Murakami Race report
Race results here: http://www.iwafune.ne.jp/~triathlon/2010/2010results-k.pdf
After last week’s race showed everything that’s bad about triathlon racing in Japan, this was a great redemption - displaying everything that is good about tris here. A great crew of ex-pats (about 40 of the 600 starters were gaijin – largest ever percentage of a race I’ve done in Japan I think – the word on quality is getting out), a great amount of pre-race smack talk to spice things up, a quaint Japanese fishing village that were all right behind the event, some tetrapods off the coast showing they are useful for more than just looking hideously ugly, spoiling Japan’s coastline and making profit for their manufacturers – they decrease waves and give you shelter to swim a tri swim leg in! A great TT bike course up the coast and run around a traditional village, they even had decent prizes for all age groupers, a T shirt for entering and a towel for finishing and a great post race meal, including free beer! All for 17,000yen – good value for money. This was my third time doing this race and it has become my favourite in Japan – as soon as I got into Murakami and stood in front of the station, I had a look around, took a deep breath smelt the sea air and thought – “Back in Murakami…. Love this town!” It doesn’t seem to rate much of a mention with Japanese, who look at you like you’re a bit crazy when you tell them you’re going to Murakami. The bike course was lined with retirement village and the largest section of the chemist was for adult diapers made me think maybe it had a reputation as a ‘departure lounge’ in Japan. But for me it was refreshing and reminded me of good times.
Thanks to Thierry we’d bagged the most convenient hotel there was and could see the start line, beach and transition area from our bedroom windows – sweet! I got in at 6.30pm the night before the race and just had time to throw the rig together and get to the dinner at 7. Good food and with a great crew of Frenchies all very thoughtfully talking tri rubbish in English.
The race started in waves from 9.30 – much more civilised than the 7am starts of some other races. The race for gaijin honours was going to be tight between Eric, myself and new ring-in Pete Jenkins, who had come 30th in Nagoya the week before – well and truly handing me my ass. I had lost a bit of my mojo in training and racing recently, probably a bit of let down from the two IMs and a bit of a training break afterwards. I was wondering if my ‘mo’ would be enough to compete with the quickies and turned it didn’t quite get me there, with Peter taking honours then Eric then me a few minutes back. Never did like Frog’s legs much anyway.
I wanted to concentrate on swimming the whole race hard and not drifting off mentally and swimming easy for long periods. The 35-45 age groupers was the second wave to start, 3 minutes after the under 35s (yellow caps) which contained Pete, Eric, Alex, Laurent and a few of the other young(er) foreign crew. I got caught lying on my back when the gun went off and went out hard early – there seemed to be only one quick guy going with me and he moved slightly ahead. I tucked on his feet and was feeling great. I don’t mind a few waves as had spent enough time body surfing as a young ‘un in Sydney’s beaches to be comfortable with swell. Unfortunately we soon ran into the dreaded ‘yellow caps’ brigade. I spent the rest of the first lap fighting through the yellow caps and the rope. After the first lap I felt pretty tired and was paying a bit for going out hard and not enough swimming recently. I then started to run into some pink and green caps too, but thought I’d kept the pedal on the metal more than any race I’d done - it felt like a 22 swim to me, but was disappointed to find the time later.
I was glad to have my legs back under me after my terrible bike leg last week. Coach Woody had given some great advice when I was trying to work out what exactly caused me to bike so poorly – just to put poor races behind you and move on. That’s triathlon, there’s always something to work on and perfect races are few and far between. I felt good through the whole ride, it was a pity I didn’t have any riding buddies and even more of a pity that I wasn’t I the same starting wave as Eric and Pete as would have been better to have a more achievable target and have them as possible riding buddies. I think I should have pushed the first 20kms into the wind harder as it tends to benefit the bigger guys who can put out large absolute watts rather than the light high watts per kg guys, but I only started to feel really good after 15kms, just before the turn around. I got a couple of sling shots off Alex and Laurent, but most of the time it was just me and the retirement village crew they had wheeled down to the side of the course to cheer us on. It felt great hammering back to T2 at high speeds with the wind in your back, but everyone was doing the same, so it’s harder to make ground. The packs of 30+ forming behind me looked like a TdF peleton, lucky sods! I got third best bike split of the day, the top two times were 1-2 in the race and seemed to do the whole bike together (pretty closely behind eachother when I saw them). Eric lost a minute or so with chain issues so our times would have been close.
This was the big disappointment for me of this race. I was hoping today would be the day to go sub 40 in an Olympic distance race, which is definitely on my bucket list. I’d gone through 10kms in about 40.10 in a Watarase race earlier in the year (15km run) and probably something similar in my first 10kms at IMUK (I know, I know….). Unfortunately I felt pretty terrible right from the start and it never got better. I had tightness in my chest and shortness of breath and struggled to run 3.50 mins k’s for the first 2kms, my plan of running 10 x 3.50’s was feeling pretty shaky. I got more out of breath, the legs felt pretty fresh but not fast –they’d become a bit too used to the ironman shuffle I think. Was kind of glad I wasn’t coming off the bike with Peter and Eric, as I was running that crap and in a lot of pain, it would have only been more painful/depressing to watch them run away from me. Ended up strgulling to maintain 4.20’s and was really cactus when I crossed the line.
I’m looking forward to a bit of a lull in the racing now to get in solid training block in the lead up to IMWA. Racing so often is great because you get much more lounge time as you’re usually recovering or tapering, but it is hard to keep it up top form for a long time. It feels like I haven’t had a solid training block since mid July when I started the IMUK taper. Also for anyone interested (and you must be if you’ve read this far…)Vanessa has now a full set of fangs and is doing great in Sydney. She’ll be back in Japan after IMWA.