It was a jittery week for my friend Risha and I as the race day for the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon approaches, it will be our first ever Olympic distance triathlon event and the weather that week is not at all helping to calm our nerves.
Come race weekend, we drove steadily to Subic on Saturday Morning and went straight to the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center to register, after getting our race kits, we got “tattooed” with our race numbers and I must admit, we looked legit and pretty cool with it but deep inside, our gut is already starting to turn upside down, WHEW! NO turning back now!
As newbies, It was also our first time to attend a Triathlon convention so we decided to take a look around the EXPO.
Saw some familiar faces and bumped into Marcia at the Gatorade Booth, Bryan and Hitz at the Toby’s Booth, also had a quick chat with Eva and Maggie from Light ‘n Up, a SWIFT hi and hello with Mascy from Time Depot then off we go to transition 1 for our Bike Check-in.
Bike check-in was pretty quick and simple, after parking our bikes at our designated spot, dropping off our helmets and bike shoes and putting plastic covers over our bikes to protect it from the rain, we quickly went to checkout the swim course (our most feared leg among the 3 disciplines), it was adjusted so that the swim course will now be along the shoreline, which we think is favorable for us newbies, compared to the original course that was supposed to cut-through the bay area diagonally.
We then drove back to the convention center to drop off our T2 stuff, just in time for the presscon introducing the PROs who would be racing together with us newbies, Two-Time Ironman Champion Chris “Macca” McCormack together with Luke McKenzie, Ben Allen and our very own Monica Torres.
After the presscon, the race briefing immediately followed, and around this time the rain started pouring again which left everyone worried about the race (and THEIR bikes in the transition area), and made this statement from our resident weatherman very important…
“The weather tomorrow will be partly cloudy with a chance of .9mm rain, meaning, ambon lang ito at hindi lalakas, 6am temperature is a cool 22 degrees and at 10am temperature is 25.1 degrees…” according to Kuya Kim, everyone applauded with HIGH hopes that it’S accurate as the rain continued to pour heavily that night.
We slept at 9PM, woke up at 3:55AM, ate a little breakfast and fixed our race concoctions, then off we go to the starting line. Amazingly, the weather was great, the rain stopped and it was cool and cloudy just as Kuya Kim forecasted.
From here on, Risha and I had very different experiences, I’m in Wave A WHILE she’s in Wave B. As the clock approaches 6:30am, I tried to swim and positioned myself closer in front of the pack, It was a peaceful swim with a steady pace, I was able to find a good spot with a good sight of the buoy, this was true until I approached the turn, from then on I found myself side by side with 4 other triathletes, thinking of how to maneuver, to speed up, and move ahead or slow down and stay behind to avoid bumping in to them, plus the fatigue aT this point was really not helping, I panicked a little then continued to remind myself to keep calm, which seems to have worked to keep my pace back on track. Alas! Swim Exit! A quick glance at my Suunto Ambit2 S shows my swim time to be at 26:55, now off to the next!
Risha on the other hand, decided to grab one of the white swim caps, a message to the marshals that “she needS extra attention”, nothing embarrassing about it we thought, it’s always better safe than sorry, and knowing there’s a watchful eye over her among the marshals helped in calming her nerves. Risha took it slowly but surely, avoiding collisions and bottlenecks and was able to complete her swim in 39:58.
At this point I was zooming my way along the airport runway, and I recall enjoying every moment of this part of the race, the climb was painful and the downhill was exhilarating, but as I approach speeds that make me feel uncomfortable, words from Fred Uytengsu’s briefing the other day keeps playing in my head “Remember to ride within your Limits, safety is our top priority” as I slowly hit the brakes. 40km completed in 1:28 according to my Ambit2 S with a top speed of 61.6KM/h (a new speed record!)
I was able to spot Risha during the downhill, and seeing her smiling while climbing the up-hells tells me that she’s doing alright. The recon work we did 2 weeks before the race really made a difference, the familiarity of the bike course gave us an insight on where to push and when to conserve our energy. Risha completed her bike course in 1:46:31.
Then came the run, I was feeling a bit tired, but upon seeing friends and family cheering for us I felt energized, I tried to keep a steady pace as I approached the 5KM mark, at this point, I found myself praying, asking for the strength to finish, thanking the one up there for the good weather, the opportunity, and good health that I can still race. I was then able to hold my pace until I reached the final turn of the run course, and to my surprise, about 100 meters to the finish line, the clock reads 2:58, my entire body suddenly went into sprint mode, will all of my remaining strength, I’m going to make that Sub-3, and I made it! My official time – 02:59:37! Ambit2 S logged my 10KM run time at 0:58’23.
Meanwhile, Risha crossed the finish line 42 minutes later, in tears, both of joy and pain from nasty blisters on her feet, mainly because she has to bike and run without socks because they got soaked during the heavy downpour the night before, she remembered literally crying the last 2KM of the run course, embracing the pain and the will to finish, Risha crossed the finish line with an official time of – 03:42:24.
Different stories and various experiences but one thing remains, we are now both Olympic Distance Triathletes! We might not be the fastest nor the strongest but we both definitely felt like winners! TRULY A VERY AMAZING BLESSING AND EXPERIENCE!
Super thanks to teammate Ria, Don and Jes who woke up early and drove to Subic to support and watch us race! To friends who encouraged us along the way and to Sunrise Events for an awesome race experience.
And lastly we would like to thank our sponsors Cavalli, Nessotech, Brooks, TYR, GU and SaltStick who believed in us and provided us the support we needed to train and race.
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