Ironmom Diaries: Practical Training for the Real World Triathlete

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I signed up last year for Ironman Cairns (and several other major races) with the full hope that I would be able to give it all I had in terms of training for the event and going for a PR…imagining that I would have the luxury to focus on that one aspect and still be able to fulfil my other obligations somehow.

In the past couple of years though, I’ve learned that at this stage in my life, my training schedule is this: I try to do all my jobs as best as I can, and whatever free time remains, be it 20min or 2hours, well, that is my training time. Not ideal, but workable.

I’ve also learned that although I may not be able to follow a typical program week after week as my commitments vary, I just need to be consistent. Even if that means being consistently out of routine. In other words, I am not so obsessive anymore about following my program to the very last second but I have established some personal guidelines for myself so that I may still have a semblance of decent training. I’d like to share them with you!

Rule no 1: Never let two weeks pass without doing a long run.

Rule no 2: Never let two weeks pass without doing a long bike ride.

Rule no 3: Swim at least once a week.

Rule no 4: Run at least once every three days.

Rule no 5: If tired, take it easy. If really tired, skip the session. If sick, rest and take it easy for a couple of days.

Rule no 6: Train a minimum of 4 sessions a week. When you do, prioritize the key sessions. When you can, do combo sessions to maximize.

Rule no 7: If all you have is a few minutes, take it. Just make it count! For example, you can do intervals and make it a really good speed session.

Rule no 8: If all else fails and you really cannot find the time to train for days on end, EAT HEALTHY, and EAT LESS than you normally would if you were training heavily. Body composition counts for a lot in endurance events, and a few kilos can spell the difference between a good run split and a bad one.

Rule no 9: Core strengthening sessions can be done soon after your main session. Even 10-15minutes is greatly beneficial.

Rule no 10: Because you are a well-rounded person and triathlon is not the only thing which is important in your life, if you do not perform well, you should not kill yourself about it. Triathlon should not dictate who you are as a person, it is just something you love to do. Take in the lessons that need to be learned after a disappointing race, regroup, and move on! Remember to always enjoy what you do. Everything will be much easier if this is the case.

I would like to point out that these are not based on any scientific studies, nor are they taken from any triathlon training books, but I have come up with these points through years of observing what works for myself.

I am writing this piece during the flight back immediately after doing two Ironman distance races just a month apart, something I have never attempted before.

Am I happy with my race results? Maybe not as much as I would have been if I actually stuck to a spartan-like regimen. But am I happy and fully satisfied with my life as a whole? Heck, yeah!!!

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Filed under Race Report, Random Thoughts

Welcome to the Family!

Ever since I met Dan, one of the things he would never stop talking about is how much he loves the Challenge events he has done (3 in Roth and 3 in Wanaka) and how amazingly warm the organizers are. I must admit that before then, even though I had heard of the race series before, I did not really know much about it. All I knew about it was that the pros loved going to Roth to post their fast times (sub 8s for the men and sub 9s for the women) there.

Anyway, I told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to join one of their races I would jump on it. When they announced late last year that they were staging a full and a half distance in Taiwan, virtually our next-door neighbor—Dan and I were ecstatic!

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We were quite lucky that in this particular race, we did not have to adapt to a new time zone. It was just like flying to another part of the Philippines! The flight was less than 2hours. I needed to spend the least time away from our son Dash as possible, so I flew in with Eric Wang two days before. Dan had taken a flight two days before ours. Eric and his friends took me out for a quick lunch in Taipei before my domestic flight to Taitung. We went to a really simple but delicious hotpot place. I always trust Eric and his Taiwanese friends when it comes to food and drink!!!

Hotpot in Taipei

I was on my own when I landed in Taitung, and all I had was a text message from Dan with the name of our quaint B&B in Chinese characters. I showed my phone to the taxi driver, and what do you know, I was there in less than 10min. This was where all the pros were staying, including our very own Monica Torres, who was racing the half distance.

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PRE RACE

I was desperate for a massage too so Dan arranged for me to go to the massage place with Petr Vabrousek (yes, the one and only Petr- 120+ Ironman races, always placing in the top 10). I had not assembled my bike yet so I chased him around the side streets using one of the inn’s old rusty bikes fitted with a matching rusty basket. I am not sure exactly how Petr discovered this place but the masseuse was a genius. I felt much better afterwards.

The next day was pretty straightforward—coffee in the morning at the nearest 7-11 with Dan and Michal Bucek (who eventually won the half distance race), organized our transition bags, checked in our bikes with Monica, walked back to the hotel and rested. It was going to be a loooong day tomorrow (sigh).

RACE DAY

On race morning I had to do some extra work which I highly doubt any of the other racers did…I needed to express milk. Fast. I was still breastfeeding Dash, and I needed to keep my milk supply up. Thankfully I brought my Philips Avent Pump with me!

Philips Avent Breastpump

I always ask myself, why am I doing this again??? But it is useless to find the proper answer. Sometimes, I really can’t figure it out. I know I am going to go through pain for about 12 hours. I know that I don’t have to do it, goodness knows nobody has ever forced me to do it. BUT HERE I AM. AT THE START LINE OF ANOTHER IRONMAN DISTANCE TRIATHLON. THIS IS RIDICULOUS, ANI, ARE YOU SERIOUSLY DOING THIS AGAIN!!!– SWIM 3.8km, BIKE 180km, RUN 42.2km. But for some reason, when it comes to racing, I prefer not to over think things. And yes, I believe I really enjoy this stuff.

Moving on… the lake swim was slow for most, but my total disregard for my swim training had finally caught up with me. I knew I swam slow when Dan shouted at me from the sidelines (they were getting ready for the half distance which started 2hrs later) “Don’t worry, everyone is swimming slow!” Haha. Thanks.

Ani Bike Challenge Taiwan

I had a tea party at T1, I even chatted with Monica who was also waiting for her race start. I guess that was the theme of the day, as I had a very solitary long ride on my own, and a pretty relaxed pace on the run as well. The one thing I did right was keep my pace even, and that served me well cause I still made it to the finish line smiling. But of course I teared up just a few seconds before the bright lights. I don’t think I can help it even if I tried—an Ironman distance event is always hard work no matter what.

Ani Run Challenge Taiwan

Ani Finish Challenge Taiwan

POST RACE

Awarding for the half distance was a couple of hours after I crossed, so I stayed on to cheer for Dan (who was 8th overall male and 3rd in his Age Group) and Monica (who was 2nd overall female and 1st in her Age Group). We then trooped to the McDonalds across the road, and I can tell you one thing: triathletes are generally very healthy eaters, but after an Ironman, all hell breaks loose. Our group consisted of some of the top finishers in the full distance, including champion Dylan McNeice.

Post Race Feed

The awarding for the full distance was the next day, and I was surprised to hear that I came in 1st overall Female Age Grouper—for some reason I thought I was 2nd. What happy news!

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That same afternoon we took the slow train back to Taipei (by slow, I mean, 6hrs) with some help from our lovely B&B friends. They accompanied us all the way to the train station! Unfortunately it was chaos when we finally arrived at the Taipei station at rush hour. After lugging our bike cases and all our other bags from one platform to another amongst the sea of commuters, we eventually made it outside. Daryl Carrey, the official race photographer pointed us to a nice hotel and a delicious New Zealand burger joint, KGB, or Kiwi Gourmet Burgers. Lamb burgers, what a brilliant way to cap the trip off!

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On the flight back home, a tiny thought entered my mind, and I smiled to myself…I am now part of the Challenge Family, yay!!! And thanks to the organizers, it really feels like a family: Felix, Michael, Kent, Roman, and the rest of the crew go out of their way to talk to every single participant. I am officially hooked.

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*A big shoutout to our sponsors who are always there to support us: Timex, Unilab Active Health, Gatorade, Enervon Activ, Hamilo Coast/ Pico de Loro, Rudy Project, Adidas, Quintana Roo, Shimano, Yurbuds, our friends from LightNUp Marketing, Retul. Thanks to our family especially my Nanay and Ate, Gwen and Norma, who looked after Dash while we were racing, and special thanks to Noelle for covering for us at work :)

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Filed under Enervon Activ, Gatorade, Quintana Roo Tri, Race Report, Shimano Tri, Timex, Unilab Active Health

There’s Nothing Like Small Town Racing

In today’s fast growing world of Multisport wherein everyone tends to gravitate towards branded races, it was so refreshing for me to join two events which were very warm and personal.

They were both held in small coastal towns and organized and supported by locals. What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in heart.

The first one I want to highlight is the Timex 226 Ironman Distance Triathlon held last December 2012 in Anda, Bohol by the local government/ Art Yap, Bike King, and Timex Philippines. I had wanted to join the first one staged in Dec 2011 but I had just given birth three days beforehand, so that was my excuse :) I was happily able to participate in the second staging of the race, and even though my preparation was sub-optimal, I knew I was going to have a great time.

It was a very good course, we had a wavy swim, a nice rolling bike ride, and a pancake flat run. Plus some really delicious local fare at the party. All in all a wonderful experience I wouldn’t mind doing again!

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The second race I did fairly recently was an Enduro Aquathlon put up by the Tomaree Tri Club in Nelson Bay, Australia. It was a really fun day for my husband and I as we were able to convince his Dad, Mom, and sister Anna to join as well! While my father-in-law and the two of us joined the long version, my mother-in-law and Anna did the shorter version. Eva, Dash and our babysitter Gwen came to cheer for us, and I ended up being first female overall, while Dan finished 4th male. It was amazing to have so many family members on the race course, and we motivated each other well. We had coffee/ tea and toast afterwards with the local Tri club. What a great morning!

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Apart from doing these two races, I had a really relaxing Christmas and New Year Holiday wherein I only worked out when I felt like it, and even then the sessions would all be at an easygoing pace. Highly recommended every now and then!

Wishing everyone a successful racing season in 2013!

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Filed under Race Report, Timex, Travel, Unilab Active Health

Run Anyway Marathon NY 2012

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We all know by now the NY Marathon 2012 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. The race cancellation was announced only 36hours before the starting time and it was a huge letdown for people like me, who traveled halfway around the world. My husband, baby and I were even stranded in Korea for 4 days as all the flights to JFK airport were put on hold when we were already enroute to the US.

Needless to say, I, along with thousands of other individuals had given a lot of physical, emotional, mental, and financial investment into this event. We were fully aware that the city was still trying to recover but we knew that the marathon offered a huge boost to New York’s economy, and I personally thought that we were doing our part to help out. We all still did, as the expo staged by the organization directed the proceeds towards the victims of the hurricane.

The most amazing thing for me though, was that the runners of New York organized an impromptu marathon on the original race date and dubbed it the “Run Anyway NY Marathon 2012.” Maricel Pangilinan and I and the other Filipinos, including my cousins Asa, Kris, Edel and my uncle Dr. Glen Mendoza, Melodee Arevalo Mendoza, Carlos de Guzman, Raeanna Cranbourne, Geraldine Santiago, Gem Padilla Thomas, Paul Loyz joined and showed solidarity. Pledges were made once again to help the relief efforts.

Big big crowds of marathoners participated. Supporters came out in droves at Central Park. I felt like tearing up when we passed the finish arch, which had already been set up. Maricel and I ran together and marveled at the collective spirit of the running community–it just cannot be broken, and this is what non-runners will never understand.

I would like to thank Timex Multisport Team and Timex Philippines, with special mention to Keith Meyer, Tristan Brown, Avi Uttamchadani, Gemma Pagsibigan and Jose Sarmenta. This trip has been very special, official race or not. You can never tell how things will turn out, and this is a perfect example. We were all given lemons, and we combined forces to make a giant lemonade.

My friends and I have vowed to return next year with a vengeance, and celebrate again with our fellow runners. We’re pretty sure they will all have a New York state of mind too.

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November 7, 2012 · 9:16 am

The Unilab Active Health Calendar 2013 @ULActiveHealth

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Filed under Events

Gabriel’s Symphony 2012 Update

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Filed under Pinay In Action

The Proof Is In The Pavement

It’s a Saturday and am not riding my bike.

And nope, I am not fussed.  Given the time constraints that I have, today is the day I put my foot down, lace my shoes up, and start training properly for my first marathon.  Yup, you read that right. I’ve never really done a stand-alone marathon event.  The six 42k runs which I’ve done have always been preceded by a 3.8km swim and a 180km bike. I’m not downplaying those runs at all, but I think it’s high time I give myself a chance to try and start a 42km without my old unwanted companions Backache and Energy Deficit.

I’ve always known that my first marathon event was going to be special, and this year I am finally realizing my dream with the help of my Timex family, who was generous enough to give me a slot for the famous New York Marathon on Nov 4.  Timex has been a part of the NYM for a long time now, and am happy to have their support, as well as the support of my local partners Timex PhilippinesUnilab Active Health and Adidas Philippines.

Most of my major triathlon races of the year are done with, and now I finally feel like I have the all-clear to focus on one event. When I gave birth to Dash almost 9months ago now, I set certain goals for myself:

1. To race within two months: Check, Timex Run, Jan 22 2012.

2. To race a Half Ironman within the first quarter: Check, Aviva Singapore 70.3 March 18 2012.

3. To race an Ironman within the first 6mos: Check, Ironman Australia Port Macquarie May 6 2012.

4. To race New York Marathon with a decent runner’s time, 3.5weeks before Dash turns a year old.

5. To race Timex 226, our local Iron distance triathlon, to mark the weekend of Dash’s 1st birthday!

Looking at the calendar, I have 10weeks to prepare for no.4 and 14 weeks to prepare for no.5. At this point though, a run focus is what the heart and soul is asking for, and THANK GOD the body is healthy and injury-free.

If I were to be brutally honest to myself, I just haven’t done the work this year to merit being called a marathon runner. I have too much respect for the distance. When I was training for Ironman Australia, the longest run I did was 22k. Granted, I only had a very small window of opportunity to do this as during the peak week of training for that race Dash was only 4mos old. So I am not beating myself up over that! But I told my husband Dan that I wanted to stop using Dash as an excuse after 6months–the “I just gave birth” card was just getting old. Maybe not for anyone else but for myself it was.

So I am calling on my inner Pam Reed as I will need that persevering spirit to help me last in the longest of my long runs.  I am also calling on the Lady of Fortitude, the Lady of  Endurance and the Lady of Multi Tasking Moms. Why we don’t have icons in their images beats me. I would also like to honor the original marathoner, Pheidippides (and pray that I don’t suffer his fate!).

To my fellow would-be marathon inductees, happy running and see you at the finish line…the proof is in the pavement.

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Filed under Adidas, Random Thoughts, Running, Timex, Unilab Active Health