Being awoken by a dream, while every inch of your mind tells you it was reality, is always an interesting and often polarising experience. You’re either left with a sigh of relief, or you’ve just undergone a terrible loss that you can barely express in words…

I was next to her, this nameless person. I was comfortable and as far as my memory was concerned, I had been there for as long as I could remember. She was tall, had her hair cut short, sported a modest brown jumper, and carried a personality that was as quiet as it was strong.

The evening seemed to revolve around a book she had gifted me. The details are hazy but I recall the four letters, RGBY, being associated with the colours and characters in the book. We read the first few chapters together and it was evident that this was like no fiction I had read before. As we read, the impatient me kept guessing which of the cryptic characters would be associated with the 4 colours. She gently, but firmly, asked me to spend more time reading and less time guessing. I smiled and agreed.

As we continued to read, she explained a part of the book’s premise, which spoke of a ‘room in the wall’ or something thereabouts. As she did, I found myself in the room she explained, along with her. She asked if I knew where I was and I looked around in fascination, realising that her immersive words had made it a vivid reality. We walked through the streets of the story as she spoke about what made this tale a captivating experience for her.

Eventually, she left me to my own devices, as I continued reading and my mind kept plummeting into a world as vivid as a trip induced by a highly potent drug. I won’t dwell on the story of this book, since even an attempt to describe it with mere words would do grave injustice to the experience I felt in “reading” it. But also perhaps because that is not the thought I’m plagued with, as I write this.

I eventually found myself opening my eyes with the book beside me. Evidently, I had fallen asleep while reading it into the late hours, my tiredness betraying my ambitions and my nameless partner sleeping beside me. She smiled as I woke up, taking pride in correctly judging my penchant for this work of fiction.

She asked if I knew what she had told me when she first gave me the book. I guessed “Read it in the right state of mind?”. She gave that knowing smile and showed me the first page of the book, which had 3 questions hand-scribbled by her (words I can’t seem to recall anymore) which seemed to be what she was referring to. She added “It’s ok to say that you don’t remember it” and I sheepishly looked away and muttered “Sorry!”.

In that moment, the strong sense of care and gratitude I felt for her was palpable. I craved to see her face again and turned back, but this time found myself in a dark room, having woken up once again.

Except this time, she didn’t exist. I looked around in disbelief, wondering how can something that was important and integral to me, just be taken away in a flash? How can something that felt so preposterously real be just a figment of my imagination? There was anger for a while, wanting to blame someone or something for ripping an important part of my life away, but the sense of helplessness lingered. It’s strange to feel a loss for something that was never there, but knowing that doesn’t immediately help. In an attempt to find a semblance of closure, I’m writing this at 2am. Perhaps as a feeble attempt to preserve some of “her” before she fades away completely from my memory.



It’s been almost a year since my last ramble, so I figured this is a good time to verbally explore a subject I’ve recently been occupied by. My views are around a belief that an internal change in a person cannot be simply triggered by an internal stimulus. Your “strong will” alone isn’t enough to change something that you haven’t been able to materialise before. While we often insist that this is the primary thing that matters, I beg to differ.

We all have desires to acquire new skills, unlearn old habits or just generally mould ourselves into versions that we’d like to see ourselves as. Lately, I’ve felt rather convinced that an internal change is pretty much always a result of an external event. Thought, resolve, will, self-motivation etc. are all factors we often massively overestimate the influence of. We are an amalgamation of our thoughts and experiences, which govern what we do and how we do it. It seems rather optimistic that a mere desire, which is part of that world we’re trying to change, would suffice to bring upon a rather significant change in our innate behaviour, while the remaning combinations of thoughts, habits, experiences and environment essentially stay the same.

We derive a sense of comfort and safety from doing what we’ve always done, even if it isn’t serving us well. In an article published in Harvard Business Review, researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey call this “immunity to change.” Even the most passionate commitment to change, they’ve shown, is invariably counterbalanced by an equally powerful but often unseen “competing” commitment to not change.

Most of us wildly overvalue our will and discipline, most of us would like to think that our habits follow our intentions. I’m now a believer that habits precede influence, that any significant change in my life (for better or for worse) has been a result of a very clear, and often unintended, influence from outside. As helpless as it may seem to suggest we can’t do much about the things we want to see in our lives, I am intrigued by how we can artificially create those external influences.


If I have a goal and am confident that my current mindset hasn’t historically taken me down the road of achieving it, then what could I be doing to artificially create an external stimulus to make this happen?

If you want more humility, don’t just tell yourself to be humble. Go and surround yourself with people who have much less than you and are content in being so.

If you want to lose weight, don’t just decide that you’ll eat and drink less, but spend time in an environment where it is the norm to do so.

If you want to be good at triathlons, don’t just write it on your whiteboard, go be part of a community where it’s a way of life.


Even writing this post now was a result of a conscious conversation with someone, despite me wanting to put these thoughts down for over 6 months! It can seem counterintuitive that you need to seek an external push even when you clearly understand what you need to do, but I think believing yourself to be the sole requirement to override your established ways is over-selling yourself.


I propose the same to you: If you have a goal that takes more than where your head’s at now, perhaps try creating an environment or some form of external stimuli rather than trying to talk yourself into doing something you haven’t been able to previously.


I hope this has been a useful read and instigated a thought or two in you, but I’m cognisant of this just being my isolated set of thoughts. If you have view in favour or against this, I’d love to hear them!


It took me 3Hrs to write this post, of which 45min was reading-up on what differentiates a coffee cup from a coffee mug.

Fun fact: A mug is a cup but a cup need not be a mug.

Funner fact: Coffee tastes better out of ceramic mugs since ceramic being a solid and neutral material, neither absorbs nor imparts flavours.

With that out of the way, I can get on with what seems to be an annual post on here (the last post was published 364 days ago, so technically bi-annual).

Back to the coffee mugs… So I’ve never quite been into collecting souvenirs but around 3 years ago, a couple of things changed that:

1. I read a story about an Enlish girl meeting a Norwegian traveller in Greece who would give his new-found friends a coffee mug, with a picture of his face on it, as a souvenir.

2. I had the image of having an old rustic wooden bookcase in my “mature years” that would house little souvenirs from my travels, among other things like my favourite books and photos, and be an anchor to some lovely memories.

So I figured why not coffee mugs! Although I did want to be cognisant of them being pinned to a place in my head that took me down some memory lane. Not quite warranted by something like a transit via Moscow for a few hours.

Some of my key boxes to tick while overseas have been to converse with a local, to taste the local food & to hear the local tongue in use. While my friend, Dan, and I were travelling through the UK earlier this year, it irked me a fair bit that we were close to leaving Wales and I hadn’t heard much of Welsh. I did the next best thing and turned the car radio to a Welsh radio station and we enjoyed some incomprehensible Celtic goodness that put me at ease.

This week I also (finally) unpacked a world map I received as a gift last year from my friend, Astrid, and pinned it with some of my traversed spots. The first thought that crossed my mind was the majority of the map being empty! SO MUCH OF IT!

Growing up, I used to casually wonder what growing up in a “first-world nation” would be like. Not from a feeling of missing out, but more from a nonchalant and innocent curiosity. Also not focussed on comfort or luxury, but more so on the differences in societal norms. There were little things fed from the American movies, like having a “prom night”, or owning a car in your teens, or taking a “gap year”, or even going on a date, that were all an alien concept to the life I knew to be the norm.

I’d like to think that my 8 years in Australia have satiated that curiosity to a fair extent, albeit with some anticlimactic sides. Like the closest I’ve come to the college gym locker image has been the lockers at the pool with less “cool kids banter” and more strangers’ flaccid willies.



But what seemed to be a fairly narrow curiosity seems to be expanding pretty rapidly with the world now so much more easily reachable. This feeling of so much out there being dramatically different to my idea of life and wanting a taste of it all.

Japan – To experience living in a Minka (traditional Japanese house) with sliding wooden doors and short tables, sipping on some tea while wearing a Kimono and sleeping on tatami mats.



Chile – To be completely indifferent about earthquakes that would make breaking news in most other countries, and to have surfing, snowboarding and the best hiking a stone’s throw away.



Eskimo/Inuit – To hunt for lunch, live in an igloo and scare the young ones with stories of the Qallupilluk (mythical humanoid-like sea monster).


and the list keeps growing..

It’s probably also why I’ve been quite inclined to dating people from a disparate background to mine, geographically and ethnically. That sheer difference in perspective, but with a matching passion for new experiences, can be such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Although that being said, I do wonder if this ever-expanding curiosity has a balancing point with acceptance of not being able to experience it all. Lately, I’ve aso started exploring this well of thoughts further with a psychologist, and it’s been fascinating to try and not see ‘urge for a new goal’ & ‘contentment’ as polar opposites but rather parts on a flexible band. To be conciously curious and associate fulfilment with more than the conventional ideas of achievement.

But that’s an essay for another day… For now, the search for those treasured coffee mugs is on, albeit with a slightly tweaked lens, and I’m curious to see how their meaning in my life will waver with the coming years.

So after all that, you might wonder, what’s the point here really…. To be honest, the point was for me to simply put some thoughts to “paper” and let it take me down a rabbit hole.

It’s been a pleasure.


In Nov 2017, I had a moment when I very undramatically realised what a total loser I was being for reaching out to my phone in moments of solitude. A zombie-like mindless move to stare at the digital screen in seconds of idleness; an almost-fear of solitude.

So I figured a simple exercise was in order: disconnect my phone from the interwebs for a single day every month; the 13th. Why 13? Well a) it’s a prime, b) it’s unfairly unloved,  and c) having a date instead of a day ensures the days rotate and we get a slightly different experience every time!

Since then, the routine has been to switch off the phone’s mobile data and wifi before going to bed on the 12th of the month and switch it back on after waking up on the 14th, into a flood of avoided “connections”. Around 32 hours of disconnected goodness! Mind you, there is no false pretense here of some bohemian move or technological abstinence. I do still keep my phone with me with the option to make or receive calls in case of emergency; I’m not a fucking savage. The key difference is that I don’t have a lazy urge (or possibility) to review the number of likes I’ve received on some profoundly original cat video in the last 7 minutes.

So how was it? My pupils were dilated as they soaked in the world around me and my skin glowed in the freshness of the present. Ok, maybe not quite that eventful. I smiled at strangers in hope for my fix for attention while they lovingly clutched at their pepper spray cans; so not very different to your usual Thursday… Between sets at the gym, I stared into thin air while others told their loved ones how amazing their last set had been. Jokes on them, I don’t have any loved ones who’d give a flying fuck about my workouts.

But in a bit more seriousness, it’s been liberating in some ways. Not having the self-inflicted pressure of being available to the world 24/7 is a weight off the shoulders. The sudden influx of “newly-available” time in the day is welcome too. I get home and there’s a little book staring back at me that I’ve claimed to be “reading” since last winter. But I’m not the one who cheats on a relationship… at least not with books. Jokes. I don’t spare books either. JOKES x 2! No cheating, seriously. Not cool. Coming back to the book, this day of the month has certainly been a welcome chance to read without a sense of impatience, that would otherwise often end with the book being tossed aside in favour of a video of a cat bitchslapping a seal. Quality stuff.

I know what you’re thinking. What about them new… ahem…. physically stimulating internet videos… ahem… to keep that furious masturbation going? Well folks, that’s just how seriously I’m taking this no-data business.


The cherry on top is the subsequent awareness on the data-filled days. It’s been a lot easier to notice those mindless phone-glued moments and feel a pinch of disgust at it. Last week when I was at a restaurant to grab lunch, I noticed a girl sitting on the table opposite mine. She was checking out her iPad as she ate, just as I was with my phone. I walked over to her and asked her if she was just as bored as me, and if she would like to eat together. The aversion to staring at my phone was obviously greater than my ineptitude at talking to strangers.

Mind you, I’m not claiming any increase in productivity, nor claiming a new-found sense of peace and connection with nature; none of that stuff. I love the internet and everything it enables us to do, so don’t, for a femtosecond, assume I’m an advocate of the anti-connectivity club. A “facebook friend” relation is better than nothing; a friendly email to someone you don’t know well is semi-indulgent, albeit an effective way to stay in touch; a “like” on a photo uploaded by a friend who lives on another continent is an acknowledgment that you’re thinking of them; a 5 min skype call with your parents is enough to let them feel assured that you’re well.

The fact that I’ve been doing this for almost a year and now feel compelled to write about it is a combination of a fear of WordPress deleting my blog owing to inactivity, and also me feeling this data-sans day doing me some good. I just find it hard sometimes to draw boundaries or not get caught up whilst missing other simpler priorities of life, so a self-imposed social exile for a reality check seemed apt. So eff it, I’m thinking I’ll give a go at extending this to two days a month. Let’s say the 29th as well (because prime, yay!) and see how much longer before I’m sporting a beard and preaching nirvana. There’s no end game here, just an attempt to detach a tad from an addiction with the help of a dramatised effort.

Being alone can be uncomfortable and daunting; it’s tempting to resort to your phone and peer into the lives of others even in those few seconds before the light changes, or while you wait for a minute at the supermarket for your turn. But not only do we need some space to ourselves, but perhaps more importantly, we need to be ok with having it.


It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and certainly a while since I’ve attempted to write based on my general pondering. So in an attempt to extrapolate my thoughts from over 2 months ago, I figured I’d try and articulate some of those musings.

The preface lies in a 2011 TED clip I watched back in October 2017 called ‘The happiness advantage’. In this piece, psychologist Shawn Achor outlines a very fascinating idea and articulates it with gorgeous wit and humour. So if nothing else, it’s sure to bring a smile to your face even before getting to the crux.


To summarise, he discusses an already well-talked about idea that changing the lens we choose to see the world through can change how we perceive and behave in the world as well. He suggests, what many of us already intuitively realise, that by constantly pushing the definition of happiness beyond our achievable horizon, we are ensuring a perpetual state of unhappiness. So this brings to the heart of the issue, which is the fine-tuning of the mind to find happiness in what’s already within reach. Shawn discusses five steps that, if repeated for 21 days, have been shown (through his research across companies he’s worked with) to create a lasting change in how we process the world around us.


I took the first one of these, which was to pick 3 new things you’re grateful for, every day for 21 days. Figured I’d give it a try for 23 days (since I’m a sucker for prime numbers). The intent was not just to publicise my own notes, but to promote this idea which I did find to be quite an effective approach to focus on the good within some of the otherwise “average” days.
It wasn’t easy to begin with since I’d often end a day feeling like it went quite well but not be able to put my finger on why exactly. However, like most new endeavours, a bit of practice and cognisance went a long way in smoothening things out.


NOV 01
1. Every single person who got off the bus thanked the driver with a smile. 🙂
2. At the end of a meeting, my manager told me that he likes my work and that he is wholeheartedly behind me.
3. I went to a Deli near my place to get something and the store lady gave me a free piece of fried chicken and a tuna patty!
NOV 02
1. We had a fire drill at work and being one of the fire wardens, I assisted in leading the people out safely to the evacuation spot. This is the first time I’ve felt confidence and certainty in this task.
2. I had my first high-effort run today since I injured my shoulder two months ago. It hurt a lot but brought a big smile to my face.
3. Astrid called me when she was driving to her place from work, and we had a lovely chat. I love that we both know that we’ve got the other’s back.
NOV 03
1. Booked a place to celebrate my final birthday in the twenties bracket!
2. Met Andrew, the man who picked me for my current role, for coffee and had a wonderful chat. This, among other things, gave me clarity on how I wanted to shape my career next year.
3. Asked a friend with a newborn about what an expecting dad could read to prepare, and passed on the information to my brother who was happy to have it.
NOV 04
1. 6 year anniversary of my first step in Australia. 🙂
2. Lawrence got up at 02:30 this “morning” with an intent to try and walk 100,000 steps in a day! He estimates that it’ll require him to walk 22 out of 24 hours! I love crazy passion!!
3. Astrid and her friends celebrated my 6 yr anniversary at Astrid’s bday party by taking a moment each to say something nice about me, despite some of them barely knowing me!
NOV 05
1. Woke up hungover and tried to get my long run done and dusted early on. In the first 30 min, I stopped thrice and even got into my car twice with the intention of quitting. I made myself proud by fighting the easy way and seeing the run through!
2. Met my motorbike-riding friends, Justin, Tigon and Dave, after almost a year! It was so nice to see them again and they made it obvious that they were glad to see me too.
3. The barista at dogswamp was very friendly and spoke like she had a personal connection rather than make regular small talk. It’s always very refreshing to have those moments with strangers.
NOV 06
1. Started the Monday on a high note with a drive to start the week by kicking some goals at work, and keep that momentum going until the end of the week.
This seems to be happening more and more often. I can’t get enough of any day of the week!!!
2. With a crunch to get a run and a gym session done in the evening amidst other commitments, I pleasantly surprised myself by getting both done!
3. Have started formulating my plan to backpack through South America for two months early next year, which is exciting AF!
NOV 07
1. West Ang’s maintenance manager emailed my general manager, Cindy, to thank her for the work I had done for their site and to let her know how effective it had been. Cindy subsequently mailed me and my leadership team, thanking me for how I had gone about my projects through the year.
2. Of the 24 horses racing Melbourne cup, I picked a random one for a draw and it won! Just like 2 years ago. Luck is in the air, like it is so often!
3. Astrid got the job she interviewed for! She’s been so nervous today; I feel as happy as her about this!
NOV 08
1. Slept like a baby through a 90min flight up to a mine site. I’m getting good at this!
2. During a discussion with a site-based team at Hope Downs 1, a specialist introduced me to someone as “he’s the guy who responded to your query immediately and got things done”. It was genuine and flattering in the perfect way.
3. Had a lovely trail run in the camp site I was staying at that night. Running at a new location always feels so thrilling and fulfilling!
NOV 09
1. Chris and I had been having a very very quiet drive to the Hope Downs 4 mine site when my phone started playing a ‘Bullet for my Valentine’ track in the car. I felt conscious of Chris not being a metal lover, so asked him if that was cool. Apparently, he loved that stuff and this sparked a conversation for the rest of the drive!
2. Stopped at the HD4 camp to buy some choc milk. Got to the counter to pay and the lady looks at us and goes “Take it!”, before walking away. Ha!
3. Bushfires here at Newman caused road closures. Raced to the airport and did a dramatic run to the boarding gate as they were calling out my name, and ended up boarding exactly 8min before departure time. This wouldn’t have happened had the airport been in a bigger city.
NOV 10
1. Major breakthrough in a work project that has been working at snail’s pace so far. With the involvement and buy-in of the greater department, a much larger team is now on-board with a common mission to get this to success!! Feeling so much more supported with this change.
2. Caught up with my mentor and our hour-long discussion had me walking out as a man on a mission! I love talking to Ron. Moreover, it’s been really good to hear him be vocal regarding him being happy with the work I’ve been putting in.
3. [removed since deemed inappropriate]
NOV 11
1. First bike ride in 3 months! Feels good to be back on the wheels.
2. The neighbour’s cat is being extra friendly to me these days. I love that little ginger piece of feline goodness.
3. Have done some smart shopping to ensure that all my meals over the next week will be planned and in control.
NOV 12
1. Perth is heating up strong and making the runs a lot harder. On the flipside though, this will give me some seriously good conditioning for my next race in Santiago in April 2018.
2. Met Dan today who made no attempt at holding back his thoughts about wanting to celebrate my birthday and not worrying about the workouts he had in his plan for the next day. For a guy with his athletic ability and goals, that’s not a usual thing to say. Love this man.
3. I met Astrid, her brother, her sis-in-law and her niece. They were all so lovely and friendly to talk to, and Mia was just as adorable as I expected her to be (which is saying a lot)!
NOV 13
1. Carried out the first ‘Monthly Data Blackout Day’ today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I seemed to have more time for myself and not much pressure to reach back to people. It was surprisingly liberating!
2. This week is the second work-related training week, that’s part of a 3-week course (1 per month). It’s good to meet and interact with some of the other participants again; quite a few in there who are strong and wonderful personalities.
3. Tweaked my running plan a bit today. As I was planning the next week, I realised that I was finally coming to the point where scheduling in the planned amount of running was starting to be a stretch. It’s a good sign that suggests that my running volume is finally starting to get back to serious amounts, after weeks and months of carefully executed increments.
NOV 14
1. Have started making a list of words I don’t pronounce right, so I can practice them more often. Excited to see how my speech develops as a result!
2. Found a lady on gumtree who is willing to buy my tickets to South America (for March 2018) for 70% of the price. This way she can put her frequent flyer points to some use as well! WIN WIN!
3. Been told that I’m a “good egg” on two independent occasions through the day. Flattered in both situations!
NOV 15
1. Australians pushed the same-sex marriage survey with the verdict being in favour of marriage equality!! Proud to be one of the votes that will bring about this much-needed change!
2. Kat stated that every time she hears from me, my updates are along the lines of feeling charged and having kicked some goals in the past week, which she finds quite positive and energising.
3. Called some place up and after hearing me out, the first thing the receptionist said was “I love your accent!”. Quite flattering, albeit hard to believe.
NOV 16
1. My weight has started dropping for the first time in 4 months!
2. Caesar salad made by me for lunch at work today was 100% ON POINT and oozing with flavour.
3. After running my first tempo run in eons, I felt shattered and almost threw up. I love that I am able to push myself again!
NOV 17
1. Day 5 of week 2 of the longest work-related training course I’ve done. I never thought I’d say this but I feel that the skills from this course will help me across various fields at work AND IN PERSONAL LIFE!
2. One of the site general managers came down to our work training, and gave a bit of a talk about his experience. His energy and enthusiasm were enough to make a few of us want to pick up our game and do more!
3. Managed to book my flight tickets to Santiago for almost half the actual price, owing to the lady who wanted to use up her frequent flyer points in exchange for some cash.
NOV 18
1. In an attempt to cook something new, I went to the nearby butcher shop to buy some pork loin. After noticing my amateurish demeanour and the lack of “meat lingo”, she asked me if I’d like some tips on cooking it. She then took a couple of minutes to step aside and explain the basics to me, while a sizeable crowd waited behind me!
2. I asked on FB if anyone in India knew where I could find good pork tenderloin for cooking in Bangalore. Of all the people who live in Bangalore, it was my dad (who doesn’t cook at all) who found an answer after looking around. 🙂
3. Revisited a ‘Comedy Lounge’ stand-up comedy gig after 2 years, and had an amazing time!
NOV 19
1. Longest ‘long run’ in 3 months and I managed to get it done without any issues. The body is obviously adapting to the growing training load.
2. Went to the city and shopped a bit with Astrid. I don’t do this ‘shopping in the city’ business much, so I’m glad Pepper helped me through that!
3. Afternoon naps, when done right, can be the difference between a mopey evening after a long day and a high-functioning day (albeit with fewer hours). Naps FTW!
NOV 20
1. Ever since I dropped triathlon training, getting up at 5 and heading for a swim or a gym session has been a struggle. Took a baby step today by getting to the gym before 6 am.
2. Over lunch today, got an update on KB’s foot which looks to be a massive pain, both literal and metaphoric. It’s amazing and inspiring to see how positive he’s being despite the setback this has put to his goals.
3. Got a tour of the new office floor we’ll be moving into in a week, and it looks AMAZING! So lucky to have a chance to work in a modern setup such as this. Exciting times!
NOV 21
1. After 2 months of physio work, I got the green light to start skydiving again!
2. Perth’s scorching summer has suddenly done a 180 this week and become winter again! Weird, but I am certainly not complaining.
3. Been preparing for a workshop I will be leading on a mine site tomorrow. It’s been a bit of work, but I finally feel confident and positively excited about tomorrow!
NOV 22
1. Met GM of West Ang site today who remembered me from 4 years ago!
2. Workshop on site took a bit of effort to organise with the relevant people but went better than planned without coming across as gimmicky.
3. Between the 12-hour work day and evening drinks with some colleagues on site, I managed to slip in a decent run. Feeling pretty proud of that!
NOV 23
1. Workshop round 2 was even harder to organise but even more rewarding than the last one!!
2. Used Rio Tinto’s journey management facility for the first time where you call a number up and let them know the details of your travel (travel path, car rego etc.), and if you don’t check back to tell them that you’ve arrived, they get in touch with your emergency contacts to check up on you. A pretty nifty facility that they try to improve regularly.
3. Cab driver on the way home from the airport told me that I’m the only Indian he’s come across with this level of command over English. I realise that this is probably a case of a shitty sample set but I’ll take it as a positive remark regardless!

1. Just as I got to the bus stop in the morning, a guy passing by called out and told me that the bus had just gone past a couple of minutes ago and that there would be another one coming soon at a nearby stop. I walked him to the other stop and sure enough, there was one just as we got there!
2. As I was biting into an apple today, a passing colleague (male) jokingly muttered “Wish I was that apple……”. Made me chuckle and almost choke.
3. When I went for a run in the evening, I passed by a lady and her daughter (around 8-10yr old?). The daughter started running with me with her backpack and everything, and asked me innocent questions around where I was going and how much I planned to run that day. We both eventually stopped and her mum came over with a big smile the three of us exchanged a few words before I took off.
Don’t know what I expected but seeing the comfort and trust on the lady’s face made me feel warm and happy.


I’m not sure if this exercise has helped tune my brain into a new habit, but it has surely given me better appreciation of how lucky I am to have consistently good days while surrounded by some really good people. By the end of the second week, I was having to pick and choose the ‘top 3’ for the day from the few that I could think of.


Might not be a bad idea to try the other 4 recommendations from Shawn’s list as well!


2 weeks ago, I was in Melbourne for the Melbourne Marathon Festival. This post was initially meant to be titled ‘Riding the wave’, but was changed instead to what it’s now, considering the anticlimactic turn of events that stopped me from running the full race.

As a disclaimer to avoid wasting anyone’s time, let me state that I ended up running an easy half-marathon instead of the full thing, owing to a few factors in the lead-up to what was meant to be my jewel race (dramatic much?).

The post here is less for sharing and more for self-reflection and a bit of a humbling reality-check, which is why I’ll make a modest effort to keep this brief.

1. The Spark
Ecstatic after a 03:41 marathon in June, I was damn keen to keep going strong on the ‘gain train’ and shave off 11-12 min off this time within 3 months to have a sub-03:30 marathon. This would have implied a sub-5 (min/km) pace for the whole marathon which sounds stupidly stupid to me, but if the last 12 months have taught me anything, it’s to keep the sense of disbelief aside and to just pretend that it’s someone else doing the running for you. You just need to train for that person to get stronger.
Bit of a friendly reminder around the house…

Melbourne Marathon was to be the race of choice, considering the timing of the race, the novelty of the MCG finish, and the fact that I’ve got some really good friends over there. Not to mention it’s a gorgeous city that I absolutely love visiting!

The original plan was to build up to 10 hours of running per week (~107 km/wk) during the last 2 weeks of peak training. This would mean some SOLID MILEAGE that would inevitably set me up for a good day. Alas, that’s not quite how it went down, and I have pretty much myself to blame for that. The first long run after a 2-3 week hiatus was gotten into with an overly enthusiastic effort which gave me the first few warning signs around the foot, that I promptly ignored. Subsequently, I jumped into my first ever major trail race on the weekend after. A 25km run that took me almost as long as my marathon in June.
Perth Trail Series
The foot was in absolute agony on the day after, and this marked the beginning of a slippery slope. The next week had me with my friend Nina, an absolute gem of a physio, who did a stellar job of being thorough and making it a personal mission to get me back to 100%. Total kudos to her for going well beyond the norm to get the job done right! Dry needling, stress relief, strengthening exercises and regular follow-ups to make sure I was progressing as planned; I’m very grateful for the work she put in but little did either of us know that we had bigger problems heading our way. But more on that in a bit…
Getting some expert hands to help with recovery (Nina Crowhurst Physio)

With 8 weeks to go and barely back to being good with my feet, I put a revised plan together with my mate, Dan, which unfortunately looked to peak at 7.5 Hours instead of the initial lofty 10 hours goal. I was disappointed but we both knew it would be stupid to get too ambitious and establish a long-term injury. Consistency over intensity, as they say. Or as Dan puts it, “softly softly catchee monkey”.

Now, I was also pursuing my skydiving certification through this time, which required me to be in York (90min from Perth) 1 day every weekend for around 8 weeks. This made efficiency in time management all the more critical.

With 5 weeks to go, a not-so-ideal foot, and constant travel for work, an expanding waistline was the cherry on the train wreck of a prep (so far).

2. The Downfall
The initial screw-up of not having the right transition into higher intensity running had compounding effects that I grossly underestimated then. Even an easy run was enough to give my shin a good beating and make me waddle like I was learning to walk.
With 4 weeks to go and consistent shin issues that I failed to address correctly in a rush to get to Melbourne Marathon fitness, the final disaster struck. While landing on my 4th solo skydive, my shoulder had a partial dislocation (‘subluxation’ as I later learnt) that gave me a bit of a scare since I couldn’t fully brake while landing and ended up making it a rolling crash land. Ironically though, this put a massive… brake (lol) on my running plans which were already in a pretty despairful state.
Pre-trainwreck smiles

28 years of zero injuries and then 1 year to make up for it all, yay!

Take that for not wanting to be an obese little chubby and trying to actually do something with your life! The heart-attack-prone-female-repelling-kitchen-haunting-piggy teen me would be shaking his head so hard if he saw this.

So with that, my final two weeks of peak training turned into half-dead waddles, while I worked on strengthening my shoulder on the side with Nina’s help. In the end, I had to face reality and admit that there was no way I could run a competitive marathon, or even a slow one for that matter. However, considering the MCG finish, the social catchups and the fact that the tickets were already booked, I was keen on heading over nevertheless.

I focussed the final weeks on just having slow consistent runs and building back the shaken foundation. Running an easy half-marathon seemed to fit in with this new outlook, which is exactly what I did.



The final weeks



I had been warned by a few Melbourne Marathon veterans that this race was notorious for putting the runners through 5 different seasons in a span of a few hours. Thankfully, this was far from the case on the day, with the conditions being near perfection.


The event itself was a lovely run through the iconic spots of Melbourne, running through the finish line of the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park, and finishing with a lap of the MCG with crowds in the stadium making you feel like a superstar.



The plan for me had been to start off a relatively easy pace, and shave off 10 seconds from my pace at each 5km split. I managed to pretty much do that and am content with that feat for now!
Negative splits galore!

I also had three of my friends, Minh, Steph and Connie, run the event with a PB each, which was certainly the highlight of the day!

3. The Aftermath
So after this bit of mishap, I’d like to think that I’ve learnt a few lessons… maybe…
  • Build a strong base, but in slow increments (especially if you’ve had a hiatus)
  • Don’t keep eating like a pig that’s about to be slaughtered
  • Don’t umm… dislocate your shoulder?

Yeah, I realise that none of those sound like life-changing revelations, but the point here is that I’m now old and wise. So there’s that.

In the foreword in Craig Alexander’s (3 time Ironman world champ) book ‘As the crow flies’, Greg Welch (acknowledged as one of the greatest triathletes ever) talks about how Crowie not being selected for even the backup teams for the Australian Olympics was a likely reason for why he ended up becoming one of the greatest in the sport. Like so many other athletes, the rejection was a fuel to a fire that spread well beyond the initial goals.

So I guess what I’m saying is that since I didn’t get picked for the Aussie Olympics team either, Crowie and I have a lot in common and I’m likely to be a world champ.

Alright, maybe not the world champ but I’m certainly saying that this makes me want to do more than I’ve been able to before.

Have I figured out what I want to have a go at next? Yup.

Do I know how ambitious I want to be for that? Yup.

Am I going to talk about it? Probably so, but certainly not now. I think I’ve done plenty of talking with not much walking to back it up. So I’m keen on shutting up and first putting work on where my mind is.


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3 weeks after running this event, I’ve finally come to terms that the months leading up to that day are important enough to be documented and immortalised.

This run has been a major milestone for me not due to the finish time (03:41) per se, but more so for the personal notion that it manages to break in my head regarding what was feasible for me in terms of endurance running; an attitude which, as many can appreciate, transcends into many walks of life. But let’s not get too deep here.

Considering this will be a reasonably wordy post, I’ll categorise it into 5 areas.

Let’s go!

1. Road to Boston

Before Perth marathon, I had run 2 marathons: the last one being around 2 years ago. This last one was a slow and painful 04:28 marathon that cemented the idea of me being a slow runner. Not too long after that, I told myself that I would focus on incremental gains with Boston marathon as my target. Considering the ambitious goal (Boston Marathon, at present, requires me to have a 03:05 qualifying time to attempt enrollment), I imagined this would take me around 7-9 years from then to get to.

Boston Marathon qualifying times.jpg

After Ironman Sweden in Aug 2016, I ended up gaining around 10kgs in 2 months and figured I better get my shit together and pick up some routine, before heading towards my next goal of Ironman Busselton 70.3.

Couldn’t quite afford another bike fit, so I worked on the aero bar and elbow pads positioning to what felt comfortable, and over a span of the next 2 months, worked on raising seat post height and taking off one of the spacers from the handle bars to get my positioning more aggressive without compromising too much on comfort.

With all set to roll ahead with some good will and determination, disaster struck on Boxing Day (26 Dec). To my dismay, a biking accident involving a snake and a desolate bike path put a spanner in the works.



The grossest images were of the knees that I’ve conveniently excluded from here. A concussion ensured that I didn’t remember much from the crash. I recall riding, seeing a snake, being too fast to stop before the I got to the snake, the feeling of my tires climbing over it… and the next memory is me being catered to by some amazing cyclists that found me piled up on the side of the bike path and called an ambulance. The good part was that most of the damage on me was superficial. The best part was that my bike was still ok!! The not-so-great part, which I found out eventually after a CT scan, was that I had a fractured clavicle (collarbone). Although I had been darn lucky to not have it dislodged, so it was only a matter of giving it a couple of months of rest sans the need for surgery.

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Spent the time planning my return and JD helped forge my world domination plan MUHAHAHAHHAHAA!!!!!


2. Learning to suffer

After slowly crawling my way back to running as I wanted, I had a couple of instances withe the TEAM where I got distracted for whatever reason and ended up keeping up considerably faster paces at max intervals than what I perceived possible by me. This sparked a new mission between JD & I: learn to suffer and stop letting the head stop the body from doing what it can.

What followed were sessions where JD gave me ambitious paces that he believed I would be able to keep during interval runs, provided I stopped thinking about whether I could. The idea was to see pain as not something affecting you, but rather something willingly manifested by you. You hurt because you choose to be hurt, because you have created the situation where the pain is the desired result that gets you where you want. This shift in this mentality helps gain a sense of control. These sessions started paying off pretty quick, a lot of which I reckon was just from positive reinforcement after every successful run. Each interval session that went as per the new pacing plan was a layer of confidence upon the existing layers.



With this routine in place to break the walls around perceived limits, the next stop was to establish a routine in following the simple mantra: “run smart, run often”.

Easy means easy.jpg

This marked the rise of the weekly run mileages, hitting the 6 hour/wk mark for the first time (along with existing bike and swim routines that all added to around 19hrs/wk in the final month before tapering for IM 70.3 Busselton in May).

3. Revisiting Busselton

There’s a lot I could say here but I rather not since I wish this post to be focussed on the running aspect.

As I got closer to the Busselton half ironman, the greater was my desire to see more red on the bike (literally). However, with the amount of time triathlon training had been demanding of my day, I had been tinkering with the idea of stepping back from serious tri-training after Busselton and focusing upon running and other interests I’d like to see mature. This helped me keep the red-romancing at bay without too many new purchases.


The bedroom whiteboard


The weekend at Busselton turned out to be an amazing one with the TEAM. Since I hadn’t been able to make it past the waitlist last year, this race seemed like a welcome closure.

Finish time (05:21) wasn’t where I planned it to be but considering the 36min improvement over my last half-ironman (Mandurah – 05:57) and the bike split of 02:36, I didn’t have much to complain about. I also took solace in knowing I pushed hard enough since the legs felt absolutely shattered the next day. Although I do admit the slow and hard run did make feel me with a bit heavy-hearted.




I can see why this race is so sought-after. Gorgeous water (with a hint of sharkiness – the swim got cancelled around the end of the wave starts since a shark was spotted), flat as a pancake, well organised, and kept running smooth by some amazing volunteers. Glad to be finally one of the many that have tasted this race.

More than anything, I’ll remember this weekend for the good people I spent it with, and the crazy shenanigans that unfolded before and after the race. This sport for me is half – racing/training, and half – the company that makes it what it is.



4. The lead-up

The lead-up to the Perth marathon had heaps of running volume building up, much to my obvious glee. I have traditionally been pretty resilient to injuries, which I don’t take any credit for but am certainly very grateful for. JD, knowing this quite well, felt a tad more comfortable in pushing me past the 7-8 hrs/week mark in the final weeks. The long run Sundays started getting split up into ‘double-run Sundays’ to minimise the damage on the body and maximise recovery. The addition of trail running helped mix it up as well. Training with the TEAM and sharing the journey with like-minded individuals surely made a difference.



Considering I had not had a proper shot at a half-marathon PB, and that the HBF half-marathon being 3 weeks from the marathon, it seemed like a good race to set a strong confidence-boosting PB and also practice steady pacing over an extended time. The instructions were clear: Stick to 04:55min/km for every km, re-evaluate at the 16km mark, and slowly start squeezing out whatever effort I had remaining in my body, towards a strong finish.


With a finish of 01:42, it’s safe to say that my run volumes leading up to the race had been certainly validated!

The coming weeks had me peaking run volume at 9 Hours (~96km), a definite and exciting first for me. A couple of days before the marathon, I caught up with JD to plan out the little intricacies to world domination on race day. There was no disappointment as we determined a simple and effective plan to head towards our 03:40 marathon goal. Right after that, I took off for the WAMC pasta night to feast on some good carbs and listen to a couple of Aussie champs talk a whole lot about running. Food, legends and a whole lot of running talk. What’s not to like?!


Just listening to these two legends, Steve Moneghetti & Jess Trengove, talk candidly about the world of running made me want to put on my runners and go get some more mileage under my feet!

5. Perth Marathon

The day started off with an exciting buzz starting at the first step out of bed. Pre-race playlist with thrash-metal set the mood for domination. I was pumped and ready to roll! It carried on to the WAMC centre, where I met Astrid who was awfully sweet to want to come over and support me, starting from before the race.


Pre-Race ecstacy

After some exchange of pleasantries with familiar faces, we were off. It helped that the day was a lovely one, but my lack of confidence in pacing did not do me favours. The idea was to stick to 05:11 pace, run a “systems check” at a couple of markers along the run, adjust as required and slowly start letting out whatever I had in the final 7km. Since my running had only picked up the pace in the last 2-3 months, I would often associate the current paces as something beyond my ability. I had to constantly tell myself to do as per what the body felt and not as per what the mind perceived.
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There were a couple of spots where I seriously considered pulling out of the race as a myriad of “difficulties” and “problems” started bubbling in my head. All the different places my mind started to get to, all the reasons that I was convinced wouldn’t let me finish how I wanted to…. Eventually, I decided that if I didn’t finish as per my plan, it probably was indicative of me not having trained as hard as I should have. You’ve got to own your shortcomings just as you would own your successes. It’s the only way to grow.
I started spotting the TEAM at different spots around the course and their presence was absolutely heaven-sent! James, Kieran, Sonya and Siobhan had finished their long runs around the run course and were now on their bikes trying to find me at multiple spots and keep cheering me along. There’s so much gratitude I feel for these guys who gave me their support, not just on this day but through the time leading up to this. With mates like these, I reckon there’ll be a lot more goals to be ticked in the not-too-distant future.
A great clip taken by Kieran while on his bike:
The course was flat, the support was lovely and the day looked gorgeous, but between the 20km and 30km mark, I started falling well behind my pace targets. I was about 2min ahead of schedule at the halfway mark, but past that, I recall looking at my watching screaming out 1km splits at around 05:22s and thinking to myself “Oh well, so much for that. Just do what you can now.” It was only after turning around and heading back from Matilda Bay that I realised that I had crossed the 30km mark and that made a big bit of difference. Not to mention I noticed the folks from TEAM around the same point.
They say the 32-ish km mark is where your mind goes into the dark corners and when you need to dig deep and find your reasons for pushing hard. Today, this wasn’t the case. After the 30km mark is when my mind started getting its shit together and telling the body what it will do, regardless of what felt could be done. Liberation!
With about 5kms to go, I spotted these guys again and JD went “It’s time, Fred. Do what you have to do.”. Until I heard this, I didn’t realise how much I wanted to hear it. Regardless of how many times I had convinced myself today that I was close to my limits, I was wrong all along. After this point, I was able to bring the pace down to sub-5s and pushed to stick to 04:55, which then moved to 04:50 and then to 04:45 on the last km. At this point, it wasn’t about finish time, it wasn’t about Boston, it wasn’t about impressing anyone; it was just a raw desire to put an end to this pain at the earliest.
I crossed the finish line reading 03:41, a number I wouldn’t have considered, a year ago, to be achievable this soon. A 40min PB that has done heaps to my perception of running and what is achievable with consistent efforts and the right support from the ones around you.
JD, Kieran, Shiv, Sonya and Astrid were all there waiting and it took some time to wipe that smile off my face. I was so freaking happy to see their faces. You know what’s better than accomplishing something you hold dear? Celebrating the accomplishment with close ones. It was only an hour later that I realised that my left shoulder wasn’t doing too well. All that swiminging on the previously fractured shoulder had it immobile past shoulder height. I take it the fractured clavicle still wants some time to itself. Wuss.

A shout out to this man who helped me smash out my previously held running standards by a good margin and set new benchmarks for my future-self to beat!

Part-time coach, part-time friend, part-time token pommy; full-time top bloke!

So what now from here? Well, with this new time in my collection, my idea of what can be achieved has certainly taken a dramatic shift, and the idea of Boston at 35 (2024) seems a bit too far for my new impatient self. Regardless of all of that, I’m certain that with the support of the ones around me and a persistent attitude to do more, we’ll be smashing goals left, right and centre.
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KB later mentioned Melbourne Marathon in passing, which is 3 months away and a great course. Now that I think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Melbourne, and did someone say sub 03:30……


The fight to erase the past

Posted: March 25, 2017 in Life

As a disclaimer, this post is an outpour of thoughts with no clear intent. It might appeal to some or maybe none, but I do hope that it gives me a little sense of relief of not letting it cook in the confines of my head.

When you’re a personality that absorbs and grows notably with new experiences, an interesting aspect can be meeting people from the different phases of your life. They all have expectations of who ‘you’ are; while all them are right, none of them are.

My recent years have been the most exploratory ones of my short life so far. My comfort zones, social circles, sexual life, philosophies… they have all grown and morphed and yet, with an undertone of sadness, they still feel like an attempt to overcompensate for a lost time.

Around 4 years ago, my colleague, Mark, asked me what I was running from. His question, although in the context of literal endurance running, seemed to be more penetrative and deeper than what it sounded.

I wake up almost every day demanding myself to be more extroverted, to act more decisive, to be assertive when needed, to push harder than what I would usually consider comfortable; to basically ‘do more’. These thoughts surface with an underlying fear that if I don’t, I will revert back to my former self. One that was content with mediocrity, one that never knew what it felt to push beyond perceived limits, mentally or physically, and feel the associated sense of accomplishments, one that was bullied and never knew a way out, one that was perpetually unfit, and worst of all, one that had all the time and resources in the world but never utilised them to better himself. An abyss of wasted opportunities that have filled me with regret.

It’s this past that I am running from.

There’s a plethora of memories from my early teens, many of them a subtle reminder of all the things I wished I was but wasn’t. The endeavour to forget them or at least see them as a buried past seems like a lost cause. They still carry with them the weight of the feelings that they first came with. Most of my words, actions, and thoughts, in some way or another, are catered towards slowly distancing myself from those memories. There lies some hope that someday these thoughts will be accompanied by indifference from me; maybe I’ll be able run far enough from my past to not be able to see it well enough anymore.

The present appears to be a swinging pendulum in a way; I strive to change myself and eventually go too far in some aspect. There is a bit of a scurry to backtrack and try again in another direction. I’m in a habit of selectively evaluating myself today in relation to me from, say, 6 months ago. It’s done in hope of being able to spot an obvious change indicating a man today that has grown since then. A man today that I can be a little prouder of being.

There is an obese, introverted, nerdy and a shy teenager in me that wants to feel like he’s not a loser, and then there’s the aggressive, angry and vengeful character that is doing what he can to help the first guy out. My end goal is to get to the stage where the pendulum can stop swinging and there is only one content guy left.


Often what helps a turbulent mind is to put yourself out there, vulnerable and open, which is what I’ve attempted to do here. I’m sure there are many out there in my circles who battle their own versions of such conflicts. If you’re reading this and feel tired of driving your head into a mush, know that you can always give me a shout and I would love to hear your thoughts.



TL;DR: First Ironman, trained well, had great support, did a mock swim in my hotel bed (officially hitting a new low in my classiness), completed in 11:55, did not hear “you are an ironman”.

Now the long version (seriously, I mean LONG)…..

Ahh, how time passes and replaces confident claims with hypocritical actions. Just last year, I was preaching how an Ironman distance triathlon would never be something to entice me, and now here I am now, on a train from Kalmar to Stockholm, writing away a race report of my experience of a full-distance Ironman.



I would have loved to attribute this journey to an idealistic sense of drive and ambition, but unfortunately I primarily have post-race euphoria (Mandurah 70.3 in Nov, 2015) coupled with beer to blame for the registration. The resolve to commit to this “mistake” came from a fallen relationship last year, worsened by an expanding waistline and topped by a desire to feel proud of myself. The healthy foundations to any major endeavour of course.

So I made up my mind in Jan, 2016, to focus on this goal and teach myself some discipline in hopes of a sense of accomplishment at the end. I could tell from the start list that there were only 3 Australians taking part in this race, including me. I was able to reach out to one of them, Pernilla, who lived in Melbourne. Through the coming months, we exchanged our experiences and kept each other going through the chilling winter and solo goals. Unfortunately, a couple of months before the race, she decided to pull out of the event for personal reasons. However, I’m quite grateful for all the support she gave me before and after this decision, all the way to my race day.

Considering the only half Ironman I had experienced had given me a 05:57 finish time, I started off with a target of 12:30 for my Ironman. At the time, I considered this to be safely aggressive since the rule of thumb was to double your half Ironman time and add an hour.



1) Busselton 70.3

Ironman Busselton 70.3 fell straight at the half-way mark to IM Sweden, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to shave my 70.3 time. But I was late to the party and ended up being on the waitlist. Not dissuaded though, since I was told that pretty much everyone on the waitlist typically got the entry. With only 11 weeks to go, I chalked out a plan and joined Perth Triathlon Club with a mission to kill.


It ain’t serious if it ain’t colour coded

Squad training with PTC did wonders to improve my swim endurance and speed, and strength training in the gym got my muscles working stronger during runs and bikes. Nothing makes you feel empowered like visible gains after the efforts put in.


PTC gang

With a few weeks to go and an upcoming taper period, I received a notification from TWA stating that my waitlist entry hadn’t progressed and I wouldn’t get a shot at Busso 70.3.


















This was a major buzzkill and made me drop all training and get bummed out for a while. 3 weeks of downtime followed by my parents visiting me in Australia for the first time. Took some time later to re-evaluate my main goal of IM Sweden and decided to get back on the horse with a new zeal. Targets upgraded from 12:30 to 12:00. Ambitious? Very much so. Realistic? Why the hell not! Doesn’t hurt to aim big, just meant I had less room to slack in the coming months. Consistency over intensity. Always!

PTC was going into off season and considering there weren’t many upcoming matching triathlon goals for the other members, I would have to either go solo or find another way to get myself training efficiently.


2) Road to Sweden

With 15 weeks to go, I decided to pick a coach for myself. The intention was to be held accountable and have a plan with a clear purpose. 140.6 is a very different beast to a 70.3. No guesswork, no random volumes of ineffective workouts, no over-training at the risk of injury… none of that! And not just any coach, but someone I knew to be great to get along with, and someone I knew for a fact was a kick-arse triathlete himself. Enter James Debenham (JD), the beautiful combination of meticulous discipline, pure hard work and an insatiable love for beer.

The winter was picking up in full swing as well, with rains on their way. This did not make the coming months any more fun but on the flip-side, I do believe it helped toughen me up for the cold waters and strong winds of Kalmar.

16/05/2016 (13 weeks to go) – Got my plans sorted, got a bike fit done and figured out my strength training strategy for the coming weeks. Lock and load mothaafuckkaaaa!


Draw me like one of your French girls


As the training picks up, JD constantly tries to gauge how I’m doing mentally and physically. I am really appreciative of how he took the importance of this race to me as importance to him as well. It wasn’t just him dishing out workouts. This was personal to us both, and he was always looking to step the training intensities up or down based on how I was going. Good coaching 101.


The whole journey as part of James’s team has been an amazing experience. It gave me a stronger attitude to keep pushing myself no matter what, with amazingly supportive team mates on the side and a whole lot of fun to go with it all.


Much more than just a training team

During the final month, James had to head to Europe for a couple of races, so we decided to catch up over a few beers and have a long chat about my race week and race day execution. This is the first time it ever felt this real and a part of me got a tad emotional. Not boo-hoo emotional but more like WHOAAA… kinda emotional.

Although this whole venture has been based around my personal goals and motivations, I was keen to make it more than just that. With that in mind, I started up a fundraiser page for a cause that was close to my heart: dealing with homelessness. To help push that further, I also committed to personally match 33c for every dollar donated.

If you’re reading this before Aug 31 2016, there’s still time! Please have a look at the link below.



There are other aspects of this journey that I would have loved to describe like THE DOUBLE PAGANONI, runs through hail, bike rides at 11pm, exploding tubes on long rides, swimming on 2 degree mornings etc., but I would need many more pages to get through it all.


I was glad when I reached my final 4 week block, lovingly called the “hell month”. Weeks with ~21 hours of workouts and over 5000 calories of eating a day! GERONIMO!!! Started slipping up near the end of this and was feeling mentally exhausted and beaten down. All I could do then was whinge to my coach and keep begging for the taper to start.

The week before my departure, my heart rate monitor stopped working and the swim goggles started leaking at every swim…. not the best time for these things to happen but then again, better now than while in Sweden. Bought a new pair of googles and my mate Dan gave me his spare HRM. I remember this inspirational story at 2009 Kona of an athlete that raced 3 years after a heart transplant surgery. I may not be running another man’s heart but goddammit I’ve got another man’s heart……….. rate monitor. #inspo

Final bike tune-up, test out the race wheels, and we’re good for race week!



3) Pre-Race

From the moment I took off from Perth, I had a travel bag, a backpack, a camera bag and a bike case with me for 2 flights and 3 train journeys. This wasn’t my idea of fun and arm workouts were not part of the plan. With one train ride to go, I somehow lost the count of my bags and left my main travel bag in the train from Stockholm to Kalmar. DISASTER.

What followed was a bit of worry, quickly followed by the decision to assume my race gear was gone. I started practising swimming in 16 degrees Swedish water with no wetsuit and a borrowed pair of goggles.

The Garmin charger was in the bag as well, so was prepared to bike & run with a dead watch with no idea of speeds or heart rate, but I thankfully met an American triathlete, Steve, who offered me his spare 910XT! I was shocked he would offer it to me without knowing me at all, and not even caring about how or when I would return it to him. Greatly taken aback by the generosity and forever grateful for it. I hope that I can be that guy for someone some day. Worked out the data fields on it the night before and synced it my HRM.

Also bought some random shoes before the race and ran a couple of times to help break them in. They ended up making my ankles bleed which was easily fixed by having some band-aids around the key spots on race day.

The cherry on top was finding a place at the expo where I could rent a wetsuit for the day! Unfortunately didn’t have the time to try it out in water. This is me practising in the bed the night before the race.

I know…. I’m not proud.


There was one single race briefing with 3000 people, followed by a good carb-y dinner. I’ve never seen this before since most Australian IM races have multiple race briefings running everyday to spread out the audience. Although I must say there was something electric about having so many eager and strong athletes all in a room with the same goal.


3,000 eager faces

Checked in everything the day after that and in a way, I was glad to get rid of the bike and know that it was where it needed to be. Before getting here I expected the red/blue bag issues to be a complex one that required thinking but it really ended up being very simple. Both of these bags were half empty for me with just the things I needed. No spare stuff, no fancy backups, no special needs bags.


Gave the chains a quick wash and some lube while checking it in


Got 4-5 hours of sleep the 3 nights after getting there, owing to jet lag and all the chaos from the lost gear. Made it #1 priority to wrap up the prep early on Friday and be in bed by 7.30 worst case. Ended up getting 7.5 Hrs on the night before the race and woke up wanting to rip a polar bear apart with my bare hands.


Swim – 01:19

My left hand’s pinky tends to get a life of its own in cold waters and permanently sticks out from the rest of the wrist. Not the best swimming form, so I wrapped a bit of rubber band to get this in control.


It was 16 C water but without any choppy waves. Very different to last year which had a lot of competitors throwing up in the water while swimming! My first experience with a rolling start, so got into the 01:20 group hoping I would be somewhere around that. Final time was just a few seconds shy of that.


No warm up allowed in the water, so I followed JD’s land-based warm up routine to get that heart rate up. Got into the water and stepped right into it.

Happy with the consistency of my swim and I’m pretty sure that I would have never done a pace slower than 02:05 or faster than 02:00 (min/100m) through the whole distance.


Had my rubber band knocked out of my hand halfway through swim. Few seconds later, the same person kicked me in the jaw to reaffirm his/her dominance. Considering the amount of pulling and kicking I endured, I’m surprised Ironman swims don’t see any full-on mid-swim brawls.

The morning also ended up being pretty misty which made it a bit hard to see the buoys. Just tried to stick to swimmers around me and focused on not swimming too far away from the buoys.


I got a lot of feedback from others later that they were freezing in the water despite the wetsuit. I honestly felt pretty comfortable in there and I attribute it to the Perth river OWSs and the thick layer of fat under my skin. I recommend the former of those.

Bike – 05:54

The course was flat-ish with a few undulating terrains and maybe 3 or 4 major climbs. The winds are considered to be the main issue on this course but I reckon we didn’t have too bad of a day.

The course took us through viking graveyards, farms and most importantly the Oland Bridge (which gives a fantastic view of the Baltic sea & the Kalmar castle). That was good fun, especially considering that the Oland bridge can be biked on only this day of the year.

The ride was fairly uneventful except for the sticker covering my disc wheel’s valve that kept coming off. I wasted around 5 min in repeatedly trying to tape it back up so it wouldn’t hit the chain with every rev, but had to eventually rip it off. The aerobar grips started coming off later as well, I assume from the excess cosmic energy being generated by the race wheels (yes, I like to science). Thankfully no major mechanical issues to complain of.

Both my bike and run had only one thing on the borrowed 910XT’s screen: heart rate. For the bike, I wanted to stay around 145bpm, and for the run I wanted to stay below 153bpm. I occasionally checked the speeds on my bike when I felt I was going fast, just to feed my ego and give myself a mental edge, but the primary parameter was always the main screen with just the HR.


The plan was to stick to the numbers because the numbers were direct feedback on how the body was responding to the stress. I had to use this feedback to spread out my ability for the whole course, even if I felt stellar at some specific parts of the race. This wasn’t Dragonball Z where your body got stronger with motivation or focus or anger. You burn your matches up, you pay for it later. Simple as that.

When the watch said 179km, I got my feet out of the shoes for a wannabe pro transition. This was a fail when the course went on for another 2-2.5 km. Not sure if the course was longer than it should have been or if the GPS on the watch was off. Either way, I got a few funny looks and even made myself chuckle at the silliness of riding over 2km in my socks.

Run – 04:30

I had planned on doing the first 10km of the run on a super slow pace irrespective of how I felt. Went by perceived effort and stuck to a slow jog. After that, I picked it up a bit at went by MAF heart rate. Walked every aid station (except the last one) without fail. Initially, it felt forced but eventually I started looking forward to it, but having that plan did help me push past the urge to walk at any other time.

It was always fun to see the beautiful cobblestone roads near the inner town and an AMAZING Kalmar crowd on almost all parts of the run course. So much energy throughout the whole race! Hearing the “HEJA FREDERICK” (‘Heja’ means ‘Go’ in Svenska) chant was encouraging and you heard it at every corner of the run. I also managed to run alongside the race winner for about 0.3 seconds on my first lap. #Winning

There was a moment where my stomach didn’t feel too flash and I figured I could either take a dump or run/walk the last 15km feeling rubbish. Did the math and figured that if I lost 5min in taking a dump, that’s losing 00:20min/km for the remaining distance, but there was a chance of me making that up by just feeling comfortable. Took a 4min dump (timed it) and I have no idea if the rise in pace justified it, but damn it felt good! No regrets.

Left the nutrition to continuous judgement. Not sure how wise this was but it worked well. If I felt bloated with too much solids, I would increase the water intake and switch to coke for fuel. If I felt “hungry” with an empty stomach, bananas would be the go. Just kept playing with these three in different combinations and the body responded well.

The 3 lap course is a bit of a torture since you see the finish line thrice by the time you’re heading out for another lap of pain, but in a way it’s also really liberating to run those cobblestone roads towards that red carpet when you know this time it has your name on it

The 1st lap felt quick. the 2nd felt long, and the 3rd lasted for eternity. I didn’t how to bring up the time of the day on the 910XT, but had a pretty strong feeling that my swim was around 01:20 or below and that with the sub-6 slack created on my bike, I should be able to grab a sub 12 time with a 04:30 run.

Loved stepping on the red carpet and was so stuck in my own world that I never even heard the words “You are an Ironman”.

FINAL TIME: 11:55:20

Finisher Pic

Too cheap to actually buy the pic



5) Post-Race

How ridiculously amazing is it that they had an icebath for the finishers, and served you beer while you rested your lazy arse in it?!! I should add though that the beer was non-alcoholic which pretty much makes it barley water. Not quite as appealing.


I came back for the heroes hour after getting my bike checked out and safely tucked away with the rest of my gear. These were the 15:00-16:00 finishers, the guys who endured the most amount of pain and pushed when the support and morale was at the lowest.


The final guy to cross through and not make it within cut off was a Frederick coincidentally. Felt bad for the guy considering he endured the most pain that day, and also because he lost out on the medal despite having an amazing name.


Looking back, this has been a truly remarkable journey. I owe James a big one. I had plenty of faith in the process he laid out for me and offloaded the planning to his experience. In return he helped me smash my goals before setting new targets and repeating.

I’ll be catching up with him in the UK in a few days and sharing some war stories over a pint or five. Gotta love having a coach who’s not only badarse in the sport but damn good fun to chill with as well.

During this preparation, I’ve swum in chilling waters in the rain, gone on a 2.30am bike ride and run through a hailstorm. I set out to make me proud of myself, and I think I kinda did that with the help of some amazing friends and family. Becoming an Ironman was cool, but feeling proud of myself while becoming one was even cooler.


Time to enjoy a month in Europe and then to the next challenge, whatever that is!


P.S. Stockholm lost & found my bag the day before I left Sweden!! The world is too good to me!


While I’ve been training for Ironman Sweden, the time with the folks at TEAM Tri Coaching has been amazing. But I’ll elaborate on the whole IM training thing in a final post after the event. This one is about a rite of passage that I had the opportunity to experience while 6 weeks away from race day. My coach, James, mentioned of this test called ‘The Double Paganoni’. A brick of a sort, but under specific conditions that must be met for you to claim the title.

A 200km bike ride was to be completed, followed by an hour long run, within the following restrictions:

1. The entire ordeal must be completed by 12pm of the day.
2. You may start at any point during the day as long as it is after 00:00 Hrs.
3. To participate, you must be training for a full ironman race and roughly 5-6 weeks away from your race day. This ensures that your body is fatigued from the training volume and that your muscle groups are far from “fresh”.
4. Your Garmin (or any other logging device) must log every kilometer on the bike and the run, or it didn’t happen.
5. 12pm cut-off means 12 pm cut-off!
6. No drafting or any external help with nutrition.


Although few of the perks of this was a free all-you-can-eat breakfast at the end and a wicked biking shirt, the biggest benefit was an intangible one: confidence to your ironman prep. I was, of course, keen as hell! The day was chalked into my plan (09 July, 2016). There wasn’t going to be any taper or any rest sessions after. This would just have to come and go as any other training session.

TP - Double Pag.jpg

The path was clarified and everything decided, but what threw a spanner in the works was the weather. Forecasts of  50kmph gusts, 90% chance rain and a slight possibility of hail. Not exactly ideal but the day was decided and there wasn’t any going back.

The Double Paganoni.jpgPaganoni weather forecast.jpg

Rod Marton, 3 time Ironman World champs qualifier and one of the co-founders of The Double Paganoni, told us that there were only 13 official qualifiers of the title before me (including my coach, JD, and the Duffield sisters!), so if I were to complete it, I would be the 14th. Loved the sound of that.

Considering the weather conditions, I decided to start off at 02:30am in the morning. Stuck to the same nutrition plan as what was being planned for my Ironman in August: alternating energy gels and vegemite sandwiches. The glorious duo of savoury-sweet goodness!


An early 01:30am wake-up and a lot of coffee later, I was off on a cold COLD morning. Apparently, there had been thunderstorms and lightning while I blissfully slept but the early morning sure seemed much tamer. What didn’t help was my main bike light dying in the first 3 minutes (totally my fault). The headwind on the first 60km towards Paganoni road wasn’t doing me any favours either. What did help was me being layered up massively. I’m talking 2 socks, 2 tee-shirts, a biking jacket, a rain jacket, gloves and a beanie. I was still far from feeling anything resembling warmth.

The ride wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. Paced myself but felt fighting the headwind was draining me quicker than I thought. In the midst of the cold and the unexpected addition of a rain jacket, I dropped a couple of gels which I later craved quite dearly at the end of the ride. Around the second half of the ride, my mate Kieran joined me at 6am and gave me company for around 40km. This was an absolute legendary effort in my opinion, especially considering there was no reason for him to be up at that hour in those weather conditions. In his words, it “builds character” to train like you would race and not be deterred by the conditions of the day. Seriously something else! Love it.


Despite not having all my gels and not doing too great, we were clear on not allowing any drafting or any assistance with nutrition (even water). Managed to get back with my watch beeping ‘Low Battery’ over and over during the way back, despite starting off with full charge. I was absolutely devastated when it died at 199.43km, but kept going without thinking too much about that. Used the strava app to log my 01Hr05min run and decided to worry about the ride later.


Started raining around the end of the run, but I didn’t care. All I could think of was that I was running in time to finish around 15min before 12pm. My plan had been to finish at 11.06am but obviously the day didn’t go per plan. To be on the safer side, I ran an extra 5min and ended up at the planned cafe in maylands, to find my mates waiting for me. It was also great to see Rod present there with them all. Kieran, Dan and Siobhan gave me the warmest welcome I could imagine and truly made me feel like I had just saved the world! Love these guys, their support helps me go so much further than I would be able to otherwise.




In hindsight, what I got most out of this was a bit of confidence in knowing that the nutrition plan works (except for the lost gels part) and also a bit of insight into how crap my legs feel after riding IM distance on the bike.

Considering the circumstances, Rod took my Garmin data to ensure that despite my watch dying, the map would be able to clarify that the remaining distance covered by me was at least 600m. Was totally stoked when he posted this a couple of days later! 🙂

Official paganoni confirmation.jpg

Now with this in the bank, time to finish up the final ‘hell month’ of training before beginning taper for the big day!