Category Archives: Pinay In Action
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: https://anikarina.com/2009/07/03/becoming-a-runner/).
Thanks for entrusting me to be on the newsstands, Runner’s World Philippines 🙂 It’s a real honor!
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.
Transitioning From Arts to Triathlon
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.”
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.
Aviva Singapore 70.3 was my very first half ironman triathlon in September 2007. So I think it is quite special that I had the perfect opportunity to do it again as my first triathlon race post-pregnancy. I came and went to the race venue like a blur, just like my life has been the past couple of months. That is what happens when you are taking care of a newborn.
Dan was racing too and we had meant to take Dash with us but since his passport could not be processed in time I decided to fly in just before the check-in and leave right after the race. I am very thankful to my sister Sinag for helping take care of Dash overnight. I carried my breast pump with me and used it every 4 hours, and on race day I pumped in the changing tent before transition closed and soon after I crossed the finish line!
We were very lucky to have been hosted by lovely couple Ebbie and Sheri Baghaie, who are fellow triathletes. They had another guest triathlete, Jogger Joel, who is a real character ( http://joggerjoel.blogspot.com/ ) ! Check out how he sets up his nutrition on the go…
I am very happy to have finished my first triathlon back… I just checked my logbook and my average number of training sessions per week was 4x…sometimes less! I barely swam but since I knew I would finish the swim either way I was not too worried. When I had time I would prioritize biking and running. Sometimes I was only able to run once a week. Not ideal but I am just telling you what is in my logbook. The one thing I got going for me is the fact that I had some stocked knowledge from years of racing and bags of confidence, haha!
So just to have an idea of how I got to do a 70.3 in 3.5months post-delivery, here is a timetable:
TRAINING HIGHLIGHTS FROM Zero to Seventy-Point-Three…
Day 1: Walk 15minutes with Baby Dash.
Day 8: Run 4minutes.
Day 10: Run 14minutes.
Day14: Swim 1k.
Day 15: Run 23 minutes.
Week 3: Bike 35min
Week 5: Bike 1hour
Week 7: Run 1hour
JAN 22: TIMEX RUN 10k (54minutes)
Week 12: 100km Bike Ride
Week 13: 16km Run
MAR 3: 92KM FONDO MANILA BIKE RIDE
MAR 4: 21KM RUN UNITED1 (2:10hours)
MAR 18: AVIVA SINGAPORE IM 70.3 (6:09hours)
Well that about sums up my road back to fitness so far. I am still progressing day by day but the main priority for me now is for my baby to be healthy and have a good loving environment. Luckily his Dad is very supportive of my work and training and is very hands-on with Dash as well.
Up next this year is a full Ironman and the NYC Marathon. Looking forward already!
P.S. Special thanks to Icon de Jesus and James Tagara for the race day shots!
Every September, Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children facing various challenges in life, holds a 12-Hour Multi Sport Event to raise funds for its cause (http://gabrielsymphony.com/). As always we planned a whirlwind of activities for our participants and supporters, including a swim-a-thon, bike-a-thon, adventure race for kids, aquathlon and triathlon for kids, run races, soccer and martial arts demos, and a small expo area.
A lot of people showed up to help including The Younghusband Football Academy, Triathlon Association of the Philippines, P.A.V.I.C.Philippines, Hyundai, and local age group teams and triathletes like Arland Macasieb, Nonoy and Joyette Jopson, Maiqui Dayrit, Willy Chiongbian, and Hans Kristian Juan. Kristian biked for 12hours straight, his 5th year of doing so, and Maiqui, who does an Ironman during the event every single year, actually qualified for Kona this October and will bring the cause of Gabriel’s Symphony all the way to the World Championships!
My favorite parts of the day of course, were the kids races. I am so proud of the participants for wanting to help their fellow children in need. (to read more, please click this link: http://teamtimex.timexblogs.com/2011/09/04/making-childrens-lives-better-year-9/ )
To view album, please click:
Greetings to all our Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation friends and supporters!
It is with great happiness that we invite you to the 9th staging of the Gabriel’s Symphony 12Hour Multi-Sport Celebration in Memory of Gabriel.
The main thrust of the foundation is to make a difference in the lives of children with special needs. These include children with cleft lip and palate and those who are visually and hearing-impaired. We have also been helping indigent children develop their potential, such as the children of Daang Hari and Marillac Hills, some of whom have shown potential as runners and athletes. To read more about advocacies and programs, please click: http://gabrielsymphony.com/?page_id=13
As always, we have prepared a lot of activities for everyone on Saturday, September 3 2011 at the Alabang Country Club. Some of these include:
1. One Hour Swim-a-thon
2. One Hour Run-a-thon
3. Two Hour Bike-a-thon
4. Triathlon for Adults
5. SuperTriKids Triathlon
6. Mile Run Races: Buddy Run and Walk Your Dog
All the details for the activities mentioned are on our website. We will also have demonstration games by the Younghusband Football Academy, and an Adventure Race for Daang Hari and Marillac Hills children. Timex and Alaska Milk are sharing with us their fun activity booths and puzzles for the kids as part of this.
For those who want to donate old shoes, swimbikerun.ph will also have a booth there. You may also want to check out our Recycling Depot Project: http://gabrielsymphony.com/?p=367
We hope you can join us celebrate with Gabriel on September 3, looking forward to seeing you all there!
Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation
A couple of weeks ago I gave a run clinic for some blind kids and teenagers competing in the National Paralympics. It was my first time to do such a thing and the best way to describe it would be: eye opening. The clinic was organized by PAVIC, which stands for Parents of Visibly Impaired Children, and Pinay In Action.
I learned so much more from them than I was able to impart I think, but it was a good way of sharing. I would love to go back and work with them some more in the future!
Since I took so long to blog about this anyway, here is the article by Babeth Lolarga:
Pinay interior designer wins int’l triathlon event
By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia
While the nation whooped it up over Manny Pacquiao’s latest victory, a Filipino woman quietly flew home, lugging an international medal and trophy for the more physically taxing and rigorous sport of triathlon.
Her feat has received scant media attention, overshadowed by Pacquiao’s latest triumph.
Ani de Leon, 35, topped the Ironman 70.3 Race Series in Kenting, Taiwan, for the overall amateur category three weeks ago. Only one slot was given away to qualify for the world championships, and it went to her. She also finished ahead of other amateur women categories.
The first time her mother, feminist Anna Leah Sarabia, saw her compete, she described the sport as “masochistic” because Ani swims, bikes and runs longer distances than what’s required in the Olympics.
De Leon, an interior design graduate of the University of the Philippines and a visual artist on the side, looks back on how she got into sports.
“I was inspired by the commercial of gymnast Bea Lucero, but swimming with my sister Sinag throughout high school and college got me hooked into sports for the long haul,” she recalled. “After college, it was triathlon all the way. It seemed the most logical because Sinag and my UP friends were into it. I developed a lifelong love for it.”
While others may consider triathlon an extreme sport, she does not because she has taught her body to adapt.
“It is normal for my body to function that way,” she noted. “A lot of athletes, who are discovering multi-sport, will see this for themselves.”
She continued: “Humans are built to go long distances as evidenced in prehistoric times when man hunted for food. We have powerful engines; our frames can support that. So I am exploring how far my body-mind can go.”
She trains all-year-round since triathletes always join different kinds of competition. She said she plans to join six major international races in the Ironman and 70.3 calendar next year. That is roughly one every two months, not counting local races she participates in.
She maintains a disciplined schedule, but has taken time to pioneer the training of future Filipino triathletes. She is the coach of two squads: SuperTriKids and IronKids. The first group is under the Triathlon Association of the Philippines while the second is under the Ironman brand, which Fred Uytengsu of Alaska Milk acquired recently.
Together with Senator Pia Cayetano’s Pinay in Action, she visits public high schools, teaching kids, mostly girls, how to run. De Leon said all three organizations work for the same goal, that is, to get kids outdoors, get them active and embark them on a lifetime commitment to fitness and well-being. I
“It’s a great self-esteem and character builder, better than playing video games the whole weekend,” she observed.
Asked if a person can make a living out of being a professional sports woman, she answered: “If you decide to be a fulltime triathlete in the Philippines, it is not that easy. I am lucky because I’ve embraced the sport fully. I earn from coaching and holding training camps, conducting run clinics and organizing races. It is not work for me because I enjoy it.”
Since 2001, she has represented the country as national short-course athlete, then long-course athlete towards late 2007 to the present.
The first triathlon event she participated in was also in 2001 in Dumaguete City at the National Triathlon Trials.
Short course is one km swim,30 km bike, and 10 km run.Long course is two km swim,80 km bike and 10 km run.
Explaining her leap from short to long-distance events, she said: “Triathlon as a sport has a lot of race distances. Generally, if you are below 30, you excel in short-distance events. Once you hit 30 and above, you excel in long-distance endurance events.”
When competing, she feels tremendous happiness. It is her chance to experience nature closely. She explained: “I get to know different places really well. There is nothing like swimming, biking, and running from point to point which forces you to commune with all the elements.”
Racing has taken her all over Asia, parts of Australia and the United States to represent the Philippines. Her most memorable competition was the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
“Crossing the finish line there with the Philippine flag brought me to tears,” she recalled.
She continues to be inspired and driven by the performances of other athletes like Chrissie Wellington and Michellie Jones. She described them as “amazing women for whom I have so much respect.”
“Knowing that they are pushing the boundaries on behalf of all women makes me want to be like them, but I’m doing it in my own way,” she pointed out.
The bronze-bodied de Leon is aware that she is five years shy of 40 and her body may feel differently once she crosses that age. She is undaunted, having met female professionals still competing at the top of the field at 40.
As for her budding interior design career that was nipped in the bud, she shrugged and said: “I have shelved it and embraced the world of multi-sport full time.”
“Having said that, I am still going to be involved with triathlon through coaching,” she vowed. “I love helping kids achieve their potential in sports and in life.”
Pinay In Action is holding a Christmas Party with Run Races and other games this Dec 11 in Daang Hari for the barefoot running kids. If you would like to participate by joining and helping out you can do this just by showing up and playing with them and/ or you can also give some gifts to make their day.
Here are the Christmas Party Shirts we will be giving them, worked on the designs based on Senator Pia’s idea.
Hope you can join us!!!