Woooohooo I just finished an Ironman race.
My flight to Naga was Saturday 6:15 am. My bike was brought by car by my brother, so no bike check-in hassles.
We arrived Naga after a short flight, greeted by a brass band, and local girls putting leis on us.
We were going to stay in Naga city, outside the CWC venue. After breakfast, we proceeded to CWC to get our race kit, and check in our bikes and gears. It was a festive atmosphere in CWC, with lots of banners, people milling around the booths, triathletes checking their stuff, doing some more practice. I saw Macca and company still doing some running.
I made a test swim in the lake, and biked around the CWC area to test the bike as well. Orientation was held in the afternoon. One last check on the bike and transition bags, and went back to Naga for dinner and rest.
Race start was at 7 am. We woke up at 3:30 am, had a quick breakfast and proceeded to CWC. We arrived around 5am. I filled my bottles with Gatorade, taped the Gu gels on the bike, made a final check on my Bike and Run transition bags. Proceeded to body marking (no. 256) and went for a quick warm-up swim.
It was a mass start for age grouper and the pros. The pros were positioned in the waters, treading in the deep part already, while the age groupers were on shore. When the horn start sounded, it was total mayhem, as can be expected when 400 swimmers kicking and flailing at the same time.
Water visibility was absolutely zero; it was like swimming blind. I was getting kicked and elbowed on all sides. Imagine being on the receiving end of a 2-beat kick, it’s the equivalent to getting kicked every second. In other words, this wasn’t only swimming, it was defensive karate as well! At some point my goggles were kicked loose I had to stop to reposition it. My swim cap was also getting loose all the while. I must have dranked a lot of water I was getting bloated already. I was swimming in a zig zag manner going from side to side instead of straight out.
The second loop was a bit easier as there were already fewer swimmers, and the buoys were more visible. I checked my watch as I got off the lake: 54min. I was expecting my time to be a bit faster, but with all the chaos the chaos out there, I had to settle for it.
Transition to bike was quite fast. Helmet on, race belt on, shades on, gloves on, bike shoes on, gulp of gatorade, and I was off. The plan was simple. Try to average 32kph, finish one bottle of gatorade every 15km (or every aid station), and one Gu gel every 45 minutes.
It was an amazing sight looking at all the school children who lined up practically the entire stretch of the bike route. They were waving little yellow ironman flags, and cheering the bikers. I must say that it really does pump you up, and brings out a little more speed in you.
I could hear the kids chanting over and over, “Go Ironman, Ironman, Go Go Go”. The girls would be shrieking as if celebrities were passing.
The bike route was relatively flat, although there were some rolling parts. I think I averaged more than 32 kph fo the first hour, probably because of the excitement, the cheering and the still fresh legs.
At the second hour, I was exactly at the 60 km mark, which meant I was down to 30kph average. At this point my legs were threatening to cramp. That’s when I remembered to eat my anchovy sandwich, my salt source. Compared to last year when I was fumbling to get my sandwich, this time it was neatly placed on my Bento boxes, already cut down to bite size. The saltiness was a nice contrast to the sharp taste of Gatorade and the sweetness of the Gu. Somehow the cramps disappeared.
As I got to an aid station, I would come to a full stop, re-fill my aero-bottle and speed off. Mental note: practice getting the Gatorade bottle on the fly, and refilling on the move. Hmm maybe next year.
I tried to double-time on the last hour, my target was to finish in less than 3 hours. I managed to arrive back to CWC in 2:56.(average 31kph)
Transition to run took me a bit longer. Bike shoes/ socks off, helmet/shades/gloves off. Run shoes/socks on, running cap on, swig of gatorade, and off to the run. All in all it took me more than 4 minutes.
As I started the run, my total time was at 3:57. Still on course for my target. My run plan was to do the first 10K in 1:10, second 10K in 1:15, and the last 1K in 0:07, for a total of 2:32.
The run route took us to the farm part of the town, going through narrow barangay roads. There were aid stations every 1.5 km. School children were also cheering all over. I reached the 5k turnaround aid station in 32 minutes. It was the most energizing aid station, with a cool shade, and a lady doing a one-person cheering squad. The bananas were great, I should have eaten more.
As I went back towards CWC, the sun was at its peak, and at this point I had to slow down to a walk. The heat was just too much, my body slowing to a walk almost automatically. I reached the first 10k mark at 1:15.
The second loop became more business-like. The school children had gone already (after all it was past lunchtime). The sun was still bearing on us. Everything was still. Just the sound of tired feet shuffling. Looking around, you can see the the running/walking wounded. One guy with a bandage on his eye, must have been kicked in the swim. Another one with a nastly elbow wound, still fresh, from a bike spill.
By this time, the aid stations were already serving Coke. Nothing like sugar to keep us going.
According to my most optimistic target, I could finish to finish in 6:22. By the time I reached the 20K run mark, it was already 6:32. I adjusted my target to finish below 6:40. I had one kilometer and about 8 min to go. Normally this should be easy to do, but after swimming, biking and running 112 km, the last kilometer is always the hardest. In fact I had to walk again at some point here. It was a nice gesture that there were 2 foreign pros at the last 200 meters encouraging us on to finish strong. I crossed the finish line at 6:39 on the clock.
Race results here.