Part 1: Play Hard
When I got the opportunity to race the Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay with two of my teammates from Team Endure, I couldn’t say no. Being part of a relay at a triathlon has always been fun and pressure-free for me. It’s an opportunity to work together as a team in this often very individual and lonesome sport, you can go as hard as you want in your chosen leg without being afraid of blowing the other two legs, and it’s just a great excuse to be away for an active weekend without overtiring yourself.
Normally I prefer arriving at the venue of a half-ironman about three days before race day, but since Subic is so near to Manila I opted to shave it close and arrive on Friday morning just in time for the first official bike recon ride. (Many other athletes arrived on Saturday morning — way too stressful and also you miss the carbo-loading dinner hahaha!)
It was a very easy short ride led by Makoy Almanzor of the race committee and he basically just showed us where we would be exiting out of Transition 1, where we would pass heading to Tipo Expressway to exit Subic and enter the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and where we would pass to get into Transition 2. This was my most mentally taxing task of the day, because the rest of the day was spent shopping and hanging out at the expo, with just a short swim prior at the WOW Pool beside Remy Field. It was pretty much a very chilled-out day.
Speaking of the carbo-loading dinner on Friday night, only registered participants with wristbands would be allowed to eat, but relay team members would have to register together. Unfortunately, my teammates were arriving only the next day and this would have meant I couldn’t go to the dinner. But thanks to the Sunrise crew for allowing relay members to pick up their wristbands separately — I thoroughly enjoyed the free food!
I said hello to Belinda Granger, who was solo in the Philippines for the first time because Justin couldn’t travel due to a punctured lung. I always look forward to seeing her at our Ironman 70.3 races and it’ll be such a change next year when she enters full retirement from competition.
The banner athlete of this event was none other than 3-time Ironman world champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander, and when he popped into the dinner I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a photo.
At least I had a full meal at dinner, because the next morning I couldn’t exactly have a big breakfast. I needed a trim waistline for the Century Tuna Superbods Underpants Run! There would be two pairs of winners — local athletes (male and female) and foreign athletes (male and female). The winners would take home the Century Tuna Superbods Awards and win USD $500 each. Century Tuna would match the amount of the total prizes and donate this to a beneficiary that will be chosen by the local government of Subic.
As expected it was completely silly, all in good fun, and made for some memorable photos of the Superbods and “Superbads”.
The prize would go not to the fastest, but to the ones certain judges deemed as having a bangin’ bod. The one rule we had for the 2-kilometer run from Remy Field to the Lighthouse Marina Resort was that we would have to run as a pack, so the pace would have to be reasonable for everyone to stay together. As the host Chiqui Reyes told us, one person running solo in their underwear would be weird!
If there were a prize for “Most Outrageous” it should have gone to Frank Lacson and Monica Torres, who were both in legit underwear.
We thought the Superbods Underpants Run was just a side event for the Ironman 70.3. Little did we know it would get so much attention. Check out this article on Gist. It also wound up on the front page of a broadsheet — and guess who was front and center?
At the finish line, Century Tuna fed us some delicious tuna sandwiches and VitaCoco juice, which was great to refuel with. I then went to meet my teammates to register as a relay team at the expo.
As swag bags go, the one from this race was quite heavy and full of free stuff from Century Tuna, Belo, Sante Barley, Gatorade, and other sponsors. (Dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner? No excuse not to smell clean and fresh!) I divvied up the race essentials between us: swim cap, timing chip, and bike bag went to John, bib number went to Sugz and me, run bag went to Sugz, and bike stickers went to me. We also each had a pair of number tattoos.
It was after lunch when I headed to Transition 1 to check my bike in. The sun was out in full with not a cloud in the sky. It pained me to think about the next day when there would still be people on the run at that time. Ouch!
After checking my bike in and stalking some of the pros’ bikes, I went to see the swim start and exit. On race day I would be stuck at the relay team tent and wouldn’t be able to catch the action, so I wanted to see how it was all laid out.
While the swim was at the Sands of Triboa Beach Resort (formerly Dungaree) which is the site of so many other triathlon swims, they had dressed it up in a way that totally transformed what usually looks like a construction area due to ongoing renovations.
After this I headed back to the expo to catch the Meet the Pros press conference. There, the Aussie host Pete Murray interviewed each of the numerous pros in attendance (the largest pro field in any triathlon in the Philippines) and we found out that Caroline Steffen, a pre-race favorite, was ill and wouldn’t be able to race. Belinda told me that Caroline had gotten some bad food poisoning and had an IV in her arm due to dehydration. Poor girl!
After the presscon, Crowie was set to sign copies of his coffeetable book As the Crow Flies. I had already read my friend Joel’s copy of this book in 2012, but I bought a copy to be autographed. Crowie’s wife Neri even took our photo!
It all felt almost like I wasn’t going to race the next day and I was just at some kind of triathlon convention where we could meet our heroes. But that’s what’s so great about triathlon: we get to mingle with the pros and race on the same day on the same course as they do!
I’d felt very relaxed and pressure-free those two days. But on race day I was really going to put in the work.