It was a dream come true for Saipan resident Manny Sitchon, as he completed last Saturday’s Century Tuna Ironman Philippines.
Sitchon finished the exhausting 1.9-kilometer swim, 180K bike, and 42.2K run in 15:59:53.
“Years ago, it was only my dream to finish an Ironman race. It was my long-term plan to do my first Ironman as I turn 60. I’m right on target,” said Sitchon, admitting that quitting never crossed his mind despite feeling emotional throughout the race that drew more than 1,000 participants.
“The whole time while doing the Ironman race I was a bit emotional thinking of all the hardwork I dedicated for this event. After all the loneliness of doing a 7 to 8- hour weekend solo bike ride, the experience of waking up 3am just to be able to finish my run and be at the office by 8am and the challenge of juggling my swim time into my 12noon lunch break. On and off while swimming, biking and running, all these past events kept going through my mind,” Sitchon said.
“There was not a single time that I thought of quitting. What worried me was the cut-off time. We were given only 17 hours to finish the entire event. A single mistake or bike malfunction will be very costly,” the sexagenarian said.
Sitchon picked the dragging and two-loop bike race the toughest part of the event.
“It took me more than 7 hours sitting on a saddle along the 180K stretch of Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. The temperature reached 34 Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit) and I felt like I was a fire-breathing dragon, as I sensed the heat of my breath every time I exhale during the bike ride. Psychologically, you need to think of anything positive while doing the long ride,” said Sitchon, who finished the bike race in 7:37:51 and the swim and run legs in 1:42:05 and 6:23:25, respectively.
Though he was proud to finish the Ironman, Sitchon is more pleased with the preparation he did to get there.
“Finishing an Ironman race is every triathletes’ dream. It has been my aspiration to finish a full Ironman from the time I started doing triathlon. This is something glorious for me because I trained hard for it,” he said.
“We only see those participants who crossed the finish line. What we do not see is the preparations they put into their training in order to reach the point of finishing the race. It was a no ordinary race,” added Sitchon, who needed eight months to get ready for the event and devised a training plan for the race.
Will he do it again?
“Yes, because I know this is the result of all the sacrifices I made…Given another chance at another favorable condition, I think I can do better next time. I need to do it while I still can—while my knees are still strong enough to race,” said Manny, who started painting the roof of their house in Manila yesterday as a recovery workout.
“Next target is the mother of all triathlons—the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. It’s going to be a long shot, but who knows? Why shoot the stars if you can shoot for the moon?”