Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Of menopause and allergies or maybe more..

A Matured Man and A Menopausing Woman
Some months back...I recalled having a light moment with Kelvin Ng (Buluman) and some of our running mates just before the start of a race. We were joking about being 'creative' in naming our race categories instead of the extremely boring Men Open, Women Open or Men Veteran and Women Veteran. Very quickly we came up with a few ideas eg. Fast & Furious Men, Fit & Fabulous Women, Modern Men, Wise Women or Matured Men and Menopausing Women!! Ha! Ha!
Kelvin immediately admitted that he'll fit himself perfectly into the 'Matured Men' category while I'll just categorise myself into the 'Menopausing Women' category!

The "Midlife Crisis"
Hey, I am not joking! These days it's rather common especially when women entered "midlife" - the popular euphemism for menopause...
Sometimes when I ran out of steam, lost my energy and started getting annoying aches and pains (esp. at the lower back); I began to wonder.."Is it menopause or just the normal effects of aging that kick in simultaneously with menopause?" As a runner and being a woman, I assumed that sometimes my aches, pains and loss of performance are menopause-related, but was informed that the research is vague and the connection unsubstantiated. Nobody knows for sure. I believe that every woman experiences menopause differently and I also know of some women who passed through it with little complaint.

A Hyper-Sensitive Guinea Pig
Perhaps athletic women have more difficulty than other women because we are so used to being in control, and menopause is a phase when one feels tired and definitely not feeling in control anymore especially over what's happening to the body! But things always happened quite uniquely for me, perhaps this is because I was given a super-sensitive body in this life. One of my doctors commented that it is a very good body for them to work as an experiment...No Way!! In other words, I am actually a good guinea pig? Ha! Ha!

A Victim Of Allergies
Jokes aside and to be honest, the slightest misuse of drugs would irritate my eyes and cause it to swell. At times, it's the environment or surroundings that would trigger an explosion of rashes. Sometimes it's the application of a certain product that made me vomit like crazy. Other times it's just the consumption of certain food and I would succumb to an allergy of sorts and my hormones would go hay-wire! I remembered the year where I had 3 analphylatic shocks and living with a BP of 180/120 and gosh, I survived! Last week, I had a piece of Roti Canai for dinner and I passed out a bowl of blood for 3 days!! Scary..

A Seeker seeking to know herself
Some of my friends panicked when I related this to them but to me, I've been quite used to this kind of drama now. So I don't worry too much. This morning I woke up feeling totally unwell..I was sneezing with watery eyes and my head felt heavy as if a migraine would attack anytime. My body, as always was burning. So I need to examine myself - what went wrong? Many times, there's no answer. Sometimes, I just assumed.
My physician suggested that I should record down all my encounters with allergies and share my experiences in the blog. Well, I don't know...I'm still trying to discover more about my body first.

So many questions, so few answers...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The walker strikes back!

For so long and now at last, we had a race walking event held last Sunday and perhaps the only one for the year!
Race walking has always been my pet event (perhaps it's because I started learning walking before I learned to run!). Unfortunately there aren't many walking races in Malaysia. Perhaps walking events here have not drawn as many participants as in running. Perhaps, the sport itself is too technical and takes time to train. In addition to this, the country also lacks quality coaches to train and guide us.

Race Walking
Ask any runner who has tried race walking and not continued with it, they will tell you that race walking is difficult. It is because it reflects the fact that the sport takes a much greater degree of sustained focus and concentration on tecnical details than running. Nevertheless, once the basic techniques are mastered, race walking can actually be an easier sport to progress within, because competitors avoid the injuries that plaque runners.

Coach Khoo Chong Beng
In my earlier days, I was rather privileged to have met Khoo Chong Beng and be coached by him. Mr. Khoo won his first Gold medal and broke the SEA Games 20km walk record in 1971. In the 1973 SEA Games, he won another Gold and upped the Games record again. In 1976, he represented Malaysia in the Montreal Olympics and a year later, he won his third Gold at the Asia Track and Field Championship in Seoul and also his fourth Gold in the SEA Games with another record. The same year he was honoured the Best Sportsman of the Year award by the Olympic Council of Malaysia. Now most of his time is spent participating as an official or judge at international race walking events.

Training under Mr Khoo was fun because :
He never pressured me - His motto is to have fun, relax, enjoy the walk and never forget to smile.
He never pushed or rushed me - His advice is always to walk with the right techniques and get into the rhythm. Once you achieved the rhythm, you will automatically walk faster. In fact, slower pace builds solid skills enabling a walker to walk faster later.
All these take effort, patience and passion.
Effort because unlike running, every part of our body need the correct co-ordination in order to 'get into the groove'...therefore, you get to use your body's untapped resources. It takes time to master.
Patience because you just can not rush. A simple mistake eg. a skip, knee bend or if the feet fail to touch the ground is considered as illegal and one can get disqualified half way through the walk or even at the finishing!
Passion is like anything else...when there is no passion, one will not be able to progress further.
Nowadays, I observed a number of novice walkers rushing the learning process which resulted illegal techniques and other inefficient habits. Such habits quickly became ingrained and difficult to unlearn later.

The Malaysian Insurance Institute Big Walk
When I arrived at Dataran Merdeka, I already observed Kelvin Chow and several other serious walkers doing their warm-ups. Kelvin in particular, was all set and ready as he was really very anxious to win. He had messaged me several times before the race day to enquire on John's previous timing etc. I advised him to stay calm and enjoy the race just as Mr Khoo would say to me.

At the starting line, I met many seasoned walkers namely; Shew Keng, Tong Lean, Teoh Tay Wah, Siew Cheng and Agnes. Kamala was missing. Anyway, I was behind all of them soon after the gun off. As usual, I needed time to obtain my rhythm and was glad that it did not take me too long to begin walking smoothly and swiftly. Soon, I was enjoying my walk...then slowly but surely, I overtook my friends one by one.

As I was approaching the Parliament, I met Melvin (from FRIM)..he was fast and furious that morning, so I decided to just pace with him. Ah! later, I sighted John at Padang Merbok traffic light, he was there to cheer me and signalled to me that Shew Keng was 50 metres behind me. As the finishing line was about 800 metres away - Melvin suggested that I should just charge ahead. I took his advice, left him and went ahead.
I reached the finishing line....1st!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Behind that finishing line...

Days of being busy...
I had been busy lately. Busy because June was the month when my final project with a Brand that I've been working with expired. Because it was my last project - I was determined to set a record for it in terms of sales.
"You are as good as your last project!" my late MD Robert used to tell me. In my area of work, performance counts and not only had I over achieved the target - I did set a new record. But at the end of it all, only to find out that I was doing a thankless job!! Well, things like that happened sometimes (sigh!). So instead of feeling jubilant over my 4 months stint - I was upset.
Now that I had so-called recovered from it, it's time to pause and think about what I do. Perhaps it's also time to get off the time machine and catch my breath. I want to reflect on what my life is all about so that I can decide what my life should be all about. BUT I always find myself stuck in the time machine again. My days keep passing and rolling. Whether it gathers moss or momentum, it just keeps rolling. Everything is revolving around as a vortex and I get stucked into it without realising or comprehending anything.
Somehow there is always a reason not to stop. There is always a seemingly legitimate reason not to reflect and ponder.

Of being patient and understanding...
Then last week, I made a last minute decision to 'let go' of my selfish self to accompany John to Ipoh. He was to participate in his maiden 160km Century Ride. Initially, I wasn't keen with this idea of following him as I would be wasting my time. I shuddered at the thought of waiting for him to complete his ride in 6hrs or more! "I would be able to accomplish many tasks myself.." That was the selfish side of me speaking.
Eventually, I made up my mind to go with his wife, supporter and chauffeur. Once that decision was made, I was clear and focus on my objective and my presence there.
On race day, while waiting for John's arrival at the finishing line, brought me to mind that John was always the one who waited and supported me at the finishing. He would just wait patiently for me, rain or shine and with no complaints. I recalled during my 24hr walk event, he was there to cheer and motivate me. I looked around and I didn't see any other husbands doing this for their wives and I feel really fortunate blessed for having him as my husband and soulmate.
At that moment, I felt ashamed of myself when I realized that after so many years, this is the 1st time I ever waited for my husband and cheered him at the finishing line. John was surprised to see me there, greeting him. He didn't expect that for he knew his wife never had the patience. I felt proud that I gave him that pleasant surprise.
Overall, it was a weekend well-spent. I was glad I came and played my part even though I didn't participate in the event. Had I stayed back at home - I would never have learnt - I would never have felt - I would never have understood...
behind that finishing line.