In God I Trust

Saturday, February 15, 2020

I just registered for the Vermosa aquathlon in March because my Boss Above The Clouds ordered me so. When I asked my Boss Father two weeks back for a birthday gift of discernment on how to meet the temporary challenges at work, His curt reply was: Trust Me. I tried to win some battles using intellectual gifts He gave me, but He keeps frustrating me and sending me signs to Trust Him on this one. I can picture Him saying, I got this.

Last week I asked Him how I can split myself and my waking time to do my mountain of tasks. His response to me was a homily about St. Jerome and his miracle of multiplying bread for the hungry orphans. I will find time by giving time. I will multiply time by giving time to all the hungry aspects of myself. 

So I rest when I am tired. I go to museums and buy art books because I miss my art. I drive to my hometown because I want to play with the kids there. I registered in an aquathlon because I love the water and it makes me feel alive.

It is so damn scary not to have full control, but I trust you, Lord.

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I get by with the help of my friends

"Sir, we noticed you haven't come to the gym for the last 90 days, " said the gym rep over the phone. My work-addled mind wanted to scream. First, you disturbed me in the middle of a busy workday. Second, you reminded me of something I want to do more but do not have the time nor energy to do. Third, I was actually in your gym about 3 weeks ago.

Thanks to a triathlon teammate and training buddy, I do manage to part with my bed on occasional Sunday mornings to do some swim, bike or run. The buddy system allows both parties to triumph over drudgery of training by making waking up and sweating out fat more bearable. Through the years, I have shed some of my fierce independence and learned to embrace the kindness of friends. Thanks to my buddy, I actually managed to do a triathlon last year despite my hellish workload.

Before signing up for the 2019 New Clark City Triathlon, I asked my buddy a favor: Can you please be my one-man support crew in case something happens to me during the race, and if I get lucky to finish, can you please drive my spent body back to the metro? That race was supposed to be my first 'major' race 5 months after my hospitalization for congestive heart failure.

It was just a simple sprint tri for me in a grand venue that is New Clark City.  450m pool swim in the aquatic center, 20km bike in the new connector road to SCTEX, and a 5 km run ending in the Athletics stadium. The main challenge was to do this at low heart rate and avoid a spike that may be fatal.

Fifteen minutes before pool start, I plunged into the 50m, deep-all-over pool to test the waters. It was chilly cold. Cold is my waterloo. I actually suffer from skin asthma when weather turns cold. Cold and anxiety can spike my HR. I was so cold and frightened initially that I stopped and clung to the pool wall every 3 meters.  I can hold on to the wall in the first lane, but there are no walls in the second lane!!??? 

Again, I relied on my friend who knew little of my cold clammy anxiety but was watching close from the bleachers. It would be too much of a downer for my support crew if I did not even manage to start. I took comfort that somebody (my friend) would see if I flounder in the swim for any reason. I will also take my sweet time finishing and rest as long as I wanted in between laps. A couple of strong, athletic participants bailed out early (probably less experienced swimmers), but I managed to finish the swim - slow but steady and with no rapid beating of the heart.

For the bike, my twin concerns were the uphills and the heat. These can make my HR rapidly shoot up. On my first hill, I was using my lowest gear and praying hard. When my breathing seems strained, I would think happy thoughts and sing in my mind. I managed to overcome the two uphill sections going out. The challenge going back was the heat. It took a lot of effort imagining green fields instead of the barren, tree-less grounds, and tons of prayers to bring me back to the transition area. I was so slow I was the last biker, with the longer distance participants even overtaking me. But I was safe and two thirds done.

Heat and fatigue were my last challenges. I started my run way past 10am, with sun searing us down across what seemed to be formerly lahar land. It was hot!!! I was also very tired. If I tire myself excessively, I can actually collapse or worse, have a heart attack.  I stopped when I felt very tired. I probably stopped every 300m. It was just the company of fellow struggling racers from the long distance category, the cheers of the crew at water stations, and  my consciously bloated sense of optimism that got me through. My legs were beat going into the stadium. There was about 300m yet of struggling. In the last 100m,  I jogged to and through the finish line. I beamed at the medal givers, photographers and teammates. It was over. I survived.  By the kindness of friends, and by the grace of God.

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Mini-sprint tri finish feels like a 70.3

Monday, September 30, 2019

Race Report:  UPLB Trantados Club's Beginners Triathlon, September 28, 2019

It was my comeback race after a year of not having enough time nor energy to join a race. I was nervous and excited. I was confident I could finish the 400m swim, and was resigned to walking the 3km run, but I was not sure if my butt was primed enough to sit for 18kms. Last I tried to actually ride my bike, I rode a glacial pace of 12kph!!!

I wore box trunks for the swim leg because I wanted to channel Marco Gumabao in Just A Stranger. This is after all a costume tri as well. Truth is, I eschewed my trisuit because I needed to breathe freely. Plan worked because I finished the swim without issues. Deadlast following doctor's order of moderate exertion only, but with enough energy left for the dreaded bike. I made sure I thanked the lap marshals for waiting for me.

Bike was easy on the way out. It was 3km slight downhill drift to Open University through Pili drive. Weehee, I am actually hitting high 20s in my hybrid bike! Far departure from 12kph :)  Going back was tougher - spinned it at 12kph :(  It was fun to see the other participants in the first two loops of my bike segment. People thinned out in my last loop, but I remained cheerful and thankful for all the marshals who cheered. They cheered for every thank you and sorry I said.

The best part for me was the run. Just about a handful of us are running, including a kid with malformed legs who happily finished as I went through my third run loop. I walked all throughout, mindful that I might be taxing my heart for almost 2 hr effort. I would apologize and thank the marshals every loop, and they peppered me back with cheers. On my last loop, a gang of more than a dozen Trantados members in costume joined me per their tradition. They chanted, joked, poked fun and cheered all throughout, so much so I actually managed to jog a bit in the last 300 meters. Sprint daw eh. With a cheerful squad like that, how could I not?


       ðŸ“· Tracy Carpena and Ghia Nabong

I crossed the finish line jubilant, drowning in happiness by the good vibes and cheers of the crowd. It was the best way to finish last. I did not crave attention, but these guys made me feel like a rockstar. It felt like finishing my first half-ironman. From the bottom of my recovering heart, thank you very much ❤


By sheer will and God's grace,
Rico V

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