Thursday, 6 October 2016

An Ironman At Last

Completing the full Ironman race (Swim 3.8km, cycle 180km, run 42km) has always been a dream of mine. Despite having completed 2 half-IRONMAN Official races in 2007 and 2011 (the year where I proposed to the wifey) and a triathlon this year in Malaysia, Desaru, I didn't have enough courage to challenge myself for the full distance IRONMAN Official race. To me, completing the distance wasn't a problem but to complete everything within 17 hours - that's tough. Every IRONMAN has his/her own story. Here's mine.

Olympia came along. As I watch her grow up everyday, I know I'm getting older each day too. As I watch her progress from crawling to walking to running, I know, it's now or never. And when she grows up, I want her to be able to tell her friends proudly, "My papa is an IRONMAN." Most importantly, I want to have a chapter in life which I can tell her about. 

I was waiting for a reason to do the full IRONMAN race. When I found my reason, I made my decision when Taiwan IRONMAN opened up for registration. I signed up and preparations went underway. I always tell my students, the journey is more important than the destination. At the end of the day, everyone will reach their destination. It's how much you will be able to learn, enjoy and appreciate the journey.

My IRONMAN journey & destination had some tough moments. Countless training sessions, countless arguments, countless tears & sweat. I'm a lucky man. I really am. Despite the number of arguments the wifey & I had with regards to my training, she always stood behind me, believing in me.

I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a coach. To manage these 3 roles simultaneously & to add in training sessions for my IRONMAN race, it was tough. A typical training session would start from 11pm to 1am, sometimes to 3am. A quick sleep & the sun rises, I'm back to my roles. Sometimes, a careless choice of words would lead to arguments. The wifey & I are just a normal couple like anyone out there. I'm really thankful to her for her understanding to achieve my dream.


During my pre-race preparations, I was faced with enormous amount of stress. That stress was enough to break me down & I was so scared that I almost told myself not to proceed. My new bike box delivery was delayed. My bicycle pedals broke. Not once, not twice but 3 times.  Talk about luck. The race was scheduled to be held in Penghu, Taiwan. The domestic airline that we were scheduled to be on did not allow me to check in my bike box due to miscommunication & we ended up paying a hefty amount just to have my bike box transported over.


It was optional to swim in a wet suit during race day. I opted not to wear it. It was 2 laps of the swim course. The current was really strong. During the 1st lap, the current was moving towards the right. During the 2nd lap, the current changed to the left. Just like life, nothing remains the same forever. 
Change is the only constant.

The bike course was the toughest. With the temperature peaking up to 40 degrees & no shade at all, it was a tough fight against the sun. Lots of hills to climb & I'm glad that I incorporated a lot of hill rides during my training. I planned to complete the whole race in 16 hours 59 mins. When I reached back to T2 (Bike In, Run Out) in 9 hours, I knew I was going to earn my bragging rights as an IRONMAN.

With more than 7 hours to go for my marathon, I decided that I shall stroll through the course and enjoy the scenery.  As I strolled, I reflected a lot on life. Life writes the best stories.

I learnt that:

#1: Never take life or anything for granted. Despite the amount of preparations or confidence one has/had, life will always throw in obstacles for one to overcome.

#2:  It's not the destination that matters. It's the journey. Many athletes wanted to complete the race by their targeted timing and they pushed and went all out. Many were beaten by the brutal sun & missed out on the beautiful scenery around them.

In life, many people want to be a millionaire. They worked day in, day out, sacrificing their time for family, for friends, for their hobbies. Telling themselves, when I achieved my goal, I will have time for all these. They ended up missing out on the beautiful things and precious moments. Things like watching your child grow up, things like being there for that important event, things like being there when someone needed you the most.

I am guilty of that too. In my quest to give my family a "better life", I slogged hard for years. I ended up missing out on a lot of things. I've a new perspective towards life. It really doesn't matter if I become a millionaire before I am 35 or not. Ultimately, I will be one. Now, it's more important that I enjoy this journey together with my family.

#3: If you've a dream. Go for it. It's easy sitting behind the keyboard being a critic. There will always be haters who tell you that you will never make it. I followed my heart. I chased my dreams. I worked hard to achieve them. Now, I can stand tall with my head held high & tell everyone, I am an IRONMAN.

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