I lined up at the start of the Subic Bay ITU points race with the usual mix of nervousness and excitement in my stomach. I was sure a few butterflies had become trapped in there, or maybe that was just my breakfast eaten while I was still half asleep at 4.45am that morning. Incidentally, a lot of people ask me – what do you eat before a race? The tried and tested: pasta with some protein (chicken or tuna) and a tomato based sauce the night before. Then in the morning three slices of white toast, dollops of jam (mixed with honey when I can find it) and a large banana, all washed down with a cup of tea, and a glug or two of water.
At Subic, the race started at 6.40am so that we could avoid the oppressive heat in the middle of the day. Great in theory but the temperature rises to about 35degrees by 8am, so whatever time we started it was bound to be hot and sweaty by the time we were pounding the pavements on the run.
It was a two lap swim, with a beach start. I quickly realised that running into the ocean requires rather more skill than I had anticipated or was blessed with, so I found myself trailing behind the Japanese Aquababy, Nakashima Chie, and Aussie Surf Chick, Alee Sharp, before you could say ‘front crawl’. Nakashima was in a class of her own, and entered T1 with a 1.30 lead. I came out 5th, in 18.04. Not bad: but by no means great. All aboard the trusty old Klein I put the hammer down and managed to bridge the gap, catching Nakashima after about 7km. It was a three lap bike course, with the same 1.5km 8% climb on each lap. I basically rode the 40km as a time trial, not letting Nakashima take a turn, and then pushed as hard as I could up the second ascent of the hill, where I managed to break free. I came into T2 with about a 4min gap, and the four lap, flat 10km run ahead of me. Having suffered the pace of a Japanese girl at Mekong, I knew that they had speedy run legs so I tried to keep the pace up the whole way. I managed 37.4, which was not too bad considering it was like racing in a sauna. I crossed the finish line in 2.03 and with a beaming smile on my face: pleased to have my first ITU points race win under my lycra belt.
On reflection, I am pretty pleased with the result. I felt strong on the bike, but there is a lot more work still to be done if I am going to be competitive in the big races. So now I am back in Thailand, putting in the hours and kilometres that will get me where I want to be.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank and congratulate the whole TRAP team (Triathlon Association of the Philippines), the ITU staff, the volunteers, and the sponsors for their hard work in putting on such a great race, as well as the national media for showing such interest in the event. This goes not only for the elite athletes, but also for the many hundreds of people who competed in the age group sprint and olympic distance races over the same weekend. The pre-race briefing was clear and concise, the routes were clearly marked and marshalled, and the spectators kept me going when the heat was rising. I am sure that with events like these, triathlon and duathlon in the Philippines will continue to go from strength to strength.