Monday, June 12, 2017

Oh what a feeling, Oshima! 大風大応援大島

Ohhhhhh Oshima! I probably used that one last year, but there is no better feeling than flying up the coast on the big island. Its been 2 days since the race and my hamstrings are still tight as a Taiko drum, but what a sweet race and weekend in paradise. 

And I am very proud to be a part of the Triathletes in Tokyo (TITs) domination of the event once again this year. We had 3 of the top 4 spots. I took 8th overall and 5th in the age-adjusted rankings out of 235 men. Very pleased with my 1:04 bike in fierce winds.

The swim cancellation was unfortunate but the open sea course design is always susceptible to big waves. Big thanks to Meg for the fantastic photo footage and strong support the entire race weekend!


My data on Garmin for the bike...
37.9km total Distance (I forgot to turn on my garmin at the start)
1:01:55 Moving Time 
359m Elevation change
279W Estimated Avg Power 
1,036kJ Energy Output
Avg Speed 36.8km/h 
PR on サンセットパームライン北上 (6:25)
max speed 58.3km/h
3rd fastest time on oshima triathlon loop (15:26)

Swim: Nothing much to say. It was cancelled owing to fierce winds and strong seas. This happens every other year. Last year we got lucky. The swim course needs some redesign needless to say. And the Island Series organizers could do with some creative Move the race to Sunday morning if the ocean is too rough on Saturday.

1st run: As a feeble substitute for the swim, we did a 5k run before the bike. It has its pros and cons, obviously favoring the strong runners and weak swimmers. A decade ago it would have helped me, but now it is a slight disadvantage. I went out conservatively at 4:35 pace, running about 80% effort. Finished in 23 minutes.

Bike: Than the fun began. Strong gusts of wind provided a massive tailwind at the start, and I zoomed past 40 of the 55 guys in front of me. I was doing 45-50 kph up the coast, than 25-35 kph back inland, yelling at bikers to get out the way most of the ride. It felt like I was riding a rocket. Hillary Swank still has some pep in her. It felt so good that I shouted "Ohhhh Oshima" to the fans. They were somewhat amused. I finished in 1:04, 2 minutes faster than last year, although I am not sure if the transition time was included differently last year...Anyway, it is a nice feeling to go faster when you get older, and I had limited bike training this spring versus last year as well.

Run: The 2nd run was the standard 10k. I was feeling fired up after that scorcher of a bike ride. Legs were close to fried but on this day I had the mental game. So I charged out of T2 and gave it all I had. Uh Oh, a cramp in my left hamstring after the first k at 4:25 pace. That is my good hamstring...not supposed to happen... 

I prayed to the triathlon gods that my hammy would hold up for 9 more clicks...At 3K I saw the 3 top guys including one of our own (Rich) heading in which was a good sign. Than Youri in 4th place, he looked shattered....maybe the hammy pain is not so bad, me thought to myself...By the 5k turnaround point, I had seen about 15 guys in front of me. Most of them had started 4 to 8 minutes before me, so I felt I had a decent chance in both the general and age-adjusted categories. I was maxed out coming back from 6-10k against the strong wind and up a big hill. It was tempting to stop on the hill at 7k, but this wasn't going to happen on this day. I passed 4-5 runners in the final 3k, sprinting past a fella right at the finish line. 

Man, it was good to finish and celebrate victory with Meg, Ty, and all the TITs! There so many great teammates in the mix, Youri, Paul, Rich, Jef, Scott, Marc, Jeff, Sumie, Peter, and other familiar faces. I am truly grateful.

Aftermath: The next day we rented a car and drove the perimeter of the island, which is a nice scenic drive. The weather cooperated. The sea was calm. Oh, the irony...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nanki Shirahama triathlon: Golden deception

The 2017 Tri season started with a dud. I wasn't totally unprepared, but a challenging course did me in. A PW (personal worst). 2:44:58. 12th in age group out of 67 finishers. 166 out of 460 men.

Am I getting too old for this? Probably not, I PB'd twice in 2014 and 2015, and finished on the podium in 2016 Oshima. A humbling course? Probably.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing, ocean, sky, beach, child, shorts, outdoor, water and nature

Swim: B minus. It is a fantastic clear water swim on the famous "shirahama" imported white sand beach. Unfortunately, there is little room to navigate through the first "strait". I was in the last 3rd wave, which meant I was sitting in a major traffic jam at around 300 meters from the start. After passing the slow swimmers from wave 2, there was some daylight for a few minutes, than more bodies to pass from wave 1, than more daylight. Than it starts again on the 2nd lap as I began to lap people. It doesn't help things that there is a narrow passageway or strait between the buoys and breakwater. I landed in 27 minutes feeling quite winded. Water temperature was near perfect at 19 C degrees.

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Bike: C minus. From that mediocre yet picturesque swim, it was all downhill from there. And not in a good way. The course needs some redesign for sure. Up and down 3 hills in tight 5 x 6k loops with a massive hill to the airport bike finish area, about 75 meters of climbing in 1k at the end of the bike. This means you have 2 180 degree turns every 5 minutes or so. There was also a crash on the loop early in the race, which created traffic as an ambulance had to negotiate in between the bikers. Giant slow packs formed. The hilly course is really no advantage for a triathlon bike. I couldn't get going in aero, and never really felt comfortable or fast. After that final hill climb, my legs were toast. My bike was 1:17, close to a PW also.

Image may contain: 1 person, riding a bicycle, bicycle and outdoor

Run: D for dismal, not dandy. I ran out of T2 hoping by some miracle that I would be able to salvage the day with a strong run. That hope soon faded as we tackled yet another hill and I cramped up. I stopped running at one point around 2k, and a flood of 20 runners passed me. I eventually got into a 5 minute pace from 3k to 8k, but couldn't accelerate to my normal 4:30 pace. It was just too hot and I had nothing in the tank. At 9k I tried to pick it up, but than almost passed out from exhaustion, and stopped running again briefly.

2:44:38 total time
0:27:58 swim 96th place
1:17:57 bike 156th place
0:54:50 run 370th place

166th place overall
50-54 AG 12th place

Don't get me wrong, Nanki Shirahama is a beautiful place to visit and really easy to fly to from Haneda, Tokyo. A great weekend was had by all 10 of us TITs that visited from Tokyo. The race itself just leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Hoping that this will provide motivation for Oshima in 2 weeks...