Ironman 70.3 Japan

Ironman 70.3 Japan
Tokoname
 
I got lucky with the start list…Mitch A is not here (AUS), and Masuda Daiki (JPN) is also a no show
Which left me with 4 Japanese to fight for the top 5 podium 
It was clear I would not be fighting much with either Macca or Tim. And not even with Fredrik (now that he trains…;-)
So my race would be to get 4th pro and bring back home some prize money to cover some of the expensive races I did in Australia earlier on (Busso and Cairns, 12th and 7th, both out of prize money…despite being low profile 500pts races…damn fast Aussies!)
 
Race briefing – we get to leave our helmet and bike shoes in T1 bag…which is kind of funny, running over the mounting line holding your shoes in your hand!
Same in T2, you have to put back your helmet and shoes into the bag…Not the fastest transition you would imagine, but as long as it’s the same for everyone…
 
1st wave 7.30am
Macca, Berkel, Fredrik and 2 girls: Katja and a Japanese…we’re moving onto the right side of the starting line. Which is clearly the shortest way to get to the 1st buoy.
My problem is that I wont stay with these guys for more than 100m! So it’s a bit stupid to be here…but at the same time the 4 japanese are staying in the middle of the starting line, not the best place to start the swim….strange!?
Anyway, too late to move. And worst case I follow the girls, who are probably faster than me anyway!
Gun goes off…it’s a wetsuit swim with a strong current pushing us. At the 1st buoy Macca, Tim and Fredrik are already gone and i’m staying with the girls. We’re catching the men’s japanese who started on the left side. Except one that I knew would be too fast for me anyway…he’s swimming on his own between the 1st 3 guys and us.
So nice to be drafting…for once! that never happens to me usually… I’m sitting behind, swimming easy. Love it! I could not go much faster on my own, so no point going at the front….I’m waiting…and this swim is fast, really fast…the current is really strong!
Only at the very last turn, we were told to go around the red buoys a the briefing…but my pacers are cutting short going straight forward! 
I am thinking: you know what, i’ve seen the fuss about the helmet/shoes in the bag rule…there are plenty of people watching us from the side. Let’s follow the rule and go over these red buoys! That would be stupid to get DQed after 20min of racing! That was my 100m flat out sprint to go around the buoys and come back in the feet of my pacers afterwards! ahah… Last buoy, we hit for the beach and done: 22’43 swim (wow i could brag about that…but clearly there was a super strong current…Macca 1st in 20′, Tim and Fredrik 30″ behind. Me 2’43 behind, that’s really close (I’d normally be 5 to 8min behind top swimmers…although at that time i did not know how far back i was)
I did a very fast transition (3’08, i think that’s the fastest transition overall…) as i wanted to drop the Japanese guy straight away! I knew there was another one in front of me and my plan was to go as hard as possible on the bike in the 1st 30km of the bike leg to see what were the gaps.
After 20k you got to do a short out and back, where I 1st saw Macca and Tim riding together…I also saw the Japanese guy ahead of me, not too far….this is looking good. Then I saw Fredrik, and to my very big surprise i was at the U-turn already. Approx 4′ behind Macca (this short swim really helped to reduce the gap) and less than 1′ behind Fredrik (unusual…he must not have strong cycling legs today…). Caught the Japanese guy, dropped him…then caught Fredrik, also tried to drop him but this was harder! 
So we rode together for the remaining 60km of the bike leg. This course is like no other on the circuit…you simply keep turning left, right, U-turns, going up, down….i might be able to count the number of times i actually went into aero position in the fingers of my hands!
You’d normally always go faster on a TT bike, but I am not so sure today. Actually my main reason is that my brakes are not so good on my TT bike (with the smaller aero caliper at the back, the braking power is much less…so it takes longer to brake and also i must use much braking power at the front, which is a bit tricky if you’re cornering/leaning too much…)
For instance I was often pulling away from Fredrik in the climbs/descents/straights….but then there was a 90 deg turns or a U-turn and he would catch me back there every time! Frustrating ahah
Maybe next year I take the road bike with alloy braking surface! Might be worth a try…
At 45km we’re less than 5′ behind the leaders. That’s not much but at the same time it’s pretty big to reel down. 
We should have taken turns – tactically this is what we should have done… And we did it once, but Fred looked really tired and slow so I went back again at the front and stayed at the front the whole leg. Dont forget that my target is not to race Fred (or Macca and Tim) but to put as much distance with the Japanese rider behind us! Only 2min at the 45k mark…and fortunately 7min by the end of the bike (although, same, I had no idea where he was when we arrived in T2).
2h29 bike, that’s the 3rd best bike split and 5’30 behind Macca and Berkel. Happy with that, especially on that course! I think i did 2h11 in Busso, these guys can go sub 2h10…so you can get an idea of how different (twisty and hilly) is the bike course! 2h29
Slow swim, hard bike, it’s good for me tho. Now time for a jog…
Slow T2, I could not open my bag…pfff. I let Fredie go…he will do a 1h16 split, while i will struggle to get a 1h24 split!
Nothing to be ashamed of… these 4 months without running from Jan to April are still here! It takes some time to get back in running shape.
I ran 1h26 in Busso, 1h25 in Cairns, 1h24 here…it’s coming back, but very slowly!! Damn!
You can’t be really competitive if you’re above 1h20 to be honest…and i used to be able to run some 1’18/1’19 off the bike a few years back, before injury
Let’s hope it can come back before some of the next races.
I cannot say I did not push on the run…although it’s a bit harder when you run on your own. But still, i knew these Japanese can run fast! At least 5min faster than me! So I knew it would be close…so i ran ‘scared’ the whole half-marathon keeping motivated and pushing all the way.
It’s a point to point run, so the only time I saw the guy behind me was at the 16 or 17k mark! And he was 2 to 3min down…I though it should be fine if you dont have a big problem…just keep a 4’15 pace, even if he runs a 3’30, that should be ok…Still it was tough mentally and physically to hold these 3-4 last km at that pace!
Finally got 4th in 4h20, pretty happy with that (5th overall as 1 age grouper went faster but they started 5min behind so it’s hard to know where he was. Anyway I would not have been able to follow him on the run…he ran 1’14!)
RESULTS HERE
 
LIVE COVERAGE HERE
Thanks to all the supporters along the course! All the volunteers! And cool to see so many familiar faces racing this WE! Well done to the organizers for putting such a great event (lots of improvements since the 1st event I joined 2 yrs ago! They kept all the cool things and got rid of the crap)
 
As usual special thanks to O2 CREATION for supplying me with great comfy triwear! My BLUE Triad SL did very well on this course! SportsWorld HK for their continuous support and Powerbar (and yes i did eat all those strawberry gels! ;-) yummy!)
 
See you in the Philippines in a few weeks!
Ride safe
Recover well
Enjoy

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