Experiencing race day jitters? Don't worry, we're here again to give you the lowdown on what to expect this Sunday. The course may be new, the terrain may be different but one thing's for certain, it's another EPIC RACE DAY in Subic! Check out a few points to ponder on leading into 70.3 miles of racing!
Let’s get this out of the way and talk about the elephant in the room. What’s this new course all about?
After talking to Miss Princess Galura about the new swim course let me share a few facts:
It was not a decision by Sunrise nor Subic Bay but was a compromise so that the race can push through. Due to the upcoming SEA Games, several strips for road have to be repaired. This may make it practically impossible to have a decent bike route going out of ACEA. The best alternative is Boardwalk since it avoids Maritan Highway and the aforementioned closed segments.
There is no swimming allowed in Boardwalk! Yes, but hear me out. Boardwalk is closed to swimmers because there is no lifeguard on duty (not because it’s dangerous or dirty). Luckily, on race day, we’ll have all the support we need. Sunrise always makes it a point to crowd the swim course with kayaks, and boats to help keep everyone say. Count on enough support crews in the water during the swim leg.
The water is checked and double checked by the Subic Bay Water Regulatory Board (SBWRB). Sunrise and SBWRB are taking extra steps to ensure the cleanliness of the water. Please see the attached statement from SBWRB about water conditions below.
If you want to check out the swim course, you can’t swim but you can rent a jetski from Networx (near Gerry’s Grill). Maybe that will help calm some nerves (and have fun at the same time)!
Going back to the swim course, since it’s the first time we’re swimming here, it’s a bit hard for me to give some information. Instead, let me give a few tips on how you can swim fast, stay safe, and make it a trouble-free environment for everyone:
Seed yourself properly. This means making sure that you start in your designated wave. By default, everyone is assigned to Zone 5 (46mins or slower). If you know you swim faster than this and have the race results to prove it, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link of your swim split. Seeding yourself properly makes sure that you don’t get in the way of faster swimmers (who can potentially collide with you) and you will be able to pace yourself with similarly-abled athletes.
Sight often! The swim will follow a counter-clockwise pattern. This means, the bouy line will be on your left. Right-side breathers (most of us) need not panic. Just make sure you’re aware of your surroundings by sighting (lifting your head up) every 6 strokes or so.
Be courteous to other swimmers. If you’re like me, I been hit a lot on the swim and oftentimes I feel it’s intentional, careless, or inconsiderate. Nonetheless, don’t retaliate or fight back. Best to swim away from that guy or leave him behind! On the flip side, make sure you don’t hurt the swimmers around you especially during tight corners. This is especially true if you’re a breast-stroker who flails out his legs as he swims. Remember, we all just want to make it to the other end. Let’s help everyone do so.
Make sure you wear the right goggles. Unless it’s overcast, I would advise getting mirrored or at least tinted goggles.Why? Well because the sun rises at around 5:25am but our waves will start at 6:30 am. This means there’s a large chance that you’ll get blinded especially when you swim the final 750m back (facing the East).
Last but not the least, don’t pull on the buoy line. We’re actually pretty lucky here in the Philippines since we always have buoy lines during races. Abroad, a lot of races only have marker buoys (usually at the turn around) to guide athletes. That being said, don’t abuse it! It is illegal to propel yourself forward using buoy lines, lifesavers, or kayaks. You can hold on to these things to rest (without getting a DQ) but you are not allowed to move forward. If you feel you can no longer continue, there’s no shame in asking for help from our friendly marshals. Better safe than sorry!
The bike course has been changed to two loops! It's not as simple as the previous course but still quite similar. A few points for consideration:
The first climb out of Subic (aka Tipo climb), is a long one at around 2.5km but it’s not as difficult as we think. It might seem daunting but with the right technique, gearing, and intensity, you can manage it! My tip is to put on a large cassette specific for this climb: an 11-28 or a 12-27 should be enough. If you’re not confident of your climbing capabilities, a 12-32 cassette is an option. To be honest, it might be somewhat of an overkill. Expect an average grade of around 4-5% (similar to the Miriam climb in Nuvali) but this will also peak at around 7-8% in the middle (similar to Republic wakeboard climb). Stay as aerobic as possible and keep it at Zone 3*. You’ve got a long day ahead.
The rest of the SCTEX consists of rolling hills, this means you’ll be going through your gears constantly. I’ve seen a lot of athletes cross-chain up certain hills only to either drop their chain, mash up the ascent, or wipe themselves out too early. Instead, make sure you anticipate the hill by dropping down to your small chainring (while you still can), spinning up the hill, and shifting back to your big chainring on the other side. Of course, stronger riders can power through using their big chainring but not everyone’s an uber biker! I would suggest using a semi-compact crank, paired with an 12-27 or 11-28 cassette (or something similar). The former will be useful for the rolling hills while the latter will allow you to push the descents a little bit more.
Expect some wind on the bike course. Of course, it’s still too early to determine actual wind or weather conditions, but historically, there’s usually a strong headwind going out, and some tailwind going back. Although don’t accept this as fact just yet. Last year, the headwind was there but the tailwind was absent. Make sure you also stay alert as there can be some gusts of wind in some parts of the course.
You'll have to climb up Tipo three times (one going out, another to wrap up the first loop, and another to go back into Subic). Yes it's challenging but don't be weary of it. Success lies in proper pacing. Make sure you switch to the right gear, maintain a steady and controlled effort, and embrace the pain. There's a fine line between going hard and blowing up. Keep your zones in check!
Fuel, Hydrate, and Pace! These are the keys to success for long distance racing. Expect it to be hot in SCTEX due to the lack of shade. That being said, make sure you carry enough water and try and refuel at the aid stations scattered throughout the course. Of course, make sure you consume enough calories during the bike leg and don’t forget your electrolytes! You’ll thank yourself at the run course. Also, make sure you maintain an intensity that’s fast yet comfortable. Overpacing will result in a very slow run leg while underpacing will allow you to push the run leg more! It’s a balancing act that we shouldn’t take for granted.
Take note of the RED ZONE indicated in the map. This is the long descent going back into Subic. This is a fast, winding descent that can potentially be dangerous. Remember to get off your aerobars, stay on the right side of the road, and be alert for any debris (or monkeys) that can get in your way. It’s the last part of the bike course so play it safe!
Stay alert. Parts of the course are open to traffic (specifically the road inside subic and the Tipo climb/descent segments. Stay on the right side of the road, be conscious of your surroundings, and pass ONLY on the left side. It also helps to politely make your presence known to other cyclists so everyone can stay safe.
If I were to describe the run course in one word, the word “Challenging” comes to mind. It’s hot, windy, and undulating which makes it something to watch out for.
Ease into it. The first part of the run course is pretty flat. This is the best time to rehydrate, take in some nutrition and shake off those jelly legs. Don’t hammer it out of T2, instead, take your time, get into your rhythm and set yourself up for the most difficult part of the race.
Proper cadence is important. Once you make a right at Puregold the gradual climb towards ACEA begins. During these uphill segments, I find that it’s easier to take smaller steps rather than extend your stride unnecessarily. This tires out your legs less and helps you stave off cramps and the dead-legs syndrome. Aim for around 170-180 strides per minute.
Take your time on each aid station. We often rush ourselves too much as we cross hydration/fueling stations. This can be a costly mistake as the few seconds you save may result in dehydration, bonking, or cramps. Instead, slow down, take a couple of glasses, take your nutrition, and be on your way. Trust me, it’s worth the time!
AIm for a negative split. On your way back, you can start pushing the pace if your legs are up for it. Let your momentum carry you as you make your way down the descents. Continue with the higher cadence approach but this time, dig deeper. With around 5km to go, you can give it your all. You’ve come too far to slow down now! Visualize yourself crossing the finish line and wave your arms up in victory as you do so. It’s been one heck of a day, you deserve it!
After finishing your race, make sure you rehydrate, refuel, and recover. Get some nutrition in as soon as possible and make sure you replenish all the fluids lost. It helps to get a massage and hop in the ice bath after. Grab a well-balanced meal later in the day and get all the sleep you need for the next couple of days. Finally, plan for your next race as I’m sure once you get to recover, you’re already thinking of what to do next!