Leona’s Iron Chef is an Ironman

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 and 22 minutes), it appears that she becomes the first female Cebuana to complete the full IM. Here’s our Q & A:

1891751_10200629484738399_1793578638_oJane-Jane with the boys (from left) Jomer Lim, Dr. Albert Solis, Meyrick Jacalan, Gianluca Guidicelli and Andrew Ong

What events have you done prior to Melbourne? “So far I’ve done 3 Ironman 70.3, I joined Tabuelan 111 twice and Challenge Philippines last Feb., which is also a 70.3 distance. As for marathons, I finished 14 pa lang and one Ultramarathon in Cebu (Sept 2011). The 14 marathons are: Singapore (Dec 2008), Amsterdam (Oct 2009), Big Sur (April 2010), New York (Nov 2010), Paris (April 2011), Camsur (Sept 2011), California Int’l (Dec 2011), Rome (March 2012), Stockholm (June 2012), Berlin (Sept 2012), Napa Valley (Mar 2013), LA (March 2013), Chicago (Oct 2013) and Disneyworld (Jan 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 & run, I do a lot of strength training to prevent injuries. With a full training sched, it leaves me with lesser 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 1K 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, haha! 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 prayers 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 1K faster and crossed the finish line strong!”

What’s next? “I guess IM Melbourne is my biggest ‘goal’ for the year, haha! 🙂 After doing this, a marathon last Jan. and a 70.3 distance last Feb. 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 year end (Sta Barbara in Nov and the California Int’l in Dec.).

“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 Sat, I met a lady who’s into her late 50s and guess what she told me? IM Melbourne last Sun was her 20th! 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! :-)”

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *