Ironman 70.3 Cebu, Here I Come…again!

Sunday, 24 July 2016  |  Running + Triathlon

TongPascua– Ironman 70.3 Cebu hugging one of my first fitness idols (and ex-boss) Sen. Pia Cayetano –

My last triathlon was Ironman 70.3 Cebu way back in 2013. Needless to say, I’ve been semi-retired from triathlon. I use the word “semi” for two reasons: 1) I haven’t stopped training like a triathlete. I swim, bike, and run weekly since 2013 but with much less focus on swim and bike and more on my first love, running. 2) Never say never. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a comeback into triathlon. Who knows, right? (more…)

Part 1: Thank You, 2013!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013  |  Bullish Insights

It’s the last day of the year!  As always, I look back on the year that was…

2013 was year of extremes for me.  The first half was a roller coaster ride coming from the high of London Marathon to literally dropping to a low with my bike crash to finishing Ironman 70.3 Cebu.  By the 2nd half of the year, I decided to take it s-l-o-w as I enjoyed my off season while maintaining my fitness (in other words, I still swam, biked, and ran like a fiend but I didn’t race LOL).

I know it’s cliche, but I must say that it’s been another wonderful and blessed year.   Sure, I had my fair share of crap thrown my way,  but each event in life will only affect you in the way that you wish to see it, either as a blessing or as bullsh*t.  I choose to view them as blessings.  Here are my blessings for 2013…

1) London Marathon (April 21)

The best marathon I have ever joined in what has come to be my favorite city in the world. I was fortunate enough to have been sponsored by Unilab Active Health to participate in this race and Timex for my slot. Bonuses? I broke my PR at 4:24.  My family got to travel with me.  And, we passed by Paris after!

London Marathon was a week after the devastating bombing at Boston Marathon.

– At the finish line of London Marathon –

– my hubby and kiddos pick me up at the race –

2) Ironman 70.3 Cebu (August 4)

This was my 2nd Ironman 70.3.  After a foot injury months before the event, a bike crash a month before the race, bad weather the day before, and a flat tire during the bike leg, I was proud to have finished this event alive!  I felt like a warrior!  Rawr!

Thank you to my Coach Andy Leuterio for training me through London Marathon and Ironman Cebu 70.3, Specialized and Dan’s for my beloved Shiv and helping me care for him.  Thanks also to my team Unilab Active Health for the support and camaraderie!

Bike crash a month before the race. Save for several unsightly wounds, I was lucky to have come out of it without any broken bones and alive! –

– Bike leg of Ironman 70.3 Cebu. Photo by Michael Ocana –

– Hugging Sen. Pia Cayetano at the finish line. Photo by Tong Pascua of Photo Ops –

– Happy finish! Photo by James Go –

3) The Bull Runner Dream Marathon 2013 (February 22)

Last February 22, 584 runners became marathoners.  It was the 4th TBR Dream Marathon.  Every year, we hope to continue helping more runners reach their marathon dreams.

– Farrah Rodriguez, TBR Dream Marathoner –

– Marice Laxa-Pangilinan finishes her first 42k a day before her birthday. She was paced by husband Anthony –

– TBR Dream Marathon 2013 Medal –

Last August, we launched the 5th Dream Marathon. 800 slots were gone in 37 minutes. We ended up accepting a total of 900 runners who are currently training for their first marathon on February 16, 2014. Batch 2014 is a fantastic bunch of committed and enthusiastic runners. It’s been a fun-filled journey so far to train for their first marathon with them.

– with Batch 2014 of TBR ULAH Dream Marathon –

4) One Run (November 16)

We organized One Run, a run to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, shortly after seeing the devastation in Tacloban and surrounding areas.  We were overwhelmed with the response from the running community as we collected a whopping P615,000 in cash and a significant number of in kind donations.

One Run was organized by The Bull Runner in cooperation with Unilab Active Health with the support of Gatorade. Thank you also to Bonifacio Global City,, Simple Hydration, Proactive, Photo-Ops (our official photographer), HDSI Medic Team, Jun Cruz and Mike & Macel Janeo.

– Triathletes Kuya Kim Atienza, Raffy Zamora, and Erwan Heussaff joined by friends at One Run –

– Sen. Pia Cayetano and friends came to support –

– Triathlete friends came to help and volunteer –

5) Finalist in Rappler Do More Awards (October)

I was honored to make it as finalist in the Rappler DO MORE Awards.  It was awesome to be among a select group of Filipino achievers who “do more” than is expected of them.

6) Anton finishes his first triathlon (October 20)

As part of our Quaker Challenge as a Quaker Supermom, we made it our family goal to be more active together.  Anton’s goal was to finish his first triathlon, which he did at the Ironkids last October!  I couldn’t have been a prouder momma!

Thank you to Quaker Oats for motivating us even more to conquer our goals.

– My not so little boy showing off his medal –

7) Running, running, and more running

Sure I’ve been into triathlon the past couple of years, but running is still the sport that brings me the most joy.  I will always be a runner.  It was great to participate in local races and use these as training for my A-races.  The races that stood out for me were the following:

Run United (March 17)

– with great friends Lit, Ton, and Jun after Run United 1 (March 17) –

Run United (October 6)

– Run United Philippine Marathon –

New Balance Power Run 25k

– with friends Ton, Jun, and Maiqui –

Those were the highlights to the awesome year of 2013.  What were the highlights of 2013 for you?

NEXT: Part 2: Thank you, 2013!

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.



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.

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

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

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


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!

– 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.

– 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!

– 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.

– 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!

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

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.

– 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.


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.

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

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

– I did it! –

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

– with 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

Of Crashes, Injuries, and Miracles

Monday, 1 July 2013  |  Bullish Insights

“A miracle is a shift in perspective” 

– quoted by Gabby Bernstein from A Course in Miracles

The Crash

I woke up on the sidewalk of Daang Hari Road with my friends and a crowd of bikers hovering over me. What happened? Where was I? In my mind, I had been pleasantly biking along. Last I remember was thinking we were definitely going to reach our 100k target because we all felt strong and fresh at around 57k.

My friends told me I had crashed. The look of worry on their faces was indescribable. They said they heard me scream and, within a few seconds, I keeled over to my right side, slammed my head, elbow, and legs on the ground, and skidded with my bike for a few meters on the rough concrete. They said I lay still on the middle of the road for a long 2 minutes. By then, a crowd of bikers stopped and blocked the road from oncoming vehicles for us. I was breathing, then I began to mumble words. I even managed to give my cellphone password so they could call my driver to fetch us. My friends knew I was alive, but they worried about the damage done on my body.

I woke up dazed, confused, and clueless. I could not remember anything from the accident. I tried to remember the names of my kids, Anton & Nia, and when I said their names I heaved a sigh of relief that I didn’t suffer from amnesia. I asked my friends what happened and they explained it in detail. At that time, I thought I had been conversing normally with them. Later that afternoon, they admitted that they feared for me because I had asked them the same question and they answered in full detail five times over.

I was rushed to the Emergency Room of Asian Hospital. I had a CT scan, xrays, and treatment of my wounds. I was cleared from any brain trauma and broken bones. I went home with five huge wounds on my right arm and legs (aka tocino as the bikers like to call it), a bump on the right side of my head, neckpain, a cracked helmet, and a scraped handlebar on the bike as souvenirs. Still, I felt blessed to be alive. It could have been a lot worse and I was lucky.

– In the ER of Asian –

– My cracked Specialized helmet kept me safe. Thanks to Dan’s Warehouse for offering to replace it upon hearing of my accident –

The Injury

The accident put things into perspective for me. You see, for the past two months now, since the day after London Marathon last April 21, I’ve been suffering from Post-Tibial Tendonitis. Post-Tib is an injury on the inner ankle often caused by overuse. Flat footed runners, such as myself, are more susceptible to this.

For the past months, I’ve barely been able to run. With Tri United 2 and Ironman Cebu 70.3, I’ve been worried, frustrated, sad, and angry. Even if there weren’t any upcoming races, I still would’ve felt the same way because, well, you know me, I just need my running.

For the most part though, I’ve been trying to be optimistic about the injury. I got therapy done at Peak Form regularly. I had my foot taped with Rocktape.  I focused more on what I could do such as swim and bike rather than what I could not do. And, I even refused to rant about it on this blog thinking it would go away if I didn’t acknowledge it. (Yeah right, LOL!)

It’s NOT The End

So, I haven’t been running because of the injury. I can’t swim because of the accident. I’m skipping Tri United 2 this weekend. And, Ironman Cebu 70.3? Hmmm that’s up in the air right now.

It sucks. Yes, it really does.

Usually, I’ll throw a tantrum about how 6 months of training has gone down the drain, how unfair life is, and proceed to drown in my sorrows with a bottle of Nutella. But, for some reason, I don’t feel like doing that at all. I’m disappointed, but I’m not devastated.

Like I said, the accident put things into perspective for me. In the blink of an eye, without warning, my life could’ve ended, yet I came out with wounds that will heal in time. To complain about an accident, an injury, or a missed race at this point seems silly or, worse, ungrateful. It’s a miracle I’m alive.

I came home that morning of the accident and kissed my kids on their cheeks as they ate breakfast. I whispered my kids names to myself again, Anton and Nia, and scooped a spoonful of Nutella into my mouth. Life is good.


Road to IM70.3: 4 Weeks to Go

Monday, 9 July 2012  |  Running + Triathlon


The past two weeks flew by in a blur.  My training revolved around Tri United 2 on July 1, 2012.  A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing for the race and, last week, I was recovering from it.  Read all about it HERE.

With Tri United 2 done and over with, there was a brief respite from the chaotic training schedule.  I thought I died and went to Couch Potato heaven when I read Coach Andy’s command last week:
1) Eat all you want
2) Stay off your feet

Just as I was about to invite all my friends for an eat-all-you-want steak meal at Mamou, I noticed that Coach Andy had added “in moderation” to the first order.  And, No. 2 didn’t mean training was off; it only meant that I would get a couple of days rest, swim more, bike a bit, and run for only one day.  (I know, I know. One day to run.  How sad is that?    Coach Andy received a whining text from me Friday that I NEEDED to run. Hah!)

Well, I enjoyed the past week.  It was an opportunity for me to slow down and find my bearings.  After chasing after missed workouts, the ticking of the clock as I tried to drop my kids in school early and fetch them on time (lest Li’l Bull Runner snobs me again for picking her up 5 mins. late), and looming work deadlines, I felt like I could finally heave a sigh of relief and breeeeathe.

Breathe I did.  And smile. And laugh.  And celebrate.  And eat all I want (including that thick slice of Smoked Bacon at Chelsea. Yum. Yum.) Then, in the blink of an eye, I find myself here.  It’s Monday.  The last day of my rest day.


Coach Andy said that the past week was the “calm before the storm.”  Now that recovery week is over, this only means that the storm comes…TOMORROW.  Aaah, tomorrow, serious, heavy training begins.  This is the week where we load up in preparation for Ironman 70.3 Cebu.

I look at my program for this coming week and I don’t know if I’m going to laugh or cry.  Just reading it makes me sweat.  It’s frightening when you read lines like: “Bike until muscle failure” or “Push hard until you cramp.” I would also love to see “Eat peanut butter like there’s no tomorrow” but perhaps that’s for next week.  For this week, there’s going to be a lot of sweat, muscle tightness, and Suffering with a capital S.

But, I must admit, I’m all for suffering! Hah!  Suffer now then during the race!  That’s my motto.  So, while I’m anxious over the week to come, I’m also looking forward to seeing how far this body can go…especially with the Shiv.  If I can survive this week (and the next), then Ironman 70.3 Cebu should be a celebration of the past month’s sweat and sacrifices.

Happy training to everyone doing Ironman 70.3 Cebu!