A Sleepytrigirl is Made Not Born

How does a sleepytrigirl who has been a night owl most of her adult life become a triathlete or a morning athlete -runner, cyclist whatever?

It was a process. It started with the death of my son… Running consoled me..


As I added on the mileage, I decided to train for a marathon (the Chronicle Marathon in SF in 2002) to help me deal with my grief. At that time, I was an entrepreneur then working at home, which allowed me to do my runs at sunset, my favorite time. Before that I was a practicing lawyer, doing my runs in the evenings and weekends.

But right after the marathon, I was so sick of running and needed something else to do. My brother Lino, friends Earl Medina and Patrick Joson kept bugging me to try the tri. Lino lent me his yellow mountain bike that he bought, I think, in the supermarket. I’m not kidding!

Despite my bike being an eyesore and my not knowing which was the front or back side of my bike helmet, I managed to learn to ride with cleats and even survived a few scrapes and stitches..

I disciplined myself to sleep earlier than normal so I could wake up earlier than normal to bike. After about a month of this, I had to leave for the US to be with my dad who was very sick…He needed a liver transplant and as it turned out, Lino gave our dad, 2/3rds of his liver…

We eventually took my dad home. I did my first duathlon that weekend (5k run-20k bike-2.5k run). Lino also joined and finished the race, a mere 4 months after the liver transplant. I actually won that race. Sadly, my dad died the week after…Lino and I went for a run when they took him away. It was the only way I knew how to console myself.

I continued to do duathlons, waking up early to bike or run. Fast forward a few months, I ran, uhh.. I mean, I ran for public office as a senator. I squeezed in a run or bike wherever I was. Some of the more memorable ones were, running around a church compound in the pouring rain.. running in a state-of-the-art track oval on a moon-lit night in Lanao del Norte, surrounded by soldiers and the PSG.. biking through Cavite, just me and Dags (our ever reliable former Tour, now bike mechanic), shaking hands with people in the jeeps and going down at every market we passed… Oh, and how could I forget, biking up Baguio via Marcos highway.

As fate would have it, I won, became a senator and went back to a more predictable training schedule – that is morning bike rides and runs 4-5 days a week before starting my workday and 1 or 2 afternoon/early evening sessions. Last year, I started swimming regularly and made the shift from duathlon to triathlon. Today, I do both.

How does a sleepytrigirl do it? Believe me, with much difficulty. I come from a family of late sleepers. I’m used to working past midnight. When I reviewed for the bar exam, I studied til 3 am in the morning everyday, ran in between review classes, joined a half marathon a month before the bar exams and got typhoid fever, but that’s another story…I guess that’s just the kind of schedule that works for me…

Since I became a duathlete/triathlete I have had to try to be in bed before midnight, preferably 11 pm. Tough..especially with two girls who know mommies are on call 24 hours a day…

These days I’m a sleepytrigirl who needs to constantly review her schedule to balance work and family time, speaking engagements, meetings, study time, training and yes, sleep… I have no fixed sleeping time, and no fixed waking time. Some days, though rarely, thank God, I’m up at 5am (like the days when I biked from my house to Batangas). Other days, even more rarely, thank you, thank you God (!!!), I sleep at 6 am (when we had marathon sessions in the senate and the day after election- that’s at the campaign headquarters). I just do what I can every single day.. and at night, my girls and I thank God for all the blessings.. and then, I pray that my daughters let me sleep and I wake up with a smile without having to hit the snooze button 10x.

Why do I do it? Because…

- i like being fit, I hate being fat and I love to eat.
- i love to race…and race well. But I need to train well, if I am to race well..After the grueling campaign period, Philippine team manager Melvin Fausto signed me up for and olympic distance duathlon (10k run-40k bike-5k run). I knew I would suffer…After the first 10k run and the 40k bike, I was dragging my feet to finish the last 5k. I was so slow, I was almost walking and one of the race marshals, Rene Zablan, who was on a bike beside me kept saying, “out of shape ka ‘no?”..and, “gusto mo nang maglakad ‘no?” I wanted to bop him. But everything he said was true and I realized it wasn’t fun doing this when you haven’t trained well.

-its a great way to spend your vacation.That’s the Philippine Duathlon team in the World Duathlon Championship in Australia.

-I love being around all these disciplined crazy people who work hard and persevere in the pursuit of victory.
-I love seeing friends and meeting new people at races.
-I love the bond I have with my dua/tri/cycling friends, some of whom have become very good friends.

- when Im out there running and biking, I have peace.

Are you ready to tri?

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6 Responses to A Sleepytrigirl is Made Not Born

  1. joy solina says:

    i read your article “running is the ‘it’ sport” in the inquirer and thought it was what i had been subconsciously looking for. i had dreamed of running eversince i watched “chariots of fire” when i was in my early 20s and admired eric lidell not just for his running but also for his principles. i’m turning 47 this year and your article encouraged me. i’ve started brisk walking for 30 minutes since yesterday (thanks to holy week) and want to progress to running someday. thanks for challenging me thru your story to “tri.” i’ll see first with the running bit.

  2. issay says:

    this summer my husband, myself, and our three kids (ages 18,12,11) vowed to run together at least 3x a week. we started last good friday, and then today again…but while resting in between, i was doing some amateurish badminton and i hurt my left ankle…so now i am limping. will take ibuprofen later but promise myself to be fit together with my 12 year old young lady who is a bit on the heavy side :) btw, am 48 y.o. and i really love brisk walking/jogging with my husband. hope this continues on…

  3. Toll says:

    I adore this site! I can stay up all night just to have fun and see new posts. I love to spend my free time this way

  4. Daer Ate Pia,

    i like to read your story, its challenging,, i really motivated after reading ..yeah i started my biking now after after doing Carerra Habagat siargao that i crash and wounded in th bike ..im planing to try my best like you to learn from biking aside fron running,, i started getting bored in marathon but i still inlove rnning in mountain running like mt. Kinabalu which i finish top 6 thier..
    ate Pia, thank you very much for your very inspiry message.. merlita arias cebu, skyrunner team philippines..

  5. hi maam senator. i’m mercedita manipol seagames gold medalist and a member of the national team. i want to participate the pinay in action fun run 2009.i hope you will let it sanction by the patafa for us national team to be able to run.thank you very much and more power.

  6. Mel says:

    Hi, I’ve heard about your running events but I’ve never really read up on them until today. I started running last year to lose some weight and I guess got addicted to it. I’m planning on trying out for a triathlon this year (at least 1) – I already started swimming again – hope I make it!
    Thanks for the great read. I’ll sign up for your runs this year :) Hope to meet you soon! Happy running!

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