my passions

I promised I would give you all an update regarding my first 70.3 IronMan in Cebu.  After having the rest and yes, massage that I deserve, I am now ready to share with you what transpired in this crazy adventure I got myself into.

I don’t exactly know what happened to my brain when I signed up to do the individual event for the 70.3 IronMan but upon doing so, everything in me shifted to a whole new way of thinking.  I knew that if I was to do such a race, I couldn’t just wing it and experience has taught me that the only way to be thoroughly prepared for such a grueling task was to commit totally to it.  So many times I questioned myself and tried to quit but my family and friends encouraged me to really go for it because they believed in me.  So I had a heart to heart talk with the Lord and sought His peace and got it.  That was the beginning of a new kind of life for me.

Whereas my activities revolved around just my usual family, work, some training (as hello, I had just given birth as well), nursing my baby Solana, I now had to squeeze in regular training times.  Training now meant a swim, run and bike once or twice a week and then it built up to more hours as the months went by.  It has been a blessing for me to be guided by Coach Ani De Leon Brown throughout my training as she adjusted my program based on my life as a nursing mom who also had five children to attend to and a husband to take care of on top of my work load.  She helped me set realistic goals and aim for a good finish. I guess the way she managed her life as an amazing triathlete even while juggling her life as a new mom really rubbed off on me that made me kinder to myself.  We then both were able to celebrate whatever victories that came our way however little they may be.  Some of them include having been able to bike with our hubbies and friends, run together while our babies were asleep or having squeezed in a swim with our babies and then train after.

If there was any sport I was a natural at, that would be swimming.  I thank Coach Anthony Lozada for always pursuing me to get better at my swim otherwise, it would have been easy to take the swim for granted .  Why, he even got me to swim throughout my pregnancy and start training just one month after delivery!

I have to admit though that I took for granted my running skills that need to be developed.  It was just to hard to imagine running the hills of where we live now in the boondocks that I seldom went out for long runs.  It’s a good thing Coach Rio de la Cruz made sure we ran some of his well-organized races that I eventually managed to run my (very much needed) first 21km run at his Tri United Run 2 at the Mall of Asia.  There was no choice not to run as well when Timex thru Ms. Gemma Pagsibigan asked us to be champions for promoting the Timex runs in Cebu and Davao with Coach Rio and the Team Pangilinan.  Those were all clear indications that there was no turning back from racing in Cebu’s 70.3 IronMan!

Timex Run in the Fort with our Timex Family-Coach Rio, Coaches Dan&Ani with Dash, Piolo, Miriam Quimbao

Billboard photo for Timex Run in Davao with Coach Rio

It was imperative to join fun runs of course but also swim meets and triathlon events as those prepare you for the big thing. You can never wing it in the A races you join without the experience you will gain that will add to your wisdom, strength and stamina on big race days.

As a team, we require a certain number of races for each of us to stay motivated to keep getting better at doing triathlons and it is really fun when all the family members are involved.

So let’s get down to the actual preparation for Cebu.  Just getting everybody’s gear ready for Cebu is one major hurdle I had to overcome with 5 bikes that needed to be dismantled and put in boxes and then box bags and checked in with all the gear for each racer.  I felt I could do anything after having landed in Cebu with everybody in tow and intact at that!  We even had to rent a pick-up truck just to fit all 143 kilos of baggage!  You saw my post of course with regards to the amount of equipment needed for our family to compete.  My daughter, Ella didn’t race this year as she already graduated from Ironkids when she turned 15.  She proudly marshalled in the swim leg of the Ironkids though. Here’s a sample to recap and multiply everything by 5 for all 5 racers!:


Battle ready here with my new suit with all our valued sponsors on display.  Didn’t get to wear this though as it was a bit tight and needed some adjustments so to be sure, I wore my old suit so I have less to worry about.  Besides, I believe you should never try anything for the first time during race day.  Just the same, love this suit which we helped design with the Timex design team.  Thank you to our dear sponsors: TIMEX, RUDY, ZOOT, GATORADE, SPECIALIZED(DAN’S BIKESHOP), HAVAIANAS, PLDT, DELTA!  Racing would never be the same without your support!


The flight to Cebu went smoothly.  Here we are swamped with all our bikes in their boxes.  Imagine the work needed to get them there: order boxes weeks before, have bags sewn, dismantle bikes and pack then pay sports equipment baggage for the plane ride then arrange for a pick-up to bring them to airport and another pick-up or vehicle that will make it fit upon arrival in destination, whew!

Upon arrival, we checked in Shangri-la Hotel in Mactan, Cebu where the Ironkids and Ironman events were to be held. It is always a joy to stay at any of the Shangri-la Hotels and so our children were thrilled to be able to stay there-including our Yaya Gina who couldn’t believe she could eat as much as she can in the breakfast buffet so she ended up eating a little.  She later learned of course that next time, she’ll make the most of the buffet just like what our driver, Kuya Manny (he came with us for additional support for the equipment, children and to check out the race for his own inclusion for next year!)

Here are some snapshots from Ironkids

Donny zooms to the finish and lands in 7th place while Solana enjoys the sand

Both Benjamin and Hannah finished top 4! Way to go kiddos!
IronKids photos c/o Timex Philippines

It is such a relief to have the Ironkids one day before the IronMan because it gives Anthony and I time to focus on just our race.  In this case, my first full 70.3 event.

MY RACE STRATEGY: Finish sub cut-off (under 8 hours) with lots of fun throughout the race


Hydrate (water and with Gatorade-sorry folks I refused to take the blue liquid being offered at the race.  That is why it was a huge blessing to receive my supply from Ton Gatmaitan and mix it myself to put in my hydration bottles with the help of my kumare Tina Zamora),

Be well fed (Carboom Gel 15 min before the race and every 45 min after/bananas as much as I can)


LIVE to share my battle stories to my husband and children who are waiting for me in the finish line !

SWIM-awesome view under but lots of kicking so to avoid DROWNING, I kept away from the crowd and swam as calmly as I can with a relatively good pace. Got cuts from my suit’s tag-arghh but navigated through the rough waters with ease knowing I was made to swim

BIKE-the bike race course was tough with head and cross winds that were fierce so i took my time prayed throughout the whole bike course and enjoyed every minute of it while keeping my focus in check for road safety and boredom! I discovered a way to perk up and revive my tired muscles- STOP, SHOWER WITH FREEZING ICE WATER, STRETCH & GO. Awesome!

RUN- I had 1 goal here: stay POSITIVE! Unfortunately, this was quite difficult because I was at the tail end of the pack but nevertheless, I danced at every blaring music and sang throughout the course. I held on to every bit of encouragement from people I saw who said the following:

-Local folks: “Go, girl!!” Flying kisses to all those who stayed till the end to cheer us and give us refreshing cold showers.  Daghang Salamat, Cebu!

-Anthony: “I love you, Hon!”

-Geraldine (Santiago of Polo Tri): “Just take it one step at a time”

-Monica Altura (Polo Tri): “Run one minute, walk one minute”

Both Ge and Monica asked me to run with them a while until I got my momentum going again.  Thanks, girls you were such huge help!

-Coach Norman Pascual: “You will make it (to the cut-off)”

I was so looking forward to the swim so I had a big smile on my face but the bike and run course were fierce that I stayed focused and prayed most of the time. 🙂
Photo credits to: Baby Cuevas, Ben Gorospe & Reynan Opada

I then rallied a couple of guys who was in the same pack and then we did chants like the soldiers would do and then paced each other to the finish line while

-getting all the cold showers we could get (awesome perk-uppers but very bad for multiple blisters in my toes-bad call not to obey Coach Ani’s advice to put tape on my toes coz of vanity’s sake-sigh!)

-eating all the food we could find

-savoring any water found in the water stations (there was a shortage of water but a kind soul handed me a bottle which I drank moderately)

-celebrating every kilometer we have conquered

Before we knew it, we were there at the finish line!! Coach Guy Concepcion ran to me and said “you’re gonna make it!’. I danced , I jumped, I screamed and was so overwhelmed to find my daughters Ella and Hannah at the finish line with my Kumpare Ernie Lopez who told me I was inspiring 🙂 My husband followed with the rest of the family. Thank you, Lord for a safe and truly enjoyable race!

Sweet finish!
Photo by: Hannah Pangilinan




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August 8, 2012 by Mommy Maricel

10 thoughts on “My first 70.3 IronMan”

  1. ani says:

    So so proud of you! What a sweet victory. You are truly an inspiration and the best wife mom and friend anyone can have. We love you!!!

  2. Tina says:

    So proud of you, Mare! Congrats!

  3. Miles says:

    Congratulations Maricel! I am so proud of you!

  4. Ton Gatmaitan says:

    You are an IronMom!!! Congratulations to Team Pangilinan! You are all winners both on and off the race course! God Bless you all!

  5. Gemma Pagsibigan says:

    Congrats Maricel! A well deserved finish! So proud of you :)You know we love you — and the whole family!

  6. Avi Uttam says:

    Congratulations Maricel! Another achievement for the unstoppable Pangilinan Family! 🙂

  7. ammi armas says:

    I was awake at 4 am on your Ironman day, and I already started to pray for you and Anthony, Dennis and Tina. Congratulations, Maricel! What an achievement! You must be proud of yourself, too! God is good as He became your constant Companion throughout the event. We hope to see you soon!

  8. Mommy Maricel says:

    Dear Coach Ani, Thank you! Love training with you! NYCM next. What do we do? haha!

    Tina, proud of you too, Mare! It’s great racing with you!

    Miles, we really have to walk and talk and then maybe run together? Tell me when you are in the boondocks, k?

    Ton, Gemma and Avi-you guys are great and thank you for your trust!

    Ammi, thank you for the prayers. Really felt it. See you soon!

  9. Miriam says:

    Congrats Ate! So inspiring! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Mommy Maricel says:

      Amen! You next, Miriam!

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