This post has long been overdue. A couple of months ago, I celebrated my first year anniversary in triathlon racing. Given that I had done a run relay and a bike relay June and August of last year also, well, that didn’t really count as being a triathlete, does it? But as I have written here before, it was after doing the bike relay in Cebu that prompted me to maybe perhaps try to race all three disciplines on my own… despite being undertrained at that time.
Fast forward to this year, I had just come from a painful experience in racing Cebu ironman 70.3 wherein I had written about my race experience here as well. While some people already called it off season, I had one more race to prepare for – aboitiz tri 2017 aka my anniversary race. Having had this race a year ago as my cherry popper, I felt compelled to do it all over again and compare how I’d fare this time around.
What’s nice about doing this race in pico de Loro is that since it is an afternoon race, you can just make a day trip out of it. Arrive early morning, do all pre-race requirements of registration, bike check in, briefing, race, awarding.. then go home.
It started raining as we were checking our bikes in… not a good thing as it would mean slippery roads — and we all know that there is that steep uphill right at the beginning of the bike course so a wet road won’t help us at all. The rain also meant rough water, and true enough, as I did my warm up swim, i remember feeling the waves as I tried to swim out and ended up just trying to swim back, nauseated as I got out of the water. My heart pounded, I wanted to throw up. I wanted to back out. The mental games have begun. My swim coach, Noy Basa aka Aquaman was there to race as well and upon seeing how frantic I was with the water, he just gave me additional tips on how to go about my race.
It was a sweet surprise to see my parents there watching and cheering for me once again – they had told me earlier that they had important appointments that weekend and just wished me luck, so their presence was greatly appreciated.
Before the start, I went up to my friend (who is the greatest PT in my book — he takes care of me when I get injured) Dr Francis Diano and asked him if we could start together. I teased him that I wanted to keep my eye on him to watch the competition but I low key just wanted to draft behind him in the swim (he knew that ofcourse). As the gunstart ensued we ran in, and 5 seconds in, I had lost Francis into the throngs of swimmers and I was left alone to fend for myself.
The swim was two loops of 750m and after the first loop, you had to go out of the water and do it all over again. All I remember was that the water was so strong going against us that I really had to give it my all in the swim. Minutes later, I found myself swimming at the first turn and remembered how last year, I had to stop by this turn and hang on to a buoy because I was getting a panic attack and thought I was going to drown. I guess I felt like Dory this year and kept singing “just keep swimming” in my head. Or maybe it was a different song… I don’t remember.
Now, I am not a strong swimmer. I’ve been swimming for a year. And given the water conditions that day, i wasn’t expecting to hit a PR on the swim so getting out of the water in 30 mins for a 1500m swim was fast for me. I thought there was something wrong with my watch because… how can I get that split? Ofcourse, being the kikay triathlete that I am though, before running to transition, I ran to a rinsing station to rinse off the lake water from my body – because eeewwwy. (Lol)
The bike and run courses weren’t easy. The first parts of both were steep climbs that would really challenge your muscles. But a reprieve was given as we would finish off with a few flat loops. The first bike climb was tough, I witnessed a few people who dropped and/or broke their chains while climbing. But once you get through that, it’s all somewhat flat (or perhaps falsely flat) from then on. It rained for 5 minutes while riding. Annoying.
I got into the second transition with tired legs. It was a scorcher out there but I had set my mind that I had to finish strong. Our numbers were arranged by gender and age group, so the first thing I noticed upon racking my bike was that the two bikes to my left and right were already racked. I wasn’t sure if the others beside them were too, but I knew that this wasn’t my race at all. It’s ok, i thought.. I wasn’t gunning for podium anyway. But the competitive spirit in me wanted to kick myself in the butt for not pushing harder and maybe perhaps go faster. I tried to run those uphills but the legs started to cramp. Time to slow down then and just make up for it.. when the legs started giving up, I began running with my heart. My parents were watching… they can’t see me walking. I don’t want my mom to spend too much time under the sun – she hates being under the sun. So I ran. Or atleast tried to.
I was officially 20 mins faster this year than the first time I raced here. 20 minutes — that’s a huge jump! That alone was a win for me. But the surprises weren’t over. While I thought I was just there to do my anniversary race, the sweetest cherry on top was landing on the podium. It was a 3rd place finish for me and I couldn’t be any happier.
Since my one and only teammate had already left the premises, I was adopted by my friends from Revv Multisport for the awards dinner. And guess what? Their team members Miguel Aldeguer, Gadric Chusenfu & Enrico Menichetti got on the podium too!
Ended the night and my first tri year on a high. My first season lasted a full year. It’s been 9 weeks since that last race and I have since claimed to be in off season already…. I may have raced the Trek100 while on this “break” but who said you can’t still SBR on your off season right? So elated to have ended my first year with a bang…. and now I can’t wait to train all over again and prepare for another race at the start of 2018z 🤘🏾