Monday, November 19, 2012

Taiwan triathlon time!

2 weeks ago I visited Taiwan for the half-ironman triathlon. It was my first trip to Taiwan for non-business and I really enjoyed it. I've always had a good vibe from Taiwan when I've traveled to Taipei for business. I found the people more receptive to Japan and foreigners than other east Asian nations (wartime history not unrelated to this). So when Dave, Stan, and others raved about the half-ironman in Kenting last year, I signed up for the race with 6-7 triathletes from the barbarian horde.

A little background info: The race was set near Kenting, near the southernmost tip of Taiwan, not to be confused with Genting in Malaysia, where they like to gamble. The climate is near perfect this time of year, fluctuating between 22-29 degrees C. We ended up taking the shinkansen down from Taipei to Zuoying, which was added a couple of hours to our journey, but did allow us to take in the Formosa countryside.

This would be my first semi-long distance triathlon since 2008, and admittedly I was a bit nervous pre-race as opposed to the calm and collected Jay and Stan in the pic below. 

Notice the nervous guy in the middle...

We arrived Thursday night, a decent 36 hours before race time, and tested some of the swim and bike course on Friday. 2 feeding frenzies and a bento breakfast later, we were up at 3:30 am for the 6:15 am swim start.

In a nutshell, I was happy with my performance. I had a fair swim, a good bike of 2:42 without T1/T2, averaged 33.8 kph, and a tough run fighting fatigue/aches. I also managed to get a slot to the Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships! More on that below.

Swim: 40:09 (245th place)
Bike: 2:46:56 (165th place) includes both T1 and T2
Run: 1:57:20 (220th place)

Total: 5:24:24 (196th place out of 1191 finishers, 19th out of  140 age groupers)

Swim: The swim went as planned. I was glad that the water temperature was a smidgen below 26 degrees C., which allowed for wetsuits. The ocean was clear and smooth, good swimming conditions. I wasn't able to draft effectively as it was a mass water start and the fast swimmers pulled away in the first 100 meters.

I tried to relax in the water and keep myself straight, checking my path every 2 or 3 strokes. 2 x 900 meters around 3 extremely well-camouflaged buoys and I was on the beach in 40 minutes. My plan was to do 40-45 minutes, so I was happy with 40 minutes. Next time I should be more ambitious....

Bike: The bike was 2.5 laps of about 36k loops running along the shore and back inland. The course was rather flat with a few small hills, dogs, and cows. Other than these minor distractions, I had a fairly good ride. I rode with Stan for the first 10k or so, than with Jay for the last 30k. My time was 2:42 which was almost exactly my bike split in Singapore half-IM 4 years ago so I was pretty satisfied with that.


Singapore was a flat fast course in 2008 and I hadn't done much bike training this year, only 1 long ride over 90k. For Singapore I had come off an ironman 2 months prior while this time I had a rather low training base. I could feel the lack of training in the last 20k, and the stronger winds and heat also contributed to my fatigue. Despite a daunting 21k run ahead of me, I was happy to dismount my bike and record a 33.8 kph average speed.

Run: Suffice to say, I had very little in the tank for the run. (my average training week last month was 6-7 hours). I had originally thought I could do 5 minute per k pace, but that idea soon went out the window. The run course also lacked aid stations during the first 3-4k, which I badly needed. I doused myself, chugged several sports drinks, took salt, and averaged about 5 1/2 minute Ks for the first 10k. I was pretty exhausted but it was fun to pick out my teammates and friends along the course.

I guess I slowed a bit during the second half of the run, but picked it up with 3k to go. I could hear the music and Whit's voice at about 1k to go, which gave me the energy for one final spurt.

Congrats and a big otsukare to all the nanbanners, Mika, Mary, Stan, Kimm, Jay, Reza, Bevan, Vanessa. Everyone enjoyed the race despite the lack of organization. Several placed in the top 10 in their age groups. By luck, I was able to secure a slot to the 70.3 championships in Las Vegas. Although my place was 19th out of 140 age groupers and there were only 2 slots, it rolled down all the way to my spot. Helps to be in an older age group now. Vegas baby!

The following day Jay and I embarked on a rather post-ironman bike ride around the southern tip of Taiwan, which had breathtaking views. We ended up doing 80k the next day...not much of a recovery day!


As always, many thanks to Meg for taking care of our future ironman while I was in Taiwan. The Yoho hotel has a kids hotel with all the fixings so could be a destination for


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