Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tateyama Triathlon: have to believe we are magic...711...いい気分

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711 is my new magic number as the coach says. 711...いい気分... The rainyweather in Tateyama tri turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had no expectation of a stellar outcome, and a personal best was an impossible fantasy. We did not even think it would be a GO with the heavy rains all Saturday night, big puddles on the course, and gusts of wind.

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But somehow it all came together and I was able to run hard in cool drizzling rain. The bike was messy and technical, but managed to get through without much damage. Swim was fast thanks to low tide, although we were hit with unexpected waves.

Official results time was a PB at 2:14:57, and I was 4th in my age group. My swim was a PB of 22:43, but again my bike was more competitive than my swim, placing 31st overall. Swim was 37th overall. Run was so-so at 62nd overall.

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Pre-race: We drove out on Friday night, got situated with the land, enjoyed a great leisurely Saturday on Tateyama beach. The weather was partly sunny on Saturday, too hot for a triathlon. We knew Sunday would be a different ball game. Saturday night we had a number marking party which really lifted our spirits.
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Yona Yona's Kobe wagyu and some fine salads from Jan and Meg were featured. I even had a half a glass of wine as I did not expect it to be much of a triathlon the next morning.    

Sunday morning it was raining as expected and we tried to stay warm and dry as long as possible. Derek really was a life saver by driving us to the start area and hanging out until we were clear. To our surprise, the race was a GO! Delayed by 1 hour only. Just enough to let the heavy rains subside. Geniuses! We guessed that the race officials really wanted to save face this year as it was cancelled last year. Maybe we should target races next year that have been cancelled this year...
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Swim: 23:50. Talk about killing time. Even extra procrastination before the swim start wasn't enough to kill all the waiting pain. Finally at 11:30 am my wave was tee'd up and ready to roll. It was a rolling start with 10 swimmers per 10 seconds. I lined up in the first row thinking that I would try to stay with the fast guys. The horn blew and we ran into the shallow ocean. I was able to jog and porpoise for significant yardage. To my surprise I was in 3rd place after the first lap at 750 meters. I think the porpoising and extra waves were hurting the less experienced swimmers or something. I think I landed in 23 minutes which was close to my PB in olympic distance. I charged ahead laser-focused on the the 2 guys in front of me...

T1: It was wet and muddy in T1. Puddles everywhere. I sacrificed valuable seconds by stuffing my bike shoes and running shoes in plastic bags, and hanging them from the bike to keep reasonably dry. But than I opened the wrong bag (running shoes) in T1, so lost more time.
Finally after about a 3 minute T1 I mounted Hillary Swank and hit the military base course.

Bike: 1:01:41, 36.5 kph. I had never done the course since it was a restricted military area (self-defense forces, 自衛隊), so took the first 4.4k lap rather slowly. Did I mention there were lots of puddles? And things that go bump in the road. Already there were a few bikers pulled over with flat tires. I pondered the viability of this event on that first lap. Than we hit the back part of the course and things opened up. I was yelling "on your right!" (右に取ります!!。。右右右右!!!)throughout the bike course..I wonder if I expend extra energy yelling at bikers...I didn't let anyone pass me, but there was no way to tell if I was making progress on the 2 leaders though...anyway, it felt good given the slippery conditions and technical aspects of the course. I even got to eat 2 caffeine gels during the bike.

According to Strava, I was 2nd overall on Tatetra Bike Leg Clockwise 6th overall on Tatetra 51.5 Bike Leg 2013 2nd fastest time on Tatetra Bike Leg Clockwise 

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T2: Having escaped the wet bike treachery unscathed, I bid farewell to Hillary and could now see light at the end of the tunnel. And that light would be a PB and possible podium spot. But hold the phone...more puddles and no running bag! Oh, wait, there it is in the next guy's area. More wasted time finding the shoes... I went hat-less as the rain had almost stopped.

Run: 43:49, 4:25 avg. pace. Now the rainy weather turned out to be a plus alpha for the run. It was cooler than usual for a late June day at 1 PM. I immediately picked up the cadence and was churning out 4:17 pace. The run course is tight 2.5k x 4 loops, which was actually a bit tough to maneuver around people, but good fun at the same time. Lots of people to watch and chase or be chased. I felt a slight cramp in my right abdomen at 4k, but hamstrings were good to go. I didn't go all out the first 5k but it felt reasonably fast. On the last turn I went close to 90% for the final 1500 meters. I probably should have gone faster...2 hours and 15 minutes has a special ring to it. My watch said 2:14:30 on the final finish chute. So I sprinted and got 2:14:57, just under 2 and a quarter hours...

Great camera work, Derek!
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Garmin splits were:
22:15 first 5K
21:52 second 5K

I met Paul, Yona Yona, and Derek at the finish. Paul and I were euphoric. He had a great race and PB'd also. 711 = magic
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I think clear plastic is my new look...
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About Tateyama: It is a wonderful place for a quick weekend getaway, just across the Aqualine on the southern tip of Boso peninsula.

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For the short distance to Tokyo, the area is rather bucolic. There are scenic mountains, uncrowded beaches, and plenty of empty roads to bike and run.

Many thanks to Jan and Josh for putting us up as always.
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And Ty had a blast with his lifelong soulmate Brian.
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It was great to do the race with Yuuka YonaYona-san, who was on her way to a podium finish when her bike tire decided to have a hissy fit. That puncture was really a shame but great to do the whole weekend together. And Derek was a superstar, always quick with a joke or a light of your smoke...

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Most of all, thanks to Meg and Ty for coming out and supporting me. They weren't able to make it to the race area, driven away by the elements and barbed wire fences, but I could feel their presence in the Tateyama area!

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Have to believe we are magic....

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...