It's July once again and that can only mean one thing, Tri United 2 is here and it's going to be harder and tougher than ever! Follow me and my page on Facebook for updates and other developments as we count down the days! (FlyingDonVCoaching on FB)
This race preview is released together with our friends from Raceday Magazine! Check them out here!
Despite being in the same venue as almost all of Subic races, the swim course for TU2 is totally new. Kudos to the organizers for always trying to keep it interesting by mixing it up. This edition will have an L-shaped swim course in a clockwise direction. What does this mean? Generally, it means this course is “newbie” friendly. Firstly, most triathletes prefer to breathe on the right side (since their right arm is more dominant). By breathing on this side, it allows them to have more control and power as they breathe. Thus, since the course is clockwise, it will be easier to navigate for them as the buoy line will be in sight when they rotate their heads. Secondly, the L-shaped course means we wouldn’t have to swim out too far. In fact, the shoreline will always be visible. This will provide some “safety blanket” for those who aren’t confident yet with their swimming abilities. Nonetheless, safety kayaks will always be there to oversee our safety.
Looking at the tide data, it seems there is a high probability that there will be some mild current during the swim course. Historically, the current in this area is pretty weak (since it’s actually part of a cove). However, proper sighting and navigation will still be needed especially given the nature of the course.
On the final stretch back to Acea, the sun will be in our line of sight again. Depending on what exact time you get to start/end the swim leg, this may present itself as a problem. Remember to choose mirrorized or polarized goggles to help negate the blinding glare from the sun.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints/fears about the bike course; however, I honestly think it’s not so bad. It’s a mix of hard and easy. Having the right strategy will help you nail it perfectly.
It starts off with a few short 4-6% grade hills. These shouldn’t be a problem unless you go all out. Pace them properly and use this segment as an opportunity to loosen up the legs. Once you make your way along Argonaut and Maritan highway (the long stretch leading up to the now demolished Tipo Tollboth), take time to rehydrate, refuel, and recover properly. Don’t try and hammer this stretch. Instead, save your legs for the first climb of the day.
This climb is roughly 4km long with an average grade of 4%. This, albeit longer, is very similar to the hills in Nuvali. However, unlike in Nuvali, it peaks at around 8%. This portion is similar to the hills along Sumulong Highway (going up Antipolo). Tackle the entire climb with a Zone 4 (Threshold effort); don’t go too hard nor slack off. #KnowYourNumbers, find the right intensity which will allow you to sustain it for an extended period of time. Soon thereafter, there will be plenty of time to recover. The descent is long and sweeping. Make sure to stay on the right side of the road as the course at this point isn’t completely closed to traffic.
The highlight of the race is the scenic SCTEx route! This portion is completely closed to traffic so you don’t have to worry about cars edging you to the side of the road or cutting in front of you. Here, you can concentrate on staying aero and pacing yourself properly in Zone 2-3. Remember that drafting is strictly prohibited. If you don’t want to get penalized, keep a 12m distance between you and the rider in front of you. Unlike what most people would expect, the terrain isn’t “baby bottom” smooth. There are lots (and I mean lots) of rough patches of road. The mix of worn out asphalt and cracked cement send vibrations all the way down your spine. Finding the right tire and tube combo as well as the ideal tire pressure is highly recommended. Ride comfort will translate to better power delivery and endurance.
Take note that there will be aid stations every 15km (from the very start of the course). Water will be handed to you in mineral water bottles. Remember to practice how to do a proper bottle grab without stopping. It would help if you have a hydration system that will allow you to dump water without opening its lid. If you only have traditional bottles on board, you’d need to stop, unscrew the lid, pour the water in, and screw the lid back on. This takes a lot of effort and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to waste precious time.
DON’T LITTER! I’ve seen several athletes throw their trash along the SCTEx, remember that no one will be able to clean that! Do your part, we’re borrowing the course, so let’s keep it clean.
After the turnaround in Dinalupihan, the return trip is actually quite easier. The climb is gradual with a grade ranging from 3-5%. It’s long and steady. Take note that the toughest section is the second part of the ascent. After a quick downhill segment, you’ll need to switch back to the small chainring and mash your way up for 800m or so. The final downhill is long, fast, and actually quite scary. Avoid using your aerobars since it gets bit windy on this part of the course. Remember to be aware of where traffic is and always ride on the right side of the road.
The final part of the course is relatively flat (going back to Acea). Save for the steady ascent going towards NCT Road, the only hill you’ll encounter is the one adjacent to the airport. It’s short yet tough especially on tired legs so don’t underestimate it. Make sure to spin those legs out during the final kilometer leading to Acea.
The run is where the real fight happens. Like the bike course, it starts out quite easy and gets harder as you go along. The segment going to All Hands Beach and back is pancake flat. However once you make your way near Triboa bay, things will take a turn for the worse. The infamous Zambales road shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a 2km climb that feels like an eternity. Considering it has an average grade of 4% it’s quite tough. When you factor in that it actually peaks at 11% (quite similar to the climb up Teresa in Antipolo), it becomes an even greater challenge. Don’t be shy to walk during the tougher portions of the course. Running (or jogging) uphill takes exponentially more energy with minimal gains in speed.
Aid stations will be scattered along the run course 1-1.5km apart. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Don’t block the table as you take a sip. Grab a cup then move out of the way to give others access to the drinks.
Once you reach the top, you’ll have a short breather when the roads flatten out. As you make your way towards Cubi, you’ll be greeted with another hard yet short hill. This is roughly 500m long but has a grade of 8-9%. Take your time as you make your way up this hill. Remember that you’re barely midway through the course; save your energy for the remaining 6km.
Going back to Acea, you’ll have to manage the steep downhill portions. Contrary to what some people may think, this isn’t “free speed.” Descending is a challenge on its own. It takes good balance, excellent muscular endurance, and proper technique to take advantage of the negative grade. Remember to use a shorter stride, swing your arms more rapidly, and try to keep your turnover rate high. The goal isn’t to fly downhill, instead, make sure your feet aren’t absorbing the impact by “braking”.
After Zambales road is done, give it all you’ve got as you sprint towards the finish line. Forget about pacing, HR, and zones. Give it what you’ve got left in the tank. Make sure to savor the moment as you cross the tape, you completely deserve it!
Remember to Check In Your Bikes before 8:00pm on Saturday!
Unless it rains, the orientation of the course is troublesome in terms of glare and sun washout. Most probably, the sun will be right in your face as you swim the last segment. Polarized or Mirrorized goggles will help cut the reflection and will allow you to see more.
2. Energy Gels
Being longer than a standard distance race, nutrition becomes even more essential. 200-300 calories are usually recommended on the bike (depending on how much you weigh). I personally consume 2 sachets of GU every hour. I mix it up with different flavors and caffeine dosages. This allows me to keep my energy stores high for the run.
3. Refillable Aero Hydration System
Instead of bringing 3-4 bottles on your bike, it would be wiser to just refill your containers in the aid stations. A great “hack” is to use refillable hydration systems. The Speedfil A1 mounts on your frame carries 2 bottles worth of liquid and gives you the option of refilling it on-the-fly. Just pour in the contents of the bottle into its splash-proof cap and you’re set.
4. Endurance Supplements
I was skeptical with this supplement at first but found it to be of great use. Klean Endurance has D-Ribose which is an essential sugar in the energy production process. Deficiencies will result in heavy legs or the feeling of sluggishness. I take them on a regular basis (as well as during races) to help make sure I’m functioning optimally.
Since the swim is 33% longer than your normal Oly, it plays a larger factor for TU2. I personally use the TYR Torque Pro. While there are cheaper speed suits out there, they are often made up of a thinner or less hydrophobic fabric. For example, they may be 40% cheaper but only do 20% of the job. It would be better to invest on something that is more premium and effective instead of something that is cheap and useless. We pay for the results not the look!