ArchivesOctober 2010Buglasan duathlon: Confessions of a late-bloomer

Buglasan duathlon: Confessions of a late-bloomer

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I must be a late-bloomer. As my birthday was approaching this month, I suddenly had the urge to do things I don’t think I can do anymore by next year (when I’m older). So when I read in Dr. Mequi’s column here that there was going to be duathlon (run-bike-run) competition as part of the Buglasan Festival, I immediately sent a text message to bikers on my phonebook, challenging didn’t have to win; we just had to do it for the fun of it. After all, even the over-40 just wanna have fun. {{more}}

They didn’t think I was serious…. magkapoy-kapoy ra ta, mangape na lang ta sa Valencia, one of them teased me.

So I vowed to myself I could do it by my lonesome, and started to get my gear together. I switched from the heavy Mongoose I had gotten used to for the last three years into a nice super light Trek 8000; the hubby removed the clipless pedals (I dread using them for fear of falling), installed toe clips, and improved my brakes. He also wrapped a gel seat on my saddle, and I started getting used to sucking water from my camelback. (I tell you, for a first-timer like me, you could just get your stomach bloated with air before a squirt of water could quench your thirst.)

Then I had to get some inspiration from Cobbie: the jersey should match or complement the gloves and the socks. And part of the gear I was preparing was a little hairbrush and a canister of body spray — much to my children’s consternation and embarrassment. (But it’s always Bad Hair Day once you remove your helmet, and you almost always reek after a ride, you know.)

Thinking of my early “Sunday biking” days, I could say I’ve gone a long way. I remember those days when halfway up to Valencia, Dessa and I would have to sniff that tiny bottle of ‘white flower’ Karen would bring along. Another trick we tried was putting on red lipstick even at 5 in the morning so we don’t look very pale even during bouts of dizziness and nausea up along the way to the mountain town.

Starting October, I began my serious training, each time beginning at 5:15am, trying to beat the 50 minutes it would normally take me to pedal up to Valencia, about 12 kms. from our home in Dumaguete. I would always remember Jasper telling me a long long time ago that if I made it in 25 minutes, “okay na ka”.

The route for the duathlon Fun Bike category was to go up to Valencia from Robinsons Mall, downhill to Balabag via barangay Ogajong, splashing through two spillways, and a long rocky downhill and uphill stretch with huge slippery stones sticking out about a foot high (I was down on my fours there not just once during my training); then pedal up again to Valencia, then the steep downhill ride back to Robinsons. I swear the boys must have been gliding down at over 50 kph. (as I was coming down at 42 kph).

How strangely serious was I, really? My sister was asking me to join her in a shopping spree in what she called as the final grandest sale of the year in Manila, but even the shopoholic in me turned down her offer because I didn’t want to miss any training day. Then the hubby had to go on a business trip to Singapore but couldn’t be back by Sunday, Oct. 17, the day of the duathlon. His presence, you see, was very crucial because he was going to be my trainor and assistant during the transition (when one gets ready to switch between blocks from run-bike or from bike-run) or whenever I needed a banana, salt, or other parayeg.

(I just learned belatedly, however, that salt, like the vaunted energy sports drinks, is old school, and is now highly-discouraged for athletes.)

Because the trip of the hubby could not Be moved, they had to remedy the situation— which meant taking a Saturday noon flight back to Manila then rushing to Cebu, then rushing south to Bato to catch the 11:30 p.m. barge for Tampi in Amlan.

A cheaper alternative the hubby was dangling at me was to simply take me along to Singapore to eliminate the pressure to come back to Dumaguete “just for a duathlon”.

You can figure out what I chose to do instead. I thought to myself, I had gone this far, I have endured various bruises and hematoma on my knees, torso, and arms; might as well be over and done with it. I was even thinking, “I’m not out here to make friends; I’m doing this to win!”

So my trainor-assistant, also called very thoughtful husband, had to leave behind a To Do list for my workout and torturous training for the rest of the days until D-Day. Run five kms. at the oval everyday, cut down to 40 minutes going up to Valencia, don’t forget to carbo-load, master the Ogajong trail without getting off the bike, keep on eating bananas everyday, don’t stop for water, etc. Dean even insisted, “Don’t use your brakes; it’s a race!”

By then, I had already memorized a lot of mantras including fitness guru Cathy Carballo’s “Spine is long, neck is neutral” — which I applied whenever I would slide back from the saddle in a downhill.

The husband finally got home to Dumaguete just in the nick of time — barely two hours from the time Karen advised me to be up and about on D-Day. She said I had to take a cold shower by 3:30 am, drink two glasses of water, and a can of Coke. I was thinking, I’m okay with doing all others but to gulp down a full can of Coke?! I can’t even consume half a can, and now to do it at dawn? Of course, she wasn’t kidding. She has learned all these from various marathons she has joined, traveling to as far as Baguio just to run a race.

On D-Day, I filled my camelback with water and squirreled two bananas in my pocket. The hubby was excitedly documenting the bikers’ every move. As tension was building and I was scanning the assembly point, I almost had a panic attack: my “competitors” (which included my daughter Melissa) were very slender, looked very sporty, must have been at least 20 lbs. lighter than me, and worse, they were less than half my age!

Reality check. My game plan that early morning suddenly changed: I couldn’t beat these athletic guys! Just bring down my bike time and I won’t feel bad.

After running 3K, biking 26K, and running one lap around Robinsons Mall, I hit the finish line in 1 hour 57 mins. — my personal best time yet. And yes, I brought down my ascent time to 30 mins. Never mind that my legs were soiled from the muddy trail in Ogajong. Or that my hair was soaking wet and sticking to my neck. The feeling was simply fulfilling and exhilarating.

Just like when my third kid wiggled out of me 12 years ago, I once again felt that brief glory of crossing the finish line: “You mean it’s over?!”

And yes, I did bring along my hairbrush and cologne in my backpocket

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