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Gotta Love Racing: Tour of Matabungkay and Adidas King of the Road back to back weekend

Tour Of Matabungkay Team Time Trial – Batangas, Oct 24 2009

There are some races which are fun, some which are painful, some which are tough and lonely, and then there is the Team Time Trial.  Which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE.  Maybe because I love time trialing per se. Or because I love when we all look so professional and slick in our matching cycling kits. And then there are my female teammates. Who Absolutely, Positively, ROCK. I just love being part of this relatively new all girls cycling team and am really proud of what we have done in so little time. We were the first women’s team to cross the line!

Special thanks to Doray for putting it all together the past few weeks, my work as captain was much easier on race day (all I had to do was keep shouting at them, and trust me after coaching for years this comes quite naturally to me by now).  Thanks to Rizzo Tangan, Bea Locsin, Tonichi Balaguer, and Mimi Lucas. Love you girls!

P.S. Fitness First Cycling Ladies Team is actually a combination of Fitness First, Polo Tri, and Sabak Tri ladies 🙂

P.P.S. Thanks Anthony Balaguer for letting me use your wonderful photos!!!

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ADIDAS King Of The Road- Taguig and Makati, Oct 25 2009

Today was a great 21k training race, one that I did not expect to have the day after riding hard with my teammates in the Tour of Matabungkay… I was just glad to make it to the race venue before 5am. I drove home late from the race in Batangas the night before to make sure my sponsor would be happy! Sleep I need! I saw Lea Caringal organizing all of her Adidas athletes and after her trusty photog Nesty took some snapshots we hurried to the start line.  Soon enough we were surrounded by uber bright yellow singlets and then it was quite easy to stay alert. When the gun went off something inside me woke up as well and even though I had agreed to just run with Joey and Paolo (oops sorry guys) I mindlessly dashed madly with the crowd… something that surprised even myself as I am always scolding my students not to do this exact thing! Hahaha….

Anyhow it turned out to be a good race, I was happily dancing to the music at the aid stations and thanked the cheerleaders for holding up encouraging placards for the runners.  I also kept cheering for all the students I ran into. The food and drink were plentiful, which is always important.  I was running in 5th place for most of the race and was actually content to stay there til I noticed at the last turnaround that the two girls in front of me were not doing so well. I decided then that I could still afford to pick up my pace a little bit and that was enough to get me into 3rd place. Cool!  After the awarding I looked into my goodie bag and found out that I got a Globe Tattoo– way cool! 

That afternoon after a well-deserved nap I coached the SuperTriKids for their Bike and Run session.  What a great weekend!

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Thanks Patricia and Paolo for the pics!!!

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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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