Fine Morning for A Swim and Run

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Ateneo Aquathlon
Sunday, February 22


The Ateneo University gym was alive with youthful energy when I entered it a little past 6 am. I was expecting a small crowd, but I was pleasantly surprised by the participant turn-out. Turn-out was such that registration was closed the day before and on-site registration was no longer allowed. Organizers said we were 340 participants. For a nascent sport like aquathlon, that was a lot. Surrounded by students, I felt young again. I remembered being a college student, I recalled my high school students in Poveda when I was a young teacher myself, as well as the college students I taught when I was a young UP graduate student.

After getting my race kit and being body-marked, I relaxed a bit and spent the waiting time for my wave looking for familiar faces. It was comforting to find takbo.ph friends MJ, who would be doing his second aquathlon, and Erick, who would taste his first aqua race, as well as bloggers Ian who is doing his second aquathlon like myself and Javy whom I finally met, albeit briefly, in person. It was a pleasant surprise to bump into my dragonboat rowing teammates (batchmates even) Mylene, who later placed in her age group, and Anne who thoughtfully supported and paced Mylene. I heard there was a more recent male teammate who joined also, but unfortunately I did not get to talk to him.

The Swim (600m)

There were at least 20 people in my wave (age group) that we occupied a big part of pool lane 1. I meant to position myself somewhere in the middle at swim start so I could attempt to pace with the mid-pack and hopefully not get trapped behind possible breast strokers at the end. In at least two races, I labored hard trying to pass breast strokers in narrow lanes, but I was neither aggressive nor fast enough. Unfortunately this time, I was crowded out and managed to secure only second row from pool wall.

I was happy enough with my swim. I think I was able to maintain my relative position in the pack so I was still ahead of a few others after the swim. While I was kicked several times, I was comfortably relaxed for most of my swim. If there was one thing I need to train on, it was to have a feel for how fast/slow I swim. Having spent years swimming leisurely with no concern at all for laps nor time, I really have no firm grasp of what pace is. With a stopwatch doing 50m lap intervals, I recently learned know how a 60 to 70-second 50m lap felt. However, in a race, I simply lose my bearings, my race conservatism prevails, and instinctively I slow down. For this aquathlon, I simply tried not to be overtaken and attempted to overtake when I could. If I can comfortably swim at 60-seconds for every 50m, continuously for 600m, I would be a contented man.
I think with more practice I can reasonably achieve this. I am certainly no Enchong Dee who swam the distance in 7:50!

My swim split was 16:50. Results showed I outswam 6 people in my age group. I was happy enough with the result considering that my last 600m continuous swim was a slow 17:00 (and I was not even stepping out of the pool for the next loops at practice time!). Two things I need to work on: run faster out-of-pool for your succeeding swim loops, and practice, practice, practice at my target swim pace. One thing good about swim speed training is that unlike running, one does not really get injured aiming for lung-busting times. Your heart and lungs just work like hell for a specified time and take just a few second/minutes to recover at finish line.


The Run (5K)

Photo by Carlo Nombres,
from Ateneo Swimming Team multiply site


A photo does paint a thousand words - among them: labored running. Out of fear of injury aggravation, I was treading slowly and gently, limiting my ability to lift my knees and make longer strides. While I was not out of breath from the swim and was still packing a lot of energy, my left leg still felt heavy from general muscle soreness. I thought I was already out of the injury woods after the Power Run, but apparently my legs are still adjusting to the new pair of shoes I had. The new pair relieved most of my original pains, but some general soreness remained and adjustment still needed to be made as I actually shifted from a stability shoe to a neutral cushioning shoe.

With heavy feet, I was easily overtaken by the few I left behind in the swim. My spirit sank for a while, but I reminded myself that I had a reasonably better swim. That should be good enough to take home with me. Just finish the run and enjoy your swim improvement.The Atenean run marshalls played a big part in propping up my spirits. Almost all of them would say words like You can do it...Just one lap more...Konti na lang sir. Words sincerely said and given with smiles. These marshalls and the Ateneo Swim Team in general confirmed what I knew from friends all along - the Ateneans in general are among the most genteel and kind people I know. Men and women of substance without the airs of poseurs.

I did finish my 5K run with a time of 38:45. Miraculously, I even finished with a negative split of 20/18:45 and overtook about 2-3 runners in my second and last run loop. Official results showed I actually outran 5 people in my age group. Not bad at all for a recovering runner. Thanks again for the cheering from the marshalls. Overall, I managed to come ahead of 3 other participants in my age group.

Kudos to the race organizers. With the help of Extribe, they even had the RFID chips strapped to our ankles from the swim until the run. High tech! For a college organization, the Ateneo Swim Team did very well. I thoroughly enjoyed the race.

I liked the singlet given and opted to wear it for the run instead of my intended singlet. I especially like the slogan at the back. Tough. Proud. Sorry I forgot the other word (hehe).



I was very happy with the loot bag given along with the Rush and mineral water at finish line.



I capped the splendid morning by getting some boiled Japanese sweet corn along Katipunan Avenue. I figured I would be safe from digestive upset with all the chlorinated water I inadvertently swallowed. I also spotted Sweet Inspirations Cafe, a joint my UP barkada frequented during the good old days. I stopped on a whim and partook of their hearty breakfast buffet. While reading the Sunday Inquirer Magazine feature on running, I devoured adobo and corned beef with rice, eggs, crunchy dilis, arroz caldo, fresh fruits, bibingka and puto bumbong all for Php170.

Thank God for fine mornings.

8 comments:

sfrunner February 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM  

Hi Rico. Congratulations! Nice post and photos. Great that you met Ian and Javy.

Take care and have a good recovery week ahead!

ian February 25, 2009 at 8:55 AM  

hey Rico, it was indeed one fine morning last Sunday although we did not fare pretty well on the event. hehe.. But I'm sure will get there. We just have to put in more mileage on our swims and runs plus a few more aquathlons or tri's, we'll eventually learn the tricks of the trade. :-)

JavyO February 25, 2009 at 9:48 AM  

Nice going Rico! Keep it up!

You didn't recognize me ata eh! Hahahah!

Bluesman68 February 25, 2009 at 2:51 PM  

Hi Rico,

Great account of the aquathlon, and congrats on the finish!

See you in the next races.

God bless!

Deo P.

Rico Villanueva February 26, 2009 at 12:58 AM  

Yep Javy, I almost didn't recognize you. You now look like a lean, mean, podium-finish machine. :-)

Deo, hope to see you in future aquathlon/duathlon/triathlons. Kahit sa start and finish lines lang dahil iiwanan ninyo naman ako. Give me 10 years, maabutan ko rin kayo! Haha.

JavyO February 26, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

Rico,

Baka di ka lang nakasalamin, and natakot ka kasi nasa loob tayo ng madilim na banyo - HAHA!

marga February 26, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

hi i didn't see you! i was there too with my brother and my friend.

Rico Villanueva February 27, 2009 at 7:47 AM  

Wayne, I thought my initial replies already went it. Anyhow, thanks for the greetings.

Ian, yep, we need more practice. I am practicing my swim again in the Army pool. Since I cannot run much, sa swim na lang ako maghahabol ng speed.

Javy, you're right, my eyesight is bad and I freaked out when someone called my name in the dark changing room. Haha!

Hi Marga, I am glad your swim time (as well as your brother's) were already corrected. I was shocked when I first saw those. Couldn't be. Hope to meet you in the future races. Or meet you again as I think we already met in the Animo Sprint Tri back then along with Jaymie.

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