Life in the Fast Lane


Tri-Ing Together

By 7:16 AM , , , , , , , ,

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.

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