We present to you our very first edition of the Practical Race Execution and Preview (PREP) powered by Santé Barley!
It’s February once again, and one of the events everyone is looking forward to is TriUnited 1. To all first timers, welcome! We’ll guide you through the race course and give you valuable tips and reminders to give you the best race experience possible! To all veterans, there are some changes to the course this year so please pay close attention.
The past few years, the swim course has been held in the same venue (Dungaree beach, now known as Acea Beach Resort), but the actual course has constantly evolved. In previous iterations of the race, we saw multiple loops, and a triangular swim course. This year, we will have a single, out and back course. This course is as simple as it gets but can still pose some small challenges.
The swim start is divided into waves based on age groups (see schedule below). It heads out in a westward direction for 750m before heading back to shore. To a lot of newbies, the sensation of swimming out so far may seem daunting. As you swim out, you will reach a point where you will only see pitch black darkness (yes, it gets quite deep). However, don’t panic! Relax and stay calm as you try and navigate the course. There are plenty of lifeguards and marshals in the area. You’ll be safe as long as you stick to your game plan (i.e. swim!) Luckily, the water is generally calm with only a slight current towards the North-West direction. This would only pose as a slight problem once you head back to shore. At times, you feel like you’re being pushed closer to the rocks on the side. Pay close attention to sighting properly and navigating in a straight line. Since we will have to swim in an eastward direction going back, we will probably be blinded by the rising sun. Thus, you need to pick the right pair of goggles. Avoid using clear or smoke lens. I personally prefer using polarized or mirrored lens. These goggles will help cut out glare and help you see well.
The bike course is entirely new to the TriUnited series but a lot of veteran triathletes are quite familiar with it. This is quite similar to the old SuBIT bike course several years ago. After going out of Acea, you will have to head towards the direction of Ocean Adventure. This course is what a lot of athletes call “helly!” I like to segment the course into two parts.
The first part consists of a series of long and steep climbs. The hills add up to roughly 9km of climbing (in total) with a maximum elevation of 160m. The first hill starts out at 5% near Triboa Bay (grade is quite similar to the hill going up Miriam in Nuvali). This is followed by a long descent into the police checkpoint/gate. A few hundred meters after is where the fun begins.
The long 1.5km climb has varying degrees of incline. It starts off with a very steep 8% grade (similar to the steeper segments up Antipolo) then evens out at roughly 4%. Before you reach the turnaround in Ocean Adventure, you will need to tuck into your aero position as you ride a very fast downhill segment. After the U turn, the pain reacquaints itself with your legs. Climbing back up is 2x more difficult this time around because of the heat, fatigue, and possible dehydration. It’s important to pay close attention to nutrition and hydration to avoid cramping. 14km into the course, you will encounter a very fast and technical descent back to where we came. Pay very close attention to the terrain and avoid any rocks, potholes, or obstacles. Brake before you enter each turn and make it through the bend in a calm, collected, and precise way. Don’t slam your brakes nor make any abrupt changes. Be polite and courteous to other riders. Ride on the right side of the road and let others pass on the left. No drafting!
The second part of the course consists of a flat(-ish) and fast stretch of road with some wind. Although this part of the course is fast, avoid using super deep rims as they might even be a disadvantage for this course because of its weight penalty. After the punishing hills earlier in the race, this is where a lot of triathletes like to let loose. Be wary as you hammer the course. Conserve your energy before you reach the second turnaround infront of Subic Bay Yact Club (SBYC). Afterwards, go harder but don't let excitement get the best of you. Remember, the race doesn’t end in T2. No one gets extra points (for this race anyway) for the fastest bike split. It’s all about managing one’s efforts to nail the fastest overall time possible. Pushing it too hard on the bike and frequently going above lactate threshold will prevent you from running to your potential.
The run is almost pancake flat with a very minimal grade of 1% along the course. This is the point where everyone is tired, dehydrated, hungry, or cramping. For some, this is the longest 10k of their life! However, despite the tough conditions, the cool breeze from the sea helps douse the scorching heat from the sun. Aid stations are scattered along the run course so make sure you hydrate properly. As you take your cup, make sure to move out of the way immediately to allow other racers to grab their share. Start off relatively easy then build speed as you go along. Remember that it’s safer to have a little left in the tank than to gas out with several kilometers left.
Now that you know what to do, here are a few things that will make your job a lot easier.
1. Mirrorized or Polarized Goggles
Part of the swim course goes toward an easterly direction. This means glare from the sun will potentially make sighting difficult. Avoid smoke/clear goggles and use mirrorized/polarized ones instead. They will give you the best chance of seeing the course better.
2. Electrolyte Capsules
The bike course is hot and humid because it traverses the "jungle" of Subic Bay. Excessive sweating will deplete electrolyte levels so make sure you top up properly. Take a salt stick capsule every hour and wash it down with water.
3. Energy Gels
Energy gels are easy to use and are my preferred source of nutrition for olympic distance races (or shorter). They give you a sudden burst of energy so make sure you top up every 30-45mins to keep energy levels constant. To those who are sensitive to caffeine, opt for decaffeinated flavors (indicated in packaging).
4. "Sockless" Race Shoes
For 5-10k races, I prefer shoes that I can wear without socks. This saves me a few seconds in transition since I don't have to fiddle around with my socks. The Newton Distance S4 is my favorite shoe for such events. Make sure to break in the shoe before using. This will prevent/eliminate blisters and chafing.
The run course has almost zero shade. The fatigue and intensity are troublesome enough but the scorching sun will definitely make running a lot more difficult. I like to wear visors because they keep the sun away from my eyes and wick sweat as well.
This is very important post-race. Intense or prologed exercise can wreak havoc to our cells and our immune system. By taking in vitamins and antioxidants, you're giving our body the best chance at repairing itself and preventing additional oxidative damage. I personally prefer powdered barley which I mix together with milk. Its multi-nutrient profile contains high levels of superoxide dismutase, a key enzyme that protects cells from free radical damage, which helps boost muscle repair, reduce inflammation and minimise muscle soreness and joint pain.. The barely supercharges it by adding the essential vitamins and antioxidants. It's not called "super food" for nothing.
At the end of the day, don’t forget to have fun! Remember this is something we should enjoy. Yes, take the race seriously but try and relish the journey, not just the destination. Hope to see you all in Subic!