*** many thanks to John Michael On for this race report ***

A few weeks before the race, the organizers posted in the website that they will be crowning a king and queen of the mountain which got me excited, and to ask myself what would it take to be the king? I couldn't find any race reports for the Pico de Loro race, so I really didn’t have any idea what to expect. I found it out on race day.

We arrived in Manila thursday afternoon.  As soon as we settled in, i assembled the bike and did a quick spin, just to ensure everything is in its proper place, then took it to a bike shop near our home for tuning and quick power wash cleaning and white lighting lubing.  Only 150pesos, 15dirhams only, told myself how I wish it’s the same price in UAE!

Friday morning before we drove to Majayjay for my wife’s grandmothers 89th bday.  I did my 10/10/10 session, as expected the humidity and heat welcomed me with open arms.  

Saturday morning, we drove to the race venue, check in to the hotel, and headed directly to the race briefing which was scheduled at 1130am.  Gun start was at 2:30pm.

SWIM 1.2k 

Pre race goal: 22-24min

The swim was a 
rectangular course with 2 loops and a 50m beach run, just like the saturday session I attended in Dubai with TriDubai, but without the big waves : ).  Thank you Jamie Edmunds and Allen Nonog for introducing me to the group.  Swim was rough, too much bodies in the 1st loop, I was pushed into the buoy lines, tried to swim my own pace and to draft.  Finished the 1st loop, run the beach, then head back to the water.  In the 2nd loop, about to finish my swim, and I noticed that my right arm is entering the water smoothly, and feels something in missing.  I quickly looked at my watch, i lost my watch, at the same time another athlete accidentally or intentionally grabbed my ankle and pulled and shouted "your F..@!k crossing my path, swim the F@£&k straight!".  He nearly drowned me, it distracted me somehow, it took my mind off my missing watch, and I just told myself "you will see old man, you will see..."

Actual time: 21:21

T1 - it was a 50m beach run from beach to T1, the sand is so hot, I had to tip toe going to T1.  On route I saw my family cheering on with the smile on their faces and I smiled back and gave them a thumbs up and told them I have lost my watch, my sister run towards me and yelled Kuya you can do it! I smiled back and pushed ahead.

BIKE 35k

Pre race goal: 1:05-1:10

As I was heading to the bike mount line, I'm already thinking "how I will attack the remainder of the race?".  I relied to much on my watch during training, and didn’t know what to do or how to respond.  I was so distracted that i knocked my repair kit off, had to stop go around and pick it up.  Then I saw the guy who pulled my ankle, told myself its you again "you will see old man, you will see", then I heard my mom Marissa On shouting her heart out, go kuya, go…! I turned to her and smile, it was the last time I saw the merman!

The 1st section of the bike course is the KOM “king of mountain” that the organizers were referring to.  Its only open for age groupers, fastest will be crown the king and queen. Its a steep climb out of the resorts heading to the main race course.  I was not prepared for riding up the mountain.  I thought the bridge in shk khalifa highway was enough training but I was wrong, how I wish I did at least one or two Jebel Hafeet rides!  I tried everything I can think of, stood up and use my weight to push and move forward, shout, copy the riding style of the other athletes.  My goal was not to stop and walk with my bike.  I was so happy to see the summit, the steep descent heading to the marina scared the life out of me - one wrong move its either the mountain or the cement...  Until now I don’t know how fast I was going.  The main bike course was flat, windy and HOT.  I didnt know my speed, my heart rate zone nor cadence.  I just chased other riders like a mad dog.  I managed to complete the 2 loops chasing other riders, headed back towards T2, before again the climb back to the resort.  As I shift gears my front chain fell off - I had to step off the bike and put it back on.  I attacked the mountain as hard as I can - by this time I already saw some athletes walking beside their bike going to the summit, so kept telling myself "I will not walk", kept thinking my dad, basty and FIN.

Actual time: 1:11:21

KOM(mountain climb) time: 4:52

RUN 8k

Pre race goal: 40min or faster

Run is an 8k, 3 laps around the resort.  The route is covered by trees, but you still feel the heat coming from the ground. I was so lucky to meet Junrox during the run, bumped into him in the 1st K, ask the pace he plans to run, asked him if I can run and pace with him as I lost my watch in the swim.  He agreed, so we ran together, push each other, walked the aid stations, until the 3rd loop, 6k into the run, I had to stop.  I was not feeling good, I felt like vomiting, Junrox wanted to stop as well to help, but I told him to go ahead and finish strong.  I tried to poke myself, I gagged a bit, and some fluids came out and felt alot better and pushed on.  I focused more on form and breathing and keep thinking of my family who are waiting in the finish line.  Finally I saw the last turn heading to the finish line, saw my wife taking photos, I asked "where is daddy?".  I saw my dad carrying my son, I ran towards him and I pulled him with me, we all finished together, 3 generations finishing together was the best thing ever... they handed me the medal and I put it around my dad's neck, and told him this is for you.

Actual run time: 42:47

Total race time: 2:15:29

POST DINNER and AWARDS

After the heart full dinner, the awards ceremony started.  The MC started calling the winners of each age group.  I had already told my wife to head back to the hotel and rest, she insisted to wait and see and enjoy the atmosphere.  As they call the male 30-34 AG, I was cheering on the 3rd, 2nd place winners, then the MC called my name.  I was still cheering on until my wife told me, "go run to the stage they called you!" - it was a surprise, I went to the stage just wearing a shorts, white undershirt and flip-flops, took the trophy and raised it above my head.  I asked the MC if I can share something, held the microphone tight and told to everyone that I was racing for FIN, a 7 yr old boy who was diagnosed with cancer and he is undergoing his treatment as I speak.

I'd like to thank my wife Kristine Charity Tan-On who never doubted in me, my family, to Mark Sinclair my training partner and specially to the guy who pulled my ankle in the swim, thank you, you are the reason why I pushed harder, to the TriDubai team for unconditionally sharing your experience, knowledge and the excellent tri kit.  I TRIed to race harder but FIN was the ump I needed to TRI-UMP.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Train unpluged once in a while
  • Don’t rely too much on gadgets
  • Race like a boys scout “always ready”