An avid triathlete and longtime supporter of the Virlanie Foundation attempts to finish her first Ironman, a race involving a 3.8k swim, a 180k bike, and a 42k run, for the street children in Virlanie’s care.
By Lara Parpan
“I came to know of the Virlanie Foundation back in 1994, as a correspondent for the French news agency Agence France-Presse in Manila. My boss asked me to write about a French social worker named Dominique Lemay who came to the Philippines and was so moved by the plight of Manila’s street children that he never left. I was humbled meeting Dominique. As an idealistic journalist in my mid-20s, I couldn’t wait to leave the country. But here was this foreigner who decided to stay and help abandoned children.
I left Manila for eight years. When I returned in 2005, I found a job in publishing, as an editor for the Philippine edition of a French women’s magazine called Marie Claire. The local celebrity we were featuring on our cover, KC Concepcion, had just finished studies in Paris and was starting her career in showbusiness. She expressed a desire to take up a worthy cause, and because of the French connection, Virlanie and Dominique came to mind. Once again, my path crossed with the foundation. From 2007 to 2012, I spent four hours a week at Virlanie’s Magellan Learning Center as a volunteer, tutoring some 3rd and 4th grade kids in math. In 2014, I was invited to be on the Board of Directors.
Fitness and enjoying the outdoors have been my lifestyle for years now, though you can say I’m a late bloomer. I’ve been a gym rat since I was 25, a wakeboarder and waterskier since 28, took up running at 32, and turned into a a triathlete at 42. It’s triathlon—a sport that involves swimming, cycling, then running—that’s now my first love when it comes to the active lifestyle. The feeling of accomplishing not one, but three sports just doesn’t contribute to my overall sense of and well-being, but an indescribable feeling of achievement. Sports does build character. Depending on the distance I swim, bike, and run, the training I do can be gruelling not just physically, but mentally too.
In five years since I started the sport, I have finished 35 triathlons consisting of 8 half-Ironmans (a half-Ironman which is also known as the Ironman 70.3 is a 1.9k swim-90k bike-21k run), 6 long-distance triathlons, 15 Olympic-distance races (1.5k swim-40k bike-10k run), and 6 sprint (short-distance) triathlons. These five years have not been injury-free. A bad landing while training on my mountain bike in August 2012 for an off-road triathlon, resulted in a torn anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee which required surgery in October 2012. I was sidelined from racing for seven months as I went through intense physical rehabilitation to get full use of my knee again. I resumed triathlon in June 2013, and haven’t stopped. Nor do I intend to, unless fate has other plans for me.
On November 15, 2015, I am embarking on the biggest challenge of my triathlon life: my first full Ironman in Tempe, Arizona. In the Ironman, the triathlete swims 3.8 kms, cycles for 180 kms, and runs a marathon of 42 kms after. It’s an event that takes the seasoned professional triathletes eight hours to finish. Triathletes like myself, known as age-groupers (amateurs with day jobs who are more than weekend warriors and are passionate about the sport) finish the Ironman event anywhere between 10 to 17 hours. I hope to finish the Ironman in 16 hours. While the thought of taking on this distance is daunting, I have never felt better physically, emotionally, and mentally as I do now.
As I write this, the Ironman is barely three months away. I have been training since the start of the year and am averaging 15 to 18 hours of training each week. What keeps me going is not just the fulfilment of a personal goal and the support of family, but the children Virlanie cares for, particularly the 20 infants and toddlers who are in great need of care at this early stage in their lives. I was moved by the story of Paul (link here: http://www.virlanie.org/HelpOurBabies) who was rescued from a shopping mall in Makati.
I hope to raise P300,000 (US$6,000.00) for the Virlanie Foundation’s Babies and Toddlers’ Home. I will be most grateful if you can support me in this journey, by donating any amount you feel in your hearts to give to the kids. One hundred percent of the funds raised through your help will go to them. Virlanie stands on a solid, trusted, 23-year history of being a reliable partner of the country’s objectives in alleviating the plight of street children. I hope you can help me help them continue their invaluable work by donating to the Babies and Toddlers’ Home. These children, your pledges and donations, will add more significant meaning to racing and finishing Ironman Arizona to the best of my ability. “
It would be nice to have Lara’s handwritten first name here
Support Lara’s cause and help Virlanie Foundation continue its work for the children. Donate through Indiegogo Crowdfunding platform : www.indiegogo.com/projects/raising-children-racing-arizona#/story.
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Virlanie’s Bank Account Details:
Name: Virlanie Foundation, Inc.
Bank Name: Banco de Oro – Vito Cruz Branch
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Virlanie Foundation, Inc.
4055 Yague Street, Barangay Singkamas
Makati City, Philippines 1204
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Copyright: Lara Parpan, Raymond Racaza – Raceday