Thursday, October 18, 2012


I read somewhere that we are all born with a single emotion: Love

In time, circumstances, upbringing, society, basically life, hits us with experiences that form other emotions. Fear, joy, anger, jealousy, satisfaction, hurt, the whole nine yards.

Since reading that, I've wondered why love and not anything else?
Why not courage to face the new world?
Why not joy that we have finally arrived?
Or even patience to outlive our early days of pissing and soiling ourselves (some of us never outgrew this phase though)

Why, of all things, love?

While I don't claim to be an expert, this is what I think is the reason: Love is the only thing that makes you grow.

It's as simple as the more you love, the more you grow.

Parents for example, loving parents vs crappy parents.

Loving parents are easy. Loving parents tend to breed loving children.

I grew up thinking I had crappy parents. Too strict, too square, too hard to impress. As a result, I started by loving myself. I loved myself so much that I told myself I am never wrong. I am the best and I'm going to show my parents that I know how to live life more than they do. For many years, it worked. I went through life thinking how to make the best out of it. Improving myself constantly for better job, better pay, better everything.

Still, it never seemed to impress my parents. Sure, they smiled when I said I got that promotion or got that dream job. But nothing ecstatic. Still, they rained on my glory with comments like "be careful" and "do whatever you like, just remember to come home" and of course "do you make enough? don't spend so much".

Life became different when I turned 30. Somehow, I realised while I loved myself completely and have achieved many things in life, I was still not satisfied. In fact, I was getting tired.

I didn't want to slow down so I just pushed harder, thinking I would be happier when I achieved more.

I also started to notice that my achievements have fallen on deaf ears. Parents weren't really listening anymore. Over time, all I got was "uh-huh" and "well, that's nice".

I finally got some energetic response when I started racing triathlons. Suddenly, they were excited. Suddenly, they were proud. Suddenly, they love me! I mean, of course my parents love me but boy I've never felt love like this.. ever!

Suddenly, they traveled miles to watch me race and all the talk about when they see people is how great their daughter was.. every second of that full-on-16-hours-plus, plus (plus) out there during Ironman.

So what changed?

Nothing on their end. That's for sure.

They'd loved me all along. Proud of me, all along. I was just too preoccupied with loving myself to notice.

When I started racing, I was suddenly humbled by the fact that I am truly physically challenged. I also realised that I was now in a community of nut jobs just like me. Most importantly, I started to love more than just myself. I loved the sound of clicking cleats just before dawn as we set out to ride. I loved watching steam rise up from my shoulders after a night swim. I loved my friends who shared my race jitters and post race meals. I loved everything about it so much, I was fiercely protective. I looked out for my friends on the road and I gave assistance to anyone in the community whether or not I knew their name. Ensuring the well being of the people in this community meant more to me than knowing their name. I encouraged strangers to join the community, shared my experience with friends thinking of taking up triathlons. Strangely enough, even though I wasn't exactly a star racer, people found my journey inspiring. With this inspiration, they usually push themselves and become better racers than me.

After racing for a couple of years, I found out why my parents seemed more interested in my non-achievement as a racer than my personal achievements. It was because they started seeing me as a responsible person, loving more than just myself. Friends are always excited to see my parents at races. They've become somewhat like a celebrity at races. Especially dad. Mind you, not because I'm such an inspiration (unless you consider my persistence to finish any race, injured or not, an inspiration!)  but because they are usually the only parents around on race day!

Being part of a triathlon community taught me first hand, what it's like to love others above yourself. It taught me how my life can be enriched by enriching others either through inspiration or guiding a newbie. Doing things that do not benefit me eventually gave me more joy and satisfaction. Nothing beats knowing you have touched somebody's life by helping them achieve something they didn't think they could. Things that you may not think of but profoundly nests in their memory as one of the greatest feat achieved because of you.

And you can only do this, with love.

Parenthood is the purest kind of love. And to me, parenthood is something everyone can experience whether or not you actually have a child.

Parenthood means loving unconditionally. It means protecting, nurturing, and giving without any expectations of something in return. If you give but expect something in return, you're not giving, you're trading.

Being a parent can be a lot of hard work. It can also mean a lot of heartache. But it is the most rewarding experience in life, and you will grow the most as a parent.

Whether you're that geeky parent beaming with pride, complete with camcorder in hand because your child made it as a tree at the school's annual concert or you're standing below looking up at your disciple on stage receiving an award you mentored him to achieve; you would have experienced parenthood.

In life, success is yours for the taking. And the view is pretty awesome once you get up there. But the view is never as awesome as when you have somebody up there to share it with you. True success is not what you can achieve on your own. It is what you can help others achieve.

True success is being a loving parent in whatever you do.

And seriously, how hard can it be to be a loving parent?

After all, we were all born with the single most important emotion: LOVE.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Meanie the Poo

Meanie the Poo, is basically the shit that happens in our lives.

And common sense will tell you that in order to wipe any shit away, we must first acknowledge its existence.

Meanie the Poo differs from the famous saying of "when shit hits the fan". See, shit hits the fan when things brew wrongly and you can actually sense it coming because things have to start going pretty bad before it happens. You will have time to stop it if detected early.

Meanie the Poo, is a different ball game altogether. Usually when you least expect it and when things appear to be going fantastic. Meanie the Poo does not brew, its basically shit thrown at you - unprovoked, unpredictable and definitely uncontrollable.

Meanie the Poo comes in the many forms. It could be your friend, your spouse, a family member, even your boss. It's usually a single effort and usually at close proximity with lethal accuracy making it futile to duck. That is why it stinks the most and sticks the longest as well.

We're talking about an in your face, direct hit.  And because it comes from someone close, the impact shocks you, leaving you confused. It's also the reason why many people stay with partners who are emotional bullies. The longer you stay in company with Meanie the Poo the deeper you'll be in it until one day you're so covered with honey coated shit you don't even recognise yourself anymore.

When you release yourself from the grasps of Meanie the Poo, you often remain in a state of denial. You back rationalise everything, make excuses or straight up deny it ever happened because:
1. your Meanie the Poo is someone close that you care about
2. when you care for your Meanie the Poo, they become important to you and therefore you try to keep them close, usually by keeping them happy
3. to keep them happy, you close an eye on the occasional shit they initially throw at you
4. when you finally acknowledge that they have been continuously raining shit on you, you realise it's not you, it's them! This acknowledgement affirms that you were wrong about them and that they ain't that great a person after all for going all psycho diarrhea on you and let's face it, no body wants to be wrong.  

So you stay in denial and let the shit dry up on your face.

I've met many Meanie the Poos in my life time. Some more harmful than others. The ones I regret most are the ones I fail to acknowledge and clean up before I began my chapter in this business.

After over a year in the business, I hear a very confusing statement "Your group is not at it's fullest potential because you have not accepted the fact that you are in this business"

How can this be?

I left my then best paying job to date, just as I was peaking. Started from ground zero again. Braved all odds. Stuck to it till it meant something. And yet I wasn't accepting it?

Apparently so.

And it's not as simple as going on stage and announcing to the world "look guys, this is what I'm doing from now on". It's about saying it with full conviction, no reservations. If you say it and winced for impact, it doesn't count. If you whisper it, it doesn't count. If you have to take and hold your breath when you say it, it doesn't count. It only counts when you can say it bluntly with no apologies to someone who absolutely thinks this industry sucks, let alone the super successful mega rich friend because you know that, with high respect to their personal achievements thus far, this is one platform that can truly give them what they are missing - be it more money, or more time, or a more fullfilling life of enriching others, or simply to retire in style.

To be honest, I have winced, I have whispered and I have definitely held my breath. But that's ok. After all, it's not the most glamourous of industries at surface value. But after knowing what it can give me, I rather that than entering agency life when I was younger thinking that it was glamourous only to realise there is nothing glamourous about carrying a portfolio bag under the hot sun to get shot by the client who rejects work that doesn't have his favourite shade of blue or  the client who spends hours hammering just because the white on their spot colour print ad is not "white-enough".

To be honest, many great leaders have winced, whispered and held their breath too. But my journey today is not reflecting how I have delivered the message with confidence. It is WHY have I not been able to continuously do so even after knowing awesome facts like the company behind me has the highest number of USD Millionaires ever created by any single organisation. I may not wince or whisper or hold my breath anymore but I can always learn to deliver with more excitement.

Acceptance is key. Without acceptance, I have not even begun my journey in this business. If you have decided that something you're doing in life is worthwhile and shows signs of hope for a better tomorrow, how do you expect to receive its full reward when you don't even accept it completely for what it is to begin with? - y'know what i mean?

My journey of acceptance started this morning by first cleaning away layers of hard dried shit in my life. Each pedal was done with purpose. Each downward stroke a closure of negative preconception flung at me that I've nurtured in the past. Each upward stroke a planted seed of hope. Every rotation, a new me. 

Vooo! There goes the feeling of always needing approval
Whoosh! My values are strong enough to stand on their own
Vooo! There goes paranoia of what people thought of me
Whoosh! I am important. I have people who trust me. I will not let them down.

And this went on for 45 minutes and I ended with a great sense of self-empowerment.

I'm not sure if I'm squeaky clean for rediscovery. There may still be some shit left that were too hard to remove in one day. But that's ok, I'll get those tomorrow and will continue till they all disappear.

More importantly this morning, I learned that sometimes Meanie the Poo throws the entire jar of honey coated shit square in your face when you weren't looking and knocks you out cold. It's not about how hard you fell backwards on impact, or how much shit you're covered in, it's about what do you once you've regain consciousness and that empty jar is in your hands.

Well, I say,
Don't get angry. Get even.


Senn would like to send a personal message to all the Meanie the Poos in her life:

Whether you truly believed your actions were for my benefit and you really cared or actually knew, as well as I do now, that they were basically honey coated shit to make you feel superior over me, I forgive you.

And I thank you.
Because you truly believed in the greater good of making me feel small, you have made me bigger, better, stronger.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Making a Come Back

So it's 2:02am and I'm sitting in my hall thinking what the hell happened to me.

My cat Sammy is lazing at the corner hoping to be invisible enough to not be kicked out.

Arif's asleep upstairs but not before setting Tortue up.

I'm writing in short sentences because I truly am quite lost.. and I'm sick of it. I've been reading my old blogs on Beyond Cut Off and thinking, where the hell did that courageous girl, full of spirit and life disappear to? And I know she's still in me somewhere.. just suppressed. And of late it's getting pretty crowded inside so she's fighting to be free again.

So what did happen?

Today is 8.10.2012. In 2 days I would be married for two years to my soul mate. We had a little celebration dinner last night and got into talking what we have achieved in our two years. Quite a fair bit. On my end, I've completely retired from employment and became a full time network marketeer. I've helped many friends become healthier, younger, more energetic and able to fit clothes they couldn't for years! With their success, I've helped their friends achieve the same thing as well. In less than a year, I was recognised as one of the higher pin titles in the business.

So things are going great, right?

Well, yeah. But something was missing.

Something's been missing for months now.. I just haven't figured out why till our celebration dinner. It was bugging me for months but it came out so naturally from Arif. He had noticed it but had never voiced it out, hoping that I would notice it myself. He said very simply "Your drive got murdered.".

And it's true.

Somewhere during that two years, I have allowed my drive to die or be murdered as Arif plainly put it and in its place grew self doubt. I easily compromise, I see opportunities I reject in fear of rejection and I am timid to the extend that I no longer have the courage to voice out when I bloody well should.

I bottled this up well, but it is beginning to take a toll on me and my organisation. I am unable to effective lead people who trust me to the success that they deserve.

During the course of dinner, Arif set me straight. he told me, "Just do the 90-10 rule"

90% of the time, we can't control or change what has happened to us. Shit just happens. But we can use 10% of that to change the shitty outcome.

So that's why I'm doing this.

I'm gonna rediscover myself the best way I know how.

On my bike.

With a little faith, and a lot of courage, I'm going to rebuild myself.. one pedal at a time.


Senn is pledging a journey to rediscover herself starting 6am on 8th October 2012. Friends are most welcome to join her journey through this blog.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

IM a Honeymooner!

The last two weeks have been a blast.

The past two months actually.

No, the last two years.

It all started on Nov 16, 2008.

I had just completed the Penang Bridge Marathon. I had traveled with Mac, Adeline and Yit Thing. Yit Thing left shortly after race and I decided to stay back an extra night with Mac and Adeline. It had been a good race. That night, we decided to go to Gurney Plaza to pass the time after a lovely celebration dinner. I clearly remember wanting to buy Ribena to enjoy it as a nightcap. As Adeline and I walked to the supermarket I checked my emails via mobile and there was an email from Arif.

A pretty long one.

A pretty sweet one.

One that made me walk the store in loops for close to 20 minutes just trying to read what it was getting at.

One that ended with four very definitive words: will you marry me?

Four words that made me happy, confused, dizzy, and forgetful of my Ribena. I didn't immediately reply 'yes' as i thought electronic proposals shouldn't count no matter how independent and modern we are. A girl's got to keep her traditions! I didn't get my Ribena either.

I finally said 'yes' in April, 2009 after he tried to rectify the situation a couple more times to a girl's liking and we decided that 10.10.10 would have been a cool date to tie the knot.

Fast forward two months back (woah! fast forward to the past - that's gotta hurt the brain a bit!)

October 2010, we tied the knot as planned.

As many know, we announced that IMWA 2010 would be our honeymoon. How else would us nutters celebrate our union, right?

Well.. that's not exactly how the story went..

In December 2009, I changed jobs. And along with that came a mountain load of work commitments. So much so that there was a chance that I would be missing Langkawi in February the coming year. Fully paid for, going down the drain.

Know how there's that Ironman line that goes "do it once, brag for a lifetime"? well, I kinda disagree with that. To me, Ironman has become a membership that you had to renew every year. And you're always just as good as your last Ironman race (so if you're still talking about your last race, move on! do a better one at your next membership renewal)

So, feeling really bumped about the possibility of missing Langkawi, Arif and I made a pact that if I did indeed lapse my annual membership renewal in Langkawi we will do it elsewhere. And to stay clear of any work commitments, we chose IMWA at the end of the year. And called it our honeymoon.

As luck would have it, i did get to race Langkawi and soon it dawned on me that 2010 was the year of the double Ironman membership renewal.

2010 passed in a blink of an eye.

First we were discussing IMWA, next we were making registrations and reservations, i was tied down with work, then we were (well, i was) panicking for the lack of training, i was working some more, then we were getting hitch, more work, then flight, then overnight at airport, then we saw the "Welcome to Busselton" signboard, then we were waking up at 3am and i was sitting on the edge of the bed eating a Vegemite roll thinking... what the hell happened?!

I had no clue what had happened but i know i was sitting there in the silence, eating my vegemite roll preparing for my second Ironman for the year.

I am under trained, overweight, and freezing.. how can this possibly be summer?

Race morning was crisp.

The cold overnight air had made my bike computer wonky, but arif skillfully fixed it. I spent a good 15 minutes stuffing my over sized butt into my wet suit as the announcer said "the water temperature is 21 degrees, wet suit optional" (optional my ass!). And the whole time i could have sworn that wet suit shrank overnight.

Waddled down to start line like a seal and tried forcefully breathing to keep warm and calm. Heard the air horn and a way we went.. most of them at least.

I am a believer of not trying anything new on raceday. So the day before, arif, dennis and i tried out our wet suit in the cold WA waters. Pretty creepy when the water seeps in through the zipper but other than that, the wet suit's kinda cool.


I experienced what many would know as the "car warranty" syndrome. Your car's warranty lasts for 2 years and the day after that, it starts to break down.

I have swam a total of 200m and a little more in my wet suit since getting it. So as the syndrome goes, come the 200m marker I was in trouble. Wet suit was too tight, I couldn't breath and I could hardly pull off a good stroke.

So, being the smart kampung chick that I am, I figured "let's unzip, we'll definitely breathe better after that"..

Bad move.

Icy waters flushed into the wet suit as soon as I unzipped. And it being a Blue Seventy suit (zip upwards to release), i had a gapping hole and soon a heavy suit. Worse still, my arms now have restricted movement.

Being smarter still, I figured "Let's just remove the sleeves, more flexibility for movement then.."

(does this girl ever learn??!)

So there I was, still at marker 200m, bopping while the rest are gone, struggling to swim with loose sleeves and a wet suit full of water. To the point that I actually panicked, thinking I was going to drown.

Did a quick mental slap and raised my hand. A marshal on surfboard came by.

"Are you ready to quit?", he says
Senn's brain: YES!
Senn's pride: Nah, just wanna remove my wet suit

The marshal looked like a frowning seagull - blank faced and doubting if he heard me right.

Although my pride kept me in the race, i didn't have much of it left the way I was wriggling on and slipping off the board trying the get the wet suit pass my childbearing hips! Soon, the marshal called for backup - a lifeguard boat.

"Are you ready to quit?", the marshal on boat said
"Nah, just wanting to remove my wet suit"
Another frowning seagull.

Mr seagull fished me out, yanked my wet suit off and threw me back into the sea.

I'm Free! I'm Free! I'm freezing... and I'm last.

The rest of the swim was a struggle with the cold conditions, the unsettling experience and of course, the lack of training. But the marshals kept close eye on me so I felt really safe.

500m to shore, my swim cap pops out of my scalp. Raised my hand again, was asked if I'm quiting again, replied no.. again.. swim cap back on and headed straight for shore.

Finally exited the swim at 1:59 and found my bike with ease!

The rest of the race was pretty usual.. last few, but consistently moving forward. This race was different though.

I have never had to deal with so many "quitting demons" before!

I was lapped by majority of the competitors by 30k on the bike and my last loop only had 8 of us cycling through it. Don't get me wrong, the supporters were great but I somehow kept feeling alone and like I wasn't going to make cut off.

Supporters called me by name. Supporters gave me great words of encouragement. Supporters egged me on. But somehow, I was lonely.

I finally crossed at 16:23, happy.

Some thought it was amazing to the point of it being disgusting that I could finish with the absence of training. Some applauded my mental strength (or as Arif calls it - stubbornness to finish). I think what helped me cross the finish line was a little luck, experience and great memories.

Lucky that I still made it back on the swim on time, lucky that i had no punctures on the bike and lucky that weather was great for the run.

Experienced enough to know that it will hurt. experience enough to know that you just have to keep at it. If you must rest, go slower, don't stop for long periods so at least you are moving forward, at whatever the speed.

Memories are my favourite weapon this time around for crossing the finishing line at IMWA. See, supporters call out my name, but they don't know me. They know my bib and that's where they know my name. They don't know my story. They don't know my journey.

As soon as I realised this, i pulled out a memory each time I felt like quiting. And I had tonnes of them!

Here are my top 10 favourites and my reciprocating thoughts:
1. Bad swim: well, i came out 2 hours at Langkawi earlier this year and still made cut off.. O! and in 2009 I had a hole in my foot! So what's finishing 1:59 in the cold?
2. Strong headwinds: far better than the scorching heat of Langkawi and those steep hills!
3. Slow bike: i think mom and dad would have drove pass me, shoot silly videos with thumbs up and call my name. I also instant replay Arif shouting he loves me from his bike going in the opposite direction.
4. Struggling to make good time buffer on bike for run: at least i can keep time. With a little imagination i can see Bandit around the corner ready to give me his watch!
5. Last few to start the run: i hear my dad egging me.. and me asking him to shut up. this memory was played repeatedly as it happens at ALL races, making it tradition and a sign that I'm gonna give it all I've got to finish.
6. Passed by runner with two loop bands and i haven't gotten my first: i hear Ishsal calculating lap times for me and saying "babe, 45minutes per 5k, you'll make it in good time". I managed a constant 1:30 every 10k throughout with this on constant mental replay.
7. I want to stop: just go a little further - Mac, Shazly and the camera gang will be there.. smile!
8. It's cold and dark and lonely and miserable: Arif going "it's ok baby. It's our honeymoon. Just have fun, finish this and we'll have a ball"
9. Stupid honeymoon: Arif "baby, this is the greatest honeymoon idea!"
10. Last 3 out here in the dark: Stupe and Aileen are walking hand in hand just ahead. keep going.

Arif and I may have traveled far for IMWA but I had my best IM memories close to heart to carry me to the finish line. It was also great to know we weren't forgotten at home.

Stupe had made great effort to record our race status. Mac was watching closely (I'm sure many others were keeping watch too) And my parents had a party for two with live streaming at home.

Dad captured my finish on screen with his iphone and made a mini video of mom doing a victory dance next to the TV. I'll post these on FB once I get a hold of it - very cute!

It was a hard race for me. Had it not been for experience and fond memories I can quite frankly say I would have DNFed IMWA. So when I crossed the finishing line, two things came to mind:
1. Yessss... now the honeymoon starts
2. maybe i should retire for a bit

But after seeing what friends back home were doing and mom's victory dance it's pretty hard to let go.

My past two weeks had been a blast. I went on leave after a year of stress at work, finished my second Ironman for the year, and had a great honeymoon.

So will I continue in 2011?

Not too sure, I have after all, renewed my membership twice this year thanks again to friends and family who continue to believe I can. Maybe I'll consider IMWA as my 2011 membership renewal and take a break.

Then again.. Arif did say the honeymoon never ends, so maybe I'll just do honeymoon IMs from now on.. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The year I raced amongst IRONMEN

This blog is one year in the making.

The scene was 1 March 2009. We had just finished the 2009 IM, Langkawi the day before and I had injured my foot. So, complete with crunches, Arif and I met a group of other IM finishers at Sunba in Chenang. As we excitedly exchanged our race adventures, the topic turned to feelings we had at the finishing line. Naturally, the common feeling was exhilarating and totally emotional.

Exempt one comment: “I don’t know why, but I feel nothing special or emotionally overwhelming as I cross the finish line. Sure, I’m happy, but it’s just another finish to me.”

That started my one year of understanding this comment.

Over the year, the comment flashed in my memory, especially the day before and after any race I’ve participated. While I’m sure it was a passing remark and one made by a person well deserving the IM title. It still haunted me. Thoughts ranged from “wow.. that was mechanical” to “am I overreacting?” to “maybe it is overrated after all, and only true IM finishers feel like it’s just another day. Newbies have higher tendencies of being exposed to cheap thrills”.

By mid of 2009, I have concluded that perhaps there is a difference between IM finishers and an Ironman. But I toyed with this concept without much substance for the remaining of the year..

..until last Saturday.

Last Saturday, I started and finished my fourth Ironman Langkawi (3rd if you’re anal about timing). And somewhere between 100k and 110k on the bike, the answer to my concept was revealed. It was later confirmed during the run.

To be an IM finisher you must SWIM 3.8k within 2:20, BIKE 180k within 10:30 hours from start, and RUN 42.2k within the 17 hours cut off. In between, there are intermediate cut off times for the bike and the run. Whether you train like mad or train like me (ZERO!!), you are subjected to these race regulations in order to qualify. Your materialistic rewards are a medal, finisher T, a cert and a towel. Whatever the speed, whatever the time, you just have to cross the finishing line within those time zones.

An Ironman, is a different story altogether.

Now, before I start, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing small about being an IM finisher. It’s a big feat and I admire anyone who’s at the start line regardless of how their race turned out. Like all my other entries, this is just my point of view and sharing of experience.

An Ironman, by my personal definition, is one who understands the spirit of the race.

The spirit of IM that encompasses fear, anxiety, camaraderie, compassion, support and shared glory.. just to name a few.

Because of the race distance, there is only so far your physical body can take you. Once in motion, it becomes automatic and what drives you then, is your determination and mental strength. And while we all have our purchased nutrition to keep our bodies fuelled, we only have one way to truly fuel our determination and mental strength on such distance races.

They are called supporters.

Loved ones, best buddies, strangers. Whoever they may be to you, they are out there because of you. I doubt any of them would choose a hot day of stress, paying to go to race venue just to lose they voice from cheering if they didn’t share the passion… or in this case, understood the spirit of the race.

For example, my bestest friend in the world has never supported me at Langkawi. The closest she came, was 2 hours at Putrajaya Half Ironman last October. Even then, it was only after putting her on a guilt trip for months. She watched me on my bike leg, but didn’t stay till I finished. Do I still love her? SURE! Does she love me? ALWAYS.. but some things, she just doesn’t understand.

So, back to supporters.

I had a relatively hard swim with the strong currents. My minimal training on the bike made the 180k even tougher. This was the year many heroes fell. One by one, news of IM hopefuls calling it a day was communicated to me through supporters doing their rounds. Even more surprising was when I rode one lap with a buddy, only to have him cheer me on during the next lap in a supporter car.

This was also the year of strange requests from me.

After the 100k mark, I checked my timing only to find that my watch had ‘kaput-ed’. Within the next 10k I bumped into Bandit and Arif. Arif had decided to call it a day and good thing he did as the day's temperature checked in at 46 degrees and he could not keep any of his nutrition down. ON TOP OF THAT, water stations have started to run out of water and bottles. One particular station even offered to clean a recycled Gatorade bottle buried in mud and fill it with tap water for me! Horror!

As I approached Bandit, the familiar shouts of “water?! Gatorade?! Food?! What do you need?! What do you need?!” started.

My reply: I need a watch!

Two seconds of silence..

His reply: OK! Take mine.

We exchanged watches, gave Arif my love and went on my way.

I made it back to transition with good time to spare and started on my run, which was of course, more of a walk.

As the evening turned to night, I was getting lonely and still on my second loop. 3 hours had passed and I haven’t completed 16k yet. I was in big trouble of missing cutoff. Even the cheers I got from the side walk wasn’t motivating me enough to move faster.

Crestfallen, tired and feeling defeated I heard a familiar voice.

He said: Did you think I would let you do this alone? I will not leave you now!

I looked to my right and my knight in shining amour beamed. I had met Ishsal on top of Bkt Hantu during my last loop on the bike and was surprised he called it a day and chose to instead hand out a variety of drinks: water, cincau, ice lemon tea. I did not expect him to find me on the run, but was very glad he did.

And so our mission to make me finish the race within cutoff begins. Ishsal provided time calculations while I provided the strength to just plough through and holding back on tears of defeated so it doesn’t stress the situation any further.

As we walked, he motivated and congratulated me on small feats like making the turnaround faster than the estimated time (even when it was only 3 minutes faster!). We passed Arif and his boys at the end of each loop towards SeaView hotel. And although they were sweet to hang around and cheer, I could only muster a wave. Pity I was too slow as his elder decided to call it a night rather than watch the finish line.

Somewhere during the 3rd loop, Ishsal asked if there was anything else I needed.

I replied: A cheeseburger would be nice.

Another familiar two seconds of silence..

His reply: OK! Can!

He made his call to his sayang Zee, and it was all arranged. In less than 30minutes, I had a cheeseburger – hand delivered to me. I have NEVER EVER been treated so royally in any race! Imagine that.. wearing Bandit’s watch and now Zee goes through the challenge of closed roads to get me a cheeseburger!

I slowly ate the cheeseburger in parts and it lasted for the last 20k odd.

As cutoff closed in on us, my mind started playing tricks on me. I asked nonsensical questions like “can I cover 3k in 45 mins?” and “Do you think there’s still people waiting for me at the finishing line?” (this at 200m left and there’s clearly music pumping and crowd cheering.)

Ishsal knew I had lost it but kept his calm. Words like “do it for dad”, “imagine the glory” even “just 4 more milestones – may yi restaurant, the bridge, seaview, finish line”. I repeated after him like a mantra. He kept his comments coming to keep me in focus. Anything and everything just to keep me going.. including pouring bottles of cold water every few minutes in the dead on night!

Zee was no less a great support as she kept Kam company and pulled him through to finish ahead of me. And also accompanying Stupe who was behind me.

This year was the first time I’ve ever walked to the finish line. Stupe had made great time by jogging and caught up with me. In his gentleman way, he gave me a small nudge to let me finish first. However, given the situation and wobbly legs, the nudge almost toppled me!

Crossing the finish line was indeed everything that I had told myself. The proud smile on dad’s face and warm embrace from mom.

As the organizer gave me my materialistic rewards for finishing within cutoff, I only felt one thing: gratitude.

I am grateful that I have friends who share my passion and understand the spirit of the race more than I do, even though they did not race. Friends who go through endless last minute planning and coordination to make sure not only me, but all under their watch on raceday experience the best race they possibly can. And more gallantly, actually make it their personal mission to drag us pass the finish line within cutoff as if there is a silent code of “whatever it takes and no one gets left behind”.

Every year, every race is a new lesson. My lesson this year is there IS a difference between an IM finisher and an Ironman.

An Ironman is a belief, a passion. Whether you finished as an Ironman is irrelevant as long as your heart understood what it takes to be one when the flare went off. Whether you RACED or SUPPORTED is irrelevant as well. Because on either side of the spectrum, you understand the passion and you drive a common goal.

My lesson this year is I am an IM Finisher but I am an IRONMAN because of my IRONMAN SUPPORTERS.
Special Thank yous:
Arif – For bringing the boys out to cheer for me, and doing what you’ve never done before: leaving them unattended in the hotel room to see me after I finish.
Bandit – For your fussing and watch. You are by far my favourite IRONMAN SUPPORTER
Edwin – For sharing your water on the bike
Ishsal – For making sure I finish within cutoff
Mac – For all that you do and so much more. Everything is a plan and you’re the best guy for the job
Shazly – for bringing me Gatorade
Zee – For the cheeseburger! It was a make or break time for me and you made it better!

Abang, Adik, Alisa, AJ, Julie, Nik, Omar, Shiraz, Adeline, Ai leen, Azura, Khun Tip, Abu, Patrick and many more – Thanks for the endless cheer and encouragement, would not have done it without you. :)

Monday, June 29, 2009


Because we all love hollywood...

in one of my earliest post i spoke about the difference between a TRIathlete and a TRYathlete. i spoke about the guiding principles that make and differentiate the two sets of athletes in the triathlon universe and how both are celebrated depending on your aim in this universe.

last night while celebrating arif's first sub-5 marathon despite worrying about a returning knee injury just two days before and reminiscing about how far we've come since our first sprint together at a'famosa i realised TWO things:

1. dawning of a new era
while he has had tremendous improvement in his performance (albeit slower progress than he would have liked, and me thinking he's fantastic) i had pretty much stayed where i am. YET amongst good friends we have been blessed with equal support, encouragement, compliments and our fair share of loving 'fans' (i.e not people who worship us but people who genuinely care and like to track our well being in the tri universe)

it got me thinking about that try-triathlete post and suddenly it dawned on me that my favourite tryathlete was becoming a triathlete. he, of course, was a bit sad.
our conversation went something like this:
A: but baby, my blog is called Trying to Tri and the blogspot is TRYathlete1403!
S: well i'm still beyond cut off after finishing within cut of.. so go figure. change it if you wanna be correct about it
S: and when people ask you why you do this, you can no longer say because it's fun.
A: but it is!
S: baby, your definition of fun is different from norm. your idea of fun is aiming to clock 50k run weeks. that to the NORMAL human (not even the average human) is nuts.
A: but that is fun.. :(
S: yes of course! for a TRIathlete..
A: ... :(

He then put up a small effort to justify that he was still a recreational athlete. poor guy didn't stand a chance when i started asking if his training schedule had recreation written all over it (had to name every training schedule and behaviour and forced him to admit that he actually enjoyed the training pattern he designed himself). he felt better after i told him that there's no shame in what he is slowly becoming. of course there's more room to grow, more hours needed, better more structured training to be formed but if he held on to being recreational, his mindset would be holding him back. it would be an excuse to say 'ah well, missed the timing.. that's ok. i'm recreational after all' (two 10ks + one 15k + one 20k per week in mind - recreational my arse!)

after much rationalising, reassurance and showing him how proud i was that he was naturally evolving into a different kind of athlete we 'cheers-ed' to a new beginning.

*naturally, if he ever wanted to be a tryathlete again, we will still applaud him and welcome him with open arms. or if he decides to swing both ways and become a... BIathlete perhaps? hey, any thing's better than being a couch potato - but let's leave the BIs for another time!

2. becoming diva
which then left the other part of the conversation: me.
my question was how was it possible to be congratulated and complimented when i'm, as newly defined by arif, 'euro-cool' about training?
(euro-cool = to train by FEEL. only train if and when i feel like it and even if i was training, i only push when i feel like it and never on someone else's terms)

how is it that i manage to outgrow my newbie status but kept newbie performances (or sometimes even worse than newbies) and still celebrate my 'achievements' of finishing a race? heck, even my dnf at powerman last year was somewhat celebrated.

one word: DRAMA.

yup. it's no longer about what i accomplished but HOW i accomplished it. finishing remains important but how it was achieved gave my races life.

think about it: i am slowly but quite surely becoming a DRAMAthlete:
powerman 2008: dnf because i passed out at such an early stage of the race. had to be whirled back in a van to the ambulance that was not prepared because it was too early in the race.
IM2009: completed with a not particularly fantastic time, but with a hole in my foot and hospitalised for 5 days after that
NB15k: took me close to 4hours to finish and i tore some back muscle fibers that took me out of action for 10 days with help of double dose painkillers

and my latest epic: SCKLM, 7 hours but what happened?

this is what happened: (caution: graphic details entrails. stop reading if you have a weak stomach)

the truth: did not train. plain and simple, hence 7 hours.
the truth well sold: this needs more flair

my target was to try a get a new pb timing. which meant an easy sub-6. what happened apart from euro-cool training the months before was that my last official water station was about 15k into the race. i was so slow, the water stations had ran out of water from the 21k mark onwards. after that 15k water station, i relied heavily on the charity of friends like Azmar who gave me a powerbar and water at about 17k and Budin who bought me a bottle of water at 21k, and a race official that swapped my bottle at 25k when he saw me refueling water at the shell station's men's toilet. thankfully the water stations at later parts (35k, 38k and 40k) were replenished by the time i got there.

but you would wonder: she needed a whole bottle at 17, 21 and 25?? was she showering herself? why so much water for such short distances between?

well, it's a bit embarrassing to say, but i needed it to 'kinda' shower. more like legs and below.

erm.. ok here goes (gory! gory!)

somewhere between 15k and 17k, i felt the familiar warmth of the month. not kidding. i realised i didn't bother calculating this month and did a quick mental date check and voila! 'relatives' had arrived on schedule.


then the dull cramps set in and my back felt a bit sore.

double bummer.

THEN! it started to trickle.


first thing that came to mind was 'and to think i wanted to wear a white skirt this morning!'.

and since i had no money and medic was not even sophisticated enough to have counterpain let alone a sanitary pad, i had to wash myself to avoid noticeable traces with every blob, and trickle.

quite tricky since it was already starting to get bright by that time and i wanted to avoid running in wet, blood stained socks! (sorry.. but there's more)

anyway, good thing is i was wearing a black skirt, so this hid the nasty stain and the mess on my inner thighs.

bad thing is i was wearing a skirt, which held more water when wet than normal shorts.

the entire race after that, so that's for about 25k or close to 5 hours i ran/jogged/walked with a dripping skirt, a suspicious looking trail, wet inner thighs, deteriorating energy level and limited water supply.

see the drama?

probably psychological about lack of energy with blood loss and being immensely uncomfortable, by the time i reached the finish line i thought i was going to collapse.

good thing stupe was there to take me to the finish line.

AND to add drama, i approached the finishing line with the clock striking twelve: the mellow bell was ringing. comfort and encouragement from stupe. my dad's voice shouting from the nearby pavement...'hurry senn! the clock is striking twelve'. i honestly felt like cinderella rushing home before my carriage disappeared!

bad thing stupe was there to shower me while i sat on a white plastic chair! (sorry stupe, i really appreciated and enjoyed the shower. just didn't realise the mess it made after!)

fully drenched, the mess became worst. stains were just trickling and dripping uncontrollably. i was in the medal tent with some 15 other late comers and i didn't want to get up from my white chair. i asked arif if it was noticeable and he said (rather calmly i thought) 'you're dripping blobs through the chair'.

finally mustered the courage and thick skin to just get up. got a couple of worried stares from knowing women about the familiar coloured pool left on the chair, and walked back to the car looking like i was wounded waist down.

dad made me sit on a doubled towel and drove his princess home - knackered and admittedly defeated from the race.

was that good drama or bad drama? i'll let you critics decide.

i'll just admit this much: i am a dramathlete. love hollywood but may appear more bollywod at races.

a drama queen full on.. but honestly not on purpose.

may even start writing race trailers rather than reports! (not that i reported much facts in the past anyway!)

*from the racer of 'there's a hole in my foot' and 'bloody hell!'. IM70.30 Putrajaya.. what would you do if this happened to you? - coming this july*

p.s my dad did great for his first 21k by the way. he said he's motivation was to say 'c'mon senn!' to himself, hoping to fool his mental game and not give up. 3:02 and mighty proud.. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


If you're a person looking for a new hobby, whatever it may be, it pays to listen to those that are already in the hobby for advice.

How many of us have done something on an 'introductory' level yonks ago and then decide to take it up for real and think you can wing it base on your past experience?

How many of us in this group then think that things could not have been so different from the past experience and that you would know what to do and don't see what the fuss is all about?

I know a couple of people and have been one myself.

I'm also the sister of one such person.

For months now dad has been cycling on his own. I bought him an old steel bike and it seem to work well for him. Nothing fast, nothing far.. just leisure morning rides on his own, at his own pace.

Dad has also been proud of his progress. Conquering from 5k to 15k now 20k ride with a 5k run after.

And like any proud man, my dad has been cornering everybody in the family and telling them of his daily conquest. Always ending with the same line "not bad, huh?"

With me, the line goes "i'm not racing like you.. i go steady.. not bad, huh?"

My second brother, Lok, is one of my dad's favourite victim. And like a fish to bait, lok always falls for dad's "not bad, huh?" trick.

What's the trick?

Well, i believe dad says that line for a purpose. Like a bait to talk more about his conquest.

In the past i had teased him and he would continue like a broken record what he did and always end the same.

"not bad, huh?" was dad's way of saying "ask me, tease me, mock me, i wanna tell you more about my conquest!". some conversations can have him saying that for 3 times!

being his only actively cycling daughter, i was most exposed to this trick but learned pretty quick that if you wanted the subject changed, just say "yup" and smile.

there will be silence.. it will be uncomfortable.. but hold your stand. just say nothing.

if you are disciplined enough, this is what dad will do (in sequence):
1. he will swing and clap his hand (like trying to loosen his shoulders)
2. mumble to himself "yeah.. not bad"
3. one hand on waist, the other touching his imaginary stubbles
4. stay quiet for a few seconds.. then say "yeah, ok.."
5. leave you in peace.

Lok on the other hand, never learned this trick.

Every "not bad, huh?" thrown at him has been lapped up like a hungry puppy.

Lok would tease, laugh, ridicule, and give a sacri remark much to my dad's pleasure. And they would go on throughout dinner.

Two weeks back lok said he wanted to do some excercise. Dad pounced on the idea and suggested cycling (followed by daily conquest and bait question)

Lokker didn't have a chance.

Lok's view of cycling was this:
1. "it's an easy hobby, i did it all the time as a kid"
2. "what's the fuss about the tight shorts?"
3. "dad rides a BIG seat!"

so 'heated' was the discussion of cycling to exercise because lokker didn't believe it was much of a challenge or a hobby to fuss about.

finally, a 20k challenge was set up between dad and lok with me as the referee. the date was set at that week's coming saturday itself.

The father vs son 20km challenge was simple, it was not about speed and there was no prize-winner. It was more of a pride thing and the first person to koyak/get off the bike loses.

The day started early, 6.30am at my house in putrajaya.

My dad was very steady throughout, cruising at his own speed, about 20-25km/h.

Lok was a different story.

Here's the conversation snippets I had with him that will give you an idea of what i mean:
6:45am, 0km
Senn: Lok, i think you need to wear cycling shorts. here's mine, i never wore it .. too big.
Lok: er.. ok. looks gay
Senn: grey? ya it's grey.
Lok: no, gay.. gay..
Senn: just wear it.

7:00am 0km
Lok: senn, how do you walk in these tights? like wearing a sanitary pad!
Senn: you'll get use to it.. btw, howchu know what a sanitary pad feels like?
Lok: i've seen you walk
Senn: sharrup! you wearing underwear?
Lok: ya-a.. it's disgusting without
Senn: you'll get chaffing
Lok: can we remove this jelly seat cover?
Senn: i think it'll help your cushioning
Lok: i'll risk it.

7.15am - race starts

7.30am 5km
Lok: my butt hurts... i think i need a thicker padding
Senn: did you pull it up snug? got to make sure you are seating on the padding.
Lok: sigh.. i'll just stretch...
7.35am still 5km
Lok: are we there yet?
Senn: nope. we need to ride to the end of this road.
Lok: my butt hurts

7.40am about 7km
Lok: you know, if my chain didn't drop earlier, i would be cycling in front with dad
Senn: u-huh.. guess that's why he's getting smaller and smaller now!
Lok: ya! sheesh.. are we there yet?
Senn: we've just cycled 7km.. almost there. drink water.
Lok: can't.
Senn: why?
Lok: might fall. dont they have those people in cycling that feeds you and stuff in a race?
Senn: yes, they are called domestiques.
Lok: ya senn.. feed me!
Senn: just stop and drink
(Lok tries to coast and drink)Lok: ta-daah! i did it.
Senn: good job, you're far better than most newbie girls i've ridden with!

7.50am 10km turnaround.
Met up with some saturday lumba haram-ers at the dead end

8.00am push back home

8.10am about 13km
Lok: my butt hurts
Senn: ya.. just now arrogant, right?
Lok: ya man.. "don't like cycling shorts, take out jelly seat"
Senn: now suffer, right?
Lok: ya..
Senn: now whine like girl, right?
Lok: ya...
Senn: now wished you had that jelly seat, right?
Lok: ya..
Senn: last week dad said you can have his strawberry seat, whatchu say? "don't want, too big, ugly" now you wish you had it, right?
Lok: no.. now need bigger.. a sofa!

8.45am Alamanda Hill
Senn: Lok, big kahua hill. be steady and just go at your pace
Lok: ya, ok got it.
Senn: don't push ya? after leg cramp
Lok: My butt hurts.. legs ok
Senn: ok.. then you should be ok.

Senn at peak, slightly after the crest, waiting in the shade
Dad cycles towards Senn
Senn: Lok?
Dad: Think he's suffering

8:50am Alamanda Hill
Dad walks to peak
Senn: Is he walking?
Dad: dunno, cannot see him

8:55am Alamanda Hill
Dad: think the poor fellow's walking

9:00am Alamanda Hill
Dad walks to peak again
Senn: walking?
Dad: haha.. yea.. poor fellow. walking

9.05am Alamanda Hill
Dad: ok, can see his helmet
Senn: good job, Lok!
Lok: Wheeze wheeze
Dad: don't worry. i walked up the first time i did Alamanda too. It's tradition
Senn: i didn't..
Lok: you're weird.

9.20am race finish..

Senn: So Lok, wanna buy your own bike?
Lok: howabout i take your cow bike
Senn: Can, but you must use the pink saddle and pink bartapes
Lok: how girly! maybe i respray it yellow with black spots... like leopard
Senn: lucky you didn't say cheetah.
Lok: why?
Senn: at you're speed, it's either your cheetah is pregnant or you'll just embarass your bike.

THANK YOU:Nurina - for your perfect bike.
Mac & Arif - taking turns marshalling and sweeping

The race was two weekends ago.

Today, I will be going to check out a second hand bike for Lok.

He has decided that it would be best to let an experienced rider help him out with his new hobby :)