Thoughts of an Ironman
by: Marvin Bailon
I am a mountain biker – Just so you know that I have some place in this blogsite. But my dear friend Valleybikes asked me to write about my recent journey to the “dark side” of tight lycra pants and felix bakat (it is not as uncomfortable as it looks but you have to get used to the usual smirks and ribbing from your crew). So here goes the story of a weekend warrior – mountain biker transitioning the world of…TRIATHLON!
It all started with my base of course, our beloved mountainbiking. The steep uphills of the Wall and Shotgun before getting to the the lovely trails of Mt. Maarat instilled some fitness in me. Long rides to Wawa Dam, Sierra Madre and the likes honed buns of steel that enabled me to withstand long hours of saddle time. And these rides of course developed my mental endurance to withstand heat and exhaustion, plus some awkward tan lines.
Then I tried out RUNNING. I loved it. As you know my dear biker friends, before we can start pedalling there are quite a few things we need to do. Bike should be in check (tire pressure, brakes, gears shift well, wheels snapped on tight, etc.) Gear should be in check (helmet, gloves, shoes, tire interior, allen wrenches, etc.). And these are just the basics! When I run, it’s just a shirt, running shorts (no underwear needed), running shoes and I’m off! I loved the freedom FROM and OF running. And I could do it on weekdays early morining – convenient for us laborers who go to the office.
I joined races; 10k, 21k, and before i knew it, I was training for a full marathon. I registered for the Bull Runner marathon in 2010 which was perfect for a beginner like me then. A marathon is painful as you subject your legs to 42km of brutal pavement pounding. Marathoners refer to “hitting the wall” when you can no longer move forward from pain and exhaustion. I almost hit the wall in km 32 when everything waist down started to hurt – calves, quads, and even singit! (I doubt if you can translate singit to English) Thankfully, with some stretching and the support from people cheering, I was able to cross the finish line – and I felt what Glory was like.
So what’s next? I could ride, I could run, why not add another discipline… SWIMMING… so I could try out this thingamajing called triathlon? So off I went to ULTRA and asked around for someone who could teach me the basics of swimming. I was pointed to a man named Jabar (who incidentally was also the security guard – I kid you not). To his credit, I was able add distance to my usual half-pool length swimmimg ability. And with the help of YouTube I got some useful tips on technique and efficiency.
Ok, I could ride, run, and do some semblance of swimming. Now it was time to sign up for my first triathlon. Not quite yet. I had to get a road bike. I got a very affordable, pre-owned, entry level bike with very basic components (Shimano Sora ring a bell?). This was with the “It’s not the pana but the Indian” mentality. And with my not so brand new Fuji Roubaix I signed up for my first sprint distance triathlon in Alabang.
It was terrible. I did not expect the swim part to be that packed – I have new found respect for
sardines. I realized the strength to go uphill in my mountainbike was VERY different to the strength required to sustain 30kph speed in flats. And because my swim and and bike zapped all the energy in me, my run was just as bad. I did not even bother to look at my time as I was just happy to cross the finish line and escape the three dreaded letters – DNF (Did Not Finish).
So it was one thing to know a little bit of something in each discipline but tying all three in one race required the proper training and technique. My trusty friend Google pointed me to websites explaining Bricks (not the ones used for houses) and intervals. And so I trained some more.
Now, after that lackluster performance in my first triathlon the most logical thing to do was make up for it in another sprint distance race. But all that training led to a testosterone filled decision to go “all in” and join the Cobra Half Ironman distance in Cebu. This was a 1.9km swim, 90km bike, and 21km run route which challenged pros, elite, and hard core enthusiasts alike. I signed up in December, 2012 for the August 2013 race not fully knowing what it would take to accomplish this big, hairy, audacious goal.
But with a bit of guts, discipline (8 sober months, baby!), help from a good coach, and I would say mental endurance, I did it. It was a humbling and an oh-so-enriching-experience that deserves another write-up. But Yes i did it!
So there you go, that’s my story. I ask myself what now? What’s next? Well time to get back to some MTB action. See you in the trails!
Marvman (a.k.a. Tony Stark)has been my favorite biking buddy since day one. A true brother; he now juggles his time from being a great dad, to a loving husband, and office.