Category Archives: Swimming

Day 28 – small workshop, afternoon cycling, and an amazing swim class

In the morning had a business plan workshop, it was disappointing to have a significantly smaller number on the last day of the workshop, but not unexpected. Kinda felt tired, but that might be from the disappointment, at the end of the class, a few people left early. I dont blame people for being unable to come or that they have to leave early, as I understand people have priorities.  The last friday of ramadhan is often a day where families visit graves, also considering pay day a few days ago and raya is upcoming, some people might need to go to the bank today in the morning.

The friday sermon or khutbah today was started with something about how complicated and fragile the human body is, and ended with the importance of masjid, or the place of worship. Mentioning on the newly (and amazingly quickly) built masjid in mentiri. It burnt down in early April 2017, but it was finished this late june 2017.  That’s like 3 months to build a structure that can house hundreds or maybe a thousand people. Which just shows with power, money a stong desire, a lot can be built in a relatively short amount of time. Inspires me to be rich and powerful to do something as great. 🤔

In the late afternoon after a power nap, my wife and I went out on a bike ride, me with my new bike. Originally she felt lazy, but she incentivize herself to bike by requesting to eat out afterwards. So I agreed. I was setting up, I realize how many important accessories I need to buy for my new bike. A new saddle bag for emergency repair kit, maybe a bag to put extra items, and some lights. Temporarily I transferred from my old bike to my new bike and we went out. And then due to larger frame and taller saddle, I had to remove both wheels instead of the usual front wheel only, in order to fit 2 bikes in one car. Also testing out my new bib shorts and cycling jersey that arrived yesterday. Which coincidentally matched the colour of my bike. I think green might be my new colour.

When I tested the bike previously, it was around the stadium, so I couldn’t go full speed at extended periods. This time around I wanted to see how well I would do on the highway. We started off easy, as a warmup. I cant fully experience going fast on a steep climb yet on the highway, as we went sliw and relaxed. My wife didn’t want to go too far so we settled for the 8km mark and made a u-turn. It was only then on the way back with a lot of descents that we went fast, I thought I might have gone too fast and left my wife far behind, but she was doing well keeping up just behind me, so I was able to go faster with her keeping up. I was surprised how I could maintain my speed, and even more surprised that my wife could keep up. Well for a while anyway, but it was still impressive. We went fast downhill and maintained a bit of speed uphill as well. Going downhill with my urata, I would have to pedal faster to avoid the dead zone to convert the pedaling to get speed, but with the smaller teeth of 11t vs a 13t, I was able convert more of that pedalling to speed without any dead zones. That means I could potentially go faster. Our last ride was 44 mins, this time around with the longer wait at the u turn we did 42 mins.

Looking at the speed graph below, potentially without the warm up, we could have averaged 30kmph. Previously with my urata, and withput drafting. I struggled to get to and maintain 30kmph. 27kmph would have been the average. What a difference a higher end bike makes. Of course I think the power I have built up with the urata over the years helped. The bike’s function is to convert that power into speed. And oh boy, did that new bike transferred that into speed. I feel more confident that I can keep up with the big boys. I look forward to riding with a group, or joining a cycling event. Just to see how much my speed is improved with a better bike. 

As we finished, I shared with my wife how impressed I was with her ability to keep up. Her faced was flush red from her attempt. I remembered this time around to do some stretches for myself an my wife, before we headed home.

We got home and prepared to go out. It was only then I realized I had a few invites that day, one was a function nearby. I decided to forego the functions and just treat my wife for her achievements today. Unfortunately a lot of restaurants were full for the iftar. So we decided to delay my break (and her treat) and went off to buy some bike accessories instead at the bike shop. Bought some lights and a bottle cage, will have to look for the saddle bag elsewhere. 

When we went to the restaurant,  they were a few available tables. We noticed that there were others that were waiting to be served as well. We were prepared for some slow and possibly bad customer service. My wife really wanted her treat, her reward, so she was willing to wait. For starters the table we got want wiped clean yet. Then it was a few minutes before we got the menu, thankfully we knew what we wanted and ordered on the spot. There a few food items that were out of stock, but there were acceptable alternatives. We noticed while waiting, a few other people left as they weren’t serviced fast enough. I acknowledged my wife for being patient as she used to be one of toys impatient people, but she shared she knows what she wanted, and wouldn’t go any where else, as if she did age any where else or anything else, from past experience, she knows she wouldn’t feel satisfied.  So the food was worth the wait. 

The cucumber and carrot slices with the sambal paste and ambuyat sauce came first. A few more minutes passed by before the ambuyat came along with leafy vegetable, we waited a bit longer before the plates and the utensils were provided along with the hati buyah, and finally our drinks. We noticed that the service was improving as one staff from the 1st floor kitchen came down and coordinated their efforts. We empathize with the workers at the restaurant, it is not often that they have a full house. I wondered when if they did at all, broke their fast. The service was uncharacteristically slower, but it was not bad. Aminah Arif was having a good bad day. Good that they have a lot of customers. Bad that they couldn’t keep up.

Done with the main course we dropped by a convenience store to buy some snacks as desserts. Soft drinks and ice cream. Then my wife dropped me off to the swimming pool for my class.

During non-ramadhan my classes were 4 sessions x 1.5 hours. But because the pool only opens at 9-10pm during ramadhan, my classes turned to 6 sessions x 1 hour. So my syllabus changed a bit. But then again, my syllabus is very flexible, as it accounts for different people’s abilities. Tonight is the 2nd last class, but 1 out of 2 of my students were able to do 50m non-stop at the basement pool. But she has the advantage of being a floater. Their next session will involve swimming at the lap pool above, after refining their technique a bit more.

If it wasn’t for the rain and my wife waiting in the car, i would be tempte to run. So we went staright home. When we arrived, we were so tired and sleepy. My wife wasn’t able to juice as she usually does , and I went straight to bed and dozed off.

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day 24 – khatamalquran, postal packages, triathlon day

Attended a khatamalquran funtion by Jabatan Penjara in the morning. (I was invited as I was involved conducting a workshop for the released) This is a ceremony usually done after 2 to 3 weeks of reading the quran by its section or juz. I haven’t attended one in a long time. unfotunately for me, I came in so early that they placed me next to the VIPs, which were next to the Imam, ustaz, and the officers. I was unsure of what I needed to do. Thankfully, there was a guidebook that was given, so it was just a matter of reading through it, and following cues by the imam or ustaz. being able to read fluently is an advantage of course. thankfully,  that is a skill that stuck to me from arabic school. I went to the office after that to do some work. there I found there was a postal card to pick up some parcels. I have recently used my office address instead of my home, as I found it more convenient. 

went home and my wife was ready to do an afternoon bike ride. Despite the windy and cloudy weatger, and some sporadic rain, we did. Thankfully it did not rain on our ride. She fared better this time around. What worked last time was we cycled out relaxed as a warm up, and cycled back fast. We did the same, and gps tracked she did her fastest 10km ride yet.

We broke fast with mostly food that my wife prepared before we cycled. Tortilla chicken with salad, we bought satay urat (ligament tendon on a stick) for the chondroitin supplement. 

The night I also had a swim class, I was half expecting the pool to be closed because of the rain. But pushed on anyway, went to the pool waited in line, waited for a few minutes for the pool guard to arrive, and went in. It was a productive class, as they students were able to swim the width of the pool.

After the swim class, I went out for a run. I realized this makes today a triathlon training day, as I swim 🏊 , biked 🚲 and ran 🏃 in one day, just not in that order. I learned from last time that I may need to start of slow as a warm up, to avoid my cold joints from being in pain and getting injured. So I warmed up for the first 2km at pace 8, but for the last 3km, I went fast, with a 5.5pace in some instances. MY GPS watch ⌚ was low battery 🔋 at this point, so I turned off the metronome, hoping that it would last longer, thankfully it did. And then at the end, I didn’t pack up and go in a hurry, and I did a few stretches. Targetting my foot and calves with lunges, and downward facing dog, and reaching my toes. I also stood on a ledge to massage the bottom of my foot.

On the way home, My car fuel was low, thankfully I knew a fuel station that was opened up till midnight at kilanas. At home  before sleep, I made sure I drank 750mL of water to hydrate myself. As well as to prepare for the fast the next day.

Day 21 – self control, another swim class and a late night run

Friday morning I had a workshop,  it went kinda faster than expected, considering the last session was dragging a bit. Not sure if I skipped a few things. 

During the break, I was mindfully being aware of what I ate. Remembering last time I ate and ran at night, I felt a bit bloated, and was having side stitches during my run. Looked up again a scishow video on side stitches. Its possible that either my stomache wasn’t used to running with food anymore, or there is too much fibre. My fibre mostly coming from the juice my wife made. I don’t think that is the culprit. 


At night had a swim class, this time I didn’t forget to take a selfie at the end of the class. Saw a fee triathletes with some ironman finishers training again at the pool, but this time they trained at the lap pool.

Then I went out on a run, but kept in mind the foot pain I had last time. It was either due to factors such as cold night mixed in with my wet shorts from swimming, and the swimming itself, (not much of a swim, mostly being immersed while teaching), causing the muscles and tendons to be tight and cold, and/or my running was too fast to soon, considering I haven’t been frequently running as I used to. So I went at a very relaxed pace of 8 mins/km. It was tempting to run at a faster pace whenever there were other people around, either them passing me by, or when crossing paths, but my slightly bloated stomache reminded me to slow down (apparently I still ate or drank a bit too much).  but at least the side stitches was only at the beginning. And the foot pain was almost negligible. 

Ended the run with a significantly long stretching session targeting my back muscles, hamstring and calves, mostly lunges and the downward facing dog pose. And a bit of stepping on a low ledge, pressing on the middle of my soles. Its what I used to do to fix my plantar fasciitis a few years back. Hopefully at this early stage I can stave off further injuries with stretches. Something I need to remind myself to do more at this age.

Labuan Cross Channel Swimming 2017

I consider the Labuan Cross Channel Swimming as an annual pilgrimage for me to do an open water swim event. It is a 5.4km openwater swim from Labuan to Pulau Papan and Back.

labuan cross channel swim 2017 start

In the picture above, I am pointing to the island that I am swimming to. I honestly feel like it looks closer than what I remember to be. But I know how far it is from previous experience. Notice the ships in the area. We have been informed that the ships would clear out for our path, but in past experiences the currents have pushed them  in our path. Which is the case that morning. The target is just slightly left to the centre of island, and you can see the ship was partially blocking.

There were a few changes this year compared to previous years. Previously, the kids category started of from Pulau Papan, having been sent there on a boat. This year they start from Labuan, and will be picked up by boat from Pulau Papan. Joining them are the veterans, who previously did the whole 5.4km, but are now limited to half the distance along with the kids. A few people I know my age wouldn’t have mind doing the half distance, especially beginners swimmers. The start of the swim seemed more happening as all the categories started at the same time.

A last minute change was that originally the 3 different categories were to be started 2 mins apart. But as most swimmers disagreed (I believe it is mostly due to possible cheaters or confused starts, 2 mins is a huge gap for any race) the organizers decided to flag of everyone at the same time.

labuan cross channel swimming 2017

(note/reminder: my gps got stuck 1/3 on the way back)

Before the start of the swim, I identified the 2 big boats that I need to sight in order to reach the island. I ignored the swim markers, knowing that they tend to be pushed by the currents, on which I noticed was being pushed to the north or left of the shore.  the first 1/3 of the swim was interesting, it was relatively clear, I could see other swimmers in the water,  and I could also see debris in the water, and I am not just talking rubbish, but the tree trunks floating in the water. It was a mine field, swimming around the debris.

At two-thirds of the swim, I could feel it was getting more difficult to swim through the currents, at some point the waves seemed coming from all directions. Possibly due to some small ship passing by or the winds blowing the big ships causing some waves. Almost to the island it always bothered me that the island doesn’t seem to be getting any closer.

As I reached the island after 1 hr 30 mins. I was wondering should I go back. 1. I was later than usual, 2. the waves were rough and 3. I was experience a few pains, including small jelly fish stings and my armpits were chaffing. at 1hr 40min, I decided to continue, hoping to that 1. the current pushing me back earlier, could push me back faster, 2. I can withstand the pain for a little bit longer. I asked the organizers there if they had any vaseline or vinegar, but they didn’t have any, it didn’t look like they even had any medic on stand by as it was available last year.

So I went, being able to see the big white tent from the island, pinpointed the ships that i can use to sight. swam back. a few times I can feel the stings from underneath my suit, and while swimming I could sometimes see small blue things in the water the size pin needle. Unsure if they are the things causing the stings. I went through the obstacles again, starting with the rough waves and the mine field. All through out, I could feel I was riding through with the waves heading back to labuan.

At some point in the middle, I felt like checking my surrounding, I stopped, looked around, saw and realized… that I was alone… no one nearby, no kayaks, only the ships. and I was 1km away from any dry land. It was worrying, and yet cool at the same time. As I checked my watched, I realized that although the time was working, the GPS was not functioning any more, which was disappointing, as it was the first time I was swimming Labuan with a GPS watch. But I carried on anyway.

Closer to Labuan, the currents were not as consistent or I was that tired that my alignment was off. I swear the currents going back was pushing me to the right, but as I got closer to Labuan, the current seemed to be pushing me to the left. Maybe something to do with vortices around the island.

On shore, I saw my wife waiting for my return. As I got out, I thought the finishing timer would be in the tent as previous times so I ran to the tent, but then I realized there was no one there recording the time, and I looked back it was the people close to the shore that was doing so. In any case, I rested in the shade before I double check with the time recorders on my official time and position. My wife took a video of me finishing the swim.

I was glad that I participated and completed the swim again this year. It was probably the most painful swim I have yet to experience. So here is a few reminders for myself as well as others when doing this swim.

  1. take motion sickness medication, my personal preference is overloading with ginger, either in pill supplement form or the in the cook foods (which by the way labuan has a few restaurants serving ginger as a condiment)
  2. sleep earlier, wake up earlier, to drink water and empty bowels before the event.
  3. book a place that is a walking distance from the start/finish line. closed areas include beta apartments, billion water front, and dorsett.
  4. contact the labuan tourism department weeks before the event for event info, registration details are rarely found online. It is best to acquire it by calling or emailing the government department involved, specifically the Labuan Tourism.
  5. Use lubricant like Vaseline on joints. e.g. armpits and groin area. I might try to use it on the rest of my body to see if it prevents jelly fish stings.
  6. consider using a thin full body suit or a rash guard to avoid jelly fish stings.
  7. During swim, go straight for the island, the faster you go, the less rough it feels.
  8. Swimming with a buddy would be easier mentally.

I look forward to the next event. Every year it seems there are different organizers, as I do not recognize the people organizing for the last few years. But if they are reading this, then here is a few feedback.

the good.

  1. This year after 3 years now, finally we have event shirts!
  2. There were kayakers
  3. event is done on a sunday instead of a saturday, more easier for some people to join.

the bad or at least to be improved.

  1. There was no T-shirt size for me, had to get the non-participant shirt for the available size. Highly recommended open up the registration 2 months before, and close the registrations 1 month before, that way you can prepare for the t-shirt as well as the event itself. I highly recommend using active.com.
  2. the event info was almost non-existent, I could only google up and found the dates for the event, but I didn’t see any event details or registration forms, until  1 week before, where a swimming colleague shared the form on whatsapp.
  3. there is no 2.7km event for open category. I know a few beginners who would want to join, but if it was one way. consider it as a half marathon to a marathon. You would get more participants.
  4. considering this time around the finish line for the veteran and the kids is at Pulau Papan… you can charge a fee for people who want to go on a boat to be at the finish line. I am very sure that parents or other family members would like to be at the finish line.

My personal reason for coming to labuan every year is because it was my first open water swim event, and it is the easiest, cheapest and closest openwater event I can get to from Brunei.

I know a few other swimmers that have joined, and the reasons for them not joining is either the swim is too long (so if you can do half some people might be okay), or poorly marketed as most people don’t know until its too late (so the forms should be out earlier), or event is poorly organized.

In any case you need some help with organization, I wouldn’t mind helping organizing it, as I have organzied a few events before. As long as I get paid a fee, but I personally would prefer to swim the event than to organize it. 😀

Triultra 28.75 Sprint Triathlon

Did my first sprint triathlon event of the year, back from injury. 3 months from my accident early this year. because of my injury I haven’t trained in cycling and running a lot. running not at all. Running involves a lot of shoulder movement, causing some discomfort, cycling in itself only hurts when there are bumps in the road, or when I climb up hills (while pulling on the  handle bars). But swimming interestingly was the first sport I could do, as it felt better in the water. (In fact I did labuan cross channel swim the week before :p)

Didn’t do too bad, considering the lack of training. my swimming was still strong at 14mins 20 seconds. I guess I pushed my self a bit.  before the swim I noticed that the current seemed to be pushing eastward (to the right of the shore), so I started of far from the left so I didn’t have to fight the current much, after the 1st turn, I couldn’t see the 2nd buoy (is it pronounced buwi or boy or boo-oy?) , so I just followed the line of swimmers in front of me until i saw it with my own eyes before I corrected accordingly, after the 2nd buoy, I could see the swim finish, I decided to aim for it, and if the current push me, I decided I will just have to run on the shore. Close to the shore I decided to run in the water on to the shore.

triultra 2875 swim mapPNG

On the shore, a few hiking/running buddies (bahadurs) as volunteers jokingly asked me to do a baywatch run, and I obliged. :p

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-07 at 15.09.17

In the first transition, I wore my lunar sandals for my bike, remembered to wear my helmet, but forgot to wear my bib as I only realized halfway when I saw someone else didn’t wear it. fortunately the organizers were lenient on the regulations.

Beginning of the bike was challenging as it required to cycle up a hill, I was a bit used to it, so I just went on passing 2 cyclist, 1 was pushing the bike up, and another had to drop to wear the cleats properly. Cycling was a good average of 24.2kmph getting in under 1 hour, I did stop by as a fellow cyclist’s pedal dropped off, tried to assist, but didn’t have the tools, advised him considering he had cleats, then he could just pedal with one pedal, and he did.

triultra 2875

Running was okay doing 4km in 33mins, or pace 9. I haven’t done run brick runs in a long time ( as well as other trainings), so I ended up doing walk runs, knowing the running route quite well, I walked up hill and ran down hill. I was thank full most of the route was shaded..

triultra 2875 run

At the end I was expecting my wife to have started her run already, but I asked the volunteers and they havent noticed her, I checked for her bike but I hasn’t arrived yet. Apparently she had a tire puncture on the road about 7km back. fortunately there were cyclist passing by that assisted her. but shew was 30mins later than expected. So as she arrived, I accompanied her during her run.

At the end of the day my wife felt tired from doing her first triathlon, but I still had energy to conduct a swimming class. but my body ached almost like it was doing it the first time. Thankfully my shoulder has recovered enough that I can continue my training for Langkawi Ironman end of this year.

Source: Garmin Connect