In previous races at Subic, I used to check-in at Majestic Hotel the night before because Subic is a good 2 and a half to 3 hours drive from home. Thanks to SCTEX (a new expressway linking Clark to Subic), I can reach Subic in a little less than 2 hours, hence the decision to leave Manila in the wee hours of the morning of 2 August 2008. Usually, I don’t get to sleep much the night before a race because of the excitement, etc. This time though, I got to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up at around 1:00 am. Went through the equipment checklist and my wife and I finally set off for Subic at around 3:00 am. It was raining throughout the trip, but then after Fontana, rain does not faze me anymore 🙂 Finally, got to the race site at around 5 am.
It was drizzling when I got my race packet and it sure looked like that the sky was not about to clear up anytime soon. I remember thinking that the temperature was perfect for a good race but was worried at the same time that the slick roads may cause accidents during the bike portion. While lining up for body-marking, I was excited to see the other participants prepping for their long-distance triathlon. The race started on time at 6am for the long-distance triathletes while I was still in the transition area racking my bike. Was aiming for fast transitions this time, so the shoes were already clipped on the bike before I left the transition area one last time to begin warming up. Also, did not bother to bring socks and gloves this time. As I left the transition area, Coach Rick was announcing that Matthieu O’Halloran was leading the pack and doing a 50min pace for a 4k swim!!!! Wow
It was great that the organizers set aside a warm-up area for those who wanted to test the waters before the race even as the long-distance triathletes were already making their loops for their 4 km. swim. I did not get to attend the official race briefing and I was sure glad to see Gerard Reyes and Joma Palana (Groundhog Dude) who informed me that we will do just one loop for our 1.5k swim. It was great seeing Monica Torres (who eventually placed 2nd overall in the women’s category) as well as she informed me to remember to turn right once I see a gap in the buoy lines. Otherwise, I’ll be doing the O3 version of the swim and we don’t want that now do we 🙂 While doing the warm-ups, I was surprised Coach Rick Reyes was already announcing to clear the waters because the standard distance race was about to start. All this time, I though we were going to start at 7am. Oh well, better start lining up as the race officially started at 6:45am.
Unlike swimming pools, swimming in open water can be tricky because every so often I have to make sure that I’m not swimming out to open sea. The participants were swimming in a clockwise direction so those that breathe on their right have no problem as they can see the buoy lines as they breathe in and out. But for me, I only breathe on my left so instead of buoy lines, I use my fellow racers as guide 🙂 I was able to get into a comfortable rhythm. Trying to glide and swim “tall” like what they teach at Total Immersion. Right at about the gap portion, it was good that they had a marshall on a roving kayak to tell the swimmers to turn right. I just followed the crowd and soon enough, I saw the shore. I glanced at my watch and saw that I swam 34 minutes for the swim course, encouraged that it was 2 minutes faster than my swim at Subit 🙂 Now, on to the transition.
At the transition, just dried up a bit and put on my helmet. No more shades as well as it was bit too dark for me. Did the transition in 1:30 thereabouts (a minute faster than my usual average at transition 1, yahoo!!!!) So now, I just have to put the feet inside the shoes while riding…..I already practiced this before but this time I found it a bit difficult because: (1) it was raining and the shoes were wet, my foot kept on slipping a few times before finally getting it on; and (2) was a bit conscious as lots of people were watching and I wanted so bad to do a smooth transition 🙂 Oh well….Both of my calves cramped up as I was trying to slip into the cleats, but managed to shake it off as I began the bike course.
This is the same bike course as the one earlier in Subit 2008, so I knew what to expect. Ride conservatively at the start in order to save strength at the hills. First 10k was pretty smooth, averaging around 32km/hr, the highlight of which was finally meeting Marga (The Changeling Child) on the road. I knew it was her because the Mizuno running shoes was a dead giveaway 🙂 I said, “Go Marga” and then she gave me a funny look and it was only then that I remembered how she didn’t like people creeping up to her without introducing themselves properly. So, I said, “Hi, I’m Levy” and that’s when she lightened up 🙂 (Sensya na Marga ha, kala ko kasi magkakilala na tayo…sa blogs lang pala yun) P.S. Marga had a frightening accident as she was about to finish her ride. (You can read about it in her blog, get well soon Marga!!!)
After a flat ride of about 10kms, the hilly portion began. Did not attack the hills because I don’t know how to stand and do that rhythmic thing that pros do when climbing the hills 🙂 But persevered just the same. Soon enough, the turnaround came right below a nice descent. I remember telling fellow riders at that point that it was too bad the turnaround came abruptly just as the bike was gathering momentum for a speedy descent 🙂 The ride from the turnaround was a bit easier and the descents were pretty fun as I was going 63km/hr at one point. Whoopee!!!! Finished the course in 1:19:02 Off to transition 2.
Racked the bike, ate Gu, took a swig of gatorade, laced up the shoes and then run out to Dumuk Bridge. Did transition 2 in 2:05 about 40 seconds faster than my T2 time in Subit, things are going well at this point except for the cramp thing earlier.
The run course is 4 loops around Boardwalk then a 600m run to the finish. After the first loop, I saw my wife and I remember shouting to her, “Mukhang matatapos ko ito (Looks like I’m going to finish this)” At the end of the first loop, I glanced at my watch and saw that I did around 12:30. And I really felt good because it also looked like I will be able to meet my goal not only of finishing the whole 10k running but also making a sub-3 time 🙂 Unlike Subit in May 2008 where it was really hot, the weather was my friend this time. I did not stop at the water stations because I did not want to break the rhythm that was already established. At this point, it was great seeing the elites like George Vilog flying by so effortlessly. At the last loop, Coach Jojo Macalintal shouted to me to run tall which a hunchback like me always forgets. Finally, on the last 600m, I remember Jim Araneta zooming past me but heck, I was so happy because on my 3rd attempt I was finally able to really finish a standard distance triathlon, without flats, without bonking, etc. At the finish, I glanced at my watch and saw that I did 55:47 for the run and finished at 2:52:44. Yes!!! A sub-3!!
At the finish, I tapped Jim Araneta and said, “Good race.” I wished I could have also said maybe I could have a taste of some his imported beers also during Happy Hour 🙂 There was also these 2 ladies who told me that finishers get to have their portraits taken. I told them that it must be for the long-distance finishers only but they said that it’s for everyone. (Hear that Nike? It’s for everyone) So, I had my portrait taken as well 🙂
Here are my observations:
- The weather was perfect for racing. I remember Coach Rick telling me that it’s too bad some of the regular participants were not able to join this time around. Perfect weather for setting PRs
- I’m beginning to like biking in the rain.
- I liked the fact that the 1.5k swim was out and back instead of the usual 2 loops.
- Also liked the out and back bike course. It did measure exactly 40kms in my odometer.
- Special thanks goes out to Jaime Noel Santos and Jun De Leon who got photographers to document the event. I believe they are the ones responsible for the portrait finish. Provided a nice touch to the race.
- Getting to meet bloggers like Joma and Marga. Finally met the legendary Coach Rio as well.
- Chatting with Coach Jomak, Ria V. and I think it was George Carag who were discussing the finer points of running.
- The organizers were able to cordon off the street used for racing.
- The medics at hand were able to respond immediately to Marga who had a terrible spill towards the end of her bike leg.
- Results are posted first working day after the race.
- Standard distance race started earlier than the 7am published time.
- I don’t know if there was an official announcement that the awards for the standard distance race was going to be held at around 11am. But some of the podium finishers were not at El Centro when they were giving out the medals. According to the published schedule, awards were to be given out in the afternoon.
- After the standard distance race was completed, the crowd thinned out considerably leaving a few handful to cheer on the long-distance triathletes who were still competing. (I am guilty of this one as well, I left at around 12nn, I’m really sorry about that)
- Registration fee was prohibitive. Could have more participants if this is lowered. And it can be done. Just ask Popo and Thumbie on how they do it.