The inaugural 5150 Black Arrow Express triathlon is a few days away. What do we need to expect? Is there anything we should be taking note of? You can practice due diligence by spending a few minutes to read up. When you talk about Black Arrow Express, one thing comes to mind: speed! This is exactly what you’ll get as you race this course. It’s flat (by Subic bay standards), fast, and exhilarating! This is arguably one of the best courses to aim for a PR. To make sure you don’t disappoint, take note of a few things as you get ready!
The swim is as simple as it gets. It’s a one loop course around the ACEA beachfront. The waters here are generally calm with a very weak current (if at all). The trick here is to conserve your energy on the first loop, and push yourself harder on the second loop. Luckily, pacing yourself is a lot easier thanks to the rolling wave starts. Head on over to the BAE 5150 website to check which wave you’re in. If it’s your first time, make sure you submit a recent race which will serve as reference for your categorization. This will make the start a lot smoother, faster, and less troublesome.
As you enter the swim course, your official time (based on your chip) will start. Since you’re swimming with similarly-abled swimmers, it’s a lot easier to pace yourself properly. Make sure you sight often as keeping your head down may cost you a few minutes zigzagging around the course. Most new swimmers get shocked with the deep trench a few hundred meters out from the shore. The sudden pitch-black darkness might seem daunting but it’s really nothing to worry about. Swim hard, swim smooth, and stay the course. You’ll be fine!
After the swim, you’ll make your way up towards the parking lot of ACEA. This is a long stretch that elevates your heart rate rapidly. Make sure to allow yourself to recover by not sprinting in any part of this segment. Hydrate, take nutrition, and prepare for the next leg.
The bike consists of two loops. The best piece of advice I could give is to keep calm, and stay aero. Given the time of year, there will be some windy segments along the bike course and it’s all about staying tucked so drag is brought down to a minimum. The first part of the race consists of a short uphill near the airport and a very long gradual descent towards the direction of Puregold. There’s a flattish segment before and after you make a U-turn and this is where the fight begins. Aim to gain some steam once you reach this part so that you’re primed and ready to tackle the more challenging ascent back towards the airport. As you make a right towards NCT road (direction of All Hand’s Beach), it will become a bit windier and a bit more exciting as you reach speeds of 40-50kph (depending on conditions, and how hard you push it). There will be some short sharp hills going back so make sure you have something left in your legs to push it.
The second loop is obviously almost identical to the first one (save for the airport road segment), so you’ll have a second crack at it if you failed to execute well on the first one. Understandably so, the second loop is generally harder because of fatigue. This is where it pays to dig deep and push harder.
A few things to take note of are that you should not litter at any point during the bike leg. Be careful too as there will still be some cars or motorcycles crossing the path. Last but not least, drafting (riding closely behind another rider) and blocking (riding towards the middle or left side of the lane) is strictly prohibited. Penalties will be handed out to any violators.
The run, also consists of two loops. At first glance, the course might seem simple or down right easy. Well, to be honest, it’s harder than it seems. The first challenge are the number of turns on the course. These chicanes tend to negate your momentum and mess with your rhythm; don’t underestimate them. Secondly, there are some segments in the run course that have uneven surfaces. Make sure you pay attention and keep an eye out for crevices or holes, you wouldn’t want to twist your ankle (albeit unlikely). Finally, running with your “competition” in plain sight can be mentally challenging. The “gigil” of trying to chase someone or the deflated feeling you get if you get left behind all need to be kept in check. Just stay positive, stick to the plan, and remember that seeded starts mean that your actual positions won’t necessarily reflect your ranking or time gaps.
Make sure you hydrate properly during the run course and take in enough calories. Cramping, aside from pushing too hard, is often due to dehydration or running low on carbs. Never neglect the fourth discipline: nutrition.
As you make your way back to Remy field the second time around, be proud, run tall, and smile for the photographers. It’s your day, you made it! You can now call yourself a BAE triathlete!