was from the moment I suspected that had happened, everything changed. I started to feel cramps in my lower abs. I started to get a headache. My body grew weaker and weaker with every step and I was slowly feeling more and more pain in my feet. From here on, I tried my best to shut those feelings out of my head and focus on the run. Seeing friends on the run and getting little thumbs up, nods, and cheers helped me push through. I tried to maintain a pace of 6:00 but there were moments where I slowed to walk, especially on the big uphill. I would take about 10 steps before I egged myself on to run again. I saw Vignesh, Bryan and Indran finishing strong on the other side and kept telling myself to keep going so I can try and catch these guys. I knew it was far fetched but anything to motivate me right now would be good. I saw David stalling at a water station on the second loop and I said to myself, “Go catch up with him, and tap him on the shoulder. He’s gonna be so surprised to see u!” And that, I did. After that I said “Now don’t let him catch up!”. And that was what kept me running the next 6 km or so. Running by the Bunanamo guys felt good as well as Rupert, Alp, Yip and Jane cheered me on. :)

Getting cheered on by Team Bunanamo! Photo credit: Alp (I think)

One last u-turn, and then all the way back. I pulled up into Lotus Desaru, started running down the finishing route, and then I saw it. The clock. The timer. It was 6:59:47. I had less than 15 seconds to run about 50 m to make it under 7 hours. So I sprinted! As hard and as strong as my legs could, I sprinted and crossed the finish line just a second under 7 hours. Yue Jin was there to snap my finishing photo and I was beyond elated.

“HOMAIGOD I DID IT!” Photo credit: Shanaz

The Finish
What happened after that had never happened to me before. So, I continued walking after the finish line to get my medal and stuff, and then a sudden wave of weakness swept over my body. I leaned onto the table and felt my throat tightening. I thought I was going to cry again, and Yue Jin was next to me and asking me if I was okay. I nodded to say I was, but I actually couldn’t breathe. There was a huge ball in my throat and I couldn’t breathe at all. I started to hyperventilate and found that it was difficult to walk. Yue Jin started to call the medic, and I was led to the bed when I sat. Still gasping for air, the medic took my pulse and I saw 160 at first. They then put a bag over my mouth and asked me to breathe into it. They said “Miss you’re hyperventilating, please slow down your breathing”. So I tried to do that. Slowly, my pulse went down to about 115, and then to 90. I breathed a little deeper and slower and felt a lot better.

That was my little drama. Hahaha…I don’t know what happened, but it was kinda scary. I had never felt like that before in any of my races. I suspect it was an effect of the caffeine in the gel. That, coupled with the excitement of breaking my personal best, and the exhaustion of it all, and having my period at the same time, must have thrown my whole body out of whack.

Anyway, it was an epic race. I gave it a good shot, and am damn proud for doing so well, if I should say so myself. Thank you LifelineID for keeping me safe and giving me peace of mind. Thank you Compressport for my quad sleeves (for recovery) and calf sleeves (people now identify me with it). Thank you N8 ENdurance for preventing the bonk. Thank you Saucony for really good running shoes. And thank you everyone for the support and the inspiration!

Categories: Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Run!, What's happening inside my body? | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

twenty.fifteen.

It’s the last day of May and I do realize it has been ages since I last blogged anything. It’s the year 2015, so I guess blogging is considered vintage in this age. I’m sitting on my bed listening to a playlist called “Quiet Evening” on Spotify – something to show the kind of mood I am in right this moment. It has been a really long time since I have written a journal entry of any sort, and this is evident in my inability to let the words just flow through. I am constantly hitting the backspace key, something I really shouldn’t be doing considering I am simply typing out my thoughts. Anyway…I think I’ve written way too much to start with already. Getting to the point…

It’s the year 2015, and I am feeling gracious. I am officially 29 years and 20 days old. I am the owner of Kia Kaha Fitness and last I checked, my company is still making a profit, albeit a conservative one. I work with a fun and interesting bunch of people in the industry of my dreams. I am finally sitting at my preferred body weight, God knows how long I’ve been trying to get down to this. I am doing half Ironman triathlons, and on my way to achieving full Ironman status soon. I am wearing a diamond ring on my fourth finger. My man, the love of my life, is in some obscure part of another country right now, but he calls me every day and tells me he loves me. Life is good to me. And I can’t be more grateful for all the things life has given me.

I try to be humble. I try to be modest. But the truth is I feel so damn lucky to have all the things I have now. The road I have traveled isn’t one that was pain-free, but it is the road that led me to here and now.

So, resolutions…There are 7 more months in 2015, starting tomorrow. And in this 7 months, there is plenty on my plate to achieve. A full Ironman. A new camp project. Maybe get some new wheels (car as well as bike). Internally, too, I have much to work on and better. To be more disciplined, for sure. To learn more, each and every day. To give more to those who need it. To love more, especially the ones who love me. To do my best to keep in touch with my closest friends. And of course, to plan a kick arse wedding. :)

Categories: Because I love me | Tags: | Leave a comment

Being ID’d

I’ve always been a slow rider on my road bike and people tend to say, “You just need more practise, more mileage!”, which is probably true, except that I spend a lot of the time during these rides with these he-kudas and she-kudas (male and female horses…or stallions) riding by my lonesome because I struggle to keep up with them. This is something which deters me from riding as I fear a whole list of things that I imagine would happen to me in that lonely time. Stuff like, I could crash and nobody would know until probably an hour later when they have been waiting at the check point long enough and have not seen me. Or I could have been kidnapped or assaulted by a deranged motorcyclist and the nearest rider to me is nowhere within earshot of my screams. Or I could have just passed out from sheer exhaustion (probably most likely by my riding fitness level, when compared with these lot).

So, no, I don’t fancy riding very much when my head goes through this train of thoughts.

Something to calm my nerves a little though, is being ID’d. In other words, having an ID on me with my details, like blood type, and emergency contact numbers, does help me to feel a little safer, knowing that at least if anything were to happen, the people who find me will be able to contact a next of kin.

Lifeline-ID gave me the chance to try one of their ID wrist bands out and this was the one I chose – a Blue colour Lineline PRO. This ID band is a silicone wrist band which has a stainless steel clasp, and it allows you to customize the size to fit your wrist/ankle. I realised, after Yue-Jin (the owner) handed mine to me, that I have a pretty tiny wrist, so, a regular free sized- wrist band would probably have been too loose for me. I know what you’re thinking, all that metal clasp thingy, wouldn’t that rust or gather dirt or give your chaffing on your skin? I thought the same thing too.

LifelineID Karen

I took it out on several occasions; once for my daily work which is training people which means sweat from not only me, but other people can get to it. Once I brought it cycling for about 3 hours, doing an 80 something km ride (I told you I am slow). And just this past weekend I brought it into the trails at the Action Asia Otterbox Salomon trail run in Janda Baik, where the mud went knee high, and we crossed 2 streams that were about the level of my thighs and you can bet I sweat bucket loads. After each event, I would just give it a quick rinse under the tap and then leave it to dry.

And no, it hasn’t rusted in any way. The clasp still works perfectly. And there is not a single tinge of sweat or mud smell on it. It’s pretty rock solid! No chaffing either, as all the edges of the metal clasp and ID tag are nice and smooth and tapered down (don’t know how to describe it but it’s nice and smooth la).

I think that it’s a pretty sweet piece of gear to wear, especially in today’s world of endurance athletes. We are definitely pushing our limits every week, and nothing thrills us more than a nice heart pumping training session. Our family and loved ones are the people who sit at home and worry about us when we are out doing all this crazy, so I think it is important that we let them know that they are the first people who will be notified in case of an emergency. =)

There are many other ID styles, for more info, do check out www.lifeline-id.com. :)

Categories: Because I love me, Burn burn burn!, Run! | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

113K Desaru Triathlon

I am usually pretty rash when it comes to signing up for races. In the sense that I rarely give it much thought. But for this particular race, I think at the back of my head I somehow felt invincible. I had completed the Putrajaya Ironman 70.3 and although it was the most challenging event I had ever gone through, I made it to the finish line and I was so sure I can do it again. That was the gels and caffeine talking, though. Truth be told, I was signing myself up for a lot of pain I was actually not quite ready to take on again. Fast forward to Friday, 16th August. We’re in the car together, Rupert, Gary and I, along with Doc and Phuitin in the next car, making our way down to Desaru. If I could say what the second best thing about racations are (second to crossing the finish line, of course) it’s the company. Road trippin with a bunch of cool kats definitely makes things really fun and memorable.

20140815_145643Ending up in Johor Premium Outlet, “by accident”. Sure.

Saturday morning, Race Day. The tide was apparently low when we got there. the buoys have not even been put in place yet, and at this very moment, the sea looked calm. I was a little nervous, the usual race anxiety. I figured whatever doubt I had was useless at this point because it’s too late! I was already there, standing on a shore I was about to run out off and endure 7 hours of hardcore sweating subsequently. Meh. Let’s do this. A little bit before 8 am, 7.56 am on my watch, we were flagged off. Mass start, which meant that I was swimming alongside big, burly men who may or may not necessarily be very fast swimmers. I realised soon that in this race, many of them were pretty noob swimmers like myself also. Because after swimming tirelessly for 15 minutes, I was still amidst huge boulder arms and legs and getting kicked in the face and gut over and over again. Urgh. Dislike. The water also got a lot choppier out in the sea. On the plus side, I devised a new method of “crawling” through the big guys if I am stuck, that is to pull a couple of quick front crawl strokes and snake my way through them, just to get past them, before going back into my breast strokes. On the down side, I saw many cheaters! Ah, but they’re only cheating themselves. :) I submerged from the water next to Fook! :) I looked down at my watch as I was running up the beach and I saw 8.46 am. 50 minutes, for 2 km of open water swimming, I smiled in satisfaction. =)

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I was dying to pee. Try as I might, I could not pee in the sea. HAHA! So I decided to be all lady like and run to the restaurant’s washroom on the way to the transition area. Then it’s straight to my bike. I was a little thrown off balance, maybe by my toilet pit stop. Legs a little wobbly, I tried to unload my bike from the stand and lost my footing, almost crashing on my bum. Then I realised I have not even put my shoes, sunnies, or anything on. Smart, Karen. Racked my bike again, quick towel off, socks on, bike shoes on, sunnies on, gloves on (yes i take time to wear socks and gloves), stuffed my potatoes and one gel into my pockets, squirt of water, and off I go! I was dreading the bike leg as it had 3 loops! I hate loops. But there’s no room for hatred. Energy better spent cranking em wheels! Riding out felt good and strong. I waited till I had ridden about 8 km before I started to eat my potato. Like I had imagined, it tasted delicious! :) It kept me happy. Going out I was going really fast and I realised it was because I had lovely tailwind to thank. Got to the u-turn, and made my way back. This was hard. Headwinds from hell made it a loooong ride back. And I got to do this 2 more times? Oh boy. At the U turn to get back on the second loop, I saw Gary snapping away and felt happy. In so many ways, this guy is my rock :) Helped pushed me on to my second loop. It was during this time I was starting to feel uneasy. My tummy was starting to feel bloated and a little upset. Hm…ride it off, I thought. Downed a gel, and tried to ride on the tailwind out, getting as much good time as possible. On the turnaround point, I was feeling pretty weak. I don’t know if it was my tummy, or the fact that I was already feeling pretty exhausted, either way I didn’t know how I was going to survive the 3rd loop. I decided to eat my last potato, hoping it would keep me going a little further. Riding in loops has one advantage though, seeing your mates, whether faster or slower than you. Encouragement is found where encouragement is given. I managed to steal a short ride in a peloton (Although it was illegal to draft, but I was so slow, it probably didn’t quite matter, I was not stealing any podiums). Onto the 3rd loop and my tummy was giving me a lot of grief. I could almost feel something coming up my throat, so I stopped by the side to see if I could throw something up. A lot of retching happened but nothing came up of it. So I hopped back on the bikeand just pummeled through. 5 km later, I started retching on the bike. Again, i hopped off and tried to get it out. Nothing. Annoyed and feeling really uneasy, I hopped back onto the bike and made up my mind to just pushed on till I see the end. I shall decide whether or not to carry on when I reach base.10476091_10202624056626221_8893712908357974058_o It was showing 90 km on my bike meter when I could see nothing but a looongg steep hill up ahead. I was so disappointed at this point. My body was shivering in pain and exhaustion right now, and yet the finish was no where in sight. Nevermind, ride back and u can complain to them! Pedaled and pedaled and pedaled, and finally at 93.8 km I was back at Lotus Desaru. I was feeling really crappy. It was Putrajaya all over again. I wanted so much to quit. Tears started to flow as I sat on the floor and put my running shoes on. But I knew quitting was the stupidest thing I could do right now. Just get back on your feet, Karen, it’ll all be over soon. (I talk to myself a lot in races). I saw some friends as I walked out of the transition area. My throat was tightening up because I was crying, so talking to them was a challenge. I don’t even know why I was crying. To be honest, I was crying not because I was sad, but because I was in pain, and it was an involuntary cry. I needed to get started again, but somehow my legs felt like concrete bricks and it was just not happening. So I think I walked for about 500 m before I decided to slowly start jogging again. Gary was next to me and he was my only source of strength at this point in time. Had he not been by my side I doubt I would have started running. Anyhow, running is my favourite leg, and if I did not try to savour it, I would’ve missed the opportunity to enjoy the best part of triathlons, that is, overtaking other runners. I am a hopeless swimmer, an ever more pathetic cyclist, but my legs are my best machine and in them, I trust. Slowly but surely, I trudged on and eventually I found my pace – the speed at which I knew that there was no stopping. To me, I said, let’s bring this home, Karen. The amusing thing about my run was meeting Jimmy, who recognised me as the girl with the devil horns in the Standard Chartered marathon 2 years ago. He had sent me a message that time to say he drew motivation from watching me run past him then, and I remember being very touched by his message. So when he came up next to me in Desaru and said “Where is your devil headgear?” I was really surprised! We chatted a good 20 minutes after that, he was entertaining me with his interesting stories. It was good! We covered good distance in that time, so thanks Jimmy!
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In the 3rd and final run loop, I was numb to any pain there was. The scorching sun didnt even matter anymore. I was ready to go home. I had a peek at my watch and figured if I ran fast enough I could possibly make it under 7 hours. I tried. One last push, Karen. I tried. 10575158_10202624501597345_152859742150202516_o

I came in at 3.01pm. Which meant I took 7 hours 5 minutes. Well, considering the bike and swim routes were overdistance by 100m and 4km respectively, I managed to finish in a better time than I did in Putrajaya, I guess it is safe for me to say I have improved. =) Ah, the joy of crossing the finishing line! Nothing ever feels sweeter! :)10514418_10202624501917353_4381893341598644822_o10541424_10202624502437366_2280514190569438003_o

So I’m done with triathlons for this year. And I honestly feel super glad. I think I would really like to go back to my other fun hobbies. Like shopping or something. HA!

Categories: Because I love me, Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Run! | 1 Comment

Ironman 70.3 | Putrajaya

Despite feeling antsy all day the day before, I slept like a baby from 10.30 pm till 4.30 am. I woke up feeling pretty good, calm and chilled out. As if it was just another day. I think at this time, the thought of doing a whole 70.3 Ironman has not quite sunk into me. Not even when I was carrying all my stuff that I packed the night before into the car – the bike pump, bike shoes, swimming bag, everything. Not even when I was already IN my trisuit. I felt nothing.

Got to race site, and started arranging all my stuff at the transition area. I was still so sleepy and blur that I had forgotten my race belt and number when I left the transition area. I was chit chatting with Gary and my parents. Even took potatoes from Gary (the sweetie made me race snacks!) and placed them back next to my bike. Then only had a last minute look in my bag pack before handing it in to baggage storage, and noticed my race belt sitting in there. Ran back to transition and placed it there. Phew!

It wasn’t until Gary wished me good luck, and I said “See ya later” to my parents, did I suddenly realise, “Holy Sh*t, later could be more than 7 hours from now!”. I put my swim cap on and suddenly felt a whole lot more nervous than I did in the morning. All of a sudden I wished I trained more, I wished I ate more yesterday, I wished I slept more, I wished I DID NOT SIGN UP. #sweat

But friends were there, all happy and jolly and rearing to go, so I tried to soak it all up and brace myself for what lay ahead. Little did I know, I had NO IDEA what I was in for.

Swim

The SWIM start was delayed. So what was supposed to have been a 7:41 am start became an 8:01 am start for my age group. It was a deep water start, and considering I had not traded in water in centuries, I quickly took note of the fact that a bit a practise, even trading water, could be handy. It took me a while to realise what I needed to do.

Ready, set, GO, and we were off. I caught a glimpse of my watch and it showed 8:02 am. One of the good things about starting with all the women is that less of these big burly men will come slapping me in the face and kicking me in my gut. But that being said, it didn’t take long before the guys from the next wave caught up with my tortoise speed and started jabbing into my sides without so much as a “hello”. haha…

Anyhoo, I kept swimming, swimming, swimming. This was a distance I have NEVER swum before. I repeat, NEVER. the max I have ever done is 1.5 km and that was probably once in a triathlon some years back. In training, I’d be lucky if I got 1 km in. I just dread it. But there’s one thing I am quite good at, and that’s keeping going during race day, so as not to “lose face”. Heh. It was a LOOOONGGG swim. I remember seeing the buoy and thinking to myself, “oh, that’s not too bad. I can totally do this” before realising that was the buoy to turn back to the transition, and that the second and 3rd turnaround buoy were so far away I could not see them yet. This is where I go “Happy thoughts, Karen, happy thoughts”.

Some time later, I finally make my final right turn at the 4th buoy and it was all hi-speed strokes from now on. (A least as hi-speed as my arms could manage). I swam as hard as I could and got myself, clumsily, onto the pontoon at the finish. Checked my watch and saw 8:54 am. Boy, was I pleased!!

BIKE

Onto my trusted bike! Strapped on my shoes and guess what? The velcro strap on my left shoe breaks. GREAT! Haha…nvm, at least still got one strap, just strap on, eat gel, wear glasses, wear gloves, wear helmet, stuff gels and potatoes into pockets and go, go, go! With my shoe’s velcro strap flapping in the wind…

I felt good! A little winded from the swim, but good. Can pedal well. Weather was great! I drank my Gatorade and went on my way. First loop was good. I was almost at the end when I realised I was finishing it well under my 2 hour target. I knew then I was going to do my bike leg in under 4 hours. I was determined to do so.

The second loop wasn’t so forgiving though. The sun was high up in the sky and my back was starting to hurt. The soreness in my lower back was becoming more obvious and I was starting to suffer. I was chewing on my second potato and had already taken my gels at 60 km and I was on the verge of giving up. I felt a strange feeling coursing through my body – a sudden weakening of my limbs. I think this must be what Gary calls “Bonk already”. I bonked. Hard. And I had freakin’ 25 km to go.  I kept bouncing back and forth between giving up after my bike ride, or carrying on. I was so sure I had no more energy left to run. But I tried my very best to push those thoughts aside and concentrate on finishing my bike.

Slowly and painfully I finished off the clicks one by one until I finally came back to the transition area. I was still unsure about running. Until it came to me. I spent 200 freakin USD on this race so I am going home with a damn medal! And that decision was final.

Seeing Gary at the end was definitely inspiring and it made me push off on a strong run!

RUN

Running has always been my forte. Or so I thought. Running AFTER swimming 1.9km AND riding 90 km was a different story. Throw the scorching mid day sun burning at about 40 degrees C above your head to top it off and you got yourself a long, painful 21km to go. I started off okay, with my new Garmin watch showing me that I was doing an average of 5.40 to 6.00 minute pace. Right up till about 4 km. Again a wave of fatigue started to wash over me and I recognize the horrible feeling of “hitting the wall”. My feet felt like bricks. I found it difficult to even hold my body upright, I was dragging my sorry bum through the route and it felt miserable. I chugged down isotonic drinks at the next drink station and ate another gel and found temporary relief from the pain after that. It worked for about the next 4km or so but soon after that I felt sluggish again. I pep talked myself all through the way, hoping to see friends I know so I can divert my attention away from the pain.

Finishing the first loop was tough, but the second loop was a nightmare. My only motivation was getting that medal and seeing my parents and Gary at the end. My feet were in so much pain. Just. A. Little. Bit. More. was all I could chant to myself. I spotted Phuitin and tried to egg her on, motivating myself in the process. I then spotted Warren as well, and they ran with me for a while. I tried to chat up some European guys (unfortunately the slow ones aren’t the best looking ones :P). And finally I saw it. The bridge. The 20km sign. The FINISH LINE.

Oh the sweet sweet smell of VICTORY! I could not describe with mere words how I felt when I ran through the Finish. It was heavenly. I saw my parents, I saw my friends, I saw Gary. It was the best moment ever. :D
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The Ironman 70.3 was an extremely humbling experience. I now know the amount of hard work needed to complete and excel in this sport. I now look up to full-blown IronMen (My brother being the God of them all) in awe and admiration. Will I attempt the full IronMan? At this moment it feels like that’s asking for too much. I don’t think I am mentally prepared for such an event. I can’t even figure out what I would like to train tomorrow, let alone for the next whole year. I will leave that race for a time when I am mentally prepared, and have got about 15 grand lying around to buy a new TT bike :P

Categories: Burn burn burn!, Muscles, Run! | 3 Comments

The Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2013

This year’s Standard Chartered KL Marathon signified my 11th full marahon. I had big hopes for this one, seeing that I recently managed to clock just a minute over 4 hours in the Malaysian Women’s Marathon. I had never been able to do a sub 4 hour marathon time in my home country Malaysia, but have managed to achieve it twice in New Zealand. Thus, I had a goal to do a sub 4 hour marathon in the KL Marathon this year.

But alas, luck was not really on my side as I came down with a bout of salmonella poisoning a week ago which made me sick and unable to train for a whole week. Add that to the fact that I was given the amazing opportunity to open a booth in The Heart exhibition (more on this soon) the whole weekend of the race. I was pretty drained of energy come Sunday morning 4 am at Dataran Merdeka. I knew that a sub 4 was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

I was spot on. Cut short, I felt like the only fuel source I was running on were from the energy gels that I consumed every 10 kms. Even then, the energy I gained from each pack drained up within 7-8kms of running, leaving me to drag my feet along for the remaining 2-3 clicks before I consume another pack. I’ve never felt this exhausted before, my legs were heavy as bricks and my mind was weak as well.

Nonetheless, I was determined to finish it anything under 4 hours and a half, and so with every ounce of will power I had in the last 15 clicks or so, I pushed through and came in in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Crossing the finish line felt extremely bittersweet. :)

The Marathon has once again humbled me. The last few clicks were terribly agonizing but the satisfaction of not giving up is eternal. :) My Malaysian PB will just have to wait till next year.

Photography Credits: Mr. Chan WK

Categories: Run! | Tags: , | Leave a comment