Race day greeted us with some light rain. We woke up at 3 am, went down for breakfast of rice, ham, scrambled eggs, and toast. Our shuttle to Shangri-la was scheduled to leave at 4:30 am, so we were down by that time, and made the 5 minute ride to the race site.
It was still dark when we arrived at the transition area. There was plenty of time to pump the tires. fill the drink bottles, and prepare our gear. Towards 6am, we proceeded to the beach to warm-up for the swim.
There were 3 waves for the swim. I was in the last wave , the 40 and above age group plus females wave. The swim start was in the middle of the sea where we had to make one big rectangular loop. We had to swim some 200 meters into the start line, and begin treading while waiting for the gun start. It was scary and funny at the same time, as we were packed liked sardines in the middle of the sea, treading and pushing against each other. Good thing it took only a couple of minutes before the gun to signal the start.
As expected, the start was a jumble of arms and legs and bodies hitting each other. What surprised me was that it would last almost the entire course as I found myself swimming with the main pack the whole time. Interesting things I saw: a couple of divers below watching over the swimmers; several participants pulling themselves with the buoy ropes practically the entire course!
Like last year’s, the last part of the swim was confusing since the swimmers were making a short cut towards the finish line, instead of following the buoy line. In any case, I wanted to finish the swim as soon as possible as I was getting sick of the salt water. I emerged out of the waters really pooped and made my way into the bike transition.
I took my time doing the transition to bike as I was still recovering from the swim. My bike was the farthest from the mounting area, so I had to walk my bike a little bit before starting the bike.
As I made my way up and down the Mactan bridge, the exact same thing as last year happened to me. My aero bottle flew out of the aerobar strap as I went down the bridge. I thought I had already fixed this by putting tape around the bottle, but I guess this wasnt enough. I had to ask the bystanders to get my bottle lying on the ground. The bottle dropped again somewhere in kilometer 20 and I was really getting annoyed. Finally the cover of the aero bottle flew somewhere at the 50Km mark and I decided not to retrieve it. Bad idea – I had to endure my face was being splattered with Gatorade the rest of the ride.
The headwinds this year were on the opposite direction. It probably didnt matter which way, as we had to make two loops around the SRP highway.
I arrived at the transition area and again took my time. As usual, the place was almost full of bikes already. I ate my spam/anchovy sandwich. Changed to rubber shoes. Went to pee. Then started the run.
As expected, I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted. The lack of run mileage was evident as I could only manage a slow trot. On the first loop, I was memorizing the landmarks to help me pace myself on the second loop.
The run was on a road named Punta Engano. As you may know, “engano” means “deceit” in Spanish (the Tagalog meaning is different). It refers to the deceit of Lapu-Lapu, King of Mactan, on Magellan, who was deceived into battle by Lapu-lapu and died at his hands. That thought was on my mind as I was running, this time the triathletes being deceived by the small, medium and large loops along the route.
Good thing this year was that the water at the aid stations did not run out. Finally, I made it past the second loop and entered Shangri-la. The final deception was how far the Finish Chute was from the Shangri-la entrance. It took a good few minutes before I finally crossed the finish line, heard my name announced, my Fifth Ironman Philippines in a row🙂