Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tri United 1 - My Sweet Tri Relay Experience

Triathlon is the ultimate fear I have to face next, and in order to be ready for it, I need a good introduction on how it works. So to do it, I need to be where the action is, and better, experience a piece of the action.

Even before my Marathon, I already signed up for relay at Tri United 1. Together with my teammates Sally and Johannah from Team Triabetics, we decided to do it despite our conditions. Sally, a veteran in this field but stopped for more than 5 years because she had her two lovely daughters and Johannah, a swimmer and also a newbie like me in this sport.

So when I miraculously finished my first Marathon almost flawlessly, I gained confidence that we can finish this race despite the 4 hour cut off.

The race was supposed to be in Laiya, Batangas but for some reason it was moved to Subic. It was favorable according to Sally since its near so we can travel easier.

We arrived at Subic Saturday afternoon, a day before the race to claim our race kits at the Convention Center.

Race kit claiming is a breeze. Everything is well organized. First, they'll gonna ask for your name or your team's name then, they'll ask you to show an ID card. After validation, they will put a band on your wrist which is an indication that you checked in. After that, you get your Race Kit and freebies from sponsors. We went through the whole process in less than 5 minutes! Impressive!

Sally checking her bike in.

After that we went to Dungaree Beach for the Bike Check In. It was just around 5 minutes drive from the convention, but you need to walk long in order to reach the area. When we came in, my eyes were amazed to see lanes of very beautiful bikes! From the entry level Roadies to the most expensive Plasma Tri Bikes. How I wish I can pick one and go home. Drooling indeed!

Sally put the stickers on her bike and then puts it on the relay bike lane where there is a slot waiting for it. There is a basket that can be stuffed with things for the transition from swim to bike and to run.

After checking in the bike, we went to Xtremely Xpresso Cafe to have dinner. Before we had dinner, we met up with Coach Norman for a short briefing for tomorrows race. He discussed mainly how the transition will happen. After that, we read the menu and ordered. Glad they can still serve breakfast so I ordered a Spinach Omelet and it was so good! We did not stop at that place for long we decided to go to the hotel and check in because we are already tired from the trip.

"Drug" Session before having dinner. Diabetic medications!

We stayed at a cheap hotel named Herbie's Mansion just a few kilometers away from the Cafe. Its a small room with twin beds that we joined together so the three of us can sleep on it. It's the cheapest one we can find. The aircon is good and the comfort room is clean. This place is perfect for backpackers and transients who needs a place to stay for the night.

The room is comfortable but when I suddenly woke up at around 2pm I wasn't able to go back to sleep again. I was just lying in bed still, just relaxing, thinking about the race that will happen 4 hours from now.

Our trusty phones alarmed at 4AM as expected. We tidied up and left the hotel at 4:45AM. After we got to Dungaree Beach, I accompanied Johannah to the starting line at the beach itself. Seeing it is giving me the chills. It reminds me of my death defying experience. I have phobia in open waters and this is what hinders me to do triathlons. But I want to do it so sooner or later, I will face this fear and I hope to conquer it.

After the gunstart for swim, I watched how the race went. The swimmers look like pushpin heads swarming all over. I am imagining myself doing it. It looks fun but I know it will be tedious work to do 1.5K swim. After seeing Johannah finish, I headed to the Bike Transition Area to assist her then when she's done fixing herself, we headed to the Run Transition Area where we waited for Sally to come in.

It was a dreadful feeling to wait. All the tension I felt when most cyclist already came to the transition area to run. We are worried that Sally might have encountered technical issues with her bike since it's already old and I remembered she told us her Bike Shoes are cracked.

After 2 hours Sally came in and the adrenalin rush started to kick in, maybe not that but all the Sports Drink and the Gel that I have been sipping while waiting just in case she came in anytime I'm already loaded.

I ran in sprint for the first 1 kilometers and that's the biggest mistake I did. I wasn't warmed up and I am not used to the pace so my legs became so sore. I tried walking briskly with it but it still is sore so I walked a few minutes to ease it.

While going to my first loop, I saw two ambulances hurrying to the end of the road. I heard those who are going back that someone fell down and might have had a heart attack. I was wishing it wasn't true but I saw from afar that they are lifting a man to the ambulance. Though this is possible given the condition. At 9AM it was already super scorching hot. The road is so rocky and there's no trees or any shade along the route.

On the first 5 Kilometers I was struggling since it really takes a while for me to warm up, the next kilometers my legs are starting to cooperate, but the heat is starting to get to me. It heat is not only from the rays of the sun, but mostly from the ground. I started to feel goosebumps all over. My vision starts to blur a bit. I am getting so warm.

At the second loop, I saw Sir Eric going back and told me I still got 30 minutes to finish. When I looked at my clock I still need to do 4 Kilometers. My mind is already boggled. 4K in 30 minutes in this extreme weather and condition? Geez! I how can I do this?

At this time, I was always looking at my watch to monitor my pace. To get to the finishline, I need to maintain an average of 7 mins/K pace or else I won't make it. This is not my usual pace so I find it so hard to maintain. I keep on closing my eyes, syncing my breath and blows to keep my lungs from bursting off. Walking is not an option so I need to keep myself cool by showering cold water from the Hydration Stations.

I was feeling so tired already at the last 1 Kilometer. Some triathletes are cheering me along the way. When I saw the timer at the finishline with 2 minutes to go before the 4 hour cut off, I managed to sprint and surprisingly, I made it!

It was the hardest 10K of my life and amazingly I even beat my PR. Handling the relay medals to me teammates makes me feel that I am the hero that day. If I didn't make it for sure I'll take the blame for not making it. Team Triabetics Women's Relay Team represents and finished!

Some photos from the race:

With one of my idol and inspiration, Coach Arnel Aba
Playing at the Run Transition Area with Johanah and Kat while waiting for the Bikers to come in

Thanks to Unilab Active Health, especially to Ms. Janice Ianne Miguel and Ms. Claire Papa for the never ending generosity and belief in my cause. To my Team Triabetics Family for always supporting us. To the staff of Bike King for the smooth and organized race from registration, race kit claiming and up to end of the race. To Sally and Johannah for the teamwork and the great time. To my Mom who's always my number one supporter and most especially to God who provided me with the strength to finish the race no matter how hard is it.

I did not remove the check in band for two days! LOL! :P

After seeing the whole process of how Triathlon works, I now have an idea what to expect if the time comes that I'll do the whole three legs on my own. For now, I'll just focus on training for swim and bike, the two disciplines that I'm not good at so to prepare for my first official triathlon, individually, soon...

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^

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