Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The 8th Daegu City Mayor Cup Triathlon OD 2011 (제 8회 대구시장배 전국 트라이애슬론 대회)

It's been a while since I've updated my race blog. Most of the 'spring', I've decided to stay away from the smaller races and concentrate on going long with a swim or bike for the weekend as Ironman France is just around the corner. Now three weeks left, it's time to taper (well, maybe one more long ride/run/swim?), It's good to keep the energy but with shorter distance.

Now that this weekend happened to be my 40th birthday, I have to say it's gotta be one of the best birthday weekends I can remember. Korea seemed to be a good location for this occassion. I was going to meet my long-time New Jersey friend, Richard, who currently is staying the last year in Seoul. Since this will be his first, it's great that I can inspire him and others to try this type of sport. I was suppose to initially race last month with him in Seoul, but found that it would be a duathlon. After reviewing http://www.triathlon.or.kr/, I realized that this event would be perfect.

The night of my flight which departs at 2:00AM Saturday June 4th, 2011, I came across the idea of just riding my bicycle from Busan International Airport to Daegu's Hotel Ariana. Richard and his wife setup the hotel which is only minutes from the transition and check-in location near SooSung Lake (수성못). I've realized waiting for the last minute to gather a map of my ride is quite challenging. Fortunately, there are crazy people who like to ride their bicycle. I searched garmin and basically Korean's/ex-pats don't really upload here. I went to another site called mapmyride.com and found a map exactly for my purpose: http://classic.mapmyride.com/find-ride/south-korea/daegu-(daegu). Unfortunately, my Garmin 705 won't work if it's backwards and being in GPX format. So, I needed to locate 2 more utilities: reverse the route and convert from GPX to TCX (Garmin required format). As I was waiting at the airport at 1:30AM with literally 4 minutes to go.. I was able to locate and download the necessary requirements. The first one is: http://www.bikehike.co.uk/mapview.php. Upload your GPX file and instantly reverse the route and then download it back to your computer. Then convert the GPX file to TCX using http://www.teambikeolympo.it/TCXConverter/TeamBikeOlympo_-_TCX_Converter/TCX_Converter_ENG.html. I'm inside the airplane and uploading the file to my device. Wow, talk about being close to the cutoff. There isn't really a way to access internet at Busan's Gimhae Airport.

I landed around 6:30AM KST at the airport and I located the baggage service to keep my bike box for 2 days. It costed me $20,000 Won. ($20USD). It took about an hour an a half to complete my bike setup and determine what I should carry. My triathlon bag weighed close to 10kg and I would be cycling for around 110km. I filled my water bottles and off I went to Daegu:

The bike route was perfect and technology once again prevailed for a smooth and wonderful ride. Along the way the traffic was somewhat busy in Busan, but very managable. Initially, I made a small mistake and headed up a ramp that would go across a river and realized that I needed to backtrack a bit. I then followed a cycling path led me to the route and I was smiling when my Garmin stated, "on course". Somewhere along the way, I ejected all my 3 water bottles :(. Luckily, I had another stashed in my backpack. Also, a small city, Miryang, had a 7-11. There were basically 3 major hills on this route, a 200m, 400m, and 800m. I believe the highest grade was 8% near the 400m incline. The weather was perfect and the downhills were the most enjoyable. The roads were very good except for some construction area where it became muddy. I definately would tour Korea more when I get a chance. I think Japan and South Taiwan are good too... My birthday ended with a smile as this is the first time I didn't have to go in circles (e.g. Hong Kong) to complete over 100km. At the end of my tour, I stumbled across the lake I would be swimming the next day; and rested by taking a nice shower in the hotel as I waited for Richard.

Race Pickup
Once Richard arrived, we headed toward the park to register and get a bike checkup. I only can speak about local Hong Kong races outside of some international Ironman 70.3, and I feel that Korean races are much more organized. I had to bring my identification and they located a small crack in my helmet. Although there wasn't any bike mechanic, they did test the safety of my bicycle for loose handle bars, brakes, etc.

The start of the race was at 9:00AM. I felt this is kinda late.. but, during this time of the year in Korea; the humidity isn't as bad when you are running at 11:00AM in the morning. Maybe it's because Daegu city is sponsoring the IAAF World Championships this year, or it's because the Mayor is sponsoring this event. Whatever the reason, whenever I race in Korea; it always seems so ceremonial at pre-race with a warmup from some sports medicine bachelorette loosening our muscles up to the government acknowledgement ceremony right up to the start of the race.

I missed the swim warm-up window, but maybe it was for the best since an hour later it wouldn't matter since I would have to deal with the lake temperature at the moment of splash. I was in group D and each group was given 1 minute interval window. Everyone queued on land and jumped off a man-made floating dock and off you go. As always, there was quite a bit of arms and legs in the way of the initial start. To the right was rope to guide us around the quadrangle of 750m. I stayed near the right and saw quite of people hanging on to the rope. As a pioneer on active technology, my swim cap tore and filled up with water quite a bit and I had to keep pushing it down onto my head. I guess, that's the price I have to pay for to video a dizzying swim. Surprisingly this time, I didn't see a lot of breast strokers. Has my TI training paid off? Well, all I can say is once I exited the water to complete 1500m, my time was a little over 34 minutes, compared to 50 minutes 8 months earlier.

Now there are a couple factors with this time:
1. I had a wetsuit on (mandatory)
2. It's a lake, no waves

The bike course consisted of 3 laps. Going out was super fast and mostly downhill. Coming back was a easy incline. I still feel I need to work on my drafting skills and overall cycling fitness. I was only able to shave off a couple minutes.

Although I passed a lot of people, my run time was a minute slower than before. I even sprinted in the last 50m to pass around 4-5 runners at the end.

I'm overall very happy with my performance given the fact that I road 110km the day before. 27 minute improvement is nothing to be disappointed with. This is a very fast course and the weather was perfect this day. Now, spending 80,000 won for entry fee; it was really worth it. They gave so many goodies. Popsicles, rice, lunch box, soju, and a handshake by some official at the end after you 'break' the ribbon line. If you ever wanted to try a different location to race whether it is running or triathlon, then I would suggest you try any local Korea competition. I believe you won't be disappointed. Just want to note that Richard finished a little more than 3 hours. I'm really proud of his performance as it is his first triathlon competition. Great Job Richard! Hope to see you doing an Ironman Race.. If you do - I'll do my best to be in the competition for 2012/13 in the states!