Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders

Right after Payton was born, I went to a party in Dallas that was hosted by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Of course, I asked them to sign a photo for Payton. I figured Jenna wouldn't mind, right? Well, the photo had been buried in some dusty pile. But today, it showed up while we were cleaning Payton's room.

Payton is now almost 4 yrs. old and maybe going on 14. He took the photo from his mom and ran to the corner of the room to take a good, long look at the photo. Jenna asked him, "What do you think of the picture?" Payton just grinned from ear to ear. Jenna rephrased the question, "How does the photo make you feel?" Payton smiled and whispered, "Excited." I busted out laughing, but it probably wasn't the answer his mom wanted to hear. Later, when I was tucking Pay to sleep, I asked him, "What does excited mean?" He said, "Excited is how you feel when you want something more than anything else." Yup, that's my boy!

There are many different types of recovery techniques, and for me humor is one of the best ways to recover from a hard workout. Today was a very hard training day behind the motorcycle. It was cold and windy. I was exhausted after the 3hr session. But Pay's humor helped me bounce back. I feel recovered already. These moments are priceless.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Like Groundhog Day - The Movie

My flight left Manila last night and arrived 14 hrs later in San Francisco. When I arrived, it was earlier on the SAME day I left Manila. Cool, thanks to the international dateline I get to re-live the day all over again. This time around, I'll spend it happily with my family, eat Little Star pizza, and sleep in my own comfy bed. Simple pleasures.

If I could re-do this trip again, I wouldn't change a thing, except, ride a bigger gear. I rode too small a gear for all the races. In Sydney, I needed a 49x14 for the pts., 53x15 for the Scratch, 50x14 for the kilo. At the SEA games, the velodrome was a fast outdoor 333 track. Again, I should have ridden bigger gears too. 52x15 for the pts and 50x14 for the Kilo. These are big gears for me, but the speed at these races required that I should have gone up a gear. Oh well, it's a learning experience.

All in all, this trip has been unforgettable. It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for a happily married middle aged cyclist with 2 beautiful kids, a SF mortgage to pay, a business to run. I enjoyed every moment, even those moments of doubt and fear. I kept telling myself to "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." It worked. The support I received from friends and family was incredible. It sustained me throughout the trip. Thank you very much.

Finally, great news. We've raised almost $5K in donations in less than 1 month. There will be many happy poor children in the Philippines this Christmas. You've made a difference! Please continue to pass the donation page to your community

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Modern Man in Search of a Soul"

In Carl Jung's famous book he says that after 30 yrs of treating psych patients from many different backgrounds and problems, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook in life. No one is really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.

I was thinking of this within the context of how many of the athletes I've had the oppprtunity to know deal with the dissappointment of their results and expectations. Interestingly, those who have a religious outlook, seem to bounce back a lot more quickly from defeat. Many say that GOD has other plans for them. Their faith strengthens them. They seem happier to me and more optimistic. They worked very hard to achieve their goals and made tremendous sacrifices for many years. But unfortunately, things didn't workout. And they take it in stride and smile. "Beat it and bounce," as my buddy Robbie says. Spirituality is a liberating force.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taxi Cab Confessions

My SEA games trip is over and it's now time for some R&R with Jenna in Bangkok. She has already checked into the Four Seasons, and is enjoying the luxury treatment and brief time to herself without the kids. She hasn't had time just to herself for the past 3.5 yrs, so this is a welcome relief. I owe her big time.

On my cab ride from the airport to the hotel, the cab driver was keen to point out all the shopping districts, and offered to drive me around to some bargain places. No, thank you. I hate shopping and I'm hoping that Jenna has already done this before I arrive. But what I want is a spa treatment. And when I mentioned this to the cab driver, his head spun around like in the Exorcist. Just like in the movie, he gave me that fiendish smile and said, "Weeally (it's really, but Thais cannot pronounce the r)..yah yah, i know vewy good place, you like go now..weelax and be wery happy." I'm sure you do. I think he was disappointed I declined the offer. Interestingly, it was at the Four Seasons in Bangkok a few year back, pre-kids, where we picked up a taxi to go to an upscale spa but somehow ended up in the shady red light district. These things happen here since there's a lot of kickback for bringing customers for shopping and/or the happy ending massages.

Remember the BeeGees song, "One night in Bangkok, makes the world your oyster, and if your lucky she's a he." It's crazy how many beautiful women are not really women. If they are too perfect then "she's a he." One night in Bangkok is all I need to spend in Thailand then I'm off to Manila.

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$20K + House and Lot

...Is the Indonesian incentive to all their athletes for winning gold in the SEA Games. Every country has a similar financial incentive but not as generous as Indonesia's. There's a lot at stake for many athletes. It could mean that Santa is coming to town or not. So everyone fights for the win. It's a slug fest. And the sacrifices for many are incredible. I'll write about this later.

I'm really impressed with the quality of competition here. It's world class. The athletes are full time athletes. They are supported by government funding and receive a lot of support. At the Philippine camp for instance, we have some of the best medical staff: orthopedic doctors, chiropractor, physiotherapist, PT, and massage therapists. I kept them busy, sometimes I even got 2 massages a day after my workouts. It's been great. There are also many administrative people who manage the logistics of travel and make life easy for all of us. All that they ask is that we win gold.

We won gold in the points race. My teammate who is arguably the best Philippine rider, Victor Espiritu won it. He covered the breakaway attacks while I rested for the sprints. Consequently, within the first 8 laps he was able to lap the field with the right combination of countries represented in the breakaway. Once he established his lead, we just defended his position and helped him as much as we could. I was able to win some sprints and take away points from the competition and chase down potential breaks. It was a great team race and I'm lucky to have such a strong teammate. The racing was brutal, unlike any points race I've ever done. The overall speed was lower but the attacks were nonstop. It was an exhausting 40K interval. I was cross eyed by the finish, and completely spent.

It was an honor to join Victor on his victory lap draped in the Philippine flag. And watching the flag raised while singing the national anthem was memorable. It's been many, many years since I sang the national anthem as a kid growing up in the PI, but the words came back easily and I sang along proudly.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Opening Ceremonies

Breathe...Enjoy the ride. I get this advice a lot. At the World Cup in Sydney, I definitely was so focused on the outcome that I may not have appreciated the experience as much as I should have. But now, with some space between the racing, I'm able to reflect on a lot of great memories.

It was super cool to have witnessed the speed of Theo Bos while he was launching his flying 200. I was riding behind him before his twin turbos kicked into overdrive. It's the ultimate image of speed. I enjoyed the Kilo the best, since I was able to sit up on the starting gate and take in the moment. The stands were packed with cheering Aussie's, the infield was a vibrant color of all the national federations. And there were so many top riders present, who I only saw prior to Sydney on DVDs. And most of all, the opportunity to meet many good interesting people with different backgrounds was priceless.

Last night, I was fortunate enough to experience the SEA Games opening ceremony. It was simply magical. It was unlike any sporting experience I've had. My heart skipped a few beats as we entered the stadium. I did not expect the event to be so grand. As I walked into the stadium, from the silent staging tunnel, we were greeted by an overwhelming applause accompanied by the sounds of a beating drum. Images of Gladiator came to mind. For a moment, lost in my imagination, it felt as though all the thousands of fans, cameras, media, TV coverage, the Prince, were focused on me. And like Maximus, I held my arms high and thought, "Are you not entertained?"

We all marched in dressed in our respective team outfits waving our flags. I wanted to break formation and run up to the stands and give everyone a high five. I was simply and completely overjoyed to be part of this. It would have been perfect had my family and friends been here to enjoy the festivities with me.

The evening was like a Superbowl spectacle of fire works, music, and dancing, but with a very special spicy Thai flavor. The night was just as Maggy would say, "OOOsome." Breathe and enjoy the ride - Absolutely!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Charity Update

I'm very grateful for all the support and generosity from friends, family, and colleagues. It's amazing how quickly we've raised 10% of the targeted donation amount of $25K. I get an email alert after each donation, and there were moments when my blackberry would not stop vibrating from all the alerts. Thank you, I truly appreciate everyone's help.

After the SEA Games in Thailand, I will be traveling to Manila to again visit the charity. I will also work on securing a corporate sponsor to match the donations raised. Winning a gold medal in Thailand will help attract sponsorships. Therefore, I'm hopeful my best will earn us the gold.

Also, I want to assure everyone that 100% of your donation will be used to help the poor, hungry, and homeless children of the Philippines. I will directly be involved to make
sure that we all can be a force of good and help make a difference.

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...Rolled out the red carpets for the SEA Games. After a long flight from Sydney I was greeted by the Thai Federation at baggage claim. An army of helpers, picked up all my bags and carted it down to a reception lounge, where food and drinks were provided. Then we were driven by chartered bus to the Athletes Village in Korat. The movie, Beowulf was played on the bus. Thought this movie was still out in the theaters.

There's a security point check-in before you can enter the athlete's village. It's not as strip down tight like airport security, but the guards are armed and there are German Shepard bomb sniffing dogs. It's alarming, but generally, it feels safe here among the 5k+ Asian athletes/coaches. There are more sporting events here compared to the Olympics. I'm meeting a lot of great athletes in boxing, rugby, tennis, swimming, and the world champion billiards team. I'm hoping to pick up some tips to improve my sorry game.

The housing is dorm style rooms but the fridges are stocked full of water, cokes, and my favorite recovery drink- Nestle chocolate milk. Score.

The dining hall is all you can eat Thai food. There's a hot Thai food section and a Not hot section. I didn't read the signs on the first day and ate some scorching food. My mouth is still on fire from the Thai chilies I ate.

The venues are state of the art facilities. The velodrome is way cool. Each team has their own locker rooms and shower rooms. And Thailand has provided us with a team bus similar to the ones the pro riders use in the Tour. There is a shower room/ bathroom/ and a pimped out disco ball to boot. I love Thailand! Now I gotz to go for my Thai massage.....

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Managing Expectations

A friend told me that more athletes see a sports psychologist about managing unrealistic expectations than any other problem. I think I may need to see one after this Sydney World Cup.

I should have been more realistic with my expectations. Oh, there goes gravity, back to reality. But, I'm glad to have had this learning experience, and now that it's over, I have a renewed commitment to work even harder at improving my game for the next round in LA. It's a whole new level at the World Cups but it's manageable. I'll have 3 more shots at goal but I need to focus more than on just endurance events. At this level, I need to specialize in the points and scratch races only.

After the racing was all over, my new adopted teammates, Team Global, and I just kicked it at the hotel bar and kept the pints flowing. It's been fun hanging with Maggy, Supermac, Princes Louis, and Cakein. You can race alone but it's very hard. I'm really glad I met a great group of people. And together we helped each other through the racing and logistics, and had we had a blast.

It was crazy getting to the airport this Monday morning. Everyone's bikes were picked up at the velodrome last night, and dropped off at the airport. Imagine trucks loaded with boxes of Look, and BT bikes being dropped at the curbside without the riders. There were probably a million dollars worth of equipment just sitting there. Amazingly, the teams look out for each other and we all got our equipment.

I just got rooted (bad Aussie word) by Thai Airlines. Since I'm not flying to the great US of A, I was charged $20 per kilo over 30 kilos. I paid $1200. INSANE! Better fly my bags first class for that. Anyhow, now, I'm off to Thailand for the SEA Games. Wish me luck.

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