not until i watched my first olympic-distance triathlon last saturday was i able to disabuse myself of these ideas -- or fantasies, if you will -- that triathletes must be gods and goddesses among men and women. i've always thought that they must be the most physically fit athletes across all disciplines, so much so that i've boxed them into certain body types, and perhaps, even a given age group. not until last saturday did i quickly throw away these silly assumptions, and realized that they do come in all shapes, forms, sizes, waist lines, body fat percentages, and age groups. i'd actually chided my friends roy and don about the lifestyle that has collected around their bellies, but if they had taken a group photo with all these other triathletes in their body-hugging tri-suits, they would not have appeared like kaldereta stains on an immaculate white wedding gown.
the SCTex: more than 90 kilometers of smooth driving
friday afternoon, we left for subic via the SCTex. it's my second time to pass through this long obsidian tongue, and i am still amazed how it cuts through several mountains, how it is supported by several spans, how smooth it is, and how uneventful the drive is that there are times when it gets a little sleepy. other than don and roy, orland was also in the olympic-distance category of the ITU asian long distance triathlon. between us four, we had 2 SUVs, 3 expensive road bikes, a set of gear priced so ridiculously they would shock high-rolling fashionistas, and an average waistline of 32. the minute we arrived in subic, it was only getting dark. they got their racing bibs and we left the pasta party to look for accommodation. when i peaked inside the hall, i saw all these rich people in their corporate-sponsored uniforms.
at first we checked the lighthouse. something was going on and apparently, they were shooting an episode of an upcoming jericho rosales starrer (with a malaysian beauty, though i'm not sure if this is the girl he's rumored to be seeing). the rooms were very pricey so we left, and roy told me the receptionist must have concluded: just because you speak good english doesn't make you rich. someone recognized me at the lobby though: a beauty contestant who's an extra on the episode. on our way out, jericho was blocking the exit. so i said, "excuse me jericho," and he moved without looking.
my racers at our P3500/night accommodations | at pier 1 subic
we then decided on getting the room over at daddy ed's. i learned about this from gid when we went to capones a few weeks ago and stopped by daddy ed's for breakfast. i'd recommend it to everyone: 3 queen sized beds, cable TV, a toilet, a kitchen, and a 24 hour restaurant just below. i can fit 12 people there easily! after dinner, i tucked my tri-athletes to sleep and waited for the second batch of supporters to arrive. and when mardel, momoy and kuya mar came, there was no way we'd go gentle into the good night. we drank a few rounds at pier 1 just beside daddy ed's, and instead of a whole case of beer, i opted for a frozen margarita and a long island. they must have been very strong, or i may have been very tired, because i fell asleep on the table, and suddenly stood up, walked up to the room and slept! the next thing i knew was that the racers were up and getting ready for an early breakfast, while i muttered something about not being able to take their picture at 5:30am. they left the room saying the race starts at 7.
so at around 6:30am, momoy and i were walking under a slight drizzle towards the starting line, and just as we arrived, we heard the gun go off, and the men competing in the olympic distance category jumped into the water for their 1.5km swim. the course at the subic bay was a weird trapezoid: 600m forward, 300m parallel to the beach, and then 600m back. as i was scrambling to take pictures of the girls, another gun went off. so we had to wait for the racers to emerge from the water. maybe 600m doesn't look too daunting but roy was saying he almost wanted himself rescued. don meanwhile said that his swim consisted of about 30% freestyle, 50% breaststroke, and 20% rope. he'd held on to the buoys and rope designating the course.
miguel lopez, tri coach to the stars and fellow mountaineer | senator pia cayetano
first out of the water was orland, who's been training like crazy for next year's ironman. but many other familiar faces came ahead of him, like igue, chari, pia (the senator) and fernando (zobel de ayala, mind you). orland looked pretty intense, like most professional athletes are, who are in a particular zone, and don't bother about papparazzi. in contrast, don emerged from the water, a little dazed perhaps, his bike jersey unzipped, and smiling, almost laughing, probably thinking: what have i gotten myself into, or did i just swim 1.5km, or i can't believe i'm still alive. roy swore that when he looked at how deep the bay was, he was seriously scared. don took his sweet time at the transition area, knowing fully well that at that point, he wasn't about to crash into the medal standings, and that his greatest competition at this time was himself.
don and roy zip past
when roy finished the swim, he took it slowly, taking a shower, and carefully, if not meticulously putting on his helmet and bike shoes. "congratulations roy! there are at least 5 people behind you! you're not last!" i screamed. so much for being support crew. up next was a 40km bike race. at this point, we walked back to daddy ed's for breakfast. and we were gingerly taking our time, knowing they won't be back till about after an hour and 20 minutes after they started the bike. the skies were still overcast, and there were intermittent showers, so the roads are possibly slippery.
roy and don tackle the run 2.3kms at a time
we waited at the turn for our friends, and within minutes, orland passed by. after a brief moment, roy. and i was surprised that don hadn't passed yet. he's a very strong cyclist, and his calves are the size of logs, so i was concerned why he was overtaken. he came around a little later, and when they started the 10km run around a 2.3km loop, he explained that his chain was severed, and he had to do repairs, shortening it by 3 links, which made him slower on flat terrain. so they ran the course, and my primary role there really, if not to provide comic relief, was to take photos, provide moral support, and ask them if they had any needs. from time to time, i handed roy his pocari sweat, and even rushed back to the room to get don some alaxan gel for his cramps.
then our racers were down to their last loop, we rushed to the finish line and dutifully froze for eternity (maybe) the time they touched the tape. roy came in about 7 minutes after orland, and don finished 16 minutes after roy crossed the finish line. they all finished under 4 hours, and the 3 averaged just over 3 hours and 20 minutes. that doesn't make them competition material, but from my observation, i think a triathlon is more than just ending up first. one could be last, and the satisfaction might just as well be the same. it's all about grit and determination, committing one's self to the pains of 3 different and highly-exacting sporting disciplines, and pursuing a goal to finish. and when you finally cross the finish line, the pleasure of one's accomplishment far outweighs the collective pains of all those kilometers on land and on water.
congratulations to don, roy, and orland. for everyone's information, it was the first time that don and roy took part in an event like this. roy and orland broke-in their new road bikes at this event, and i joked that roy signed up just so he could buy a new bike. these lightweight bikes are lovely to look at, have wheels thin as razors, and cost a bundle. i'd love to join you guys but two things prevent me: the water and the prohibitive cost of those road bikes. but anytime you're possessed by this idea, let me know. i'd be happy to tag along and take pictures.
pink triathlete | the exception, rather than the rule
fernando zobel de ayala. no bodyguards, no pretensions. just love for triathlon.
the fitness first tri team with my pañero chito | UPLB trantados: 49% triathlete, 51% alcohol