The marvelous progress of Vince Ang shows that change starts with making a courageous choice

By Klyde Manansala | Photos courtesy of Vince Ang

Last year, we spent some time finding inspiration behind Vince Angs hard-fought victory over his addictions to become the accomplished triathlete he is today. After cutting off his unhealthy vices, the 21-year-old Ang has traversed a different path and finally found himself right where he is supposed to be: racing triathlons, including the recent Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3. “Having to balance family, business, academics, and triathlon can be quite draining knowing that I have all these responsibilities,” he says. “I can’t avoid getting burned out most of the time.”

How would you describe your first year as a triathlete?

My first year as a triathlete was really fulfilling. Having finished these events, it gave me more confidence as a person. It also made me realize that the human body is capable of doing these things. It’s all in the mind.

Since becoming a triathlete, how many races have you participated in?

So far, a marathon, a sprint distance triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon, three half Ironman triathlons and two Audax events. And also, let me share this quote: “Pain fades, muscles heal, reaching your goals is priceless.”

Vince Ang poses for a photo after an intense finish at the Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 race in Cebu last week

Can you tell us about your most memorable race so far?

My most memorable race was last week in Cebu where the currents were quite strong and I almost got disqualified because of an accident that led to mechanical problems. After biking 20 kilometers, I had to bike the next 70 kilometers without proper brakes. It was so scary especially going down that bridge! Thankfully, bike mechanics were all around the bike course and I was able to make it before cut-off.

How was your race performance in Davao, Subic, and Cebu?

My finishing times in Davao, Subic, and Cebu were almost the same. As an athlete who participates in many races as much as I could, I’m thankful to be able to cross the finish line before the cutoff. In terms of lessons learned, each race was different. It taught me how to push myself even more. At some point I met fellow triathletes and then I began to love my body even more.

What was your fastest finish? Has your smoking habit affected your endurance when racing?

It took me seven hours and 30 minutes to finish all the three legs of  the three races (Davao, Subic, and Cebu). I’m an athlete who prefers to maintain a steady pace. But I’m aiming for faster times in my next few races. And my health improved a lot. From being a chain smoker to a person who is now free from nicotine and playing three sports, my lung and liver problems are gone.

Ang pedalling his way at the 21km bike course of the Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 race in Cebu

Overcoming smoking and drinking isn’t easy. How do you manage to resist the temptation?

Let me be honest, I drink occasionally after races as part of the celebrations. Unlike before as an alcoholic, the transition of finishing several bottles of liquor in a day to drinking responsibly played a huge role in my triathlon journey. I use prayer and triathlon to overcome my temptations. It’s always good to be focused on something that keeps you busy.

What are the struggles you are facing now as a triathlete?

Finding the time to incorporate daily workouts into my life since I have different schedules every day. I also maximize every minute I have in a single day to finish every task I need to.

“It is not just about me crossing the finish line. It made me realize that I wouldn’t be the person I am right now without this person standing right beside me. Waiting several hours for me to finish races is something only our loved ones would be more than willing to do

Your goal last year was to conquer Ironman 70.3 races this year, how did it go for you?

So far so good, in a span of less than five months, I’ve done 70.3 in Davao, Subic and Cebu. It was mentally challenging but with the help and guidance of my coaches, I was able to push through.

You’re now with Inside Track Athletics, right? How did you find out about them?

My friend Pierce Tan from Revv Multisport introduced me to Inside Track Athletics (ITA). It’s a personalized multisport program where there are three triathlon coaches to help me reach my goals. After joining ITA, I met a lot of adrenaline junkies who really helped me push myself. I’m also currently under Sibakeros Triathlon Team, a Filipino sports organization committed to promoting an active and healthy lifestyle to everyone they come across.

Ang with his Inside Track Athletics family

How does being in a team with people who share the same passion as you do help you to push harder?

The commitment. It is intimidating to know that these people are heavily committed to this sport. It serves as my motivation to train more and harder.

Can you tell me the most significant and obvious progress you’ve noticed since you started racing?

Based on my finishes, I realized what my body can actually do. Last year, I couldn’t even swim 500 meters, bike 20 kilometers, and run three kilometers. But after training really hard, I realized that I could actually endure a 2K swim, 90K bike and a 21K run.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision and courage to try. You have the power to control your mind. And once you realize that, you will find strength. When you find strength, you’re already halfway to the finish line

Now that you have come a long way, what are your next goals?

I’m still enjoying my journey. Maybe another Ironman 70.3 in China or Malaysia next month if training permits and my coaches allow me to do so. Probably, more marathons and half ironman races both local and international in the next few years before preparing for full distance triathlons in the near future.

Would you have done all of these by yourself? Aside from your coaches, who else has helped you become the person you are today?

My mom. It is not just about me crossing the finish line. It made me realize that I wouldn’t be the person I am right now without this person standing right beside me. Waiting several hours for me to finish races is something only our loved ones would be more than willing to do.

Ang’s proud mother poses for a photo with his son after finishing a trail run last month

 Are there any professional triathletes whom you look up to?

Lionel Sanders. Probably because I went through almost the same situation in life as him—being drug dependent for several years then turning into a triathlete. I really love Lionel’s work ethic and discipline especially in making triathlon a part of his daily life. The number of world championships he has won also inspires me.

What is your message for people who are afraid of making decisions that could potentially change their lives?

Every accomplishment starts with the decision and courage to try. You have the power to control your mind. And once you realize that, you will find strength. When you find strength, you’re already halfway to the finish line.