Last Saturday Oct 4, I became a half-ironman🙂 Participating at the White Rock Long Distance Triathlon at Subic, I managed to finish the 2km swim-91km bike-20k run race in 7 hours, 28 min.
Butch, Anthony and myself arrived at White Rock Resort at around 2pm Friday to register and pick up our racing packets. We also checked in our bikes, had them inspected by Bike Boutique mechanics (yahoo, nandito na cervelo!), and parked them at the bike racks.
Our racing packets contained our racing numbers (my number: 82) and transition bags. The thing about this triathlon is that the transition bags should be checked in before 9pm of Friday. This means that everything must be inside the bags, no last minute additions. We went back briefly to our hotel to sort out our stuff in the bags.
What went into my bike transition bag: helmet, gloves, shades, cycling shoes, socks, race belt with number. What went into my run transition bag: running cap, 9 packets of Gu, running shoes. We were also allowed to deposit special needs items, which could be picked up at the bike and run turn-around stations.
This being a long distance race, nutrition plays a very important part. The plan was to take Gu gels every 30 minutes through the bike and run, and to finish half-a-liter of Powerade every 20km in the bike. During my long bricks, I noticed that I would bonk in the middle of my run, especially on a hot day, even though I was hydrated all throughout. Reading through stuff in the internet, I concluded that this was because of lack of sodium (or salt).
Looking around for some salty food in the grocery, I discovered anchovies, which packed 6g of sodium per can, enough for 4 small sandwiches. This was to be my salt source. Just to be sure, I also got several salt packets from Jollibee. These went into my special needs bag.
We went back to White Rock to deposit our bags and to attend the pre-race briefing. It was a festive atmosphere as there were more than a hundred triathletes on hand.
Afterwards, we went out for our carbo-loading dinner at Jollibee, which for me consisted of 2 orders of Spaghetti and one hamburger. Going back to our hotel, I tried sleeping at 10pm, still thinking about the stuff in my transition bags, and some last minute items.
I was able to doze off, and woke up at 3am, forcing myself to eat some cold Jollibee spaghetti take-out. Knowing that this would be my last meal for the next 8 hours helped put the stuff down my throat. I also ate a peanut butter sandwhich. I made some more anchovy sandwiches to pack in my bike.
We went to White Rock at 5am for body-marking. This was also the time to prep our bikes, pouring drinks in the water bottles, taping gu gels on the bike frame, putting stuff in my bike bento box. And then off to the waters for some warm-up.
The swim portion started promptly at 6:45am. There was only one wave, and so there were 120 bodies splashing at the waters, like fish going out of the net. Of course, I positioned myself at the back. It was a 3-loop swim. I felt good (but slow) all throughout the swim. At the end of my 2nd loop, several swimmers had already finished their swim, and were exiting. I trudged on and finally emerged from the water after 1 hour 5 minutes, 2nd to the last! At least I was in good company as there was still a female swimmer right behind me. I could hear the announcer saying, “Swimmer no 82 is out of the water, and that concludes the swim portion of this event”. Wow, at least I finished the swim without any special difficulty🙂
Off to the bike transition area, on the way I picked up my T1 bag. The nice thing also here is that there is a covered changing area, where you can sit down while putting on your bike gear (hard to put on socks while standing up hehe).
As I pulled out my bike out to the mounting area, I could hear the announcer again saying, “Biker no 82 is out, now all the bikes are out”! I then had the distinct(?) honor of having the motorcycle siren right behind me for a couple of kilometers, indicating the tail end of the bikes.
The first 20 kilometers passed through towns with jeepneys and pedestrians. I managed to weave my way through, in the process passing a couple of triathletes. The first aid station was at 20 km, I quickly had my bottle refilled and went on.
It was a smooth ride from then on, very few vehicles, and passing through farmland, with good quality roads. I would say this was one of the best biking routes I’ve been on. It was also fun because it was the first time I was using an aerobar, and boy was I glad I had one. Just being in the aero position added maybe 1kph to my speed, I could see it in my cyclometer. Also the aerodrink was fantastic, no need to fumble through the bottle cages underneath. Plus of course, I felt snug in the aero position, feeling like a mean machine hehe.
I tried to relax on the bike, remembering to take my gels every half hour. I was doing small ring all throughout, trying to maintain a 30 kph average (it turned out to be more like 28 kph). I reached the bike turn around, had my refill, and gobbled my anchovy sandwich. The saltiness relieved the taste of Gu and powerade.
On the way back I met several riders still making their way on the opposite direction, but afterwards it was a lonely ride. The only incident was when my sandwich fell from the bento box as I was grabbing my Gu. Oh no, the sandwhich I had carefully prepared falling off just like that.
I reached white rock with a bike time of around 3:20, total time of 4:25. Right on schedule. I changed to running shoes, put on some sunblock, and emerged for the run right smack at the 4:30 marker. I was figuring to do the run in 3 hours, just enough time before the cutoff, with 30 min to spare. By this time, it was 11:15 am, almost high noon on a searing hot, cloudless sunny day. In fact, my cyclometer registered 40 degrees Celsius, hotter than a high fever!
On the way out, I met the first few athletes making their way to the finish, and I was just starting my run! The run consisted of going 6K from white rock to the SBMA gate, passing through the dreaded Heartbreak hills, then a total of 8k around the treeless sbma area. By then I was starting to cramp, but somehow it would disappear after gulping my Gu. At some point I also felt like throwing up, and this is where I just walked and took it easy. I managed to reach the run turn around at the 1:25 mark of my run, again still on time for my planned 3-hour run.
Again I gobbled up my anchovy sandwich, ate some bananas and sliced oranges, and just sat down a few minutes and chatted with fellow triathletes, generally asking ourselves why the hell we’re doing this🙂
I felt refreshed after that brief respite. I managed to run/trot up to the gate. Going up the hill, I generally walked, but still mindful of the time. I sort of sped up on the last 2.5 km where I had to hurry if I wanted to finish just under 7:30. I finally made it with a time of 7:28:53🙂
It was a most satisfying feeling at the end of the race. It took me around half-an-hour to recover, but I generally felt good. Looking forward to the next half-ironman. Ironman Camsur 70.3 perhaps?
Congratulations to the winners, and all the finishers, especially the first timers (Yoohoo, we made it!)
PS Just got my time splits:
[Swim 1:06:17] [T1 0:02:34] [Bike 3:16:20] [T2 0:04:09] [Run 2:59:33] [Total 7:28:53.2]
Photos from Reva.
Race results here.
Ricky Ledesma’s usual detailed and fascinating account here.
Anthony Yu’s video: