Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Okinawan Roadkill!

Ishigakijima, the georgeous resort island south of Okinawa's island chains, was the backdrop for an olympic distance triathlon last weekend. This was mainly a tune-up race for the upcoming ironman in June, but I had plenty of concerns going in to the race: a hamstring injury from Tokyo marathon had prevented any serious runs for the past 2 months, complicated by an achy knee on last week's bike ride. My swim was the only area I had confidence I could go 100%.

Swim 1.5K: Although a fast start with 2 or 3 porpoise tactics, the first 300 meters were unusually chaotic and clogged, owing to a lack of open water space. I couldn't get a rhythm for the first 5 minutes as I kept bumping into pink, blue, and silver caps. We pink caps were the last wave of swimmers with a 3 minute delay. The course was an interesting design, out and back twice, or 750 meters X 2 with a 30 second jog in between. The course was in a protected harbor, so no waves, but the narrowness made it difficult to get any private space, not dissimilar to commuting to work in Tokyo, less the kicks to the forehead and bodyblows...I made it to the turn in 14 minutes, jogged to the start, and did another lap in about 14 minutes for a 28:11 total swim. This was my PB for a swim, my previous best at about 32 minutes. Although not rocket speed, I was happy to improve my stroke and I credit the pool drills with our sensei Greg.

Bike 40K: This proved to be the most treacherous part of the race. The light drizzle turned into rain as I made the transition on to the bike, an ominous sign. This was my first race with my blue thunder cervelo carbon tri bike aka Hillary Swank. As we headed out of town up the east coast, Hillary and I whizzed by dozens of bikers as if they were standing still. At 5K, a nearly distastrous event...I was behind 2 guys trying to find a space to pass on the narrow 2 lane road. Up ahead, a truck appeared. For some reason that I will never know, the guy on the left decided that he wanted to move to his right and cut off his buddy. The guy on the right had nowhere to go. It was either take a nasty crash into his biker friend, or smash into a truck. He chose the nasty crash into the biker. They both went down instantly. I was about 5 meters behind and had nowhere to go as I was traveling at a 40 KPH clip. The only path was straight thru the wreck....So I proceeded over the roadkill...I ran over a leg, an arm and a bike. Just before I went thru, Hillary's short happy life flashed before me, "I am going to crash", I thought....but by some miracle, I maintained balance over the wreckage....I could not believe it...the roadkill and my own brakes had slowed me down significantly, and now 5 bikers whizzed by me. I accelerated to catch up, thrilled to be still in the race....
The rest of the bike was tough and wet. My right knee flared up again from 5K-30K, and the hills were challenging. I didn't feel comfortable pedaling hard down the hills due to the wet roads. I did continue to pass bikers throughout the leg and finished in about 1:11:00 (officially 1:13:48 including a 3 minute transition).

Run 10K: I was happy to dismount Hillary, although the sore knee discouraged me at the beginning of the run. I had no stamina as well. Fortunately, the knee held up and I cruised thru the run at a tortoises' pace. My time of 48:56 was my slowest ever for this distance triathlon, well under the low 40's that I usually run in triathlons.

My total time was 2:30:55 (54th place out of 600 men) Swim 28:11 (120) Bike 1:13:48 (50) Run 48:56 (80)...although my bike was most competitive, I was more satisfied with the swim. I never really felt comfortable on Hillary, but I suppose this comfort will come in future races. The bike was actually 1 minute slower than my PB of 1:10:38 in Oshima last year on my old road bike, but we estimated that this course was 5-7 minutes harder than Oshima, espescially in the rain.
Many thanks to Keren Miers, our triathlon spiritual leader, who had a decent race and actually placed 2nd in his age group with a sparkling 2:24 time despite the fact that he did not taper at all! Arigatou Kamu chan for the support and great action shots.


Anonymous said...

Congrats David, sounds like you had a hard but satisfying day..inspired me to keep up the training for IM. See you on Saturday for a ride? Take care. Mary

rhymeister said...

You got an Afro thing going there in the last fotos. = ) Congrats on the finish, I'd be happy just to do something that grueling. And congrats to Keren as well.

Go easy for a bit and get well before you start training like a madman for Ironman Nippon!

Jay said...

The picture of you at the start of the swim is so impressive. The other triathletes look so tentative as they gingerly wade into the surf. But not Motozo - he is doing some aggressive porposing. This image reminds me of the Sado Triathlon where I followed you, and after the first 100 meters we were near the lead. Then 200 faster swimmers elbowed over me.