It’s finally here, the much awaited “A-Race” of the off-season, the Black Arrow Express 5150! While it’s easy to say that Subic races can be predictable or even “boring” to some, our Sunrise Events throws something unique to make things more exciting and memorable. For a lot of people, this will probably be their last race of the decade; yes the final race of the twentyteens! Rightfully so, this will be something to remember. Let’s break down the race in the latest edition of Practical Race Execution Preview (PREP) presented by Sante Barley!
The swim will be a single loop traversing a counter-clockwise direction. What does this mean? More difficult sighting for most of the population (right side breathers). My tip is to sight every 6 strokes or to alternate your breathing pattern so that you can stay on track. Luckily, historically, current is mild or insignificant for this part of the course. My advice is to just focus on aligning with the corner buoys (aka Yema) and to adjust every few strokes. Newbies or those who are especially scared of the open water need to take note that there’s a sudden drop off in the sea floor. A few hundred meters out, the water transitions form being mundane to pitch black. Nothing to be worried about; instead of focusing on what’s beneath, keep your mind on the turnaround point and on finishing the race! Also, it would really help to wear tinted or mirrored goggles as it gets difficult to sight on the way back (eastward) due to the glaring sun.
The bike course is fast, windy, and furious. Let’s start with the long gradual descent towards Malawaan Park. Out of ACEA, you would need to make a few sharp turns along the airport road. After a few bottle necks (don’t overtake during these segments), you’re free to hammer down Argonaut highway to your heart’s desire. Take in mind that it’s usually very windy in this part of the course so stay aero but be in control and alert.
The roads here are definitely not perfect so make sure you don’t pump up your tires too much. For a rider like me who’s 60kg, I only use 80-90psi. It’s been noted that higher tire pressures become detrimental because you end up bouncing around instead of keeping enough traction. Going too low may also result in pinch flats so it’s best to find the sweet spot for you and try it out (there are online tire pressure calculators but it all boils to down to preference!) Furthermore, tire choice is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of racing. My advice is to use 25c tires and use the best race tires you can get (I personally use Vittoria Corsas and Latex tubes). It's definitely a worthwhile investment!
For once, we won’t be making our U-turn in Remy field or Puregold; instead, the turn is near the “fishing park” right before Puregold. This is great as you’ll avoid the dirt and potholes in the intersection before Petron. Once you make a U-turn, you’ll be faced with a long steady climb back to ACEA, It’s best to still stay tucked and aero during most of these segments but you’ll probably need to drop to the small chainring (and even go out of the saddle) once you reach the infamous hill beside the airport.
The second U-turn is right in front of ACEA and you’ll have another crack at the bike course although this time, it’ll probably be more crowded. My tip is to pace yourself such that the second loop is faster than the first. If you end up struggling on the second loop, it probably means you overexerted on the first one. This is where knowing and executing your zones become of huge value. The more intelligently you approach the race, the faster you’ll go (and the less you’ll suffer)!
The run is something challenging indeed. For a lot of people, this might be the first time they’ll encounter the dreaded Zambales Road. For lack of a better term, it’s like a wall! This is a long stretch of road that seems never-ending (especially after swimming and biking). The best piece of advice I could give is to hold back. Those who are overzealous and push too hard or too early end up cramping midway. If you’ve prepared for this, good for you! You have a hall pass to exert a little bit more. But remember, after this long climb, the party’s still not over. You’ll have to deal with a few more hills once you reach the top. Another important piece of advice I could give here is to hydrate and fuel well as you make your way up. Think of it as priming your body for a sufferfest!
It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be hot. But I’d say that nothing beats that rush of adrenaline as you run down Zambales road after “paying your dues.” Keep your legs going, aim for a fast cadence, and enjoy the free speed! Just make sure you don’t roll over as you make your way down. Once you hit Edgewater, imagine the feeling of running through the finish chute! You conquered it!!
Hydrate. Cool down. Refuel. Get a massage. Jump in the ice bath. Eat. Sign up for your next race (in that order)! 😊