This October, we revisit Subic one more time as we take part in the much awaited TriUnited 3! This race, arguably, is the most difficult long distance event in the local triathlon scene. Drastically different from the previous iterations, the 2016 version has a few surprises up its sleeves. Welcome to the Sante Barley Practical Race Execution Preview (PREP) for TriUnited 3!
The swim leg is relatively the easiest part of this race. It’s pretty straightforward; it consists of 2 loops along the generally calm coast of Acea Beach Resort (formerly Dungaree beach). Based on tidal forecasts and our estimated race start, expect a weak to moderate current along the course. This will also be influenced by the outgoing storm on Sunday. In fact, wind speed and direction will have a greater effect on current velocity and wave height. It’s definitely hard to predict conditions this early so please follow our Facebook page as we will paint a clearer picture as the race approaches.
Regardless of sea conditions, the approach towards swimming 1.9km (probably closer to 2km based on the course layout) stays the same. A lot of athletes go very hard during the first 100m only to gas out midway. A smarter approach would be to hold back during the early part and build speed as you go along. This decreases the occurrence of “oxygen debt” which cripples your ability to sustain harder efforts towards the middle or end of the race. You can finish the swim course strong by pacing yourself intelligently; aim for an effort of 6-7 out of 10 if you want to have a lot left in the tank for the bike and run. A valuable tip is to increase your turnover rate when swimming against the current. This will give you a better chance to make forward progress.
Most athletes look forward to the bike as it’s not everyday you can ride along the SCTEX! Looking at the elevation profile, you’d assume that the course is slow; however, since there are few segments where you have to slow down, you carry your momentum better. This means you can clock in fast times with less effort! Maintaining a high average speed comes down to knowing how to tackle the terrain. Pace yourself well by staying within Zone 2 (Endurance) on the flats and below Zone 4 (Threshold) on the climbs. The most difficult part would definitely be the climb towards Tipo (exiting Subic). Don’t be intimidated by the long and steep climb; it’s not as bad as you think. The trick is to keep your gearing light, your chest open, and your upper body relaxed. You should neither slack off nor go all out. Find an effort that’s “comfortably hard” this should coincide with your upper Zone 3 (Tempo). While the hills will dictate how hard you need to push, holding back a little bit during the early stages of the bike will allow you to go harder during the final climb back to Subic. Always ask yourself this question “is my effort sustainable?” Remember that the race doesn’t end in T2; you still have to run 21km!
Be aware of wind conditions on Sunday, as I mentioned earlier, the outgoing storm will affect wind velocity. There are some portions where wind poses a problem (e.g. the descent from Tipo out to SCTEX and back to Subic). This may further be exacerbated by the storm. There might also be a chance of rain. If this happens, lower your tire pressure by 5-10 psi; this will give you better grip especially while cornering.
This is the “make or break” part of the race. The first part of the race is pancake flat with minimal shade. We are all hoping for favorable weather conditions come race day, but we should all expect the worse. Historically, the time period right after the storm is extremely hot. The high pressure clears out clouds which results in scorching heat. If the sun is indeed out, you can deal with the tough conditions by wearing a cap/visor and enough sunblock. Sleeved trisuits like my PSI Elite Sleeved Trisuit also give me a barrier from the burning sun. This helps lower my perception of heat and consequently, perceived effort. Remember to take the first 15km easy; stay in Zone 2 (Endurance) which is close to your “all day” pace. Hydrate and consume enough calories, you still have a long way to go. It will be tempting to push hard during this part of the course but doing so will cost you when it matters most. The climb up to Cubi is nothing new to TriUnited 2 participants. Running up this hill is out of the question. You can save yourself a lot of effort (with a minimal time penalty) by walking instead of running. This will prevent you from cramping up or over-stressing your cardiovascular system. Stay well hydrated during this part of the course. Once you reach the top, obviously, the only way to go is down. Try and pick up the pace as you run down. Control your descent without putting too much stress on your knees. Keep cadence high and avoid braking with your heels. If the roads are wet, take more caution and walk instead. Safety comes first before anything else. With less than 3km to go, stay positive and visualize a strong finish! As you cross the finish line remember to zip up your trisuit, fix your bib and visor. Flash a huge smile for the photographers, you’ve just accomplished the toughest local race this year!
1. Aero Helmet (and Other Aero Gear)
This course, despite the rolling terrain, is all about aerodynamics. Having less drag will mean expending less energy while maintaining a despired speed. Based on empirical data, aero helmets, wheels, and an aerodynamic position will save you several minutes over a 90km bike course. The "coolness" factor is also a huge bonus!
It's a given fact that we need calories to get our body going. This is especially true for a very tough race like TU3. However, as most of you probably know, not all calories are the same. It's important to choose the fuel source that's appropriate for the conditions we'll experience. Vitargo is one of my favorite sources of energy because it's made out of scientifically designed complex carbohydrates. These carbs don't have a high glycemic index but have a high osmolality rate. This means you absorb it quickly without bloating or sugar spikes/crashes. Think of it as long distance slow burn fuel!
Using a cap/visor will allow you to literally keep your head cool. Shielding yourself from the sun will also keep your rate of perceived exertion low. Squinting will add unecessary stress especially when things get really tough. You can also use sunblock, boleros, or arm sleeves to help prevent sunburn.
4. Proper Goggles
Using a good pair of goggles is critical especially in a long course like this. Nobody wants to swim 1.9k with foggy, leaky, and uncomfortable goggles. I use the TYR Special Ops 2.0 because the gaskets are comfortable yet seal well. They're also polarized which helps cut glare. I'm able to navigate better when I have a clear picture of what's ahead of me.
5. Compression Socks/Sleeves
Most races don't allow compression sleeves during the swim course. Luckily, such articles of clothing are allowed in TU3. Based on research, compression gear gives our legs ample support, allow for better blood flow, and can even delay the onset of cramps. This is very useful for a tough long distance race like this. Your calves will thank you while hiking towards Cubi!
Image sources: www.bcda.gov.ph and www.bikekingphilippines.com