Two Saturday ago, we celebrated my son Gabriel’s life with our 8th 12 hour event in his memory.
It was a fun filled day with activities happening simultaneously.
Before the official start, Maiqui and Drew already started their ironman with their 4k swim.
People started running and biking at 6 am…
and the kids tri was on it’s way at 7am.
The kids tri was special to me because my daughter Nadine did a tri in memory of her baby brother Gabriel.
We had the awarding for the kids tri then I did my bike ride.
After lunch, our new beneficiaries, the barefoot running kids arrived.
We had a class on cartoon drawing for them care of fellow triathlete Wayne Dearing and his wife Stella and their company, Top Draw Animation, led by animator Nary Jamlig.
Our special guest Filipino champion boxer, ranked 4th in the world, pound for pound Nonito Donaire and his wife Taekwando champ Rachel joined the kids for the cartoon drawing lessons and later for the run.
Then we had our special surprise, new shoes for the kids c/o New Balance.
After that we had the arnis demo…
our sunset run and relays for the kids.
Maiqui and Drew crossed the finish line amidst the loud cheering of the kids who also sang happy birthday to Maiqui.
I cried at the finish line. So did Ani and Mailet. It was just such a beautiful scene. — to be among friends who cared enough to make a difference in the lives of other kids.
We found ourselves in Desaru, Malaysia when the 70.3 Ironman Putrajaya was suddenly postponed. We had trained for months and were ready to race. Ani de Leon instantly found another race, just 1 week after the original race wetrained for. It was called theDesaru Long Distance Triathlon (2k swim-90k bike-21k run).
Our small Philippine contingent consisted of National tri-champ Ani de Leon, Phil team triathlete and now Coach Peter Gonzalez,my training partner Joey Torres and me. Ani’s boyfriend Patrice also joined us. We flew into Singapore and caught a 30 minute ferry to Malaysia.
None of us had ever been there. The roads were beautiful, perfect for biking.Unfortunately, the hotel we stayed in was not as nice as the roads. It was run down, there were leaking pipes in the bathroom, and there was hardly any food in the restaurant.We had rice and eggs every meal. Breakfast buffet was..all you can eat rice and eggs. Buti na lang girl scout ako. I had gone food shopping in Singapore and bought fruits and yogurt and some bread.
On Friday morning, we got on our bikes in search of food. We biked about 25km til we found heaven – a Petronas station with a store. We loaded our back packs (I loaded Joey’s since I did not have one) with instant noodles, drinks and chocolate bars.
Race morning breakfast was boiled water in the coffee pot and voila..instant noodles and egg. We biked to the Desaru Golden Beach Resort where the race would start. Nadine, my daughter and Che would be our water girls and cheering squad rolled into one.
The swim turned out to be a mini-roller coaster. I felt I was moving up and down, not forward. Thankfully, I made it and transitioned into the bike segment. I loved that bike course! The roads were smooth and wide,rolling hills without too many turns.
Soon enough, I was on to the last segment – the run.It would take me about two hours. Course was hilly with one killer hill where I found most people walking. I didn’t walk it, but I could feel the strain on my calves going up that hill. We passed the Desaru Golden Beach Club a couple of times.This was the best part. Spectators and supporters waited there, cheering and handing out refreshments. Nadine and Che handed us water, energy bars and whatever they had.
Halfway through the run, I was running towards the crowd of people,and I spot Nadine holding out a banana. She shouts,” Mommy, mommy, banana?” As I pass her, I shout back, “Later, later, after the turn around.”
Throughout that turn-around I dream of that banana. All I have had for the last 4:30 hours is water, some energy drink and gel. 4k later I am back. I can practically taste the banana. I imagine its sweet taste, the potassium and whatever other nutrients a banana has flowing thru my veins and nourishing my body to give me 1 more hour worth of strength and speed.
As I approached Nadine, I shouted, “Banana! Banana!”
My daughter replies, “Sorry mommy, its gone.”
I said, “What?! Why? What happened?”
“The monkey ate your banana, mommy.”
What can I say? In some triathlon races, you look out for cars,in others you look out for potholes on the road. In Desaru, you look out for monkeys…and your banana.
I took 6th place in the age group 35 and up. Ani took 5th place in her age-group and Peter Gonzalez took 2nd. Not bad for our small Philippine contingent. We dedicate our race to President Cory Aquino.
Like many other women, I’m a trimom. I had promised Nadine that after my race, I was all hers. She wanted to go swimming and show me her dive. So we swam in the pool, and then headed to the beach to catch the waves. Then we we went back to our hotel to pack-up and eat.
What was our post-race meal?… but of course more noodles and eggs.
Like many Sunday mornings, my friends and training partners, Ani, Joey and George wake up in the dark to get to a morning race. And each time we get there, we are always pleasantly surprised by the number of people who like us choose to spend their Sunday morning at a race.
During a conversation with my friend Gap Legaspi. a neuro surgeon, but in the good-ol-days, the captain of the UP track team, he said to me, wow, everyone seems to be running these days and getting a running coach.
Me: Yes, I have a few good friends who are running coaches.
Him: Really? What do they teach? How do you teach someone to run?
Me: Gap, not everyone is a gifted runner like you. A lot of people have never run. They don’t know how to swing their arms, how to land on their feet, how fast or how slow to go..
Gap: So, everyone is getting a running coach these days?
Me: A lot of people who want to get started do. I personally recommend it when people start asking me details on the right running form. It’s good to know that you’re training properly. And if you already know the basics of running and are comfortable running, a running coach can take you to the next level “ running and racing longer distance, racing faster, training wisely
Gap: so, its true, running coaches are the new DIs.
Me: haha, yes, I guess, you can say that.
We went on to discuss how thrilled we were that more people where discovering the joy of running, the joy of being healthy, of being outdoors and feeling strong. These days, there is a race almost every weekend. My triathlete friends and I meticulously plan our race calendar for the year. We combine run races and triathlons.
My running and racing has taken me so many places. I have seen different parts of the country and other countries on my feet. Every run is an experience. Just the other week in Batangas, at the Milo 21k run, Ani, Joey and I were running up endless hills. I was wondering when our misery would end. Suddenly, someone shouted, â€œMalapit na, dalawang barangay na lang!
My friends and I get high on being fit. We are conscious of the food we eat, the air we breathe. We are thankful for good health. For people like us, this is our gimmick every weekend. Instead of saan ang gimmick? We ask each other:
Saan ang karera (where is the race)?
What distance are you doing?
Where are we eating after?
On the eve of my birthday, I will not be going out. I will be sleeping in, because the next day I will do a birthday run “ a marathon! And after that I will celebrate the good life.
This is the life I choose. This is the life my friends and I live.