Monday, August 29, 2016

Jeju City Triathlon - Turned Duathlon.

Hey readers - this past Saturday I competed at the 17th annual Jeju City triathlon, organized by the Jeju Triathlon Team at Iho Dong Beach.

The race registration was only 50 thousand won, which is just over 40$ USD. There was a kids event, a mini sprint and an Olympic distance. In total, just under 200 participants raced, of which I was the only foreigner!




The journey started on Friday after lunch, which had me pack a small bag with essential race gear. As you can imagine, I traveled very light. Being totally un-supported, has some compromises involved, but comes with a sense of freedom, simplicity and independence.

I decided not to bring my wetsuit, because I did not have room for it and I did not feel like I needed it, being a descent swimmer. As it turned out, it was a good idea!



The plan, was a bit of a throwback of my younger days, to ride to the race venue, stay in a hotel, race and then ride back after the event.




The journey was around 50 KM, up and over a longish hill, then down again.


The weather was not bad, but not great. I'm happy I did not get rained on. And luckily, there is a side road on the 1135 highway for bikes and motor cycles.




I rode by a few Dol Hareubang statues like this one, with fire extinguisher!


I rode pretty casually and took some selfies along the way.


So when I got close to my hotel, I spent around 30 minutes trying to find it. My first mistake, was asking directions from a taxi driver, who spoke descent English. He confidently gave me directions, that were way off.

If you have wandered on your own in the region of Asia, you might have experienced this, a local giving you totally in-accurate directions. This is not done out of malice or ignorance. It's seems like it's a pride issue, not being able to say: I don't know.

Anyway, I eventually whipped out my smart phone, connected to some free WIFI (which is abundant here South Korea) and used my google map location function to help me with the map I had already.

Turns out, I was looking for the *Korean words* resort and cafe. Not, *Korean words* hotel, as shown on the booking website and confirmation.



Versus this!


Turns out, I was so close the first time, but because of the many hotels, or resorts, in the area, I needed to go inside and ask: "Is this the Seawan hotel?" as they then pointed to the obvious sign inside, with the name of the place.

Later, after picking up my race pack, I had some delicious Ramen noddles, using a huge wooden spoon and with some entertaining Americans.



Come race morning, I did a decent run warm up, because I felt tired. I trained quite hard into this event, just because I did not train much in the first half of August. Then I had a GS 25 breakfast which consisted of hard boiled eggs, banana's and instant coffee.

About 10 minutes before the start, it was announced that the swim was cancelled, the conditions were too dangerous I was told. This, after most had done their swim warm up.

Safety if generally a big priority here in South Korea.


So instead, we did a duathlon as: 5 KM run + 40 KM bike + 10 KM run. All back and forth on the same piece of road. Do this is why there is just 1 line on the graph. Note that the first leg, is a run, not a swim ;)


After some delay and discussion about the new plan (which I did not understand) the first run, started fast, I tucked in behind the first group and was surprised by constant attacks, so early. I was also pleased to just follow, because I was not so sure, what was going on. I had some bad experiences in the past, leading these smaller events. I also noticed almost everybody around me was over striding in a slight bounding manner.

As we reached T1 - I realized, the guys running with me were doing the relay or pure runners, I would eventually lap on the bike.

So once on 2 wheels, I basically traded the company of spritely runners for spritely cyclists.

It did not take long for a few guys to come from the back and zoom by. I could tell by their pedal stroke, they could ride! They slowly rode out of sight (race was non drafting) as I struggled to keep up.

I noticed that they were a bit slow around the U-turns, 7 in total, as the course was 4 laps of 10 KM. Also on the speed pumps, there were cautious, which had approximately 10 per strip. So that was around 80 speed bums over 40 KM. With a bit of rain and strong ocean winds, this was a fairly challenging course.

As I maintained a good tempo, I was aggressive on the technical sections, thanks to my trusted Vellum Fuerza Shadow and Token C55 wheel-set. The guys up the road, were tricked out in carbon aero gear, a dis-advantage in my opinion, on this course and with these circumstances.

I was confident enough I could run them down, if I stayed determined and limit the damage. After-all, I had run faster than them, on the first run.

Following a quick transition, I hurried out of T2. My legs did not feel strong, but they were turning over pretty well.

One-by-one, I passed them. One guy, had a particular interest in looking behind. A lot! I just thought to myself: "don't worry buddy, I will be there soon enough".

Then in the last quarter, I passed the leader. At this point, I started to get dizzy due to the 89% humidity and walked an aid station for some carbonated drinks.

I was able to relax in the final stretch and increase the speed a bit!




This guy here seemed really smashed from the event!


Then I had some more Ramen noddles, supplied by the organizers, with Kwon, the ON running rep here in South Korea!




While waiting for the awards, I enjoyed the view by the sea, which is typical beauty here on Jeju-Do. Even nearby the city and airport, so clean and quiet!


I started to get a little sleepy, so I checked out the coffee truck!



Had a refreshing ice coffee by the water. These are very popular here, along with ice tea, with real tea, of course. A lot of Westerner's have a flawed idea of what "ice tea" really is, like I used to.


The awarding done with new friends - I was happy to win a few 100 thousand won, that covers for my entry, hotel and then some.



A nice t-shirt, that's a front runner for the generic race logo of the year ;)


I felt the urge to take a selfie, just before I left the Seawan hotel, I mean, Seawan resort and cafe!


The road back was quiet, but it did rain a bit.


I felt pretty fatigued on the way back, but I was distracted by the nice scenery.



A quicker and simpler ride back home!


Anyway, all in all it was a great experience. I'm happy how things turned out. As much as it's nice to lead a race from start to finish, I was grateful to be challenged for most of the event. I needed to really dig deep at some points, while tired.

Lastly, I would like to give a big thanks to my equipment sponsors: Vellum Cycles for the fast, light and all around bike. Garmin Center Philippines for providing me with a watch that allows me to be on time, and of course, monitor my training and add to my race reports. As well to YKK Bikes, for quick, robust and versatile race wheels!

Now not too long before the TRISUTTO squad gets here and we can start our training camp!