I raced this event as my first triathlon (tri) back in June 2016; and by complete surprise, landed third place in age group! The inaugural Sunrise Sprint or S2 was a 750m open water swim + 20km bike + 5-km run, a side event of Regent 5150 Triathlon sponsored by Regent Foods Corporation and was hosted in Subic Bay, Zambales.
I had been eyeing the Cobra 70.3 IRONMAN in Cebu 2016 so this sprint tri was never part of my preparation and repertoire prior to the big day in August. But two of my Endure teammates, Raffy and Clark, including Jerome, a Tri Taft member and good friend, encouraged me to register for a sprint tri so I could experience triathlon firsthand and familiarize myself, especially, at transition points considered crucial links in the outcome of a tri race. Their efforts were not put in vain.
Made a few new friends as well and saw old ones during race kit claiming. After I checked in my equipment and had myself body numbered, I walked around at the expo and immersed myself in the excitement and nerves before race day. Later in the afternoon, it was a total cool experience seeing a sea of nice bikes during the mandatory check-in at the transition area. The group decided to forgo attending race briefing and opted to go back to the hotel and get an early night instead in preparation for next day’s event.
Before the race started, as I was heading towards the beach area, I chanced to walk and chat with professional IRONMAN triathlete Dimity Lee-Duke of Australia who raced the standard distance. I asked her if she ever get nervous before every race. She was kind enough to answer the question by sharing her own experience as a beginner triathlete, and gave me these encouraging words, “Give your best. Fear is natural but you have to conquer it. Just have fun!”
While waiting for our wave start (all women), I’ve never been more nervous in my life than seeing the 750-meter rectangular course. The sprint swim course started at the ACEA beach following a counter clockwise flow. It was far too nerve-wracking for someone who transitioned from training in a pool to racing in open water after such long years and swim in a “washing machine” or in a pack of a more experienced triathletes. Well, the distance looked longer than in the pool and the buoys were too far! I had no choice but to meet the challenge head on. The countdown began with ten seconds to go and then we were off. Trust your training was my last thought before plunging into the water.
Swimming in a pack can get a little rough when you could be hit by swinging arms and kicking feet or climbed over by faster swimmers, which made it difficult to race at your best sometimes. At the start of the swim, it was like we were one large school of fish trapped in fishing net, swimming about, seemingly trying to escape. By the time I reached the first buoy, that moment felt like I had been overtaken by everyone and so I felt the need to strategize. I stopped for a few seconds to tread water and sight. I even managed to shout jokingly, “Ang lapad-lapad ng dagat nagsisikipan tayo!” Of course, no one was paying attention to what I said because most were swimming frantically in an endeavor to reach the shoreline and finish ahead of the cut-off time. Towards the end of the lap, I had settled into a rhythm and swimming like it was one typical Sunday morning. I tried as much to slash seconds off my race time by doing a quick change gear at transition 1.
The bike course was relatively flat with slight ups and downs but no major climbs to worry about. A major section of the race took place at the airport runway. It was a bit too windy that day. Bike leg ended in Remy Field where transition 2 was located. All I could recall during the bike leg was I was trying to move at a speedy and steady pace, pedaling to catch up and overtake other cyclists to compensate for time consumed during the swim. Just wanted cycling done and over with so I could finally do the run. It was a glorious day for a triathlon with the sun shining bright. A number of standard and sprint distance participants were already running by the time I reached transition 2. Running off the bike can be uncomfortable. It was for me, initially. My legs so heavy and I felt a little discomfort. It took ten to fifteen minutes before things started to feel right. The sides of the street were lined with spectators who cheered and shouted to say the names of their friends or family. I only made a quick stop at the aid station near the turnaround point and kept going for the last few kilometers to the finish. A foreigner guy was clapping his hands and cheering for me as I neared the finish line. Saw the finish line arch, crossed it, and then it was over. I completed my first tri!
We stayed a few hours to wait for the others to join us, went for food, claimed our bikes and walked back to our hotel to pack and rest. I was taking a shower when Endure teammates Clark and Raffy excitedly shouted from outside that I won. Inside the bathroom, I was wondering how they could know about it so quickly. They even knocked on the door asking me to finish real fast and go back to the venue ASAP. Another teammate Dido also won in his age group. Fellow blogger Vimz aka Kulit Runner of Sunrise Events also sent me a message that I won. By the time we reached the venue, my name was already called and I was not able to go up on the podium to accept my award. Never really expected that I would win (finishing 3rd in age group) that day!
Race results showed I was second-to-last to exit the water or 9th out of 10 competitors in my age group. I finished the 20-km bike in a little over an hour (1:06:47) and finished my run in 33:10 minutes. I placed 29th out of 69 female participants and 137th overall out 236 sprint participants. For a first-time “triathlete” … not bad at all! I owed this win to my Endure teammates and “Team Ninja” for their support and encouragement. Most importantly, to Him who made this possible. This race will be forever etched in my memories as one of my best tri races! Congratulations to all finishers and winners of this race. Kudos to the organizers, volunteers, and community for such a top notch race! Till next time!
Related article: From sprint tri to Ironman 70.3 finish