It has been five years since my last aquathlon. My first attempt was in an open sea competition in Corregidor. It was not really to test how fast l was in swimming, but it was to get over my fear of swimming in an open sea water. I learned to swim late (in my early 20s) because of fear of drowning in deep water. In fact, as my graduation rite back then, my swimming instructor made me jump in the deepest part of the pool, around 11 feet deep.
By the way, the deepest pool we have in my home city is 13 feet deep, good enough for diving lessons since it is equipped with a springboard. After l successfully swam towards the shallow end of the pool, l realized that the actual depth of the water makes no difference. If l didn’t overcome my fear of drowning, l could have said “sayonara” to sport competition such as an aquathlon.
I may have stopped joining aquathlon competitions, but swimming has been part of my workouts. Running is best for cardio. Swimming is best for the muscle. I do both. Yes, when legs are sore and aching from pounding the roads, swimming is my therapy. Thus, finding myself in another aquathlon competition after five years is in itself exciting.
As competition neared, l got sick. It was may be caused by stress at work. l suffered a mild cough and a runny nose, common cold symptoms. Did try natural remedies by getting a good night’s rest, drinking lots of liquids, and eating congee with herbs. Thanks to the advice of a friend. Prescription was also considered. Of course, l didn’t forget the power of prayer. So when l woke up early Sunday, though still feeling a bit wobbly, l noticed that my cough has stopped somehow.
I arrived at the venue with enough time to claim my race kit, and for the arm and leg number markings. l just stayed at the audience area to prepare my stuff while waiting for my Wave to be announced. At the same time looking forward to the arrival of my choirmates, a first time for them to see me compete.
l had the feeling of déja vu when our Wave was finally called. There was supposed to be 13 of us in our Wave, but two or three didn’t make it. A quick race briefing followed. Then the dreaded countdown. I had a good head start when almost halfway in the lane l suddenly stopped. I thought l heard someone calling me to stop and go back. As l was about to turn around that was when l saw my fellow competitors coming towards me.
Since not feeling well, l had to take a quick rest in each lane before proceeding. Honestly, that wasn’t a good performance. I knew l was slower. And breathing (because of my cough) was kind much of an effort. It was not for the win, but to just finish. Besides, l didn’t want to disappoint my friends who came all the way to Marikina just to watch me (and take note, on a Sunday morning). Adult aquathletes were expected to complete the 600-meter distance by swimming the eight lanes thrice.
Transition time happened quickly. Running a 5-kilometer distance came next. Again, just like in the swim leg, l was slower. I just maintained a comfortable pace since my thighs were still sore from the speed workouts with my running coach two nights before the race. In the run leg, where each loop measures 2.5 kilometers, all of us had to complete the loop twice. With just a few meters to go … at the last road bend/corner, a runner whizzed past me. I thought, “Oh well.” “Why do l have to be sick on race day?” “… Of all days!” Then FINISH LINE.
Since l didn’t plan to stay longer, l looked for Bave to thank and bid her goodbye. To my surprise she asked me not to go yet. She quickly checked the time record in the computer and came back smiling. It turned out, l won third place in my Wave. “Wow!” Didn’t expect it. A second podium in aquathlon. “Really?” What a comeback. Couldn’t be more happier!
Thank you F.O.M. choirmates, RJ, April, and Doinks for the support and cheers; Ivy M. aka Running Contessa for facilitating access to the swimming pool for my swim training; to my other friends who wished me well, thank you; and, Bave for patiently answering my queries. Congratulations to all participants and finishers of the 2nd Leg of the Splash ‘n Dash Aquathlon 2014! Kudos to the organizers, volunteers, marshals, aid station personnel, and sponsors for a job well done!
Until next time!