My so called “long distance” year continues. Basically there was a little rest after Ironman Texas, and started to train for another 70.3. This would be a special race for me for several reasons.

Prelude:

I landed in Ecuador a week before the race. I got to meet my family and friends and got to hang out with them. I got to celebrate my mom’s bday after several years of not doing so. So yeah, it was nice to cherish moments together, but even if most of the days were fun and relax, I still needed to stay put and control myself on the food, getting quality sleep and training. I had to promise my mom I would eat everything after the race haha.

My mom, uncle and aunt came with me to the race. Manta is a city almost 3 hours away from my hometown of Guayaquil. In Manta, we stayed at a nice 2 bedroom apartment we rented which had all the amenities for a good price. My cousin Pepe, lives in Manta together with his family and it was great to meet him after so many years. On the plus side and to my surprise, he was doing the race too. It was great to have someone from your family to actually understand triathlon as a sport and it’s lifestyle. He has done several 70.3’s and Ironmans, so we shared some war stories together. He hosted us like VIP’s and we did a little prerace ride together. It was great to have him around and showing us the city and telling us about the earthquake and how the city had come up together.

Dining with the family in Manta

Dining with the family in Manta

Race Day

So the usual stuff on race morning. Woke up early in the morning, had breakfast; clean the pipes and my uncle drop me on transition. While walking to transition it was a nice surprise to find my friend Gohan. He went to check out the race and to cheer. Most of my friends and people in Ecuador don’t understand the concept of Ironman, Marathon, Triathlon, 5km or else. The common knowledge is that a marathon is the same thing as a 5km race, which of course it’s not. Inside transition I found another familiar face from Miami, Dr Leo, we chat a bit and he took a selfie lol. With transition ready, I started the walk to swim start. It was a looooong walk and you had to go on top of a hill. It was a bad idea to walk without flip flops, but there I was walking. Once you reach the top, you enter an area only for athletes, while people are watching over a cliff on top of you.  Gohan was already there watching, so it was nice to see a familiar face.

Swim start. The cliff/hill in the back ground and you can appreciate a building hit by the earthquake. I'm in the front line waiting.

Swim start. The cliff/hill in the back ground and you can appreciate a building hit by the earthquake. I'm in the front line waiting.

On top of the hill, you come down the stairs that lead up to the beach. So each wave will walk down and be prepared to start. The announcer did a good job pumping people up, plus it seem the event was televised live and they even had a helicopter flying on top of everyone. The way down the stairs had a nice painting on it’s walls, reflecting triathlon and Ironman, which I thought it was a nice touch to the event feeling and how the city has embraced it. So once down on the beach I found my uncle there cheering. It was a nice feeling to have family there with you, something that probably had never happened before.

My mom 5 seconds of fame, being interviewed by the local TV :)

My mom 5 seconds of fame, being interviewed by the local TV :)

So I stand there ready to run down the beach to the water in front line. The race starts and I start running with the front group to the water. I felt like a PRO. Getting into the water was a little difficult since there were little stones but once you where fully inside it was all good. It was not a wetsuit legal race, but I was equipped with my speedsuit. I did my own thing and I was having a great swim. I found my rhythm and started drafting from one guy.  Eventually we were 3 guys drafting from each other. I was noticing my swim cap was coming off, so I readjusted quickly as I didn’t want to lose the rhythm. Around half way, my head was fresher than usual. I touch my head and it was because I completely dropped my swim cap. I felt sad since I collect these from my Ironman races, but couldn’t stop to look for it. We had the helicopter flying on top of us, making the water more choppy, but felt so cool, you only see this happening to Pros haha. Got out of the water and had a long run on the beach to get to transition.

Transition went smooth, jumped onto the bike and while starting the ride I see my mom, uncle and aunt cheering. This was really special to me :) . Kick in the thrusters and started riding. Getting out of town went really relaxed. While hitting the highway, I noticed a lot of hills, the rolling type but these hills were big to climb. So while cranking on the bike I had to remember for the first part of the ride to save myself some energy. All of the sudden I was going up the hills really fast, so I knew that I had a tailwind and that I would have that wind in front of me coming back. 

Getting out of town

Getting out of town

I caught up to my cousin on the bike and rode together for a bit, eventually he took off while I was trying to control the effort and not follow him. The small town of Crucita was the mark for the turn around. There were people cheering and felt good half way thru. While coming back I passed my cousin and started to speed up. I could feel the headwind and I was glad I saved energy for the way back. I had to stop really quick to pee and a second time to fix the visor of my helmet that came off while I was pouring water on my head. Through the bike course there was a lot of security, you could see cops around every certain amount of miles, which told that the race was a top priority event.

Cruzin'

Cruzin'

Got to transition, I got lost inside (again) and I finally found my bike spot. Quickly changed and ran off. It was a cloudy day and I was glad it was. If the sun would have been out it would have been a different story. The run was composed of a 2 loop course along the beach, and there were people cheering through the whole course. It was great. Another funny anecdote is that for the first time people could pronounce my name correctly and more often, than the way they do in US races haha.

Starting the run!

Starting the run!

So the plan here was to keep conservatively the first loop and raise the pace starting the second loop. On the way back it was an all out attempt. I ran together with a girl at the end and cheer her up to keep the pace. She had a huge crowd motivating her and  close to the finish she took off. Happy for her. For me I was trying to hit a good finish time and was running with all I had. Surprisingly enough on the finishing chute I saw a familiar face of my friend Kenshin that went to cheer alongside Gohan. As you expect I Panda Kicked the shit out of the finish line with a new PR of 10 minutes!!!

Getting to the finish line

Getting to the finish line

At the finish line my mom was waiting for me and then we went to gather my uncle and aunt. I said hi to Kenshin and thanked him from coming to cheer. That day was a bit crazy as we headed back to Guayaquil after the race. So I got home really tired. My cousin Pepe finished 10 min after, but unfortunately I couldn’t see him afterwards, we were both pretty beat up haha.

The numbers:

Swim: 34:55
Bike: 2:52:06
Run: 2:01:56
Total: 5:33:58
48th of 285

After correcting my mistakes from Ironman 70.3 Florida and after learning the art of pacing on Ironman Texas, I finally can say I had a good race, properly fueled, paced and finishing with my objective... a faster time. I was happy I could share this race with my family and friends, and made the whole trip home worth it!!!

PANDA KICK DAT SHIT!

PANDA KICK DAT SHIT!

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