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The experience of participating in any triathlon (Ironman Full/Half; Sprint, OD) is all about the ride. Just coming off from Ironman France - 7 weeks later, I felt very strong. I did a string of half marathons, brick runs with speedy 20k loop, and even some sprints on the bike; although I totally didn't go to swimming class. I loaded up on Magnesium, flax seed and other multi-mineral supplements. I felt that this race with all I've done would be under 6 hours. WRONG! 3 weeks back, I had a spill in the rain and bruised my right hip. I went to the physio and she said that my muscle was weak from the accident and couldn't keep my hip aligned causing a clicking sound whenever I bent my hips. Fortunately, it didn't really hurt but was annoying.
Initially, I was quite concerned about travel arrangements once I arrived at Legaspi which is 80km from the venue. But, after calling them, I was more comfortable to hear that a bus would be arranged. So, I headed out late on a Friday for Manila Philippines and would arrive around 1AM and re-board at 6AM. It's not ideal as I would have preferred proper sleep at a hotel. I couldn't really sleep in the airport, so I did a power nap on the way to Legaspi. After landing, I was really surprised by the welcoming committee. They had the banners and lei in the airport and outside a band with cheerleaders. Way cool. Once arrived, my good friend I met in Singapore 70.3, Ebbie, was able to get a villa at Camarine Sur Watersports Center. It was really close and convenient to registration and transition. I grabbed some grub as I had very little to eat and assembled my bicycle as I waited for Ebbie to arrive. Ebbie really showed me great hospitality and got a car for us to recce the bike route. At 45k, the turn around point, we stopped and grabbed some snaps of us painting the dot M. It was great painting the town red!
I got up at 3:30AM and prepared my final steps. I took my tire pump and other gear to the bike transition area. I went through the usual laundry list. The funny thing is that my run bag was in the bike area, so I removed my KSO VFF shoes out of the bag to save some time. I had nothing in my bike bag as everything was mounted and ready to go on the bike. I was really feeling good about transition time as this sometimes can easily creep up to 5 minutes based on location from the swim and locating the bags. There was a big bullfrog in front of my bike. I wasn't sure if it was the triathlon 'gods' telling me I would have a decent race. I headed back to the villa and Ebbie had some guys from CMC to deliver hot water. It was nice since I could have my morning oatmeal breakfast. Afterwords, I did a double check on the bike setup and then headed to the man made wake-boarding lake.
The swim is comprised of two segments. The first lake is bigger and at a distance of 1.25km; and the second being smaller was 550m meters. I saw a lot of swimmers holding onto the ropes while swimming. As usually, there was much jostling for space; but it wasn't just at the beginning but the whole race. Many swimmers seemed to constantly push on my legs and feet. My camera wasn't really adjusted properly, so I wasn't able to finger out anyone particularly - next time; I will make sure and create a most wanted for swimming worse than me. Once I came out of the water, I completed the first lake in 34 minutes. Doing the math, it would be another 15 minutes until I completed the second, or that's what I would think. The second lake was really murky and brown. There were a few times where my hands could touch the sand, I think it would have been faster walking.. It turns out my total time was 53:43 minutes. Boo hoo. I will blame it on my go-pro and my ability to swim like a rock! As a note, my pool time without wetsuit is around 45:00 minutes...
This required only belt and helmet, no transition bag. Off I went...
The transition into the bike segment was great. Under 2 minutes to get my stuff and onto the bike. The initial road out has a lot of twists and turns, but once outside of the complex, it was easy to keep the speed. The weather looked good with a cloudy overcast. I was really happy with my first 20km. Kilometer #4/#5 were exceptionally fast (maybe downhill); both under 1:40km/hr. The next 10km has somewhat a uphill to it and I was 30km/hr for most of it. The next part until hitting back to the small hill was on average 1:55km/hr. I remember a lot of back-and-forth between the other cyclists. During this part it was heavy rain all the way through. Somewhere around 60km, my garmin turned off. I mean - come on... This is a race and it's the 310XT - water proof but not with rain? Anyways, everything changed after 80km: I decided to start overtaking a guy in front and headed toward the middle of the lane. I saw another cyclist 100m in front on the other side of the road and didn't take too much of thought until my wheel hugged the uneven slope in the middle of the road. It kept on hugging and I tried to get out of the 'groove', but I couldn't hold on and the bike tilted left. Take a look at the video! I think it should explain what happened next.. It appears after I fell, as it should be obvious; my time was around 30km/hr on a very flat final finish. I did have a small abrasion on my left hip and arm, but no blood. Overall, I am glad that the fall went so smoothly. But, that's what it's all about - triathlon is about overcoming problems and moving on with your life.
Transition here was seemless. It didn't take too long to put on my KSO Vibram Five Fingers. I decided to use this version of VFF because the sole is a bit thicker and I heard that there were some dirt roads meaning more rocks. I am glad I did!
The run went rather good for the first 10km. My first split was 4:30, which is pretty fast. I told myself to slow down and overall maintained around a 5:30/km for the next 9km. Then I smelled trouble.. my quads above the knee were in spasms and I had no salt because it was washed out by the torrential rain on the bike. Next time I will make sure to carry more than required salt tablets. My time slowed down ferociously to a walk-shuffle pace. There were plenty of drinking stops; every 1.5km and the local crowd was quite amusing especially them shouting out 'camera'. At the end, I passed a local Hong Kong triathlete woman that I wouldn't expect to beat. I guess she was having a harder day than I.
I went to see the therapist 5 days later to fix my injury to the right hip. Wow, it's cool to know about your body... It appears from the fall, it created some stress on my lumbar area - this is probably the reason why I my shoulder became very tired after 12km. So, the fall had an impact on my performance... Sometimes finishing is considered a WIN.
Camarine Sur Water Complex is a great venue. I would definitely do it again and beat my time. I was really hoping to get low 5:30-5:45. Hey~~ I'm cool with my time. That's the great thing about being a wannabe professional amateur triathlete. (This is someone who trains like a professional, but has no pressure from sponsorship)
Also congrats to those who participated from Hong Kong...
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