In[FOCUS] Filipino Elites | Macasieb and Torres

Filipino Elites : Macasieb and Torres

By: Carlos de Guzman | | Philippines’ Multisport Source

They say everything comes in threes. Third time’s a charm. Third time lucky. Y’all know how the saying goes. 3 seems to be the number that connects our next two In[FOCUS] athletes.

In the 2011 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines, Monica Torres proved once again why she’s considered to be the best among our local triathletes, by 3-peating and winning her 3rd straight Filipino elite women’s title. For Arland Macasieb, he finally got the win that has eluded him since 2009. Arland, on his 3rd attempt, finally won 1st place at the highly competitive Filipino elite mens division. Ironically, on the 3rd installment of the event.

Read on picks the brains of our two Filipino elite champions. Welcome to Arland and Monica!

Arland: Thanks Carlos! I really think you’re doing a great job with this website!

Goofing around First of all congratulations for winning the Filipino Elite division of the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Philippines! Tell us about your race. Give us a low-down of how the race unfolded from gun start to the finish?

Arland: Well last year I had the fastest swim amongst the Pinoys so perhaps this year I was a bit too overconfident with my swim and I came out about a min behind Neil, Justin and Belinda Granger – I was hoping to exit the water with the Grangers and work with them on the bike – but because of my swim I rode pretty much alone the entire way. I saw Neil riding behind the Grangers coming at me right before I had reached the turnaround point so he had at least 2 min on me by that point. But I was feeling pretty good on the bike, I caught Bree Wee (who I had finished with hand in hand in 09 – we both blew up that 1st year) then I started slowly gaining time back on Neil and the Grangers. I think Justin may have gotten a drafting penalty and Neil had some trouble with his aerobars but I was so surprised to see them when I came into T2! Someone actually snapped a photo of me and you can see I was already smiling since I knew if I had Neil in sight on the run it would be a different race then last year (2010) where he had gapped me on the bike.

Off to the run!

Monica: The race went as expected for me. Struggled on the swim (hello murky lake!), had some scary moments on the bike because of the rain (which slowed me down a lot! I am not the most amazing cyclist in terms of handling and technical stuff), and an okay run all thanks to the cool weather.

Making it look really easy It rained pretty hard during the race. How did that affect your race? Did you change your strategy?

Monica: I find I do relatively well in hot conditions. I was probably the only one out there hoping for the sun to bear down on us come the run leg. But as all Pinoys know, weather in this country can change drastically in a heartbeat! And as triathletes, we just have to train and prepare ourselves for pretty much anything come race day.

Arland: Well I spend a lot of time in the US so the heat has always been an issue for me. Over the years I’ve gotten better at managing it but for sure the rain played to my favour. I arrived in Manila 2 weeks before the race and we had nothing but rain so I was already used to riding and running in it. I was sort of like Percy Jackson and the lightning thief. I feel like I gained strength from the water! Arland, you finally got the elusive Filipino elite crown! Tell us how you felt and what’s the first thing that crossed your mind the moment you crossed the finish line.

Arland: Oh man, It was almost surreal and I was a bit in disbelief it was until the bridge where I looked back and that I knew I had the win locked up and I could start celebrating. It was just pure joy that I felt and I think the fact that I had to wait 3 years for it made it all that much more special for me – it was also great to have my girlfriend Twinkle and her daughter Lilly greet me at the finish line – they came a long way from NJ to support me so that made it really sweet.

Not everyday you get to see a champ dancing. Until halfway on the run you we’re going head to head against defending champ Neil Catiil, at what part of the race did you decide to make the winning move? And why on that moment?

Arland: Well like I was saying at T2 I saw Neil in transition and I was like “what are you doing here??” I thought for sure how would have maintained the gap from the bike, later I found out about his aerobar and nutrition issues. So we started the run together and it was just a chess match for the first 5K or so. I would take the lead, then he threw in a couple of surges but I was just checking my GPS and kept my pace steady. I knew he couldn’t hold sub 6min/mi for the entire run. So at about the 4K mark he was just sitting on me and wouldn’t come to the front, so I knew he was starting to hurt and his stride definitely wasn’t what it normally is when he is running well, so I smelled blood and put in a hard effort for about a min and created a gap right before we entered the rice cooker. I glanced back and saw it worked, so I just kept the pressure on all the way to the Timex bonus at the turnaround – by that point my lead was about 80 seconds and then it just grew from there.

Finally bagging the win! Monica, Kim Mangrobang had a 9 minute gap on you after the swim. As you were heading out for the bike were you aware of how big the gap was? If so, did you push harder on the bike? Or did you just stick with your race plan?

Monica: I do know Kim very well as we’ve been teammates (good friends and housemates!) for several years now, and had expected to be way behind her on the swim. But triathlon isn’t like boxing where it’s crucial to study your opponent and make adjustments to your training plan and strategy based on who you’re facing on fight night.

In triathlon you don’t have any control over who you’ll be up against at the start line, and how well they’ve prepped for the race. You can only control your own training and preparations. And when you’re on the race course, you just try to go as hard as you can for the distance required, and that’s when you can inflict your will on your opponents.

No love lost between best buds Monica and Kim. Of the 3 wins, which one is the most special and why?

Monica: Probably the first one. I felt that all my hard work and sacrifice really came together on race day. And afterwards I didn’t have any nagging “I should have…” thoughts.

3x Filipino Elite Champion Will we finally see you tackle the full iron distance next year?

Monica: If I had a peso for every time somebody asks me that… Hahaha! I have much respect for athletes racing iron distance. But right now, let’s just say I don’t hear the calling. Sometimes I find it really annoying when I hear runners at a race say, “Oh I’m only doing the 10-k” or “Wow, I’m not at your level, I could never do an ultramarathon!” I feel like a lot of athletes in the country place a higher value on the longer distance races over the sprint races. But that’s like comparing Haile Gebrselassie against Usain Bolt! They’re both amazing, record-breaking runners, but they’re also very different.

Resisting the M-Dot urge

It’s like how Jojo (my husband) and I like to say – anyone can do an ultramarathon (hello, Bataan Death March). Grab your average runner, stick a gun to his head and ask him to do 50km, he will be able to finish it. On the other hand, take your average runner, stick a gun to his head and ask him to run 10km under 40 minutes… you get what I mean. Arland and Moni. Training wise, how different was your training this year compared to the previous years?

Arland: Well last year I lost the race on the bike. I was running well, but I knew I couldn’t give up too much time on the bike. So I’ve changed my bike set up a bit, gone to shorter cranks and riding more aero. I had a good race at the Vineman 70.3 in California which was almost a month before Camsur. I did a 4:24 there with a 1:24 run split so I knew if I could have that kind of race in Camsur it would be a good one – here I was 4:26 just 2 min off that Vineman time.

Optional position = Superb bike split.

Monica: Training this year for me has been very, very different. This is my first year after leaving the National Duathlon/Triathlon Team. Gained a lot of weight over the holiday season 2010! Struggled to get back to fitness early January and February 2011. But I just set out to enjoy the year, doing very unstructured training, mostly with friends. I joined the Pharmaton MVP Challenge in March (one whole month of multisport from Davao to Baguio), hoping to drop the weight and get back into shape. But that was a bust! Obviously had too much fun sampling the local fare.

Monica rocking the dunes at the 30 day Pharmaton MVP Challenge.

Then came summer, and it was time to get more serious. Doing Subit and Port Dickson International Tri in Malaysia helped me along, as well as several local run races. And surprise, surprise! By August, though not in my absolute best shape, I think I did alright and maybe for the first time actually enjoyed racing the Ironman 70.3 Philippines. Hahaha! How do you balance work, training, personal, and family life?

Arland: Although I have a professional racing license I don’t actually train full time as I work as a triathlon coach, and manage 2 teams/clubs here in the US. I try to always have one day of QT with Twinkle – usually Friday nights is our “date” night. We try to schedule stuff in advance so we can plan our big training days and races and also fit in time for party’s and other social events on the weekend evenings. It’s definitely tough to juggle everything and no one is every completely satisfied so It’s always a matter of compromise.

Arland and Twinkle

Monica: I’m very fortunate to have a triathlete for a husband. I can only imagine what my life would be like if my better half was an indoors-y, workaholic type! Triathlon is a time-consuming sport and I’m blessed to be able to spend a bulk of this time with my husband.

Monica with “Ask the Coach” Coach Jomac. As an elite athlete, competing and training at the highest level can take its toll on your body. Can you share to us a couple of recovery tips? How important is recovery in your training?

Monica: When you’re fairly new to the sport is when you experience dramatic improvements in your strength, endurance and speed. It’s usually why you feel the need to keep on training hard all the time. But everybody goes through peaks, plateaus and valleys. If you don’t have a coach looking out for you, then you really should listen to your body.

Arland: Well, definitely after long workouts and hard workouts and races I take Ultragen by First Endurance. It’s one of the best recovery drinks I’ve tried. I try to get it in within 30 min post workout and usually the next day I don’t feel as sore or tired. I also do some ice baths and wear compression after those big days. Recovery is critical – training is important but the recovery afterwards is where you reap the benefits of the training. I think a lot of age group athletes are so afraid of “over training” but really the issue is being “under recovered” very often they confuse those 2. Can you give us a 1 week block sample of what your training looked like prior to the taper?

Monica: Typically I train twice a day, 2-6 hours total a day. Rest days once in a week or two. I make sure to include some time trial efforts, some intervals faster than race pace, and some endurance sessions slower than race pace.

Arland: Mondays are typically and easy active recovery day maybe just a short swim and or yoga

Tuesday: some running intervals at the track and and easy bike

Wednesdays: a medium 2 hour+ bike with a run off the bike

Thursdays: a harder bike session either on the trainer or hill reps outside

Friday: a tempo run session longer intervals

Saturday: a longish bike session 3-4 hours

Sunday: a long run 1.5-2 hours + depending on the season

And I don’t really believe in tapering perse. I actually rode the entire bike course the Wednesday before the race – I don’t advise that for age grouper but I’m just trying to demonstrate that once you get your fitness levels up – you make workouts that seem extraordinary ordinary What was your nutrition plan for the race?

Arland: For 70.3, I try to get in a decent breakfast 2 hours before the start, mostly carbohydrates. If I feel I need it, I’ll take a get before the swim. On the bike I wear a camelback – since I can control what I want to drink – for this race it was a mix of EFS, carbo pro and salt. I also carry an EFS liquid shot for extra calories and another high calorie water bottle filled with “special” ingredients. This way I never really have to stop at the aid stations to grab bottles. However for ironman this strategy doesn’t work because the race is too long.

For the 21K run I try to get in at least 2 gels although for this race I was only able to get in 1. I started bonking towards the end and I carry electrolyte chews in my racebelt I find those are east to digest while running. And then of course Ultragen recovery drink after the race!

Monica: Energy gels every 40 minutes, some Herbalife 24 Prolong for liquid intake, and Herbalife Ginseng and NRG for an extra kick! What’s next on your hit list? As a triathlete, what’s your ultimate goal?

Arland: Well the very next week after camsur I won the Catbalogan triathlon in Samar – so I never really had any downtime and just last Sunday 9/11 I raced the Toughman triathlon another 70.3 distance here in NY commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I didn’t have great race as I was still suffering from fatigue and jet lag.

Winning and drinking goes hand in hand

The ultimate goal for me would be to qualify for Hawaii as a pro and to break the 9 hour make in an ironman distance. So far I think I’m the only Pinoy under 10 hours. Arland, tell us about Fil-Am Tri. You guys were well represented during the event!

Arland: Thanks for noticing! We started Fil Am Tri or FAT back in 2006 we just a group of maybe 20 people here in NJ/NJ and because of Facebook, we’ve grown exponentially to over 400 online members having representation in California, Hawaii and all over the US even in countries like Canada and Dubai! Basically we trying to build the Pinoy endurance sports community so that if you ever race in a different state you’ll have immediate friends when you get there! We have 2 guys racing Hawaii next month Efraim Manzano who is our club leader in Hawaii and Joe Dulay from California who came back from being paralyzed to racing his first IM there in Kona!

Fil-Am Tri Crew Talk to us about your sponsors and your team.

Arland: Like I mentioned before I have 2 teams that I manage, the other team is Tao Tri which is the name of my coaching business. Team Tao Tri is sponsored by Avalon Chemists a local pharmacy in New York City. My bike is Sponsored by Elite bicycles who make custom triathlon bikes based in Philadelphia and also in Singapore! My shoes are sponsored by Newton Running and RUNNR there in Manila. First Endurance, Health and Beyond and CPK are my nutrition sponsors. I also have good relationships with Rudy Project sunglasses and helmets, ROTOR bike components, Computrainer, and Powercranks. Most recently I just got picked up by Athlete’s Octane a brand new liquid energy supplement that I have already been seeing good results with.

Arland at the bike check

Monica: I’m extremely blessed to be a part of Team HERBALIFE. Herbalife has been providing me with amazing nutrition for training, racing and recovery, as well as supporting me for local and international races. I’m also very lucky to have the most laid back, friendly, but very tough teammates in Herbalife. Check out Herbalife Sports | Official Site

This year I’ve also met the 2nd love of my life, my BH GC Aero, and my 3rd love, my BH G5. They are ridiculously light. Just amazing! See

Monica rocking her new BH GC Aero

I also get great support from K-Swiss Philippines! See K-Swiss Philippines on Facebook. Love, love, love my Kwicky Blade Light and K-Ruzz for racing, and K-Ona for training!!!

Big thanks to Rudy Project Philippines! Look them up on Facebook. Their eyewear, cycling gear, bags and packs are amazing! I use all of their gear for my multisport races! Their lifestyle items are really stylish as well!

Check out Cushe Philippines on Facebook, too! I’m almost always in sandals and flip-flops outside of training and racing. Get cushe!!! What’s your favorite activity when you’re not training?

Monica: Eating, knocking back some RH’s, hanging with friends, watching movies and tv!!!

Arland: Outside of SBR I like speedskating, tennis, capoeria, yoga, eating gelato and margarita pizza and watching concerts, movies and theater – we live close to NYC so Broadway is not so far. As an In[FOCUS] tradition, may gusto ba kayong batiin? :) Any last words to our readers?

Arland: Thanks for the opportunity for this interview! Triathlon in the Philippines has grown so much since I first started racing there in 1999 because of passionate people like you! I’ll see you all in December for the Timex 226 Iron distance in Bohol!!

Monica: Big hello and big thanks to Ma’am Mec & Ma’am Ella of Herbalife Philippines, as well as all the staff and distributors!!! Big thanks to Mr. Washington Ong of Newton bike shop for believing in me and making me a part of the BH Ultralight Cycles family! Hello and thanks to Sir Anton, Ma’am Beth and Sir JM of K-Swiss/ Planetsports Philippines, Ms. Marge and Bing of Rudy Project Philippines, and Sir Gilbert and Ms. Sarah and Geraldine Santiago of Cushe Philippines!

Last but not the least, thank you to my amazing husband, Jojo Macalintal of TriMac Coaching, who got me started in triathlon and taught me everything I needed to know to survive in the sport! BIG thanks to my family for always supporting me, especially my father, Manolo Torres, who is the best bicycle mechanic ever (yes, he is literally my bike mechanic)! Visit Comida China de Manila, Mom&Tina’s Bakery Café and Sining sa Silong Art Gallery on Facebook!

To all the beginner readers – I was exactly like you when I started out. If I can do it, so can you! Thanks for the time Arland and Moni and congratulations again!

Filipino Elite Champions



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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)


  1. Hi SBR this is William a Fil-Am from Canada I just wanna say kudos to SBR and Carlos De Guzman (the publisher is also the owner right?) for putting up this amazing site. Training for triathlon here can get really lonely and I’m glad that I finally discovered SwimBikeRun philippines. Keep up the goodwork and looking forward for more articles. Any plans of putting up a magazine soon! :) I think you should!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Sir William :) You’re more than welcome here on SBR :) Happy to have you here!

      I’d love to have a magazine for SBR someday :) Who knows? :) But for now… lets go green, save paper, and just enjoy SBR online :)

      Please check out our forum too! That’s where everyone hangs out :)

  2. “Grab your average runner, stick a gun to his head and ask him to do 50km, he will be able to finish it. On the other hand, take your average runner, stick a gun to his head and ask him to run 10km under 40 minutes

  3. I think monica’s point was just poorly stated, particularly taking a shot at ultra’s…probably better to target those less than stellar athletes who run/walk a regular marathon in 7 hours. Those people prove anyone can COMPLETE a marathon, even if it’s pretty slow…whereas very few people can run sub 40 10K’s, no matter how hard they train. But the real point is, monica will be a very rich woman indeed because the questions will never stop until she goes full. That’s the original distance and it will always be the standard against which all triathletes are measured against. Just ask craig alexander, a very successful short and mid courser before he finally had his “calling.” …and the rest is history. Who even remembers how many dozens of olympic races he won before he took kona 3 times?

    Monica–you sound a bit defensive and a tad bit scared actually. Prove us wrong.

  4. I think you guys are the one that is being offensive. Particularly the comment of battling bastard of bataan.

    “I heard that BDM ultra participants who DNFed succeeded in conquering the Cobra Ironman. A belated congratulations.”

    So what the heck are you trying to prove? Are you trying to pit a triathlon against an ultra? or ultra is harder than a triathlon? let me ask you.. have you done both? You handle servers you well you are indeed a bastard.

    Monica’s comment may have rubbed you off in some way but let us remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Besides I don’t think you guys got what Monica is trying to say. She’s just trying to show the difference between long course races and shorter ones. That’s it.

    Fly on the wall, I dont think Monica needs to do an Ironman to validate her status here in the Philippines as a triathlete. She won 70.3 thrice already. You’re comparison with Craig Alexander is silly. Only goes to show you don’t know much about triathlon. Craig Alexander is already world famous even before he stepped on Ironman racing. Same with Simon Whitfield. That guy won the olympic gold in triathlon. You mean to say he won’t be respected ’till he finishes an ironman? You really think Ironman finishers are better than short course champions? You really think faris al sultan is better than simon whitfield or Alistair Brownlee?

    LOL at Monica being scared of the Ironman distance. That girl doesn’t have to prove anything.

    Oh if you’re wondering, I’m not a fan of Monica and I don’t know her personally.

  5. My point Mr or Mrs Over the hill is that if monica only wanted to show the difference between long and short course athletes, as you say she did, she might have said something like : ” well, good thing there are many different distances out there these days. Right now I am focused on my specialty with the short and mid distances, but maybe someday i will try the long distance.” But instead she just could not stop there and had to call out ultra marathoners of all people and basically say that anybody can run 50K if they are forced to..if they had a gun to their head? Sort of a bad image..

    Do you not see how that might have gone a little too far? Just a little?

    Also, I agree she does not NEED to do an IM to validate her status as a triathlete in the Philippines. I never said she did. What I suggested was that the questions would not stop UNTIL she did. And since she will be getting lots of practice answering the question, I humbly suggest that she come up with a more diplomatic answer.

    You also missed my point about Craig Alexander. He was of course respected as a short course athlete and feared by everyone. I have personally raced against him 8 times and have never seen anyone more down to earth pre-race turn cold-blooded assassin during… But when he is gone, how will he be remembered? How will he remember his career? As a the guy who won Chicago triathlon and St.Croix Half-ironman or even the 70.3 worlds a zillion times? No, he will be known for his exploits in Ironman, particularly kona, and I dare you to disagree with that Mr/Mrs over the hill. If you do, it just might be time for your medication. Nurse?

    And if monica wants to go from a well-known and respected national treasure who gets some web pub and the occasional cover to become something a little bigger…namely a legend…then she knows what she has to do. She is not brownlee or whitfield who can claim olympic glory…she has to do it in Ironman. If anything, her road is comparatively easy because there are just not that many women who go long in this country…yet. Tick-tock tick-tock.

    I also do know monica personally. Her accomplishments speak for themselves. Chances are she’s a great person, i really don’t care. What i do care about is wasted potential. I believe that she is one of only a handful of people right now of filipino heritage to be in a position to achieve something so much greater in this sport, and it would be a shame if not to at least go for it.

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