After some bad luck and bad decisions earlier in the season, I have finally got in a solid block of 9 weeks of training. I was feeling really good going into this race, but I knew the field was going to be stacked as it was the Asia-Pac 70.3 Champs. I still wanted to do the race because Sunrise Events puts on amazing events, and takes care of the professional athletes like we should be taken care of. The weekend is also more than just about the racing, it is always a great time to catch up with amazing people, friends and a chance to give back to the local community that supports the race.
I was able to get really good flights in terms of timing, which allowed little interruption to my training. I flew out Wednesday mid-day, which allowed for a pre-flight swim, and then landed in Cebu mid-day on Thursday, allowing for an easy spin and easy jog. Travel went really smoothly, I slept really well on the flight over and arrived already on local time. Can't complain when that goes smoothly! Every day leading into the race I was able to get in a 1.5-3 hr nap midday, and then was still falling asleep by 9 pm, so seemed to avoid the jet lag, which is hit or miss for me.
Friday morning we did a nice shake out run, which included meeting up with local families and doing the "Alaska Milk Dance", which is an annual ritual. It is about reinforcing that breakfast is a key part of the day, and that you need to drink your milk. From what I hear all the kids know the dance because it is on TV regularly with a commercial. So, all of the pros that attend are the ones that are always out of place trying to learn the dance, but nonetheless it is always a good time. Then Saturday night was the welcome/carb party, and they do it right in Cebu with a full performance by local talents on stage. They get the crowd involved and the food is always great!
Saturday was the usual pre-race routine, easy spin with a few efforts and a run off the bike. Then came bike check and the pro meeting, and I followed that up with an afternoon swim. Luckily, the hotel has a 33.3 meter pool which makes for some great swimming pre-race. The ocean is absolutely beautiful to swim in at the race location, I just tend to opt for the pool leading into races.
Now onto race day, pretty typical morning. Breakfast, prep bottles, put race numbers on, etc. I have highlighted my nutrition plan from the whole day at the bottom of this post. No real issues, and was able to get in a short warmup before the race start.
Uhhhhh, I have been swimming much better in the pool lately and feeling strong. Had a decent start and then 200-300 m in I started to lose feet and was in no man's land on my own. Around 800 m, Lauren Brandon came by (women started 2mins back), then a few more women and I attempted to get on their feet but would slowly lose those feet as well. I have some ideas on where the disconnect is between the pool and open water, so going to hopefully address those moving forward and see what happens.
Coming out of the water 5mins down to the lead group of 15 is never a fun way to start the day, but not something completely unfamiliar to me. That group of 15 just had some super strong riders in it, so I knew it was going to be tough to not lose time to them.
Can't beat this swim venue, by far one of the best on the circuit, even though I fail to swim to my potential here.
Photo Credit: MultiSportPH
I have been feeling stronger and stronger as this last block of training has gone on, but still not quite to where I have been in the past. Back in April while in the tunnel, we made some tweaks to my position, and although they were faster in the tunnel, I have lost ~10% in power and am getting some lower back pains. So I'm going to mess with the position and go back to the old position to see what happens.
The course had changed this year compared to years past due to some road works and political issues. The race organizers pulled off a massive feat within 5 weeks of the race, and hats off to them. Although the course was 3 loops and was a bit congested on our 3rd loop, it was impressive to have fans lined throughout the whole course. I have never raced anywhere else in the world where the whole bike course was lined with fans. The closest thing was Hefei 70.3 in China where they had security/police/military spread along the whole course every 5-10ft, but they were not nearly as enthusiastic about us riding our bikes, whereas the local fans here in Cebu were screaming and cheering non-stop!
See what I mean, the streets were lined with screaming fans, along the WHOLE course! Photo Credit: Eli Borromeo
The conditions were a bit easier than years past, in terms of the heat and humidity. I felt really good and strong throughout the whole run, which is a good sign. Although not running to my full potential yet or how I would have hoped to run considering the easier conditions, I was still quite happy as it was a step in the right direction. The run course is just like the bike course, you have fans along the whole thing cheering you on, minus one section where rather than fans lining it, they are doing performances and playing music to keep you entertained. It is one of a kind when it comes to run courses, and I still have yet to find anything like it. The closest thing might be the first ~2 miles of Kona, but those are triathlon fans, rather than a local community coming out to fully support the race.
Although it was a "mild day" for Cebu, still pretty hot and humid coming from the UK, even with our current heat wave going on. Photo Credit: MultiSport PH
Rome wasn't built in a day, and that is the thought process for my season. For many, August is middle/late season, but for me this is marking the beginning of my year. So this is just one small brick being added to the house that is being built. Looking forward to taking everything that I learned, making some tweaks to things and excited to line back up on another start line in 4 weeks in China.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this race is more than just about racing. It is also about giving back to the local community, which is always more rewarding than the race itself. Sunrise Events / Alaska Milk always make it a priority that they give back to the local communities that we race in. This trip was no different. We spent a bit of time Monday morning building "EcoBricks" with the local high school. The "EcoBrick" is a plastic water bottle stuffed with other plastic waste. You then take the water bottles and glue them together to make different practical items. We built chairs and tables at the event that would be used at the local school and community.
Huge thanks to Sunrise Events for treating us how professionals should be treated, and extremely grateful for the relationship and partnership that has been formed with them and Alaska Milk over the last 2 years. Without their support I wouldn't be able to attend their amazing events and the same can be said for all of my sponsors and partners. It truly does take a village to make it at the pointy end of our sport, so thank you to everyone that is part of this journey!