Event: Tri united 2
Date: 1 July 2012
Venue: Laiya, Batangas
Organizer: Bike King
Tri United 2 was to be my first long distance triathlon: swim 2k, bike 60k, and run 15k. To say, I was nervous would be an understatement. The only thing that could console me was that I knew I had run marathons for about the same amount of time I expected to finish this triathlon. Still, my mind knew triathlons were a different animal, and, it was during this race, that my body learned that too.
RACE START – SWIM 2KM
The start of a triathlon is nerve wracking. You’re all lined up at the shore facing the unknown. You don’t know what lurks in the deep blue sea (jellyfish away!), and, worse, what lies ahead of you for the next few hours of the race.
The swim course for Tri United 2 consisted of three loops. I was confident about my swim, but also anxious. As a runner, I can anticipate and probably manage matters on the road, but, in water, I felt like I was treading in unknown territory. No pun intended.
My teammates Jake, Bic, and I wiggled our way through the crowd of triathletes lined up at the starting line. We poised ourselves on the far end of the left side. Our strategy, according to Jake, would be to swim on the far left end avoiding the traffic then cut to the right when it was time to turn the loop. Sounded like a good plan.
The gun went off and, barely a couple of minutes into the swim, Bic and Jake were gone. I was on solo flight…or solo fight. Probably both.
I struggled to find my rhythm amidst the chaos of flailing arms and kicking feet. Suddenly, a thought came to mind: What do I cling on to if I tire out? I was so far from the buoy! Almost instantly, I panicked. I could hardly breathe. Like a drowning dog, I paddled my way towards the buoy. There, I found my comfort zone and proceeded to swim beside it.
By the 2nd loop, I found a sense of calm in the steady pace of my strokes. With every breath, I caught a glimpse of the sun. In my head, I said a short prayer asking God to keep me safe and thanking him for the awesome opportunity to participate in this race.
– Out of the water for the next loop. I was having fun! –
The third loop was swift and strong. I found my rhythm along with a burst of confidence that I was capable of finishing this race. I swam to the finish pulling hard but leaving enough for the bike and run.
Time for 2k swim: 49mins.
It was the first time my boyfriend, the Shiv, and I were going to race together. I must admit, I was excited to see the progress I made in biking. From being unable to shift gears and ride in aero position, I could now do so with ease, plus drink, and take a gel, and even refill my bottles while riding! (Next goal is to peel a banana and eat it!)
Prior to the race, Coach Andy Leuterio had analyzed the results of a Power Meter test he conducted on me a couple of weeks ago. Based on the results, he said that my heart rate went too high when I pushed hard on the bike (which was expected because I’m new to cycling) so he advised that I keep it steady on the bike to ensure that I could run strong. I obediently followed.
The ride was steady, conservative, smooth, and, I must say, super fun. Every now and then, faster cyclists would overtake me yelling “Right! Right!” which would rattle me, but for the most part, I think I was cycling with a smile all the way to the finish.
RUN – 15KM
I didn’t know how my body would react to running 15km after the swim and bike. It’s one thing to race 15km and another to run 15km in the sweltering heat in a triathlon. I expected heavy wooden legs as soon as I left my bike at transition. Surprisingly, my legs felt great. (In hindsight, it’s probably because I was conservative on the bike.)
I ran the first loop steady and strong. By the second loop, the heat started getting to me. At every station, I dropped a pail or bottle of water over my body to cool down. It was almost like taking a shower at every station. (It was only at that point that I finally realized why triathletes choose to wear these body-hugging unforgiving trisuits! It’s so much more convenient for showering when the sun is beating down on you! Why didn’t we runners think of that?!)
It was also at this point that the mistakes I made during training and racing caught up with me. By the third loop, both legs started cramping up from my calves climbing up to my quads. I had never cramped up in my entire running life! I started shuffling my way through the last 5km. At the same time, I began talking to my legs (by the way, this always works!): Run. Run. Run. We can do this. I also prayed that they wouldn’t suddenly freeze on me and make me fall flat on my face a few hundred meters from the finish line!
Thankfully, the slow shuffle and the psych talk worked! I crossed the finish line even if I didn’t feel my legs AT ALL! It was one of the most fulfilling race finishes I had ever experienced. Right up there with all my marathon finishes. Hehe.
Time for Run 15k: 1:43 mins
CEBU, HERE I COME!
The most important gift of Tri United 2 to me, aside from the scintillating star-shaped medal, is the assurance that I’m on the right track towards Ironman 70.3 Cebu. For this last month leading up to Cebu, I know what I should work on (and there are a lot!), what I should continue, and, last but not the least, what power the mind has over the body!
After crossing that finish line, I heaved a sigh of relief. My trepidation over Cebu considerably lessened and a feeling of excitement swept over me. For the first time since I impulsively signed up for my seemingly impossible Ironman 70.3 goal, it suddenly occurred to me: Holy crap, I can actually do this!
– with Teammate Jake and Coach Andy Leuterio at the post-race awarding. Tons of food, lots of laughter, and I got to fill up a whole glass with free chilled Enervon HP for my recovery drink. Hay, I can’t have enough of it! –
– with new tri friends, Jay and Mark. Photo courtesy of Mark Salvador –
Congratulations to Unilab Active Health and Bike King for a fantastic race! For official results, visit Unilab Active Health website