Monday, November 05, 2012

Taiwan half-ironman, coming up for air in formosa

I've always had a good vibe from Taiwan. When I've traveled to Taipei for business, I found the people more receptive to Japan and foreigners than other east Asian nations. So when Dave, Stan, and others raved about the half-ironman in Kenting last year, I signed up for the race with 6-7 triathletes from the barbarian horde.

A little background info: The race was set near Kenting, near the southernmost tip of Taiwan, not to be confused with Genting in Malaysia, where they like to gamble. The climate is near perfect this time of year, fluctuating between 22-29 degrees C. We ended up taking the shinkansen down from Taipei to Zuoying, which was added a couple of hours to our journey, but did allow us to take in the Formosa countryside.

This would be my first semi-long distance triathlon since 2008, and admittedly I was a bit nervous pre-race as opposed to the calm and collected Jay and Stan in the pic below. 

Notice the nervous guy in the middle...

We arrived Thursday night, a decent 36 hours before race time, and tested some of the swim and bike course on Friday. 2 feeding frenzies and a bento breakfast later, we were up at 3:30 am for the 6:15 am swim start.

In a nutshell, I was happy with my performance. I had a fair swim, a good bike of 2:42 without T1/T2, averaged 33.8 kph, and a tough run fighting fatigue/aches. I also managed to get a slot to the Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships! More on that below.

Swim: 40:09 (245th place)
Bike: 2:46:56 (165th place) includes both T1 and T2
Run: 1:57:20 (220th place)

Total: 5:24:24 (196th place out of 1191 finishers, 19th out of  140 age groupers)

Swim: The swim went as planned. I was glad that the water temperature was a smidgen below 26 degrees C., which allowed for wetsuits. The ocean was clear and smooth, good swimming conditions. I wasn't able to draft effectively as it was a mass water start and the fast swimmers pulled away in the first 100 meters.

I tried to relax in the water and keep myself straight, checking my path every 2 or 3 strokes. 2 x 900 meters around 3 extremely well-camouflaged buoys and I was on the beach in 40 minutes. My plan was to do 40-45 minutes, so I was happy with 40 minutes. Next time I should be more ambitious....

Bike: The bike was 2.5 laps of about 36k loops running along the shore and back inland. The course was rather flat with a few small hills, dogs, and cows. Other than these minor distractions, I had a fairly good ride. I rode with Stan for the first 10k or so, than with Jay for the last 30k. My time was 2:42 which was almost exactly my bike split in Singapore half-IM 4 years ago so I was pretty satisfied with that.


Singapore was a flat fast course in 2008 and I hadn't done much bike training this year, only 1 long ride over 90k. For Singapore I had come off an ironman 2 months prior while this time I had a rather low training base. I could feel the lack of training in the last 20k, and the stronger winds and heat also contributed to my fatigue. Despite a daunting 21k run ahead of me, I was happy to dismount my bike and record a 33.8 kph average speed.

Run: Suffice to say, I had very little in the tank for the run. (my average training week last month was 6-7 hours). I had originally thought I could do 5 minute per k pace, but that idea soon went out the window. The run course also lacked aid stations during the first 3-4k, which I badly needed. I doused myself, chugged several sports drinks, took salt, and averaged about 5 1/2 minute Ks for the first 10k. I was pretty exhausted but it was fun to pick out my teammates and friends along the course.

I guess I slowed a bit during the second half of the run, but picked it up with 3k to go. I could hear the music and Whit's voice at about 1k to go, which gave me the energy for one final spurt.

Congrats and a big otsukare to all the nanbanners, Mika, Mary, Stan, Kimm, Jay, Reza, Bevan, Vanessa. Everyone enjoyed the race despite the lack of organization. Several placed in the top 10 in their age groups. By luck, I was able to secure a slot to the 70.3 championships in Las Vegas. Although my place was 19th out of 140 age groupers and there were only 2 slots, it rolled down all the way to my spot. Helps to be in an older age group now. Vegas baby!

On the eve of the election day in the USA, as well as the aftermath of the floods in eastern USA, I write this humble report from Tokyo. I hope that everyone in the northeast is staying warm and dry, but getting out the vote!

As always, many thanks to Meg for taking care of our future ironman while I was in Taiwan. The Yoho hotel has a kids hotel with all the fixings so could be a destination for the 3 of us next year. The next stop for the motozo blog will be Tokyo Marathon 2013 in February. As they say in Taiwan, Jai yo!

Future ironman?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Yokohama Triathlon, the long and windy road

Yokohama was the venue for my latest triathlon comeback trail, a nice little day trip on Tokyo's doorstep. Needless to say, I did a PW (personal worst) at 2:37:46, owing to my limited training regime (see photos below), recent long USA trip, and a very technical bike course. I wasn't unhappy with the result, and feel somewhat ready to tackle the next half-ironman challenge in Taiwan next month. Total result was as follows:

Swim: 32:24 (267th place)
Bike: 1:17:44 (158th place)
Run: 47:38 (353rd place)

Total: 2:37:57 (204th place out of 924 finishers, 195th place out of 833 men, 43rd out of 181 age groupers)

Swim: It was my first triathlon swim in 2 years as the 2 spring races both cancelled the swims. I felt fairly good, but the time was shockingly slow. I couldn't believe that my watch said 15 minutes at the end of the first loop.

My swimming training this summer...

The water was smooth as glass in Yokohama's protected bay harbor, and there were little complications at the deep water start. I was able to incorporate my drafting technique when a big splashy swimmer passed me on the 2nd lap. I latched on to his heals and successfully drafted for the last 400 meters.

Bike: The transition was very long, maybe 300-400 meters, which is tough running in a wetsuit after a swim. I was pretty exhausted, but the bike went fairly well although I ran out of drink at 30k. The course was very technical with 3 hairpin (180 degree) turns, a tight 6k loop. Still I managed to pass many bikers and achieve 33.2 kph for 40k. My bike leg was my most competitive by far as it usually is and I was happy to get over 81% percentile on very limited training (no outdoor bikes in past 6 weeks).

My tri bike collecting dust this summer....

The course wasn't well marked, but thanks to my odometer I knew when to make the final turn into the transition area. Mika was not as lucky.

Run: On the last leg of the bike, my spirits were lifted by Mary, Nick, and Kimm on the sidelines. Many thanks for your enthusiastic support! My run started slow. Again, after the bike I felt nearly spent, but after a long drink where I actually stopped for a few seconds and a pee break (I never stop in an olympic distance tri), I felt a lot better and thought my goal of 46-48 minutes was realistic. I took in some salt tablets, and the continued cheers from Mary and company really helped. I finished in 47:38 which was a pleasant surprise.

 My run training this summer....

Some "rookie" mistakes:
Go to the Saturday briefing!
Loosen running shoe laces (lost a  few seconds on T2)
Don't wear money wristband for swim! (came off during swim and nearly lost Y17,000)
Remember to pee in wetsuit just before the swim start.

Drinking and biking: only try this at home...

Good to see Dave Sims, tall Mika, Stan the man, Brad, Geraldine, and Mark the rising star out there competing hard.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oshima "triathlon": island, wind, gold

13 Nanban rengo triathletes attacked, conquered, and hoarded the trophies at Oshima Island over the weekend, which had all the elements of an ABC wide world of sports outing. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, gold medals, podium shots, fierce winds and rain, followed by deep blue skies and a scenic island ride.

Additional race reports here:

Total Results:
Nick: 2:15
Jay: 2:18
Motozo: 2:29
Stan: 2:31
Mika T: 2:34
Brad: 2:42
Phil: 2:45
Mika K: 2:58
Ma: 3:13
Suni: 3:31
Chris: DNF
Taeko: moral support
Shoji: motto moral support


Total  -  2:29:56   (45th overall out of 346)
Run 1 -  23:27    (120th)
Bike  -  1:18:53  (27th)
Run 2 -  47:36   (71st)

As you can guess by my times above, the swim was cancelled owing to large waves, which frightened the race organizers minutes before the race start. So we were forced to peel off our wetsuits in the cold rainy weather and substitute a 1.5k swim with a 5k run. 
Given my limited training regime, I was happy with the result, particularly the 2nd run. 2 years ago I did a 46 minute run at Oshima, but this year I was running about 15k per week. It was certainly disappointing to line up at the swim area 30 minutes before the start and have them cancel the swim, which was deju vu all over again as Jay and Yogi Berra once said. Last year's swim was also cancelled, and Tateyama's swim was cancelled 2 months ago, so I am cursed to never break in my new wetsuit...


We were freezing at the 5k run start, so it felt nice to finally get going. The 1st run felt fine, but the bike was very rough and tough. I have never ridden in those type of conditions in an olympic tri. There were heavy winds in our face for the first 5k, which made it difficult to control my 60 and 90 cm race wheels. The back 5k we did have a tailwind, but the wet surface made things a bit risky. To give you an idea of how harsh it was, my bike was 1:08:40 in 2010, over 10 minutes faster, but 31st place, so I actually was more competitive with a 10 minute slower time (and much less training). Go figure... The 2nd run I pushed down the gas pedal and was happy to crack 2:30 by a smidgen.


A big omedeto to podium appearances for Mika T, Jay, Nick, Mika K, and congrats to the first timers Suni and Nick. The next day the weather cleared brilliantly and we rode the island perimeter, taking in the scenic views, and stopping at the swim course for a dip and diving practice of sorts....


Many thanks to Mika T san for organizing the whole trip, ferry ride, minshuku, etc. Thank you Shoji san and Taeko san for your great support and photos. Most of all, I'd like to thank my lovely wife Megumi for putting up with my tri training, trips, and taking care of our son over the entire weekend.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The marathon man cometh back 久しぶり

Whoa, it has been too long! 久しぶりです。

What a year 2011 was. We have a new little man in the house in case you didn't know. A knee injury and a new job are my excuses for not updating this running blog....


Anyway, here goes. I took 1 full year off from June 2010 to June 2011.

I started running lightly in July 2011 on the tender knee. It was a torn meniscus, and so I decided to take a full break from running and see if it healed up naturally (although meniscus is cartilage and does not repair itself, I thought the tissue around the meniscus might get better).

We went to Hawaii in December and I found
myself toeing the line of the Honolulu Marathon.

I ran a PW (personal worst) by a long shot (previous PW was a 3:58 during an ironman), 4:44:44. It was a training run of sorts for Tokyo marathon.

12月にハワイへ行って、何んとなくホノルルマラソンの一週間前に申請してしまった。記録は自己最低 4:44:44.死死死死ね

On to Tokyo marathon, February 26, 2012.
It was painful, as I had been dreading, but 4:18 was faster than my “somewhere-
under-4:44:44-expectation” (sorry Geraldine!). Needless to say, a PW in Japan, but 26 minutes faster than my WW PW (4:44). I didn’t really train, which is a faux pas, “don’t try this at home”,


no/no, in namban circles,

but as mentioned the injury and little Motozo at home prevented much serious training. I averaged about 25k per week for the past 2 months, and indeed hit the wall at 22k or so.

I ran thru it despite strong urges to pull over and rest… was a great thrill to see Meg and Ty on the sidelines cheering me on. That got me inspired to finish and get home quickly!


And many thanks to Chiba san, Jaynie, Mary, and company for your support. It was a nice sendoff for Kylie (pictured with Keren in this photo) too. I pulled up to Kylie’s Dad at 30k or so, and we ran together for 5k.


I think it helped us both. Great party and namband. Too bad they couldn’t play longer….was looking forward to more running songs…congrats to all that got PBs including Taro, Kylie, Dan N., Harrison, Don, Brandon, Jay Def., Stan the man!