Last Saturday, I was at Subic to join the Standard Distance Triathlon, a side event of the O3 Asian Long Distance Triathlon. The plan was to leave early afternoon on Friday to have plenty of time to settle down. Between one thing and another, however, I was only able to leave Makati at 6pm that Friday; it took me about 2 hours to get to EDSA Kamuning where I was to pick up Butch, who was doing O3, and Chelo. At Shell Balintawak, we passed by for Laarni, also doing the O3 distance. Poor Laarni, she had to wait a couple of hours for us. It was already past 9pm by then, and with a quick dinner at Shell NLEX, we arrived at Subic already past 12 midnight!
We brought Laarni to Subic Homes where Team Fitness First was billeted, and we proceeded to our hotel, the Legenda. It took some time to settle down and prepare our stuff for the next day’s event. I got to sleep at 2am, while Butch didn’t even get a wink!
I was up at 5am, proceeded to the transition area and had myself body-marked. By this time, the O3 swim event was about to start, and the participants were hurrying about to get to the beach. I did a warm-up swim trying to get to raise my heart rate before going back to the transition area. While waiting, I was chatting with some of the guys, one of whom was fellow tri-blogger Levy Ang.
The swim started unceremoniously. There was only one wave for all the O1 participants, which is a first for me. At least I wouldn’t be starting at the last pack. There was the usual chaos at the start. I couldn’t see the line marker; it turned out that somebody was stepping on it, and actually trying to walk on it!
One thing I noticed, the waters were clean. No floating particles, no stinging on the skin. I’m guessing it’s either the rains washed clean the ocean or they fixed up the old leaking sewage pipes by the beach, yikes (I saw a construction sign at the beach announcing it). Anyway, I labored through the swim, in the process bumping O3 participants on their 2nd or 3rd loop, and tired swimmers hanging on the floaters. I managed to finish in 45 minutes, fifth to the last, but at least I was 5 minutes faster than last May.
The weather was actually good for the race. There was some slight rain every now and then but the day was completely overcast, the sun not appearing at all. It would have been perfect except for the wet roads. I sped to the transition area, put on my gear, and off I was on the bike. I don’t know why, but for me this triathlon had a just-another-day feel about it. Perhaps because I had raced on this course twice already. I felt good on the bike, trying to go a little above 30 kph before going up the hills. I should have done some hills training, but then this was no time to complain. I passed by a triathlete fixing a flat by the roadside. By the time I came back from the turnaround, there was a second triathlete on the same spot with a flat as well! The roads were wet, and I thought how dangerous it was running at 55+kph, rounding a curve, and trying to overtake. By the time I came back to the flats, I still had some energy to do some sprinting to the finish line. I finished at 1:30, just about average for the race.
The run was pretty uneventful. I did my 4-and-a-half loops, trying to chat with fellow triathletes along the way. I saw Laarni pass by on maybe her 2nd O3 bike loop, still fresh as a daisy. To think that this is only her 3rd triathlon, the first one being White Rock last year, and the sprint at Subit last May. I finished the run at 1:03, quite surprising for me.
One thing about this triathlon was it was covered by a team of professional photographers led by Jun de Leon. In fact, each finisher had a solo picture taken by Jun de Leon at the finish line.
It was my fastest triathlon so far. I managed to get within my 3:30 goal, finishing at 3:23. I guess it was the cool weather that made it possible.
After a quick shower at the hotel, I had lunch with Chelo at Pancake house. This time the O3 participants were starting their run. Matt (the eventual champion) was speeding around the loop, and we actually saw him zip by 3 or 4 times, that was how fast he was. We waited for Butch to appear, which was around 1pm already. At 30 km to go, I estimated it would take 3-4 hours still. I dozed off at the hotel, woke up feeling refreshed and went to the finish area.
Rick Reyes was there, still doing the announcing chores, but after 10 hours of doing that, looked as if he had done a long distance triathlon himself! I was chatting with a girl, who did the bike portion of their relay team, and who had an unfortunate crash. Turns out that it was Marga, gutsy girl, still up and about, cheering on, hematoma and all.
Laarni soon appeared at the finish, flashing her winning smile, followed shortly by Butch, who somehow bonked at the 2nd half of the run, but still managed to finish (inspired as he was) with enough energy for a victory celebration. This was truly an Ironman feat!
It was a quite long day; by that time, most of the O1 participants had gone, and there were just a handful of people by then. I guess it takes as much stamina for the spectators to watch as the triathletes to finish 🙂
Next stop: White Rock!
Click here for race results.
A nice account from Ricky Ledesma can be found here.
Some photos from Chelo.
Additional: photos from Leo Castillo (part of Jun de Leon’s team)