On Hexam.

Pole Vault, 3.12m PB.

4534 points, managed to get that number on the right of my name a little higher =)

Though I am happy that I managed a PB, I can’t help but feel that this was supposed to happen a few years ago, the steady improvement of a few hundred points comp after comp, so that I would have been somewhat decent at this sport by now. Instead it has been 4 years of dealing with injuries and setbacks that just take the wind out of you more often than not.

But it is what it is and I guess there’s no point feeling jaded or short-changed, just got to make the best out of what is right now and push forward still. I feel that finally I’m getting competent on my weak events (full results are on my results page), especially the jumps. Got a few events wrong so there’s easy points to be gained (in retrospect I ran my 400m wrongly and chickened out for hurdles after hitting hurdle 3 instead of going for it still) so I believe I still can push that number a little higher before the end of this season where I will be heading back to Singapore.

The decathletes. =)

The other decathletes once again was an awesome bunch, I can’t really quite put it into words but it’s a real brotherhood and only other decathletes will understand. Michael Sweeney (top right of the picture above) was unlucky that he fouled out all 3 attempts in his long jump, but still gave all the other events his best shot, which is an incredibly hard thing to do.

Into the 1500m, the last event, I knew I was in trouble because my left foot was hurting and my legs were gone. Michael wasn’t going for a score because of his no jump earlier so he paced me for a 5min 30s time, intending to fall back after 2 laps to conserve energy so that he can go back to his training cycle sooner after the decathlon.

1 lap in and I was in trouble, falling behind the pace that felt easy during the previous decathlon. My legs were well and truly flat, with my left foot hurting, I was unable to keep my strides open. Falling behind, Michael quickly noticed it and slowed down his pace to keep just ahead of me and keep shouting words of encouragement to keep me going. There were also strong headwinds in the home straight so every time I will tuck in behind him to shield myself and tried my best to keep up.

Despite that, I kept dropping pace and was barely hanging on, crossing the finish line eventually in 5 min 43s, my second fastest run in a decathlon. I knew without Michael pacing me, it would have been a much worst story.

That weekend was also the last of the Olympic qualification window and it was sad to see some of the other guys in the group not make the score they needed.

Needless to say, a lot of dreams came to an end that weekend, not just at the Hexam track but throughout the world of sports. I guess that’s just the way the world is, it’s pretty harsh sometimes and not every story have a fairy tale ending.

But like these guys, they handled it with grace, tried their best, gave it everything and lived to fight another day.

For myself, it also brings a close to this chapter.

As I’ve mentioned before, I became a decathlete to prove to myself that I could see it through to the very end, and I did.

They say it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and she’s sung.

But somehow, I’m not quite done yet.

One last dec in August before I end this 2012 season, let’s go.

Thanks for Coming.

That’s all folks, thanks for coming.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. – Abraham Lincoln.

So that was it, I’ve failed.

Finished the England Multi-events Championships over the weekend and managed a PB score, but as expected it was miles off what I needed to get even a sniff of a chance at being a wildcard entry for the Olympics.

I was struggling to finish that decathlon itself as my foot/heel/ankle injury flared up during the high jump, it got so bad that I was ready to throw in the towel before the 400m because I had problems striding out during the warm up for that.

But once again, it’s always the friends around you that help get you through.

You’d think by now I would have the strength of character to finish a decathlon whatever it takes, but truth be told it is always a running battle in my head.

It was thanks to the other decathletes that I went ahead to finish the 2 days anyway, but even in the final moments during the 1500m, there was still that battle between my will and my mind, fighting not to give in to the pain and start slowing down.

It must have already been 6 years since I decided to become a decathlete someday and take a shot at the Olympics. A large part of it was because I wanted to prove to myself, unlike what I did in the army, that I had the guts to go the distance and stick around till the end.

And in a sense, finishing the 1500m with a PB of 5 min 26s compared to my previous PB of 5 min 44s, I felt that I did what I spent all these years trying to do.

I still remember the moment of crossing the finish line and the feeling of punching up my left fist in the air, even though I came in third last for the 1500m, I saw the clock at 5min 25s and I knew I dipped under 5min 30s which was my target.

It’s done.

But more importantly, I knew that finally after all these years, I’ve won the battle in my head.

The hardest part is always letting your old self go, because rightly so it was the one that got you thus far, but now to get any further, I have to let my old self go.

All these years I’ve always thought that because I wanted it bad enough, I could somehow make it happen for myself.

I wanted it bad enough to move away from Singapore, live in a foreign land, walk away from a business that was actually making money and a safe route that was laid out in front of me by society.

I thought by having the guts to take the road less traveled it would somehow be enough to magically get to where I wanted to go.

It wasn’t.

What I’ve learnt is that wanting it bad enough is only one half of the story.

It’s gets you out the door and gets you on the road.

But the road needs a lot of walking.

I know exactly why I’m not a better decathlete than I am right now, I wasn’t willing to push through the pain barrier and attack my weaknesses early enough. I never did have a running or sprinting background, but if I did so at the start, that would have been 6 years of work that I could have gotten by now.

There’s no point in regretting anything now, and truth be told I don’t. As the saying goes, you can only understand life when you look backwards, but you have to live life looking forwards.

So here we are, at the end of this chapter of my life. I wish I could have had a better post with good results and a happy ending to this journey, but I don’t.

Life isn’t always like the movies or what fairytales make them out to be.

But thinking back at all the adventures I’ve had, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve gotten to know, I can honestly tell you it’s even more beautiful, more exciting, more colourful and plural than what the movies and fairytales show.

Moving forwards, this is the part where I have to reinvent myself.

And for whatever I’m going to do next I want to be one of those guys that can say, you know what, I’ve failed and that’s how I’ve learnt to succeed.

A few more decathlons before I end my season and figure out what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, but for now, thank you very much for following my blog.

As always, I sincerely hope that you are having a great time living your life, look forward and please, hold on to your dreams. =)

Somerset, Day 1

Millfield Track, enjoy the experience.

Day 1 results: 100m 13.26s (-2.7), LJ 4.58, SP 11.69m, HJ 1.63m, 400m 61.40s

Pretty much never ran that slowly in my life.

Weather conditions were down right awful, being cold and very windy with spots of rain, but even that isn’t an excuse for this.

Reason why I’m pretty cross with myself is that what lead to that 13.26s run was that I didn’t warm up enough in the cold and when the gun went off I strained my left hip flexor. I thought I could get away with it because I still drove out well and was thinking I’ll just cruise to the finish, but then we got called back due to a false start when we reached 60m. Unfortunately in the rerun of the race, I really felt my left hip flexor straining and pretty much headed to the first aid tent for ice straight after.

It became apparent I’ve managed to hurt myself again in the long jump when my run up had to be massively shortened because I couldn’t stride out as well anymore, and then I thought maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.

I knew that with this kind of start, a good score was not possible, plus with the risk of injuring myself more that would set me back further.

And this is the thing that I hate about myself the most.

The instinct to quit when things get tough.

I was battling myself through the long jump thinking of should I or should I not.

And then I remember the words from my ex-training partner, whom was advising me as I update him on my progress through the day, always finish the dec, cause you never know what happens next and each event is worth doing because there are always things you’re going to learn.

I told myself, ok doesn’t matter, do the best with what I can right now, that’s all I can ask from myself.

And sure enough, things started turning around. I finally got the correct 12 stride run up rhythm to the board in long jump (couldn’t really take off because of my hips though), hit out a decent enough shot on the last attempt (10m through warm up n first throw, fouled the second), high jump I cleared 1.6m easily in warm-up (thought today would be my 1.75m day, but I was in the low pool n had to wait a long long time before my opening height, the cold then got to me) and finally for the 400m I made the decision to run conservatively, but it is the first time I actually had a solid race plan that I executed following David Hughes’ (GB international 400m hurdler) advice.

Yes the times and the distances were embarrassing, but as always I realised just by sticking around you learn a lot about yourself.

I know I shouldn’t be this harsh on myself because I’ve only just come off my foot injury and started sprinting last week, but it’s hard not too because I’ve put in so much work and it’s frustrating to have once again nothing tangible to show for it.

Time to man up for the weather and finish the race. Bring on day 2.

That’s how it should be done
as soon as you thinkin’ you’re down
find how to turn things around
now things are looking up.

On Completing My First Indoor Heptathlon

Finished my first indoor heptathlon.

2981 points, finished 28th out of 31 who completed the heptathlon (of which 35 started).

Once again, the individual performances are a little disappointing, training was going really well and I felt that I was in really good shape for the competition. However, I just don’t seem to be competitive as of yet, everything’s just missing a thing or two.

On the positive note, I know that my training’s working and in another 12 weeks I’ll be getting decent scores and in 24 weeks it’s going to be boom time baby.

So on with the individual event breakdowns:

Day 1-

60m: 7.84s 607pts.

My fustrations of block starts continue, warmed up really well but when it came to the race, I stumbled out of it. But I managed to drive on and made up a bit of ground, however what’s a lot more worrying here is that I seem to have a problem reaching top speeds from the 30m-60m mark (I lose so much ground to the rest as you can see). This is definitely something I need to investigate and work on for the next phase of my training.

Long Jump: 4.95m 373pts.

Went off a short approach of 12 strides. This is the least worked on event so far and it definitely shows. To be fair it’s not far off my pb (5.02m), but I know I can jump way further than this when I actually start carrying some speed in and take off properly. Next 12 weeks should sort this out.

Shot Put: 11.70m 588pts

As you can see, fell out the first two rounds which I got a big hit on (definitely over than 12m throws). Felt the crunch time on the third and final round but I made a decision to go for it still. I did however snatched the last throw a little (guess subconciously I was holding back at the finish to stay in) but hey ho, 11.70m off a last attempt? I’ll take that. =)

Realised the problem was that during training we’re not that concern about fouling and it’s showing in the comp. Will have to work during training to stay in the circle for every hit from now on.

High Jump: 1.59m 457pts

My most disappointing result. Was jumping well to start, finally feeling that I’m jumping off a curve, but then when I clipped 1.62m I suddenly found myself jumping like how I used to and then it messed up my head and the next thing I knew all 3 attempts were gone. I was really hoping to get 1.7m at least as I’ve been jumping well in training, but this shows how a little self-doubt can creep in and ruin everything.

It’s like my old self is struggling to come out at the slightest opportunity. Got to learn to let go of my old self, who got me thus far but is not going to get me any futher, and allow the new me to take me to greater heights from here onwards.

Day 2- One thing’s for sure, my training has certainly conditioned my body to 2 days of competition. Even though there isn’t a 400m at the end of day 1 as compared to a decathlon, I know that I am in much better shape than last year as day 2 felt no different from any other training day of the week usually, I was a wasn’t fresh but could go ahead easily.

60m Hurdles: 13.66s 66pts.

Another oh-so-close event. For the first time in my life I was clearning full height hurdles at full distances during warm up well and I actually felt competent about it.

Come to the race, I got a little too excited at the start and ended up too close to the hurdle, clipped it and it twisted me a little. Because I was actually carrying some speed I carried forward but was stuck being too close to hurdle off 5 stride but in the wrong position to hurdle off 3, next thing I knew, I was standing still with the hurdle against my waist.

But still, I very positive about this as it’s a definite improvement for my hurdles, a few more weeks ahead and I’ll be able to get a clean race in.

Pole Vault: 3.05m PB 369pts

Finally, a PB.

Up till now it has all been quite disappointing in terms of results, but I managed to turn it around a little for the vault. Pole vault is another event that I haven’t done that much off, was struggling in the lower heights off the stiff pole (180lb 13.5ft) so I decided to switch to a soft pole (160lb 13.5ft). Managed to work my way into it and hey ho, finally over the 3m barrier.

Watching the video I know there’s a lot more to be done. I didn’t realise I was taking off massively under the pole which was why I couldn’t complete the vault action at the top of the pole. Also I’m only off 8 strides short approach, will aim to go up to 12 strides in 12 weeks time and get a proper bend in the pole. Will have to consider buying a pole myself as I’m stuck with a slightly too soft pole and a too stiff pole at the moment.

1000m: 3min 15.41s 521pts

Well it’s no secret I’ve always struggled with my 1500m runs and I’ve put quite a bit of work over the past 15 weeks. Was quite happy with the run actually, I was originally aiming for a 3min 10s finish but I stopped checking my watch from the 3rd lap onwards and didn’t realise I was dropping that much pace. Also hated the part where I was overtaken by the guy I overtook. When I realised it was happening I tried to pick up speed but nothing quite happened.

Still I know my fitness is improving and I will continue to work at it till I run a 5min 1500m by summer.

So to conclude, I know I’m on the right track. I just got to keep working on things and use this experience to refine my training and address the problems I’ve identified.

I would have loved to finish higher up in the rankings, but that hurdle event really hurt my score. But in the grand scheme of things, scores are irrelevant for me now. It’s another valuable experience in my development as a multi-eventer.

I’ll stay the course, put my head down and keep going at it.

I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul.

On my 2011 Performance.

The number tag to finish the year on.

Last race of the year today, first race of the new season. To be frank, saying that I’m not disappointed with my performances today would be a lie. We all want to come out and perform on every single comp, big or small.

But the truth is this early season comp has always been meant as a tester. If there’s any mistake that you’re going to make, you’ll want to make it here, learn from it, sharpen myself up after and get ready to go.

Painful sometimes to watch how slow I am (7.88s is the official time), but I’m actually running in a much faster heat than I’m used to. I set off today thinking all I wanted to do is to execute out a good race plan, get a decent start (haven’t gone off blocks since August so I wasn’t expecting much), go through my drive phase, then acceleration phase and get into max speed running.

What happened was I got a slow start, got somewhat of a decent drive phase, but when I came into my acceleration phase I kinda lost it on one stride (if you watch the point between 18 and 19s of the video, you can see that distinct change in rhythm of my run) and didn’t get into an acceleration phase at all. Needless to say, I never did once feel like I hit my top speed.

But the positives here is that I can feel and am aware of what I’m suppose to be doing and am actually fit enough to run a good time. 4 weeks of speed work in and I’ll be good for my heptathlon in January.

Shot put, here’s the bigger issue. I threw a metre down from my PB and am throwing much shorter than what I have been doing in the past few weeks during training.

Why?

It’s all in the mind.

What’s happening is that I reach a comp and my mind tells me I have to give it a little extra, and that basically screws up all my rhythm and technique. In reality I don’t, I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing and the performance will be there.

I’ve got to up the mental intensity during my training and drop the intensity during the comp.

Good mistake to make now because I know what to do to correct this by January.

So all in all, it has been a valuable day. Making mistakes are how you learn to go forwards.

And when I look back at the entire year, I realise how far along I’ve came.

This was all the competitions I did in 2009 when I was unsure of myself.

Then I finally got my act together in 2010 and pushed ahead to do a decathlon, even though I really wasn’t physically or technically ready (plus that dislocated ankle from falling off my bike in winter didn’t help either)

And finally in 2011, I lived, trained and competed like a decathlete.

Yes, there was that many performances that I had to scroll down the screen (the latest 2 have not been added to that list yet).

As I said, when you look ahead, it always seems like there’s such a damn long way to go and you almost feel like you can’t reach there.

But when you look back you realised you’ve come such a long way that back then you could never have imagined you actually got here.

From a boy with a dodgy left knee from Singapore to a decathlete living and training in the UK. Yeah, I can finish 2011 with that.

Everybody’s got their fight. – Never Back Down

2012, that’s my fight, it’s time to finish it.

Hexam 2011

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If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. – Bruce Lee

4032 points. (Click here and scroll down for the full results.)

Other than a 100m PB the rest of the 9 events went quite badly. To be fair I’ve never expected much from this decathlon, I had a week off due to my parents coming over for my graduation and originally planned not to do this dec. Thought the experience would be useful so I decided to go for it anyway.

Whilst my hamstring injury has recovered, I’ve discovered just how much fitness I’ve actually lost. Even though the run timings for the 400m and 1500m were extremely disappointing, I did try to push it and it sucks to hurt and still run such a slow time.

But I guess I’m still proud that I completed yet another decathlon. This would be my 3rd one successfully completed. It has been quite a disruptive week (not to mention I wrecked my car last week as well), but hey sometimes you just got to go with the flow and look ahead. I must say overall I still had an amazing weekend thanks partly to the awesome weather. I got to see some amazing scenery, ate amazing food, met amazing people and I think largely that’s why I love to continue to do what I’m doing.

My 100m timings coming down so I’m still gunning for a sub-12s run this season. Got the first 3/4 of the race figured out, just that final 1/4 to find that 0.2s from. For the other events I just got to remind my body the technical aspects and get back into shape.

As much as I wanted to be around 5000 points by now and trying for 6000, it is how it is.

Time to lose a few pounds, get lean and get going.

Manchester in 4 weeks.

I’ll be ready.

Just keep going, you got nothing to lose anyway.

Back on Track.

Had a local meet earlier today, did the Shot Put, Long jump and 100m event.

Shot Put was a write off because it clashed with the 100m and thus I didn’t actually got a proper throw (5 quid wasted, damn. Should have listened to Max who just signed up for 100m and Long jump.)

100m went well, timing wasn’t terribly far off the fastest I’ve run this year (12.48s compared to 12.42s). But the more important part was that my hamstring held up fine andI could actually sprint down the entire 100m. Watching the video it’s clear I need to be working on my block starts (haven’t done any in I think 8 weeks since I pulled my hamstring) and also holding my form towards the end of the race. Put this two together and I think I smell a PB on its way.

For long jump, I decided to try a 16 stride approach for the very first time and managed a 4.83m jump which is once again not terribly far off my PB. Running was a little inconsistent and I think there wasn’t a single jump which I actually took off properly so I’m convinced that I’ll be ironing out and sticking to this 16 stride approach for my next dec.

So in conclusion, I’m back on track. Body’s holding up fine, decathlon in 10 days time.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee

Finished Another Decathlon.

Finishing the fight. Just before I went down on the floor as well after the 1500m.

I finished the second decathlon in my life. =)

I’m really exhausted right now and with my exams this Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m won’t be able to give you a detailed update of my weekend yet.

If you’ve been following my tweets you would have seen that it was a struggle to just get through the two days. I had to dig deep several times, but I’m happy that this time, I finished the fight. No the scores are not good, but I didn’t give up when the going got tough and that was all that mattered to me.

Thank you everyone who showed their support for me in one way or another, I couldn’t have done it without you guys, knowing that you’re behind me in my journey.

And especially to the rest of the decathletes, whom helped me loads along the way through the two days. Saw some of the most amazing performances in my life,  as a spectator said to me earlier, I should be proud that I was part of this great event competing.

Do refer to the results page (scroll down to point 3 on the results page) for the full results of my dec. I promise to tell you more about it once I get through my 11th event, the final exams of my degree this week.

Cheers and have a good week ahead!

The Loughborough Decathlon Crew. England Athletics Combined Events Championships 2011.

Just another hurdle hit…

Hitting them hard and keeping on going.

Well the video above was taken during the warm up. The hurdle was full height and put just 1 foot in. Managed to get over them consistently though I had troubles with my hamstring using blocks so I started without them. That itself is another step forward for me and so I was really looking forward to the race.

And then of course things don’t quite go according to plan. Listened to my coach’s advice and started off slow to build speed into the first hurdle, but somehow with the rest of the guys running beside me it just threw me off rhythm and I jumped the first one. Landed down hard on my left heel and was off balanced (with a twitch in my hips), so I bailed out and that was it. Contemplated for a moment after the race whether to go on but thanks to Jono’s encouragements I ice-ed it and decided to continue.

This was my first throw of 11.2 something. Got better after each round and finished with 11.6 something that I’m pleased with. Though the distance wasn’t quite close to my best, the form certainly felt good and I know what I should be doing.

So am I disappointed I didn’t manage to complete the race? Yes.

Am I happy that I man-ed up and tried? Hell Yeah.

Throughout the day and the night before I was mulling over it because my legs were feeling quite tight and sore from Monday. Plus I haven’t actually gotten over full height hurdles at competition distance or even at 1 foot in yet, so it was quite a long shot for me. But because I tried I now am that much more confident that I’ll be alright next weekend during the decathlon. I made it down the full distance over two hurdles just before the race and it would be the first time ever that I managed to do that.

I found the courage and I am going to keep going till the end.

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Taking the day off tomorrow to patch myself back into one piece before I go at it again.

Let’s do this.

DNF.

Sigh.

That picture and title (DNF – did not finish) just about sums up this decathlon for me. Mixed feelings about this one, but on to the videos and results first.

100m: 12.41s (PB), got a decent start but then found myself in a horrible position at about 50m mark. Somehow during races when I see others inching ahead I tense up and sink into a really low running position. Will work on my running drills and try to correct this.

Long Jump: 5.02m (PB), one of the least worked on event during our training. Only attempted a 12 stride run up, will aim to increase this to either 14 or 16 strides by the next decathlon to get a bit more speed into the jump.

Shot Put: 11.77m, good arm hit on the shot, but the timing of my active reverse is just fractionally too early. This results in the shot pushing me backwards because I’m in mid-air, rather than me pushing the shot forward against the ground.

High Jump: 1.66m, massive 9cm pb. Video is with Max’s parents, hopefully I’ll be able to grab it off them soon and upload it here. Finally getting the hang of how to high jump and I expect the height to be going up even more really soon.

400m: Went off as hard as I could and had a really good run down the first 60m, but as I passed the bend I felt a sharp twinge in my right hamstring and I knew I pulled it. I slowed down massively once it happened and the thought that maybe I should stop flashed through my head.

It’s so disappointing because the day went by so well right up to that point. I’ve already gotten 3 all-time pbs, 1 decathlon event pb (for the shot put) and I knew I was going to be running a pb time for the 400m with that start.

It was validation for all the training that I’ve done through the year and I just wanted to finish the race. Luckily when I slowed down and shortened my stride, it felt like I could go on as the pain died down so I just kept at that pace. Managed to get all the way round in 59.14s but knew it was going to be a long shot to be able to keep going for one more day.

I so badly wanted to finish the decathlon, but when I woke up the next morning having troubles walking and going down the stairs, I knew it was game over for me.

Updated the guys back at SAA (Singapore Athletics Association) about how the day went and James Wong (local discus throwing legend) replied:

“Really glad to hear that you are beginning to feel how to manage the Decathlon event and really hope to see you bloom n hit the 6000pts soon n guess what, our NR (national record) is not far away man.  Keep it up and I’m really looking forward to you breaking the record and hit 7000 points before you retire man.  Go for it.”

Kind words of encouragement but it also reminded me that it won’t be that long more before I retire. In fact to be realistic I would have about 5 decathlons left and that’s it (assuming of course that I remain fit and healthy). Heading home next year after my studies and I won’t be able to do this anymore (there aren’t any decathlons to compete in back home). And with hitting the ripe age of mid-20s, you start to realise if it doesn’t happen then it won’t happen already.

But oh well no point worrying about that now, gotta patch myself up and try to keep on going. Less than 4 weeks to the next decathlon and I hope my leg’s going to be alright for that. As the saying goes, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Never Give Up.

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