The Not So Smooth Road

I had been a fan of triathlon eversince Ironman 70.3 reached our shores with Camsur Watersports Complex as its first home. I was simply facinated by the fact that an international event of this caliber will be hosted in our country. They were raving about the world class wakeboarding facility created out of a track of farmland in the heart of the province.

Then I took up running in 2010 and developed my cardio-pulmonary endurance as well as leg muscles. I never looked back from then on and never once tried to retrace my lifestyle back to the couch. Why not do triathlon then? This I asked myself after wanting something more than just running.

I consider myself lucky having learned how to bike way back my elementary days around the millsite community of Victorias, Negros Occ. in my glistening stainless steel road bike crafted by the sugar mill’s engineering department. During college, it was likewise fateful that swimming was a prerequisite PE sport for my biology course. This means I just have to rehash muscle memory in these sports and eventually develop strength and endurance in them the way I did running.

Or so I thought. The road to triathlon was not all smooth and rosy as I encountered several setbacks. In fact, it took me 3 years to do so and to finally register in a newbie friendly sprint triathlon, the SBR Triman 2015.

I bought my road bike in 2013 and right that year I was supposedly going to join my first duathlon via Duaman, the bike-run counterpart of Triman. I trained hard for it and was more than ready. However, 5 days before the event and my chronic lowerback spondilosis recurred and I can barely stand up. I was heart broken. The only consolation was that I was able to join several Cycle Philippines edition of 40K around the metro later in the year.

My swimming is never a regular thing considering that I need to go out of my regular road way just to reach the nearby pool. Luckily for me, the Army Gymnasium pool is but a running (5K) distance from home. So what I usually do is run to and after some 1 hour swim thereby combining 2 sports in one training day.

This is my so called aquathlon training days and this is the kind of training that saw me finish my first aquathlon in Splash N Dash, another newbie friendly race by the husband and wife tandem of Chris and Bave dela Cruz.

In between aquathlon, running lsd, and recovery days, I can be found inside my crowded and messy room astride my trainer-mounted road bike spinning for an hour and a half while watching both a cycling tour dvd over the TV and a trainer video on my laptop beside it . This constitutes the totality of my bike training as I do not have the safe real estate nearby that is ideal for road biking. The FTI area where I used to bike around and hit 50K in a matter of few loops around several blocks was closed for transformation into Ayala Land’s ARCA South.

Two weeks before Triman and my spondilosis striked again. This time though I still had enough time to recover and still join. A week prior I was struck with an aggressive flu virus that saw me nursing high temperature for 3 days and a malaise that followed right after. These succession of bad lucks happening right before my multisport events made me think that maybe these are the Fates way of telling me that triathlon is not for me. Thinking how my teammates Rose Marie and Marky will be disappointed, I willed myself atop my trainer on thursday, the 2nd day that I did not have fever anymore, and swum the following day. Deep inside I was praying that those were enough to swing me back to top physical shape.

And triathlon here I come!

 
 

The “Quiapo” entry level road bike I bought in 2013. Unfortunately, after Triman, it met its demise via an unfortunate accident while in transport going home. So sad but maybe it’s high time for a new one.

Whe FTI used to be “trainable”. I just circle 3 blocks of factory buildings sometimes trying to approximate the speed of the “hardcore” cyclists.
Alaska Cycle Phils. proud finisher.
Alaska Cycle Phils. proud finisher.
BGC Cycle Phils. was my first bike race.  CLICK on the picture to read my experience on this race.
BGC Cycle Phils. was my first bike race. CLICK on the picture to read my experience on this race.
My first aquathlon experience via Splash N Dash.  CLICK on the picture to read my account on this experience.
My first aquathlon experience via Splash N Dash. CLICK on the picture to read my account on this experience.

 
 

Swim Leg

I was psyching myself to start at around 8 am belonging to the “middle aged” group. This means a very hot race for me. Luckily, my age group was relegated to 3rd wave right after the females with the relay group and the oldest age group. Then it was my wave at a relatively cooler starting time.

But I was anything but cool at the start! I was flailing my arms at all directions and my legs were flatter kicking like there’s no tomorrow near the bootom of the pool! I was far from horizontal position in the water. In fact, I was hitting those sitting by the edge of the pool with my uncontrollable arms and all of them were laughing at me.

This I learned later from Marky who was witnessing this entire unpoised occurence and cannot stop laughing while recounting this to me. In my mind I was trying to breathe at every stroke but it seemed (God forbid in reality) my head was above the water level all the time! I was simply disoriented most of the first set of laps around this 50 meter Fontana pool.

Before I totally become anaerobic doing all this uncoordinated strokes and call it quits, I fortunately regained my composure and found my rythmn. I finally knew how to swim! I tried to maintain a respectable speed the rest of the required 3 sets of 300m laps around the pool before I dizzily traced the way, hoping I won’t trip or something, leading to Transition 1.
 

Swim time: 30 mins. 44 secs.

 
Good enough for me but next time I will try not to forget how to swim in the melee of gunstart group swim. Moreover, if you wanted to be competitive right from the start, practice this crowded start swimming scenario with group mates including the ability to sprint start without reeling and panicking in anaerobic imbalance midway the swim leg.
 
 

This picture by Team aRUNkada captured how I gasped for air during the first part of the swim leg.
This picture by Team aRUNkada captured how I gasped for air and became disoriented during the first part of the swim leg.
This is what I call my nga-nga moment.

 
 

Transition 1

My first concern is to clean my feet, put some fresh socks and my cleats shoes. The rest I can place or wear afterwards like helmet, shades and bib holder with bib number as I remember them. Then I covered the remainder contents of my basket before removing my bike from its hanger. I was taking everything slowly but surely. I was also trying to recover throughout this transition process and taking some last drink before I go. I should have thrown in some chocolate bars for added energy. Well maybe next time.
 

T1 time: A very long 4 mins. 1 sec.!

 
I could have curled my lashes and put mascara and it wouldn’t even matter!

 
 

Bike Leg

Last year I was part of the four Team Try Lang relay teams headed by Margaux and composed of her brothers and office mates. I did the bike leg so I was already familiar with the route. I knew that the first half of this 10K loop is a fast downhill while the remainder half is a grueling steady climb back to the start of the loop.

Like last year, I attacked the downhill part at the heaviest gear hoping I can hit somewhere around 45 – 50 kph and hold it as long and as far as I can for the rest of the down slope. I felt fast therefore I must be fast! Not! My speedometer readouts were not hitting my target, not even past 40kph!

My legs are doing okey but I believe it must be the headwind. I tried to be as aero as I can but limited training time on bike equals unaccostomed muscles to such position. I was aching all over my back, my arms and neck and I was merely cycling for 30 mins! Lesson: nothing beats time training on the bike and on the road.

All the while I was just staring at my clip-on aero bars which should have been the blessing I had been praying for aside from stronger core, back and legs. It seemed evident that I was leaving everything to chance and lots of prayers and not training. Well I am! I learned my lesson the hard way though. If only I had devoted time learning and mastering the aero position and gaining confidence using them. Then life on the bike would have been easier!
 

Bike time: 1hr 19 mins.

 
I really was not expecting much of my bike ability. I do not know but maybe I just need to learn how to increase my rpm in order to spin at much lower gear but with a respectable speed. All throughout the race I was using my highest sprocket gear and only change the crank gear for the inclined second half of the loop. Well, that’s what you get with self-coaching. The reason why my legs got nothing after the bike!
 
 

Suffering yet forgetting not to project for the camera of RJ Knight of Running Photograpers.
Suffering yet never forgetting to project for the camera of RJ Knight of Running Photograpers.

 
 

Transistion 2

I found the bike to run transistion comparatively a breeze. After securing my bike in its steel hanger, I proceeded with replacing my shoes. It was faster since I need not replace my socks and the straps of my cleat shoes are easy to unlatch. My running shoes likewise have EZ Laces (available in fabulous colors at http://www.atletaako.com) on them making putting them on “easy breezy”. I then removed by helmet and replaced them with visor, another fast wearing accessory. Then I just need to turn my bib number around so that it places in my front. Then off I went a-running!
 

T2 time: 2 mins. 28 secs.

 
Almost half my T1 time! Putting on bike shoes and accessories require more time than taking them off and replacing with much lighter and fast-wearing running accessories.

 
 

Run Leg

When I did the bike leg of our relay team last year, I found my legs to be very “runny” after getting off my bike. This time around though it was a different story. In the first place, unlike last year, I already used them in flatter kicking for 900m. So they were not as excited to run anymore! Well, I encouraged myself that it will just be 5K or 3 loops around the activity area.

So off I went a-running for 100 meter and not any further! My body was already heating up and my legs were like logs – very heavy and tired! Luckily the first hydration statiion is but nearby so I made it my inspiration – like an oasis in the dessert, like nirvana. Upon reaching one heaving and reeling in fatigue and summer heat, I took all the cups my fingers can hold and poured their ice-cold content over my head. Had I seen a large container I could have dived in one! Then took some gulps and filled my hydration bottle with Gatorade.

Off I went a-running – for another 100 meters! The rest of the way to the second hydration station was done in barely running and mostly walking manner until I doused myself of the stations invigorating ice-cold water. This gave me the boost to run, well as you already know, the entirety of a 100 meters. Haha… and I call myself more of a runner than a triathlete!

This was in a nutshell how I completed my 3 loops before eventually heading for the finish line – and raising the tape like I won first place! The tape girls had this smirk in their faces reminding me that they had been there for hours before I arrived and were not that delighted of my arrival as I though they should be, that I thought everyone should be! Anyways, what really mattered is how I felt, and I felt FABULOUS! And yes indeed I am!

 

Run time – 45 mins. 43 secs.

 
And quit that smirk! Haha….

And then the back luck struck again! My bike fell from its rack atop my friend’s car while cruising at high speed along the SLEX! Huhuhu…. Why oh why? It was totalled. I thought about quitting triathlon right then and there, the last onslaught of backluck (hopefully, ever) and the hardest. But then again, that’s just not me. Amidst adversities, I always try to bounce back bruises and all. Hopefully I can assemble another one soon and appear at the starting line of my second triathlon with a spanking new, much fabulous bike! Hope to see you there!

Total time: 2:42:07

 
For my first sprint triathlon, this sure is a PR!!!
 
 

Just trying my hardest to look like running despite almost dragging myself just to finish this last leg of Triman. PHOTO CREDIT:  Running Photographers.
Just trying my hardest to look like running despite almost dragging myself just to finish this last leg of Triman.
PHOTO CREDIT: Running Photographers.

 
 

Some More “Kwela” Pix

 
 

Before the swim leg with running friend Val de Leon who went into triathlon ahead of me.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Running Photographers
Before the swim leg with running friend Val de Leon who went into triathlon ahead of me.
PHOTO CREDIT: Running Photographers

The tres divas posing before the action began.  From left:  me, Marky Caratao and Rose Marie.  PHOTO CREDIT:  Running Photographers
The tres divas posing before the action began. From left: me, Marky Caratao and Rose Marie.
PHOTO CREDIT: Running Photographers

The troika after the race, still trying to look fresh for the picture.
The troika after the race, still trying to look fresh for the picture.

 
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Me and Rose Marie enjoying our moment on the stage after the race.  Thanks Doc Minnie for taking our pix.
Me and Rose Marie enjoying our moment on the stage after the race. Thanks Doc Minnie for taking our pix.