Limpag: An iron discipline for Ironman

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Saturday, April 12, 2014


I HAD a chance to talk with Meyrick Jacalan, one of the Cebuanos who competed in the full Ironman in Melbourne recently, during John Pages birthday celebration a few days ago.

Meyrick was one of the five members of Team Reborn who completed the grueling event that covered a 3.9 kilometer swim, 180-kilometer bike and a 42-kilometer run.

Most of us are familiar with the marathon, the final leg of a triathlon but to know how grueling the first two legs are, imagine swimming from the Provincial Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Center and back and then biking from the Capitol to Moalboal and back.

That’s for the first two legs, before you get to the marathon.

So, how did Meyrick and teammates Dr. Albert Solis, Andrew Ong, Gianluca Guidicelli and Jane-Jane Ong train for the event?

They trained like professional fighters who are chasing a world title shot, following the program to the letter.

Meyrick said they started their program in November, four months before the event, and a month into the program, their will and discipline was tested because of the unique practice that is Christmas in the Philippines.

“Christmas is the time for reunions and a lot of parties and you have to say no because you are training,” he said.

Why not skip a training day for a party? Well, why embark on a four-month training program at all if you’d jeopardize it for a party?

Meyrick said nutrition plays a huge part in an athlete’s performance and one of the things they made sure when they got to Melbourne was rice.

It’s something non-athletes take for granted but those who compete in tough events internationally have to plan for this. Remember what happened to Mary Joy Tabal in Paris? The Philippines top female runner was concerned about the lack of rice in the
French capital, and it was something

Meyrick’s group planned for because they had to keep eating the same kind of meals they ate while they were training.

For training, they overdid things, the event covered a 3.8 kilometer swim, so they swam for their maximum was five kilometers; it called for an 180-kilometer bike ride, so they rode for 200 kilometers. Of course, they didn’t do it back-to-back and tackled one discipline at a time but still, swimming five kilometers as part of your training program is not something for the ordinary.

“Usually, I lose two to three pounds in each training session. This is the amount of body fluids you lose through sweat and you replenish after each session,” said Meyrick, who credits his wife Perl for helping him push through with the Ironman.

Two to three pounds.

During the event itself, Meyrick was one of the fastest, finishing it in 12 hours and 50 minutes along with Solis; Andrew Ong and Guidicelli clocked in at 14:10 and Jane-Jane finished it in 15:10.

Now, to put those times in perspective, when was the last time you had a 12-hour work day? And how did you feel afterwards? I remember a 12-hour work day in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, when a 10 a.m. volleyball coverage ended up almost at midnight with the boxing coverage. But that 12-hour period included at least two heavy meals and snacks. For guys like Meyrick, their 12-hour “work day” had them swimming, biking and running with only those energy gels and homemade ice candy to fuel them.

With the full Ironman off the bucket list, Meyrick says it has helped them boost their confidence and who wouldn’t feel confident after completing a 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-kilometer bike and a 42-kilometer run?

After that, training for a marathon, or even the half-Ironman in August, is peanuts.

So who should go for the full Ironman?

Meyrick says that if the marathon is the dream of all those who run, those who are into triathlon should include the full Ironman to their bucket list.

“Lahi ra gyud kung makahuman ka,” he said.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 12, 2014.

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