A few meters into the finish of the swim component, I was taking in more water than what I should be squirting out in every stroke. I was gasping for air as other guys from my wave were coming out of the pool barely unscathed and ready to hit the pavement. What the Hefner am I doing here? (instead of staying in the mansion and cuddling with my bunnies)
This was probably my most indelible moment 2 Sundays ago when I literally plunged into my first Aquathlon. The date was the same as the ScholaRun, a race around Marikina which I’ve helped to promote. But the KTT (kain. tulog. takbo.) – organized event was just to good to pass up – it’s located at Georgetown (a good 5-minute drive from our home), the dreaded swim portion is a measly 400 meters and the group led by the husband/wife, Cris/Bave, organized it for budding swimmers like me with an enticing registration fee (P350) plus a stylish finisher shirt and a free breakfast.
Now who can resist such a temptation? Maybe the non-swimming runner but I’ve been doing the pool laps quite regularly, albeit for a short period of time. So who knows…
Though many of the faces were quite familiar already (with Team CB helping in the race supervision and people from Kamote Runners, Six:30, Boring, etc. fielding contenders which ballooned to almost 90), an Aquathlon is a whole different animal. Contenders huddled around in various forms of undress (I forgot my swimming shorts so I had to contend with a skimpier one reminiscent of Ricky Belmonte and Jestonie Alarcon), waiting for their wave or listening to instructions with arms clasped together while watching other participants struggle or whiz along the snaking course. That’s 25 meters times 8 laps then another round to complete the 400-meter distance.
I have the fortunate home advantage having joined the simulation swim-run on the same route a week before. So when I joined the final wave, I was 10 lbs heavier of confidence and swagger – I was going to let these guys swallow my bubbles (that’s the aquatic equivalent of “eat my dust, dude”). Once the dash started, I found myself with the lead pack (but opkors). Two laps later, I started feeling the weight (of my body and ego) then little by little, they overtook me (which slowed me down even more).
By the time I finished the first circuit, I was starting to get worn out but still struggled and exerted myself. The last few laps felt like sloshing on molasses but I eventually finished it (13:32, 30 secs faster than during the simulation) but I knew I was already trashed when I was fitting in my running socks and shoes. Starting the run, I felt like I just finished 20 kilometers non-stop. My legs were gelatinous but the bullheadedness persisted so I just kept putting one foot ahead of the other.
It was a nice slightly overcast weather so there was hardly any solar heat beating on my back and I was passing through familiar route and even seeing some familiar faces of the community. After taking my 5th and final string, I was off to a nice and medium pace finish – not the glorious dash I had in my mind but with everyone welcoming me with claps and cheers, it felt magnificent. My final time – 32:48 (with a run time of 19:16) – 28th among 52 contenders. Not bad for a first Aquathlon.
I just have to say that the event was ably organized by KTT with other friend runners manning the different corners and turns, the atmosphere was family-oriented and fun and most memorable. Soon enough, I know I’m going to take on this animal again (that’s the aquathlon) and feel the triumph of surviving the grueling ordeal. So, any invites out there?