Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At last, a Half-Ironman Finish!!!.. My Whiterock experience..

Pre-Race Activities

Thursday - Leaving Manila
Longer vacation leave from office

Leaving as early as Thursday from Manila to Subic would mean a longer vacation leave from my office. Fortunately, my boss allowed me to do so. This is a vacation and a race, fully expense paid that is. What a treat! Thanks to Herbalife..

We (Resty, Reva, Millet and myself) left Manila at around 10am. We were picked up by our service van at the Herbalife office.

We arrived at Subic at around lunch time. We were billeted at the Arizona International Hotel, 2 to 3 kms away from Whiterock. Jomac, Monica and Rayzon (the elites of Herbalife) arrived almost at the same time as we did. I understand they have been staying in Subic doing their training.
We all had lunch together in a café right across our hotel.
After our sumptuous lunch, we went back to our hotel. There’s nothing much to do there except to relax, take naps, watch TV, eat. Sarap buhay!!
At night, we consumed our complimentary stub (one free beer at the hotel’s sport bar). The boys, Jojo, Rayzon, Resty and myself, went to their so-called sports bar and had two rounds of beer. Just had a little fun.
Joy arrived at the hotel at the around 2am. He took the bus going to Subic. Prior commitments barred him from going with us on the scheduled departure from Manila.

Light Training, Race Briefing, Bike Check-In
We woke up at around 5am. We planned to swim at exactly 7am at Whiterock.
We biked from our hotel to Whiterock, and arrived at about 6.45am. Hanged our bikes at the supposed T1, and off to swimming.
The swim didn’t take long because the water was not very clean that particular day. After just a few dips, we went to shower.
Then, off to biking. I was alongside with Jojo during the bike ride. I had some helpful tips from him on biking. I thought, it would really be cool to have a coach.
After the 30-minute bike ride, we were back at the Whiterock T1 area. We changed shoes and went on light running for 30 minutes as well.
Jojo called the entire brief training as “pick ups”.

After which, we were able to get our race packets from the super accommodating extribe people. My race number is 83.
Had a few naps in the afternoon.
We went back to Whiterock during the night for the race briefing and bike check-in.
After the bike mechanics checked the road worthiness of my bikes I hanged it at my designated area at the T1, and left the bike there for the night.
All other participants had to leave their bikes as well. One blogger had mentioned that the T1 was tightly guarded during the night since all the bike left there would cost roughly at P 20million. Not to mention also the wrath of a triathlete when his bike got lost during the night.hehehe..PSG type of guarding must have been implemented.

We woke up at around 4am. Joy prepared us Herbalife shakes for our breakfast. We ought to leave and be at Whiterock at around 5am.
At the race site, we were greeted by the big boss of Herbalife. He is there for support. Super cool guy!
After a few pep talks and posing with the cameras, we went to the swim area.
The race is about to start.


The 2K Swim…still afraid of the open-water swim.
3 loops

As always, I positioned myself behind the pack. Afraid of getting kicked, elbowed or grabbed under water. I intended to swim “alone”, away from the mayhem at the swim start. I know that I have to overcome this anxiety, but for now, I have tocontend with this thought. Just finish the swim.
So there you go, in-between my chit-chat with one of the participants, the horn sounded. The race had officially started. Everyone runs into the water and started swimming. As for me, I started walking to the water, staying behind the turmoil. I intended to walk until it gets a little deeper off my knees. But all of a sudden, bigla na lang akong lumubog. Sobrang lalim na pala. Hehe. So I panicked. I immediately searched for the bouy line, and grabbed it..huff, huff, huff..Muntik na ko dun..I paused for a while holding the buoy line to prevent me from sinking (don’t know how to tread), and composed myself. So after composing myself, I started my so-called swimming..Still anxious about the deep sea, I began the swim and hold scenario..Swim for about 30 seconds, then rest holding the bouy line for about 5 seconds.. I did this for about the first 200 meters of the swim..Then, i finally got my rhythym. I began swimming without pausing. I finally had overcome my fear but still swimming way to close to the bouy line. Evident by the arm wounds that I got from the big ropes.
After the first loop, I was happy to end it. I can now swim without the pauses. I can now catch up with at least some of the slower swimmers. So I finally did. I was so elated passing through them. So, I will not be the last man out of water..True enough, i finished the swim with at least 7 or 10 swimmers still in the water..
I run towards the T1. I was immediately greeted by my friends Jaja and Joshua(one of the nicest couple that I know). I paused for a while for a pic and a high five.
I passed by a shower area, and rinsed off a bit of the salt water. After which, I grabbed my T1 bag and proceeded to the dressing room.

Bike Leg…91KM
Stomach Cramps, Loosing my Cyclometer

Just about after the 1km mark on the bike, I began to feel stomach cramps. I have to endure it, thinking that it might just go away (later, I found out that my teammate had the same experience too during his bike leg. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish the race because of it). Lucky enough for me it was not too bad to cause me a DNF, but it really slowed me down.
The cramps went on from time to time during the entire bike ride. Damn!
Also, I lost my cyclometer at the start of my bike leg when I accidentally pulled it off when I adjusted it while riding. Whew!... I had an optional Garmin bike pod mounted on the rear wheel, but to my dismay, it wasn’t working too. Murphy’s Law.. I can longer see how fast or slow I was going. The cyclometer is so damn important for me since i am using it to pace myself. And now it’s gone.

Anyway, that would not me stop from finishing the race of course. I had to live with what I have (or don’t have).
Except for the stomach cramps that would occur from time to time, in betweens, I had a lot of fun. From greeting the supporters and spectators with a simple wave, to shouting “thanks” to well wishers. I feel like a star.hehehe. Every participant got this same treatment from the crowd I’m sure. Every town has its own “cheerers” and volunteers that will certainly boost your spirits up.
So after a long bike ride under the heat of the sun, battling stomach cramps and riding without a cyclometer, I finally arrived at the Whiterock for the T2.

Run Leg..20KM

The Microwave Run.

I arrived at the T2 at the around noontime. The heat was so intense. It was burning HOTTT!
Just at the start of the run, I began to feel cramps all over my legs. The stomach cramps is gone, but here comes another one. I smell trouble. Just barely 1KM from T2, I am having problem running.This is bad. Really bad..But I had to carry on.

Come heartbreak hills, it was a struggle. The elites are now on their way back. Seen Jomac, alongside with Abe Tayag, seem to be running neck-to-neck.. I am now reduced from a slow jog to occassional brisk walking. Pausing at the aid station for hydration and nutrition.

Come the Subic area, the treeless road made my struggle even worse. The intense heat was killing me. Though I had some sort of heat training, apparently, it was not enough.
Jaja and Josh briefly stayed beside me riding in their Pajero. Heat is not their problem of course. The couple was giving me some encouragement.

I was able to reach the area where Taki was assigned (at the ribbon station)... My spirit got a boost upon seeing him.

My next stop is at the 10K turn-around point. I briefly rest on the tent to get a cold shower, ate some bananas and oranges, then off to running, eh, jogging again.. The rest of the way going back to Whiterock had been a jog and walk affair.

Heat was still intense until a big cloud covered the sun on my way down to heartbreakhills. It’s gonna rain. And what a relief..

2km left, Jaja and Josh appeared again driving alongside giving me a chat. It was good thing.

Finally, 500meters to go. I am thinking now how to finish. I wanted to finish with no other athlete sharing my so-called finishing glory. I wanted to have my moment. When one athlete passed by me at the last 400meters, I let her go. Didn’t bother to chase her.

So here I am, entering the gates of Whiterock and the red carpet to the finish line.The P.A. announces my race, my name, my team, and my city where I live. It was really a very satisfying moment. I can’t describe the feeling…..crossing the finish line, hearing your colleagues shouting at you in jubilation, getting high fives to almost everyone, raising your arms in triumph..
It is true. Finishing time in this kind of a long distance race doesn’t really matter. Albeit, I have always respected people who just finish this race, now I have more appreciation and deeper meaning to it..Finishing is everything.

I had wished to jump up and down at the finish line but my numb legs prevented me from doing it. I was totally exhausted. But nonetheless, I was really in heaven having to finish this seems to be an impossible race for me (and maybe to most regular guys).

Last year, I can still remember dreaming of finishing this race. And now, I have done it.

Nothing is impossible, you just have to do it!hehe. (sounds familiar, right?)

I will end this blog entry with special thanks to Team Herbalife. I am extremely gratified for their support. I am really very lucky since i am just a beginner triathlete and yet i am getting the same support as their experienced athletes. To Herbalife, a big thank you. From the bottom of my heart.