It’s August already? For most people, you know what that means. It’s time for the best and longest running half-Ironman race in the country! My personal favorite and the race I’ve always looked forward to: The Cebu Ironman 70.3 (brought to us by Regent Aguila)! This race never ceases to throw us a few curve balls but let’s discuss how we can help prepare ourselves for the possible eventualities. It’s best to be prepared!
Check out the race schedule to make sure your itinerary for the weekend is all set:
The swim is straightforward. It’s a looping point-to-point swim along the beaches of Shangri-la Mactan right? Nope! This has got to be one of the most challenging swim courses of the Philippine race calendar. Since the swim course is situated in a channel, expect some strong currents due to water funneling through it. We’ve had some really bad years where dozens of participants were cut-off this early. Luckily, this year seems a bit more optimistic, Spring tide happened last week. What does this mean? It means tides will probably have a lesser impact on the currents. We believe this will translate to faster swim times. However, we cannot discount the fact that there will always be a strong current because of the aforementioned channel. I suppose it’s just a question of how strong the current will be and what direction it will be pushing towards. Both of which are rather unpredictable so just be prepared!
The bike leg is back to the very iconic M loop! Starting the course from T2, expect slightly narrow roads crowded with townsfolk cheering every participant. It’s the closest you’ll get to feeling like a celebrity! Make sure you stay alert as this can be also be potentially dangerous if people cross all of a sudden. The next landmark is the Marcelo Fernan bridge. This is a rather steep climb with lots of crosswinds! I’ve had a lot of difficulty in the past to keep my rear wheel planted. Just make sure you are in control and alert enough to manage the strong gusts. Take caution downhill and keep your hands on the brakes. The next segment would traverse Mandaue City. This is usually uneventful except for a few potholes (hopefully resolved) and another batch of spectators. I like this part the most since it’s the “calm before the storm.” The hallmark of this course is the M loop along the SRP (South Road Properties). This is a wind tunnel of sorts as wind is blowing from all over. My advice here is to stay on the right side of your lane and avoid wobbling about. Maintain the aero position as much as you can and just relax! The more relaxed and confident you are, the easier it is to manage such conditions. As you complete the second loop, you’ll be riding through the same course on the way back to Mactan. Make sure you pace yourself properly as overzealous efforts always lead to a sub-par run!
If I were to describe the run leg with one word, HOT is definitely top of mind. The most difficult part of this race is managing the heat whilst tired, hungry, and thirsty. To help resolve this, proper nutrition and hydration are key. Treat the first loop as a warm up while the second loop is the real deal. You have to find the balance between pushing and sustaining. Remember, once you bonk, your race goes out the window. Needless to say, just make sure you never give up even if everything is hurting. Even if your legs are tired, you feel fatigued, and that you’re already walking. You’ve come this far, don’t give up! As I always tell my athletes, it’s all about managing the pain: controlled suffering! Make sure you embody that mindset, embrace the pain, it is a part of racing so make friends with it!
One thing that kept me going hard during all my races (especially in my Half Ironman Races) is proper visualization. Imagine yourself crossing the finishline, conquering the race, and succeeding against all obstacles. Pin that imagine on your mind and think about it every minute of the race. You’ll be surprised what your body can do with the right mindset. Apart from the mindset, you need to have the right approach: fueling, pacing, hydration etc., all of those will play a huge role in your race. Make sure you have all the boxes ticked.