I was always going to do Ironman Australia. My sister Sinag did it twice in the early 2000s, and during one of her races I was able to watch the first Ironman of Chris Mc Cormack in Forster. This place was special to me, its athletes always inspired me to work harder, and I gained a lot of my triathlon knowledge under the tutelage of Australian coaches (what do you know, I ended up marrying one, funnily enough :) )
So when I was around two months pregnant last year, I coerced my friends to register for the 2012 staging of the Ironman in Port Macquarie. It would be David, Tyrone and Belle’s first ever attempt at the distance and I knew they were more than ready. As for Dan and I, we made a quick computation, and our baby would be 5months and 1week old (which he was, as I gave birth exactly on my due date!) and would be due for a visit with Dan’s family in Sydney anyway.
Fast forward to May 6, 2012. Everything I had visualized the year before was about to take place! We had just spent a lovely week in Sydney and Nelson Bay and now we were up at 4am for the race start.
Was I seriously going to do this? I asked myself once again as I breastfed my baby one last time before the gun went off at 6:45am. I was wearing my wetsuit halfway and was holding Dash who looked so cuddly wrapped in a warm cover. I was amazingly relaxed too…since I had such a small window to start training properly for an event of this magnitude, I had decided long ago to treat it as a very long training day. No time pressure, no worries. My bike computer had even conked out a few days before and it didn’t even worry me one bit!
Fifteen minutes before the start I kissed my baby goodbye and handed him to Dan’s parents and sister Anna. The only reason I was able to race at all in Australia was because I trusted them to take care of Dash during race day. We were so lucky to have their full support!
My swim training leading up to the race was virtually nil so I was happy enough with my swim time 0f 1:11. I had organized for my electronic breast pump to be at T1 and T2, and also bought two small portable ones for carrying in my pocket throughout the bike and run. I decided to skip pumping at T1 and do so later. I was still on a high from having a decent enough swim!
My bike was very ordinary as expected with my combined lack of fitness and the hilly terrain of Port Mac, Bonny Hills, and Laurieton. Yes, I confess to dismounting and walking my bike on Matthew Flinders Drive. But I had to preserve my legs for the 42k!
I got into T2 and I DEFINITELY needed to express my milk then. I used up about 20min doing that. The volunteers in the Female Changing Tent told me, “wow, you are really an Ironwoman!” and did their best to accommodate my strange request.
Australian spectators are the best in the world. The marathon was a big unknown for me as my longest run during training had only been 22km! But the cheerers on the road were amazing–I never heard so many different variations of “Keep Going” in my life! Some examples: You’re a legend mate! Good on ya! You’re doing so well!
By a twist of fate and good fortune, I ended up running 2 and a quarter of my four laps with David, and our shared energy helped us run better. We walked all the aid stations but I made sure we were disciplined enough to start running again every time we did. It was getting harder and harder every lap but I just stayed positive. When he went into the finish chute I still had 1 lap to go. I missed him immediately but I took advantage of my alone time and expressed some milk again for a few short minutes this time. I was good to go and as I started my last lap I knew I was home free. Not even tripping and falling flat on my knees dampened my spirits. I would see my baby soon! I missed him so much from not being with him the whole day.
It was a painful day but as I ran on the red carpet and looked up at the finish time, I saw that I went under the arch at 13:36:22. Not bad. I had another teary-eyed finish line photo, even though I was trying really hard not to cry. Every race is very special to me in a different way. This one was hard, because it was my first Ironman so soon after giving birth. But I made it and I am so thankful for that.
My husband, his family, my friends, and baby Dash were all waiting for me at the finish line. There were hugs all around.
It had been more than two years since my last Ironman and I had almost forgotten how great it feels. I love this sport and am glad that it loves me back :)
Special thanks to family, friends, and sponsors. The Sarabias, de Leons, the Rules, and the Browns. Jenny and Ian from Lake Cathie. My athletes and training partners Belle, David and Tyrone- you are all Ironmen!!! My husband Dan and baby Dash, who keep me going every single day.
Unilab Active Health, Pico de Loro, Hamilo Coast, Timex, Adidas, Quintana Roo, Shimano, Rudy Project, Challenge Tires, Fitness First, Pinay In Action, Gatorade.
Thank you to my fellow mom athletes who taught me how to manage nursing and training at the same time, and who always inspire me! Pia Cayetano, Maricel Pangilinan, and my sister Sinag.