Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Aizu: A A A Atsuiiiii

Aizu in Fukushima usually marks the end of the hot summer months for me. This year it was very hot and thus a tough bike and run. No big surprises on the swim. Disappointed with slow results but at least my ranking didn't decline from last year’s blistering pace.

Swim; Felt about the same as last year, which was also surprisingly slow. Swim is three 440 meter loops in fresh water lake, plus 180 meters to shore from the last buoy. Start and finish are in shallow water, but water is just deep enough to take away porpoising benefits. In the last 100 meters, you are wading through 1 meter water. Started in 2nd wave 2 minutes after the under 40-year olds. Slow 1st wave swimmers got in the way along the buoy line. Swim felt fine and smooth but much slower than normal 1500 meters. Marat's time was 27 minutes and he is usually 23 minutes. 30:05

Bike: Hotter and windier than we thought. Wind reversed to the southwest and increased to 16 KPH, which made it pretty tough. The course is pretty much east to west from the Inawashiro lake to Aizu city. Felt like I was working harder and going slower than last year, directly into a headwind. I was! Official temperature was 33 degrees C. but in the rice fields and black asphalt with no shade my garmin said 36 degrees. It became hard to drink my warm sports drink/jel concoction. I passed about 30 riders and was alone for most of the ride. At 25k, I discovered that my rear wheel was rubbing against the frame, but not enough to slow me down too much. I decided to leave it as I would have lost 2 minutes fixing it. Finished in 1:04 on garmin, six minutes slower than last year. Average speed 36.4 KPH.

Run: I was almost fully spent, and it was now really hot. I started to cramp right away even at 5 minute pace. I knew I wasn't going to break any records today, so did not try to accelerate much. It was just a matter of pride, to finish under 50 minutes in that heat. After 4k I felt better and pushed slightly to 4:45 pace, dousing myself liberally with water at every aid station. I was running in puddles inside my shoes. Squish squish squish. 48:23.

Swim 28:00
Bike 58:30
Run 44:00
Total. 2:17:00

Swim 30:05
Bike 1:04:15 (1:08:37 with 2 transitions)
Run 48:23
Total. 2:27:05

2016, +10 minutes; reasons; heat on bike and run, wind on bike, mechanical problem on bike, and late night cake! Actually finished with same ranking in the 40's age group, a mild consolation for a very tough day.

I ranked 48th overall and 13th in my age group. Once again my bike was most competitive followed by swim and run.

52nd overall, 13th in age group. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Obuse, the annual mountain getaway

I ran the Obuse half marathon with tonsillitis, which was slow, but a great time was had by all. My time was 1:37:49, over 3 minutes slower than last year. My previous three times were 1:34, 1:36, 1:38, so I wasn't too slow. 

My average pace was 4:41 per kilometer. I guess I started out a little too quick at 4:30 pace for the first 5k, running with Terry and Bob. I slowed and ran about 4:50 pace for most of the remaining way.

By luck Megumi picked up an extra number from Geraldine so we both were able to run it. She had to start in one of the back corrals so we couldn't pace each other unfortunately. 

We drove to Nozawa Onsen for another extra day in the mountains which was nice too. Domo Mami and Gary.  

Many thanks to Chika-sama! Again she arranged our trip and stay perfectly. And she ran faster, 1:35:51, 2nd in her age group!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Oshima Triathlon: Wind, waves, and wheels

In its strongest showing to date, 9 TiT athletes dominated the field at Izu's Oshima island series triathlon last Saturday, taking 4 of 6 of the top prizes overall, including another sterling 2nd place overall by Mark Shrosbree at 2:12:29. Dave Sims finished just behind Mark with his usual strong swim and bike, which featured an early collision with the topswimmer. Hoel Goisbault, one of TiTs many rising stars, took 5th with a missile-like 37:55 run, good for 2nd best run of the day. Motozo, your humble narrator, finished 6th, recovering from a shocking 30 minute swim to power to past 20 bikers and runners with a course PB 2:20:30. 

Dante Michael had a strong debut performance bagging 13th place. Jay Johannesen, despite limited trips to the pool, turned in a sub-40 run for 35th place and 11th place handicap-adjusted. Marat Vyshegorodtsev and Marcus Saw brought home the bacon with outstanding debut showings. Danai Kuangparichat scored 3rd in the sprint distance. Kudos!

Here is the summary of the TiT performances:

2  Mark Shrosbee 2:12:29
3  David Sims 2:13:01
5  Hoel Goisbault 2:16:49
6  David Rubenstein 2:20:30
13 Dante Michael 2:24:22
35 Jay Johannesen 2:29:41
77 Marat Vyshegorodtsev 2:42:42
116 Marcus Saw 2:52:26

3 Danai Kuangparichat  1:13:23

In a very windy day with white caps forming beyond the concrete breakwater, we were all wondering if the swim would actually happen. To my surprise, a race official in the bike area announced that the swim was on 1 hour before the start. Gulp. 3 big groups of about 100 swimmers each lined up on the rocky beach and without much ado the fog horn sounded. 

Swim: This was the true test of meddle on the day. After swimming to the first buoy, you are directly exposed to the open ocean, which felt like swimming inside a washing machine. Than you turn left at the 2nd buoy and into the full force of the waves.

Meanwhile, I am hearing whistles and lifeguards shouting at swimmers to swim straight, and many swimmers giving up, treading water, or floating on their backs. 30 swimmers were fished out of the water by lifeguards. I think that is a record in itself. At the 3rd buoy, which is in front of a larger concrete breakwater, you turn left again, halfway done with the first loop. As soon as

you turn, you are in heaven for 200 meters as it becomes dead calm as you swim towards the shore. Then, another left turn towards the first buoy with the waves behind you now. Than another left turn and you are fighting the waves again. Repeat heavenly leg and bring it home. 

Bike: The bike was super risky yet fun. We had a huge tailwind for the first 5k and rocketed up the coast at 45-60 kph. The bike is 4 x 10k loops with 5k up the coast, than 5k back in land, which is somewhat shielded from the coast wind. I maxed out at 60.1 kph on the coastal road.

I think Simses maxed at 63 kph. Mark must have been close to that. Dave and Mark had the fastest bike splits with 1:01 and 1:03, which includes both transitions. I had 1:06. Dante had 1:07. Hoel 1:09. We all spent a lot of time yelling at bikers to get the fook out of TiTs way!

Run: It felt like a relief to escape the swim without drowning and bike without crashing. Now to execute a decent run. I hoped I had enough in the tank. There was no one near me which was a good sign?

The run is simply 5k up the coast and 5k back, passing on the decent coastal views if you have cares to appreciate that. We had another decent tailwind up the coast, but I was a bit careful not to max out as I knew the headwind and hills would draw all reserves on the way back. I figured I would see Mark and Dave at around the 4k point, which is exactly what happened.

Dave was about 700 meters in front of Mark, grinding through it. Mark looked genki. I missed seeing Hoel who was apparently near Mark. He must have been flying. Actually he was. Dante was behind Mark. I made the 5k turn and looked around. No one near me still. Strange. Usually there are several guys in my age group around me. I tried to step on the gas pedal but that headwind was tough. And 2 big hills which didn't seem so bad with the tailwind. Good to see Marat and Jay and Marcus on the way back. I gave it everything I had for the final 2k and finally managed to get under 44 minutes. Mark, Hoel, and Jay all had sub-40's. 

Awards banquet: The party featured taiko drums, sushi, fruits, and stinky kusaya grilled fish. It was awesome.

As mentioned, TiTs totally dominated the podium with 4 of the 6 top slots. Mark was number one by far in the handicapped ranking, which subtracts 1 minute for each year over 35 years old. I thought I would have a better chance of nipping a handicapped award but 2 senior gentlemen grabbed the 5th and 6th place spots. a 60 year old man finished in 2:28! Dave also got a 4th in the handicapped ranking. Important note: get to the party early to secure a table with sushi. Proceed with caution when eating Kusaya. 

Other notes: 
The difference between Mark and the 42 year old champion 相馬さんwas 4 minutes. 相馬 had a 20 minute swim, which is unbelievably fast 
considering the big waves and chop.

For reference, he had an 18 minute swim 3 years ago but finished behind Mark for 4th place. Mark had 2nd place 3 years ago as well. Great to have Megumi and Ty on the course cheering. We climbed the volcano the next day with Mark, Hoel, Dante, which is a must see if you do the race. 

Quotes from the day:

Mark: "We TiTs need to practice rough-water swims"...."Favorite bike course"...."Good run"
Dave: "Shocker of a run"
Hoel: "Fun and challenging course"... "Like the true open water swim"
Dante: "These TiTs are really raising the bar"
Jay: "Don't they always cancel the swim?"..."I've done 2 swims this year..."
Danai: Damn bro, should have done the olympic distance!"
Marat: "Swim was easy. Need bigger waves!"
Marcus: "Great fun. Bring the next one on!"

Friday, May 20, 2016

Yokohama triathlon, first showdown of the season

Monday, March 21, 2016

Yokohama marathon: The good, bad, and ugly

My first marathon in 2 years is in the books. Including ironmans, I have now done over 18 marathons in 17 years, most between 3:10 and 4 hours. Instead of the usual February Tokyo Marathon (7 times in the past 10 years), several of us that missed the Tokyo lottery decided to do Yokohama in March. It being Tokyo's sister city and a flat course, we reckoned it was a decent substitute for Tokyo. I also had the Boston Marathon qualifying race in the back of my mind....

Little did I know that Yokohama is not a qualifying marathon despite the large size at 24,000 runners.  There was a measurement mishap last year and so this year somehow this race was unofficially 42k and not a sanctioned race. I realized this fact about 2 months before the race which dampened my motivation. Still I trained somewhat hard with several long runs over 25k, but only averaged 46k per week for 2016 (January-March). I thought that was enough to get me under 3:30. Boston qualifier for my age group is 3:25, so this race was going to be test of sorts.

Race start: A 9 AM start meant I was up at 5 AM and on a 6:10 AM train to Yokohama. No worries, similar drill to Tokyo marathon. Although 7-8 of us Nanban Rengo runners were in the first A gate, we were substantially far back from the start line. We started with a slow jog as we crossed the start line, a good 3-4 minutes after the start gun. The first 1k was slow and a bit frustrating to weave around runners. I did 5:25 the first K, than 4:52 the second K, both slightly under the goal pace. After the 2k point it was pretty much smooth sailing for the first half of the marathon. I ran with Keren and Jesse for about 7k before Jesse peeled away. Keren and I both took toilet breaks at 10k, costing us 40 seconds, and ran together for another 7-8k. Keren starting to increase the pace to 4:30 from 4:45, so I let him go at about 18k, figuring I would reel him in later....

At about 25k things started to go pear-shaped though. I began to feel fatigue and the effects of the headwind and highway. At 21k, we climbed a entrance ramp to a highway, now well outside downtown Yokohama. With little crowd support on the elevated highway, a stiff headwind, tilted highway surface, I started to fade. At 28k nature called again, this time in a big way. During the break I noticed that my legs were super tight. The stop took about 90 seconds. The next few kilometers were normal 4:50 pace, but after 30k I was really struggling to hold 5 minute pace. At 31k I was happy to get off the highway, but I think the damage was already there in my body. I felt like I was barely hanging on. Probably a bit dehydrated also. I did take sips of half a cup of sports drink every 2-3k, but I guess this wasn't enough. From 35-40k the pace got even worse and my sights on a sub-3:30 marathon seemed to be a pipe dream. Deja Vu all over again. 2 years ago in Tokyo I ran sub-5 minute pace for 30k before the wheels came off, finishing at 3:33. Same thing happened this year. The legs just didn't have enough long runs in them and began to unravel at 33k, which is exactly the distance of my longest run this year. I was putting in more effort but slowing down. Quite frustrating but that's how marathons go. You have to do the heavy mileage to get results. At least I do. In my case, that means 60-90k per week which is a high risk activity given my knee and hamstring injuries. A quick look back at my PB 3:08 training regime reveals a peak week of over 100k. That was 10 years ago so my recovery time from that kind of hard training has surely slowed. 

The last 5k were torture. From 38k I was hobbling along at 6 minute pace just hoping to finish without walking. I came in at 3:37:31, a big positive split. The second half was nearly 2 hours. 1:39 for the first half, 1:58 for the second half. A tale of 2 races. They say a marathon really starts sometime after the first half. How true. Splits and other data are below for those with cares. 

Kudos to the guys that ran PBs: Keren and Jesse. Well deserved.
Dave and Connie had a stellar races as well. 
Good to run with Sumie, Nick, Engin, Yasuo, Brad, and the Chado unit. Big UPs. 

Splits TimeCumulative TimeMoving TimeDistanceElev GainElev LossAvg PaceAvg Moving PaceBest PaceAvg Run CadenceMax Run CadenceAvg Stride LengthCalories