Tag Archives: Triathlon

Things Learned From Not Finishing Ironman Gurye

Gurye is a picturesque farming town in the province of Jeollanam-do in South Korea. Last year, I was there for the first time to support a teammate who did (and finish) his first full Ironman.

The IRONMAN Triathlon (tri) race is a 3.8 KM swim, a 180 KM bike ride, and a 42 KM run with only 17 hours to complete all three legs of the race.

What I remembered most of the event was the swim leg.  While watching the athletes lining up and seeding themselves for their predicted swim time, it was in that moment I knew I would be ready to do my first full distance (226 KMS) with more or less a year of preparation.

And so I signed up for 2018 IRONMAN Gurye. My goal was to make it at the finish line, except I didn’t.

Preparation

As part of my tri training and in order to build endurance, I registered for Cebu Marathon, Tigasin Triathlon in Pangasinan (standard distance), and two stand-alone cycling events of Tour de Bintan in Indonesia: the 17 KM Individual Time Trial and Classic 144 KM races (this will be another blog story soon).

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Gran Fondo World Series is a series of UCI-sanctioned races held all over the world. Tour de Bintan is one of those.

To top it off, it was indeed helpful to have a tri coach for my Gurye race. The online tri training via Training Peaks app was offered pro bono by tri coach and cycling aficionado Coach Andy.  Training sessions commenced in October 2017.

Race Day

SWIM

I wore a tri kit under my wetsuit for the swim. The beauty of wearing a tri-specific race suit is that you can wear it throughout the entire event. Most tri kits are designed to be worn during the swim, bike, and run. Well, ideally. It’s a whole other story in cold weather.

On race morning, race officials and volunteers directed all participants to self-seed based on their projected swim time. The weather that day affected water temperature and a blanket of fog covered the lake.  While waiting for the gun start, we danced to these perfect upbeat tempos to warm up.

Not being used to cold water swimming (even after having the test swim the day before), I struggled to find my breath within moments of entering the lake and stopped swimming for a minute or two to blow bubbles. The water was way too cold even with a wetsuit.  Endured intermittent painful calf cramps on the course. I tried to relax my cramped leg and kept moving forward.  As I was on my way back after a U-turn point, a fellow participant accidentally hit the side of my head, just above my ear with his hand as I was rolling my head to breathe. I tried not to feel panicky while trying to reach for the lane rope to pull myself together.  After swimming the last 500 meters using only my arms because both of my legs cramped already, what a relief it was to be out of the water, finally! I was thrilled to bits hearing my name announced by the host while on my way to T1 or the swim-to-bike transition area.

BIKE

Transitioning from cold water to cycling was a huge challenge.  The air was chilly while moving out from T1.  Not having fully recovered from the swim, yet there I was faced with significant climbs in the next kilometers. Quads cramped.  First time it happened.  Then I saw a lady participant who got off her bike and walked the hill.  Me! No way!

Was in luck to build up some speed on the way down and saved some energy by maintaining a good tempo while coasting some of the kilometers leading to the main Y-shaped bike course.

The three-lap Y-shaped bike course took participants to a scenic route passing through rice fields, rivers, waterways, hills, tree-lined streets, and mountain ranges.

On the course, aid stations provided muscle cramp relief spray and sunscreen.  They were also well stocked with a variety of snacks, bananas, energy gels, and half-full bottles filled either with cold water or energy drink prepared by awesome volunteers.  Toilet stop is not a problem since it is equipped with tissue and water.  What more could I ask for?

I was almost done with my second lap, on a path under a shady canopy of trees, when I saw this lady rider ahead of me wobbled, fell off her bike on the right side of the road, and accidentally slammed her head on the highway guardrail.  Her feet were still attached to the pedals when I stopped to check if she had injuries.  I was figuring out a way to break the language barrier and continued to speak proper English telling her not to move.  She may have simply not caught everything I said while waiting for her teammate to make a turn on the road and park his bike so he can assist her before I continued to roll on.

Done with two laps and was about to do my third when I noticed volunteers have left the road intersection, with the U-turn signage for third lap gone and replaced with a straight-on directional sign.  With his right arm waving in the air, one race official shouted inaudible words to all bikers and pointed his other arm to the road straight ahead.  I followed, and then hesitated. Realized I’m not finished yet.  One more loop.  But, it was in this leg where my race that day ended.  I had to talk to a race official and surrendered my timing chip because I really didn’t think I was going to make the race cutoff.  It was so close.  Difficult as it was, but I made the decision.

The last stretch of the course leading up to T2 is a 20-kilometer highway with a low-gradient climb as a ruler’s edge. With no shade and as straight as it was, it was the last mental test in the bike course.  Heavy-hearted, there I was pedaling slowly back to transition, reliving the moment, and thinking of what had just happened.   This: A DNF (did not finish) at my first full IRONMAN race.  I was devastated.

LESSONS 

Choose to be positive and have a grateful attitude. 

The support I got from friends, family, siblings, and relatives was overwhelming.

My nephew who’s based in Hawaii messaged me, “It’s OK Auntie there are still many races.”  Or, my niece’s message, “Proud niece here!”  Or, to my coach who said, “You did better than many other people out there.  Just showing up and doing what you could despite all the challenges was brave and already an achievement.  Congratulations nonetheless and keep your chin up.  You’ll get there one day.”    Or, my sister who sent me extra money for whatever stuff I needed to buy.  Or, my supervisor who wished me well and asked me to come back in one piece after the race.  Or, friends and teammates who gave their time to send me (and another teammate) off at the airport and supported this endeavor in whatever they could.   

Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you make it.  Sometimes you LEARN. 

Every athlete, no matter how ready or well trained, will one day have a race that is disappointing, or not perfect.  I may have missed hearing these words “You are an Ironman!” or receiving the finisher’s medal, but again, it is only a race.  There are still plenty of races out there, but there’s only one life.   

Sportsmanship goes beyond the game.  Accept the outcome of the game. 

I have swum (3.8KMS) and biked (over 100KMS) the race by its rules.   “Finished or not finished, pass your papers!” That’s part of sportsmanship.  Sportsmanship or  the golden rule in sports and competition means handling both victory and defeat graciously and taking it all in stride by following the rules of the game, respecting the officials, and treating fellow participants with respect.   Win or lose (or not being able to finish), it is all part of sportsmanship. 

Let it go. Then, move on. 

Dreaming big, or shooting for the star.  Setting goals and trying to achieve them the best way possible.

Rising to challenges and managing personal and work-related stressors.  Spending a huge chunk of time (aside from having to work eight hours a day) training at night and on weekends—rain or shine—with dedication for that goal.  Believing in “me” and having that can-do attitude.

Showing up on race day at the starting line ready to battle what’s ahead (in spite of dealing with ongoing pain).

Well, these things I consider as huge accomplishments already. 

It’s OK to be sad for a while.  But don’t beat yourself up.  The most import part is to figure out what’s needed to be done.  In time, pick up your plan where you left off and come back strong.  Stronger and better than ever before.

Nick Baldwin and Liz Blatchford Emerged as Top Finishers of the Century Tuna Ironman Philippines

Subic Bay (3 June 2018) — Seychelles’ Nick Baldwin and Australia’s Liz Blatchford finished the race as champions of the Century Tuna Ironman Philippines, the inaugural full distance triathlon race in the country.

Baldwin successfully swam, biked, and ran the Subic Bay race course  finishing at 08:50:30 past New Zealand’s Cameron Brown (08:56:49) and Simon Cochrane (08:58:58), who placed second and third respectively to win the Men’s Pro Division.

Blatchford meanwhile, topped the Women’s Pro Division at 09:22:22 with fellow Aussie Dimity-Lee Duke (09:40:45) coming in second followed by New Zealand’s Simone Maier (09:47:39).

Filipino August Benedicto ruled the Asian Elite Division clocking in at 09:48:46. Pinoys Benjamin Rana (10:13:01) and John Philip Duenas (10:27:34) who came in second and third respectively share Benedicto’s pride of being top Ironmen in their own country.

Baldwin and Blatchford got their share of the US$ 25,000 total purse prize for winning their respective divisions.  Also, the race served as a qualifier for the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, USA with 30 slots up for grabs.

The country’s first full distance Ironman saw close to 1,300 participants from 50 countries including the Philippines. A total of 805 Pinoys were among the pack, a strong indication of triathlon’s increasing popularity and the Philippines becoming a premier race destination.

“Filipinos earning an Ironman badge on home soil is making history. We hope the triumph of our Ironmen and Ironwomen today inspires our countrymen to embrace fitness and live healthier lifestyles—our goal as an organization from the very start,” said Greg Banzon, EVP and COO of Century Pacific Food.

The Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines 2018 is produced and organized by Sunrise Events and made possible through the support of a number of sponsors and partners including Alaska, the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Promotions Board, AAI, SBMA, Acea Subic Bay, NLEX and SCTEX, HOKA One One, Gatorade, Aquafina, TYR, Stork, David’s Salon, GU, Intercare, Prudential Guarantee; media partners The Philippine Star, Hyper HD on Cignal, AsiaTRI.com and Finisher Pix; marketing partners AlcoPlus, Cetaphil, Devant, Fern-C, Ford, PLDT SMART Communications, Regent Foods, Sanicare, and Timex.  For more details, visit Century Pacific or Ironman Philippines.

Press Release: Stellar Field All Primed Up for TRI-Factor Series

Multisport newbies, enthusiasts, and veteran triathletes set out for a new challenge as they showcased their skills in swimming, biking and running in the TRI-Factor Asian Championship Series earlier today at the Camsur Watersports Complex.

A big number of athletes in the region are vying in the four-leg mass participation series composed of individual swim, bike, and run events, and a finale triathlon staged to promote an active and healthy lifestyle particularly among the youth.

📷 credit to Tri-Factor Philippines ; One of a Kind Marketing

The TRI-Factor has grown from organizing multisport events in Singapore to creating the premier short-course championship series across the Asian region with CamSur hosting the third leg of the Asian Series and it comes at a time when local triathlon is enjoying tremendous boom with top notch events held regularly across the country the last few years.

📷 credit to Tri-Factor Philippines ; One of a Kind Marketing

Spicing up this weekend’s event is the participation of celebrity Gerald Anderson and Ms Earth Air 2016 Michelle Gomez.

📷 credit to FrancRamon.com

Anderson did the sprint and fellow Team De Rosa mainstays.  Gomez finished her Freshmen distance triathlon debut on Saturday afternoon.

📷 credit to Tri-Factor Philippines ; One of a Kind Marketing

The event held in conjunction with the Kaogma Festival celebration featured a “Race to Give” project where TRI-Factor racers  get to award school supply kits to every indigenous child right after they finish the race as part of TRI-Factor’s corporate social responsibility.

Host province led by Gov. Migs Villafuerte, welcomed all participants during the race kit collection.

📷 credit to Tri-Factor Philippines ; One of a Kind Marketing

Action also heated up today with the TRI-Factor long and standard distance triathlon slated from 6:30 AM to 12 noon and the TRI-Factor sprint distance triathlon set from 7 AM to 11 AM.  The awards rites will be held from 1 PM to 3 PM to be followed by the Let’s Party@Kaogma Festival bash.

For other details, visit www.trifactorph.com.

Find Your Strong

I was out jogging around the neighborhood when a thought struck me.  “What is that sport that I can do at my own time, at my own pace, and not so expensive?” Running was the answer.  Well, I thought it wasn’t expensive, but it turned out I was wrong. It was sometime in 2007.

From finishing a three-kilometer benefit run to marathons to ultramarathons—be they road or trail races—it made me move forward to continuously challenge myself.  To be honest, I did not know I could run more than 42 kilometers or even more than a hundred kilometers at the same time, exposed to the elements, or running under the scorching heat of the sun, or running in the rain.   But my first love was swimming.  I first learned to swim late in life. In fact, I was already in my 20s when I first learned the basics of swimming, but it was never too late to try something new.

Combined with my ability to run, I experienced my first aquathlon race, a 400m swim-7K run-400m swim, in Corregidor Island in 2009.  The following year, I had the chance meeting in person at an event, one of the living legends in the arena of ultramarathon running, Scott Jurek.  At some point that day, he signed autographs for the attendees.  What I received from Scott was, “Running Diva, dig deep!” he told me.  I was impressed, and began to think what it meant. In the end, it took me five years to fully understand the implications of the value of what he wrote.  For in mid-February of 2015, I got my first road bike from two great friends.  Yeah, it was a second-hand bike from owners who like me were also runners.  Let us anonymously named these two as Maui and Coach Ige.  Owning a bike now, I signed up for the first time a 40-kilometer bike race having no formal fitness training in cycling.  More about this crazy cycling story here.  Later that same year, I signed up for 2016 Cobra IRONMAN 70.3.   It’s IRONMAN 70.3, Running Diva! It was my way of testing my limits to bring me closer to what Scott wrote.  Dig deep.  You’re in.   Daunting!

A triathlon (tri) is a multiple-stage competition involving three disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running.  The format is always like that.  Swim, bike, and run.  A triathlete trains and devotes time for each discipline.  Another important aspect of triathlon includes two transitions. Transition one or T1 swings from swimming to cycling.  Transition two or T2 changes from cycling to running.  And the time accumulated to change in these two transitions are included in overall time of a triathlon.  The usual progression of a beginner triathlete is to usually transition from Sprint distance to Olympic distance to Half Ironman to long course triathlon, and finally, to Ironman. Or, to some athletes they progress by joining multisport events such as aquathlon (swim-run) and duathlon (bike-run) before attempting triathlon.

In 2016, I trained and completed my first Half Ironman distance triathlon in Cebu City.  Prior to this, I only had completed (and won third place in my Age Group) a Sprint and two-kilometer open water swimming. I believe my background in running really helped me complete the competition. It was not perfect, not really fast, but I finished strong.  That was my goal.  And, I achieved it.

The races that followed after finishing the Half Ironman distance were Sprint and Standard courses. Earlier this year, I have run a marathon in Cebu City, and raced in a cycling event in Indonesia, a UCI Gran Fondo World Series Tour de Bintan that included stand-alone events like the 17K Individual Time Trial and the 144K Gran Fondo Classic.  Both of these cycling events were geared to finishing an Ironman in the near future.  Crossing my fingers.

Now talking of tri, this brings me to the exciting part of this post about this upcoming event happening this month, the TRI-Factor Asian Championship Series.  The action will take place  on May 25 to 27 at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex. It features various tri distances to test the mettle of the veteran triathletes, beginners, and enthusiasts. This is such a huge boost for this growing sport across the Asian region since most countries such as ours, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China have the best beaches ideal for a tri race. In our country alone, with so many to choose from, the islands have hidden coves and beautiful sandy beaches for such a demanding sport that requires courses for swimming, biking, and running.  I have known some friends who will be doing this tri race.  And, I wish them all the best of luck!

With tri getting so much attention, is it the new strong?  Maybe.  Possibly. So what your strong? Swimming? Biking? Or, doing other fitness sports? To “find your strong” means whatever sport you are in and as long you put time, and is passionately pursuing it, not one sport is stronger than the other.  In my IMHO, what makes the sport strong is because of you.  Yes, you, the athlete.

Having the strong mindset, the willingness to appreciate mental preparation training (at the expense of losing your social life, well, temporarily, of course), striking the right work life balance, learning techniques to improve performance, and dealing with stressors, setbacks including losses are what makes you strong. Almost all sports have these elements. It will be like this: 90% mental and the other percentage is for physical.

You are strong when you put your heart to it. You are strong when you stay committed and focus. You are strong that even when you fail or lost or knock down (or you crash, or you are in a cast because of a fracture), you get right back up.

A real winner doesn’t have to be a title holder or a gold medalist.  I have had my share of going up on the podium and collecting medals and trophies. To me, the real winner is when you do whatever it takes to achieve your goal, and be the best you can be, the Best Version of Yourself.   

TRI-Factor Asian Championship Series Now in the Philippines

Local triathlon gets further boost as top Asian multisport brand TRI-Factor holds the third leg of its Asian Championship series in Camarines Sur in May with a slew of rising and leading triathletes in the region expected to see action.

Put up to provide multisport beginners, enthusiasts, and veteran triathletes or even kids a venue to hone their talent and skills in swimming, biking, and running, the TRI-Factor have grown from organizing multi-sport events in Singapore to creating the premier short-course championship series across the Asian region.

It features kids triathlon (100m swim-5K bike-1K run), freshmen triathlon (200m swim-10K bike-2K run), sprint triathlon (750m swim-20K bike-5K run), standard triathlon (1.5K swim-40K bike-10K run) and long triathlon (1.5K swim-60K bike-15K run).

“We’re pleased to announce the TRI-Factor Asian Championship series with new races in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. Our purpose is to provide our athletes diverse race options throughout the year, catering to the specific needs of the athletes across Asia,” said Elvin Ting, managing director of organizing Orange Room Pte Ltd. and Tri-Factor series founder.

The 2018 Asian Championship series will kick off in Singapore on April 22 then to China on May 13 before action shifts to the Philippines on May 25 to 27 at the CamSur Watersports Complex in Camarines Sur.

The TRI-Factor is also staged to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, particularly among the youth, and its Asian Championship leg will be held here for two years— 2018 and 2019, where hosting of more events including new race formats like Cycle-Run-Cycle are being looked into. Its staging in the country comes at a time when local triathlon is enjoying tremendous boom with top-notch events held regularly across the country in the last few years.

“Tri-Factor’s coming to the Philippines would be a great opportunity and new challenge for the newbies to engage in triathlon and pioneer triathletes to take the opportunity of racing in other parts of Asia especially in China under a different triathlon format. I’m looking forward to be in both the Philippine and China legs of Tri-Factor and I am really excited to go back to CWC, which is a great venue for a triathlon,” shared Taguig Congresswoman and triathlete Pia Cayetano upon learning about Tri-Factor’s arrival in the Philippines.

Founded in 2009, TRI-Factor is aimed at building a community and culture of Asian athletes racing with the region with its short distances and secured courses allowing beginners to master swimming, cycling, and running and prepare them for the regular triathlon events. Each TRI-Factor race finish gives athletes points counting toward a year-end ranking. For the Asian Championship series, each race will be assigned a Race Course index depending on the degree of difficulty where points awarded will be multiplied with the index, allowing athletes to rack up bigger points at the tougher races.

Titles at stake are the Series Asian, Best Country Athlete of the Year, Best Country Junior Athlete of the Year, Best Veteran Country Athlete of the Year, Top First-Timer Athlete, and Top First-Timer Junior Athlete.

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.

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.”

First Time to Tri and Won

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.

With fellow participants Tri Taft Jerome and Endure teammate Clark
So happy to experience this … seeing those nice bikes! Proud of my bike Luke!

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!”

Bikes! More bikes!
Almost reaching transition 2

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.

My love … “running” … woohoo!

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!

Post-race Activities

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!

Smiling ear to ear after receiving my award
Proudly wearing our finisher’s shirts
Race Results

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

Sciatica is a Pain in the Butt but Thanks to ART

I have been complaining about the pain in my butt six months ago. It was the pain I experienced in the middle of the buttock and it gave me trouble when I run,  but became more pronounced every time I do stretching exercises or when I bend forward with legs straight. The pain persisted despite having a regular massage or doing stretching exercises.

Then a fellow blogger Bob aka Cruise Control recommended to try Active Release Techniques (ART) by coach PJ Rivera.  Bob shared how his eighty-plus-year old Mom benefitted from the therapy session of coach PJ. There’s no harm in trying.

I, together with fellow running blogger Jared aka Supladong Irish Runner, decided to try ART last month. I thought it was my hamstrings that was causing the pain the whole time! Well, my sciatic nerve was the main culprit. Sciatica is a leg pain, which might feel like a bad leg cramp or a shooting pain that makes stretching impossible for the affected leg.  I think, in my case, what caused it was prolonged sitting in the office.  My bad. So glad I have my Fitbit tracker now to remind me to move.

Will not go to specifics on how my sciatica was treated,  but I did cry a bit (no tears, of course). So what is ART? It is a method to treat problems that involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves so one can perform better. Really thankful to Bob for suggesting it. The results are remarkable. I can bend and reach my toes now, my running stride is back, and I look forward to my upcoming ART session again. Introducing me to ART couldn’t be better! Super thanks coach PJ!

For more information and other details about ART, you may visit Active Release Techniques Philippines Facebook page.

About coach PJ Rivera and ART

First, he’s an International Triathlon Union (ITU) Level 2 Coach.  He is a certified provider of ART in the country for about two years now. He’s into sports at a very young age (since six). Chess and Yaw Yan martial arts are his first two sports. He has done running, powerlifting, dragon boat, triathlon, mixed martial arts or MMA,  and more martial arts. He has been part of the track teams of Lourdes School of Mandaluyong in high school and University of the Philippines Diliman.

Second, he has won multiple medals in track in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Because of his active lifestyle, he suffered injuries left and right—pulled his hamstrings ten times and hurt his elbow, knees, shoulder, and ankles. He also broke his back in an accident. With so many injuries, he was also getting a lot of rehab. Though he was getting fixed, the fixed area felt weak. Because of this,  he told himself, “there must be a better way to treat [my] injuries.

In his pursuit of a better treatment, he bumped into ART.   Actually the person who treated coach PJ told him about ART.  Next thing he did was flying to the States to study ART.  The rest is history.

Train harder, faster, and smarter with ultimate training tool SUUNTO Spartan Ultra!

In classical history, no other breed of warrior has struck fear into rival civilizations such as the Spartans. Trained to deal with adversity and succeed against seemingly impossible odds, the Spartan warriors continue to inspire modern day feats of heroism among athletes who drive themselves to ever higher peaks of excellence.

Today’s athletes need not fight to the death to excel but then the same ethos that drove the ancient Greeks to heroic feats is what drives today’s competitive warriors. The hunger for excellence and passion for continuous progress drives the modern day Spartans. Whether it is in the pursuit of running, cycling, triathlon, powerlifting, or plain and simple badassery, the Spartan athlete is about pushing the boundaries of human potential—to work harder than the rest, to keep going when others are about to quit, and to be the last one standing. It is the passion to progress.  It is about being part of Team Progress Beyond Logic.

suposter1

Finnish company SUUNTO, known for its tough-as-nails-line of wrist-top computers, unleashes its first most capable device and training tool made specifically for the unbreakable athlete: the Spartan Ultra (SU). Featuring a space grade titanium bezel, high contrast color touchscreen display, and a multitude of features in its quiver, the SU is what a modern day warrior needs!

Spartan Ultra (all black titanium)
Spartan Ultra (all black titanium)
Key Features

•Titanium bezel and proven durability make SU light and incredibly tough, enough to take the knocks and drops of everyday training without skipping a beat.

•Outdoor grade color screen provides high contrast display, which is easily visible under any light condition. SU’s intuitive menu lets the wearer easily set features according to athlete’s training needs.

•Preset sport modes are designed for the multisport athlete.  Preset modes include cycling, outdoor/indoor running, swimming, weight training, and more. These can be further customized in the Movescount site.

• Multi-info display shows three to eight lines of information depending on the mode, reducing the need to scroll between display modes, and distract one from the workout.

•20-200H battery life, efficient Bluetooth, and GPS technology minimize energy consumption—a must for IRONMAN athletes, ultra distance runners, and multiday trekkers.

•Its Bluetooth connectivity can be paired with SUUNTO cadence/HR pods, third party devices like power meters, and can also be synced to a mobile phone for e-mail alerts.

•Provides smart training insights every time SU is sync at the Movescount site where athletes have access to helpful training metrics such as time in Training Zones, Training Effect, Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, and training logs.

•Community powered progress is another feature that offers connectivity to the Movescount community, and where athletes can reach out to coaches, discover new routes using the heat maps, and even plan next ride or run by downloading the route to SU.

•Personal best and peer group training insights function informs the wearer when a new Personal Best or Personal Record is hit during a workout as well as compares performance with fellow athletes.

Spartan Ultra (black)
Spartan Ultra (black)
Availability and Pricing

SUUNTO Spartan Ultra is distributed by Time Depot and available at the following stores nationwide:

Metro Manila Time Depot Rockwell, Shangri-La, Festival Mall, SM the Block, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons’ Manila, Maximus Athlete’s Café Shop

North Luzon Time Depot Harborpoint Subic

Visayas and Mindanao Time Depot SM Cebu, SM Davao, Centrio Cagayan de Oro

•Spartan Ultra All Black Titanium – P 45,000

•Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium – P 40,000

•Spartan Ultra Black – P 40,000

•Spartan Ultra White – P 40,000

Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium
Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium