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.

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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.

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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...

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