TBR Jr. Conquers His 1st Aquathlon

Tuesday, 27 May 2014  |  Race Reports



Last Sunday, May 25, our entire family woke up in the wee hours of the morning to drive out to Club Manila East on the opposite side of the world for Anton’s (or TBR Jr.’s haha) first Aquathlon.  (Read about his first triathlon here.)

There were three options for registration: Race category (medals would be awarded and kids were split into age categories), Play category (with short and long options), and Relay.  It was the first time the Play category was introduced and, after consulting with Coach Ani de Leon, I chose to register Anton in the Long distance Play category where I thought majority of the kids would be joining.  Boy was I wrong.  I guess the kids (or parents LOL) are pretty serious and competitive now.  When we showed up for the race, there were only 4 kids in Anton’s category.  Everyone else had signed up for Race!  Well, it didn’t bother Anton so it didn’t bother me!

My boy was cool and calm as always from claiming of race kit, body marking, to dropping his stuff at transition.  I believe it was his Mama (yet again) who was a nervous wreck.  I asked him more than a handful of times: How do you feel?  Excited? Nervous?  And, TBR Jr. would reply in jest: “I’m nexcited.  Just a bit nervous and more excited.”

At 8:00 AM, Coach Ani briefed the kids. 2 girls. 2 boys including Anton.  By 8:15 AM, they were off.

The swim was 300 meters.  Anton had trained under Lozada’s swim program all summer so I was pretty confident he would finish this.  But, as I watched from afar, I knew he was struggling.  Later on I learned that, since he didn’t have his glasses and the water was murky, he couldn’t see a thing.  (Woah boy, that’s what I get for refusing to spend on prescription goggles tsk tsk)


The 2 girls came out strong followed by the boy and Anton came out last.

I chased after Anton as he made his way into transition.  I watched him from the sidelines as he expertly slid his foot into his shoes (without socks like a real triathlete…so unlike me! LOL), wore his race belt and bib, gulped down his water and sped away for the 2k run.  (If only he wouldn’t be so embarrassed by me, I would’ve hugged and kissed him like he was 2 years old right there and then! Haha!)


I waited for him by the finish line and, before I knew it, the boy came flying in.  After a minute or two, Anton came 2nd.  Judging by his face, I knew he pushed hard and gave it his all.  And that, for me, was a winner!




Congratulations to my not so little big boy, Anton!  We’re so proud of you!  Congratulations also to all the kids who finished and to the awesome organizers of Ironkids!

Runner’s Interview: Dan Brown

Friday, 16 December 2011  |  Interviews + Features

There was a time when I would interview runners regularly for this blog (click HERE to read past interviews). Recently, I decided to start doing them again.  We all can learn a thing or two from the experience of other runners and draw inspiration from their achievements.

This week, I interviewed 15-time Ironman and 8th place Ultraman World Champ Dan Brown.  Read on…

dan queenstown

Name: Dan Brown
Age: 35
Years running: My whole life. Competitive running for 12 years
Years into triathlon: 10 years
Accomplishments: 15x Ironman Triathlon, 8th place Ultraman World Championships (Swim 10k, Bike 476k Run 84.4k), Australian Half Ironman (70.3) Champion

How and when did you get into running? Triathlon?
I have always had a passion for running. I love how free it makes you feel and how your body feels when you run. When I was young my grandpa called me the ‘running machine’. For triathlon I was particularly impressed by how ‘fit’ a few of my friends seemed who did tri’s and when I found out about the distances of 3.8k swim, 180k bike and 42.2k run I was like ‘thats crazy! But at the same time I was thinking ‘I want to do it!’ From there my training got a bit more serious and then it got a LOT more serious! haha.

When did you start coaching athletes? Can you tell us about your background as a coach?
I worked as a P.E teacher in a school for 3 years and did a lot of athletics with children. I began coaching them at track and for cross country. I studied level 2 middle distance running and also did my Cert 3 strength and conditioning study and began working with athletes in the gym also (Yes I used to have a bigger upper body than I do now!). Later on when I got into tri’s I started my own studio called ‘The next step running and endurance coaching’ and worked with adult athletes doing running technique analysis on treadmills and also altitude training simulation. Around this time I started doing online coaching and programming for running and triathlon which I still continue today.

If I were to hire you as my running coach, how would you train me for a marathon?
I look to look into the way an athlete lives, their business commitments, sleep hours, family time, goals, etc and try to work out the best way to remove certain barriers they may have to success. If someone is under a lot of stress etc they will likely not absorb the training as effectively as someone else due to poorer recovery so they may need need less volume and more quality in their weekly programming.

I like to look at nutrition also. Often a big factor inhibiting growth as an athlete is poor nutrition. This often sabotages good running intentions and consistency.

In terms of training distances I generally don’t like really long runs and prefer more quality workouts in the week as opposed to covering extreme distances. No one says you have to run 35k before a marathon in order to run successfully. In Ironman triathlon you don’t go out and do a 9-16 hour training day just to prove to yourself that you can, save that for race day!

Often these long runs can lead to injury. The longer you run the more your form and position will fall apart and the more prone you are to injury. Also, if you train slow, then train slow, then train slow then you will race slow! In general I prefer more consistent, frequent quality runs to make up the volume required to excel.

I coach athletes primarily through online coaching and usually try to meet with each athlete or do a session with them every week or couple of weeks wherever possible. The programmes are specific to each individual as outlined above and change regularly depending on goal races etc. My athletes regularly email me questions, talk on the phone, or skype also to get the most out of it. From Jan, I will do a regular track session or road run each week.

You were based in Australia, what were the events that led you to making Manila now your home? How are you liking the running and triathlon community here?
I had been travelling a lot and competing in Asia and Europe in triathlon races and returned home to Australia to a very serious back injury which I carried for a long time. I tore the L5 S1 disk in my back and for the first 4 weeks I couldn’t walk, lie down and was being assisted even to the CR! At this time I realized I needed a change. I have travelled a lot to Asia and thought I may try getting a job as a national coach of a triathlon team. Things moved fast and I ended up as coach of the Philippine team for 2010 and 2011. The endurance sport community is growing fast here and it is exciting to be involved in coaching, competing, events and elite sport development at the moment.

Kenting 70.3
– Dan on the bike during Kenting 70.3 –

While a lot of people know you are into triathlon, not too many know that you are into marathons and into ultramarathons. What is it that you love about marathons? Ultramarathons?
My first love is running, as I outlined above before so I really love all forms and distances. I ran an 84k ultramarathon on day 3 of the Ultraman race in Hawaii and loved it. I ran the first the marathon in 3.08 and ran the same pace for the next 10k before my ITB tore and I had to do a lot of walking/suffering for the last section! At the end my left quad was twice as big as my right! Anyway despite that I loved the experience, felt great throughout (the running part) and will likely move into doing some events like that in the next couple of years. The Ultramarathon is one of the toughest events mentally you can do and that is probably why I will be drawn to it further as time goes on.

ultraman run
– Dan during the run at Ultraman race in Hawaii –

Can you give us a glimpse of your weekly training schedule?
I will race as a professional in triathlon events in 2012 so I am already preparing my body for my first race of the season which is Ironman 70.3 Sri Lanka on Feb 18. My weekly training hours are usually between 22-32 hours. It could be more or less depending on the distance I am preparing for.

Without giving too much away a basic week may look like.

  • Mon-AM easy bike PM easy swim
  • Tues-AM Long run PM focus Swim
  • Wed-Long Bike/Interval run off bike, PM gym
  • Thurs-Off
  • Fri-AM Interval bike PM Swim
  • Sat-Long bike/run off bike PM short run
  • Sun Long run/interval PM rec swim

How’s married life with Ironwoman Ani de Leon and life as a new father to Dash?
I feel so lucky to come to this country and meet Ani. She is an amazing lady in so many ways! She and I just knew immediately that we were meant for each other so subsequently things have moved fast and now we have a beautiful little boy Dash Daniel Brown born on Nov 29, 2011.

dan and ani pre race du
– with wife, Ironwoman Ani de Leon –

Mobile 09159537980
Email danielgbrown(at)hotmail.com
Facebook- Dan Brown
Twitter- nextsteptri

My Little Athlete Stuffed Toys

Friday, 4 November 2011  |  News + Promos

Soon to be mommy Ironwoman Ani de Leon is going soft on us.  Soft and cuddly to be exact!  She’s launched a new line of stuffed toys called My Little Athlete.

Group Shot My Little Athlete Bears

I particularly like this one. He looks like he’s off to break his PR…

Runner Bib Teddy Bear

…and this newbie runner chick of a bear who’ll probably outrun most of the male bear runners…


Ani will be launching My Little Athlete at the Global Pinoy Bazaar at the Rockwell Tent tomorrow (Saturday). For more info, click HERE.

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

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.