So, imagine this. You are a couple of meters away from the finish line, on the biggest race of your life, and with a couple of ticks left on the clock before the cut off. Will you quit? Succumb to pressure? Or if you’re like Mirian Joy Libre, aka Joyjoy, you dig deep, leave everything on the line, and give it all you got?
We were at the final aid station of the 2014 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines and we can still vividly remember Joy passing us as we cheered loudly for her. She was grinning her teeth, focused as hell, and with one target in mind. A couple of hours later, we were so stoked to see this.
SHE. MADE. IT!
Here are Joy’s Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines stats :
SWIM : 1:00:35
T1 : 5:15
BIKE : 4:04:12
T2 : 8:55
RUN : 3:11:03
Total : 08:29:58
My eyes were still half closed when I read your message. And I slept again thinking “nahhh this ain’t real?”. Gave in an hour after, and said, why not?. I am humbled to be an inspiration to others.
I started triathlon in April 2011, joining NAGT sprint distance. I was invited by my classmate to join for fun. I had been into running for a year, but eventually shifted to triathlon. I suck at swimming (admittedly), I’m not a fast runner nor cyclist/biker. Usually, I’m one of those who finish last. Kulelat sa swim, bike and run. If I made it to the podium that means I have no opponent or maybe we are 3 in age group, automatically I’m in 3rd or 2nd place. Once joined a race and came in second to the last. Apprently, I placed 3rd in age group then the annoucer said, “May medal pala kahit last?”. Certainly left something in me, but decided to just smile for the camera.
When Cebu hosted Xterra and Ironman 70.3 in 2012, I signed up to both as a marshal (transition area). I witnessed first hand the participants’ pain and perseverance to finish the race. Not to mention wondered why they still managed to put a smile on their faces despite the conditions they have gone through.
Being a transition marshal is challenging and not easy, so in 2013 I decided to be a spectator/audience. I saw my friends prepare for 2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 made me realize that if they can do it, why can’t I. A few more encouragement from friends led me to sign-up for Ironman. I signed up as soon as registration opened and overjoyed when I received a confirmation that I have succesfully registered Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines 2014. Before Ironman, I also have joined Xterra 2012 – Lite Category but DNFed due to bike crash.
Training in preparation for Ironman:
Started training last February 2014, focusing more on swimming and biking. I bought a bike trainer so that I can spin at home during weekdays. My work demands time, sometimes I need to get up early or stay late in the office. So whenever I can, I train.
I followed a program, but not religiously due to time constraint. Swim starts at 6am to 7:00am then 30mins run or 30mins spin. Usually in a week, I can do 2 or 3 brick workouts and the rest is just short runs or no training at all. Weekends its either a long ride and long run with friends (crazy but sane friends ^_^) or by myself. I also joined 2 standard distance races, 1 sprint distance race, 3 fun runs and a 2k swim for a cause from February to May.
It was in June and July that I became sickly. Frequent asthma attacks, cardiac dysrhythmia and GERD halted me to train. Doctors advised me to rest, I gladly obliged just so I can be given clean bill of health before the race. All physical test and lab results came okay (very thankful) and training resumed. I joined a 16k run 5 days after I underwent 24hr Holter Monitoring.
In the last 5 days before race day, I did a total of 2k swim, 135km bike and 12k run. I bought my race nutrition a week before, save me the hassle of going to the mall during Ironman Weekend. Had my bike checked by the mechanic and last minute bike fit (not advisable, i know. but it turned out just fine during the Group Bike Out) made sure its race ready. I also took advantage of my mother’s birthday and binged on carbo mostly. I was totally worried, scared, anxious, the same kind of feeling I had when I took the Architect’s licensure exam. I haven’t swam the swim course previously and I was using new goggles on race day. Having heard from others during their simulation that the current in the swim course is strong and unpredictable also the presence of jellyfish (who’s not scared of jellysfish?!). The thought of a bad weather during race day probably entail strong headwinds and tailwinds, I may not make it to the 12:15pm cut-ff for bike leg.
Sunday came, my sister and her husband drove me to Shangri-la and settled me in the transition area. I had asked my family not to come with me as the venue requires a lot of walking and its hot, the kids and my mother might not bear the heat. At Transition area I prepared my food and hydration, bike and run gears and last minute bike check. My friend who is also a relay participant and my personal assistant that day, told me to eat something while waiting for the swim to start. Then went on to the water to adjust my goggles, there I met the rest of the participants. The beach was so crowded, all I heard was the zzzzz (sounds like flies swarming over food/garbage). My first Ironman 70.3 experience will start in few minutes.
As soon as Wave 1 started, the fear suddenly subsided. I was distracted by the sight of wave 2 & 3, they’re just too many of them. After wave 4 was released the ladies and relay team were called up to prepare. Oh boy, this is it pancit. Bahala na si Batman. Few minutes and we’re off. I just swam defensively. Avoiding kicks, the slap and many more. I felt the current going to the first and last turn around bouys. I just followed a male swimmer ahead of me constantly sighting the “yema” bouys. I pulled hard so that I can gain more distance each time. Upon final turn I looked at my watch and its already 49 minutes, failed my target of 50mins as I am still 100meters away with current slowly getting stronger. Upon seeing the arch, I mumbled “thank you God” and cried. The guy at the arch welcomed us with a smile and said “go up ma’am! Ok pa ang time”. I clocked 1hr01sec (but in OR its 1hr35sec).
In T1, I saw few bikes already. I quickly grabbed food and hydration, ate before I head out of T1. Made sure I have gels with me aside from the 4 gels taped in my bike. Then wore the bike gears: helmet, eyewear, race belt then bike shoes. Check the tires and slowly walked on to the mounting area. Girls also have huddled up in mounting area. I was trapped by 4 other girls as I secured my left foot to the pedal. When coast is clear, off I go.
The Lapulapu crowd (mostly students) have gathered in sidewalks cheering for us. “Ay! Girl!” that’s what I heard then a loud cheer ahead “Go Girl, Go Girl, Go Go, Go Girl”. This came on until at CICC area, the first water station. Intersection near SM, I saw cyclist/tri friends also cheering. Bike leg for me was the easiest. The fear of potholes seemed to disappear as students also ballooned the pier area and towards the Tunnel and not to mention I heard my family shout “go Ate Joy, go Ate Joy!”. They were at the top of the Tunnel opening, all cladded with umbrella. It was in the tunnel that I get to experience seeing my computer go from 32 to 47kph. I almost lost my breath. I feel like im going to passing out. The descend made us go fast. I screamed, “Weeeeeee!”. Upon ascend, I felt the headwind. In a effort to maintain at least 22kph, I could not help but slow down 16kph. The bike route was M&M or 8 loops from tunnel to Talisay Fish Port. The headwinds start from Tunnel to Talisay, which was quite a challenge as I am not used to headwinds. Tailwinds are from Talisay to the Tunnel. This portion is where I recovered. I’m very much thankful to the running and cycling community of Talisay. Who wouldn’t be thankful, they automatically get your water bottles and refill it. Shower you and massage knees to loosen it a bit. A little chit chat of encouragement is such a relief.
Heading back to Shangrila, last ascend to M. Fernan Bridge was slow. I didn’t want to burn my knees so I pedalled comfortably. Avoiding to walk just like others did. So far in the 1.9km swim and almost 90km bike, I did not have cramps. Must have been the Chippy loading a day before race.
Upon reaching T2, it was scorching hot. It’s almost lunchtime. I ate 1 banana, 1 soft cookie and my last gel. Before I gear up to run, I poured 1 water bottle on to my head and finished the gatorade left in my other water bottle. I plan to wear the compression calf sleeves, however I had difficulty wearing it as my groin began to lock. I then applied a linement in my goin, knees, thigh and legs. Coolling effeciency? Moderate.
Last 21km to go. That’s what keeps me going. I keep on checking time, “I will make it”. I walk/run all throughout 16k. Though I didn’t feel any cramps, my chest was heavy. Back is already in pain. Each time I pass by the hydration station instead of asking for water, I ask for ICE. I placed a handful of ice in my groin, knees, chest and back. This procedure saved me. Upon reaching the Amisa, pace was slow yet steady but upon reaching Discovery, I began to worry, its less than 10km but my time clocks in at 44mins. I was looking at my watch and I still have more than 1hr and a half to go. Every kilometer I walk more than run. On the 16th kilometer, I prayed. That the clock stops even for 2 minutes. Then in the 17th, I started to accept the fact that I may not make it to cut-off. I started to tell myself even if you get there past the cut-off, you should finish it “Don’t stop!”. On the last turning point marshal said, “time check, its 22 minutes 4km to go ma’am”. And I’m like “oh no, 4km”. Quick calculation and i need to go 5min/pace. And I’m starting to feel awfully tired. So I just run, no more walking. I began to drop the 4 people ahead of me. One marshal on bike told me, to keep it steady and dont walk. Approaching 2km, I saw fellow triathletes cheering. They keep on giving me numbers, “your 1.5km to go nalang” and another saying “500km nalng”. And I’m like, I dont wanna hear distance! I really like the whole thing to end. I saw a lot more people as I’m nearing the finish line. As I turned left, people were clapping and cheering. I could not help but to get my eyes all misty. Pushing the last 100 meters was the very hard, I started to breathe heavily and cried. At last I’m done. I just could not believe I made it.
Waited 3 years for this moment to come. And I made it happen. I am an Ironman. ^_^
3 points of realization during the race:
1. If situation calls you to do the impossible, you have to take a risk.
2. If others have doubted me, so have I. Insert “Believe in yourself” song – Elmo ^_^ with Ray Charles on Sesame Street
3. Enjoyed the race so much, I might give it another TRI.
From a Marshal turned Ironman,
Mirian (Joyjoy is the nick, its easier to pronounce/spell.. ^_^)
This is an exclusive SBR.ph In[FOCUS] / T.A.G. double header featuring two special athletes. One who finished first in the Filipino elite women’s division and the other, with two seconds left on the clock. We wanted to make this a special double header because we wanted to show that it’s not always about how fast or how slow you cross the finish line. Each person has a different purpose as to why they decided to embark on this special journey, the morning of August 3, 2014. For all finishers, the medal may look the same, but that doesn’t mean the meaning of it is.