Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brickin' at Clark

It was a sudden decision, and a bold one. After debating within myself whether I should make the trip to Central Luzon to see friends cross the 2010 Bataan Death March (BDM) 102K finish line, or just stay in Manila, do my Yakult race and my brick session in Mall of Asia (MOA), I decided to shoot two birds with one stone by bringing my brick session a bit closer to the BDM finish line.

After my Saturday morning bike session and brunch at MOA with friends, I hurriedly went back home to rest a little and pack for my Clark adventure. I left Paranaque a little past 4pm and was in Clark by 7pm. I had tough luck though searching for a budget hotel near the Clark perimeter. I stupidly entered the perimeter road near the Clark main gate and had to endure for an hour the traffic and chaos in the tiny road of bars and pleasures of the flesh. Finally I found a reasonably clean and cheap hotel (a Korean one), but I have to come back after an hour so the staff could clean the earlier trail of an overstaying guest. 

Tired and famished I hurriedly looked for dinner. Original plan was to have light dinner for I was deep into Biggest Loser Contest Season 2 mode, but in my hunger and weariness I found myself in C! Italian restaurant. C! was supposedly my post-brick session fare, not my pre-session carbo-loading place. I found myself seated in the garden area, surrounded by lights more suited for a cozy date, me dressed still in shorts and casual sando, and me consuming by my lonesome a huge, smoked salmon panizza named Antonio Miguel. The first 3-4 strips of the panizza were pure bliss, but the last 3 were like the brick session I planned to do the morning after - hard to do but must be finished!

This is Antonio Miguel the panizza, not my friend Fermin Antonio Miguel aka Timmy

Finally settled in the hotel, I had difficulty sleeping on account of the panizza feast I just gobbled away. I was dead tired but could not sleep! Sigh! Eventually I did manage to get some shut-eye, only to wake up feeling like sh*t at 9:30am. I was definitely paying up for all the sleep debt I had accumulated. I missed my brick session start time by at least 3 hrs. Grrr! This is the problem if you are the session organizer and lone participant. You tend to slack!

Breakfast was not much help in lifting up my spirits. I still felt sleepy and decided just to shower before going back to bed  for yet another hour of rest. Maybe I could do my brick after lunch. The cold shower luckily brought me to my senses. I reasoned out that it might happen that on the biggest race of my life (the 70.3 for now), I could feel the same sh*ttiness. Do I just let it overcome me? With that thought, I felt a sudden rush and excitedly suited up for the trip inside the former airbase. 

I originally planned to wear cycling jersey and shorts, with arm covers to complete the biker look, but some voice told me to wear my trisuit for the first time. If you are summoning the ironman spirit, you might as well look the part. Besides, people you know were either racing in Manila,  or running or supporting in BDM!   

And so this was how I looked before the session (gulp!)
(looking stupidly at my timed camera propped on top of my bag inside the vehicle)

The prelude to being is becoming, and part of becoming is dressing up the part. So pardon me if I offended your senses. Better you be introduced to the sight online before I offend you further live. Haha! Part of the suiting up is the shoes. I am still on my quest for the ideal shoe, but my current favorite now is K-Swiss Keahou II. Admittedly I was drawn to the brand because of 2009 Camsur 70.3 winner Terenzo Bozzone who is K-Swiss-sponsored. I already have a Timex watch, a K-Swiss pair of shoes, and a trisuit. Just finish 70.3 miles in 8 hrs and I am already an half-Ironman. Anyway, here is the pair of shoes whose looks and cushioning blow me away.

Cycling in Clark is heaven. Mostly flat roads, with the choice of shaded roads or open sun, and option of attacking some hills. I parked my support vehicle (manned by me!) near the parade grounds and initially did the 2.25km bike trip around the rectangular grounds. Truth to tell I was afraid my lack of sleep will cause me to collapse so I played it safe. But soon enough I felt better and ventured onto the hill roads of the 2009 New Balance Race course, but avoiding the dusty backroads and turning towards Fontana early on. It was a nice 6-7km loop of flats, climbs, downhills and long flat push, shady or scorching hot in parts. 

I was happy to hit 42kph max on the short downhills, sustain 30-37kph in the long flats, but the uphills had me spinning comfortably hard at 12kph. Haha. The uphills pulled my 50km average to 22kph. Evidently, I have some work to do on the uphill. Average rate of perceived effort is comfortably hard. I didn't want to push too much. I didn't want to collapse out there. Hehe. I originally planned to do 90kms, but I still had a run to do and a personal promise to see friends cross the BDM finish line. I reluctantly stopped at 50kms, but happy enough to have logged in more saddle time and achieve higher speeds in some parts.

My bike ride was eventful for one particular incident. After speeding one time on a downhill I heard my rear tire going flat. I pulled over along the hot, deserted, open road and tried in vain to pump air enough for me to bike back to my vehicle about 2-3kms away. It was useless as I heard air hissing out as I pumped. "Do not worry" I told myself. "You've changed inner tubes once before. Surely you can do it again. Treat this as practice should the unfortunate incident happen in Camsur."

I took off the wheelset and started to pry of the rubber from the metal rim. Goodness, the rubber would budge a little using this plastic lever I had, but I could not disengage it completely. Panic and calm wrestled within me. I took note of the time, imagining I was there in the competition with a flat tire. Calm down, Rico, calm down. Minutes later I finally got the rubber wheel out. I just had to push harder, past what I initially thought was a rubber breaking point. The rubber was made to be more resilient that what I imagined. 

With the rubber wheel out I pulled of the leaky inner tube and tried to wrap the spare tube around the rim. What the heck, how come this limp tube looked longer than the rim circumference? Did I buy the wrong tube? The store said it was the standard specs. 700-23, right? That was what was written in the box, on the tube and in my cyclometer. WTF was wrong? Precious minutes passed by as I pondered on this conundrum. I tried to recall how the neighborhood bike mechanic first changed my flat tire. He inserted the inner tube first into the rubber wheel and then fitted the combo into the metal rim. Ok, just trust that the seemingly long, limp tube would fit inside. I did it and it felt funny, but when I inflated the inner tube it did fit exactly. Stupid me for forgetting about the inflationary effect! Costed me 25 effin minutes!

My planned 21k run as part of the brick session was reduced to 10k. I had to do at least the run distance of the standard triathlon I hope to first try in SUBIT. Do this as quickly as I can so I can hie off to San Fernando for BDM. Since I was just on comfortably hard mode on the bike and the ride was shorter than my recent long rides, I was tired, but not a wreck, when I got off the bike. It also helped in my run transition that my Keahou II had the best cushioning I have experienced so far. Soft like New Balances 1063 but firmer than the former. Soft to cushion my weight, but firm enough to allow for toe-off and propulsion forward. On runs my slow diesel engine normally takes 1-2kms before fully warming up, but the Keahou allowed me to feel good in less time or distance. Splendid! 

It was an easy run though as I was really wary of my dwindling food and water supplies, and again, I did not want to collapse with no familiar face on sight. I decided to stick to the parade grounds for the run so others may at least notice me should any mishap take place. I think was I just doing 7-8minutes per kilometer. I did occasionally speed up  though whenever I encounter the  one or two other runners in those grounds. I was donned in a trisuit so I must act like a fast one. Haha. Overall, my transtion and run time was 1h32m, inclusive of water or food breaks and a trip to the john where I had to wiggle my way out of the trisuit to take a leak, where I took a picture for posterity, where the old maintenance man speaking in the local dialect was eyeing with curiosity and suspicion the camera-popping, half-naked me. Haha.

Me after taking after a liquidity break
(My gulay I had to partially undress to take a leak!) 
Before this trip I was still groping for a way to support runner friends out on a venture I honestly do not completely understand. In my mind, the only way I can finish a 102km race is to have a strong motivation - something I failed to find when friends tried to convince me to join. Prior to my run I tried to express support the way I know and understand - to text my friends out there in the BDM sun that I too was running in the same hot sun after the ordeal of pedalling on a bike for hours. As I completed my last lap and passed by a heroic monument, a realization hit me:  70.3 miles and 102 kms are our individual ways to find meaning in our lives. While our motivations may not be clear at the start, at some point in our parallel journeys, surely we stumbled upon something enriching and edifying.

With my 50k bike and 10K run brick session done, I hied off to San Fernando at km 102 to see friends who did the race and the people who supported them. Unfortunately for me, I lost precious time searching for that marker and had to contend with the early race start and end. I reached the marker before 6pm with just enough time to congratulate the finishers who all glowed with their achievements, and chat with the supporters who were differently tired and satisfied. I just had enough time for one photo op with the km102 marker, but overall it was a journey worth taking.


RPA said...

idol!!!! ang seksi!!!! tweet-weeew!!!


Julie @ HotlegsRunner said...

love your outfit rico! and congratulations on your latest achievement! =)

SamTheRunningNinja said...

Damn it rico you look hot in that tri-suit!And the shoes! The shoes! Any women near you will surely fall for you...ehem...

Nice to see you last Sunday by the way.

gerard said...

Nice brick session. Looking good in the tri-suit Rix. Konti pa para mas-maporma.

Buti nga ikaw 20+ minutes lang para magpalit ng tire. Ako almost an hour. When putting it back, to make it easier, hanginan mo ng konti :)

Kenkoy Runner said...

nice one ricow! ayos ung matching trisuit with the shoes! kick-ass! hehe

tas panalo rin yung restow! hahaha pati ung HS-ish picture sa oto, at sa salamin ng banyo hehehe:) good luck!

balang araw pag marunong nako mag bike, sama ako! ;)

cathy said...

What's wrong with you Rico, you're so thin!! (Naks, okey ba?) Seriously, ampayat mo naaaa Rico!!

Funny narrative, and I can see that you're training perfectly well for CamSur 70.3.. but C's panizza blew me away. Love love C!

Rico Villanueva said...

Rod, haha...sexiness is all in the mind. Wahaha!

Ayos ba costume ko Hotlegs Julie? Thanks. If you can't perform, japorm!

Niloloko mo ba ako, Sam? Hahaha. Malapit na rin mawala baby fats ko haha.

Gerard, yup, more to lose to look convincing hehe. About pumping that inner tube, you're right. I forgot that, but thanks for the reminder.

Timmy, ok color matching ng suit at shoes ko no? Haha! That bike skill, malapit na yan. Let's doh it!

Cathy!!!! Long time no see. Payat ako kasi di mo ako nakikita lagi. Haha. C! I really love. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Payat mo na, Rix ah. While you're growing thinner, i'm just the exact reverse, bloating by the day, arrrgh!.:-((