Category Archives: triathlon

IRONMAN Gurye KOREA: From RUNNING DIVA’s Eyes as a Support Crew and as a Spectator

Pre-race Activities and Visit to Busan and Gurye

Earlier this year the invite came from runner-blogger and Busan-based Del aka Argonaut Quest, who advised me that the best time to go to Busan, South Korea would either be in April in time to see those beautiful sakura flowers blossoming just about everywhere, or in the autumn months between October and November where leaves are changing from the vibrant greens of summer to a colorful palette of yellow, orange, red, and cooling temperatures. I was a bit hesitant to say yes not because I didn’t want to, but because of some important stuff.

Since triathlon (tri) off-season was also underway, a few weeks off from my last big races would mean some time doing other activities, eg household chores, filing stuff, and a lot of catching up on life.  But what the heck! The call to come to Gurye (pronounced gu-re or gu-ræ) to support teammate Raffy’s IRONMAN (IM) Gurye quest at the same time get to watch the IM event was too much to ignore that I  found myself securing needed documents, crossing my fingers that I could get through the dreaded visa process. To my surprise, getting one was not bad at all. Funny, too, the flights were booked way ahead of time. Super thanks to Tri Taft and Team Ninja Jerome for making it possible for Raffy and me. Well, I got mine just a few hours earlier than that of teammate Raffy. Obviously, wasn’t too excited, right? Yay!

Endure teammates wishing Raffy good luck. Raffy’s wife Winnie was almost on full term pregnancy hence it was safer for her to stay home. 📷 credit to Clark

The send-off party attended by Endure teammates and some friends put Raffy in a good mood days before the trip. The occasion was also made extra special in a way that only a videoke can! The final night before flight next day, I still managed to sneak time to meet Endure teammates Jemai and Vic for Raffy’s IM finisher’s poster including helmet and bike stickers. Super thanks, Jemai and Vic!

Everything went well as planned. We were picked up from Busan airport right on time by Del, or around 8 PM local time. Manila is one hour behind Busan. Then we immediately went to his place for a quick stop to bring our luggage in.  Del was letting us stay in his place during our short visit in Busan.

It was a good idea to start the night with a short walk. Seeing the lights and buildings, my initial impression of life in Busan was the city had a more laid back atmosphere and perhaps a more beautiful city at night than it was during the day. We visited a nearby restaurant for Thursday dinner and enjoyed a spicy Korean soup with rice, fish and kikiam cakes partnered with (to my relief) fried chicken, potato fries, and cola drink. Super thanks Del for the welcome dinner. Simple things yet they have transformed our arrival in Busan extra special.

Our first taste of authentic spicy Korean food.

We agreed to do a short run around the nearby area early next day. Del maintained a daily routine that is, squeezing in some morning run workouts before going to work. Who could resist such cool morning where the sun added an unbelievable light to the already foggy mountain range. I so wanted to stop running for a few minutes to savor the view, but I didn’t want to lose sight of Del and Raffy who were running ahead of me. The partly shaded flat run around the block worked wonders, which eventually led us to Eulseok Island, a paradise for migratory birds and happened to be home to one of the most runner or cyclist friendly paths in the city. The amazing view would always be imprinted on my mind.

Busan is a runner friendly city.
Bumping into a newfound friend in Busan. 📷 credit to Del

We left Busan on Friday evening for Gurye and had a short stop to grab something to eat at a restaurant along the expressway.  County Gurye is a two and a half to three-hour drive from Busan. We arrived late in the evening to our hotel, and soon as we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the chilly mountain air. After some initial confusion about our reservation, the staff at the front desk immediately sorted it out with smiles and a bit of humor. Visiting Gurye for the first time, I found the locals to be quite friendly and helpful. “This is it!” I said to myself. I would have to wear many hats in the next two days—as a teammate, support crew, cheerer, overseer, spectator athlete, la la la. We went to our rooms and decided to meet up early next day (and in our minds) to officially kickoff race weekend.

Race Weekend

We all got up early on Saturday morning and headed to the swim venue for the official swim practice. I was mesmerized by the breathtaking views of the town of Gurye. It was simply amazing! It was a cold foggy morning at Jirisan Lake, and the fog looked like steam rising off from the lake water.

More eye bags to go! LOL! 📷 credit to Del

As participants trickled in, some were engaged in conversation and others were busy changing into their wetsuits. I saw familiar faces including friends Maximus owner coach Andy, RaceDay Triathlon Monching, recent  Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® or UTMB CCC finisher Erick, Jay, and Doc Art among others. Swim practice didn’t take long for Raffy, except for Del who decided to swim, well, almost the full course. Whoa! Go, Del!

The scene after Saturday’s official swim practice.

After the swim, we had to meet some members of the Philippine IM Gurye KOREA delegation for a quick photo op, and the four of us then proceeded to claim race kits at the race expo. There were clearly people that had arrived at the expo, which was at another location accessible either by walking or by car.

Some of the 114-strong Philippine IM Gurye KOREA delegation accompanied by their families and friends. This was taken after the swim practice. 📷 credits to JR Hizon … et al.
Raffy’s and Yap’s loots and some shopping!

The expo where participants pick up their race packets, have photo ops, register or listen to race briefing, is a triathlete’s dream place. Couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy after seeing Raffy’s, Del’s, and Yap’s race kits. In my mind, “I wish I were a participant, omgee!” LOL to myself. Kit claiming is one of my favorite race-day moments. In Gurye it was orderly, organized, and most importantly, it happened real quickly. We got the opportunity to take some time to check out race  items and see what the vendors had to offer.  After all, it was not a bit silly to try other goodies on offer, and they were reasonably priced, too. And if you were lucky enough, you could even get a substantial or good discount. The guys bought some race essentials and IM Gurye mementos. We also watched a bit of the IRONKIDS Gurye wave start.

IRONKIDS wave start

Since all bikes and transition bags must be racked on Saturday, after having brunch, we went back to the hotel to prepare the bikes and pack gear and transition bags for check-in later in the afternoon. Del drove his car so he and I could go straight to the gear/bike check-in area, while Raffy and Yap biked their way to the expo to see a bike mechanic for last minute bike checkup.

Transition area. Don’t mess up. It could cost you your race time! Focus, guys!

I stayed at the waiting area or near the M dot for Del to rack up his bike and gear first, then I scanned the crowd to check whether Raffy or Yap had already arrived. From afar, I watched officials checked helmets as athletes entered the transition area. It took sometime before Raffy and Yap could join us.  It  turned out, Raffy’s bike was thoroughly checked for other mechanical problems. Once everyone was done, we all headed back to our hotel and opted to go out again to have an early dinner.

Raffy and I joined Greenhills Tri James at a nearby local restaurant frequented by some Pinoy triathletes. Del and Yap opted to check out foods from other restaurants. Afterwards, Raffy and I joined Del and Yap, and together we bought some groceries at a nearby convenient store.

Team Endure represent!

Raffy and I went back to our hotel to prepare other race essentials: (1) race number tattoo, checked;  (2) transition bag for special needs, checked; (3) timing chip, checked; (4) wetsuit, checked; (5) goggles and cap, checked; (6) outfit of the day (OOTD) pre-race, checked; and, (7) OOTD post-race, checked. We agreed for an early night on Saturday to get that well-deserved rest because we had a BIG day planned for next day, but Raffy had difficulty falling asleep. My thoughts, “I so can relate. Race jitters here you go!” Deep breathing exercise didn’t help him either. I just said to Raffy this, “Don’t worry about bad sleep; having good sleep days before the trip is what matters. Being a little nervous for tomorrow’s race means you cared about your performance and have put in a lot of hard training to prepare.”

The day has finally arrived!

On race morning, Raffy and I availed of the hotel’s breakfast, which was specially prepared for IM participants. It was a fairly early start as we all had to travel to race venue with a bit of time for the guys to check their gear in the transition area. Race suit on, transition bag ready, bike Tomoe race ready, I believe Raffy was focused.  A good sign!

The early dawn silence was suddenly broken by the booming and energetic voice of IM race announcer. In a few hours, the starting line would soon be filled with that too-pumped feeling, pre-race jitters, and adrenaline! Looking up at the sky, it was cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful. I told Del about it and was a bit surprised when he replied, “Just wait. It would be foggy in a few minutes.” Finally, it was time for them to go to start!

This was how it looked like during the seeding of age-group rolling start.

From afar, I could see IM officials supervising all participants during the self-seeding for age-group rolling start. It was like watching penguins congregating at the water’s edge since most athletes wore wetsuits, and diving one by one into the cold water.  In reality, one by one racers jumped off the dock to get round the first buoy. Then what Del said earlier happened. The fog crept by and had slowly enveloped the swim course. Not more than ten minutes after the race had started; a swimmer had veered completely off course, and tried to go back while kayak safety marshals looked on. A few minutes later, two swimmers asked to be rescued and were aided by race marshals at the dock. I think, it was a DNF for these two athletes.

It was so foggy. Initially, emcee announced earlier that swim will be stopped for safety of all swimmers. Spectators cheered when it was announced a few minutes later that swim would continue after all.

I could hardly see anyone out there in the water now. Even kayak marshals and the biggest IM buoy disappeared into the fog. It wasn’t too cold, but the evaporation fog over the lake made it look like a scene from a movie where a predator could come out any time soon of the mist in front of us. Then came emcee’s voice on the mic again announcing that the swim might be cut short to bring the swimmers to safety due to the thick fog. Spectators muttered as he was announcing this. As I watched the scene before me, I prayed hard for the safety of the participants and my friends. After a few seconds, perhaps an answered prayer, emcee’s voice came again and jubilantly announced that the swim would continue after all!  We cheered and clapped our hands! I was positioned for a good view of athletes as they came out of the water. Spectators encouraged participants with cheers. I saw who came out first. It was a Caucasian, perhaps from the US. Then followed by more athletes now out of the water. I stood there for almost two hours and waited not only for Raffy, but also for other friends to come out of the water. And, when they finally did, it was a huge relief!

Finally out of the water! That was a 3.8-km swim! Go, Raffy!

In the next moment, who would have thought that you could hear the emcee shouting an athlete’s name followed by a dialect of your own language in this foreign land, “Philippines! Astiiiiiig!” LOL! By the way, there were over a hundred Pinoys who joined this year’s IM Gurye Korea, third biggest contingent, if I were not mistaken. Thanks to Tri Taft JR Hizon for doing much of the coordination and for making this possible for our Pinoy triathletes. Also, great thanks to Yap for leaving his pocket WiFi with me. Because of it, I was able to share race-day highlights to Endure teammates in Manila.

Except for tidbits or stories shared by friends, I couldn’t say much for the bike leg. “Bike course wasn’t that too easy.  It was like riding two Tagaytays,” according to coach Andy.  “I was emotional and I even cried when family back home came into mind,” Raffy said. “I was careful while riding down the hills,” Del shared. And Yap said, “The best!”

After the swim leg, decided to walk to the other side of the lake to meet briefly coach Andy’s Mom and family who stayed at a place called Guest House Hotel. Spent time with them over a quick late breakfast then went back to my hotel to rest while the competitors were still on their bikes. The athlete IM tracker was a huge help to track my friends’ standing in the race including expected time to finish. Getting back to race venue or finish area was not a problem since shuttle bus services were made available until midnight on that day.

I arrived at the race venue at half past three in the afternoon, and positioned myself near the 17K/30K turnaround point so it would be easier for me to spot incoming athletes. Almost all participants looked so strong despite having had to finish biking a 180-kilometer distance. The 42-km run race was still on, and you’d never know what could possibly happen in the next few fours.

Finally, saw Raffy as he was approaching the 17-km mark and cheered on him. On the second time he was about to turn around it, having reached the 30-km distance, and as I was about to take a video of him to update teammates when suddenly he stopped running only to tell me he felt dizzy. Of course, in IM tri you couldn’t lend extra help to a participant for this would mean a DQ or DNF. I did try to seek help from the marshal, but the language barrier did not help. Looking at it positively, I believe it was a blessing for my asking help made Raffy continue his run. Though a bit worried for Raffy, my assessment was Raffy’s overworked muscle was getting into him. He was exhausted. I could see that. But it was up to him now. IRONMAN, as an endurance sport, is also mental. It’s mind over matter now for Raffy. From where I stood, I saw him ate something at the aid station, and ran again. Crossing my fingers and knowing how much Raffy prepared for this, I never for one reason or another doubted his capability to reach the finish line. He would be OK.

With only over 12 kilometers to go, expected time to finish was about sub-15 hours. A block away from the finish arch, I positioned myself at the corner. Readied the poster that teammate Jemai prepared for Raffy. With only 30 minutes to go, Raffy would, finally, be an IRONMAN! In those minutes, I kept shouting at the passing runners to cheer on them shouting, “You’re stronger than you think you are! You’re about to be an IRONMAN, go, go, go! Girl power! Your running form is still OK, you can do this! Still running strong!” It was like a litany while waiting for Raffy to arrive. In that moment, while watching them, a realization dawned on me that it was easier to be out there racing than to patiently wait. Omgee! LOL! I reminded myself, “RD, patience is a virtue.”

Finally, I spotted him a few meters back, he was slouching already and looked tired. As soon as he was near enough from where I was seated, I opened the tarp for him to see. Written on it was “IRONMAN (his complete name) CONGRATS! From your team ENDURE for conquering IRONMAN Gurye KOREA 09.10.17!” Entirely, I’ve noticed his stance changed.  Now that was what I call second wind. I was running alongside him on the sidewalk now while holding the tarp, too excited and shouted, “Almost there … IRONMAN, ka na! Woohoo! Congrats!” till he reached the red carpet at the finish line. From outside the corral near the finish arch, I stood there waiting for the emcee to announce his name ending with these words, “… you’re an IRONMAN!” He crossed the finish line with a pretty impressive time for a first-time finisher! Nothing was easy, but anything was possible.

Raffy’s hard-earned IRONMAN finisher’s medal. 📷 credit to Raffy

I was feeling happy during the race and I believe it had something to do with the fact that I was part of something big. Though some close friends back home thought that I would be racing full IM, no, not this time, not yet. My task has officially ended. Mission accomplished. Now I could finally relax and remove my invisible support crew hat.

An honor to be with these IM Gurye Korea finishers! 📷 credit to Del

Congratulations to all Pinoy triathletes who participated in year’s inaugural IM Gurye Korea! Kudos to IM Gurye Korea organizers, event partners, volunteers, cheerers, Gurye residents and officials, and to the many people for a job well done. You guys, rock! See you next time! Gurye saranghæ! Busan saranghæ!

Anything is possible.

Ford Forza Triathlon Team Readying for 2017 Cobra Ironman 70.3

The Ford Philippines-backed and Cebu-bound Ford Forza triathlon team aka Forza is ready to once again participate in one of the biggest triathlon (tri) and challenging races in Asia on August 6, Sunday. The 2017 Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Cebu is expected to gather over 2,500 athletes from 51 different countries.

We are excited to partner with the Ford Forza triathlon team who has showcased their commitment and dedication to the sport over the years.  For years not only have they gone further, but also served as an inspiration to a bigger majority because of their life stories and journeys, and their motivation to make it big with the sport.  With this, we are delighted to rally behind these athletes as they braved through tough challenges and races this year,” said Ford Philippines AVP for marketing Prudz Castillo.

Led by businessman Gianluca Guidicelli, Forza team boasts a diverse mix of members from different industries. Among the current Forza members are actors Matteo Guidicelli and Ivan Carapiet, television host and sports correspondent Dyan Castillejo, entrepreneur Giorgia Guidicelli, cancer survivor Joey Torres, long-time triathletes Elmo Clarabal, Joseph Miller, business manager Ian Solana, tri coach Noel Salvador, and businessman Jomer Lim.

“The team is especially driven this time. We have new members and everyone is just excited to race harder and tougher this year. I have great confidence in my team.  We’re strong.  We are called ‘Forza’ after all.  Having Ford, who is just as tough as we are, to back us up once again, only fuels our desire to keep racing and to keep inspiring,” shared Gianluca Guidicelli.

Gianluca Guidicelli, the man behind Ford Forza tri team.

Forza team members took a more rigorous training that started early this year to finish strong. Furthermore, the team has also expanded its roster to include 20 members with ages ranging from 10-50 years. These new members include businessmen Romeo Castro and Tyrone Tan, brothers Ralph David Du and Yves Christian Du (both had been participants in the 2013 Pinoy Biggest Loser), sports enthusiasts Patricia Espino, Donikko Fernan, and Christian Saladaga, and cyclist Ica Maximo—all of which are very active in multisport events.

The Ford Forza Triathlon Team and its Advocacy

The Forza team created an advocacy supporting talented Filipino athletes who loved the sport but lacked the means to race by giving them the opportunity to be part of the team.  To date, Forza has gone further by providing its team members with everything to race, eg, a free ride for the whole year, rigorous and tough training sessions, and the pride to represent the team in races. Christian Saladaga, one of their strongest teammates, whose background is as inspiring as his passion for the sport, has beaten some of this year’s best athletes in past competitions.

Inspiring athletes to be potential winners drive the Forza team. New members Ralph and Christian Du continue to go further in the sport when they started off as contestants in a reality TV show.  Losing more than a hundred pounds each, the brothers motivated and inspired each other to be fit through various family activities and sports. They then ventured into the world of multisport racing and never looked back.

Earlier in the year, the Forza team has competed in races such as the Xterra Danao in April and the 5150 Subic Bay Philippines in June.  The team also hosted the Giro d’Luca cycling event in Bohol that brought cyclists and bike enthusiasts together.  Almost a thousand participants joined the annual event.

As a multidiscipline sport, tri has evolved making it the ultimate endurance test for athletes in the form of swimming, cycling, and running. Through the continued partnership, the Forza team can truly showcase how Ford vehicles such as the Ranger can complement the lifestyle and personalities of triathletes—built tough, capable, and versatile. Catch the Forza team at the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Cebu on August 6, Mt. Mayon ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup in Bicol on August 13, and 5150 Triathlon in Bohol on November 5.

With actor and humble Forza member Matteo Guidicelli.
About the Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets, and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 202,000 people worldwide.  For more information regarding Ford, its products, and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit Corporate Ford.

Philippines to Host First Full IRONMAN in 2018

Social media sites were abuzz yesterday with the announcement of a full Ironman distance happening in the second quarter of next year! Such an exciting news for most Pinoy triathletes who dream of finishing one!

In celebration of Sunrise Event’s 10th year anniversary and ten years of staging the IRONMAN 70.3 in the country, the Philippines will finally host its first full IRONMAN on 3 June 2018. Coming in as the proud title sponsor is Century Tuna which has been a title sponsor of the IRONMAN 70.3 since 2015. With the full IRONMAN, Century Tuna continues its mission to inspire more Filipinos to pursue their own health and wellness journey.

Pinoy triathletes can now proudly experience becoming certified IRONMAN finishers in their own country as they triumph in the most grueling endurance sport in the world. Our best triathletes will have to conquer distances of 3.8-km swim, 180-km bike, and a 42-km run as they rule their minds and bodies to become the first full IRONMAN finishers in the Philippines.

In line with the announcement above, please see below Century Pacific Food’s vice president and general manager Greg H. Banzon’s message to all:

“A full Ironman triathlon is regarded as the most physically demanding single-day sport in the world. Competing in one requires a high level of commitment from the athlete to train long, hard hours for at least five months. And the strength and toughness of mind, body, and spirit to endure the 3.8-km swim, 180-km bike, and full marathon run on race day.

Yet, despite the fearsome image and overwhelming physical demands of this ultimate endurance sport, demand for the race has been growing dramatically worldwide. In the Philippines, most triathlon races are usually sold out despite the rapid increase in the number of half Ironman and standard distance triathlon races and all other race distances in between.

Filipinos are increasingly among the largest contingents in the Ironman races abroad because the full distance is not held in the country. The clamor to hold a full distance IRONMAN has been growing more intense as early as a two or three years after the first IM70.3 was held in the country nine years ago.

As a brand at the forefront of promoting health and fitness, Century Tuna is very proud to be the lead sponsor in finally staging a full distance IRONMAN in the Philippines in 2018. The expected scale and scope of attention the event will generate in the country and the global triathlon community gives us a very big stage to shout out our message of living a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and exercise.

We are also pleased that the event will give Filipinos a chance to witness the drama and glory of athletes completing the grueling challenge of a full Ironman up close and hopefully inspire the entire nation as they pursue their own fitness journey. Congratulations to Sunrise Events for bringing IRONMAN to the Philippines.”

From Sprint Triathlon to Ironman 70.3 Finish

7 September 2016—Today marks one month since Cobra IRONMAN (IM) 70.3 in Cebu, and the event is still fresh in my mind. I tried to write about it these last few weeks and even promised myself to finish it ASAP, but being creative can also be difficult and challenging at times.

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Bullseye! Saw my name! Yay!

My recent stint in triathlon (tri), to other tri friends,  came as a bit of a surprise. I was surprised myself. My initiation to open-water racing happened in 2009 during an aquathlon 400m swim-7K run-400m swim event in Corregidor.  Fast forward seven years in June 2016, and I just completed my first sprint tri—the inaugural S2 Sprint Triathlon  750m open water swim-20K bike-5K run, a side event of Regent 5150 Triathlon in Subic Bay, Zambales. It was to just experience transition, open water swimming again, and have a good time. Never expected it would end up as a podium finish ranking third in my age group. Big thanks to my Endure Multisport teammates Raffy, Clark, and Dido including TriTaft member and good friend Jerome for encouraging me to register for a sprint tri. Their valiant efforts egged me to go out and try it to familiarize myself especially at transition points where change from one discipline to another is crucial for tri success.

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Awards received for finishing third place in age group
What Triggered My Getting Into Tri?

Here are my reasons.  First, I only wished for a simple folding bike to use around town for errands, city touring or perhaps commuting or appointments.  However, my friend Maui offered her road bike for sale. It was delivered at my doorstep on a Chinese New Year so my friend Maui named “my” bike Lucky, nicknamed Luke.  My first road racing happened during the Alaska Cycling Philippines. Having my own road bike, finally, made me want to try a tri race.  Second, this tri was long overdue.  Obviously, the love for running took precedence over biking or tri these past years.  I just picked up where I left off then.  I have joined multisport events from 2009 until 2014, mostly aquathlon or SwimRun events where, luckily, I also had some podium finishes. Third, the advert about the upcoming Asia Pacific Championship really sparked my interest.  IM 70.3 posed a new challenge for the serious recreational athlete in me.

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SwimRun training. L-R: Dido, Jerome, Darwin, RD, and Raffy

Last year, I have asked myself many times, “When are you going to do it?” And my answer was, “It’s now or never.” The NOW was signing up for Cobra Energy Drink IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship Philippines Presented by Ford tri event in October 2015.

Meggy, a good friend and classmate in grade school and high school hosted my stay upon arrival in Cebu and accompanied me during race kit claiming and race briefing
Meggy, a good friend and classmate in grade school and high school, hosted my stay upon arrival in Cebu and accompanied me during race kit claiming and race briefing
Fellow Happy Feet and now a triathlete, James of Greenhills Tri helped me with my bike accessories and shared tips on how to tackle the bike terrain.
Fellow Happy Feet and a triathlete himself, James of Greenhills Tri helped me with my bike accessories and shared some tips on how to tackle the bike terrain. (photo / James Rosca)
How Did I Prepare for IM 70.3?

The first thing I did was unlearning what I have learned years before, and relearn a new stroke to improve my swimming technique.  It was a struggle at first, but over time it made the swim seemed effortless, while at the same time enjoyable.  Meanwhile, a teammate shared the training program he used during his IM 70.3 preparations. Another experienced athlete shared her expertise and proposed another training plan to compliment what I had. After comparing both, I decided to tweak the two programs based on my current level of fitness.

Swim-bike-run training with Endure teammates Vic and Clark
Swim-bike-run training with Endure teammates Vic and Clark

I have also included extra activities and workouts—more swimming time, completing essential bike accessories, joining races tailored fit to endurance training such as The North Face 100K Trail Run, Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas, some half marathon races, attending a cycling class, and learning the ropes of biking from identifying parts, bike handling, road safety, gear shifting, using bike shoes and cleats to having a bike fit prior to start of an Eighteen-week Plan for my IM 70.3 training.  I had to be more careful during my workouts after suffering bike crash related injury during the initial stage of my training. The program commenced in March 2016, peaked in weeks 13-16, and tapered during weeks 17-18 before the big day.

Swim and bike training in Subic
Swim and bike training in Subic with Noelle, Marga, and Clark

I have maintained a journal to daily record my progress and track my workouts. Training would start as early as 5:30 AM for my swim and as late as 11 PM for my bike and run on weekdays while on an eight-hour day job.  I joined ride outs as well, more for endurance and to get comfortable conquering hills and practice gear shifting. Venues for these workouts vary.

Bike training with Greenhills Tri friends Gail and Noy
Bike training with Greenhills Tri friends Gail and Noy

Weekends were used to do either a three to four-hour cycling or long slow distance (LSD) even if it was raining.  Early this year, together with teammates Clark, Noelle and Marga, we practiced sighting drills and swim start-exit techniques in one of the resorts in Subic Bay.  And, exactly two weeks prior to Race Day, I joined a two-kilometer swim at the Open Water Challenge event in Punta Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas.  With much thanks for the support and compliments from former teammate Hanna Sanchez of SwimFit.  Not all days though were spent to do workouts. I made sure that some of the activities did not overshadow my weekly exercises by including cross-training and rest days to balance the demand of my workouts.

We're all happy to finish a two-kilometer open water swim in Nasugbu, Batangas
Happy to finish a two-kilometer open water swim in Nasugbu, Batangas. L-R: Clark, Raffy, Tracy, RD, and Rico
How was the Competition?

Overall, it was a remarkable experience being it my first IM 70.3 distance and one for the books I would say. It was not easy since Cobra IM 70.3 Cebu is considered as the toughest tri event in the country.  The remaining weeks leading up to race day brought stress and anxiety. I think I have cried a couple of times while thinking of the magnitude of this race. My only solace was looking at everything through the eyes of faith and grateful to persons who showed support and encouragement.

Swim start line (photo / Mark Saquing thru Raffy)
Swim start line (photo / Mark Saquing thru Raffy)

With almost 3,000 registered participants, it made the race more challenging especially in the swim part. Each athlete was given only 70 minutes or one hour and ten minutes to complete the 1.9-kilometer swim. This is a standard rule. Otherwise, race marshals would not allow the athlete to continue with the BikeRun part and be declared as either disqualified or did not finish. I seeded myself in the back or in the wave of my predicted finish time and waited for the race to begin. I was feeling a bit scared when the pros were started. I believe I battled the same nerves as everyone else at the starting line.

Top view during the 1.9-kilometer open water swim (photo / Mark Saquing thru Raffy)
Top view during the 1.9-kilometer open water swim (photo / Mark Saquing thru Raffy)

While the sea showcased spectacular scenery, the swim was a bit rough with waves pushing swimmers into each other. I was hit in the face and felt as if my goggles were going to push my eyeballs out of its sockets. Sea lice stung my upper lip. I saw an orange starfish floating. I was kicked a number of times, and at one point, pushed by someone under the water. Thankfully, I didn’t panic when it happened. It did not even deter me to keep on moving. Plus seeing a couple of divers in the deep end was a huge comfort. As it turned out, I had an excellent and breakthrough swim—just within the goal I set for myself.

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About to swim (photo / RJ of Running Photographers)

In the cycle leg,  I did say to my bike, “This is your time to shine.  No flat tyre, please.  Let’s do this!”   Crazy as it may sound, I talk to to my bike as if it’s a living entity everytime we go for a ride.   The scenery towards Talisay City was quite nice and the headwinds certainly slowed me down. A headwind would significantly increase your pedaling effort and affect your cycling time. Think of it as a form of hill climbing at slower speed. In my case, I had to get down and used my drop bar to get into an aero riding position since I didn’t train using aero bars.  At times, I could feel my bike rattled by crosswinds. The tailwinds, however, made up for a fast and strong ride back.  Climbing  the Marcelo Fernan Bridge  highlighted my biking experience in Cebu.  Looking ahead, I saw  some bikers walked their bikes up the steep bridge.  As I was about to ascend,  I told my bike, “No way would I walk  that bridge.  We trained for this.  We can do this, Luke!”   I experienced headwinds again as I slowly pedaled my way up Fernan Bridge past another biker who was massaging his leg cramp by the side of the bridge road .    Cruising down the bridge, I almost forgot about the sharp downward turn at the end of it.   Thankfully, I managed the bike break well  and  completed the 90-kilometer bike course without any mishaps—no flat tyre or crash.

Going out from the transition area
Going out from the transition area

The whole time I was biking on my way back to the transition area, having no idea how fast or slow I was going or what distance I was travelling since my odometer did not function plus I didn’t wear my GPS watch, it was a  bike by feel motion.  Also, not seeing any of the fast bikers along the  route, I was entertaining these thoughts, “I would probably be stopped by race marshals at the transition area and they would tell me not to proceed with the run.” But to my surprise, as I reached the transition area, the marshals were shouting, “Go, go, go Ma’am, you have enough time to run!”  It was, to my estimate, almost noon by the time I was dismounting from my bike to park and to quickly change into my running gear,  I could not just start running because leg muscles were still in bike mode.

Almost there
Almost there

The sun was high in the sky and it was a humid and a hot  twenty one-kilometer run made up of two loops on a flat terrain of mixed asphalt and concrete roads before finishing. I did a power walk in the next two or three kilometers.  I had to slow down as I felt the cramp coming on.  At the hydration station, I asked for ice to treat my quads. After this was done, I knew I could now run slowly. Seeing Team Boring Jet (thanks Jet for the words of encouragement) and Endure teammates Ziggy and Noelle at the race course cheering and encouraging the runners, I had no choice but to run.  Besides my bib’s name was telling me “silently” to run no matter what! Then it rained suddenly.  After a few minutes, the sun shone bright again.

Kababs Ziggy (left) designed the Running Diva tech shirt worn by Meggy and was instrumental why I got into multisport and now IM 70.3
Kababs Ziggy (left) designed the Running Diva tech shirt worn by Meggy and was instrumental why I got into multisport and now IM 70.3

I pushed myself to run steadily the last final kilometers and managed to pass a few runners heading towards the finish line. Teammate Noelle was telling me that  emcees  have just announced cut-off time.  Organizing team member, a foreigner, was clapping his hands, “Don’t stop. Just keep on running. You’re almost there!” A few kilometers to go then I heard my chip beeped as I crossed the timing mat. I looked ahead while running towards the finish arch and was almost overwhelmed with emotion again by the excitement of spectators and some friends watching who cheered. I saw some of them running towards the side of the finish arch shouting my moniker and name. Super thanks Mike Miras aka Mananakbo Ako, newfound friend Martin, and Endure teammate Tracy for the cheers! Big thanks to my good friend and former classmate Meggy who couldn’t be there yet still tracked my race log and progress online.

Finish line at last! I'm an Ironman 70.3 finisher! Woohoo!
Finish line at last! I’m an Ironman 70.3 finisher! Woohoo! (photo / Tracy Carpena)

Incredible experience upon hearing my name announced by event host Chiqui, and finally passing under the IRONMAN finish arch in 8 hours 5 minutes 17 seconds! I raised my arms in victory, looked to the sky to give thanks, dropped to my knees, and kissed the ground for finishing the race unscathed before accepting the iron heart finisher’s medal.

The iron heart finisher’s medal by Cobunpue
The iron heart finisher’s medal by designer Kenneth Cobonpue

Congratulations to all finishers and winners and the organizing team  of this year’s Cobra Energy Drink IM 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship Philippines Presented by Ford!

Believe in yourself.  Take on challenges. Dig deep to conquer your fears. Nothing is impossible if you keep a positive mindset and put your heart into it.  That being said, I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude and sincere thanks to all wonderful people who supported me so I can successfully complete my first IM 70.3 tri race.

Special shout-out to swimmate and choirmate Jez Derramas for facilitating the registration process; swim coaches Bernard San Juan and Brian for the swimming lessons and drills; coach John Lozada for my running drills and workouts; Mabelle Lozada for accompanying me during my oval or park running workouts; fellow Happy Feet and now Greenhills Tri Team member James Rosca who helped me with my bike needs; teammates Ziggy and Noelle for tri tips, and for the cheer during the race; TriTaft friend Jerome and swimmate Ilyfish for facilitating the airfare booking; Team Gotta Mark Hernandez for the bike bag; my fellow participants/former classmates Manny Hermoso and Jerome Salvador who finished strong in this race; Primo Cycles Bike Shop owner Glenn Colendrino for my bike fit and bike maintenance; Share the Road advocate Pat Joson for conducting a Cycling 101 session; Mike Miras for sharing his tri experience as well as recommending bike accessories to keep; Ziggy, Raffy, Jerome, and Clark for accompanying me in my tri journey; Jemai for designing the Endure participants send-off poster; coach Andy Leuterio of Maximus Cycling Cafe for additional tri tips and cake treat; Cristy’s Bike Shop for my other bike needs/accessories; bike mechanic Ricky, JR, and Jeff of Primo Cycles for the assistance with a smile; fellow running bloggers Franc, Jared, Banjo, Vimz, and Bee for the support; my colleagues and bosses for supporting this endeavor; F.O.M. Choir; Endure team; and, my family (nieces Kating and Janiel), and friends.

With Cobra Energy Drink IRONMAN 70.3 poster boy and celebrity participant Matteo Guidic
With Cobra Energy Drink IRONMAN 70.3 poster boy and celebrity athlete Matteo Guidicelli

About IM 70.3 Cebu

Hailed as the Hollywood of Triathlon, the province of Cebu hosted the Cobra Energy Drink IM 70.3 Philippines for the past four years. Race venue was at Shangri- La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Cobra Energy Drink IM 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship Philippines Presented by Ford was held in the country outside New Zealand and Australia, a first time for the Philippines.  Almost 3,000 or 2,978 slots to be exact for 2016 were sold out in just 28 minutes when online registration opened in 2015, and still with 400 hundred people in the waitlist. Almost 3,000 athletes from 43 countries represented all over the world, pro and elite triathletes competed for the $75,000 grand prize plus 50 age group qualifying slots for the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

IM 70.3 triathlon is a continuous endurance challenge which involved three disciplines in one event—1.9K swim, 90Km bike, 21K run with cut-off time of  8 hours and 30 minutes. IM 70.3 (70.3 miles = 113.1369K) is only half of the distance of a full IRONMAN.

It’s Time to TRI!

If you are a beginner wanting to immerse into triathlon (tri) racing for the first time, a tri enthusiast who wants to race without having to worry about long periods of training,  or a tri warrior who has been off the circuit and is raring to make a comeback, the Sunrise Sprint (S2) is a short distance tri race series featuring a 750-meter open water swim, 20-kilometer bike ride, and 5-kilometer run.

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Launching on June 5 as side event for Regent 5150 Triathlon in Subic Bay, S2 is the short distance race that will give that fun and friendly racing experience, which can be found in every Sunrise brand of tri racing, but with lesser challenges than  its longer distance race predecessors.

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Limited slots available.   Athlete must be at least 15 years old by December 31 of the race year to be eligible for this race. There has never been a better time to TRI but NOW!

REGISTRATION is ongoing!

Inaugural Regent 5150 Triathlon, 7 June 2015

Leading manufacturing company Regent Foods joins the triathlon community as it stages the inaugural Regent 5150 Triathlon on June 7 at Subic Bay with top Aussie pros Casey Munro, Justin Granger, Clayton Fettell, Belinda Granger, Dimity Lee-Duke and Thai Carol Fuchs lead the foreign entries in the 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run events which serve as Regent’s response to multisport enthusiasts who  like to do a short distance yet challenging race in a world-class stage.

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Presscon of the inaugural #regent5150ph #regent5150triathlon happening on 7 June 2015 at Subic Bay. SBMA director Raul Marcelo, Regent marketing head Jen See, and chairman and CEO of Sunrise Events Fred Uytengsu answer questions from media people during the Q & A portion at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City.

In our aim to supportchanging lifestyles and needs, Regent Foods focuses in promoting a balanced routine through our participation in fun run events.  Over the past years, we have seen triathlon evolved into a fast-growing sport.   We are truly proud to be part in supporting  the community with the Regent 5150 event,” said Ricky See.  Joining this challenge are local elite triathletes Banjo Norte, Jenny Rose Guerrero, LC Langit and celebrity triathletes Kim Atienza, Matteo Guidicelli, Victor Basa and Onemig Bondoc.

The Regent 5150 Triathlon is a tune-up event for Cobra Ironman 70.3 in Cebu in August featuring a 1.5K one loop, rectangular, clockwise swim at Subic Bay Boardwalk, 40K point-to-point bike ride to the Subic International Airport heading to IDESS up to Tarlac Road and back to Transition 2 at Remy Field.

The 10K run starts from Transition 2, Remy Field  towards the first turnaround at Dewey Avenue and heads back to Remy Field then to Rizal Highway entering Argonaut Highway for the second turnaround then back to Remy Field.

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Sunrise Events CEO Fred Uytengsu announces the #regent5150triathlon

We commend Regent Foods for joining the growing list of backers of this popular three-sport athletic competition.  With a talent-laden international feed, we expect a world-class competition since it serves as a fitting tune-up for those competing in the upcoming Ironman,” according to president of Sunrise Events, Wilfred Uytengsu. Sunrise Events also handles the Ironman, Ironkids, and the Safeguard 5150 Triathlon.

Athlete registration, race kit claiming, and race briefing will be held on June 5 and 6.  The two-day pre-event is supported by 2Go Express (official courier and logistics partner), Sante Barley, Newton Running, PLDT, TYR, Coca Cola Femsa, Garmin, David’s Salon, Shotz, Smart, Pioneer Insurance, The Philippine Star, Multisport Magazine, lntercare, Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, and Subic Bay. 

For more details, please visit Regent 5150 Philippines.

Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (1st : 2015 : Subic Bay)

Inaugural Century Tuna half-ironman triathlon or Ironman 70.3 adds excitement and will soon be part of a triathlete’s calendar

Three years since Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon,  Century Tuna once again raises the bar by staging for the first time the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon event  on 8 March 2015 in Subic Bay.   Over 20 professionals of various nationalities are expected to join the half-ironman distance triathlon aka Ironman 70.3 including three-time Ironman World Champion and two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion Craig Alexander, superstars Luke McKenzie and Caroline Steffen.  Subic Bay is chosen as an ideal avenue for this triathlon event due to its  accessibility plus the terrain is perfect for the swim, bike and run stages.

The course includes a 1.9-km swim, which starts and ends at Sands of Triboa via the Subic Bay Airport to Transition 1.  A 90-km bike ride,  which starts on the runway to Argonaut Highway to Rizal Highway toSubic-Tipo Expressway, and all the way to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expessway or SCTEX.  Participants then take a U-turn upon reaching Florida Blanca Interchange and head back to Transition 2 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.  The race culminates with a 21-km run  to the finish line.

To top it off, the Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 in Subic Bay, Philippines will serve as a qualifying race for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria.  Thirty age-group qualifying slots are at stake including the $ 15,000 prize purse for the event.  The event will be staged in four days from 5 March 2015 to 8 May 2015.

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Models strutted on the runway the triathlon gears and apparels

On February 18, Wednesday, the upcoming triathlon was launched with a bang at the New World Hotel in Makati attended no less by triathletes, sponsors, and media people.   It presented the best runway looks for triathlon clothing and gear, and culminated with a short Q&A session on the Ironman 70.3  event.

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From left, Domingo Enerio III, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board; triathlete and CEO of Sunrise Events Fred Uytengsu; triathlete and general manager of Century Pacific Food Greg Banzon; and, VP for marketing of the Manila North Tollways Corp. Renie Ticzon

The Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 triathlon is produced and organized by Sunrise Events, and made possible through the support of sponsors and partners: Vita Coco, Gatorade, 2Go Express, Saucony, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Manila North Tollways Corp., North Luzon Expressway, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Philippines Star, Endurance Magazine, Century Bangus, Sante Barley, Prudential Guarantee, Department of Tourism, Tourism and Promotions Board of the Phlippines, Timex, Communications, PLDT Subictel, Intercare, FinisherPix, Shotz, Devant and Belo Sikin Care.

For more details, please visit www.century pacific.com.ph or www.ironman703subicbay.com.

AyosDito Launches “SportsKoAyosDito” Campaign

AyosDito.ph recently launched the “SportsKoAyosDito” campaign to promote sports and provide a hassle-free and safe online selling and buying customer experience.  Partnering with celebrity triathlete Drew Arellano and triathlon coach Miguel “Ige” Lopez, Drew and Ige helped select the right road bikes via AyosDito.ph for triathlon beginners Jeff Calayag and Maridol Yabut to show that online selling and buying on AyosDito.ph works and is hassle-free.

With “SportsKoAyosDito”, the biking community was able to sell their pre-loved road bikes to triathlon beginners.  Drew, Miguel, Jeffrey, and Maridol shared their experiences on their triathlon undertakings and offered some training tips for beginners in triathlon competition.

Drew emphasized the importance of being “informed”, that is, to seek the advice of those who are really into it and passionate about the sport.  Coach Ige, on the other hand, reiterated what Drew said, and added that to be a good sports person, one has to be consistent with his or her training otherwise it will just be a waste in the end.  Maridol also put emphasis on the importance of believing in yourself and to be focused in what you do.

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AyosDito.ph launched “SportsKoAyosDito” campaign in partnership with celebrity triathlete Drew Arellano and triathlon coach Miguel ‘lge’ Lopez on November 10 held at M Cafe in Makati

AyosDito.ph considers the potential of e-commerce experience by helping Filipino customers connect and transact with peace of mind through their site.  Also, it is a good platform for those who are looking for something what they need on a particular sport. Though AyosDito.ph highlights triathlon, the same message applies to other sports and hobbies as well. To ensure both seller and buyer get to enjoy the most from AyosDito.ph, adherence to standards is strictly implemented and is of the utmost importance. For more information on ad review policies, you may visit AyosDito.ph Guidelines on Fast Approval of Ads.  Like AyosDito on Facebook and  follow on Instagram @AyosDito_PH and Twitter @AyosDitoPH.

About the Campaign Partners

Drew Arellano “The Influencer” –  He’s actively involved in triathlons since 2007.

Coach Miguel “Ige” Lopez – Has been into multisport/triathlon training since 2000.  He has been coaching personalities and his former students include Erwan Heusaff, Miriam Quiambao, Bianca King, Lance Gokongwei, Anton Wang, and Fernando Zobel.   He is currently coaching Kim Atienza and Isabelle Daza.

Triathlon Beginners/Trainees

Jeffrey Calayag – He’s been into running for a year now and is eyeing a duathlon soon.  He considers Drew Arellano as his role model and inspiration.

Maridol Yabut – She’s also into running and has finished marathons. For Maridol, swimming is the skill that she has yet to learn and aims to finish her first triathlon soon.  With the help of Coach Ige, Maridol will have her road bike from AyosDito.ph.

AyosDito.ph is an online classified site developed for Filipinos, by Filipinos.  It is dedicated in giving the best online buying and selling experience through FREE ad posting and safe online shopping for its users.  For over five years, AyosDito.ph has helped prevent spam and scam through an extensive and personalized ad review process, followed by global sites in more than 30 countries.  This way, more Filipinos find items and sellers they can trust.  AyosDito.ph is managed and operated by 701 Search, Inc., a joint venture between Singapore Press Holdings Limited, Schibsted ASA and Telenor Group.

Run United Series 2013

Exceed Yourself is this year’s Run United theme.  
From birthrightearth.org
Understanding runners’ feedback plus the ever changing trend in race requirements, Unilab Active Health (ULAH) has made some changes for the 2013 Run United Series.  One, expect longer distances that are big on fun and prizes.  Two, phasing out of the three-kilometer category, but the 500-meter dash for children will still be retained.  Three, a new fabric designed singlet for comfort and enhanced performance.
“We noticed a trend during the previous years’ races that the slots for longer distances get filled up faster. There were instances when we had to open up more slots. So, by focusing on longer distances, we will be able to accommodate more runners,” said Alex Panlilio, Head of ULAH.  “This is in line with our plan to be part of the growth and journey of Filipino runners. It just goes to prove that the local running community is more mature, that is why we also launched the Run United Philippine Marathon last year. Filipino runners have leveled up,” added Coach Rio dela Cruz of Runrio, Inc.
Better and useful items will still be part of the finishers’ token. And, the unique United medal will still be given away to encourage participants to complete the series. Of course, the Unilab Active Health villages will still be jam packed with activities and freebies for the participants and their families.
  
17 March 2013
Run United 1
Mall of Asia Grounds, Pasay City
5Km
10Km
21Km
02 June 2013
Run United 2
10Km
21Km
32Km
06 October 2013
Run United Philippine Marathon
10Km
21Km
42Km
For triathletes, Tri United 1 will kick off on March 10, Tri United 2 on July 7, both will be held in Playa Laiya, Batangas, Tri United 3 on October 26-27 in Subic, and the fourth and final leg of Tri United will be fired off in Ayala, Alabang on November 24. In addition, ULAH Duathlon is scheduled on September 8 at SCTEX, Clark, Pampanga.

For more details, please visit Unilab ActiveHealth.

Ready to Rock? : Whiterock Triathlon, 1 Oct. 2011

Over a hundred triathletes will compete on Saturday, October 1, at the Whiterock Beach Resort & Water Park in Subic Zambales.  The event includes a two-kilometer ocean swim, 90-kilometer road bicycling, and a 21-kilometer run. 
This is the 8th annual Whiterock Triathlon and is organized by Extribe, Inc.  The event is in partnership with Whiterock Beach Resort & Water Park (Zambales) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and supported by Powerade, Wicked Active Gear, David’s Salon, Blue Cross, Speedo, Kameraworld, Total Fitness Magazine, Fitness First, Paragon, Mister Cool Misting Fans, New Balance, and Chris Sports.
Awards will be given to the top three male overall, top three female overall, and top three male and female for each age group.  All finishers are triathlon Rockstars.
To all the participants … be safe and have fun!