Sunday I competed in the Murakami Olympic Distance Triathlon - the unofficial "gaijin triathlon championship of Japan" and ostensibly one of my key "A" races of the year.
Last year I did my Olympic Distance personal best at Murakami - 2:21:17. Naturally I had a base goal of improving on my PB at this year's event, especially given all the additional training I have done in 2012.
Instead I finished in 2:34:03, almost 13 minutes slower than last year and I place lower in all three components of the triathlon. Pretty bad, but not quite as bad as it sounds.
Swim -- 31:45 (200th of 732)
In contrast to all my other swim races, I got out to a smooth start (13 minutes at the turnaround), then struggled coming in. I seemed to be overtaking other swimmers on the return half of the swim but struggled to get to the outside and around all the blue caps - the slower swimmers from the first wave (meanwhile the yellow-capped faster swimmers started swimming were also trying to do the same thing and swim over the top of us) . I don't recall ever being as exhausted coming off a triathlon swim leg as I was on Sunday. I usually am a bit dazed as I stagger out of the water and switch into a run into T1, but on Sunday I was so tired I walked all the way to my bike. Before the race I had tried to visualize a rapid T1. In the actual race I was simply too tired to move quickly and plopped down and methodically stripped off my wetsuit, then plodded through the incredibly lengthy zone from my bike to the mark where we could mount and ride.
Bike -- 1:17:27 (85th of 732)
I rode OK (even though this year's bike split is 7 minutes slower than my time last year). The time-consuming transitions are included in the official bike split, and there was a stronger headwind on the outbound section. Teammate Chris P blew past me like I was not even moving, but otherwise I was mostly passing people. (I was in the 2nd of 5 waves and it seemed like I hardly saw any teammates on the course).
I was amazingly surprised by my level of dehydration. The amazing part being that in all my previous triathlons, (the majority in warm conditions), I have never struggled with such dehydration. I am usually like a camel. Typically I get half way through the bike ride and realize I haven't taken a single sip from my water bottle – apparently because my body temperature is so cool after the swim. Even at Phuket Triathlon I had to force myself to slug down most of my first bottle right before the bottle exchange. On Sunday I was dying of thirst from the very start of the bike (and there was no bottle exchange, just one bike aid station with tiny cups of water and the bottle on my bike).
Run -- 44:51 (83rd)
At the first run aid station I inhaled 3 full bottles of water. It took me a full 16 minutes just to get to the 3k mark. After that I settled into a roughly 4 minute per kilometer pace (my goal run pace on this day). As usual after the event, my teammates only ask me about my run time. They are shocked and horrified when I told them my relatively abysmal time.
It was a nice weekend trip. Still I am not sure I will sign up for this triathlon next year if it is on the same weekend and we risk facing similar conditions. If I do participate I will certainly have more hydration ready.