Outdoor Junkie : Jimmy Leow
When you can only afford one IRONMAN event in a year, one tends to be a little bit choosy as to the race venue. Budget is a constraint as much as I want to take part in one away from Southeast Asia.
But then again, IRONMAN has increased the race venues in Asia including China over the past years. There is always an IRONMAN event nearer home.
While preparing for the 2016 IRONMAN Langkawi, some AM.i.3 tri club teammates had lobbied that we go for the 70.3 Philippines 2017 in Cebu. Not knowing what to expect, I signed up without looking at the swim, bike and run course but was pretty glad I registered. I later came to know many triathletes had included this event in their bucket list. This explained why the slots were sold out so quickly.
Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines as well as the capital of Cebu is also not only the oldest settlement of the Philippines established by the Spaniards but the center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas.
We arrived in Cebu with just two days before race day. Naturally, the first destination was to get to the race expo and get registered. But because of the early closure of the main roads for the event and the traffic jam, we reached Shangrila Mactan Resort late and the registration desk had closed for the day.
So we went to attend the sumptuous pre-event dinner party where there were a lot of quality food, drinks, and entertainment all night long, free of charge!! But back in my mind, we know we still have to unpack our bicycles and re-assemble.
There was a moment of concern for all of us who had our Tri bikes packed in a bicycle bag or case. Earlier on, we saw how rough the airport workers had handled our bicycle bags and cases from the airplane window. To my horror, my bike bag was placed upside down. I could only pray that nothing is broken in the process.
But it was a huge relief that all our packed bikes survived the journey. This is all thanks to the tough and easy-to-use bike bag SCICON 2.0 that protected my Specialized Shiv Expert tri bike.
With this bag, I don’t have to take apart the handle/aero bars, pedals, and seat. I just slid in the wheels into the bag’s side pockets, it’s that easy and convenient.
Training for IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines
After completing IRONMAN Langkawi 2016 last year, most of us were in a relaxed mode and IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines race on the 6th August 2017 was still far from our minds. Since I am training together with some friends who registered for IRONMAN Langkawi & IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi 2017 which is scheduled in November, training for the three disciplines did not actually stop.
At least three times a week, we gathered at Setia Aquatic Center for our swimming training, 10 to 15 laps per session is the minimum and as the event draws near, we increased the distance covered.
Mostly, we observed each other’s breathing, strokes, and kicks, correcting them as we go along to be more efficient. Occasionally, we take video clips of our swim underwater too.
In triathlon, we mostly use our arms to swim and our kicks are not that aggressive because when you need to use your legs to cycle 180km and run a 42km to finish, you need to preserve your legs for later use.
One of the most important swim session is the open water swim. Getting used to the sea and its behavior is vital as it will prepare us to handle all kinds of conditions.
The swim course, just in front of Shangrila Mactan Resort beach, was just out of this world. Blue sea, clear water, colorful corals and fishes, the surface was mostly calm, well at least until 2,500 triathletes started to swim in it.
At a certain point, I could even see scuba divers below us as we swam along the 1.9km swim course. I wore a tinted Mad Wave goggle for my swim, it always felt good to me. I purposely chose the tinted type as it helps to cut down the sun’s glare.
During the swim leg in Cebu, we experienced strong undercurrents at the final 350 metres and most of the participants were swept ashore. Many were struggling and the organizer extended the cut-of-time as the sea condition worsen. It was tragic that one of the triathletes died of a heart attack during the swim leg.
Our favorite training routes are Kulim – Sedim – Kulim with a total of 120km, here you will find almost deserted trunk roads with good tarmac. This route is also famous for its endless rolling hills. Another route that we frequent is the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) to Pantai Merdeka.
The longer distance version is approximately 120km as well, along the paddy field you will go against the continuous strong headwind. The weekend-long rides can be as long as 150km on average and we usually include a short run (brickwork) which did wonders for all of us.
The cycle route at Cebu was very straightforward, quite flat but you will encounter strong headwind every single loop and gain speed from the tailwind on the opposite side. Luckily, my Specialized Shiv Expert is built to cut through the resistance and also I was really glad that I decided to wear my Specialized Aero Helmet for this event.
Wearing a Compressport tri top and pants also help in cutting down the wind resistance and at the same keeping the blood flow efficiently in my body throughout the race.
When you have to run a half marathon (for IRONMAN 70.3) to the finish line after a 1.9km swim and 90km cycle, you had better not ignore the run training. Usually, the run leg will propel you in front if you are constant with your pace, frequently overtaking those who pushed too hard in the swim and cycle leg. In triathlon, everything is fair, you need to be fairly good in all three disciplines to finish strong.
I scheduled my runs mostly after work, an average 35 to 50km a week, a very modest mileage compared to others. The Queens Bay Mall coastal bike/run route suits me fine since the place is on the way home.
My pair of Hoka One Vanquish 2 road shoes suits me fine on the tarmac, giving good absorption from the pounding. It felt light like always and gets dried up quite rapidly from the cold water splashes along the run route in Cebu. Try out the Feeture socks which are equally comfortable for your tired feet.
“They Do It Better In The Philippines!!”
Now that’s actually true in any sense, the atmosphere in Cebu is out of this world, the whole town practically came out to cheer on the participants, the race site is just so awesome, nice beach front and clear blue sea, what more can you ask.
The event expo is full of exhibitors of various products. Lots of free giveaways, great discounts, and latest products too. For the same price you pay for IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines, you can never get so much more elsewhere. That’s why many triathletes come back for more year after year.