Contributors, Inspire

Monica Torres – fastest Filipina in Cobra Ironman Finisher

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Photos c/o: Ben Chan for Multisport magazine

Monica Torres, the fastest Filipina in Cobra Ironman 70.3 for 6 straight years, has definitely proven herself to be a champion in the sports scene.

Here, she talks about how she got into the world of multisport and the challenges that she faced on her journey.

What sparked your interest in triathlon? How did you become a triathlete?

It was when I joined the dragon boat team as a student at the University of the Philippines that I was exposed to multisport. Adventure racers, triathletes, national level swimmers, and even the first two South East Asian women to summit Mount Everest – Janet Belarmino and Noelle Wenceslao, were some of the awesome people that made up our squad. A lot of my friends would bike to training and to class, so I ended up borrowing a mountain bike from my dad, who is a recreational cyclist, and started biking to training and to class as well. Mind you, I lived with my parents then in Antipolo, and training was at Manila Bay, and the campus was in Diliman. Calculate the daily milage on that, plus a bag of books and clothes on my back, and the added stress from traffic and crazy drivers on the road, and you’ll get the formula for how to get race ready on a bike!

Swimming and running were part of cross training for dragon boat. Swimming was (and still is) a big challenge for me. At the time I was quite intimidated by swimming in open water because of my lack of experience. And I also lacked the technical skills to be confident enough to join a race. As for running, I thought I developed run fitness quicker than most people. I started joining a few fun runs, and felt I had a bit of talent for it. In 2006 I volunteered for a triathlon in Batangas, and was surprised to see not only fit, inhuman athletes with perfect 6-pack abs on the course (as I had imagined all triathletes to be); but ordinary looking men and women that could have been my cousin or aunt or professor crossing the finish line. At that point, I thought to myself – if they can do it, so can I. And in 2007 I signed up for every duathlon and triathlon that I could.

But there is one person who is responsible for bringing the sport of triathlon to my attention. Read more about it on www.monicaracestheworld.com

Aside from swimming, what are the other struggles that you faced?

It has been a tough journey from newbie to pro triathlete. The road is literally paved with blood, sweat, and tears. I’m lucky enough not to have had any serious injuries over the years. I used to have some knee or arch pain when I would rush into training in January, all fat and unfit from the holiday festivities. But now I’ve learned to avoid it by spending less time stuffing my face and more time on the saddle in December.

Some of the hurdles I’ve had as an athlete is finding the right coaching and having a good group of training partners consistently. Not every style of coaching and training works for everyone – you have to find what works for the individual. And though the triathlon community in the Philippines has been growing at a tremendous rate recently, it is difficult to find athletes of similar or higher fitness level in the same location and with the same training schedules as myself.

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At this point of your career, do you still need a coach?

It’s a common practice for elite athletes to attend training camps each year, and that’s what I decided to do at the end of 2012 – get coaching by Jurgen Zack and attend camps in Thanyapura, Phuket, Thailand.

In 2015 I will be living in Subic Bay full time, but still plan to attend camps abroad to benefit from hands on coaching and having much faster athletes push me during training. I’m very excited to be based in what is shaping up to be the Philippines’ triathlon capital. With Ironman 70.3, Challenge Half, ITU Asian Cup, 5i50, and Tri United series races all happening in Subic next year, it’s definitely the right move for me.

What advice would you give our readers who want to get into triathlon?

It’s an exciting time to get into the sport right now! There are so many different types of events to choose from: sprint triathlons with a pool swim, long distance races with challenging terrain, off road races, kids’ races, aquathlons, and duathlons, and team relays. Don’t be afraid to try! Nowadays, becoming a triathlete is a little bit easier, and a lot more fun, with all the resources at our hands. There are more coaches, more clinics, more teams, and more information out there to equip you in pursuing your goals. I was once a beginner like you – I couldn’t even outswim a 60-year old doing breast stroke in my first standard distance tri. Just keep at it and I’ll see you at the next finish line! ;)

Follow Monica’s adventure on her personal website, visit http://www.monicaracestheworld.com/

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