The Next Step Triathlon Camp Review

Monday, 18 April 2011  |  Running + Triathlon

Last April 9 to 11, 2011, I was invited to join The Next Step Triathlon Camp of Coach Dan Brown and Ani de Leon in Subic.  Although I’ve done two mini sprints in the past few years, I still never considered myself a triathlete.  I’ve been a “wannabe triathlete” for God knows how long.

The Next Step Tri Camp was my chance to literally get my feet wet (or perhaps get tossed into the pool?) and immerse myself in this brand new world of triathlon.  I was anxious about the swim and bike, but very much excited about running in Subic.  Good thing my teammates from Hammer, Bic and Mike, and Bic’s friend, Adel, were there to quell my fears and keep the entire weekend light and fun.


The Next Step Triathlon Camp was focused on triathletes signed up for the upcoming KSwiss Subic International Triathlon on April 30 to May 1 hence it was entitled: SUBIT FOCUS. At the start of the year, I hoped I could join this, but with life getting in the way, I thought it best to pass until I could commit to serious training.

After a welcome briefing by the organizers headed by Doray Ellis of Team Fitness First and coaches Dan and Ani at Travelers Hotel where we were all booked, we headed out for a full day’s workout.

SWIM: We headed out for the pool where were grouped into two levels: Advanced to be led by Coach Dan and Intermediate led by Coach Ani.  This would be the same grouping for the entire weekend.

I had attended a basic swim session with Coach Ani a couple of years back, so most of my fears were laid to rest when she mentioned it was almost the same intro session.  She taught us proper technique, a few drills, and asked us to do a number of laps.  I hadn’t swam in over a year so this light workout was a lung-busting session for me.

– Coach Ani during our first swim workout –


– Team Togetherness looking fresh before the deadly tri camp workouts ahead: Adel, Bic, myself, and Mike –

RUN: Still dripping wet, we headed for the track.  Coach Dan discussed basic form and asked us to perform drills then we split into groups.  Our group did intervals: 6 x 800 meters. Need I say that this way my favorite portion. The four of us covered our laps together.   No anxieties, no worries in this area, just all smiles from my end.


– Coaches discuss warm ups and basic form at the track –


– Drills! Photo courtesy of James Dinsay –

– Fast track workouts with friends. Heaven for me! –

BRICK: After lunch with a lecture by Coach Dan and Ani and time for rest, we headed out for a bike workout on the roads of Subic.  I’m still such a newbie with the bike, so I believe I was the slowest of ’em all here.  Boy was it a struggle.

– Doc, Coach, and Musician Adel took on the role as handy man too –

Coach Ani analyzed our technique one-by-one and gave us a few pointers on the bike.  Bend my elbows.  Keep my knees closer together.  Move my seat up higher later on.

During the workout, I struggled with the gearing, maneuvering through the traffic, and I was exhausted midway, but man was I overwhelmed with the sights of Subic.  It was during that time on the bike that I realized I could seriously fall in love with this!  Before I knew it, I covered 30km—my longest distance on the bike ever!  I was ecstatic.

– Psyching myself up for the long uphill ahead. Crap! –

– When will I ever look as comfortable as they do on the bike? –

As soon as we returned to the hotel, Bic, Mike, Adel, Doray (one of the organizers of Next Step) and I ran for 10 minutes. We then had dinner and listened to another lecture by our Coaches.  By the evening of Day One, Bic, Mike, Adel and I had bonded over a mad hunt for petroleum jelly and wine (success with the former and complete losers with the latter) as well as the long day of training we endured together.  We even had a new team name just for the four of us!

– Lectures by the coaches –

– Coach Ani talks demos proper swim form… –

– …and running form —


SWIM: After coating our bodies with loads of petroleum jelly to protect us against jelly fish stings (despite Coach Dan’s assurance that they swept through the waters prior to our workout), we dove into the cold waters of Dungaree beach in Subic.  It was my first open water swim ever and boy did I love it.  Uhm, well, up until the 1st lap.  By the 2nd lap, I swallowed salt water and I was gasping for air.  This non-swimmer thought it best to rest before I…er…drowned.

– Briefing by Coach Dan –

– Advanced group heading into the water. Photo courtesy of Andy Leuterio –

– with Coaches Dan and Ani –

– Group shot! Photo courtesy of Andy Leuterio –

Coach Ani demonstrated how to quickly enter the water and exit out into transition and we were asked to do the same.  We also performed drills such as skulling.

RUN: I was relieved to have touched land again.  We headed for the track and ran 2 x 1600, 2 x 800, 2 x 400, and 2 x 200.  I loved every minute.

– Team Togetherness at the track –

BRICK: My tri camp friends swore they would help me through the bike ride that I so dreaded.  Adel, Bic, and Mike decided to pace me through the bike ride instead of joining the advanced group.  Such love from my tri camp friends!

Adel, an experienced cyclist from Team Suunto and Team Secondwind, stayed by my side from the start until we climbed those steep hills of Subic.  Our course was the route for SUBIT.

Adel guided me through every step: gear up, gear down, and my favorite “If you’re tired climbing, just stare at the pavement before you.”  I definitely enjoyed the start of this bike ride more than the previous day, it felt easier and lighter.  However, after breaking my record distance the day before and all the rigorous workouts we went through as well as the fact that it was all uphill (!!!), I started to feel exhausted.

When we reached the steep downhills, I thought the worst was over.  Boy was I wrong.  The downhills were so fast that I clung on to the brakes for dear life.  I must’ve gripped so hard that my right hand froze!  Holy crap, I wondered how I could stop the bike if my hand was numb?!  Shortly after, I felt some tightness on my hips too.  With all these signs, I pulled over and threw in the towel at 30k.  For me, 30k was a feat.  To cover the distance on two consecutive days was spectacular.  I skipped the run and headed straight to the next tough workout: a nap!

Over dinner, we had another lecture where Coach Dan and Ani shared race day tips especially for those who were registered for the upcoming SUBIT.  There was also a briefing for the next day’s race simulation.


This was race simulation day.  Most of the participants were serious triathletes or intermediate triathletes registered for SUBIT, I was neither.  Hence, I decided to get a head start on my drive home and bid my dearest tri camp buddies the best of luck and tons of fun. I left that morning feeling empowered with what my body and mind could achieve and thrilled about the prospect of a new challenge in triathlon.  Oooh boy, here we go!

– with only some of the Next Step Tri Camp participants –



  • qualified and experienced coaches.  Coach Dan Brown is currently the coach of the Philippine Triathlon Team while Coach Ani de Leon-Brown holds the record for Ironman Distance Triathlon and is the first Filipina to qualify for Ironman Triathlon World Championships in 2008
  • excellent organization from pre-race registration to workouts.  Schedules, checklists and maps were provided prior to the event. Briefings were clear and frequent. Organizers were experienced triathletes who knew the ins and outs of Subic.
  • hydration was provided at every workout. We were spoiled with free fluids
  • sponges and even water spray were provided during workouts. Sure sign that the organizers go the extra mile in providing support
  • support vehicles and staff assistance was excellent
  • well-planned schedule with proper briefing before each workout
  • good facilities: pool, beach, function room and accommodations at Travelers Hotel were clean and comfortable
  • participants’ items and equipment were kept safe and secure
  • lootbag and free product samples from sponsors were provided
  • lectures covered tri basics, nutrition, race tips, and more
  • atmosphere was conducive to learning and improving performance while having fun
  • reasonably priced considering hotel accommodations and meals are included for a 2-night, 3-day stay


  • improvement on lectures: more in-depth discussion of topics
  • more guidance and supervision in the bike portion especially on public roads. Maybe add an assistant coach for the beginners/intermediate level on the road
  • more guidance for the beginner or exclusive camp for beginners in the future
  • suggest to add one road run to the program…please?
  • food could’ve been better


The Next Step Triathlon Camp is a great way for triathletes—from intermediate to seasoned—to boost their knowledge on triathlon and gain practical tips and techniques from the best coaches in the country.  The triathlon camp is well-organized, well-staffed, and run by an experienced and professional team.  Expect to be challenged physically and mentally while having a grand time working out.

For those interested in The Next Step Triathlon Camp, click HERE to visit the website.

NEXT: Tips for those who are considering Triathlon Camp

I Survived Tri Camp…and I Loved It!

Monday, 11 April 2011  |  Running + Triathlon

I’m back from the 3-day Next Step Triathlon Camp in Subic!  I survived!  No jellyfish stings, Mom!

– I couldn’t have asked for a better group to hang out with at tri camp: my teammates at Team Hammer Bic (2nd) and Mike (Right) with Dr. Adel who guided me all through my 2nd bike ride –

Tri camp was a grueling experience: swim, run, brick on the first day and the same thing all over again the following day.  Others participated in a race simulation on the last day.

It was a weekend of many firsts for me:  first time to swim in open water, first time to hit 30k on a bike (twice that weekend!), and first time to bike in Subic. It was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life (I now have an even greater respect for triathletes) but it was also the most fun and exhilarating weekends ever.

I’ll tell you more about it in the next few days.  For now, allow me to rest this overworked body and get my much needed (and may I say, well deserved) massage.

Thy Nerves Be Calm

Friday, 8 April 2011  |  Running + Triathlon

Can you guess where I’ll be over the weekend?  I’ll be at camp.  The Next Step Tri Camp with Dan Brown and Ani de Leon in Subic to be exact! I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to join as media partner.

How do I feel about it?  It brings back memories of my first 5km run.  I’m a bit excited but more nervous and anxious.  There a number of questions floating around in this clueless runners’ mind of mine: Do I really need a kickboard, pullbuoy, and paddle because I don’t have any and I’m not willing to spend on them just yet? How will I drink during the bike workout if I can’t let go of the handlebars?  Will I be the most pathetic swimmer in the lot?  And, last but not the least, why the hell did they ask us to bring anti-jellyfish cream?!   Okay, I know the answer to the last one, but please DO NOT tell me!

Anyway, I’ve tried to calm my nerves by 1) talking to my Team Hammer friend Bic, 2) tiring myself out with a 15km run @ 5:45 plus a hard strength training session at the gym today, and 3) a Cake Pop from Starbucks, but to no avail. Looks like I’m just going to have to dig deep and find that same gutsy, trying hard triathlete within me that appears once every year when I find the courage to join Animo Triathlons. Phooey, here we go.  Wish me luck tomorrow!

To learn more about The Next Step Tri Camp, please click HERE.  By next week, I’ll be posting photos (hopefully not embarassing ones) of my experience.

Bike Basics with Patrick Joson

Sunday, 13 February 2011  |  Running + Triathlon


Twice this week, this newbie biker girl attended Bike Basics sessions with Patrick Joson.  Like I’ve said before, I am the most clueless person I know when it comes to bikes, so Pat’s invitation couldn’t have come at a better time.

Patrick started our one-on-one session by teaching me the parts of the bike (so that’s what a group set is!), mounting and dismounting, rounding corners, and he answered every silly question I had on my mind.  For the second session later this week, we went on a 20k bike trip around the village along with Stella, another female student. I got to familiarize myself with the gears, trying my best not to fall (or bump into a car!) while I peeked at the gears I was using.  We were allowed to wear running shoes—no cleats yet, Thank. You. Lord!—so I was able to enjoy every single minute. Hmmm…perhaps enjoy is an understatement.  While biking, I wore a huge smile on my face thinking: Uh oh, I seriously can get obsessed with this!

Can I just say?  Learning how to bike for triathlon is so different from the way my brothers taught me how to bike on my pink BMX when I was 10.  Oh, you already knew that, didn’t you?  There was definitely a lot of brain work involved: What leg do I lift when I’m making a left turn?  Is my forefoot planted on the pedals properly?  Wait—how do you dismount again?  But, that was part of the fun. Getting all technical with the bike and not just winging it in the next tri.  Challenging myself with a new skill that scares me to death. And, last but not the least, proving to myself that  I’m never ever going to be too old to learn new tricks.

Here’s to more bike adventures to come!

For running/biking/triathlon sessions with Coach Patrick Joson, call 0917-5277141 or email patrickjoson(at)

Life Happens

Tuesday, 28 September 2010  |  Running + Triathlon

While the rest of the world was at Camsur Marathon over the weekend, Hubby and I rushed Little Miss TBR into the E.R., watched a mascot go naked before our eyes, and showed up 30 minutes late for our regular Sunday long run with friends over the weekend.


Little Miss TBR counted the days until her 6th Birthday.  She was to have a Disney Princess Party at McDonalds with her friends.  On the first hour of her birthday, at exactly 1 a.m., she woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain.  Her ear was hurting.

We rushed her to the E.R. to find out she had an ear infection brought about by her cough.  The doctor dropped antibiotics into her ear and advised us to stay longer at the hospital to observe our daughter.

We waited and waited and waited. At 5 a.m., as I leaned my head against the hospital wall trying to get some sleep, my cellphone alarm rang to wake me. Crap, there goes my Saturday run.


We arrived home at 5 a.m. Caught some shut eye. Woke up at 9 a.m. and rushed off to celebrate the big day.

Little Miss TBR is such a fighter. She played and laughed, ate and ran at her Disney Princess McDonald’s Party.  It was as if nothing had happened just hours before. Everything went smoothly…well, except for Birdie, the mascot, and her suspenders falling apart during her dance number with Ronald and Grimace.  The kids, especially my little one, had a blast.

This was the reason why we passed up the chance to go to Camsur for the marathon. It was well worth it, if you ask me.



So, I missed my Saturday easy run, but I wasn’t hard on myself.  Anyway, I had a 32k long run on Sunday.  Thing is, the birthday girl suddenly had fever come night time.

Double crap. There goes my long run.  I told Hubby to push through with his plans to run with our friends.  After all, there only had to be one person to administer the paracetamol every 4 hours.

When hubby woke up for the run at 4 a.m., I checked on Li’l Miss TBR and discovered that she was completely fine.  Hallelujah. I asked hubby to wait for me and decided to push through with the run.


We showed up 30 minutes late, which meant that I would be under the intense sun longer.  Could I finish the full 32k?  I was tired from the hectic Saturday too. I gave it a try, but I thought I wouldn’t push too hard. If my body couldn’t cope, then I still had a 32k the following week to make up for it.

I ran the first 16k with our run group.  As it is with friends, we run slow because we’re chatting.  We have a lot of walk breaks.  We enjoy each others’ company.  Time flies this way, but training isn’t as serious.  Our average pace was 6:40/km.

The next 9k I ran alone.  It was here that I felt I was really training. My average pace was 5:55/km yet I felt strong. Ironically, I thought that if I could run longer, I would be able to rid my body of all the stress and exhaustion the past week.  But, it was getting hot and it was getting late, I wanted to check on the little one at home.


I quit at 25k.  At first I felt guilty about missing 7k. But, after a while, when I took a step back at my life that week, I said to myself “It’s just 7k. It’s not the end of the world.”

Running is a huge part of my life.  And, the New York Marathon is a goal I’m taking seriously.  But, it’s not everything in life.

And so, after my 25k, hubby and I called the house to learn that Little Miss TBR was up and about having donuts with her Kuya for breakfast.  With nothing to worry about, and a lot to be thankful for, we headed over to Sentro for a post-run breakfast of sinangag and bangus.  Aaah, that’s life.