Last Saturday, January 23, 2016, I had the chance to join my first-ever multisport – the Mt. Banahaw de Lucban Duathlon. See, I bought my Trinx XC3 Treker mountain bike just last December 2015 as a belated wedding gift for myself (I also bought wifee her very first bike as well!).
I registered for the Mt. Banahaw de Lucban Duathlon immediately after seeing it appear in my Facebook timeline, and after a month or so of training, I
guess I was ready for my first duathlon! The duathlon was open to both road and mountain bikers, and to top it off, it featured itself as newbie-friendly, something that could give first-timers such as myself a taste of the multisport.
Since I have relatives from my mother’s side living in Lucena, Quezon, we decided to spend the night there before the race to save on accommodation costs. Our relatives were very much happy to welcome us upon hearing the news that I will be competing in just the next town. We left for Lucena Friday afternoon after picking up wifee from her Makati office, and arrived at our relatives at around 8 p.m. A quick dinner and shower followed after being greeted by our relatives there, and by 10 p.m., I was already asleep, mustering enough energy for the following big day.
We left for Lucban at 4:45 a.m. the next morning. Lucban rests higher than Lucena, having an elevation of about 424 meters above sea level, thus the winding roads leading to the venue were significantly rising and rising. It was still dark when we started our trip and the cool Banahaw air greeted us as we drove for Lucban.
We arrived at the venue within just 30 minutes. A number of participants have arrived before us, preparing their bikes and gears. After finding a parking slot, I headed straight to the race kit claim area. The race kit contained the race bib and two stickers – one for the bike and one for the helmet. I prepared my bike and helmet, put on my race bib, and headed to the transition area to station my bike there.
As the 7 a.m. gun start drew nearer, more and more duathletes started getting ready for the race. At this point, I was getting more and more nervous. I was excited for my first duathlon, however, seeing the uniforms and jerseys of other participants embellished with their triathlon club or what-nots made me more intimated with this new adventure I was about to embark in. Thankfully, wifee was there to ever-support me in all my trips! The race started at exactly 7:00 a.m. after Race Director Wil Veluz of GRC Multisport gave a quick briefing.
Since it was my first duathlon, I reminded myself that will race it not for competition, but for the experience. I keep reminding myself to start slow to conserve energy, especially that the bike segment would consist of uphills and downhills, and to still have energy left to run those last two kilometers.
I started out great. I kept a steady pace during the first run segment of the race, and was actually able to overtake several runners who started fast but huffed and puffed and slowed down after the 2-kilometer u-turn point. Good, I kept saying to myself. Just maintain this steady pace to make it through the race. Anyway, this will just be for experience for now.
I got back to the transition area after about 24 minutes. Good pacing, I said to myself. That’s roughly 6 minutes per kilometer. After a few sips from my water bottle, I strapped on my helmet and started the 25 kilometer bike segment of the race.
The bike segment was held at the Lucban Diversion Road. It was closed to traffic for a few hours in the morning, thus we, bikers, had the road all to ourselves. The route consisted of a concrete road winding through the beautiful scenery of rural Lucban – farmlands with forests here and there, under the bright sunny sky. The route consisted of a few uphills, challenging my legs here and there, and several quick respites of downhills, segments where I could rest my legs this time. The bike segment was roughly 4.2 kilometers long one-way; making a u-turn and riding back to the transition area makes one loop roughly 8.4 kilometers long. All participants needed to do thrice of this loop to complete the bike segment.
I completed my first loop strong enough to flash a smile to wifee as she took a picture of me starting my second loop:
Second loop started, and this was the time that again, I reminded myself to conserve my energy as the race was still far from over. I slowly started feeling a little bit of fatigue at this point but kept psyching myself that I can do this! My left foot felt a little numb for whatever reason, thus I decided to slow down a little to be able to rest my leg muscles a little. The inclines from the first loop started to become harder to climb and I was already looking forward to all those downhills. I have done half of the bike segment upon reaching the u-turn point when a biker using a road bike overtook me and shouted to the race marshalls stationed there, “Last ko na to!” Wow! He’s already on the last stretch of the race while I was still midway! Anyway, despite the growing fatigue and numbness in my legs, I believe I could still finish the race strong.
Upon reaching the transition area, one was required to dismount from the bike, walk back to the racks to leave the bike, and start running again the last two-kilometer run segment of the race. Wifee was there to help me remove my biking gloves and helmet while I sip on the last content of my water bottle when I suddenly felt a surge of exhaustion from my legs. I began running after the quick rest, but my legs were wobbling and shaking from all those biking! This must have been how other participants felt during their first time! I just forced myself to jog the first 200 meters of the last run segment, and reverted to walking for a few hundred meters so as to rest my legs without sacrificing too much time. This jog-walk-jog strategy I did a few times. Finally, for the last 100 meters, I pushed my own limits and started running. I wanted to finish my first duathlon strong, and yes I did!
My performance? I finished Rank 14 out of 43 in the mountain bike category with a time of 1:43:55. Not bad for a first timer such as myself!
Special shoutout to Ma’am Dobel and Sir Wil of GRC Multisport for this exciting event! I usually have photo ops with the race directors of the events I join in, however, they were too busy with the awarding ceremony and post-race activities that I decided not to bother or hassle them anymore. Official results of the road bike, relay, and kiddie duathlon can be found in the GRC Facebook Page. On the other hand, pictures can be found in the Runaholic Facebook Page. As a special treat, Sir Jojo Lirio Jr. has compiled a short but very nice video of the highlights of the event:
My verdict? As a long-time runner, shifting from running to running and biking is great! Competing in duathlon means less stress on the knees and other joints compared to running a 42-kilometer road or trail marathon while being able to enjoy scenic views. Furthermore, I don’t actually spend almost half of my day running, like my 10-hour trail runs. With just a three-hour cutoff, I could spend more time exploring places in Lucban, like Kamay ni Hesus, with wifee. But that would be for another post.
I believe that age is just a number. Our age should not hinder us from starting something new, doing something unique in our lives. I’ve been known as a runner ever since my high school days. However, sometimes, all we need is a push within ourselves for us to realize that we could still do something new, something more. 🙂
PS Triathlon? Soon! 🙂