Rishi's blog

Ironman Philippines - June 18 - Race Diary

Background

This craze started 2 years back

bucket list : a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

June 2016, during one discussion, I decided I want to do Ironman before my 40th Bday. It was an instant “BucketList++” moment.
Now one should know that back then I had NO athletic background.
I didn’t know swimming.
I had never run more than 7km in my entire life.
I had no idea back then what it is going to take, and how much effort it will ask.

So, basically, I defined the word “beginner” But then, what is life without a crazy goal or two?

I wrote a blog post on this 2 years back

Fast forward to 2018. Somehow I managed to train consistently, even did 3 Half Ironman Distance as preparation for Ironman - from Feb ‘17 to Feb ‘18).

The Philippines Full Ironman event was picked for one simple reason - it was closest to my 40th birthday.

Pre Race

Anubhav (my training partner) and I had decided to go few days before the event to get some swim experience. Not only we were first timers to Ironman, this was going to be our first ever sea swim experience.

Philippines has a very active tri scene. Subic Bay has been hosting IM70.3 distance for many years. This was the first year they were hosting a Full Ironman.

The event was on 3rd June. We reached Subic 4 days before. From Manila Airport to Subic, we could see Ironman Banner all around - from welcoming athletes to mentioning sponsors. IM Banner all over the city

Swim Experience
Funny story time. As I mentioned, Swim experience was one of the key reason why we reached 4 days before the event.

Race Organizers had opened the swim route for practice from Thursday, 31st May.
The practice course was simple - swim straight line for 500mts to a boat, and come back. There were Kayak to spot and help. Many first timers were there.

Anubhav and I reached the swim spot in afternoon. It was a beautiful day - calm sea, and crystal clear water.

I had borrowed a Garmin Tri watch from a friend. While I was figuring out how to switch it on, I saw Anubhav had already started to swim. This guy was cool as a cucumber!
By the time watch latched GPS signal, Anubhav and spotting Kayak were already 100m away in the water!!!

Standing alone on the beach did nothing to ease my inner panic.

Gathering courage, I started to swim on my own. It was smooth for first 50m. Suddenly sea floor dipped. Remember I said - crystal clear water? I could suddenly see that bottom of sea is far away.
Mind quickly declared: “Panic, you are so going to die”. I started to hyper ventilate and quickly turned back and swam / thrashed in the water till my feet could touch the ocean floor again.

Standing back on the shore, I weighed my option. I didn’t want to continue the swim. But I also knew that if I went back today without swimming, fear would be 10x amplified next time. I as well as declare my race to be over even before starting.

I took few deep breaths, gathered courage from somewhere and started to swim again. I focused on slow swim, taking nice deep breaths. I crossed same 50m spot. Heart rate got raised, but I continued. Soon my watch buzzed - 100m. I paused a bit here, letting Heart Rate settle down and contiuned. At 150m mark, I decided to turn back. Return was easy, I reached back shore grinning.
The mental barrier was broken - I DID IT!!

I did went back next 2 days also for practice - did 1k each time. The swim challenge was handled now.

Next few days were spent going to Ironman Expo, getting race kit, acclimatization to the heat.
We had a chance to meet a lot of seasoned athletes. Everyone was remarking how this is one of the toughest course. Those who had done Kona (Ironman World Championship venue, and one of the toughest course) compared this route to Kona! Gasp
IM Expo IM Expo Carb Loading Dinner Rice, Pasta, Breads India Flag around finish line

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