Matteo Guidicelli remembers the ordeal that was his first triathlon. It was about a year and a half ago in Naga, Cebu, only a month after his father and triathlon coach Noy Jopson persuaded him to try out the sport.
He recalls almost drowning 200 meters out in the salt water (he got past it anyway) and practically walking when he should have been running at the last leg of the race.
Fast-forward to the present, Matteo laughs at the thought of barely finishing a five kilometer run.
He remembers how silly he was in not training at all before the Naga race, thinking back then that biking-swimming-running was “easy.”
The first time always hurts, so they say. True enough for Matteo, his first race was the most gruelling experience in his life.
“It’s one of the hardest to do,” the 24-year-old heartthrob tells PEP about triathlon, "but it’s the best sport I’ve done.”
For all the pain, Matteo came to embrace triathlon and the rigorous training that comes with it.
Always one to see the positive light in things, the actor took the sport as a challenge, a way of life that makes him, now more than ever, appreciate living even more.
FIVE CHANGES. While he adds “triathlete” next to “actor” in his biography, Matteo still acknowledges that he has not yet turned pro. He calls himself as an “age grouper,” or in triath-speak, a passionate enthusiast of the sport.
Matteo’s dedication to triathlon and how much it has changed him is obvious in his lean, golden-tanned physique and the happy vibe he radiates.
We ask him to enumerate the five ways triathlete sports have changed him, and Matteo gamely retorts, “Five lang?”
Taking back his joke with an infectious laugh, he begins his list with the fact that he has learned to “eat better.”
“I eat clean food. Clean food, ibig sabihin, I try to stay away from processed food,” he says.
Going on an organic Paleo diet is not necessary, he says. Although he does so from time to time especially before a pictorial. On ordinary days, however, Matteo eats just about anything. And as any health buff would advise, the actor says that it’s always just a matter of “eating food in moderation.”
“I work out differently.” He explains that biking, running, and swimming have replaced gym time.
“Alam mo yung ibang tao, they’re always at the gym! Ang laki ng mga katawan, ganun-ganun.
“With triathletes, we’re not like that. We’re basically lean, di ba?”
Instead of gym equipment, triathletes use their bodies to train. Their workouts have to do with a lot of cardio and building up endurance for the long-distance exertion triathlon requires.
“The most important thing is to get a coach you really trust and you leave everything up to him,” Matteo advises.
His coach Noel Salvador makes him go through different workouts, depending on whether they’re biking, swimming or running for the day. Sometimes they do a combination of running and biking, or swimming and running. On race day, a triathlete does all three sports.
Matteo shares his next item, “I have new skin color! I’m dark!” He loves his tan, he says, as would any triathlete.
Seeing no need to elaborate on that last point, the actor jumps to his fourth, “It made me have a better lifestyle. I sleep earlier, I wake up earlier!”
Sleeping early means hitting the sack at 10 or 11 in the evening and waking up at five or six in the morning.
He sleeps and wakes up earlier when he has a scheduled training, “para I can really give my best the next day!”
Fifth on his list, being a triathlete has taught him to “prioritize things more” since triathlete sports demand time.
“If you really wanna do it, you can do it,” says Matteo.
“It’s just an excuse ng mga tao na, ‘Wala akong time.’
“Pag gusto mo talaga gawin, maggagawa mo!”
WAITING FOR LOVE. Considering the time Matteo spends for training, not to mention acting, does that leave no time for relationships?
The actor laughs, “Hindi naman! Puwede namang kahit ano basta maging understanding lang yung partner mo.”
The young actor cites the celebrity couple Drew Arellano and Iya Villania, known for being active in sports and living healthy, as an example.
“They’re amazing people,” beams Matteo.
“I think Iya’s the most understanding woman ever because she understands Drew with his training.
“They’re both the perfect match. Things like that.
“You really have to have the perfect relationship, full of trust, and loving, and caring, and understanding,” he says, amused at the words coming out of his mouth.
Is Matteo ready for that ''perfect relationship"?
The actor says that triathlon is among his priorities, “pero, siyempre, nakaka-miss din to have a girlfriend, di ba?
“Or to love, you know? To be taken cared of.
“So, sana, pag darating, darating, di ba?”