Category Archives: Articles

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!!!




Filed under Race Report, Random Thoughts

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.


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

How I gained weight and found myself on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine….

Sometime late January this year, I got a call from Runner’s World Editor-In-Chief Marie Calica. She asked if I could drop by their office and studio for a feature. I said, “sure!” without thinking too much about it. So come early Feb I went to the Summit Studio with Dashy in tow, and lo and behold: I was informed then and there that I would be their Cover Feature.

Marie and Angel Constantino told me they did not want me to feel pressured which was why they didn’t tell me sooner. My baby was just two and a half months old then so I was still not back to my normal weight. Far from it. I took it in stride but deep down I was thinking, “Err….COVER? Right Now? Are you serious ???” Please don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have an issue with the extra weight I had, and I was on the way to getting back into shape, in my own time. But as a lifelong athlete, I loved this magazine, so forgive me for wanting to look good in it!

Thank goodness the camera and styling crew were real pros, and Adidas had supplied me recently with loose-fitting outfits! This is the one time I had hoped they would “photoshop” any unflattering bits. The actual cover shoot was quite funny, which found yours truly inhaling sharply and deeply on several (okay, maybe like 50) occasions just to get my tummy to look flat. Not only that, they did not tell me this but I think it took them some time to configure which top and bottom would have the most coverage. Haha 🙂

I had to wait a couple of months just like everybody else to see how the photos came out. I was resigned to the fact that I had just graced the cover of one of the most iconic sports magazines not looking my best.  When I finally saw it I had to send the Runner’s World crew a thank you message saying thanks for editing it so that I didn’t look that bad (read: fat)! According to them, I was mistaken because they didn’t even need to edit the photos that much. Well, I’ll never know if they were just saying that to be nice.  But here it is, plus the featured article inside.

In hindsight, I am impressed that they chose to go with a subject who was not necessarily skinny. Runners do come in all shapes and sizes, and I am happy to represent in whatever manner  (see blog:

 Thanks for entrusting me to be on the newsstands, Runner’s World Philippines 🙂 It’s a real honor!


Filed under Adidas, Mommy-hood, Pinay In Action, Running, Selected Features, Timex, Uncategorized

In love with my Yurbuds Sports Earphones!

I don’t do product reviews very often because I only really like to write about things that I believe in. Not too long ago my very good friends Maiqui and Gianina Dayrit brought in these amazing sports earphones that have upgraded my workout music set-up… fits perfectly, doesn’t fall off, and the designs are pretty cool as well.  Love my Yurbuds!

Check out these pink ones girls! But they normally come in red 🙂

Yurbuds Philippines is on Facebook:

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Dove Hair Therapy Philippines Press Launch

Finally Dove Hair Care Products have found their way to the Philippines! I have been a longtime fan of the ad campaigns of Dove in the US showcasing “real women” and was so surprised when they contacted me to be one of the brand ambassadors in the Philippines… the TVC with Angel Jacob is out, stay tuned for the print version and online video clips coming soon!

Follow @dovehair on twitter 🙂

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Filed under Dove Hair Therapy Philippines, Selected Features

Female Network: 100 Amazing Filipinas

Superstars: Ani de Leon-Brown

Champion triathlete Ani de Leon-Brown is always running toward the finish line, often leaving others in the dust. Ani has competed for most of her life, and she is a three-time Philippine National Triathlete champion and the Philippine record holder for various marathons. At the Ironman Malaysia, she came in first in the female age 30 to 34 category, which earned her a slot in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She was the first Filipino woman to join this international competition.

Ani doesn’t stop there. As a coach, she also works to promote sports and a healthy active lifestyle of  as program manager of Pinay In Action: Women Empowerment through Fitness Program and of the SuperKids Triathlon Youth Development Program of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines. She is currently enjoying her son, Dash, whom she gave birth to a few months ago.

Words by Ana Santos. Photo by Carlo Vergara; first used in July 2011 in Good Housekeeping Philippines..

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Filed under Pinay In Action, Selected Features

Transitioning from Arts to Triathlon

Transitioning From Arts to Triathlon

Coach Ani de Leon-Brown’s multi-faceted journey in life
March 27, 2012, 3:09am

Manila, Philippines – Life sometimes brings us unexpected surprises—whether it’s in the career we choose to take or the lifestyle we pursue that we think suits us best. For Ani De Leon-Brown, it seemed serendipitous that she grew up surrounded by art, yet she found a more fulfilling calling in coaching people and training athletes for triathlon.

“As a kid, my siblings and I are trained to be artists,” she shares. Turns out, her father is Felipe De Leon (Jr.), a humanities and arts professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) and the current chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and her grandfather is National Artist for Music, Felipe Padilla De Leon (Sr.).

De Leon-Brown was trained mostly in visual arts. Her hands are adept in drawing and painting as an artist. However, the athletic call was quite hard to ignore.

Inspired by acclaimed gymnast Bea Lucero on Milo ads, De Leon-Brown pursued gymnastics in her later years in grade school. Then, she started swimming back in her high school sophomore year.

De Leon-Brown accompanied her elder sister, who was suffering from asthma, to swimming training sessions. “I just accompanied her and I was like, ‘Ok, I don’t know how to swim.’ The doctor told my sister to try out swimming to cure her asthma and she became quite good at the sport.” Ditto for De Leon-Brown.

In college, De Leon-Brown took up Interior Design in UP. She joined the university’s varsity swim team, where she even became team captain.

After graduating from college, De Leon-Brown worked as in-house designer for a private brand (which no longer exists). She even had her own art gallery. But, it seemed that her body and mindset missed the physical competitiveness of triathlon. “I’m very competitive. At the start, I wanted to be good at it. At that time, we (a group of athletes) were the pioneers in coaching [for triathlon in the Philippines.] There were no coaches yet at that time.” De Leon-Brown would go to Australia, and through her own funds, would enroll herself in training camps there to improve her skills.

She would stay in Australia from two to three months for training. “I also like traveling around. If you’re somebody who’s adventurous like me, doing training camps abroad is ok. You have to do everything yourself. Even if you have friends in Australia, you can’t always depend on them.”

The training itself was manageable, but other aspects, like living expenses and lodging, were a different story. “You have to be resourceful,” says De Leon-Brown. “I looked for a house that would allow for housemates. It’s really about being strategic, otherwise it’s expensive.”

“When people found out that I was going out to these high-performance camps, they asked me for some help and I said, ‘Sure, sure.’ And when it became too time-consuming, I started charging. Then it started from there,” De Leon-Brown says. With training sessions and triathlon commitments, De Leon-Brown figured out that she had to give up her designing career for practical reasons. “Triathlon took over my life and I had to quit my day job as an interior designer. But I’m very happy. You never know what life brings you. I still paint on the side. It’s very minimal, though.”

Finding fulfillment

De Leon-Brown shares that her foray into triathlon was at a time when running events were not in vogue yet in the Philippines. “In a way, I prefer how I got into the sport when there wasn’t all the hype yet,” she says. “When [some fellow athletes and I] were starting, it’s quite amusing. Like on my part, I would even borrow a bike and the equipment we used were not that advanced. But I feel more satisfied in doing it that way, old school. It was trial and error before but we enjoyed it.” She even recalls how she and 12 other athletes went to Subic one time. They were in one van, with their bikes crammed over together.

Nowadays, De Leon-Brown shares that hi-tech gadgets and equipment are readily available for aspiring triathletes. She is glad to be able to see triathlon’s development in the Philippines.

As a coach, De Leon-Brown prefers to be friendly and encouraging. “I’ve had different kinds of coaches, and I had one coach who terrorized everyone so I vowed to myself that I would never be like that.” It helped that one of her mentors was relaxed in contrast. “So I said to myself that I’m going to be like that. But when I have to be hard and firm on someone, I can also toughen up if I know that an athlete can still manage to do it despite complaining. If you’re too nice, an athlete won’t be able to improve.”

It’s about having the right balance of attitude toward her trainees. “An athlete is also a person,” she relates. “It’s not only the physical side that you have to take care of, especially for younger groups. You have to take care of their emotional wellbeing because it can affect their performance. You have to find what makes them tick. Others need someone who’s nurturing while others don’t like it.” Seeing her trainees win (and even beat her) empowers her as a coach. “It means that I did a good job. To help somebody achieve their goals is more satisfying.”

De Leon-Brown was recently appointed as a Sports & Recreation (S&R) consultant for the Pico De Loro Beach & Country Club in Nasugbu, Batangas together with her husband Dan. As S&R consultants, they want to further promote it as an ideal sports venue, with marathon and triathlon events in the pipeline.

These days, De Leon-Brown observes that Filipinos are getting less intimidated by triathlon. “It has become more popular, like everyone knows somebody who’s into the sport.” It’s a matter of positive influence, where triathlon’s different race levels and distances encourage more Filipinos to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Triathlon works out different muscle groups through swimming, biking and running. “Triathlon is [more fun] if you do it with friends,” De Leon-Brown advises.

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Filed under Pico de Loro, Pinay In Action, Selected Features, Sponsors and Partners

Thanks for the Women’s Month feature!!!

Link to article:

In[FOCUS] Women’s Month Special | Ani de Leon-Brown

SLS3 Butterfly Blue Sox is back in black and guess who’s back? No other Filipina triathlete symbolizes the epitome of Women’s Empowerment other than our next Women’s Month In[FOCUS] special feature.

She’s the first in a lot of things when it comes to our triathlon history. Not to mention, she’s also our first In[FOCUS] athlete too! Wrapping up our Women’s Month Special, let’s welcome back on, Ms. Ani de Leon-Brown!

Read on as talks with the newest mom on the block making her comeback to elite fitness. Find out what keeps mommy Ani busy, what keeps her ticking, and her game plan for the 2012 racing season. More importantly, in this interview, she showed us that just like the rest of us mere age-groupers, she can do a 6 hour Ironman 70.3 too! Welcome back to Ani! :)

Ani : Thanks am happy to be featured again, and congratulations on the continued success of your website!

Photobucket In[FOCUS] Numero Uno You were our first In[FOCUS] athlete. It’s been a year and 2 months since that interview! Seems like a lot of things happened to you since we featured you last January 1, 2011! From serious racing to mommy mode! (click here to read our 1st In[FOCUS] feature!)

Ani : Yes I am now doing the balancing act of getting back into good racing shape maybe towards the end of the year and taking care of our wonderful bundle of joy!


Mommy Ani and Dash How’s motherhood coming along?

Ani : I love it! I enjoy being with my baby and husband so much. It is an exciting time for us as a new family.


Bike Wins! You have three seconds to decide! Changing diapers or riding your bike? :)

Ani : Haha. Riding the bike wins hands down. You recently joined Aviva Singapore 70.3. Tell us about that race. Thanks also for making us know that the world is still round and that you’re human just like the rest us by not rocking a sub 5 just a couple of months after giving birth! :)

Ani : Yes I also really wanted to race soon after giving birth simply because that’s what I love to do. People think that just because I am used to racing at a certain level I am obsessive about it. I do not have any kind of ego that will prevent me from having a good time if I can’t go fast. Finishing a triathlon is a basic joy for me, just like any age grouper. Winning or placing well is only secondary.


Welcome Back Coach! What does your 2012 racing schedule look like? Are you 100% back in racing mode?

Ani : The year is looking like: Singapore 70.3/ Pico Tri/ Tri United 1/ Ironman Port Macquarie/ 5150/ Tri United 2/ Philippines 70.3/ New York Marathon.   It’s more of I’ll see how I go as the year goes by but this race schedule is intact either way. Whether I go hard for a particular event or not will depend on my progression. (No TIMEX 226??? – cdg)


The Brown Trio You’re married to pro athlete Coach Dan Brown. We’ve been wondering about this question for the longest time! Since you are both coaches, who coaches who??

Ani : Haha. Believe it or not we do our own thing. Sometimes we train together but right now I am not fast enough to keep up during rides so I can only really do track sessions and pool sessions with him. It does help to have someone bounce off ideas though! Aside from getting back into shape and mommy duties, what’s keeping you busy?

Ani : Right now I am Race Director of Alaska Ironkids Philippines, Sports and Recreation Consultant of Pico de Loro, Coach of Pinay in Action and various kids and age groups squads, Brand Ambassador of TIMEX, Unilab Active Health, and Adidas.


TIMEX Represent! You’re a member of the TIMEX international  triathlon team. Tell us about the team. What’s the biggest difference being part of an international team as compared to being a member of the national team or a local team? Is there a lot more pressure to win? Do they expect results from all their members?

Ani : The Timex international Multisport Team is a great bunch of people. Each member is there for a certain reason, not necessarily just because they are high performance athletes. The main thing is we all spread triathlon goodwill so to speak and help uplift the image of TIMEX wherever we may be. As you may have noticed, we turned the site pink last month in celebration of Women Empowerment and Breast Cancer awareness. How do you balance training, being a wife, and being a full time mom? What advice can you give to everyone who wants to start living the active and healthy lifestyle?

Ani : I am new to all of this so I am learning. Dan and I have had some challenges and have accepted that we will still have but the best part is we are quick to admit where we have made mistakes and can move forward from there quite well. I don’t think I am any different from any other working mom out there, it is a tough job but very very much worth it!

My advice to other women is find out what form of exercise inspires you and suits your needs. Mine just happens to be triathlon, that may not necessarily work for everyone. Having said that though, I really want more women to try it out so that they can see it’s not as extreme as they deem it to be.


Happy Family What’s the toughest change you had to deal with when you became a mom?

Ani : A lot of lifestyle changes had to be made including being disciplined about going to bed extra early because that is the only way I could have any kind of rest. Also I had to cut back on the social scene a little bit. It was really only hard in the first three months but Dash has just turned four months old on the 29th of March so we are settling into our routine nicely now. You’ve been in this crazy world of triathlon for the longest time. How lucky are the newbie triathletes now compared to when you guys were just starting?

Ani : Very lucky in the sense that they have access to all these information, equipment, good coaching, training venues, etc. But I am still very happy to have gone the path I did because I really appreciate having started from scratch and maybe learning the hard way sometimes but it has made me a more well-balanced athlete. I vividly remember Brett Sutton at the TeamTBB website saying there will be a Filipino triathlete at the 2012 London Olympics. Do you think that can still happen? What do you think needs to be done to make that dream a reality?

Ani : Maybe not this year but definitely that is in the works. Just between you and me (and maybe thousands of other readers), The Doc himself is making an appearance again here soon!!!


Next Step Tri Camp 2 Participants Talk to us about the Next Step tri camps! Seems like the number of participants is getting bigger and bigger each year! What differs the Next Step tri camps from the other tri camps being organized ?

Ani : I think we are very blessed in the sense that we partner with the right kind of organizations and brands. This year we continued our partnership with Unilab Active Health, Gatorade, Rudy Project, Timex, and a spectacular training venue in Pico de Loro. It’s very hard to not have a great camp when all of those things are put together! Name four things you can’t live without?

Ani : Apart from my family? Hmmm… my timex watches, my bike, my adidas shoes, and chocolate! Are you still open to one-on-one personal coaching? If so, how can they contact you?

Ani : Right now only if they can make it to my time slots. I have cut back tremendously in the past year as my priority is Dash. They can email me at Again, thanks for the time Ani. :)

Ani : Anytime!!!


Representing the Women Triathletes

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Filed under Mommy-hood, Selected Features

‘Just get up and run’


The partner athletes behind Unilab’s Active Health campaign encourage families to get started on exercise programs—and to keep things fun to stay on them


12:44 am | Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Race organizer Rio del Rosario

Triathlete Ani de Leon-Brown has been active all her life—until she got pregnant and had to slow down. A 10K used to be an “easy run,” but three months after giving birth, she could hardly run for four minutes straight.

“It was very hard for me to get back to my former speed. My first run was just four minutes, and the next was 10. After three days, I was able to complete 10 minutes, then 15,” she explained. “The thing with running is you have to slug it out for the first two weeks, then it will get better—and you will feel better.”

The new mom is a three-time Philippine National Triathlon champion and the first Filipino woman to join the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She is promoting an active lifestyle not just for women, but for the whole family, reminding everyone that getting active means having energy to do more things.

Ani is one of the partner athletes in Unilab’s Active Health campaign. She and husband Dan, runners Rio del Rosario and Jaymie Pizarro, and cyclist Raul Cuevas recently gave a talk on how to start and stay active.

The event, held at Holiday Inn Galleria in Ortigas, Pasig, also introduced Unilab’s lineup of sports activities for the year.

Family run

Active Health is the fitness division of Unilab Laboratories, Inc., a 65-year-old pharmaceutical company (among its brands are Enervon, Alaxan, Myra). It has been hosting the Run United, Bike United and Tri United events since 2010.

RUNNER Jaymie Pizarro

The three-leg Run United will be on March 4 (registration closed), June 17, and Sept. 16; the Tri United triathlon will be on April 14-15 in Batangas, June 30-July 1 in Bataan, and Nov. 10-11; and the first-ever Run United Philippine Marathon will be on Oct. 28.

Registration fee is from P350 to P900, and part of the proceeds will go to the Gawad Kalusugan (the health program of Gawad Kalinga) and Hero Foundation. Organizers said joining fee covers logistics cost.

Unilab Active Health head Alex Panlilio said Run United focuses on gathering family members of different fitness levels; that’s why it has a 500-meter dash for kids, and more competitive 5, 10 and 21K distances. “We call it a ‘family run’ because we believe that if someone in the family is into fitness, he can influence the others. And running also provides family bonding time.”

Panlilio recently did his first triathlon. He considers himself a beginner.

“I was into basketball when I was younger, but there came a time when when I let myself go,” he said. “I tried running 5K and I couldn’t even get past a kilometer! That’s when I decided to train.”

Triathlete Ani de Leon-Brown

Since running calls for a lifestyle change, Panlilio said it is also important to surround yourself with people who are into it.

Find a way

You are never too young or too old to get active; it is a matter of getting started and keeping your activities exciting.

Kids can be “programmed” at an early age, said Ani, while it’s more of mental and physical conditioning for adults. “I know it is very hard to get up very in the morning, so it is best to join a group so that you can follow a training time and routine.”

Ani, also a coach and trainer, said you have to set realistic goals, then work on how to sustain it. Her tip: Work around your schedule, find time within your work and family life, identify goal rate, and slowly build up your runs around it. Prioritize. Being too busy is not an excuse, because “if you want it hard enough you will find a way.”

Pizarro, a mother of two and publisher of The Bull Runner Magazine, said running is a convenient way to get fit, especially for multitasking women. “You can squeeze in outdoor runs in the morning. If it’s too hot in the daytime, you can run on the treadmill; at night, you can run with friends. It is very flexible. Make sure running won’t be hassle so that you wouldn’t easily give up.”

And while running complements your life, you should never forget to have fun.

“I can be very competitive,” said Pizarro. “So my weekday runs are fast, while my weekend runs with friends are more relaxed. We don’t worry about time  and personal records, just what we’ll be having for breakfast afterwards.”

Pizarro is organizing the Bull Runner Dream Marathon on March 18.

Avoid injuries

CYCLIST Raul Cuevas

Ready to run? Now keep these in mind to avoid injuries.

Preparation is key, said Dan, a 15-time Ironman finisher and former coach of the Philippine Triathlon team. Follow a progression and build your speed slowly. Don’t overdo it.

Del Rosario said passion is good, but you don’t have to be too aggressive. Start slow. Your initial goal should be to finish a 3K run-walk until you can run the whole length. Do this until you can finish 5K without walking. Also, find out your foot type (flat-footed, high-arch, neutral) and invest in proper running shoes. His RunRio race company organizes all Unilab Active Health events.

Visit and for registration details.

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Filed under Athletes, Programs, Selected Features, Unilab Active Health

A Fast Journey To Love

The Better Half
February 19, 2012, 3:38am
As a couple, Dan and Ani share the same wavelength in love and triathlon. Photo by RUDY LIWANAG
As a couple, Dan and Ani share the same wavelength in love and triathlon. Photo by RUDY LIWANAG


MANILA, Philippines — Destiny strikes when you least expect it. For triathlon coaches Dan and Ani Brown, true love hit them at an unexpected time, quickly forming into a strong bond forged by a shared love for triathlon and success.

Ani (nee De Leon) first met Dan in Subic, where the latter resided then. It was on November 5, 2010 when they got acquainted through a common friend: Senator Pia Cayetano.

“Ani arranged to do a bike ride in Subic Bay with some of the people she coached, including [Senator Cayetano,]” recalls Dan. “At that time, I was also coaching some [members of the Philippine Triathlon Team] and [Senator Cayetano] invited us to join them.”

The following day, Dan and Ani met at a triathlon event in Olongapo, where they were both coaching their respective teams. While the race was going on, Dan invited Ani to go for a swim across to a nearby island from the race venue during their spare time. Ani obliged, and Dan thought, “This girl’s okay.”

The next morning, Ani participated in a Milo 21k run in Zambales. Afterwards, Dan asked Ani to have breakfast with him. And they started to hit it off. Clearly, the chemistry between them was hard to ignore.

“I thought that Ani has a strong character,” says Dan on his first impression about his wife. “She’s very confident and she has a very kind personality. She’s nice to everyone around her and she looks amazing.”

On Ani’s part, she liked Dan immediately. “He’s friendly but he’s not overly friendly,” she shares. “He’s quite serious. He’s intense about his passion for his work and for triathlon. I liked that about him. And since he’s Australian, he also knows how to relax and have fun. He’s a professional athlete but he’s not so rigid about it. He can have a beer every now and then. I’m just relaxed around him.”

It also helped that both of them are sports coaches who share the same principles and ideas about triathlon. “We share the same wavelength for coaching,” says Dan.

While they were dating, the Manila-based Ani would visit Dan and vise-versa. “We were engaged a month after we met, on December 11, 2010,” shares Ani.

Yes, it was that fast. For this couple, it was a matter of having a strong gut feeling that his/her partner was “The One,” something that they had not felt before.

“I just knew straight away that it’s going to work,” relates Dan. “Otherwise, if I had a doubt in my mind about it, I wouldn’t go for it to begin with.” Ditto for Ani. “You just know when this kind of thing happens,” she adds.

Their engagement was romantic but not dramatic. It was just an ordinary night, a dinner complemented by wine. when Dan popped the question after their meal. The two had previously talked about getting engaged, but for Ani, it was still a special moment when Dan asked her to marry him.

Interestingly, Ani met Dan when she wasn’t keen on dating anyone. “I had just broken up with somebody a month before I met Dan,” she discloses. “I said to myself that I’m going to take a rest from dating, lie low for a while, and just enjoy being single.”

Ani had her support group, “The Screening Committee,” a group of male triathlete friends who made a bunch of ‘rules’ that any future date or suitor must pass. The rules included the following: He has to be a competitive biker (the moment he is not able to keep up with the bike race, he’s out); and he has to be able to drink a lot of alcoholic beverages such as beer.

“One night, I told my friends that I’ll be bringing Dan over,” says Ani. “Even though I didn’t think that I needed their approval, I still wanted them to meet Dan.” In a nutshell, Dan “passed” the tests and won the respect and friendship of Ani’s friends. “To be honest, they really accepted me and I also liked them. Ani’s close friends have become my close friends as well,” remarks Dan, who credits them for learning more about local etiquette in the Philippines.

On March 5, 2011, Dan and Ani flew to Sydney, Australia. It was Ani’s first time to meet Dan’s family and relatives. “He’s from a really nice family,” says Ani. “They’re very close to each other.” According to Dan, “My family loved Ani. They thought she was good for me.”

The couple hosted a party for Dan’s family in Sydney. In a way, it was their pre-wedding celebration before they tied the knot in the Philippines.

Dan and Ani got married in a simple wedding ceremony in a small Catholic church in Subic on April 16, 2011.

Just as they were embracing newlywed bliss, the couple discovered that they were expecting their first child. As Ani recalls, “It was funny because we were talking about having a baby around January 2011 and we were like, ‘Maybe we’ll have it around the end of the year.’”

The pregnancy came earlier than expected, and Ani suddenly had to turn down some triathlon race commitments, such as a slot for the Timex Global Team. Fortunately, her peers and sponsors understood her situation. “Personally, I also registered for these triathlon events and invested my own money in them,” says Ani, “but it’s a blessing when we found out that I was pregnant. Of course it happened sooner than we expected, but we were still happy.”

The couple welcomed their first born, a baby boy named Dash, on November 29, 2011.

Apart from being newly-minted parents, Dan and Ani are also working together as the newest Sports & Recreation (S&R) Consultants of Pico de Loro Cove, a leisure haven located in Hamilo Coast, SM Land’s “premier coastal development” area in Nasugbu, Batangas.

As S&R Consultants, Dan and Ani are in charge of developing fitness and wellness programs for Pico de Loro’s residents, members and guests. The couple has marathon and triathlon events in the pipeline, as well as regular training sessions for running, among others. They plan to promote Pico de Loro as an ideal destination for sports camps and activities.

As professionals, Dan and Ani feel that they “work well together.” While they always discuss ideas together, Dan and Ani have defined their individual roles when it comes to training people and athletes. Ani will handle trainees from the kids to beginners range, whereas Dan will aid people who qualify for the levels of intermediate and professional.

For couples who work professionally together, Ani says that one has to have a lot of respect for his/her partner. “You cannot always expect to agree with each other,” she says. “Even if we say that Dan and I are very compatible and that we are on the same wavelength most of the time, we have a lot of disagreements as well. Thus, you have to respect your partner’s opinion and consider him/her too.”

It’s the basic rule of give-and-take, with patience on the side. And, as their day jobs can be physically taxing, getting lots of sleep may also help avoid unnecessary stress-induced arguments.

Shot on location at Pico de Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas. Hamilo Coast is under Costa del Hamilo, Inc. (CdHI), a subsidiary of SM Land. For more information, visit or call (02) 858-03-33.


He said:

Ani and I complement each other in a lot of ways. She completes me. She gave me more focus and a more positive outlook in life.


She said:

I told Dan and his family that he’s the best thing that happened to me, along with our son Dash. I always tell Dan that one. Dan made my life better.

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