Race report from Challenge Philippines 70.3 on 21 Feb 2015

Preparation. I’d been working on getting back into training since Nov 2014. Mostly with the indoor trainer, occasionally runs in the gym and even fewer swims. My overall level of fitness was good but I had not completed a long ride with the except of one 100km ride in Chongming for a long long time. My main purpose for this race was to help build some endurance through a test early in the season so that I would benefit later in key races.

After entering, I only later realised how tough the course was on the bike with hundreds of meters of climbing AND on the run with an undulating course. Been based in Shanghai I have no experience or ability to train and this was a limiting factor. I wasn’t worried about the heat too much as I’ve become acclimatised to heat over the years of summer racing in Asia.

We got to Subic Bay about a week before for a vacation and my main target was not to put on weight with all the good food. I did some light exercise and mainly rested, built up my electrolyte levels and prepared for my first race in 15 months.

Swim. This was a lovely swim in the sea. Mostly clear, calm and at parts very shallow. I found clear water early and also managed to tag a few similar paced swimmers to swim with. Was comfortable the whole time and enjoyed the whole time.

Bike. So given the extreme hills and technical course – both up and down, I was hoping to just hold a steady pace, not crash, not blow up and to conserve something for the run. I had prepared enough salt tablets and with the aid stations every 15km, it was easy enough to stay hydrated. The down hills were especially exhilarating – although I had my stomach in my chest a few times. Even when the corners were not too sharp, it was possible to build up too much speed and only by the third corner did you realise that you should have slowed down two corners ago! It was a lot of fun and I only saw a few flats and maybe one crash. The final third was really tough as the heat and wind kicked up and my lack of endurance on the bike showed. I slowed down noticeably and the final two climbs while not feeling too tough were slow. The final descent was great and I was really happy to be off the bike without any incident.

Run. It was hot now and while the run was all in the jungle – it was actually in and out with large stretches unprotected from the sun. I should have worn my neck scarf by had taken it off after the bike. Mistake as I got burned. The hills were a real challenge but I just tried to run steady between the aid stations and keep the km times to something with a 6/7min.  It was a struggle on the uphills so my heart rates was jacking up. After a couple of aid stations I was asking for ice only (with a bit of water and pocari). I was sticking ice under my hat and on my back and chest and even in a calf guard to cool down. Holding ice helps with the cooling process. Finally around half way I was slowing down and only by pacing off a female athlete who was going around 9.5kmh did I find a second wind and picked up well through 12-18 km. I knew the end was in sight and went past a few more runners. I was especially happy to finally get past a runner who was walking up the hills – I would shuffle past him – and then run past me on the down. After this yo-yoing for a few hills, he decided to run up one of them with me and when I went past him never saw him again. I finished strong and was happy to be finished with the race. This was a very very tough race and course-wise the hardest and most technical run and bike. The time was slow – probably about 15 mins outside my final prediction but I’m happy to get through it.

Result: Overall race time was 6hrs 44min 27secs.  Position was 13th in age group from 76 starters. Overall position was 125th from 444 starters individual race. Gender finish was 107th from 383 starters.

Swim was 35mins 46 secs for 1.9km. 5th in my age group!

Bike was 3hrs 35mins 56 sec for 90kms.

Run was 2hrs 15mins 57 secs for 21km run.

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Race Week: Challenge Philippines 70.3

Here is the race web site. 

Leaving the cold and smoggy Shanghai winter into blazingly hot, blue skies and white clouds of Subic Bay in the Philippines is a major transition for the body to make. Luckily I have a week plus before the race.  How can you make the transition:

Weather – heat. Stay hydrated, salt tablets and judging electrolytes needed for race. Spending time outside at the same time of day as your race time. Limit it as this can be a really hot time of day. Don’t get sunburnt. Make sure you have a way to cover up during the race. This may be thinking about type of tri suit or Under-armour heat top or calf compression guards.

Food – Seems that fried chicken is the national dish. All the supermarkets have mostly packaged and processed food. Find the fruit stalls, try out the bananas to test for use in race. As I’m going through a lower carbohydrate diet and increasing healthy fats, I found a place to buy coconut cream. Still aware to keep carbohydrate stores topped off and to test race food strategy.

Race – did a recce of the bike course. This is going to be a major challenge as the hills are steep, long and continuous. I’m going to have to adjust my expectations for the race.  Previously was looking at around 3hrs on the bike but now it may be closer to 3:30 given that I haven’t ridden long distances at all for a long time. Run also has a lot of elevation although it seems like it’s mostly covered in jungle.

Training – keep the exercise ticking over. Found a 50m pool at WOW World in Subic Bay which was good, outside and not too busy for 220 pesos. Don’t overdo it and remember to rest your body with lots of sleep and keeping off your feet in the days before.

Briefing – Write down where and when to bike check, register and attend briefings. When the carbo parties are and the post race awards.  Write down the shuttle bus schedule so you know when / where to be. For example in this race, there is only one bus leaving at 0400 near my hotel to the race venue!

Looking forward to this race although it will likely be the toughest race I’ve ever done. I haven’t raced for 15 months and would like to test out a low fat approach to the race which means less gels and more real food like protein bars and bananas.

One year break from racing is over: 2015 Races on the calendar!!

After taking a break from all triathlon racing in 2014, I learned a few things:

1. I need the target of races to maintain discipline.

2. Without discipline, my diet and nutrition lapses greatly.

3. I have no motivation to train without a race target.

4. Air pollution is still a major obstacle.


For 2015, I’ve registered for Feb 22 race in Subic Bay – an early season 70.3 which set me up well for a good season in 2012. Then a full calendar of OD races in China and possibly UK. To finish the season the Laguna Phuket Tri – an extended OD.

Looking forward to it. Been off all alcohol for three weeks plus, diet has tightened up and training has increased. The power of a target.

Three weeks until Laguna Phuket Triathlon

Focus:  Took last week off to fight allergic reactions to high pollution and busy with getting my visa! Really tough few weeks health wise. Cold like symptoms without the cold. Sudden rise in AQI 3 weeks ago seemed to be the trigger.

Monday: Sauna.

Wed: Afternoon swim 30mins 1500m. Easy paced.

Thursday: Afternoon swim 30mins 1500m. Easy paced.

Friday: Afternoon swim 30mins 1500m. Easy paced.

Sat: Swim meet. Representing JingAn district in the Shanghai . Two 5th places. Very competitive races with former pros.

Sun: Rest day

Total: 4 sessions (2 hours) ; Swim (4 sessions, 2 hrs);

Race Week: Anting Sprint Triathlon

Focus:  Race week build up. Get over cold.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Too much pollution early morning. Still down with a small cold.

Wed: Evening small group ride. Flatted after about 20km.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Swim 30mins plus a run through the park / back.

Sat: No training, still fighting cold.

Sun: Race day. Beautiful weather and pollution was down. 1st place. Third win in a row. But wasn’t easy. Swim went well although I could see several competitors go off ahead of me. More or less took a straight line. Two of the buoys were deflated which made sighting more challenging. Transition was smooth. On the bike got into a rhythm. There were some winds but mostly manageable. The road surface quality was full of rubble and there were sudden potholes and poorly resurfaced sections. Keep it steady on the bike for around 34mins. Quick transition onto the run. The heart rate was way too high. For the whole race really. First km was good around 4:30 pace but was finding it difficult to breathe and my second km slipped to 4:50 which is when I saw Zennon and the third place runner coming on the other side of the road. I thought I would get caught. I focused on finding a high cadence and just getting through it one km at a time. 3km, 4km, and then I passed the final water station I knew that I was in a good chance for the win. No one was in sight and I slowed down a bit to give some lungs some rest. Crossed the line in a slower time but happy with the victory. Official results are here.

Total: 6 sessions (2 hours) Bike (2 sessions, 1hrs); Run (2 sessions, 40mins); Swim (2 sessions, 40mins);

2 weeks until Anting Sprint Triathlon

Focus:  Sustained sessions. More bike/running.

Monday: Afternoon bike ride around 25km. Run to / back from gym. Swim 1km.

Tuesday: Early morning group ride with FHL around Century Park. 25km.

Wed: Evening small group ride. 40km. Steady focused on HR around 140bpm.

Thursday: Early morning high intensity group ride, fasted. 25km

Friday: No training

Sat: Early morning group bike, medium to fast. 111km. 4-5hrs. All small chain ring.

Sun: Morning group ride easy paced. 60km. 3hours.

Total: 6 sessions (12 hours) Bike (6 sessions, 11 hrs); Run (1 sessions, 30mins); Swim (1 sessions, 30mins);

3 weeks until Anting Sprint Triathlon

Focus:  Combos. More bike/running.

Monday: Typhoon weather knocks out bike riding. Morning swim around 1500m with 5x100m to finish : 1min 38-1min 41 range for each 100m.

Tuesday: No training. Rained all day.

Wed: End of rain. Late morning bike. Had a big breakfast two hours before. 25km with 3 laps to power. 180-200W average. Cadence dropped under 80rpm as gear went up. Max. P 20mins = 198W. Afternoon run and swim. Evening group bike ride.

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: Workshop in day.

Sat: Working day

Sun: Short swim and sauna.

Total: 6 sessions (4.5 hours) Bike (2 sessions, 2.5 hrs); Run (1 sessions, 20mins); Swim (3 sessions, 90mins);

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