Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We are athlete (the before and after story)

I can sometime be quite cocky and i sometime have disillusion of grandeur of being an athlete. If one is look at my physique, one would have thought that I belong in the 3 stooges gang. Anyway, i thot i might as well relate what happen in my dream of being a weekend athlete in Singapore doing the Singapore Marathon.

Actually, it all boils down the sentence "We are athlete, ....". It all started with a group of us taking the MRT, and trying the be the gentlement, since there was a seat available, i had offered it to Maysenn. She retorted, "No, we are athlete, we prefer to stand". So we went round Singapore taking stairs instead of escalators and preferring to walk rather then taking the MRT all in the name of "We are athlete".

Now, come after race day, we were walking like crabs. After taking the taxi home, we had this monumental task of trying to walk up the apartment of just 4 flight of stairs. The words, "we are athelete" went into oblivion. Walking up/down a flight of stair case was suffering. We even took lift down and up to the MRT. None of us dared to utter the words "we are athelete" anymore.

On a sidenote, Ihave never seen so much people in my life. Its as if the whole of Singapore has turn out to run. Event went all right except for us being wrongly directed in circles in finding the baggage sorage area. Other then that we had a breeze of a time.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Conquering and managing fear...

I seldom talk about my fears and these are the fear of drowning, heights and darkness. The fear of drowning stems from the fact that in my growing up years, I was nearly drowned three times. This is further compounded by the fact that i cannot swim and thus does not assist me in trying to get into water to learn to swim.

I cannot remember how I acquire the fear of heights, but I always have horrendous dreams about me falling over the cliff, though its commonly falling over the edge of the bed.

I suppose the fear of darkness comes from my upbringing, being continuously threatened by bogeyman and ghosts by uncles and aunties.

Last week, the company decided that staff are required to undertake team building exercises organized by Nomad Adventures near Kampar. The team building consist of undertaking some rope works and Skytrex tree canopy walk, white water rafting in Kampar river and caving in Gua Kundu. Imagine, I have to control and manage all my fear in just one 2 day event.
Arriving there on Thursday morning, we first had to undertake the tree/cliff rope walks at about 20 to 30 feet in height. The debate that your mind have with your heart can sometimes be very deafening as your fear trys to conquer you. I had to control my fear as I took the challenge of climbing the first vertical wall climb and as I progress, the rope works became more and more difficult. By the time, I reached the point of no return, we were already 30 feet above ground and I had to grit my teeth to finished the challenge. Reaching the ground after 1 hour, i was sweating like a donno what animal, and was glad that I managed to finish the obstacle, but more importantly manage my fear heights.
After lunch, the next challenge we were told to do is White water rafting. It had drizzled along the way, and we were told by our facilitator that the event could be cancel if the water gets to unruly. Arriving at the top, we saw torrents of water gushing near the bridge and was told that we could be having a category 3 or 4 rapids today. The instructors looked happy but some of us were beginning to have worried look on our faces. The safety and pedal briefing prior to the start didn't help either as we were reminded what to do in the event the raft capsized.

The river has 14 rapids and drops, and we were broken up to a team of 4 in two rafts. There were other people from ING which amounts to another 6 raft. Our team mates in the other raft were not so luckily having capsized at the start of the challenge and was swept away. All together 6 raft capsized and overturned. U can see people being swept away and even after being rescued, some were shivering with trauma. We were quite fortunate that we had a very experience boatman/guide and managed to go through the drops and rapids control ably. Having gulped much of Kampar river water, i was relieved when we finished that 8 km river trip after more then 2 hours. Much of the time spent was also trying to regroup and salvage other team mates that have been swept away.

The next day, the next challenge entails us to explore gua Kundu. What was not informed to us is that exploration of the Gua also means ascending and descending 15 to 20 feet vertical walls in the dark. Armed with 3 candles and a compass, we had to find our way in the caves some no more then 3 feet by 3 feet openings. Some of the memorable ascends are a two staged 15 feet , 60 degree climb using ropes and secondly a 15 feet 80 degree drop into a recess/cavity. The ending is a spectacular opening at the top of the limestone caves with a long flying fox ride for those who might want to take up the challenge.
We later descended via a short cut which was equally challenging if not more then the climb in the dark. It was via a 60 degrees jungle mud walk (since it was drizzling the nite before). I nearly kicked the guide down as I slipped my footing. Reaching the ground, i have never felt such euphoria of relieved as I can feel the feet on the ground.

The take away that I get from this is, i sometime surprise myself that I am willing to take up something new at my age. I am also surprised that I can complete some of these task and quite happy that my fear did not over ride my logic and make me a non starter. Over all, I quite enjoy myself in the last two days although my body says otherwise.