It was near perfect weather of 20 degrees C at the race start and the rain avoided our island for the entire weekend while it rained on the mainland.
My splits were as follows:
Swim: 25:22 (75th place)
Bike: 1:14:08 including T1 and T2 (35th place)
Run: 45:49 (32nd place)
32nd place out of 170 finishers, 141 male finishers
Many thanks to Phil the Ryano for his suberb organizational skills and impetus to get us out of Tokyo to the island in the first place. We all pledged to go back again soon (next year). That's it for the short version. For my normal ironmanish long version of the race and weekend keep on reading. Details of the weekend and race go something like this....
Prerace: On Phil's advice, we assembled the night before at the Takeshita marina for the slow 11 hour boat ride to Nijima, which turned out to be quite pleasant. The ship was huge, maybe 300 feet or so, and moved gently over the calm seas. I slept soundly for 5 hours until the loudspeaker reminded us of stops from Oshima at 5 am down to Nijima at 9:30 am.
Swim: Conditions were a little cool for a swim at 18 degrees C water temperature, probably my coldest tri swim ever, but I wasn't too worried. Sure enough, once I started stroking, I was warm and toasty after a minute or 2. I was able to porpoise in the shallow water for 100 meters and found myself amazingly ahead of my entire wave for a good 200 meters until the fast guys swamped me. I got around the second buoy and headed back to the beach and was happy to see 12 minutes on my watch at the halfway point. I am on PB pace if I can only maintain this speed I thought to myself as I porpoised by a few tired swimmers. Rounding the final buoy I was in a good groove as I had been drafting off the poor guy in front of me for the entire lap. I checked my watch and saw 19 minutes with about 300 meters to go. Cool! I stepped on the gas pedal and hit the beach in 25 minutes, a new personal best! (I was happy with that, but unfortunetely later I discovered that everyone had a good swim, so it wasn't just me!).
Bike: The T1 transition was less than perfect. I decided to skip the socks (a mistake), couldn't get off my wetsuit fast enough (need more vaseline next time), and forgot to put enough power drink in my gel mix. I ended up dehydrating myself on the bike, but I guess it didn't slow me down too much. I forgot to zip up my shirt, so had to slow down on the bike course to do that without crashing. The bike course started out quick down the first 3k stretch, but than we hit the hills and I groaned. It was very technical and bumpy most of the way. I was praying that my bike Hillary didn't crack under the pounding. The first 13k lap was tough enough. The next 2 laps were somewhat easier as I got used to the bumpy and windy terrain. But I felt like I was playing catchup, trying to get my time close to 1:10. I finished the bike with a fairly miserable 1:14 including the 2 transitions, about 1:11 without transitions. Again, T2 was too slow as I had a bad stomach cramp, which immobilized me for several seconds as I stretched out the swollen muscle. I did enjoy the competitive feeling of the bike. It was fun to try to catch up to Phil. He was surprisingly fast on the swim and bike, and I couldn't close the gap much on the bike. I could see my friends Jay, Mary, Sumie, but didn't spot Mika or Dave.
Run: After a feeble T2, I headed up a giant hill still feeling woozy from the stomach cramp. I had to pull over for a pee, as I hadn't been able to sweat much on the bike. Than I discovered my shoelaces were untied and pulled over again. Dammit my run time is going to suck also I thought. There was no way to figure out what speed I was going as is typical of the Izu island series races, so I had to wait to the 5k point. Actually at 3k turnaround point I sighted Phil shuffling along just a few hundred meters in front so I had somewhat of a gauge on how I was doing. On my way down the hill to the 5k point I saw Jay about 6-7 minutes behind so I knew my Jay cushion was somewhat safe, although as many know Jay does have a dangerous run. At the 5k point I saw Mika with camera on the side. I asked, "what happened??!!". She said she would tell me later.
I started to feel better after going thru the big hill at about 6k, waved to the elderly people in wheel chairs and accelerated for the last 4k. I got thru the first 5k in 23 minutes and did the second 5k in 22 minutes. I guess I lost about a minute on the first 5k with the pee and shoelace breaks, so splits were about even.
The best news was that I achieved a new PB, albeit a mere 30 seconds, in a pretty tough course. I hope to shave several minutes off the PB next month in Oshima and/or Murakami as I am running pretty well and swimming fairly well. I need to put more bike rides together in the next few weeks though. You can see by my bike ranking of 35 versus run rank of 32 despite a 1 minute break that I have some bike work to do. A few transition drills wouldn't hurt either. In retrospect, the Fuji Susono half marathon last week probably hurt me a little on the run and bike, as 6 days was not enough recovery time. Fuji was hotter and hillier than I had imagined, but that is a sho ga nai.
Thank you Mika for helping Phil with the organization and taking all the groovy photos. The big zannen for Mika was a breathing problem on the swim, which forced her to pull out. It is disappointing to not be able to test yourself on the course, but I hope that it will be a blessing in disguise for Mika. Hopefully she will be more motivated to train on the swim for her ironman debut in Canada this August. Gambatte Mika!
A final word on Keren, our tri guru. Keren, you were sorely missed in Nijima and we all wish you well in Australia. We hope for a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you toe the line in one of September's triathlons.