It was in college when I took up swimming as a prerequisite PE activity (the other one is folk dance). Back then, I already knew that I got this affinity with water. In fact, when I was just a teenager a very long, long time ago, I used to take a bath for hours just sitting on the bathroom floor and feeling the shower fall on my head, on my shoulders, on all of me. It had a calming and rejuvenating effect on me. By the way, I got an inc grade in my swim class for I did not perform during our final swim exam. By then I was not yet able to do four laps of butterfly stroke in a miniature hotel pool (Hotel Del Rio in Iloilo), a requisite to get the highest grade of 1.0. For me, it is 1.0 or nothing! I got what I aspired for in my completion exam.
Fast forward, to present day when I had totally forgotten about this sport except for few attempts sometime last year to re-acquaint myself with my old flame. It was actually this aspiration to participate in a multisport event like triathlon that lured me back into the pool’s refreshing lap. This time around, I had an angel in the person of Teejay who really encouraged me to pursue this inclination. Our Team Try Lang that we formed as a relay team contingent last SBR Triman was likewise instrumental for we resolved then to get back as individual contestants. This was our first step – registering in an aquathlon event suited for beginners.
The Bonggacious Splash N Dash Team
The Team Kain Tulog Takbo headed by Cris “Kowts Supremo” dela Cruz together with his wife Bave who is a TBR batch mate and a very strong runner herself created Splash N Dash, an aquathlon event with the newbies in mind. In this edition, Series 2, they collaborated with Rundesvous (of Abet and Zarina) as partners. The race consisted of a manageable 600-meter swim in a 25-meter, 4-feet deep La Stanza pool and a 5K run just about the perimeter of the club house. In print, it looks very “sisiw” but once you get to experience it, it was a very different monster all at once. Just imagine swimming with a bunch of other contestants competing for a lane space and trying to avoid hitting each other at the same time. This alone consumes energy not to mention the tension created by these sudden changes in speed and direction. Then running directly afterwards in a sweltering almost midday sun (well for my wave which started at 9:30 am at least), then you will get a clearer picture. Luckier were the female participants and the younger ones who were able to start earlier, as early as 6:15 when it was cooler.
My Wave Assignment
All the while I thought it brilliant that my wave, second to the last (wave 13), started quite late. This meant that I get to join the R3Run where the FRD is going the have our Sabog ng Kagandahan Unity Run that will start from 5 am onwards over at Bluebay Walk. What I did not anticipate was the fact that starting late would mean a very hot one in a non-rainy day like last Sunday. So ang lowla nyo nahilo-hilo habang tumatakbo ng 5K! Luckily, there were two hydration stations along the route, one of which served an ice cold one. In this wave set up, the older you are (aray ko po!), the higher and later your wave assignment. No matter how hard I tried to mingle with the younger ones, ang masaklap pag tinanong ka ng wave assignment mo, malalaman at malalaman ang ka edaran mo! Nevertheless, that is just how it is in swim events where only a limited number can start at a particular time (we were 14 per wave).
I Felt Right at Home Instantly!
I immediately felt at home! There were many familiar faces I saw as soon as we arrived just in time for Marky’s wave gun start. Indeed the multisport leveling up bug has bitten many runners, most of whom are group, batch, or simply running acquaintances who have some number of running years behind them. There were even a couple of ultra-marathoners like Team Bo with Mommy Elaine watching over her two “alagas” (Doc Sherwin and son) behind Audrey Hepburn shades! There were a number of Team USB members participating and, mind you, complete with team tri suit and jackets at that! Hmmmm. This just gave me an idea – an FRD Tri Divas tri suit! Fabulosa itech! The divas, naturally, would not want to be left behind. In fact, we came in two groups – The Barefoot Runners of the Philippines Rose Marie coming with her entourage of cheerers (Mommy Evelyn, Sammy and Addy); and Team BNGL with three participants (me, Teejay and Marky) and two best supporting actors (actresses?) Arnold and Mon. Team Try Lang, the very reason we joined, came with Margaux and Eljay joining the race and Khate doing the role of being a good and supportive friend. Prominent teams of Ayala Triads with beauteous podiumera Rhina and Team PAR with Vanessa were also represented. Donna, Shan, even Sir Boy Ramos, himself a swimming coach, participated together with his Team Cramps. Even not so familiar faces have ready smiles for everyone, as this is like a family event for oldie runners turned newbie aquathletes!
My Goggles! Where are My Goggles!
Oh my where’s my goggles! I must have misplaced it! I must have left in my bag, of all things! A few minutes before my wave’s start, I put on my race cap and looked for my goggles over my things by the side of the pool. There was none. I panicked. I went back to by bag inside the adjacent café and looked for it inside. I cannot find it. I was already hyperventilating and thinking about somebody whom I know who has already finished the race to borrow from. Fortunately, Kate entered and asked what I was looking for. When I told her, she gestured to my neck where my “lost” goggle was daggling. Gosh! I felt a little bit embarrassed but given the newbie jitters and all, knew that Kate must have understood. I then proceeded to the pool and tried to position by the sides so that when the gun signals the start, I will just let the others pass me first before proceeding with my wall kick. I do not want the melee of flailing arms and kicking legs to catch me! Pa demure lang muna ako.
Then I pushed off! I was psyching myself to relax and take it easy. Being my first aquathlon evaaaah I wanted this to be a fun experience with no pressures whatsoever. At certain points in the race I can feel myself tensing up that, I need to breathe every stroke just to ease it and go back to a more fluid and relaxed pace. Still I managed to pass some in this manner. What were memorable for me were the loud cheers I hear of “Go Mader!” each time I turn on my side to breath. Thanks to the supportive group headed by Mommy Eves, with the loudest of voice, by the side of the pool. It helped also that I was wearing a bright neon yellow and black tri suit I brought at less than 30% the original price making me stand out from among the group.
I got some on the spot coaching from Zarina while taking some photo of me transitioning to running. “Next time no socks!” A diva me took a good minutes just to place a towel to sit on and wipe myself dry and put on some socks before wearing my race belt and visor. Add to this were the precious seconds lost posing for the camera but this I really do not mind at all. Mind you it is not very easy doing some simple task like tying your shoelaces after a grueling (well for a newbie some 600 meters is grueling) swim! I was a bit “trembly” if there is such a term. As a result, I was only able to muster a single knot, which predictably came undone later in the run that I needed to retie them properly using the surgeon knot. Lessons learned: wear no-socks running shoes and tie them properly before proceeding to run.
The run leg was hot, sultry hot! Right off the bat, I flew with the acceleration helped by the swim adrenalin. It was short-lived though. Some few meters from the start and I was already walking and out of breathe! This 5K felt like running the last few Ks of a 21K race. My legs felt heavy, I felt tired. The heat and the lack of sports drinks (I did not bother to prepare since this is “just a sprint distance”) must have taken their toll on my body. Fortunately, over the hydration station half way into the run, I got to splash myself with some cold water while drinking some. It helped re-energize me a bit just to be able to do the other half with a decent time and sanity intact.
The Fall and Rise of a Beauty Queen and The Podium Placer Diva
Blagag! I saw Teejay fall on his butt after he made a sudden U-turn heading for the right exit after the cheerers called his attention after heading for the wrong one on the other side of the pool. On his way back, he slipped on the transition area of the pool and fell on his butt. I saw how hard he hit the pavement. There was immediate silence punctuated by some nervous laughter. Concerned, I was almost making a step in his direction when suddenly he stood up, blew some air kisses, and waved at the audience. A round of appreciative applause followed. I clapped in relief for he was all right after all! If he were on a stage, surely he might have merited a standing ovation. Indeed, he is what he claims to be, A Running Beauty Queen!
Meanwhile, Marky after having ran in R3Run for 12K, attacked this race like he would his favorite non-fat dessert, with gusto and lots reserve energy! Coming out of the water in second place, naturally, the toll of a 12K run would have manifested in his run performance, well it did but only just a little. Despite the strong run performances from among his pursuers, he managed to hang on to second place courtesy of his strong swim time. Well, I believe not only an intensive training regimen did this, a dose of inspiration from someone nearby did wonders too!
Finishing the race was like, as I had written in my Facebook post, surreal and fantastic. I did not imagine myself to be “forced” into joining an aquathlon race. I was right though in choosing Splash N Dash for my first foray into multisport arena. It was likewise one wise decision on my part to give in to my ever-growing inclination to try aquathlon, duathlon, and eventually triathlon while I still can. Aside from team support, another technique in order to force oneself into doing something challenging is to register months ahead despite not having any training. This will force you to commit to training for the sport, as you cannot afford to let your registration fee come to waste. Believe me it worked as it did for me many times. I am encouraging you right now to think of one good race you had wanted to join but simply lack the guts to do so. Then blindly register and start training thereafter. As a famous brand tag line puts it, “Just do it.”
I did and am definitely looking for more!