Sunday, February 12, 2017

One day the Tri-angels became Aquathletes

So it was really Last Minute Hug Buddha's legs...

"Triangels will be a good name for the three ladies!" Suggested Uncle Geok Lin when he learned that they were going to do the Metasprint Aquathlon.
My head shape is so funny, the cap and goggle won't stay - said Fann.

Hahaha.. what a lovely name for Fann, Ah Sing and Ah Li.  Months back, I didn't k ow how it started, but somehow the Metasprint online site received confirmatory sign ups in October 2016 for these three ladies for the 2017 edition of Aquathlon.

The night before
It was about time these three lovely athletic ladies got a taste of multi sports event and I was glad they sportingly agreed to it. But agreeing was agreeing, up till about two weeks before the event none was training for it.
"Uncle, I am so going to die. I haven't run nor swum for so long already," said Fanm (shown here in her want-to-die mug shot)

Indeed a lethal combination of work-work and postgrad school-work had heaped mountains of project on her. She hadn't had time to even open her bowels, let along exercise.  But this skinny lady who only consumed one third of food and breathes one third oxygen compared with abnormal human being, really needn't had to worry because at just 45kg it didn't need too much effort to get that body going.
"I am glad I went to swim the past few days," said Ah Li (shown here excitedly) who suddenly decided ok lah, she should just get her swimming costume a little wet, and went swimming 16 laps a few times in the condominium swimming pool.
Ah Sing was busy working part time and with her Tae Kwondo.  But I wasn't worried.  The Metasprint series events were short events designed to give the newly initiated just a bit of challenge, while the experienced would use these as warm-ups to their longer events.

"Ladies, the most important thing is - don't cheong," my best advice for the totally unprepared Tri-Angels. "It's actually quite fun one."
"Yeah, just enjoy it," reminded Serene. "Can do then do, cannot do then never mind."

The Video number 1: leaving home

In fact, everyone was rather bo chap.  Hey, it was a short sprint event.  So we'd all learn to take things like that easy one.  It was only the night before that I briefly showed the girls how to prepare the transition area and let them have the Clif chewable gels and prepared a bottle of Elo water each for them, not that I thought they would need it.  But just in case lah.

That morning itself the girls forced their sleepy eyes open and woke up at around 6am.  We left home while it was still dark that morning, everything prepared in that blue Metasprint Aquathlon carrier bag.  The night before, Liverpool demolished Tottenham Hotspur in a disappointing 2-0 match.  Fortunately I didn't stay up to watch, otherwise I would have gotten the girls to go to Sentosa themselves this morning.

Around 7:30am, car parked at the Beach Carpark, we availed ourselves of the cleaner but further toilets, choosing to avoid the row of toilet cubicles set up next to the race area. I could see the nervousness in Ah Li's face, and the tiredness in Fann's.  Ah Sing was forever energetic, jumping from one dog to another.
Testing out Ah Li's timer chip before body marking.

"I am here because I a socially-responsible," announced Fann.  Yah, if not I would kick her backside.
The queue for Body marking was really long, but the volunteers were pretty well-rehearsed and they did a fast job of every competitor.
Unfair, Ah Sing Jiejie had boys marked her arms for her, mine are girls...
So how? Were the young ladies ready?
The Socially-responsible-mug-shot look and the Cool look.
Honestly I didn't think the girls really knew what to expect for an event like this, this being their very first time.  Although they had been supporters to my previous events, when it came to oneself, it was always quite an adventure.
Fann was skinny.  But her recent increase in weight to almost 48kg was attributable to her muscle gain from a very regular and intense regime of rock climbing, chin ups and resistance band training.
Ah Li: "Look at Fann's muscles!"

"I haven't been running at all," complained the 'primary 6 girl'.  But she had her Mother's genes, and that would make her a natural when it came to running.  I had no worries about that.
Ah Sing had been coaching her Tae Kwondo students.  So in a way that kept her going.  I knew she was genetically stoic.  And in my heart the only worry I had of her was that she would be clumsy like her Father, and would suffer a sprain or something like that.
Lene's dog!

"Ah Sing, don't cheong right from the beginning ok," I reminded her. "Take it really easy. Use breast stroke.  It is so much easier to sight."
"But I like using free style (front crawl)!" insisted the Tae Kwondo black belt.  Ok lor.. anything, as long as she was comfortable.
Laughing before cheonging.
Now Ah Li was the one who was the least cheongster among all three of them.  She never liked swimming since young because her swimming instructed scolded her and made her cry.  And she didn't like Tae Kwondo and always hid behind the curtain when she was doing Tae Kwondo at the tender age of four.  But she could run, and running was her thing.
"Ah Li, steady 就好了。不要怕!" I told her.  This Ah Li was quite like the Father.  In a way she would 临时抱佛脚, especially when it came to certain discipline that she didn't particularly enjoy.  And swimming was one of them.
"Just complete can already," Ah Li was comforting her own self.
Last minute recap of the run route
All these children what they had in them was the genes from me and from Serene - the 打不死的 genes (in Yeye's own words).  And that was all that was needed to complete an event like this.  They had conquered more in the past, and they had proven to be tough when it got tough.  So I had every confidence in them.  Just that I knew in my heart that with next to no training prior to the event, they would in some way suffer a little.  But this Father here believed in just giving the children a chance to experience new and different things in life.

The Video number 2: Getting ready to start

Preparing The Transition

For one who had done a little bit of multisports event, preparation of the transition was second nature.  I laughed when I thought back of what I did - for the girls, all I did was to take a photo of how I would arrange the transition the night before, and that was it.  Short and sharp.  I doubted if they could remember much.  But hey that was half the fun, coming up to the transition huffing and puffing and galang-gabo-ing trying to look for things.   One just had to learn mah.
Ah Sing and Ah Li preparing the transition area.
I had placed one tube of Clif gel into each of their bags, and instructed them to eat it while they were in the transition and on their run.

But somehow, this Ah Li must have been kan cheong for she couldn't remember to put up the gel.  Aiyah, never mind lah.  No gel still can run one lah.

"Fann, why are you still wearing your T-shirt?" I asked. "You should take them off already lah.  Look at all the Ang Moh girls - they are all walking around in their bikinis and swimsuits!"
"I shy lah!" she admitted.
Fann still wearing her T-shirt over her swimming costume!

It was 8:15am.  We just witnessed the orange female wave starting off and I could sense the girls' excitement.  Time to warm up in the sea water.  Ah Sing was the first to jump in.  Ah Li was hesitant.  But luckily Fann 姐姐 held her hand and gently eased her into the water.
Hahaha.. where got like that one lah.. Right on race day and still a little wary of the sea water.
Fann said: "It's like that one ah.  You look down you cannot sea anything one ah.  So I just closed my eyes lor."

The Green Cap female wave was a big wave with many athletes in it.  It was natural instinct I guess, that the girls slowly shuffled to the back of the whole group and closer to the right buoy line of the lane.

POOOOOOOOR!!! The horn went off!
And the girls were off.
Very slowly the three of them walked down the sand.  Fann made sure that the two younger sisters were in the water before she finally strode into the sea and very leisurely started swimming.
From afar, I could see the three heads bobbing up and down in breast strokes.
Ok, they should be safe.  I thought to myself.
Ah Li already 紧张...
This 750m swim in an M-shape was quite something for Ah Sing and Ah Li who hadn't touched the water for the longest time.  Fann was a natural in the sea water.  She loved the sea.  She loved scuba diving.
"I enjoy gliding in the warm sea water because it feels like I am in my Mother's womb," said Fann.
Fann came bobbing up after the first half of the M, and slowly walked up the shore before slowly making the U-turn.
"Why you walking, Fann? You damn bo chap lah," complained Serene.  Bo bian lah.  Fann was just like that one lah.

When I saw Ah Li at the U turn, she gestured to me a cut-throat sign.  She wanted to die already. Hahaha.. this Ah Li was really cute.
"After the first 50m, I wanted to DNF already," Ah Li said later.  "When I saw Jiejie in the water I told her I want to die already."  Poor Ah Li.  Yes, swimming was not really her forte.  But she could swim one lah.  "I must have panicked.  Because I could not breathe, and I had to keep holding on to the rope.  And each time someone else held on to the rope it would sink further in and became harder to hold on to it."
Ah Sing complained later too: "It was so difficult because there was current in the water and when I lifted my head up to breathe the wave in front of my face would block me.  I drank so much sea water!"
Fann was just her usual relaxed self: "I was smiling all the way in the water.  I kept looking around seeing all those competitors who were so kan cheong trying to race quickly and get past me quickly.  They were all just cheonging.  I can't understand why."

Following her, Ah Sing came up smiling.  The cheongster character in her shining through.
"Keep going, Ah Sing! Steady ok!" I shouted to her as she ran up the Swim In.

Now where was this Ah Li ah?
All the Green Caps were slowly coming out already.  And finally I saw her bobbing head as she walked slowly out of the water, face all flushed from the effort of holding on to the rope and pulling herself along every 50m.  Not bad lah, this Ah Li.  She managed to complete the swim.

"Ah Li, well done! The tough part is over.  Now this (the running part) is your thing!" I shouted to her. 
It was later that Ah Li said to us: "There was twice the marshall on the kayak shouted over to me - Ma'am are you ok? - and I nodded ok.  They must have thought I cannot make it already."
Ah Sing joined in: "Yah, they also shouted to me asking me if I am fine."

The Transition

I stayed back to wait for Ah Sing Ah Li while Fann already ran into the Transition.  Serene followed her in.
By the time I reached the Transition, Ah Li was left there alone seated down slowly trying to peel off the Urgoderm plaster that she was supposed to paste over her heels.  Her wet fingers struggled with the plaster, as I laughed at her doing all that.
Finally when she finished, she ran out holding the bottle of Elo water.
At Transition... Ah Li surrounded by all the Ang Mohs..
"Ah Li, it's heavy lah, this bottle of water.  Drink some Elo water from it, then pass to me and run lah," I reached out to help her.

By then Fann and Ah Sing were ahead already.  I spotted Serene and instructed her to follow Ah Li to the left side of the run route while I ran to the right arm towards Ah Sing and Fann.  It was so funny, me in bermuda and small Decathlon backpack, running alongside the competitors (but on the side pavement), until I reached the 2km mark where I stopped to wait.

Soon, I saw Ah Sing coming from the left side, chasing an Ang Moh man.  Well done lah, this Ah Sing.  She was about 7 minutes behind Fann.  But I couldn't find Ah Li.  I must have missed her.

As always, the whole road would be scattered with runners of all calibres - those elite Ang Mohs who would be puffing their hearts out racing at breakneck speed, and some courageous but obviously not in the best shape competitors just chugging along hoping to complete the event in one piece.

The Video number 3: The RACE!


FinisherPix - Fann was simply in her dreams as she chewed on the gel and licked
her lips.

It was thankfully not a very hot morning.  And the sun wasn't scorching.  So the girls should be having an OK time.  Fann was doing just fine.
"I didn't cheong at all throughout the whole race," said Fann afterwards. "I was just going at steady pace"

As I stood at the 4km mark, I saw finally, and to my pleasant surprise, Ah Sing and Ah Li running towards me side by side, smiling away.  Somehow Ah Li had caught up and was running together with Ah Sing 姐姐.
"Papa!" both of them called out to me as I started running beside them.
"Come, let me run with you all," I shouted across, starting my run with 1km left.
"Papa, you are running too fast!" complained Ah Sing. "Just now I tripped and sprained my ankle and tore my newly bought tights!"  This poor Ah Sing.  She just had so much of her Father in her.


Although I was all ready for any of the girls to DNF, I was not surprised to see all of them coming in at the finishing line.  To them, it was just a tick on one of the many items on their bucket lists.  Surely it wasn't exactly totally easy-sailing, having to cope with fear and a brand new uncertain experience.

Particularly commendable was Ah Sing and Ah Li who were definitely not as acquainted with the sea water as Fann was, but still managed to slowly make their way to the shoreline.

"See my right armpit abrasion, Papa?" showed Ah Li. "It was because of me pulling on the rope."
"Now I have to get that hole in my tights sewn," said Ah Sing.

The Results
"There was an excited lady who kept asking me to go and get the Live result," said Fann,
So we did.  And here were the scores:
Again chut-pattern liao liao, this Fann.

It was a great day for the children, for the family.
For the very first time, we got these three involved in a race together.  And for once Ah Sing and Ah Li had a taste of swimming in the sea proper, and all had the experience of not only participating in a multi-sports event, but also having people splashing around them in the water, in intense competition.

"Papa, the next time they have the Duathlon where you run and cycle, I want to try," said Ah Li afterwards, despite her so tired that she fell asleep having coffee at Bedok Mall, and knocked out on the floor once back at home.
And somehow the seed was sown.

And till the next race!