Leona’s Iron Chef is an Ironman

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

JANE-JANE Ong, the entrepreneur behind Leona Cakes and Pastries, finished the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne, Australia seven days ago. She was the lone female in the Cebu group of five that included her brother Andrew, Dr. Albert Solis, Gianluca Guidicelli and Jacs Jacalan.

By definition, the “Ironman” refers to a triathlon race with a 3.8K swim, a 180K bike and a full 42K marathon. (The Ironman 70.3 in Cebu every August is the “half-Ironman;” meaning it’s only half the Ironman distance.)

With Jane-Jane’s achievement (finishing the 226-km. race in 15 hours, 22 minutes), it appears that she has become the first female Cebuana to complete the full IM.


Here’s our Q & A:
What events have you done prior to Melbourne?

“So far I’ve done three Ironman 70.3, I joined Tabuelan 111 twice and Challenge Philippines last February, which is also a 70.3 distance. As for marathons, I finished 14 pa lang and one Ultramarathon in Cebu (September 2011). The 14 marathons are: Singapore (December 2008), Amsterdam (October 2009), Big Sur (April, 2010), New York (November, 2010), Paris (April 2011), Camsur (September 2011), California
Int’l (December 2011), Rome (March 2012), Stockholm (June 2012), Berlin (September 2012), Napa Valley (March 2013), LA (March 2013), Chicago (October 2013) and Disneyworld (January 2014).”

How did you prepare?

“Training for a full Ironman is much more grueling and time consuming especially with the long rides. There are days we are out the whole day riding. We leave the house by car 5 a.m., start riding in Carcar round south, end in Barili and ride the car home from there. We would reach home by 5 p.m. More sacrifices have to made. We have to be disciplined not only with our training but also with our diet and rest. On top of our specific training for swim, bike and run, I do a lot of strength training to prevent injuries. With a full training schedule, it leaves me with less time to work and almost no free time.”

How mental is the IM?

“For the full Ironman, one has to be prepared mentally. It is as much a mental and spiritual journey as it is physical. I prayed constantly from the start till the end. During the swim leg, there was a part on the last
one kilometer that I panicked. I got quite disoriented not knowing which direction I was heading since I couldn’t see the buoys and the current of the water was strong. I really prayed that I wouldn’t get cut off! For the bike leg, I was praying for our safety and that I wouldn’t get any flat tire.”

Your 42K?

“Since I’m first and foremost a runner, I was looking forward to the run part. My plan was just to cruise and enjoy it. But running a marathon after a 3.8-km swim and 180-km bike ride is totally different from
running a marathon on fresh legs. The first half was still ok and I felt good. But halfway, my runners’ knee pain (which started during the bike leg) got worse and I could feel my ITB tightening up. My prayer then was that the Lord give me the strength to finish the race strong and that I wouldn’t have to suffer much pain. Praise God the pain was manageable. I
was able to run the last kilometer faster and crossed the finish line strong!”

What ’s next?

“I guess IM Melbourne is my biggest ‘goal’ for the year. After doing this, a marathon last January and a 70.3 distance last February at Challenge Phil, I’ll take a few months off to rest and recover and
then join IM 70.3 in Cebu again and then two more marathons in Sta Barbara in November and the California Int’l in December.

“I promised myself that I will do the full IM only once and this is it... But after doing IM Melbourne, I am tempted to join an IM race in the US or do Challenge Roth (in Germany) someday which is very popular and according to Chrissy Wellington, ‘The best full distance race in the world!’

“Last Saturday, I met a lady who’s into her late 50s and guess what she told me? IM Melbourne last Sunday was her 20th! I also met another lady who turned 65 this year who made it to the podium in her age group and this is her 20+ IM too! These women are amazing and so inspiring!” (www.pages.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2014.


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