Monday, June 10, 2013

Nagoya, the magic dragon, at Japan 70.3 half-ironman、名古屋のマジックドラゴンズ、アイアンマン70.3セントレア知多・常滑ジャパン

There must have been some magic Nagoya dragon that huffed and puffed on Hillary Swank and your humble narrator that memorable Sunday, June 9, 2013. It was a complete 180-degree turnaround in events. I went in with pretty low expectations with a laundry list of concerns. Not least was the fact that I had suffered from tonsillitis 3 weeks before the race and wasn't able to train for the 2nd half of May. May 6-12: 8.3 hours, May 13-19: 5.3 hours, May 20-26: 0 hours, that's right, a big donut! An average of 6.6 hours per week in past 2 months had me scratching my head and thinking...

....can I do this without crashing and burning?

                      Lixil: the link to good living!
Pre-race: On Saturday, I hopped on the shinkansen and was down in a flash to the Chubu Centrair Airport. By the way, this is a great race for someone looking to do a half-ironman close to Tokyo, in on Saturday morning, out Sunday afternoon, back watching Nadal kick butt in the French open final Sunday night in the comfort on your own home. The official name could actually be the longest ironman event name in history....ready for this...Lixil ironman 70.3 Centrair Tokoname that?

                               he's a stud

On top of my lack of training hours, it was a stressful pre-race Saturday, as the omnipresent Whit Raymond, official ironman announcer, broke the news that wetsuits might be prohibited due to high water temperatures. Than back at the hotel I discovered a broken tire valve on my rear wheel tubular with only 3 hours to get my bike assembled and checked in. (Note to myself; use black cats instead of Sagawa Transport). After a painfully long train ride with rear wheel in hand to the bike mechanic area, an extremely efficient bike handyman fix of valve without tubular replacement (these puppies are expensive!), another long train ride back to hotel, than a 10k ride/warmup to the bike area, just in time for the bike check-in cut-off at 6 pm, I was ready for a well-deserved carbo-load and lights out.                                                                                                                                                          

Race day was a complete turnaround. I woke up at 5:45 am hungry and alert, wolfed down a full breakfast including essential natto/egg/rice, yakisoba, washed it down with coffee, arrived at the start area with 1 hour to go, welcomed by Whit's booming voice, and my 2 new mates, UK Richard and Swede Martin. I was also pleasantly affirmed by Ricky May that wetsuits were allowed and he also procured from May Storm that all-important 2 inches of tape for taping gels to the bike.

                                                               Ricky Martin and Motozo
Swim: Standing on the beach with Martin and Richard, we speculated how the supposed current was going to play out. Of course your humble narrator had been too busy taping said gels to his bike, and missed the swim warm-up. Alas, the horn sounded and we were off. It was a wave start so only about 240 other guys to avoid, which opened up pretty quickly. I swam super-easy for the first 300 meters, than pushed it a little harder, got to the 900 meter turnaround buoy in around 17 minutes. I thought that was a little faster than I usually swim, but I'll take it! I swam pretty conservatively on the way back as well, mixing breast stroke every 20 strokes or so, mainly as a vision mechanism, drafting off the occasional fast swimmer. I was happy to hit the shores in 35:21, which was a huge swim PB for this distance. 

                                                                 look at those buggers go...

Bike: I hopped on Hillary after five and a half minutes of T1 madness. This would have been 2-3 minutes had it not been for my wetsuit misplacement folly and long distance to T1 from beach. Never mind, I was saddled up and ready to grind it out. I started peddling at around 37-40 kph and thought it must be the fresh legs. After 10k, I was averaging 37 kph and marveled at the massive PB in the making. I didn't feel any discomfort or fatigue....yet. The bike course had changed from what I had heard, but was still technical and treacherous. The course had 4 x 22.5k loops with five 180-degree turns each lap, 4 of the turns bunched together within 5k of each other. There were also six 90-degree turns and narrow areas where race marshals blew whistles incessantly and screamed "slow down!!!" It was crowded and required full attention, eyes on the road all times. I was afraid to glance at my garmin speedo for fear of hitting something.

                                                                     got drugs?


At the halfway 45k point, I was still at 37 kph, around 1:14:00, without feeling much pain. Than, at 55k, my lower back began to ache. I tried to enjoy the pain alla Tyler Hamilton, but it doesn't really work for me like those guys in the tour de France. I guess Tyler had more dope in his system than your humble narrator. Anyway, my dope-free back kept getting more and more painful and eventually screamed "get off this bike!". Anything, even a half-marathon in the heat, is better than 2 more minutes with Hillary. After the 3rd lap, I heard someone yell out my name, and quick glance led me to believe that my cousin Satoru had made it to cheer me on. Nice! a boost of energy was just what the doctor ordered. Somehow, I made it through the last lap, thinking of Satoru and the half-marathon "fun" ahead. 悟ちゃん、応援してくれて、本当に助かりました。I rolled in at 90k with a bike time was 2:29:11, average of 36.2 kph, another huge PB. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with that.

                                             wondering when I would hit the wall...

Run: My T2 time of 3:00 is deceptively slow given the long run in bike shoes to the change area. Anyway, I hit the ground running at 5-minute per kilo pace. I was sans GPS, but the course was well marked every 2k. I ran with a skinny guy briefly, and his GPS said 4 1/2 per k, so let him go fry bigger fish. I was a little surprised I could run at this pace after a few k, being in new territory with PB swim and bike splits. I thought I would hit a wall you can probably guess, this never really happened. I felt good throughout most of the run, consuming drinks and salt tablets liberally every 2k. At the halfway point (10.5k), I calculated that I needed 5 minute k's to get me in under 5 hours, and stepped on the gas pedal slightly. I knew the 11-20k would be the hard part, but I fought off the heat and fatigue fairly well. At 16k, I got another huge boost from my younger cousin Mari. まりちゃん、応援はどうもありがとう!
                                               nothing like the scent of a finish line...
I was at 4:41:00 at the 18k point, and could taste the finish line. I heard Whit's booming voice at 20k, remembered how he had dissed me in China for coming in at 6 hours in that pressure cooker, and felt satisfaction in beating that by over an hour 5 years later. I exalted at the finish line, guts pose and all, thrilled to crack 5 hours with plenty to spare.

                                                                    let there be light...

My official times were:

swim: 35:24, 45th place age group out of 243 in AG, 290th overall out of 1,380 total, 1:51 per 100 m pace
bike: 2:29:11, 29th place, 184th overall, 36.2 kph pace
run:  1:42:47, 38th place, 252nd overall, 4:52 per k pace
total: 4:55:51, 38th place, 232nd overall

                                             lots of 5's, but love the 4 the most..

Post-race thoughts: I am still trying to figure out how and why I was able to perform much better than previous races despite my limited training. Of course I did have high quality training sessions with namban every Wednesday at the track, and a long glorious golden weekend with the Don of Shimoda helped the bike and run endurance. I am sure the challenging half-marathon up and down Mt. Fuji at the Fuji Susono half-marathon did not hurt my running confidence. 

                                                                   Mother, I'm flying
                                                    yes, it was Fuji Su So so so so so so so so NO

I did take Bevan's keen advice and forced myself to stay in the aero position for at least 2 long rides in May, although they were under 80k. Perhaps it was the new cloud racer running shoes alla Keren's Oakwood party? Or was it the positive energy from Megumi's perfect cube champagne birthday party last week? Could it possibly have been those long Sunday Yoyogi morning runs with Terada, Brad, Brandon, Jay, Petr back in the winter? Or was it the awe-inspiring performance by Ishida san, taking 4th place in his age group, just missing another Kona slot by 1 place?

Who can say?

Coming soon, the real challenge of 2013!

Challenge Roth, Germany, July 14, (full ironman distance without the M-dot brand)


Mika Kume said...

Well done Motozo. I like your breakfast. Natto, rice and Yakisoba! meeks

Emil Truszkowski a.k.a. Truszek said...

Congratulations! I wish I can take part in Japan 70.3 this or next year. I'm moving to Japan in March and now I'm looking for a running/triathlon club. I guess I'm going to check out the Namban Rengo! Hope to get a chance to train with you all!