Life in the Fast Lane


Mission Accomplished

By 9:05 AM , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I'm still in awe (and in shock) that finally, finally, the moment I had long been waiting for arrived.

Photo credits:

I finally crossed the finish line of my first-ever triathlon. After what seemed like years of slowly building up my endurance to be able to swim, bike, and run in succession, I am finally a "triathlete"; a newbie, granted, but one who can't wait to take on future challenges. (So sorry for the overuse of "finally", but I hope you get why!)

But first, let me backtrack a bit and chronicle what happened the day before and day of the race:

November 22, one day before race day, my family (practically everyone decided to come to support me, which was great) and I checked in to our hotel, and I went to the race venue itself in Fontana, Pampanga, to pick up my race kit. That was when it really dawned on me that I was doing this, I couldn't back out anymore, that I had no choice but to push through with this.

Had dinner out with my family (enjoyed almost two and a half plates of pasta; gotta love carbo-loading!), double checked all of my race gear, and said good night to my bike, which was also rooming in the hotel with me.

The following day, I had to leave really early for bike check-in (my family would be following a bit later). I was strangely calm, as if I could sense God's presence. I had prayed the night before for Him to calm my nerves and to just give me peace throughout the whole event. I was nervous, needless to say, also because I'd heard so many horror stories of bike crashes or bike mishaps, but on race day itself, I was surprisingly okay.

It also helped that I saw familiar faces — competitor-friends, church and multisport friends, and friends who were equally supporting their loved ones who were racing.

As with any triathlon, the swim leg was up first. I was very confident that I would do well here since swimming has always been my forte (ever since I first became a competitive swimmer in the 3rd grade). My strategy was to simply let the other swimmers go ahead because I had plans of eventually catching up when they'd slow down — I do have my scheming side, after all! — then overtake them. I didn't want to start off by swimming alongside the rest of the pack, only to get kicked on the face a la "the washing machine effect" (as triathletes call it).

I kept a steady pace all throughout. I had to remind myself to stop from sprinting, lest I tire myself out too early in the race; after all, the bike leg was up next.

It became a neck-and-neck competition for this swimmer and me, but I managed to overtake her in the second to the last lap of our 600m swim.

I could see my cheering squad clicking away and shouting my name while swimming my last lap. I managed to catch up with the male swimmers from the previous heat, plus some of the female swimmers of my heat who had yet to do a second loop of laps. By God's grace, I was able to accomplish my goal!

According to my family and friends who'd watched, I was probably second out of the water in my heat. By my estimation (based on my watch, at least), I finished my 600m swim in roughly 13 minutes.

I got to T1 (transition from swim to bike) and struggled to put on my helmet, cycling shoes, shades, and race bib. Then I felt my legs turning rubbery the first few meters of my bike ride. Unfortunately, I didn't really get to practice brick workouts of swim to bike, so this was a big factor for me starting my bike leg much slower than I envisioned.

I didn't foresee that the bike course would be practically 60% steadily downhill and 40% gradually uphill. Since uphill cycling is really not a strength of mine, it was rough.

Given that I lacked practice in the swim-to-bike transition department, plus the uphill climb, I went so much slower than my usual pace; so much so that I went over by almost 20 minutes compared to my usual pace for a 30-kilometer cycle.

But at least one of the race photographers finally got to capture me in action! Chalk this up to being extremely shallow, but this is my first-ever "action shot" while cycling (since I'd already done races for swimming and running, I was looking forward to this).

Photo credits: Team Maxxis-Sante Barley

Back in T2 (transition from bike to run), off went my helmet and cycling shoes and on went my cap, my running shoes, and my tiny hydration bottle.

I was confident — or so I thought — that I'd do well in the run; especially after having done a 16K just two weeks before. But I hadn't anticipated how hot it would be, and how some parts of the run course had almost zero shade. Every time I'd pass a hydration station, I'd ask the attendants to pour water over me.

I saw that I had gone over my usual time by 15 minutes, which was atrocious, but I didn't care anymore. As soon as I saw the finish line, I was simply overjoyed. I knew that I was steps away from being a triathlon finisher.

It gave me such a boost to see my family waiting by the side of the finish line. Definitely couldn't have done this without their support. I missed my other brother, sister-in-law, and baby nephew, though, but since he was only 5 weeks old as of this weekend, of course I'd prefer that he stay home.

I crossed that finish line with my arms up high as if I were an Ironman gold medalist and not a sprint distance finisher. I was just relieved that this was over, that I had ticked off another item from my bucket list, that I didn't injure myself, that my bike didn't crash nor experience any mechanical problems, and that I was seconds away from receiving my first-ever triathlon finisher's medal.

It was a sweet feeling, no doubt about it.

Now this finisher's medal hangs beside all my other race bibs (I've kept each and every one) and finisher's medals and I can't wait to collect more of these.

Thanks to the Lord who makes all things possible (including converting someone with asthma and plantar fasciitis into a runner, plus providing the means for me to purchase my road bike earlier this year); thanks to my family who always supported me; and thanks to my friends, colleagues, and Poveda Tri teammates for cheering on during the event itself, on cyberspace, and from their corners of the city.

I have one more race before the year comes to a close (being the sucker that I am, I signed up for one more run on December 14th along with my teammates from Poveda Tri), but I'm already looking forward to the 2015 race calendar. In particular, I'm already on the lookout for my next triathlon event, and I also hope to join more aquathlons and maybe even close 2015 with a half-marathon.

I guess you can say that I'm hooked, and I can't help but keep TRI-ing.

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