Friday, October 22, 2010

Tongeyong ITU/Olympic Hopefuls

17Oct2010- Tongeyong Olympic Tri-

Tongeyong is down on the southern part of Korea and is right on the ocean. It is a very nice town and is about 4-5 hours from Osan. Dave, Jeremy and myself all headed south early Saturday morning so we could get down there and watch the ITU race. I didn't know anyone racing but I knew a former US Naval Officer was coming out to represent the US. I didn't know that there were going to be 3 other team USA guys out there. It was cool to be able to talk to them and cheer them on during the race. All of these guys are vying for spots on the US team for the 2012 Olympics. 2 of them are still active duty military and are in the WCAP (World Class Athlete Program), you are temporarily released from your "normal" job and spend the 2 years leading up to the Olympics and the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Spring Colorado. One of the guys was James Bales, who won Armed Forces Tri this past season and is in the Air Force. Come to find out Dave knew him from when they were both back in Texas.

After the race we talked to the guys and they appreciated having some Amercians there to cheer them on. It was cool to see people that we could relate to as military members being at the top of our sport. James actually came up to Osan after his race and stayed in town till Thursday before departing for another ITU race out in Hong Kong. More to come about the adventures of his stay later in the blog.

Saturday Dave, Jeremy, James, and myself all went to a pizza place and I had my normal pre-race beer and then they had spaghetti, so I ordered 2 servings and devoured that stuff. It has a lot of cheese in it but it was really good. Once getting back to our huge hotel room, see pictures at the bottom of how awesome it was, I got everything ready and then called it an early night. I read a few pages out of "Bowerman and the Men of Oregon", I just started reading this and it seems like it is going to be a great book. Shortly after reading I feel right asleep and slept really well.

Sunday morning I was able to take care of the normal pre race ritual, which is always a good sign that things will go smoothly the rest of the day. I headed over to transition area and got everything setup. This was my first race as "Age Group Elite", it is a class they have out here in Korea. I am not sure if they have it anywhere else so I will briefly describe it. The great thing about AG Elite is that you do NOT have to pay race entry fees and you still get all the goods. Occasionally you have a chance to win prize money as well. The race is done ITU style and is draft legal. The AG's for this class are broken up into 20's,30's,40's........etc. We start in our own wave which makes for a smaller wave start and cleaner water for us. To become AG Elite you have to win your AG and go under 2:15, so it is not extremely difficult but luckily I was able to qualify at my first race here this year at Sokcho.

Swim- It was a cold morning and standing on the dock getting ready to dive in my feet were numb. A guy from up in Seoul who I have got to know was the only other foreigner racing AG Elite so we were standing out there freezing our butts off waiting for the swim to start. I was joking about what could we do to keep our feet warm and made a joke of how funny of a picture it would be too see two guys in wetsuits all ready to race with those funny looking boot things that girls where with skirts in the middle of winter. We laughed about that and then shortly after the swim started. I haven't been in the pool much since May and wasn't expecting anything spectacular. I felt good on the first lap and had a lot of clean water to swim in and found some feet here and there to swim off of. The second lap was a different story and things got congested towards the end and there was a lot of swimming over people due to the other waves going off after us and the slower swimmers were still on their first lap.

T1- Went smooth and Doug's wife, the Canadian guy's wife told me he was about 5mins up on me. I knew this was going to happen since he is a super fast swimmer but didn't know how I was going to catch him this race. He was the guy that I passed in Sokcho with 1/4 mile to go.

Bike- Man was this a technical and hilly bike course. I caught 2 guys within the first 2 miles and stuck with them. We caught a couple guys throughout the race and ended up with a group of 9 riders coming into T2. I didn't feel strong on the hills but was able to catch up on the decents and put the hammer down on the flats. Like the pool, I haven't been on the bike much since May/Wildflower. Just looked up the numbers and I have only put in 625 miles since May, which is really LOW.

T2- Had a quick transition and felt strong going into the run.

Run- This is what I have been putting the time in on with the Marathon next weekend, and actually I have put in more run miles since WF then bike miles. Pretty scary to see the numbers, 736 miles running since May and only 625 cycling. I was really wanting to hammer hard on the run and see if I could catch Doug. At the first time we crossed I checked the split and he was 6mins up on me. That is when I knew he was having a killer race and he would have to blow up for me to catch him. I just ran my race and didn't let anyone pass me. Felt strong on the run and set a new OLY distance run PR.

Swim- 25:12 29th/440
T1- 1:06
Bike- 59:12 1st/440
T2- 0:54
Run- 38:14 5th/440
Total- 2:04:38- 3rd/440 Overall 1st/3 in AG Elite 20's

The official times did not include transition time so doing the math between my Garmin I was able to figure out the splits. The placings for each event came off of the official splits. This was a great race and I was very pleased with my time and overall placing. My buddy Dave went down hard on the bike and has had to take some time off for training. A Speedy recovery to him so that he can get back out on the road and get back on track for IMWA!

Alright so too the adventures of hanging out with James Bales. Being around someone that is at the comes from the same background as you and knows the difficulties of being in the military and training was quite cool. Just asking someone that is in the professional ranks of triathlon questions and just taking it all in was awesome. He wanted to get out and see Korea so on Tuesday we headed out for a 30 mile ride. By the time we hit mile 5 he flatted, at mile 8 he flatted again. Well we were all out of tubes so back to base we headed. He didn't get too see much and decided that he wanted to head out again on Wednesday. We headed out the same route and luckily neither one of us flatted at all. I took him up to the golf course "hill". When we got to the top of the first climb I told him about the guards and how we could attempt to go by them. Off we went and he got to experience the chasing of the moped and how much the golf course security guards love cyclist. I think it was my 6th trip up the top of that mountain and I am sure no one else in spandex and a bike trys to go up there due to the guards so I think we are on a first name basis now. They just figure I am some crazy american now and I just wave and say have a nice day as I leave there country club. It is one of the best climbs around here and has some great views so it is worth the hassle each and every time. After the ride I took James to experience some traditional Korean food and I am pretty sure he got a good taste of the food. I appreciated someone at that caliber taking the time to go out and ride with someone at my level and answering the amount of questions I had to ask. So keep your eyes out for AF Capt. James Bales as he pursues his dreams of being on Team USA's Tri Team!

Here are some pictures from the weekend:
Joddie Swallow the female winner of the ITU race!
Capt. James Bales on the run course.
Getting my certificate and "gold" medal!
Pyeongtaek Tri Club and the honorary member, ME :)
White Lightning and her first win, she is now 1 for 1! Couldn't ask for a better ride for ITU style racing, well I guess I could get an S3 but the R3 is killer!
Korean style bed I slept on.
1/2 of the living room. Overall 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bath. $185USD for one night but well worth it since it had a great view and lots of room. Probably could have 5-8 people in there if they doubled up in the beds.
For all of you wondering why I got flying past security guards to climb a mountain, this picture should sum it up. This was from back in 2009 when myself and Dave climbed up there for one of the first times. Dave discovered this "secret" climb and let me know about it. It is a 2 mile climb from 200ft to 600ft

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