I didn’t do a race recap on Cobra Ironman 70.3 2012 but immediately thanked all those who helped me cross the finish line thru my post – What it takes to finish Cobra Ironman – the people behind the scene. So, before most of the highlights of the event fade from my memory, let me share how my race went…
Friday, August 3
My family (husband, 3 kids and nanny) arrived Mactan, Cebu the venue of this years Cobra Ironman via Philippine Airlines on Friday morning, August 5. Upon stepping at the arrival area of the airport together with hundreds of other participants, one can not help but compare it to the warm welcome we experienced at Camarines Sur where the event was held last year. It may be just the ambience of Cebu’s gloomy and outdated airport interior design, but other participants had the same impression as mine. Outside, tourist buses hired by the event’s accredited hotels to transport the participants and their companions lined the street together with dozens of bike luggages waiting to be loaded. We were certainly pampered at this point unmatched to how it was in Singapore’s Aviva Ironman wherein we had to find a cab big enough to fit in a bike luggage.
Shangri-la Mactan Hotel, the official venue was packed when we arrived. The staff were very gracious and accomodating despite the festive hullabaloo going on in their lobby. Immediately after checking in, we had our lunch buffet at Tides, one of the hotel’s restaurant outlet. I couldn’t say if the food selection was palatable but our starving stomachs were deeply satisfied.
After we have settled in our rooms, registration was done smoothly, every support crew was knowledgable of his responsibilities and answered questions we asked efficiently.
Late in the afternoon, I went to check the beach where the swim will be held on race day. It was wavy because of a tropical depression currently in the vicinity of the Philippines. Weather report promised a better weather starting Saturday.
A carbo loading dinner was hosted by the governor of Cebu that night where a very colorful cultural presentation was done by some students from Cebu. We decided not to attend this though since the venue is too far from Shangri-la. Also, we have seen this presentation in the past Xterra Races’s carbo loading dinner we have attended. Though there were new cultural dances introduced this time, it was not a big miss after all. Early Friday night, after saying good night to my boys who seemed to behaving a whale of a time in their room, I slept soundly.
Saturday, August 4
At exactly 6 A.M., I woke up my husband so we can check how the waves looked like during the swim’s gun start. I was so anxious since swim is my weakest among the three sports. My 16 year old daughter (who will do swim in relay) didn’t want to be bothered and continued her slumber.
On our way to the beach, we spotted Jenson Button having breakfast. He joined the Cobra Ironman race too! I’m not an F1 fan but still I asked if I could have a souvenir shot taken.
The Ironkids race just started when we got to the shore. The waves were calm, very newbie friendly. Later on, after the kids race was done, we tried the water. My husband went ahead to swim while I waited for our coach, Kaye, as I never braved any open water swim without our her beside me. Unluckily, she was not allowed to enter the water since she has not registered for the race and has no armband (she will do relay). So, I had no choice but to swim instead with Nino, our tri training classmate who swims very well. It was beautiful out there! I sighted several Nemos and Dorys plus a dozen other types of fishes in that marine sanctuary. The current was quite strong on one side of the race’s loop but the sight of the underwater released all the stress and fear of my swim on race day! Nino took the job as my guardian angel for the swim perfectly. He was very cautious and made sure I was always within his sight too hehe. Later on, my daughter came too and enjoyed the swim with the big boys of Fitness First Team.
At 10 A.M., there was a scheduled bike recon. Hundreds of tri athletes were at the lobby when I got there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Kaye so I had to stay with my husband and team mates. The tough bikers went ahead, I stayed back guided by my husband with a few other female participants. The winds strength surprised me which seemed to be coming from all directions, so I had to draft behind my husband. The traffic was another issue since the streets of Cebu seemed very busy. The motorists didn’t seem to care about the cyclists too! There was one pick up truck that passed by so fast and it was only 4 inches away from me! Still we followed all the riders and went up the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. Later on, we made a u turn in the busy traffic and headed back. As I was about to climb the bridge, traffic clogged and no one was riding infront of me. Then I realized my husband wasn’t behind me either! Oh no! I didn’t know how to bike thru non moving vehicles and it was a really steep bridge! Should I dismount? But it was uphill and I might fall and be ran over by vehicles! I was about to cry from fear when luckily another participant, Retzel, came so fast from behind, he was another angel who guided me back. We biked thru stop lights and the Cebu traffic and we were able to catch up with the other bikers in no time. So where was my husband? His breaks malfunctioned and had to do a quick repair. 🙁 The organizer should have had a motorcycle infront and the back of peleton to guide the cyclists. It was a very disorganized bike ride and surely was my worst bike ride ever!
That night, as I was preparing my stuff for the race, I realized my Profile Design’s straw and salt sticks missing. We found out who took the straw though. He must have thought I had a spare one!! He returned it very late. It was about 11 P.M. when I fell asleep.
Sunday, August 5
At 3 A.M. I woke up an hour earlier than my scheduled alarm. I tried relaxing and sleeping again but failed. So I only had four hours of sleep that night. Good thing I slept enough Friday night. So, I took a shower and dressed slowly. Breakfast was the buffet we didn’t want to eat anymore. Had too much buffet since Friday! So, after a few bites, my husband and I shared a small can of Ensure. We take Ensure during races and it has proven to keep us well nutritioned for any race.
6:15 A.M., the gun went on for the first of two swim waves. First to go were the elites, professionals and the 30-35, 35-39, 40-45 and 45-49 age categories. It was a water start so we had to head to the water and kept afloat. Since I didn”t know how to do treading, I did a lot of breast strokes but was able to find a dead coral to stand on. The good thing about a swim start was that I have warmed up enough before our wave started at 6:25. For Cobra, I stayed almost behind at the left most of the pack. My daughter stayed infront together with her school’s varsity swim coach and the rest of the strong ones. It was not a washing machine start like the Tri United 2 race where 700 participants did a mass start. I remained calm and tried to focus on my form and enjoyed the sight of the fishes. I was able to draft with a male participant until I lost him when the current became strong. Halfway, I checked my time, 35 minutes at exactly 1000m according to my Garmin 910XT. Oh no! I didn’t panic though and just swam remaining focused. The current heading back must have pushed me probably, my time – 55 mins when I finished the swim!
I can only describe the bike leg with one word – DANGEROUS! Though traffic had been closed on the whole bike course, the wind was unbelievably strong, similar to the ghastly winds of a typhoon which made it a very challenging leg. Words from those who have tried the course before the race described the bike leg as fast, good road conditions, etc. which kept everyones hope for a fast finish. Well, these guys must have not tried the whole course! The road was repaired but it was repaired UNEVENLY! I was so afraid that the potholes and uneven roads would crack my carbon wheels! Biking in such conditions plus the strength of the wind made it difficult for everyone. But, as suggested by our coach, just ride on a small ring on the potholes and spin on the crosswinds to save my energy and bike like hell on the tailwinds! This made me overtook a lot of guys! For this leg I had a Speedfil and a Profile Design bottle filled with Acclerade and 4 packs of Powerbar gels. But because I couldn’t let go off one hand from my handle bars to take my nutrition due to the wind’s strength, I had to rely on my fluids and stopped twice only to take the gels. It caused me a little muscle cramp on one leg at the end of the course. Immediately at transition 2, I took a gel and plenty of water and in a few minutes the cramping had gone! So on to the final leg! By the way, my bike time was slower of course than what I had hoped for – 3:42 🙁
The run was as expected, very few shaded areas since there were very few trees and a lot of hot cement roads. We passed several new residential developments of Robinson’s Land. These projects would need major landscaping as I didn’t see trees that would have added beauty to the very relaxing Cebu coastline. Halfway in the run’s 1st loop, I saw my husband from a distance and I knew immediately he wasn’t okay. We did a quick chit chat and learned that he had pulled his hamstring during the bike leg. He was in terrible pain! Later on, I was able to catch up on him and I offered that I pace him. He gave me a go signal to go ahead as he could not anymore run. It was a very unlucky race for my husband. He also mentioned that his Garmin’s bracelet was torn when a participant kicked his wrist at the swim leg. He tried diving twice for it but it was way too deep! It is quite difficult to go on in the bike leg without a Garmin to guide you.
Back to the run course, my calves were shouting I’m tired but my heart shouted run run run! Plenty of ice was available though which I tucked in all possible areas of my trisuit. These helped ease my sore muscles! Lesson learned – do not miss strengthening during the start of training. I only did mine two months before the race and missed a lot of sessions! My heart could have made me ran like a horse but my calves were not strong enough which made my pace like a turtle. Well, not really a turtle pace but my 21.1k run was only 2:52.
I asked my children to be at the finish line before the 7th hour cause I was hoping for a sub 7:30. The boys complained of the heat so my daughter just had to send them back to their hotel room. My finish time 7:38. Well I guess it wasn’t too bad for my first 70.3. I enjoyed the race, the fantastic cheering of Cebu’s townsfolk, the students, especially the motivation from the cheering nuns (AMEN!), and the great ocean view of Cebu!
To give everyone an idea on how hard difficult the race was, Pete Jacob’s time at Cobra Iroman 70.3 Cam Sur was 3:51:43 (swim 24:17, bike 2:05, run 1:18) and 4:07:38 (swim 21:26, bike 2:15, run 1:27) for Ironman 70.3 Cebu. That 16 minutes finish time difference is a valid proof on how hard it was. That 16 minutes mean a really longer time for a Pro, what more for a first timer like me?
So what happened to the rest of the people in my story?
My daughter’s varsity swim coach Erika was 1st for the swim leg in the women’s relay category.
Our everdearest Coach Kaye was 1st in the bike leg also for the women’s relay.
Nino broke his 2010 Cobra Ironman 70.3 record with a sub 6:30 finish. (Last year, Nino had a bike accident and severely injured his hip during training for Cobra 70.3 2011. Isn’t his time awesome for someone who came from a major injury?)
Retzel unsurprsingly did of course a 5:30 finish. Wow idol!
My daughter finished 3rd in swim among the all women’s relay category; my husband finished too with enough time to spare despite a really painful leg. He is doing well now and currently scouting for a new Garmin watch which he will use on our next race…the Chicago Marathon!
A glimpse of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 courtesy of Jojo Mariano of Aero Eye –
More photos to follow…