Race Report: New Balance Power Run 2013 – An “Excellent” Race!

Monday, 11 November 2013  |  Race Reports

The much anticipated New Balance Power Run was held yesterday at Bonifacio Global City. Distances covered the regular 10k with special 16k and 25k not commonly offered in running events.  Over 6,000 runners participated in the event.  The race was organized by no less than Runrio.

The New Balance Power Run always stands out above other races for me.  For one thing, the unique distances of 16k and 25k give runners a new challenge.  The past years, I’ve been joining 25k and this year was no different.  A friend said “25k is a weird distance.  It’s not a 21k yet doesn’t quite make it to 30k.”  I say, it’s a distance in itself that needs no further explanation. I just love going past a half marathon knowing you still have the endurance to go further yet ending before your legs die out on you at 30k. LOL.

Another reason why I love New Balance Power Run is the size of the event.  It’s big enough to have a large number of serious runners participating, yet not too small that the event is deemed insignificant.  As Justin Kilayko of New Balance put it “NB goes for quality rather than quantity.”  I hear you, NB. And I think it’s a good move.

This year, the race was even better.  With more races being held at SM Mall of Asia, which I personally don’t like running in because of the humidity and mind-numbing route, I was delighted to run in Bonifacio Global City and out to Buendia again.  There were portions of the route, especially in the start, that were long and winding through the narrow portions of BGC while we navigated through the crowd of runners, but that was part and parcel of the event.  At least it wasn’t boring.  To add, with Runrio as organizer, it was a foregone conclusion that the race would be well organized.  The course, hydration, and security were well covered.  The post race acitivity area in the parking lot across Planet Sports in Bonifacio High Street was great too.  Runners congregated here after the event and it felt more intimate and relaxed.

Most runners ran in their New Balance singlets with “Excellent Maker” written at the back.  Well, I must say: New Balance really does make excellent races!

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– Post race with the NB Team: Justin Kilayko, Roselle Andaya, Anton and Mia Gonzales, Planet Sports endorsers Bianca King and Rovilson Fernandez, and Ton and I –

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– Thank you to New Balance who was kind enough to provide TBR Dreamers a discount for the race and a tent at the post race area. Here we are celebrating our finish! –

Congratulations to New Balance and Runrio for once again staging another fantastic event!

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TRAINING RUN FUN

I’ve been madly in love with running again.  Tokyo Marathon is on the horizon, but honestly, I haven’t been following a serious training program just yet.  I’ve been hitting distances from 15k to 21k on weekends with no A-races in sight until the end of 2013.  I’ve just been happily putting one foot in front of the other enjoying every minute.

For NB Power Run, plan was to accompany good friend Ton as he runs 25k, his longest training run, for his Seattle Marathon 3 weeks from now.  I had signed up for Seattle Marathon too, but decided last month to withdraw from the race with Tokyo Marathon coming in February.  Yes, my dear friends, I have finally matured as a runner and I’ve learned not to put my feet at risk of injury by running 2 marathons in 2 months.  While I know I could’ve probably gotten away with it, I know that my body will pay for it in the months to come.  Priority is to complete the World Marathon Majors for me and Tokyo is one of them.

Another friend, Maiqui, an Ironman who retired 2 years ago and is now getting back into fitness, told us he’d join us as well.  He only started running again 3 weeks ago and this was to be his longest run since Langkawi.  Yes, he’s nuts for ramping up mileage this quickly, but that’s Maiqui for you.

Good friend Jun, who hasn’t been running much since Ironman 70.3 Cebu, said he’d join us as well.

So, there we were, a future 3rd-time marathoner, a retired triathlete, a triathlete in off season mode, and super happy runner me standing at the end of the crowd of 25k runners ready to run an easy 25k together.  Plan was to run-walk with 4 min: 1 min intervals.

THE RACE

We followed the 4:1 plan most of the time making minor adjustments during climbs or downhills.  We stopped for toilet breaks twice at Jollibee.  The entire run was uneventful (and that’s a good thing!) because it meant that everything went smoothly for all of us.

For me, I knew by 10k that my training the past two months significantly improved my run.  I was coasting steadily along feeling strong all throughout.  It could be running the steep hills of Kapitolyo, the consistent training program I’ve followed even with no A-race in sight, or the more consistent and challenging swim program Coach Anthony has put me on.  I think it’s all of the above plus the fact that I’ve been enjoying every minute without pressure to perform.

I felt so good that when we hit Buendia, I couldn’t help but speed up.  I told the boys that I’d go ahead and run fast and slow down to a walk and meet them at every interval.  And, that’s exactly what I did.  It felt awesome.  I felt so free running down that road, one of my favorite roads to run on during a race.  After that brief portion of speedwork, I rejoined our group and we began to do our regular run-walks again until we reached the finish line.

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– with good friends Ton, Jun, and Maiqui –

We high-fived each other at the end.  All with happy smiles.  Ton could now tick off his longest run for Seattle Marathon.  Maiqui hit his longest run in years and Jun in months.  As for me, I was quite happy knowing that I felt strong even after 25k.  I jokingly told them that finally, I felt that my body was ready for the Ironman 70.3 I had trained for last August!

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– with TBR Dreamers at the finish line! Congrats guys! –

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– Happy to bump into my “twin sis” and birthday girl Jaimie after the race –

CELEBRATION AT DRAFT

After the run, we joined Team Gotta and Fitness First for breakfast and, er, recovery drinks at Draft.

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– Fitness First Tri Team and their beer! –

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– Team Gotta –

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– Most of the same guys in the same photo above but with game face on LOL –

The atmosphere was fun and it became an even bigger celebration when Kuya Kim Atienza, who only recently recovered from a serious bout with the rare disease of Guillan Barre syndrome, dropped by to celebrate along with us.  All in all, a great day to celebrate running and friendship!

Part 1: Ironkids Philippines – Training for the Race

Thursday, 24 October 2013  |  Race Reports

This is part of a series of posts under the Quaker Challenge. It’s about the quest that my kids and I have to achieve our Quaker Goal to swim, bike, and run more. Read about it HERE.

Ironkids Philippines was held last October 20, 2013 at Palms Country Club, Alabang.  Anton joined the 11 to 12 year old category with the distance of 300m swim-10k bike-2k run.  Before I tell you about how the race went, allow me to share with you how we prepared (read: crammed) for the swim, bike, and run.

SWIM: SWIMMING LESSONS ON FREEDOM FRIDAY

In preparation for Ironkids and also as Li’l Miss TBR’s main sport, we started swimming lessons with Coach Anthony Lozada several weeks ago.

I made the mistake of scheduling their swim lessons on Friday, which Nia has labeled “Free Day Friday.”  By “Free Day Friday,” she ruled that, as soon as she and Kuya are dismissed from school, there should be nothing planned for the rest of the day.  It’s essentially freedom from any schedule and they’re free to lounge around at home doing absolutely nothing.

You can imagine the look on their faces when I told them that swim sessions would be every Friday.  I heard all sorts of complaints from “Huwaaaat?!” to “But you’re breaking the Free Day Friday rule!”  But, I stood my ground and crossed my fingers that they would enjoy.

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Off to swim classes we go

And, enjoy they did!  As beginners, Coach Anthony gave them a personal session.  He assessed their skill level, gave them a few drills, and fixed Anton’s form.  By the following week, he and Coach JS got Anton to swim laps in better form. Although he still had a lot of room for improvement, I knew that Anton would be able to finish 300m at the triathlon.

As for Li’l Miss TBR, she was floating, kicking, and swimming all over the place.  I couldn’t help but smile because I knew she was enjoying every minute.  For her, that’s what’s most important.

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The kids ended the session laughing and giggling.  I asked them if they had enjoyed and both replied: “Um yeah.” half embarrassed to admit that breaking the Free Day Friday rule was a good idea after all.

BIKE: FIRST TIME ON A ROADIE

Anton’s first bike out with Coach Norman’s trikids at Camp Aguinaldo a few weeks ago freaked me out a bit.  Okay, correction, it freaked me out a lot.

Switching from a mountain bike to a road bike takes some getting used to for any athlete and Anton was no exception.  On his first ride, he was wobbly and I thought that he was going to crash or bump a car.  While the rest of the parents sat by the waiting area, I hopped into my car and followed him from behind like a stage mother.  I think I held my breath for 15 minutes straight.  After 3 loops around Camp Aguinaldo though, I felt like I could relax somewhat. He looked more comfortable after.  Don’t you just love how kids can learn something in half the speed that we do as adults?

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with Coach Norman Pascual and the rest of the trikids

Since I felt that the once a week sessions with Coach Norman wasn’t enough, I told Anton that I’d take him biking with me more often.  Two weeks ago, after my run at Run United Philippine Marathon 21k, I fetched Anton and we hurried off to Filinvest City to bike around their carless loop.  This is, incidentally, the race course for Ironkids.

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Biking with my boys! Boys meaning with my son and my Shiv!

We biked around the area, first in the flat portions and later on up the hill towards Palms Country Club.  My boy did so well!  We biked a total of 8k, the bike distance for the triathlon, before we called it a day.

RUN: RUN YOUR BEST

The run wasn’t a problem for TBR Jr. as he’s participated in 3k events in the past.  Just last week, he came home from school and proudly announced: “Mama, I ran the fastest and longest during P.E. today.”  Before I could congratulate him, he added “But, after the run, I felt like puking.”

For any runner, ending in “vomit-mode” essentially means that you pushed your body to the brink of exhaustion; you gave it your all.  And, with that, I replied to my boy: “Aaaw, congratulations! Well done!”

NEXT POST: Part 2: Ironkids Philippines – The Race

 

Run United Philippine Marathon 2013 Exceeds Expectations

Monday, 7 October 2013  |  Race Reports

A whopping 12,000 runners participated in the 2013 Run United Philippine Marathon yesterday at SM Mall of Asia.  Organized by Unilab Active Health and Runrio, it was the 3rd and last event of the Runrio Trilogy which featured the marathon distance. Approximately 3,000 runners joined the 42k event.

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– Fun 21km at RUPM! (Photo: Adriann Vazquez | Photo-Ops) –

I joined the 21k event which was perfectly executed from start to finish.  As always, for Run United events organized by Runrio, hydration, marshals, the course, directional and kilometer signs, lootbags, medals, and the post race area was well done.  It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the event will be a success. In fact, the race is just so expertly organized that, if you noticed, I don’t even bother to write a race review anymore!  Perhaps, the only thing I would change about this event would be to move race start to 4:30 AM or even 5:00 AM during the ber months. Waking up at 2:00 AM for a half marathon is just a challenge.  Is it the same for you?  If not, then I must be getting old. Waaah!

As for the 42k event, I must say that Unilab Active Health took their own motto, Exceed Yourself, and applied it in their race.  Full marathoners were offered gels, hydration, and grooming during the race and they ended the 42km running from the back of a stage and in front of a huge crowd.  They also received ULAH slippers as part of their lootbag.  ULAH definitely aims to improve their events with each passing year.  Congrats again to Unilab Active Health and Runrio for such another successful race!

Now for my half marathon.  I arrived at the venue at around 3:50 AM for a 4:00 AM gunstart with good friend Ton.  I had only slept 2 hours the night before, but, fortunately, I felt I had enough energy to last me through 21 kilometers of easy running.

Yep, plan was to run easy.  Correction: Ton and I didn’t have much of a plan!  All we knew was that we would run this event to rid ourselves of the aliens that started residing in our bellies as soon as triathlon off season started LOL.

With little time to visit the potty, we went straight towards the assembly area where our other 5,000 half marathoners awaited.  We chatted with friends Dra. Lora Tansengco and Eric Carpio while waiting. We failed to see Joey and Elaine who we intended to run with.  Before we knew it, the race had begun.

Ton, Eric, and I ran together.  There was a slight crowd due to the sheer number of participants. (Note to self: Never start at the end of a huge race!) So, even if we wanted to, there was not much of a choice but to run slow.  This was completely fine.

By 5k, on Roxas Boulevard, Ton and I stopped at a quaint hotel for a toilet break. Eric decided to go ahead.  That stop at the hotel was so refreshing that we hoped we could drop by again on our way back.  I know, I know. It sounds like we took this race too easy. Hah!

By 10km, we both felt great but we decided to incorporate run-walks with a 4min-1min interval.  Surprisingly, our 2nd half went faster than the 1st.  We were running at 5:30 to 6:00 min/pace and alternating this with relaxing walks.  The race even felt easier at the time.

It was great to see a lot of TBR Dream Marathoners doing the run walks during the race.  As I saw them, I thought it would be great to just run an entire race with them next time.

At the last 3k of the race, we bumped into friends Vic and Cyn Icasas.  Cyn is training for TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon while Vic is an alumni.  Vic said that Cyn was on her way to a new PR.  Without wanting to stress her out about this, he yelled: “No pressure, but what are the first two letters of “pressure” again?!”  That made us all laugh, including Cyn who did break her half marathon PR that morning.

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– Cyn, Ton, and I (Photo: Vic Icasas) –

During the last few meters towards the finish, Ton and I ran strong.  At the last 30 meters, I bumped into Dexter, a TBR-ULAH Dreamer who I had run with the day before.  We joked that we would race against each other that morning.  Well, we didn’t race; we did the opposite.  Ton, Dexter, and I crossed the finish line together with a time of 2:24.

It was a fun, easy, and enjoyable run.  The kind of run that left me feeling more energized than when I started.  As I was about to leave the event, I was introduced Nary Ly, a runner from Cambodia who placed 2nd in the 42km that morning.  Her time: 3:29.  I gasped and congratulated her for an awesome time.  She replied: “Oh, that was an easy run.  I took the time to drink water and waved to spectators. My marathon PR is 3:02.”  Gasp.  I guess the words “easy run” are relative.

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– Winners from Team Unilab Active Health: August Benedicto, Bic Ferreria, and Benny Rana –

Congratulations to all finishers of Run United Philippine Marathon!  Until the next one!

Filinvest City Endurance Weekend: A Great Success!

Monday, 30 September 2013  |  Race Reports

The Filinvest City Endurance Weekend, a two day event consisting of a 12 hour trail run and a 12 hour mountain bike race, was held last September 14 & 15, 2013 at Filinvest City.  While I do love trail runs, I did know I wasn’t trained well enough to run even half of this event!  So, after a short ride at Ayala Alabang, I dropped by the trail run on Saturday to join in on the fun.

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– with good friend and ultra marathoner Don Ubaldo of Filinvest City –

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– Happy to see ultramarathoners Atty. Jon Locanlale, friend from the Front Runner, and Don –

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– Awesome trails at Filinvest –

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– Thumbs up! –

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– Ironwoman Raeanna Cranbourne looking strong –

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– Met Powergrid Runner on a quick break before getting back on the trail again –

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– Looks like he’s having a blast! –

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– Bumped into good friend and fast runner Reylynne dela Paz aka Bubog –

I  heard that friends Maui Lopez won first place while Raeanna (photo above) won 3rd place!  Congratulations to such strong women!

Too bad I wasn’t able to drop by the following day for the bike event, but I heard both days were a success.  Congratulations to Filinvest City for a fantastic event!

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Cebu 2013

Saturday, 10 August 2013  |  Race Reports

It is with a deep sigh of relief that I can scream this at the top of my lungs: I did it! I finished my 2nd Ironman 70.3 Cebu!

The Ironman 70.3 Cebu 2013 medal was, by far, the toughest medal I had to earn. From day one of training until race day, I encountered several obstacles along the way—from my foot injury and bike crash during training to bad weather and a flat tire on race day. If I was cursed, I almost believed that there was only one thing to shoo all the bad vibes away: the medal that waited for me at the finish line.

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RAINY RACE DAY EVE – AUGUST 3, 2013

Just the day before, Cebu’s sunny weather had turned to stormy in a blink of an eye. A portion of the Ironkids event on Saturday morning had to be drastically cancelled to ensure the children’s safety. We checked in our bikes with plastic bags to shield them from the rain, attended the race briefing with the Kuya Kim’s weather report as the most awaited portion, and had our last pre-race supper in Abaca underneath pouring rain.

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– View from my balcony on Saturday morning scared me to death…-

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– Good thing bumping into Piolo during breakfast calmed my nerves LOL –

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– Checked in my bike in sunny weather, but by that evening it was pouring –

RACE DAY MORNING – AUGUST 4, 2013

I woke up at 4:00 am and uttered only two words when I heard the pitter-patter of the rain outside: Holy Crap. We received a text from the organizers that the race was still on and rain would be expected throughout the entire day.

As we headed down to check our bikes in the transition area and have a light breakfast, it was still raining. Most athletes we passed would utter the words: “Stay safe.” with a sincere look of concern for the other. I must admit I was scared to death. But, miraculously, by the time we walked out to the shore for the swim start, the sky had cleared. It was a cool, cloudy day. Just perfect for racing!

This reflected pretty much the entire journey towards Ironman 70.3 Cebu for me. There were a number of storms that hit me hard. I got into my first major bike crash in June, but got myself back on the bike and pool within 10 days. I suffered from a 3-month foot injury that prevented me from any decent run training. Three weeks prior to race day, still unable to run, I planned on a DNF after the bike portion, but after a chance visit to Miguel del Prado who, with one magical click of my foot, corrected what he said were misaligned bones, I was healed! I found myself cramming my 21k training in two weeks. From barely any running, I ran injury-free 10ks and a max of one 15k run as my training for Cebu. As a runner, I worried that I was undertrained for the run, but, at the same time, I reminded myself that I was blessed to even have the chance to run at all.

So, I did my best given the circumstances. I chose to see the storms as just that, storms that eventually dissipate and allow the sun to shine through. And so, armed with that knowledge and a newfound strength from overcoming all these obstacles thrown my way, I expected a mediocre performance for this race, but I felt like a winner just showing up at the starting line.

The voice of Coach Andy Leuterio echoed in my head. This is what he told me when I was close to giving up due to the injury: You will finish that race like a warrior!

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– with my tri coach, Andy Leuterio –

SWIM: 1.9k – 44:18

The atmosphere at the shoreline of Shangrila Mactan was buzzing with excitement and positive energy. Triathletes were busy with swim warm ups, last minute preparations, or saying prayers huddled in groups.

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– Walking alone towards my demise…I mean, swim start (Photo: Rizzo Tangan) –

The swim start was a deep water wave start done in three waves. As part of Wave 3, with a 6:40 AM race start, we watched all other athletes from the Pros, Elites, CEOS, and other age-groupers, begin the race. The course was a counter-clockwise rectangular 1.9k swim. It was for left-breathers which I was!

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– Polo Tri huddled in prayer with me as dakilang extra (Photo: Anthony Kierulf) –

When it was our turn, we swam towards the starting line buoys around 50 meters from the shore, treaded water for 5 minutes (which felt like forever!) like sardines in a can, and we were off.

The entire course was quite confusing as the buoys were difficult to view. I simply followed the general direction all athletes were taking. It was crowded and chaotic and, females like me, were competing against stronger, bigger men. I was hit twice in the face which dislodged my goggles and got kicked hard in the chest. I focused on my strokes and pretended to be swimming in the pool with Coach Anthony Lozada by my side.

In the last few meters, the crowd had reduced and we could swim freely towards the shore with the finish line in clear sight. This was my favorite portion of the entire race. I loved every minute of it. I found my rhythm and felt relaxed. I was probably smiling the entire time.

BIKE: 90K – 3:25

I hopped on my bike feeling on top of the world after a great swim. While I did have worries due to the slippery road, I just had that feeling that everything would go well.

The 90k route was the same as last year. It took us through four cities of Cebu: Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay. We ascended Marcelo Fernan Bridge, heading toward a letter M route, then back up the bridge to end at Shangrila hotel.

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– Bike route from my Garmin –

I felt more confident on the bike compared to last year. Now, I felt more comfortable in aero position despite the winds and the slippery roads. Every now and then, I would glance at my speed and I was thrilled to be going much faster than I did the previous year. My average speed was 29 kph for the first 30k and I thought I would finish at around 3:10 which, for me, was a huge feat!

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– Bike time! (Photo: Tong Pascua of Photo Ops) –

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– Photo: Michael Ocana –

Then, the flat tire happened. Shortly after Km 30, I slowed to a stop and discovered that my rear tire was flat. Thankfully, good friend and teammate Drew Arellano (I will forever be indebted to you Drew!) had given me his Pitstop the night before. With a marshal and a bunch of kids watching in amusement, I spent over 5 minutes fixing the problem. When I was done, I asked the marshal: Sa tingin mo, safe na ito? He shrugged his shoulders and replied: Di ko alam, Maam. I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry.

It was all pretty much downhill from there. My speed during the next 10k after the flat tire had slowed to 25 kph. I lost my momentum. I also worried if I was actually safe riding on a flat tire I fixed by myself (No way I trust myself with these things! LOL) so I rode with more caution.

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– Photo: Renan Opada –

I rode the next 60k steady but at an average pace. I finished the bike portion simply thrilled to be safe and alive.

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– Done with the bike! (Photo: LeStSky) –

RUN: 21k – 2:28

This was the portion that I always looked forward to in every triathlon. But, this year, I feared it the most. I know my body so well that, based on my limited training, I was sure it was going to be a slow, painful run.

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– Running time (Photo: Catherine Bril Jordan) –

The run was the same as last year, a two-loop course via Punta Engano starting and ending at Shangri-la hotel.

Plan was to just run safe and conservative. I didn’t want to push hard because I could risk cramping (I only did one long brick during training!) or, worse, re-injury.

Well, turns out I couldn’t even run hard even if I wanted to! The first half for me was tough already. I tried to keep a positive outlook and followed the advice of my teammate Jake de Guzman right before I left for Cebu: “Take energy from the community.”

Friends who passed would utter words of encouragement or, even better, empowerment: “You can do it!” or “Go, go, go!” and all of these helped to keep me putting one foot in front of the other.

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– Managing a smile as I ended the 1st loop heading for the 2nd (Photo: Anthony Kierulf) –

The second half was worse. I was trudging along with only my will pulling me forward. I replayed my last marathon in my mind and told myself over and over “I am a marathoner!” reminding myself that this was only half of what I’ve run before. That last 4k felt like forever.

THE FINISH

I completed the race at 6:50, exactly the same as my time last year.  All that hard worked seemed wasted when one thinks there was no improvement based on the results of the race (although I suffered a flat this year and didn’t train for the run.)  I won’t lie to you, the competitive athlete in me felt disappointed and frustrated.  But, as I ran towards the finish line of my 2nd Ironman 70.3 completely spent and drained, I also had never felt more alive.  Sen. Pia Cayetano, who was once my boss and became my running inspiration and friend, put the special Kenneth Cobonpue medal around my neck and I swear: I felt I had left the negativity and bad luck on the race course and a feeling of strength, empowerment, and renewal had taken over.

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– Hug of happiness and relief with Sen. Pia (Photo: Tong Pascua, Photo Ops) –

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– Happy to finish! (Photo: James Go) –

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– I did it! –

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– The toughest medal I ever worked for designed by world reknowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue –

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– with Apl.de.Ap and good friend Ton post race –

To all those who finished Ironman 70.3 Cebu, congratulations! To Sunrise Events, Events King, Race Mechanics, and to everyone who helped to make this event a success, thank you and well done!

Thank you to the following:

– My team Unilab Active Health. Love you guys!
– My triathlon coach, Coach Andy Leuterio. Raaawr! LOL
– My swim coach, Coach Anthony Lozada. Thanks for making me love the swim even more
– My sponsors: Enervon Activ, Sun Broadband, Gatorade, Specialized, Oakley, Otterbox, Rocktape, Peak Form, and Quaker Oats. Huge thanks for always being there!

Read about my Ironman 70.3 Cebu 2012 by clicking HERE