Challenge Philippines 2015 (Part 2)

I dove into the cold waters of Ilanin Bay. It was a long way to the first turn buoy, about a kilometer, but I wanted to break free of the struggle happening around me. I surged ahead and fought for position.

The swim work I’d done started to pay off. Sure, the fast ones still got away, but I didn’t get stuck amid flailing arms and thrashing legs in the back. I felt pretty strong through that whole first stretch despite pushing against the current. The new Roka swimskin also contributed a lot to my feeling secure because of less drag (it covered my trisuit pockets) and its compression reminding me to get my legs up higher in the water.

(I also found myself chuckling inwardly as I saw a huge cluster of fast swimmers going off-course ahead of me while I was safely following the buoy line by my lonesome. What use is speed if you don’t sight for yourself, ey?)

The giant red turn buoys made sighting easy even in the morning glare, and it was so easy to find a rhythm I could sustain. The last 300 meters were a joy to swim because I could feel the current now working in our favor, pulling us in toward shore. I managed to shave six (!!!) minutes off my previous swim time on this course, which is actually about 2.1 instead of 1.9 kilometers long.

Challenge Philippines 2015
Into transition! (photo from Gibo Canlas)

Challenge Philippines 2015
Now the real work begins. (photo from Gibo Canlas)


Challenge Philippines 2015 (Part 1)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
— “If”, by Rudyard Kipling

Bits and snippets of this poem crept into my head on the final kilometers of that unforgiving run course, where I faced yet more long hills with the top nowhere in sight. Why did you do this to yourself again? my body cried out to me as I trudged upwards, nearly delirious from the unexpected and unseasonal heat.

Challenge Philippines 2015
uh-oh, here we go… (photo from Gibo Canlas)

Challenge Philippines “Tough”. That was how they had branded it this year, and for good reason. Those of us who had done the inaugural edition were forewarned about the (longer than 1.9 kilometers) swim against a current, the grinding steep hills of Bataan, and the endless undulations of the run course through forest ranger training grounds. And yet there we were again, back for more. Maybe we were trying to prove ourselves against Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, which I first came across while reading triathlon legend Chrissie Wellington‘s autobiography. Those stanzas served as her mantras as she dug deep in each race, going undefeated in all 13 of her races over the ironman distance.

For me, race week started innocuously enough. (more…)

Challenge Philippines: The Elite Field

Challenge Philippines on 21 February 2015
Challenge Philippines on 21 February 2015

Well, the first big race I’ve been preparing for is knocking at the door, and once again I’m rushing to get everything I need together. I don’t know what it is but I always seem to find myself cramming all the needed shopping into the few days leading up to my departure. It’s probably just as well since the taper period gives me enough time to get everything done without the guilt of missing sessions.

It’s also the time most people start stressing out about who they’re competing with. While I’ve already seen my age group start list and given up most hope of replicating the surprise podium finish I scored last year, I’m one of the people who like to keep an eye on the pro field (despite never being able to compete with them). (more…)

Kikay Reviews: Bikers’ Cafe by Blackbeard’s Seafood Island

For the first time in months, I was finally able to return to riding out in the Mall of Asia complex today. It was a perfect day: chilly to start with and just warmed up nicely as I completed 50 kilometers on the bike and ran 3K.

Most people would then pack up their bikes, change out of their sweaty gear, and head home to shower and change for work. But in this traffic-congested city, that extra step of going back home before going to work can easily add another hour’s worth of travel to your commute. I used to have the luxury of showering in a nearby gym, but since I no longer work there, I needed another option.

Bikers’ Cafe opened last year as part of the Seafood Island restaurant in the San Miguel by the Bay complex on Seaside Boulevard, just across the SM Mall of Asia. Raymond Magdaluyo, the restaurateur-turned-triathlete who masterminded the Bataan International Triathlon last year, conceived Bikers’ Cafe as a place where triathletes and cyclists could shower, eat, and hang out.

Bikers' Cafe at San Miguel by the Bay
Bikers’ Cafe


“If You Can’t Perform, Japorm”

I once was covering a cycling event and noticed how few women there were on the starting line. But they looked pretty cool, all sporting their team uniforms and riding some slick bikes. But before they set off, I overheard one of them telling her teammate who was complimenting her on how strong she looked and how she was likely to beat everyone else, “Mukha lang. Diba, ‘If you can’t perform, japorm!'”

For my non-Filipino readers out there, “japorm” is a slang form of the word “porma” which means “fashion” or “style”. If you are “ma-porma“, it means you look stylish or love being fashionable. So basically, the phrase in this context means “If you can’t be fast, look fast!”

Ever since then, I’ve managed to temper all my urges to upgrade bike equipment by stopping to consider whether it would really help me do better, or just look cooler. I can’t deny that the urges are there, though. Triathlon, especially bike-wise, is a sport rich in gadgets and gear and great salesmen, which is why there are people who have more than one bike of the same kind, more than one aero helmet, more than one set of race wheels, etcetera…

NAGT Subic
Not sure if the aero helmet really helps; haven’t been in a wind tunnel test to find out. But it does look fast!