First Half-Ironman at Cobra IM70.3 Philippines, part 1

Before the Race

The lead-in to Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines race week was super busy, with so many things that needed to be done. I needed to get my planned nutrition sorted and my bike packed, so it was great to get all those done at The Brick. By Thursday evening I only needed to fret about getting enough sleep before my flight early Friday morning. 🙂


There was a 2pm organized bike out, which I and my Endure teammates joined. It was pretty much just a recon of the Marcelo Fernan Bridge so we’d know what to expect. The urban traffic from multicabs, buses, and other vehicles was a challenge to navigate, so I stayed on the tail of more experienced cyclists.

I got back in time for an hour’s rest before the Meet the Pros press conference. This was a stacked pro field; we had defending champion Pete Jacobs who is also reigning Ironman World Champion as well as two-time Ironman World Champion Chris “Macca” McCormack, but ITU athlete and Olympian Courtney Atkinson was also present, using this race as a jump-off into a long-distance triathlon career. On the women’s side, defending champion and Ironman World Championships runner-up Caroline Steffen was back, but so were her other podium-mates from last year Bree Wee and Belinda Granger. Also, our own Monica Torres was in the pro field!

The carbo-loading dinner for athletes was held on Shangri-La’s golf course. Buffet tables were laid out with lots of food, which we then had to consume picnic-style on the grass.

2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines
Hanna, Carina, Joy, Raff, and me

2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines
obviously, we are in Shangri-La

We were treated to a glitzy dance number and fireworks courtesy of the host city Lapu-Lapu. It was then that the realization hit me that I really was here and that I would be racing by myself in two days’ time. And I wasn’t nervous at all; I had this otherworldly peace that no matter what, I was going to pull through to the finish.

Fireworks at the #cobraironman703 carboloading party. Way to get me pumped up for the race! #kikayrunner

A photo posted by Noelle De Guzman (@kikayrunner) on

I had promised to volunteer for Ironkids, so before 6am on Saturday I rode my bike to Shang. I planned to do a swim recon after the kids’ race, then check my bike into transition early so I wouldn’t have to worry about a long line at check-in later that afternoon (which is what had happened last year).

photo by Jared Byrne (Running Suplado)

Coach Ani de Leon-Brown, the race director of Ironkids, stationed me at the swim exit. Before I headed out there, I saw Macca and family on the beach. His two girls Tahlia and Sienna were participating, so I said hello and wished them well. A few minutes later when I was at my post, Macca came up and asked if I had a spare helmet Sienna could borrow because she’d broken the strap on hers. “Give me five minutes,” I said, and dashed off to where I’d parked my bike and grabbed my Spyder helmet. I came back and put it on Sienna’s head. Can I just say that helmet was so easy to adjust? Just a few pulls on the straps, and it fit her perfectly. As I snapped the clasp under her chin, I quipped, “Who knew I had such a small head!”

It was just too bad they weren’t able to race. The older kids’ race was started and finished, but just before the younger age groups were allowed to enter the water, a squall rolled in! The rain and wind were strong, and it lasted so long and made the roads unsafe; in the end Coach Ani had no choice but to call off the rest of the race.

photo of the squall, and Kuya Kim Atienza giving the weather report at race briefing

The weather cleared up enough by 10:30am so I met up with my teammates and did a swim recon. The water wasn’t flat, but after having swum in Pico de Loro’s waves I knew to stay calm and find the rhythm. I really, really enjoyed that swim, especially since the water was so clear I could see the coral and fish!

Joel had arrived by then to take on photographer duties. I told him to wait for me while I checked my bike in, and then we’d head off to lunch with the team.

2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines
bye Loki! I’ll see you tomorrow!

Loki is checked in! #cobraironman703

A photo posted by Noelle De Guzman (@kikayrunner) on

Check out the personalized transition area with my name on it!

I finally was able to grab some lunch with friends from Team Boring at around 2pm, then attended the afternoon’s race briefing. The weather turned dark and rainy at that point, and it was only then the thought crossed my mind. I had prepared hard for this race… but would conditions allow us to race at all?

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