Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fitness - Lifestyle Not a Fad!

Scottsdale, AZ - When I braved the Nike Half Marathon in San Francisco alone on October 19th 2014, mental toughness was what I had left that dragged my legs across the finish line!  Limping as I collected my finisher prize, a limited edition Tiffany Necklace (not too shabby!), I missed Carrie (my sister-in-law) and Kirsten (my cousin) who ran the same race with me 4 years ago.

Desperately longing for company, I briefly forgot my aching body when I caught a glimpse of the Philippine flag just past the runners’ exit.  Amongst other Filipino athletes, I met Rolly Loreto who, after only a few minutes of chatting, made me feel relieved and energized.  Such a supportive co-athlete!

Fast forward 4 weeks later, Rolly came to the valley to volunteer together with friends and families, and support Fil Am Tri (FAT) Club’s 45 delegates for the IRONMAN Arizona (IMAZ) on November 16th 2014. 

IMAZ 2014 FilAmTri delegates

Photo courtesy of Fil Am Tri Club.

IMAZ kicked off with a 2.4 miles single-loop swim in Tempe Town Lake, followed by a 112 miles three-loop bike course through the Sonoran Desert, and finished with a 26.2 miles flat and spectator-friendly course through Papago Park. This southwestern race is so popular that for the first time at an American IRONMAN event, it had a record-setting sellout of 2015 entries!  After completing their volunteer shifts,  Rolly, already a 12-time triathlon finisher in quest of IRONMAN, and several FAT members, received their wristbands to be among the first to sign up for next year’s IMAZ.

It's official for Rolly Loreto and Rica Enrile! The will be back next year for IMAZ 2015.

On the night before IMAZ, the team converged by the hotel’s poolside; the competitors loaded up with carbs early so that they could snooze soon, while the volunteers mapped out their course to barhop Old Town Scottsdale! For those who know me well, you’d figure out which group I hung out with =) It was a gathering filled with positive energy, fun and a whole lot of food, it was a Filipino get-together after all! 

Eve of IMAZ 2014 Fil Am Tri Carbo Load

Photo courtesy of Mario Alvior.

Amidst all the excitement, I managed to have one on one conversations with a few IMAZ participants, with one burning question in mind. How do they fit their triathlon workout plan into their daily lives, when I found it very challenging to keep up with my meek half marathon training?

Former model turned long distance runner, Carla Dorotheo, simply said, “It does not feel like I have to fit the training into my life because running is already part of my life.  I chose to do it and keep up with it because I feel good when I workout. It is good for my body! I run 4 times a week, varying 4 to 6 miles on weekdays and usually 8-20 miles on weekends."

Fitness and sports have always been part of Carla's and her family's life. Her mother is also a runner, and still logging miles to date.  Her body-builder grandfather, Elpidio Dorotheo, was Mr. Philippines 1952.  Mr. Dorotheo opened one of the first health clubs in Manila; among his clients were President Marcos' family.  He also pioneered and served as president of the Philippine Weightlifting Association and Running Club Association of the Philppines (RUNCAP).  Carla is one of the last 200 pioneers who run the Nike Half Marathon in the streets of San Francisco annually, for the last 11 years! She checked off the IRONMAN from her bucket list, which she completed last year in Whistler, Canada. Next up for her is ultra distance, 100-mile race.”  Impressive! I'm already tired just hearing that.

Carla Dorotheo's 1st IRONMAN! Whistler, Canada. 2013

While Carla is not participating in IMAZ this year, she is here to cheer and support her fiancĂ©, Rodino Tucay. What started as a joke with his co-worker to sign up for a swim, bike and run, ended up with now running his 2nd IRONMAN in 2014.  Dino also conquered over twenty 13.1-mile races last year… makes me feel silly whining about my pains after finishing just 1 race this year =) Dino says his mantra is, “Just finish it and have fun.” What a great feat for Dino, considering that he broke his leg in a softball accident just 2 years ago, which by the way had to be fixed with metal plates and screws. So no excuses for the rest of us! This proves the old adage that “mind over matter” really works.  Dino continues, “It is just what we do, what we chose to do. A typical day for us includes a run and/or a bike ride. Even at home we have stationary training bikes that we ride side by side while watching TV. It is quality and productive time together.” Carla and Dino met in a race, Dino proposed to Carla in race and they plan on getting married during a race. Talk about fitness being part of life!

Carla Dorotheo and Rodino Tucay

Phew! I feel both exhausted and encouraged by their stories.  Now would be a good time to contemplate and plan what healthy activity to add into next year's lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be an IRONMAN; it could be as simple as getting up from the couch during commercials.  Healthy life is a choice, just make the decision. And then commit! Don’t be part of the 92% who fail their new year’s resolution

Many thanks to Rhonda “Bootsy” Bagarino, a triathlon athlete and proud IRONMAN herself, for keeping in touch and inviting me to meet these fine sports men and women!  She is uber sweet and seemed to be the favorite of the team. Afterall what would the FAT competitors do without her famous spam musubi, their easy and fave chow during the race.

Rhonda, who completed her first triathlon in 2010, gave us a run down of the very emotional race for the team, "Unfortunately, not all of our FAT athletes crossed the finish line.  The water for the swim was very choppy which made the swim very difficult for the racers. We had a few just barely made the cut off of 2 hours and 20 minutes for 2.4 miles.  The winds on Sunday made the 112-mile bike a very challenging ride.  Bikers were fighting cross winds and debris flying. As the sun died down, the cold weather met our athletes for their run."  She continued to narrate about the overall outcome, "For some it was not their day. And for the rest, they earned their IRONMAN bragging rights. I am happy to say that all the FAT athletes are safe."

It was indeed a tough day, not only for the FAT team but for all 3,000 competitors.  But the positive spirit prevailed and their morale kept high! This team will go back to their bases and train once again for the next race.  In the meantime, they celebrate their comradeship and support for each other.  Kudos to the FAT Club for garnering 3rd place in Division 3.  And great job FAT volunteers and supporters. What an inspiring group! 

First Row: Noriel Simsuangco, Thomas Zaide, Carlo Marcelo, Rica Enrile, Nancy Hwang, Che Chua, Mario Alvior, Richwood Borja, Rolly Loreto, Andrew Tiotuico

Back Row: Julius Estanislao, Geoffrey Chua, Greg Uy, Rhoel Rosales, JR Calanoc

Photo courtesy of JR Calanoc.

Fil Am Tri Club was founded in 2006 by a small group of Filipinos in NY/NJ. Since then, FAT (Fil Am Tri) has grown nationwide and global having members throughout the mainland US, Canada, Hawaii, and of course the homeland in the Philippines. Although comprised mostly of Filipinos, FAT is a non-denominational club accepting all friends and families of Filipino Americans with the mission to grow a network of Filipino triathletes worldwide building a sense of community and fellowship through the medium of endurance sports.

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