Tag Archives: Ironman World Championships Hawaii

Pinoy Hospitality in Hawaii :)

I’ve been to Kona only twice so far, but it feels like my second home because of all the Filipinos on the Big Island!  I could never thank each and every one of them enough.  Nel Venzon, the best tour guide around, is always ready to take care of us. Our homestays were both Pinoys, first we stayed at Gelly Borromeo’s place in Alii Lani, and this time we stayed with Bong Agatep and his family in Lanakoi, just up Hualalai road…. very conveniently located, except for the fact that we had to climb uphill every time we went home haha… great workout in our huffies that’s for sure!

Of course our day would not be complete without hanging out at Tante’s… which served as our base while in town. It makes me proud to see the Filipino Resto brimming with so many people… and of course Kuya Tante and Ate Telly and the rest of the staff are just wonderful!  On race morning we even watched the swim portion from the roofdeck… if you look closely at the picture in the newspaper, I am one of the tiny tiny people, wearing a pink shirt, with the white headsweats visor and a dslr camera (thank you nanay for lending it to me!) … well of course you will need a magnifying glass haha… i just found that so cool!

I did some artwork with cray pas that I found in Borders for Tante and Bong’s family… a small way of showing my appreciation.

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Some Bike Check In Photos from Ironman Worlds 2010

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Kona Underpants Run 2010

One of my favorite Kona 2010 moments… what fun!!!

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Ironman World Championships 2010 Athletes Parade

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Around the Big Island of Hawaii

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My Ironman World Championships Race Story


 Ani Karina Sarabia de Leon

The Goal: Finish Line at Alii Drive

The Goal: Finish Line at Alii Drive

My Ironman World Championships Race Story (as written for Metro Active) Today I was able to achieve my lifelong dream.  I know that not many people get to say that.  I officially became an Ironman World Championships participant—I definitely know not very many people get to say that either. Treading the waters of Kailua-Kona Bay minutes before the race start, it almost felt like I was still watching one of those videos that I had seen hundreds of times…except for the fact that now, the giant inflatable Gatorade bottle was right beside me, and I was about to swim with a big mass of people—1,800 strong and unbelievably able bodies to be exact.  It felt surreal. How did I get here, in the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, qualified to join the greatest competition known to my sport, the Everest that all triathletes aspire to? Everything that led up to this moment suddenly flashed in my mind.  My first efforts at swimming freestyle with the help of Coaches Bernie and Noel at the U.P. pool.  My first ride in the countryside on a borrowed road bike.  My first frustrated attempts at running.  My first triathlon competition.  My long stint as a national athlete.  My countless hours of training and racing, and with it, all my career ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments, precious friends gained, lessons learned the hard way, and literally all the blood, sweat and tears that I spilled to get to where I am now.  It was an incredible journey, and one that I treasure as much as the destination itself. The cannonball fired by the US Navy to signal the race start jolts me back to reality immediately, and a mass of world-class triathletes jostle frantically for position in the water.  All that pent-up energy from months and months of preparation and anticipation are instantly unleashed and I cannot begin to describe the chaos of it all.  These were all warriors hungry for battle, and I am right there with them.  Amazingly, after a few hundred meters, I feel relaxed and it feels like any other race, and for the moment, I forget the fact that I am in the world championships.  Despite the non-stop aggression going on around me all the way to the end of the 3.8km swim, I settle into a good rhythm.  I get out of the azure waters thoroughly primed for the toughest legs still ahead: the 180km bike and the 42.2km run.  I had done my homework, and I wasn’t completely terrified.  Just a little bit…. The pros who had done this race a couple of times had forewarned me about the powerful winds which were notorious for blowing away athletes off the course.  They weren’t kidding.  Just like any typical triathlete, I had set personal time goals for my race. As I rode further out, I had a sinking feeling that I was not going to meet my target for the bike.  The winds were so strong and I felt horribly unequipped to maneuver my way through it.  My tires were literally bouncing off the road with each blast that the seas and lava fields blew in my direction. I couldn’t even let go of my handlebars long enough to drink from my bottle or to down an energy gel. I was getting tired—more mentally than physically.  I was sadly aware that I was not 100% in control of the situation.  I was fighting so hard to stay in the race, and I went in and out of it so many times.  What people don’t realize about Ironman distance racing is that it is such a long day that your attention span and your focus will inevitably wane.  I knew this of course, but that didn’t prevent it from happening.  Fortunately, I also knew that even it you get into a really bad patch, you could snap out of it and get a second wind again as if nothing happened.  I finally complete the bike leg, with much relief that I could put the winds of the Big Island behind me, and also that I didn’t suffer any crashes or mechanical problems. Now a 42.2km marathon on its own is enough to intimidate a normal person, but as I looked at my fellow competitors, this didn’t seem to bother them one bit.  It was just another day at the office.  I took my cue from them, and focused on the task at hand.  A good triathlon coach once told me, even if you are running 42km, just concentrate on the one square kilometer in front of you.  This proved to be a real good piece of advice, and as I passed mile marker by mile marker, I quietly gave myself a pat on the back.  The spectators all over the race course gave us such wonderful positive energy and this helped me move a little bit faster.  My trusty support crew of two, Patrice and Joel wrote a note for me at the motivational corner which read “Philippines Loves U,” and I choked back my emotions upon reading it.  It fired me up even more. Everyone was feeling the heat (I later learned that it reached 40C) especially towards the Energy Lab but that didn’t affect me so much.  I was hopeful till almost the very end that I would make it to my personal target of sub-12 hours.  But then when I hit the last 2 miles and realized that I needed to run two 5+ minute miles, I ditched the whole thing and just planned to enjoy myself and savor the final minutes.  Patrice had been given specific instructions to 1) find a pole to attach to the flag, 2) hand me the flag on Hualalai Road, and he had been alone in that corner waiting for me for almost two hours.  And upon seeing him I could only shout “give me my flag!!!” because I had been repeating that mantra to myself for hours by then.  I didn’t forget to thank him after the race.  But right now I was focused on seeing that finish chute, and I could finally hear the music and Mike Riley’s booming voice on the speakers. The last few hundred meters are indescribable.  I was already sobbing and I had to wipe my wet face before I hit the lights on the carpet.  The noise from the crowd was deafening but I had played those final seconds countless times in my mind and I knew what I had to do next.  I proudly waved the Philippine Flag to everybody, in its debut here on Ironman World Championships grounds, and it was beautiful. Race Day (5) I wanted to show it on behalf of all the people back home who had been waiting for this moment just like me.  I blew a kiss, took a low bow and thanked the Goddess Pele silently for teaching me a lesson in humility but at the same time being kind enough to grant me a PR. I raised the flag once again and proceeded to let myself be embraced by two Filipina catchers, Lovette and Sally, who had chosen to volunteer and wait for me to arrive. I let the tears flow freely.  I had done my job and I was glad.  My lifelong dream had come true. for more pictures, you can visit http://anikarina.multiply.com/photos/album/82/Hawaii_Ironman_World_Champs_30th_Edition http://anikarina.multiply.com/photos/album/78

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Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test

Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test Sep 14, ’08 9:00 PM
for everyone

Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test

By Francis Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:13:00 09/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Anyone who had caught a glimpse of 9-year-old Ani Karina De Leon staying up way past her bedtime and feverishly adding the final touches to “a sketch or story made up of drawings” before finally surrendering to sleep would have known even then that she was the type who finished whatever she started.
“I did not care what time it was,” recalled the now 33-year-old De Leon. “I just felt like I had to finish the sketch.”
Whatever that indistinguishable impetus was, it has served her well—even if it didn’t exactly serve the artist in her.
The former University of the Philippines swimming standout is now the country’s top female triathlete after accomplishing what no one else before her has: Qualifying for the Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Hawaii.
The event kicks off on Oct. 11.
For the clueless, triathlon is a lung-crushing sport that demands a mastery of three disciplines—swimming, biking and running. In extended distances.
Basketball’s NBA
The Ironman version of the sport is the mecca of triathletes. It is a basketball player’s NBA.
“Doing the Ironman version of triathlon is always at the back of any triathlete’s head,” De Leon explained. But not all triathletes take it seriously.
After all, Olympic triathlon is already as tough as it gets. After swimming in open, oft-choppy waters for 1.5 kilometers (that’s like swimming 30 laps in an Olympic-sized pool—during a 5.0 earthquake), you mount a bike and pedal like the end of the world is near for another 40 kilometers (Manila to Malolos, give or take a few Ks).
As if that’s not enough, when you dismount from the bike, you have to run another 10 kilometers (Manila to Pasig).
To those competing in the Ironman World Championships, Olympic triathlon has a simpler term: Warmups.
The Ironman version calls for a 3.8k swim, 180k bike (Manila to about 20k short of Lingayen, Pangasinan) and 42k run, which is equivalent to a full marathon.
So what’s a weaned-on-the-arts gal whose name means “harvest” in English doing in a sport that after you compete in makes you feel like someone is wrapping rose stalks around every muscle in your body?
“After graduating from UP, there was no masters competition for swimming and that was hard for me because I’m really such a competitive person,” said the interior design major.
“That’s why my sister and I, along with some friends decided to try triathlon, which at that time, was new in the country,” she explained.
When “at that time” came around, Ani and her sister Sinag (They have a brother named Diwa) had finished competing for the UP swim team in the UAAP. Ani had also carved her own niche in a four-year stint at the Palarong Pambansa. But the rush of competitive juices simply refused to be quelled.
“Since I already knew how to swim and I was pretty confident I could handle the bike part because my sister and I used to ride a lot when we were kids, I was pretty confident that I could do triathlon,” recalled the butterfly specialist. “I played a lot of games when I was a kid so I figured the run part would be easy.”
So easy that even when she was a newbie in the sport, De Leon plunged into competition right away, participating in the 1994 Subic International Triathlon event.
The result?
“Put it this way: After I competed there, I didn’t want to do it again,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t even run the whole way. There were parts when I simply walked.”
But where the body yielded, the competitive spirit kicked into high gear.
Borrowed bike
“I just decided to train harder, and this time, train properly,” said De Leon, recalling she was ill-prepared for the Subic tilt that she even rode a bike she borrowed just five days before the event.
But those days are behind her now. She has competed for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games as a triathlete in Manila (2005) and Thailand (2007). She also was in the 2003 team to Vietnam, but as a cyclist.
And now, after topping her age-group in the Malaysia qualifying last Feb. 28, she’s headed for Hawaii.
“I’m just excited because not a lot of people get the chance to do this,” she said, conveniently forgetting that not a lot of people would even think of trying.
Her time when she ruled the 30-34 women’s age group was 12 hours and 21 minutes.
“That’s still too far from the times of the best women triathletes in the World Championships,” she said.
And then there are other problems. Triathlon being a new sport, financial support doesn’t come easy for those who participate in it. De Leon has had to rely on sponsors who help fund her trips abroad.
In fact her benefactors are hosting a hula party on Thursday at the Mag.net Cafe on Bonifacio High to raise funds for her Hawaii stint.
And when she finally gets to the World Championships, a little reality check helps her put things in perspective: De Leon’s time is about two hours slower than what the top female triathletes in the world have accomplished in the Ironman championships.
Not only that, her opponents have well-funded year-round training.
Singapore race
De Leon, on the other hand, makes do with what she has. For warm-up, she recently managed to sign up for a Singapore race which is half the length of the Hawaii Ironman event.
She finished 15 seconds behind the eventual winner—and she even took a wrong turn on a forked highway, carrying her bike past whizzing cars in the freeway just to get back on course.
“I have no illusions,” said De Leon. “I still have a lot of work to do and for me, just being able to race against the best and at the same time learn how to compete in the Ironman is really a big, big thing.”
So cross off expectations of podium finishes.
They mean little, after all, to Ani Karina de Leon, the once energetic 9-year-old kid who would squeeze every drop of wakefulness from the late hours to finish an even meaningless sketch and in the process, learned to value the art of making it to the finish.


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