Monday, December 12, 2005

 

THE EXTRIBE HAS SPOKEN

My First Extri Off-Road Triathlon.750m/21k/4.5k.
10 Dec 2005.La Luz Resort.San Juan.Batangas.

As a race that prides itself as “the most prestigious off-road triathlon,” nakakapagtaka na karamihan nang naririnig ako about the so-called members of the Extribe ay ang pagiging napakasaya nito. Nalaman ko na lang kung bakit nu’ng nagka-side-stitch ako kasasayaw ng Karma Chameleon sa post-race party kinagabihan. I mean, first time kong mag-open water swim, at pagkatapos ay nagbababa-bike at nagtatatakbo off-road nang may dalawang oras pero hindi naman ako sinayd-stitch, noh!

Sa swim talaga ako pinaka-na-tense. Days before nag-text na’ko sa mga kasama kong kakarera na si Olive (3rd, Women’s Over-all) at TJ (2nd, Men’s 18-25) at kay Jojo (3rd, Men’s Over-all) na ninenerbiyos ako sa prospect of swimming sa dagat for the very first time. Pero non-refundable ang P1,200 reg fee so…

Tutal in-emphasize naman sa briefing na fun ang essence ng Extri, nag-focus na lang ako sa pag-enjoy. Start na! “Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy,” I was thinking as the last person to dive into the water (Ayokong makipagsiksikan at baka mapunit ako ng mga seasoned triathletes!). “Hey! I can actually do this.” Natapos sa first of three swim loops. Umahon, tumakbong konti (Umiikot na mundo ko. Bilog pala talaga ang mundo!) at balik sa tubig. Ten meters lang ang langoy to the first corner pero mukhang isang lap na agad. Napalitan ang Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! Ng Dream! Believe! Survive! With emphasis on Survive!

By my third loop, parang tahimik na ang paligid. Feeling ko ako na lang ang lumalangoy. Nanlulumo na’ako nu’n. Tinapik pa’ko ng sagwan ng nagkakayak kasi masyado na yata akong lumalayo sa boya. Hindi ko naman sinasadya. Siguro subconsciously ayoko lang talagang mabangga ulit sa boya. When I emerged from the water, parang the announcer said “And we have four swimmers left.” Shet! Olats. By the steps, naka-recover na’ko. At least hindi pa naman ako mukhang naglalakad na zombie like the other guys I saw. Kasabay ko rin sa Transition Area sina TJ at Olive. Ayos. Puwede pa. At nagsimula na ang bike.

Naalog talaga ang brains ko ru’n. Kahit sa patag malubak. Para kang nasa commercial ng Motolitte kasi dumadaan ka sa rugged terrain, rocky road, shallow river, sandy banks, banana hemp-lined one-track trails, at ang paborito kong Mud Capital of the Philippines! Bale two loops around this off-road bike course which doesn’t seem like two loops kasi parang magkaibang-magkaibang experience ang bawat ikot. Sa unang loop, meron kang tikbalang moments na feeling mo nawawala ka na at kapag finally nakabalik ka na sa bayan malalaman mong dalawampung taon ka nang hinahanap. Sa pangalawa, may pagdududa pa rin na “Tama ba’tong dinadaanan ko?” tapos halos masesemplang ka atsaka mo mari-realize na kanina muntikan ka na rin du’n.

Plus my second loop was less lonely because I found myself tailing a stunning triathlete whom I recognized from Active & Lifestyle Magazine as Doray (1st, Women’s 25-30). “Malakas ‘to,” I thought, kaya hindi ko na siya nilubayan. Parang ginawa ko siyang pacer. Inunahan ko lang siya nang konti going into the Run Transition pero nauna siyang nakalabas kaya nang bumuntot ako, hindi na’ko nagtangkang makipag-unahan.

I was at home with the hiking part pero saglit lang pala ‘yon. Most of it was running on sand. Now running on sand looks fantastic in movies sa mga eksena ng lalakeng nagte-training tapos ang bilis-bilis niyang tumakbo sa beach habang nagsa-sunset. Pero mas madali pa yatang singhutin ang sand kesa takbuhan ‘to. Approaching the finish line, people were applauding. Siyempre naman, nakabuntot pa rin ako kay famous Doray. Sabi pa ni Riso (2nd, Women’s Over-all), “Doray, bilis na. ‘Wag mong pahabulin ‘yan.” (Friendly, ‘di ba?) at sa party na lang niya na-realize na “Ikaw ‘yung lalakeng naka-green na kasunod ni Doray?!” Siguro nahirapan talaga ako sa pagtakbo sa buhangin na nag-iba hitsura ko.

Sa awarding na-OP ako nang magkamedalya sina Olive at TJ. Eh, paano naman kasi mga legends na sa sports ang mga ka-age group ko! Special mention to Reinzi (1st, Men’s 26-30) sa kanyang support at advice. Isama ko na rin si cutie Japanese-looking Ige ng UPLB Trantados (1st, Men’s 18-25) whose group got me started in the sport. Sige na nga, mention ko na the Ige (Men’s Over-all Champ) sa kanyang galak na galak na performances that night. Na-challenge tuloy ako nu’ng tinawag ako ni Eric to make the racers laugh. Lalo na dahil may mga goodies at stake! My total haul from the party? A Fitness First Water Bottle, Arena Goggles, New Balance Bag. Medal na lang talaga kulang. Wala kasing bading category, eh. I think, title-holder ako ru’n, eh.

On Christmas Day I celebrate my 27th birthday pero napaaga ata’ng regalo ko with the wealth of race experience and friends (or as Eric calls it, family) I’ve gained from joining a race that emphasizes fun and camaraderie by pushing you over the edge. Meri Krimas and Hapi N’yo Rin!

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