Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Going the distance in love and marriage

From The Electric New Paper - Singapore:

THEIR pulses race for each other - and not just in the way you think.

Mr Lam Chee Long, 57, and Mrs Yvonne Lam, 50, can put younger people to shame as they typically run, swim and cycle five to six times a week.

And that is just their daily 'exercise' routine with no race pressure.

The fit and youthful-looking pair are proof that you needn't be sedentary and stodgy as you age.

How fit are they? At the Kenyir Lake International Triathlon in Trengganu last April, Mrs Lam came in third for the women-above-35 category, while Mr Lam was 8th for men-above-50.

In a triathlon, athletes swim 1.5km, cycle 40km, and run 10km.

The couple also took part in the half-Ironman in Desaru last year.

Ironman races go one up on triathlons with their longer distances, and typically take about 10 to 12 hours to complete - with a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike route and a 42.2km run.

So a half-Ironman would be half the distances.


Since 1992, when the Lams took part in their first triathlon, they've not looked back, having completed some 70 competitive races together - which include duathlons (run-cycle-run) and biathlons (consisting of any two disciplines).

The Lams exude confidence, and don't mind being dubbed the poster couple for those past their 50s to remain active.

Mrs Lam, an account executive with an airline, said: 'I'm proud of my age and it is something I don't bother to hide.'

Mr Lam, who retired last month as an insurance company general manager, felt that people tended to hold preconceived notions about those in his age group.

He said: 'We have a Singapore paradox - if you are our age and take part in triathlons, people think you shouldn't.

'They think we are a rare, crazy breed. But when I tell people that I'm retired, they tell me, isn't that too young?'

Regardless of what people say - and despite the fact that Mrs Lam injured herself in July while cycling in Lim Chu Kang - the couple are set on competitive racing for 'as long and as old as we can get'.

Mrs Lam fell off her bike after colliding with a van and had to wear a cast for about a month. But she still did light workouts to get her exercise fix.

She admitted: 'If I don't exercise, I just don't feel good. I cannot rest for more than two days, I have to have some activity no matter what.'

The couple, who were both previously married, had met in 1988. They have a son, 22, an undergraduate, from MrsLam's previous marriage.

They started exercising together when they were dating, often running around the hilly Kent Ridge area.

It was especially tough for Mrs Lam, who was in her early 30s then, as she had been completely inactive since her school days.

She recalled: 'Even running 1km was a problem for me. I used to run behind him. When he ran too fast, I would lose motivation and ask him to slow down.'

Now, Mrs Lam is often ahead of her husband. Mr Lam said: 'Now she won't slow down for me.'

It's clear that the couple thrive on doing things together. During the interview at their condominium off Farrer Road, they were completing each other's sentences and constantly teased each other.

Mrs Lam said: 'To have a ready buddy to swim, cycle and go to the gym with is the best thing you could ask for.'

Mr Lam added: 'I think training for the races is great for bonding and spending quality time together.'

It's a lifestyle that sees them spending some $3,000 to $4,000 a year on exercise gear, sports drinks, supplements and race entry fees.

For them, training on weekdays begins around 7pm. On weekends, they wake up at 4.30am for a run or biking. Prior to a race, they train longer.

The couple takes supplements such as glucosamine, calcium and vitamins, but they still indulge in the occasional ice cream and chocolates.

Mrs Lam said: 'After a long race, we would sometimes eat KFC.'

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