Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Murakami 2011

The Murakami race has become a bit of a classic within the ex-pat & tri community in Japan and seems to get bigger every year. It’s in a really quaint fishing town that could be used as a film set for Samurai Movies (I know I got a good tour of it – but more on that later) and it’s a really well run race with a straight out and back wet suit swim off the coast, an honest and picturesque out and back bike course on the coast that tends to be head wind out and tail wind back – like Hawaii -so they tell me ;-(, and a well supported run course that finishes with two and a half loops around a few blocks in the town (2 1/2 - confusing I know…more on that later too).. The number of foreigners together with the number of competitors racing seems to grow every year,  this year they had almost 600 starters and maybe 40 gaijin.
We had a long trip down from Hokkaido - big boat eh!

 It’s also become an unofficial World Japan Ex-Pat Championships with the different nationalities doing battle in all age groups. At the pointy end myself (Aussie/Vegemite), Pete Jenkins (England/ Roast Beef)  and Eric Hermand (French/Frog’s Legs) are all very even. Pete is the better swimmer by maybe 1.30, but Eric and I probably make that back on the bike and our three runs are very similar depending on the day. Last year Pete got the win, then Eric then me. We all wanted it this year and a bit of banter on the email group before the race kept it interesting. There were several other battles taking place between, more vegemites, frogs legs, hot dogs, souvlakis, maple syrups and of course, sushis.

I knew we were headed for some ouchi wa wa, but it was particularly prohetic this race.

Vanessa had a great day being the 4th fastest female and for the first time she had the best bike split of the day by a whole minute! Big gear baby, big gear.

Swim course up onside of the rope, back the other side. Two times

SWIM  22.17 (9th)
The wave swim start is my only frustration with this race, as the under 35s get a clear first lap, then each wave gets more and more traffic after that. Poor Ness had a really rough time in her swim, as the women and older athletes went last. I decided this year I was going to swim the whole thing way away from the rope and started out wide. I got a flyer from the start, put my head down and smashed out 3 x 8 strokes/breath and was wondering if I had actually jumped the gun because there was no one else around. Another guy joined me and we sort of gravitated to the rope, by the end of the turn-around. We did the entire swim together as the top two in our wave, didn't seem to be any real swim guns around. We came out about a minute up on Eric who was in this wave this year as he had aged-up. Pete had swam about a minute faster than me. I was pretty happy with how things were going when I got on the bike.

Took a bit longer in T1 to get into my bike gear

Bike 1.03.39 (2nd)
The bike is a good one for me, long and straight and getting in the aero position, pushing a big gear into the wind is essential. I was in front of our wave from the start and after 10 kms I stopped passing guys from the first wave and at times felt like I’d taken a wrong turn as there was no one in sight in front or behind. I did eventually catch a glimpse of Eric he was also doing the hard yards by himself. On the turn-around I saw the guys leading the under 35’s race had a tasty pace line of five athletes, including the roast beef, who gave me a guilty grin as I had my nose in the wind and he was tucked in the oven – I’m not complaining they looked to be within legal drafting distance, just jealous we didn’t have one and taking the chance to have another moan about the wave swim starts making it easier for earlier starters.
Big Transition area
At the turn-around Eric was only 20 seconds behind me - he must be riding strong I thought, Shizer! I thought about waiting for him so we could trade pulls but soon thought, don’t be bloody lazy – do the hard yards and try and grow the gap. Eric ended up having a good bike (fastest split of the day –30 secs faster than me). I pushed the last 20kms with the wind in the back and stretched the lead to maybe 40 secs coming into T2. I lost my chain once on the way out, but fixed it after a few trys in the saddle and stupidly got off the bike at the wrong point into T2 and had to get back on and ride another 50m – but those two probably cost me only 10-20secs total. As T1 and 2 times were included I think we were both just under the hour.
On to the run

1.34 (532nd)
The run is about 4kms from T2 to downtown Murakami and then the 2 ½ loop to the finish. I always found it a tough one mentally for some reason. 3 loops from the start or even a point to point or out and back seem easier, as your ticking them off from right at the start. On this one you feel like  you've done lots of hard work and only just starting the loops. It is a really cool course though.

Murakami's Norweigian Wood may or may not contain parts of the run course.

I had forgotten my Garmin and did the whole day without any data at all. I also forgot my sunglasses so did the race in a pair of $10 Aviator copies ala Jessie Thomas who won the famous race in Wild Flower CA this year in dodgy Porn-Star sunnies. I started the run at what I guessed was about 3.45 pace,  and came up to one elite female about 2kms in, I called her Sharapova ‘cause she grunts and wheezes with every step. Is it just me or do runners who grunt, groan and breathe much louder than necessary irritate you too? – 'I get it you’re trying rooly hard, me too now STFU'…maybe I’m a harsh judge and they can’t help it / don’t realise it.
Eric was gaining slowly on me throughout the run and I thought it was probably going to be his day as I was on the limit. I got passed at about the 5km mark by a guy from the Under 35s wavewho ended up running low 37 and I ran with him for a few hundred metres or so before he left me. Then Eric joined me at the 7km mark I stayed with him for a few hundred metres too, but couldn’t hang onto his pace. Damn he was running a fair bit different today to Ishigaki when he ran over 41. I was probably doing 3.55-4 min k pace to Eric’s 3.45 at that stage, and was thinking just hold this and I should do a mid 38 run split and at least second in the AG  (Eric ended up winning the 35+ Allez Les Bleus!) . Then at the 8 km mark, I really started to slow down and run 5min+ k pace. I didn’t know what was happening, it was like a car that was running out of petrol. I got passed by Sharapova, who pumped a couple of extra loud grunts and groans into me when she went by.  I was thinking that I was cracking mentally as it was going to Eric's day, and just to toughen up and speed up but I had nuttin’. 
Ness flying!

Soon after that everything became a blur and my memory is pretty clouded.  I probably have better recollection of the infamous post-race Melbourne Cup Australian society celebrations in 2005 after Makybe Diva won her third in a row and there were allegations of dancing on chairs in Heartlands Roppongi Hills with ties wrapped around heads.
A cause for memory loss.
 I’m pretty sure I got ataxic and was staggering around but still running slowly.  After about ten minutes I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity and thought “Hang on a minute, surely I should be finished by now, I must have missed the turn off into the finishing chute”. I asked a Marshall where the finish line was and he pointed me in the direction all the runners were going (all running anti-clockwise loops), so I thought maybe I hadn’t come to the turn off to the chute yet and I’d only done 9.5. After a few hundred metres staggering in that direction I figured I had actually missed the chute and he was just sending me on another loop. I decided to turn back and as I was going the wrong way and walking like I was going to fall over at any step. Marshalls were making a big fuss and gathering around me in groups, trying to take my timing chip.. I was telling them no and talking and walking like I had had 25 beers and managed to fend them off.

WHAT does the finish line look like?
 I then came to a corner of the loops and in my delirium thought I saw the finishing chute at the left of the corner and staggered up that street and was 'slightly' disappointed to find that it was a residential street that ended in a T intersection. I could hardly walk at this stage and sat in the gutter in pieces.  A local fellow was there and I asked him to call me a cab. He laughed, but I was deadly serious, I couldn’t walk anymore. He called it for me, but after 15 minutes no cab came and I was feeling a bit better. Sorry Mr Cabbie - too slow, and you wouldn't have enjoyed my presence anyway I'm sure! So I decided to try and find the finish line.
Go Ness!

I headed where I thought it was but in all honesty I was totally disorientated and had idea where it was or where I was in relation to the course. I took about four turns and ran into a train line – and thought well this is a good second option,I just need a train to come so I can jump under it. Eventually I saw a sign for the station so I followed that and eventually came across the running course with the race just coming to a close. I rejoined the guys still running and shuffled home.
Eric's day today congratulations mate - we'll get ya next time froggie!
After crossing the line I was really giddy and had trouble focussing and Fabien, Eric and some mates took good care of me. I then embarked on a two hour long vomiting binge, where I would drink something and vomit it up repeatedly, maybe ten times. That then morphed into a 24 hour diarrhea, which started just before I got onto the bus – lovely! I found Eric’s recommendation of coke with two teaspoons of salt was the best thing for me. 
Soo good for Ness to get a warm race and show her true form.

As for what happened to me; to be honest I’m not really sure what the root cause was. So many things can slow you down on the run and most of the time we are just guessing as to the reason; bike pacing, run pacing, swim fitness, calories, stomach issues, lack of run training, lack of salt/electrolytes, are all often put up as causes but sometimes,who the hell knows! You just know you start to feel pretty terrible and slow down.

After discussing with Ness and Woody I think it was most likely a lack of calories or dehydration as I don’t think I ate as much as I should at breakfast and only had about 300mls of fluid and 100cals on the bike. Woody reckons the pre-race meal is especially important in an olympic distance as it’s so hard to get in food or liquids when racing at that intensity. I’m hoping I can bounce back to feeling normal soon. It's three days after the race and I still have a pretty crappy appetite and developed a mouth ulcer and two massive cold-sores. Very attractive! So I guess I'm still struggling a bit. The whole mental/physical aspect of endurance sport is really so painful yet alluring. That conversation you continually have with yourself to try and convince your body to push harder and you never really know if it's your mind or body that's slowing you down.It can drive you crazy, but we all keep coming back for more.


Also a special mention to my athletes who did big PBs on the day and all spanked their coaches butt: Shin Ishikawa, John Boardman, Yuki Ishikawa, Jean-Marc Morange, Keren Miers and even to Greg Weddell who didn’t PB but followed my lead and did an extra loop on the run (without getting lost!).
Keren in vegemite colours, 2nd in the 50-54.

No comments:

Post a Comment