A lonesome battle against the limits of their endurance - triathletes understand better than most how that must feel.
Chow Sheng Ren, 27, wakes up as early as 4.30am to train for the SEA Games before he goes to work. The Singapore triathlete, who just started an internship with Deloitte two weeks ago, trains again, alone, after his work ends.
His compatriot Loo Chuan Rong has the added challenge of taking care of his five-month-old son.
The 32-year-old said: "Whenever possible, I try to get one of my sessions done very early in the morning before my wife and son are awake so that, once the day begins, I'm already back.
"If I have to train in the evenings, then it's usually after dinner and after we've put my son to bed."
Still, when he was selected for the SEA Games squad, he had to take no-pay leave from his marketing job with a local sports equipment company.
Thankfully, his leave was granted, and his colleagues have helped him accommodate his training regimen around his work.
With the triathlon event making a return to the SEA Games after an eight-year hiatus, Singapore is sending a team of four to try for podium finishes in both the men's and women's individual categories.
Although Mok Ying Ren won a gold for Singapore when triathlon was last included in the Games in 2007, it will be the Filipino triathletes who will be favourites to win the golds this time around at East Coast Park.
For the Singapore triathletes, they will be eager to prove that all their sacrifices have been worth it.
Already they are in high spirits: At the recent Subic Bay ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup, both Chow and Loo, as well as woman triathlete Ethel Lin Zhiyun clocked their personal bests. The other woman representative, Winona Howe, trains separately abroad.
Lin, a lawyer with the Competition Commission of Singapore, received a pleasant surprise recently, when her father went down to support her at the SEA Games qualifying race in March - the first time he has ever watched her race.
She recalled: "When I realised he was there after the race started, I wanted to make him proud."
Since then, he has been giving her advice about how to train or what she should have done in a race.
Said the 28-year-old, who started triathlon nine years ago while in law school: "Previously, he simply dropped me off at my training place and picked me up after the event.
"Now he's constantly trying to give me advice, even at five in the morning, but it makes me happy knowing he's now interested in what I do."
Lin's mother and sisters will be watching her race for the first time next Saturday.
While the four triathletes have different training schedules and locations, they keep one another updated on their training progress through a Whatsapp group chat.
"We may not train together, but Chuan Rong and Sheng Ren help me tremendously with my training by suggesting adjustments to my training programme," said Lin.
No doubt, any kind of advice would make these triathletes feel that they are not alone in their daily slog against a combination of three gruelling sports.
This article was first published on May 30, 2015.
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