Life in the Fast Lane


I was given the opportunity to write about my relay team's Ironman Subic 70.3 experience last March in the April-June issue of RaceDay Triathlon magazine. And over the weekend, in another race (Subic International Triathlon), where the magazines were being distributed, I was finally able to read it for myself.

Giddy with glee with Krissy, after finally seeing the published issue

Thank you to RaceDay for the opportunity (particularly, editor-in-chief Monching Romano); to my teammates for letting me share this story; to our other teammates for all the encouragement; to the Lord for this blessing; and to my family and friends for all their support.

Below is the article I submitted (prior to editing; for word count purposes, LOL):

exclaimed Kacci, as her clammy hand took mine shortly before we claimed our race kits last March 11, the day before Century Tuna Ironman 70.3. We walked inside the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) where every nook and cranny of the venue screamed triathlon. From the huge branded banners and tarpaulins, to the line of triathletes waiting to register, to the expo booths, it was a sight to behold.

For first-timer, and even more-than-once-timer triathletes, any race is bound to make you feel antsy, jittery, and excited. And in our case, we were a bundle of different emotions as we checked in for the race.

The cast of characters making up our all-female relay team were myself, a former competitive swimmer; Elaine, a mountain bike hobbyist-turned-road cycling fanatic; and Kacci, a gym rat whose running potential was only discovered last year. Rounding up our Poveda Tri Team contingent was Krissy, our teammate who wasn’t signed up for the race, but acted as our support crew for the weekend.

Tri Influence
Each of us already had prior race experiences before signing up for this event; we had done individual sprint triathlons and relayed in different long distance triathlons and Ironman 70.3’s, with one of us even joining her first marathon earlier this year (and crossing the finish line as the first female finisher). However, this was the first time that the three of us would relay together. “It’s our birthday race!” Kacci would remind us, being that our birthdays were close to one another’s.

None of us ever imagined that this would become our lifestyle: regular training, monitoring what we’d eat, and signing up for races. Like most age groupers, each of us has day jobs with varying degrees of toxicity and stress. However, as our team continued to grow through the years, we were recruited at different times based on our “specializations” to form multiple relay teams; eventually, the goal was for us to learn the other sports and become full-fledged triathletes ourselves.

Eyeing the Competition
“Siya ba yun?” whispered Elaine during the race briefing in SBECC. We looked around us and saw the different teams clad in their tech shirts. Given what we knew, we tried to analyze the competition in the all-female relay category. Admittedly, we had high hopes for our team and our individual performances, but we also tried to manage our expectations. Weeks before this race, each of us encountered different setbacks: I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition, Elaine came down with the flu and couldn’t train for several days, and Kacci was injured after her marathon. But none of these hindrances stopped us from recovering, getting back into training, and raring to give this race our best shot.

We tried to relax and enjoy as much as we could the rest of that day before the race. We had a laidback afternoon of shopping, meeting up with people, and fangirling over the pro triathletes. After an early dinner in the hotel, we laid our things out on the hotel room floor to visualize what we needed for the following day. And since Krissy also does RockTape services, we had ourselves taped, just in case any of our injuries decided to manifest themselves while racing.

None of us slept well that night. I worried about whether or not I would hit my target time and about the swim course. Elaine was freaking out over the highly technical bike course as well as its sheer length, plus the heat. Kacci was antsy over the idea of running in the middle of the day and if she would also hit her target time. Each of us had projected times that we wanted to fulfill and all the uncertainties were daunting.

Moment of Truth
It was 5am when Krissy (our designated driver, photographer, and sherpa), Elaine, and I made our way to Acea. As we drove to the beach, we felt the chill in the air and I hoped that this temperature would last all the way ‘til noon for the sake of my relaymates. Elaine went to T1 to check on her bike while Krissy and I stayed in the car. Eventually restlessness took over, and I decided to check out the action on the beach. Elaine met up with us briefly before we parted ways so she could prepare in T1. At the height of my nervousness, Krissy and I were given the rare treat to actually meet Caroline Steffen, who had placed her bag beside mine on the sand. This fangirl moment definitely gave me a boost before heading to my coral in the swim start.

Initially, I had wanted to position myself with faster swimmers in case I could keep up with them, but after a bit of an internal debate, I chose to join those with similar times as mine. The swim was — thankfully — painless in the washing machine department. It was also long, choppy at times, but relatively easy. The sun hitting my eyes on my way back made me drift away from the rest of the group, but after getting back into position, I found my groove once again and managed a PR swim.

Yours truly after my 1.9 kilometer swim
Photo © FinisherPix

It was an uphill run towards the relay tent, and a slow one since I got lost zigzagging through all the bikes. Once the timing chip was turned over to Elaine in T1, I prayed that she would have a safe and injury-free ride.

When we transferred to T2 at SBECC this time with Kacci, we started to monitor the female relay cyclists who were already making their way back. “Pang-ilan na ba siya?” Krissy would ask, referring to the cyclists who had passed their timing chips to their runners. Every now and then we would look at our Garmins, wondering where Elaine was along the bike course. When she didn’t return at the time she projected she would, we started to worry. But we breathed a sigh of relief when we finally saw her and the timing chip was turned over to Kacci in almost no time. Elaine spewed her frustration over the insane heat, the crosswinds, and the “unli-ahon” from SCTEX all the way back to Subic.

Elaine in T2 after her 90K bike leg
Photo © Tina Araneta

Minutes later and after Elaine’s outfit change, we walked over to the finish line, knowing more or less when Kacci would head back. By then, we were already seeing a few all-female relay teams running together to the finish. Likewise, Kacci also didn’t make it back at the precise minute she projected, but she wasn’t far off considering the heat and hilly Subic run course. To our surprise, we saw her smiling from ear to ear, her ponytail bobbing in that signature way it does when she runs, and we proudly held hands all the way to the finish line before we let Kacci cross it first.

Kacci in the middle of her 21K run leg
Photo © FinisherPix

“We did it!” Kacci exclaimed giddily.

Crossing the finish line as a relay team
Photo © Photo-Ops/Tong Pascua

That, we surely did, after all those months of anticipation and preparation.

The Hangover
Days later, the high of our “birthday race” is still there; it was meaningful because of the overall experience, but also because we had bonded intensely by updating each other every single day before the race. We may not have taken a podium spot, but we were happy with our performance and learned so many lessons. We also felt really grateful for the support and care Krissy provided us throughout the entire race weekend, as well as for the cheers and prayers from our teammates, family, and friends back home.

After crossing the finish line
Photo © Tina Araneta

While we already have our own races lined up for the next few months, we know that a relay is a different kind of experience altogether; one that not even doing the entire swim-bike-run by oneself can compete with. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to the next time we can “tri” together as a relay team, and hopefully kick butt then.
Over the weekend, my siblings and I did something different to our usual Baguio routine. Instead of our typical agenda that would usually consist of vegetating, eating, and occasionally working out in the gym, we added a hiking day trip to our schedule.

My sister was the one who initiated this trip to Mt. Ulap since: 1) she has recently taken up hiking (and had gone on a hike in Mt. Hugom, Batangas just 2 weeks ago); and 2) she found out that Mt. Ulap is just 40 minutes away from Baguio. We decided that the five of us siblings (including our sister-in-law) would go, and our parents would stay behind in Baguio to babysit our 2-year-old nephew.

On Saturday, before most of us could even process the fact that it was morning, we drove 40 minutes out of Baguio and into Benguet and registered for the hike in the district of Itogon. It cost about P250 per head for the registration fee, including the fee for our guide. After paying and signing up, we started the trek.

There were several groups doing the same thing we were doing, but thankfully it wasn't a crowded hike. We were able to space things out in such a way that groups weren't overtaking each other. And except for one long wait to take pictures (particularly in the second summit), the number of people didn't deter us from enjoying the experience.

Anyway, I digress. Going back to the actual hike!

Let me begin with a disclaimer. None of us are actual hikers. My sister has recently turned into a hiking enthusiast after 5+ hikes, including a weekend in Anawangin, Zambales. But the rest of us had minimal to zero hiking experiences prior to this trip.

I used to be a TV show junkie; a real pro at it, in fact. I could spend hours just marathoning a particular show, and watching old favorites all over again. Nowadays, though, I have less time to watch TV shows (and I've completely lost track of the shows I used to watch which are still airing, like Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds).

However, if there is just one show that I've been glued to for the past few weeks, it's this one.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post; Mizuno provided me with a pair of Wave Rider 20's to review. I am, in no way, a professional runner or triathlete, but I am a huge fan of the multisport world and love talking about and trying different accessories and gadgets that can help me improve as an amateur athlete.

For most of my running and multisport life, many of you would know that I've been used to running with a certain brand. I've stuck with it because I felt that it reduced (or eliminated) the symptoms of my foot injuries, and to be perfectly honest, aesthetics-wise, I loved all their designs.

However, I won't close my doors on other brands that can elevate or enhance my performance. Especially when it comes to running, which is my weakest discipline out of the three in triathlon.

So when Mizuno Philippines reached out to me to ask if I could try out their newest shoe, of course I didn't hesitate.

It's been a pretty interesting year so far.

Photo from here.

I've been "quiet" on the blogging front because as some of you might or might not have heard, around the third week of January, I was told to take some time away from work and from training to rest, and to undergo certain procedures to find out what medical condition I had.

Without going into too much detail, I had been facing a feminine kind of challenge (let's leave it at that). Apart from this, for several months, I noticed that I hadn't been sleeping well (I would wake up at 2am almost every night, even on the nights I was tired from long hours at work and even if I had to wake up in a few hours to train or to race), my weight was dropping quickly, and I was prone to inexplicable anxiety and nervousness.

As someone who thought knew herself pretty well and had some "mastery" over her own body (especially being an athlete), it was, needless to say, a daunting period for someone like me. I wrestled with uncertainty, fear, more anxiety, and restlessness. Apart from this, to be honest, I had lots of questions about God's character; not just because of what was happening to me, but because I could see how people around me were going and had been through lots of difficulty and suffering.

While I was waiting for my official diagnosis, God taught me a few things, which I'd like to share. And if this blesses you and enlightens you in any way, then all praises be to Him!

  1. The importance of REST. Many times, we think we can do it all and keep it up. Until something catches your attention and makes you realize that you're not immortal; neither are you a robot. Rest and time for oneself are important and shouldn't be neglected; best not to wait for a rude awakening before prioritizing this.
  2. That you are never fully in control of any situation, your future, and what happens to you; He is. We can plan all we want, dream all we want, calendar our activities and events all we want, but sometimes, God will get your attention and make you realize that you can only do so much. He is the Ultimate Planner of our lives, of what happens to us.
  3. The right (or at least, the better) way to pray. From prayers that are more self-fulfilling, He will lead you to be more selfless, more open to what His will is.
  4. Faith is really NOT based on feelings. If this were the case, then I truly wonder how many of us would still be faith-filled by now. It's really a matter of surrendering, of dying to self, ESPECIALLY when doubt creeps in.
  5. That God is truly good. For a time, I actually did wonder if He really wanted me to be well or if He really wanted me to go through that period (pun somewhat intended) of anxiety just to test me. Screwed up theology, I know. After some time of praying and reflecting on His Word, I realized that God is really a rewarder and that He loves nothing more than to make and see His children happy; in a perfect, un-"fallen" world, suffering really wouldn't have existed anyway. But His will really is different from what we can ever imagine or think, so we just have to trust that come what may, everything that happens to us is for our own good and eventual happiness.
By God's grace, the worst of my fears didn't materialize, and I'm currently on medication (with a few dietary restrictions) for hyperthyroidism. It is a hormonal imbalance caused by an excessive production of the thyroid hormone. It was a nasty cycle wherein stress was the biggest trigger of this condition, but having hyperthyroidism (and its symptoms, such as anxiety, lack of appetite, drastic mood swings, palpitations, etc.) also added to my stress. Which, in turn, messed up my feminine cycle in a big way.

This is my new "normal", but one that I'm grateful to deal with. It could have been much, much worse, so I'm thankful that God used this time of rest and body "rebooting" to fix me — not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and more importantly, spiritually.

I'm now back at work and slowly easing my way back into my usual training regimen. Please say a prayer as I figure out how to balance things more efficiently, without compromising my health and overall wellness.

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone! And may it be as stress-free as possible.
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