Monday, October 18, 2010


 NAGT Alabang. Oct 17  (Photo by Carina / Marvin)

It's been a while. 

A lot has happened in almost two months after I did the Ironman 70.3 in Camsur. I celebrated my completion of that formidable feat by eating to my heart's content for at least a week. Travel mate Ronald and I made sure we partook of sinful foods like crispy pata before we drove back to Manila. I easily gained 5lbs post-70.3. For two weeks after the race, I did little athletic activity - the most arduous was a 300m swim I managed to squeeze in between chats in the pool. No bike, no run. After 8 months of training I deserved it.

I wish I had the luxury of loafing after the race but I did not. I spent the two-week vacation I had in two equal parts: a week tapering and doing the race, the other week packing my life's material hoard in 12 balikbayan boxes, hauling them off along with furniture and plants in two truck loads into a new place, and unpacking them before starting a new work routine in a new company. I thought triathlon transitions are hard, but they are nothing compared to life's transitions.

It's been a while but I'm back. In the happy flurry that is work, I rejoice in those short morning walks or occasional sprints I do in the hills of Pasig, and in the Thursday swim nights with friends. Yes, I now share the same training hills with good friend Gingerbreadman although I think my friend runs on a different timezone. On the hills of Pasig I walk in Vibram Five Fingers, or sprint like a kid in my favorite K-swiss Ironman shoes. Meanwhile, in the cacophony of new things in my life, those night swims prove comfortably familiar.

This morning I did the min-sprint triathlon in Ayala Alabang. A mini-sprint! After an Ironman 70.3!  My friends are incredulous! But in my personal scheme of things the mini-sprint fit perfectly. I signed up because I wanted to speed up. In 70.3 I have proven to myself that I can endure. This time, I want to be fast, or at least better than the turtle pace I used to love. That my new work allows only enough training time for a mini-sprint did factor in the decision.

I found myself sharing the starting line with tri newbies Neil and Timmy, classmates in our Thursday swim nights. I swim better than them, but in a mini-sprint, how many minutes can you actually lead over the newbies? Moreover, Tim and Neil might not have done a triathlon yet, but they like newbies of today have the privilege of training with those who already passed the rite of passage. I remember training for my first ever triathlon (a UPLB sprint!) all by lonesome, occasionally sharing the pool with then newbie (now coach) Ige Lopez. In 2008 when I came back to triathlon, I was the default swim "coach" of our office "team" of mini-sprinters, simply because of that lone 2003 triathlon experience. Among the four of us, I clocked in the best time of 17minutes for a 350m swim. Yup 17 minutes! Then 48min for bike and 21 minutes for the run. Finished in 1:26 minutes. I asked multi-sport batchmate Ian what was his first mini-sprint time and he said 1:21. He finished 70.3 in less than 7 hrs (6:30 I think).

A month after I joined the mini-sprint again and shaved 12 minutes from my pathetic time. This time, 1:14, with 10++ for swim, 38min for bike and 24min for the run. I walked in parts, but maybe because I burned my legs riding my mountain bike.

Last Sunday, I was thrilled to get out of the pool at 7:33 in my watch. With an 8++ time for the swim including the jog to the transition, I think I was in the upper quartile at least in the swim leg. It pays to have that experience of washing machine swims and knowing that you used to swim 2k straight for the last few months. A half-ironman vet slugging it out with the newbies. Haha. What I lack in innate physical skills, I shall make up with experience, technique and wisdom :-)

But really, it was not about me competing with others. It's me competing with myself. My teammates made fun bets on us (Neil, Tim and myself) but I took it all in stride. I have my own agenda: Do better, and in the process pull up others or be pulled up by them. I spent several Thursday swim nights pulling the leg, tickling feet, splashing water, and cutting swim paths of the newbies including Noelle and Karen. That should do them good.

And it did. Noelle came out of the water 3rd or 4th, winning the Mini-sprint in the end. I shall bask in her reflected glory by saying that not only did I convince her to run (and qualify) for Milo marathon, but I also persuaded her to give triathlon a try. Haha. Good job, Noelle! Kudos too to Karen who survived the swim to claim the 3rd place spot. Tim and Neil did good too, with swim splits of 9 and 10 minutes, respectively.

Ecstatic from the swim, I also had good transition one. I ditched the socks and dove my feet straight into my tri shoes (well, not really, caused I wiped them with a towel first hehe). I was steadily biking going into the halfway mark when Neil biked past me. Goodness, Neil, I know you will pass me in the bike, but not so early please. Haha. I had my own bike pace but I tried hard to keep Neil on sight for as long as I could. I did not catch the mountain biker-turned-roadie Neil. What I did catch is my own personal bike record. I shaved 6 minutes off my previous record. Yehey! To do better on the bike is number one on my training agenda. Thank you Neil!

I had good transition 2 as well. I ditched the socks again, confident in the powers of my K-swiss Kona shoes. No dead weights on the legs so I steadily ran, although not as fast as I wanted, maybe because of the excess poundage. Sigh, Neil was not on sight. I knew I was on my way to beating my PR but I also tried to beat Neil in the process because a teammate had the good sense (or is it loyalty and friendship?) to bet on me. I would only see Neil just before Caliraya Street, already on his way back. If I followed what at least two people told me that the turnaround was Pagaspas St, that meant Neil was ahead of me by 300-400 meters. Kinda hard to catch up at that point so my spirit sank a bit. I slowed down to get a drink, and only then did it hit me. I was right, the turnaround was just Caliraya St. Grrr, I should not have slowed down and gave up so easily. That shall cost RJ Pancake House breakfast for Neil and Karen. Sorry my friend, but Neil had the momentum.

I tried to pick up pace and saw Timmy still on his uphill climb while I was dashing downhill toward the finish. I was steadily running and accelerating. What I did not know was Timmy was targetting me. Haha. That competitive guy! On my last 50 meters, Timmy darted from nowhere to steal my limelight. What the....But I stopped there. I had my moment in Camsur. Let this be Timmy's. And so Timmy crossed the finish line at 1:00:23. Me two seconds after, and 14 minutes better than my previous record. I did not beat the 60 minutes, but it was good enough. I was thrilled to know later that Tim had the second best run split in the mini-sprint in the effort to catch me. Well-done kiddo. You can always have that bragging right that in your first triathlon, you beat an Ironman 70.3 veteran. Same goes for you Neil who clocked in at 58min. See you both in longer races. Maybe that time I shall do better not only in my standards, but in yours too. Haha.

Congratulations everyone. Happy transitions :-)


Julius said...

Pare, welcome back, and welcome to the neighborhood! Hope to bump into you doing uphills along Julia Vargas and St. Martin! :)

Marvin said...

great story rico! congrats on your PR! :) you'll surely get those two in longer distances! :D

Neil said...

Rico, I'm very grateful that you are always present during trainings giving us tips & techniques. I know you were not in the best condition coming from you Camsur recovery. I did not hit my time goal due to a mistake in hydration. Maybe next time. (Actually si Tim inuunahan ko, hahaha!)

Rico Villanueva said...

Julius, yup, hope to see you too on those damn killer hills.

Hey Marvin. My most formidable opponent is really myself. Haha. If I do get beaten by others, I would like if I get beaten by friends. Hats off to my two friends.

Neil, thanks for the kind words. Truth is I get my fire equally from those speed demons in constant pursuit of faster times, as well as newbies like you full of determination and enthusiam to improve. So thank you as well. Let's keep chasing one another so we all improve.

Kenkoy Runner said...


First and foremost, I would like to thank you for the following:
1. coming up with your informal tutorials with newbies wanting to explore multisport, be it through swimming, biking, or combining all of them in one.
2. for being the first informal coach of the newbies (together with Pio & Rey Jose)
3. for being a good friend :)

Secondly, I would like to thank you for being the role model that slow and steady wins the race :) You have always been consistent in all your trainings, and we all are witnesses to your being Mr. Consistent.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for wearing a bright blue (endure-ish) colored tri-top :) without your brightly colored top, i wouldn't have been able to spot a formidable fellow who would push me to be my best, even for that last split seconds towards the finish line :)

Until next time (hopefully, i get to train more with you guys in the longer distances).
I still have a lot of chlorine and saddle time to spend with you guys to be able to compete with mamaws like you :)

congrats on your PR and for raising the benchmark for us newbies!

kelcy said...

congrats, SW! kras-able ka pa din! thanks for being an inspiration to us.

panalo manok ko! hahaah! very sly of tim to have snaked thru you on the finish line. hehe! =)

Noelle De Guzman said...

Rico! Kasalanan mo pala ito e! Hehehe :)

Tracy Carpena said...

Congrats, Rico! :)
Congrats on the PR! You keep getting better and better, and keep inspiring us newbies to train smarter, race better and in the process do well in other aspects of life, too!

On another note, haha, I was betting on you (you vs. Neil). I owe Ronald breakfast (or siguro lunch na yun) after WRT. Haha. :D

FFS said...

looking good sir.. keep it up..