Friday, October 09, 2015

Korea half ironman in the rice fields

Greetings. Gurye, a small town in the southern part of Korea, was the scene for my last triathlon test of the season. I had an off day. I've been scrathing my head for 5 days wondering what went wrong and how I can improve next year. I think it was mainly the cold swim and lack of long bikes that did me in. Hard to blame the weather or jet lag. We had near perfect conditions and I dreamed of a PB or at least sub-5 hour race. It was not to be. I finished in 5 hours 41 minutes, about 44 minutes slower than my last half ironman!

List of excuses:

1. Cold swim: About 18 degrees C. I now have 6% bodyfat, probably the lowest in my life. I was cold throughout the swim and shivered on the bike for the first 20k. Teeth were chattering. Serious.
Next time wear another layer on the bike.

2. Lack of long bikes: I did 3 long bikes over the summer: an 80k, 90k, and 100k. That's it. I guess I was too focused on the olympic races. Live and learn. Next time do more long bikes.

3. Fatigue from last race in Murakami: I went hard in Murakami 2 weeks prior to Korea. It was only an olympic distance so I figured all systems would be go for Korea. Not. Next time give more space between races.

Anyway, here are the gory details of the race:

Swim: 38 minutes. A bit slow.

Bike: 1:48. Not so swift.

Run: 2:09. Ouch.

For those keen on going, Gurye is a small, picturesque farming town situated between Jirisan and the Seomjin River. Gurye is the sole designated special tourism and leisure zone in all of Jeollanam-do.
 The modest population is approximately 30,000.
Gurye County is a popular hiking destination during the spring and autumn seasons. The county's beautiful landscapes are showcased during its yearly festivals such as Sansuyu Flower Festival, the Royal Azalea Festival and the Piagol Valley Maple Festival. Gurye is also home to Korea's first national state park, which houses some of Korea’s most important temples.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Murakami triathlon: Fall Gaijin Showdown

Murakami triathlon: The race was s'alright. I didn't get the coveted PB, but my ranking improved and a great time was had by all the international triathlon clubbies. My time was 2:20, 3 minutes slower than last year's PB. I had lowered the PB by 30 seconds to 2:17:02 in August and had sights on a sub-2:15 if the weather cooperated. It didn't.

We arrived Saturday to stiff winds and choppy seas on the Sea of Japan. There was talk of a swim cancellation. By the next morning the seas had calmed enough to do the whole race, but still the chop was noticeable.

Swim: A mass start with 300 of my friends it felt like. My first mistake was to forgo the warmup. The 2nd was getting in the inside lane. In the first 100 meters of chaos, I felt a popping sound/feeling inside my left shoulder. This is not supposed to happen to me, I thought. I swam a few more strokes gingerly and assessed the damage. The shoulder was work-able, but not in great shape. I pushed on with some easy breast strokes and gradually got back into the race. The shoulder felt OK. Later I realized that the endorphins and adrenaline must have masked the pain. At the turnaround point I was at 13 minutes, so a 26 minute ETA, a little worse than plan but the chop and bum shoulder must have taken some toll. However, I noticed Keren swimming alongside me for the last 400 meters, a good sign. He is usually a minute ahead so I was not having a bad swim after all?

Not looking so aero despite the helmet...

Bike: I transitioned quickly, benefitting from the T1 practice the day before, and attacked the strong bikers. I pulled up to Mark who is a great biker and traded places with him for several clicks. Keren was right with me as usual. Bike ultra-specialist Stefano passed me soon after. I worked hard to chase him down, overtook briefly, but he immediately passed me. All this playful rivalry was fun and helping my bike time. We had a pretty stiff headwind, stronger than last year, so needed extra effort to maintain pace. At the 20k turnaround we were all scattered. Stefano and Mark had dropped me, and I was trying to hold off Keren, Paul, and Danai. The tailwing helped me get up to 50 kph on the return. At 35k Paul came flying by me on the last hill screaming "get that PB Dave"! I dismounted the bike in 1:09 including 2 transitions, again 1 minute slower than last year.

Don't forget to hit that watch...

Run: I was out quickly from T2, passing Paul in the transistion area. He chased me and was literally breathing down my back for 2k of the run. Keren was just behind Paul. At 2k I felt well warmed up and accelerated slightly. I had a pretty decent run, similar to Aizu, at around 44 minutes. Maybe I could have ran a little faster if I had had more company?

Our gang at the race finish..

A shinkansen with a view...

Many thanks to Danai for the hotel management and Asako for the cool pics!