Tuesday, May 26, 2015
We were wrong. Very wrong. The first sign of trouble was a text from organizers a day before the race that the triathlon may become a duathlon. The explanation was that the waves were deemed not safe by the organizers, Coast Guard and local government. Our party of six was still excited about our road so we kinda dismissed the message. The final decision would be made during the race briefing supposedly.
The second sign of trouble was our vehicular aircon conking out on us somewhere in Calasiao. This was second aircon incident I had since one audio store messed up the electronic wiring of my Starex' entertainment and aircon systems. I had that aircon fixed already. For extra measure, I advanced my vehicle's preventive maintenance check and did it a week before our road trip. But Murphy's Law prevailed. We spent almost two hours having the aircon checked in one aircon repair shop, but the burnt out resistor was not available even in Hyundai Dagupan!
We traveled through searing hot Pangasinan with our windows open. I was dying inside with guilt for convincing three of our friends to ride with us instead of bringing their own car. I was distraught but my companions were cool and collected still. Miko my swim coach even said, "Wag na kayong magpa-stress about the aircon. We shall manage."
We were already in Bolinao area when the third blow happened. Our pre-booked resort Villa Carolina replied to our arrival notice text with a statement saying they thought we were booked the next day. Tired, hot and grimy, I grabbed the phone from our very respectful FilJap Kazu and lost my cool while talking to the resort manager. She better find way. Boot out the corporate visitors if she had to because we confirmed first!
When we arrived at race kit claim area in Coco Beach resort, Miko very quietly inquired and learned of available large room for the six of us. I asked soft spoken Kazu to just request Villa Carolina to send back our deposit direct to Coco Beach. The lost reservation turned out to be a blessing as Coco beach became the official race venue. Our room was 50m away from transition area and start/finish arc. God is still good.
On account of our vehicular trouble, we were late for the race briefing and carbo loading dinner. We were tired and famished but we made do with the remaining few morsels of food. Back at the resort, I was about to retire to bed after a long day when I realized I could not find our vehicle key. The spare was almost 300kms away! After spending precious minutes double checking my bags, I found the key half-buried in the sand near the transition area. Whew!
Come race morning, I decided to just go with the flow and did the duathlon just like everybody. I hate duathlons because they do not allow me to warm up nicely and because I suck at running and biking. My race plan was to try out the swim technique that Miko taught me while surveying the coral and clam beds, and then winging the bike and run legs. I took my sweet time jogging and biking, but I finished rather than sitting it out on the beach and sulking.
After the race, I tried the waters. They were clear, shallow for hundreds of meters. I felt like a dugong doing breastroke in the wide expanse of sea grass. I wanted to see the reef part, but I was already too far off from shore with still no corals sighted. Only more grass, hence the dugong sensation :-) The waves were about a foot high 300m from shore and one has to fight gentle currents. The conditions may exasperate or frighten newbies, but Tigasin is the race name, right? I would compare the water conditions to Camaya Coast aquathlon then. The waves were nothing compared to race conditions in Corregidor aquathlon, Tri United Laiya sprint and Matabungkay tri two or three years back.
Organizers Timmy and Mikey Chua explained that the waves and current would not be safe for newbies. There were swells according to them. The conditions were better when they did swim reckon last year. The brothers were very nice and apologetic in their explanations, but I guess the lesson learned here was to know water conditions during race months. I think the lessons are learned. The bike roads leading to the beaches are very rough, even dangerous with deep cracks in certain areas. I supposed warnings were made during racd briefing, but these conditions will be a turn off for many. Personally, I would wait for a successful race edition before I make another trip back here. But I do look forward to more provincial races, and I remain optimistic in Trisports' role in providing this type of races.
As for me, the lesson learned is to be cooler when things go wrong. I am fortunate to be in the company of 5 cool dudes (Endure teammates Kazu, Sugz and Clark as well as Infinite Tri friends and officemates Miko and JB. What I would have considered a weekend nightmare morphed into something we would laugh about when we look back and reminisce. As proof that cooler heads rubbed off on me, I did not freak out when our Starex driven by one of us very mildly scratched a Fortuner while overtaking on our way home. The other party was obviously upset, but we manage to settle things calmly and with minimum trouble.
Like the bamboo, a true Tigasin knows how to bend when the situations calls for it.
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