Well they don't call it Challenge Philippines Tough for no reason. This has to be one of the hardest course profiles in the Asia-Pacific region. It doesn't only test your endurance, it tests your strength and your willpower. It is not a course for the faint hearted or the weak minded.
So all that being said, I didn't expect to finish the race. I went into it with no expectations, no dreams, no wants or hopes. I just went for a little training camp to reset my passion, my drive, my want to race.
I had a very different lead into the race with a recent move of cities and continuous change in environment I have had a hard time settling to a routine that allows training. Even when I did attempt to train I just didn't have any drive to finish what I set out to do. I could try and blame it on the move, on the long hours at work, but all in all it comes down to me and the fact I could not be bothered trying to find time to train. They say if you want something bad enough, you will find time for it. I obviously didn't.
So with the minimal (no) training I completed I came to the event anyway knowing full well what I was in for. I spent the week leading into the race doing a couple of CrossFit sessions with some friends in Manila, not the best way to train in the week leading in but oh well.
So onto the race,
It was great to see the race announcer Whit back in the Philippines, he has announced most of the races I have competed in and always seems to lift my spirits higher before and throughout the event. So it was a good start to be talking to him and having his passion rub off on me.
Race morning was pretty relaxing for a change, wake early and head over to transition to setup and then go back to the hotel for some breaky and a rest. It was good to be staying right at the race start so we didn't have to wait at the start for ages. Thank you to my team mate for allowing me to crash your room, it makes it so much more enjoyable.
Race start comes closer and I get to catch up with a few of the others that I have seen at other races. Always good to catch up with people you know from around the world.
Gun start goes and the masses of people lunge for the water. I am just out for a training session so I head into the water and try and get out of everyone's way. "Just turn the arms over, keep your technique strong" I keep telling myself. I was going relatively well even though it was slow, I was able to stay focussed and relaxed.
From around the 1500m mark I was starting to fade and had troubles getting my arms out of the water, I was able to continue through though and get out of the water in a slow 36min. Only 8min slower than it should be.
Onto the bike and straight away we start climbing. The legs are already tired but I'm feeling ok. I am still passing a few people so I don't feel too bad but trying to conserve the strength and energy.
Going up the first main hill I come across Don from the Timex team and start chatting to him when Macca decides to overtake and throw a few words over to us. Going down the other side of the hill my quads start cramping so I wasn't able to go down as fast as I wanted but I got it all sorted with a few on the go stretches.
The bike was going really well when I got to the next hill and come across a couple of friends, we decide to sit together and encourage each other to the top. As I said before, always good to be racing with friends.
I finish the first 45km and not going too bad, my legs were getting a little tired but that was expected. I was starting to struggle on a couple of the climbs on the second lap when I hear Macca going the opposite direction yell some encouragement. Was good to have him out enjoying the race.
At the last turnaround I started to feel good again with 30km to go. Then in the last climb the legs decided to call it quits. I was cramping all over and unable to put any power onto the pedals. I had to get off and stretch for a couple seconds and finish the climb walking the bike. I was completely embarrassed that a hill got the better of me. I decided to call it quits when I get back to transition, I just wanted to stop and relax.
Thankfully most of the last 10km was downhill and I managed to get some relaxing and self-pity in during that time. I got into transition and racked the bike, I was about to call it quits as I was overheated, cramping like crazy and just wanted to stop when something just snapped and next minute I have my running shoes on and heading out to the run course. I don't know what it was.
I got to the aid station at transition and cooled off for a couple minutes when someone came along side and told me to walk with them. So I did. We walked the first 500m and then jogged a little, we continued that for a while. I started to get my rhythm back about 4km in and decided to try and give it a go to push through the run. "I was feeling good" I said, "I can do this" I said, so I managed to get a good run happening until around the 13-14km mark. I was starting to feel the pain and I couldn't lift my legs to go up the hills. It was painful, the bad kind.
The whole run was in a forest and was undulating, not a flat section at all. At the bottom of one of the hills I came across another guy in the same boat as me so for the next 6-7km we just kept walking and running together swapping stories. It was good to be able to have the company and try and take the mind off the pain. Didn't work all the time but having that extra little push was good.
We got to 1km to go and I was going well. We start to run after a decent uphill stretch and try and push for the finish line when I just couldn't keep on going. I hobbled my way to the finish line where the amazing Whit announced me across in the fashion that only he can.
I FINISHED. It was a great feeling, I still had lots of energy left, I just couldn't move my legs but it was good, it was all good. I had the congratulations of the race directors and organisers at the finish line, with one of them saying "At least you didn't collapse on me this time" as last year when I crossed the line I passed out as he put the medal around my neck.
I was so happy to get to the finish with pretty much no training, it was slow but does that matter?
I still have another race in two weeks which is back in Subic so we will see what happens there. Again I don't expect anything special but you never know what happens. As long as I find the passion and the want to train and race, I am happy with whatever I can do.
Congratulations to all the finishers, volunteers, organisers and spectators for making a great race. Also thank you to Timex-Gold's Gym TMM and our sponsors Timex, Mizuno, Gatorade and The Brick Multisports Store.
So until next time, Keep It Together.