Tag Archive | race

10km Caramoan open water swim race

This summer in August, I completed a 10km open water swim race. The location was remote but amazing. Set amongst the Caramoan islands – a location popular for filming Survivor (the reality TV show) around the world including a US series.

The race was a 10km island hopping swim. My first 10km in open water.

I finished. An official time of 4 hours and 16 minutes which was slower than I would have liked. A great swim though. Couldn’t have picked a better location to do this epic swim.

There’ll be more to write about on this later but here are some pics from the personal milestone and one of many more racecations.

Coming up onto the shore with a smile.

IMG_1252 Feels weird to be vertical: IMG_1251

IMG_1247 Action finishing shots: IMG_1245

IMG_1241 Feeling chuffed to have finished: IMG_1261

The Caramoan 10km swim challenge

IMG_1289 IMG_1283

I got second place female in my age group which I thought was pretty decent. Didn’t think my time was very decent but compared to the field, it wasn’t too bad.

IMG_1336

I hit the proverbial wall at 8km. The first 3km I did an an hour, and I thought I was on track for a 3.5 hour finish. That time lapsed and I aimed for a sub-four time. 4 hours passed and by then, it was just a matter of getting to the finish line. The last 2km took me over an hour. 8-10km was brutal with very little left in the tank. I hadn’t ever swum more than 8km in the open water before, so it was a first and a great personal achievement to even finish a 10km open water swim. Would like to get a few more under my belt.

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Katsuura open water swim

So, last year I didn’t get around to posting up any open water swim reports. But I did do about 5 or so races last year. Here is a belated account of the first open water swim race from last year.

Race date: 21 June, 2015.
The event was the Katsuura swim festa and the race was held at Moriya beach in Chiba. I had actually been to this beach before on a day trip where we SUPed and snorkeled.

From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race distance was a short one and I went with a couple of friends. We did the 1.5km swim (which was the longest distance on offer). Water was a cooler side, I think about 21 degrees. It was a bit fresh without a wetsuit.

Here are a bunch of pics from the day:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Conditions were decent enough:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race course:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

This was a slow swim for me. I’m not 100% sure, given that it was nearly a year ago, but I think my time was a shameful 45minutes for a 1.5km swim. Can’t be sure that is right though but it was the first race for the year and a cold one at that.

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Overall a nice easy race doable from Tokyo. But yes, was a bit a cold and I was a bit out of practice. It’s always good to do a short distance swim to start off the season.

Onjuku OWS 2014

I finally got to swim the Onjuku open water swim race.
I entered in this a few years back but it was cancelled because of a typhoon. They still sent us a race t-shirt though even though the race was cancelled. Wanted to do it last year as well but was back in Sydney when the race was on. So finally got to do one of the few Japan swim races left on my bucketlist.

Onjuku is a great beach. Probably one of the beaches most closest to an Aussie beach.
The swim was 3.84km but was a bit over 4km.

The swim was the entire length of the beach and swimming into each of the fishing ports on each end of the island.

Nice swim. Long though. A little bit choppy.
Sighting and navigation is still really difficult for me. I think I swim way more than I need to.

Was a good day out with a bunch of us doing various distances throughout the day. A handful of us did the 3.84km, a couple of others did the 1.5km and the guys did the relay as well.

My overall time was 1hr 25min for about 4km. Was happy it was under 90minutes but still a slow swim for me.

Check out this crab on a wall:

From Onjuku OWS

A great day for a swim:

From Onjuku OWS

Beautiful white sand beach:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Onjuku open water swim:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

The course around the whole beach:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Lifeguards ready:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Post-race, enjoyed some SUPping!

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Wipe out!

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

We tried to tandem SUP:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

The end of summer.

Shonan 10km OWS: Race Report

My first DNF in a swim race.
Sadly, after 9 months of training and lot of hours spent in the pool, I was pulled from this 10km open water swim race.
Honestly, it was a race that I did not want to do. I refused on principle simply because of its location, but was talked into by the housemate. He’d done the race before a couple of years ago, and was prepared to do it again. The swim was a point to point swim – from Zushi beach to Enoshima beach in the Shonan Area. The last time I swam at Shonan, this happened to me. I vowed I would never swim in those waters again. Before you know it, I’ve gone and signed up for it.

This was to be my first actual open water marathon swim race. I’d already done an 8km ows, and a 10km pool race (which was probably about the equivalent of 8km in open water). This was going to be one reluctant swim. And 3.5 hours in which to do it.

Tough conditions this year though. I was stung by jellyfish, eaten alive by sea lice, and battled currents. I was unable to make a lot of ground. There was 1km cut off at 20minutes, and then another 5km cut off at 1hr 40min. Water was about 22-23 degrees but felt warmer.

From the get go, it was not a comfortable swim. I was getting stung by sea lice for much of the swim.
Despite being pulled from the swim, I still swam for about 2 hours. I think I got caught in currents and basically either kept going in circles or zigzagging between the buoys. Just shy of the 5km mark, I was stopped. I pleaded to continue, but a pack of us were put onto jetskis and then hauled onto boats. So for about 2 hours I had been swimming and had only covered about 4.5km of the course. I am taking solace in the fact that about over 25% of starters were pulled from the race or voluntarily retired from the race. There were about 100 non-finishers of those that started. The official statistic from the race organisers was that there was only a 73% finishing rate. It was a very tough race. I even know of someone who was pulled at 3.5 hours in. Disappointing for us. JC however did well and finished in just over 3 hours with a time of about 3hr 2min. His previous time for the same race was 2hr 36min. And JC is one of the top swimmers I know.

The race time limit was 3.5 hours. Last year everyone was within that time limit. This year, there were over 80 people with times between 3.5-4 hours, reflecting a much tougher race in tougher conditions. Well done to all those that finished. So many people bore the marks of jellyfish stings. You could see all the jellyfish and another nasty crap as we swam in the water. Do not swim in Shonan waters. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

So what’s it like to be pulled from a race?
I didn’t want to be pulled. I wanted to at least finish the race, no matter how long it took me. I knew I wasn’t yet at the 5km mark, but I also didn’t know how long I had been swimming for. When I was stopped, I had asked what the time was. Ugh. At that rate, I was going to be just over 4 hours. I still wanted to finish, coz at the end of the day, no one wants to retire voluntarily. I had spent months training, so many hours at the pool, paid over 20000yen for the race entry alone, had travelled all the way, gotten up really early to do the race etc. But a little part of me was also relieved, coz I was also suffering from bites and stings. At one point I couldn’t even kick properly because I had gotten stung between the upper thighs so that every time I kicked, it irritated. I basically did a waddle kick with my legs apart for a short while until the stinging wore off.

So we got dragged along in a jetski 2-3people at a time and then hauled onto a boat. There were a couple of packs of swimmers, and two boatloads of people at this time that were brought into shore. We were offered water, blankets etc. Handed in our ankle timer chips, and taken to the port. When we alighted from the boat, they had laid out over 30 pairs of thongs/flip flops for us (only in Japan ay), and provided us with some blankets for the walk back to the finish line where all our luggage bags were located.

I was gutted not to have finished, but it was an extremely tough race that would have taken me over the race time limit.
I don’t plan on a redemption swim for this particular race.

Am sporting a nasty itchy sea lice rash at the moment:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

And that’s just the PG-rated photos.

Below is the pictorial race report:

Friday night-pre race registation centre:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

I was amused on the race disclaimer, that in the absence of a hanko (name seal/stamp), they wanted us “foreigners” to give a fingerprint instead:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Because it was a point to point swim, it meant that all our gear was transported from the start line to the finish line. We were given race souvenir bags to put all our gear in. I had been worried about the size of the bags we would be given. I carry a lot of crap to races. The bag was satisfactorily spacious – 55cm x 45cm with backpack straps.

From Shonan 10km OWS

I even paid for a race t-shirt, and I didn’t get to finish the race:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Unfortunately, no finisher’s medal for me.

Weather forecast conditions:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Saturday morning:
Up very early to prep and fuel. It was a 7am registration kick off for a 9am swim start.

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Conditions at Zushi beach looked deceptively calm:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

We basically had to head for this island at Enoshima, but then swim into shore:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

There were a lot of rescue and lifeguards on hand. It was a well supervised race – plenty of lifeguards, rescuers on paddles, jetskis, and boats out there.

From Shonan 10km OWS

The bouys were pretty much a km apart throughout the course, marked with numbers, counting down the remaining km’s.

From Shonan 10km OWS

Looking optimistic:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Warm up swim:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

At the finish line: unfortunately I didn’t get to run across it:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Oh well.

Have another shorter swim this Saturday at a much cleaner beach. Let’s hope I make it to the finish line.

Cocos Island Swim Race Report: Guam 8km swim race

I owe you quite a few blog updates. The blogging has taken a backseat lately. When I haven’t been at work, I’ve been swimming training. For the last 5-6 months I have been (secretly) clocking up miles in the pool. Since January 1st of this year, I have logged about 220km in the pool. I have been in training for a year (being 2014) of endurance open water swimming.

My main event for the year was the Guam Cocos Island Crossing swim – 5mile (8km) swim race. I’m pleased to say that I finished it and was happy with my performance.

The race was on Sunday June 1. The days leading up were tiring.

I got a massage on the Thursday night (I’ve enjoyed incorporating massages into my training routine).

Here’s a rundown of it all.

Friday looked like this: Start work at 9am (a little earlier than usual). Finished work at 5:30pm and headed straight for Narita airport. Lugging wheelie suitcase throughout Tokyo and up and down stairs was a bad move. Carrying suitcase upstairs strained my arms a bit. They were sore the next day. I needed to be in tip top condition for Sunday’s race. I usually travel with a backpack and usually don’t lug the wheelie suitcase around. Bad move, bad move. Flight was just after 9pm. Arrived into Guam at 2am.

In the early hours of Saturday morning at 3am, I checked into the hotel at Guam and literally just crawled into bed. What a long day. Swimming friend, Lisa, was also doing the race and had arrived earlier and was already asleep.

Saturday – having only gotten into bed at 3am, I reluctantly got up at 9am for a casual training session. We headed down to the beach and set off for a swim at Tumon Bay. The place was gorgeous. And the view from our hotel was awesome. I hadn’t been able to check it out earlier. The Bay area is beautiful – clear waters, sunshine. Amazing. We did a a slow relaxed swim. I cut mine a bit short as I was super exhausted, but Lisa continued on. I headed back in to the hotel to grab some food. It was about 11am, so it was more an early lunch. Then went back to hotel room to rest. I was a bit sleep-deprived and the heat was a bit draining. The sightseeing would have to wait until after the race. Before I knew it I had fallen asleep into a long power nap. Lisa woke me up at 4:30pm. Ugh, time to get up for the pre-race briefing which was from 5-6pm. We got our race caps and tshirts and a briefing (which was all in Japanese). As we had to register in Japan we were kind of lumped in with the Japanese participant contingent – we were all at the same hotel and had a separate briefing etc.

After the briefing we ventured off for dinner. Settled for a nice carb dinner of spaghetti at an Italian restaurant.
It was then time for an early night. We were in bed by 9:30pm, coz that’s just how I roll on a Saturday night! Next day was gonna be an early start and I had only managed handfuls of sleep at a time in the 24 hours prior.

Sunday morning: Lisa was up at 3am to do her pre-race getting ready ritual. I am not a morning person and I rolled out of bed at 4am and straight into my cossies. Got all my gear together and then we headed down to the lobby.

Pre-race fuel packing:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Fruit salad was breakfast, which I had purchased the day before. Plenty of fluids to sip on to stay hydrated – mostly water, coconut water and sips of gatorade as well. I didn’t end up eating the Cliff Bar and only ate one banana, although had planned on and should have eaten two. And some sports liquid (gel).

Here is what I packed for post-race replenishment:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Didn’t end up eating half of that stuff after the race. But better to be prepared. Basically we had to bring all food and supplies as there would be no opportunity to purchase anything after the race and the one-hour bus ride back. Better to have all the junk food on hand. Just think of all those calories that I would burn off and that needed to be replaced.

There was bus for the Japanese group that would take us to the race venue. Bus left at around 5am and we got to Merizo Pier – the south end of Guam at about 6am. I ate a breakfast of fruit salad on the bus on the way.

Merizo was about an hour away. Some pics of the coastline from the bus window along the way:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Weather and water conditions were looking favourable. Flat and glassy.

We arrived about 6am at Merizo Pier. Race time was at 7am. There were 2 course options: 4km or 8km.
The 4km race started at Cocos Island and you swam to Merizo. This has been the original race course for about 20 years. Swimmers are required to take the ferry across to Cocos Island. A ferry takes the swimmers across there.
Only in the last couple of years have they offered the 8km swim, which is start at Merizo, swim to Cocos Island and then back to Merizo.

Race course:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Time to Grease Up courtesy of the Vaseline table:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Vaseline helps to protect against jellyfish and chafing.

We could see out to Cocos Island. And there was a rainbow. It was a good sign.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Water looked flat for now but it would change once we started swimming.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Cocos Island:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

The course marked by about 15 buoys was a curved route, not the most straightest direct route. And the 4km and 8km swimmers all started at 7am. So the 8km swimmers had to make sure to stay right of the buoys so we wouldn’t swim into the oncoming 4km swimmers.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

I guess it doesn’t look too far….

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Water temp was warm about 24-25 degrees. My ideal water temp although for a long distance race it could have been a bit cooler as it definitely got warm out there as we were swimming. Air temp was in the 30s.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Ready or not:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Number #302. Mind the 4am bedhair that I’m rocking. Not looking my finest in these pics.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Pre-race selfie. All greased up. Goggles. Check. Swim cap. Check. Cossies. Check. Shoulders. Check.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Just after 7am we were off. There weren’t many of us in the 8km swim. As it turned out, only 28 of us. This meant that most of us would be swimming our own race as we’d all be spread out over the 8km swim. They had a couple of hundred swimmers in the 4km swim though. I started off ok. The water was nice and I was really enjoying the swim. It was fun for about the first 2km. There were lots of buoys to follow so that made sighting easy but then they seemed to get further and further apart. I kept swimming but goddamn it that island did not seem to be getting closer. I started to worry a little. I was not getting closer to the island at all. Was there a current? Was I getting pushed back? Was the island being moved further back? Was I moving at all? Were my arms working? Was this all a dream and the alarm clock was going to go off any minute? Sadly the latter was not the case. Nothing to do but keep pushing forward a little stronger.
Lots to think about when you’re swimming 8km.

I thought to myself: “by the time I get to the island/halfway point that will only have been 4km and I have to do it again to go back”. The thought of doubling that and doing another 4km was overwhelming. I even half-wished I would get stung by a jellyfish just so I would have a reason to quit the race. The 4km was mentally tough even though I do 4km most days at the pool. I had trouble sighting the turnaround point. Where was that last goddamn buoy? I didn’t want to miss it because that was where the drinks boat was going to be. Surely enough I saw it. There was a kayak sitting by the buoy. Boy, was I happy to see that. I swam up to the kayak and grabbed a cup of water. I stopped for a mini break whilst treading water. I had two cups of water, and took a gel (I had carried 2 gels with me tucked into my cossies. One for the 4km and one for the 6km point). I asked the guy for the time. It was 8:12am. Alright. Not bad. Was happy with that. 4km in 72min. I had beaten the cut-off time. There was a 75min cutoff time to reach the halfway point. I actually cleared the 4km in about 60-65min because the race hadn’t actually started until about 7:10am. Buoyed by the fact that I was within the cutoff and that I could see a handful of other swimmers behind me, I continued on. At the risk of sounding like an Nike ad, “Giving up is not an option”.

“You’re halfway done”, I told myself. “It’s all downhill. Just take your time going back. It only took you an hour to do 4km. The total race time cut off is 2hr 45min, so you’ve got another hour and half to do the last 4km, and you’re not last. There’s a bunch of people behind you. You can do it”. I entertained myself with thoughts of all the food I was gonna eat after the race. The massage to look forward to. The sightseeing. And oh, the retail therapy I would indulge in after the race. I was going up to hit up the shops as a post-race reward. I almost made a deal with myself before this swim race that I could get myself a Macbook Air if I finished this race. But I decided to save that for passing JLPT level 1 this year. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be getting a Macbook Air this year. Anyway, I digress. Swimming is awesome for thinking a million thoughts. At least I didn’t have to count laps. Counting 4-5km worth of laps in a 50m pool gets pretty monotonous.

Swimming back to the Guam mainland was harder physically but mentally fine. Sighting was a big problem for me because basically all you saw was the giant landmass of the Guam coastline and from Cocos Island it was hard to spot at what landpoint you should be heading for. We had been told to look for a high mountain/peak with antennas/power lines. Do you know how small antennas are when you are 4km away? And floundering in the water, no less. And when you are shortsighted! One of the best things I had done in the lead up to the race was purchase myself prescription lens goggles. What a world of difference they make. If you knew where to aim for, for the finish spot, you could straight-shot the distance back, but if you couldn’t, you could follow the buoys but that was going to be a longer distance. I ended up following the buoys for most of it but kept well clear right of them so I would be in better alignment for the finish goal.

Everything was getting tired. Shoulders and elbows were getting sore. Even my upper legs were weirdly getting sore. Prior to this race, I had never actually swum 8km in one go. The furthest I ever got to was 7km in a single session, and a couple of 6km sessions. I did do 9km in one day but there was split over a 5km morning swim and a 4km afternoon swim, so 8km in one go was definitely testing me physically. I found the first 4km tough mentally though.

The water was definitely choppier as time passed, compared to the morning’s glassy conditions. Not strong chop, but small and steady and there was definitely a current as the tide picked up. It was a beautiful swimming location though, ideal for beginner endurance open water swimmers.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Finish ramp in sight. I was so happy that I had finished it. Done. Completed. Survived. Hell yeah. This had been a bucketlist swim for a while and I was glad it was over.

Lisa had finished 13min prior to me, and took some photos of me coming into the finish line:

In good form, even 8km later:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Shaky legs: Feeling weird to be vertical again.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Start and finish point:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

I loved how they had an ambulance ready and waiting at the finish line. Perfect. There was my ride home.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

The post-race selfie (to compare with the pre-race one): Feeling pretty damn happy.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

I was super happy with the achievement of swimming 8km. Was very pleased with my time of 2hrs 23 min (and 55 seconds). I got 4th female overall. And Lisa and I dominated in our age category. She took 1st place and I took 2nd place. I even scored me a medal! Fancy that (although am still waiting for that to arrive in the post due to a medal mix-up and someone took my medal home). There was also a 20min difference between myself and the 3rd place woman in our age group.

Mind the swollen goggle-y eyes:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

There were only 28 starters for the 8km and I came 14th out of all the men and women. About a third of the men were all military dudes as well, so I was up against a strong bunch of swimmers. I’m not your model swimmer. I’m basically a 30-something year old, overweight office worker. Am not tall nor lean nor even that fit, so was happy to just to swim 8km just to finish the race and swim the distance. And let’s face it, it was an excuse to go to Guam. So basically right in the middle. Pretty much an average swimmer but beat half the people there. Such results were unexpected but I was super happy. I had been super worried that I wouldn’t make the cut off time. And I had never swum 8km before either.

My tongue and lips were feeling super funky.

Cocos Island conquered. Looking pretty damn pleased with myself:

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Post-race thoughts: They recommend that you be swimming on average 25km per week in training prep for this swim. Whoa. Really?! I had only been doing about 15km per week. The swim conditions were favourable, I thought, compared to a rougher water ocean swim. I didn’t come across any jellyfish which was awesome. Although jellyfish are a problem for this swim. Water was clean and clear. I got few stings/bites from sealice etc which caused some discomfort during the swim. I didn’t do the swim as comfortably as I thought I would have. So yes, I definitely recommend swimming 20-25km a week. I could have trained more, but time constraints make that difficult. I actually felt like I did a lot of training for this swim, but if I had wanted to finish in a faster time and to do it more comfortably, I definitely would need to train more. For my goals, what I did was sufficient and doable. More training would have led to an imbalance in my lifestyle. For 8km, I always knew I could do the distance. It was more a matter of could I do it in the allocated race time limit. I could potentially have shaved off a couple of minutes if I had wanted to. eg reduce rest/fuel time at the turnaround point. Between the 4-8km mark up, I was also taking periodical sips from my second gel. I also took my time in the second half. The second 4km took me about 10 minutes longer to complete than the first 4km.

Overall though, I felt pretty good considering, after the race. I drank lots. Didn’t have much of an appetite until a couple of hours later. It took several hours for my tastebuds to adjust again. Lips were swollen and pruny. I will admit that I must have peed been about 8 times during the race. This is why I love open water swimming as opposed to a pool. But by the time I got out of the water, I was in dire need of an actual toilet. An 8km swim in the open water is definitely going to cause some bowel movement.

It was then back onto the bus for the trip back to Tumon. On the way back, our bus temporarily broke down along the side of the road.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Race started at about 7am and I was done and out of the water by about 9:30am. The day had barely even begun.

Back to the hotel room, for a much needed shower and relax time. We then had a big celebratory lunch.
Cue meat coma. Needed the protein, what can I say.

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

Thank Guam for US-sized portions!

From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race
From Cocos Island Crossing OWS race

And I enjoyed a well-deserved massage later that evening. The poor shoulders and arm!

So that’s my main personal big swim race challenge for the year done. I think I’ve decided that I want to do a destination swim every year. It needn’t be a long swim, just a destination swim race.
I have also stupidly signed up for a 10km swim race later on this yea…well, actually in a couple of weeks time. And not just one 10km swim race but 2! One of them is not until later on though so have another 2 months to train to get up to 10km. Ugh. I blame my housemate. Somehow I’ve been roped into doing them. Thus, the swim training continues. Why do I do this to myself?

Local news wrap up of the race.

And I appear in photo 26 of the photo gallery. Not. At. All. Flattering.

OWS swim #1 2014: Minami-Atami swim (1.5km)

It’s that time of year again – the open water swimming season, that is.
I’ve been training hard, or at least training, for the last 6 months or so.
Miles make the champions, so they say.
This year will be the year of some long-distance swims for me, so stay tuned for some hopefully interesting swim race reports.

Swimming has been consuming much of 2014 so far.

First race of the season was last Sunday. Just a baby one of 1.5km. It was technically an aquathlon event, but they did also have a 1.5km swim only option which I signed up for, but only because I knew a couple of other people were going to be there as well. It was a long way to go for 1.5km. Down at Minami-Atami Nagahama beach. Took over 2 hours to get there. But I wanted do at least one open water swim in race conditions before this weekend’s big swim. I also need to practice swimming with gels in my cossies.

The day was warm and humid despite being a little overcast. The water was flat as.

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

Here is us testing out the water:

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

The water was surprisingly cold. A chill 19 degrees. I had gone to the beach the day before at Onjuku, and whilst it was refreshing, I was not prepared for how cold it would be down Atami way. Water felt a lot colder. I struggled with it at first.

Our little swimming posse:

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

I have an extremely high kick in this photo:

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014
From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

The 500m distance was up first, and then they moved the buoys out for the 1500m. It was supposedly a 750m course of which we were to do two laps.

Number 502 is ready to race!

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

I felt strong and fast through the swim. Everyone went hard out to the first bouy and it felt like I was back of the pack, but come the second buoy I was lapping everyone. And kept lapping more people as did the second lap. I felt fast. But the course also felt short. Really short. It must have been less judging by our times. For a supposed “1.5km”, I got a time of 16min and 39 seconds. My guess is that it was only about a 1km or so. I had a gel pack with me (not that I was going to drink it) and I lost it before I even got to the
first buoy. Must tuck it fully into my cossie. Lesson learnt.

Lisa and I were the only two females in the swim event. She took out 1st place and I took second. She had beaten me by a minute. Such a shame that it was not a proper 1.5km course. How do they even measure these distances? They were basically just riding out jet skis and moving the buoys. But how do they measure the course?

From Minami-Atami OWS 2014

I got a second place female medal. And came 5th place overall (male and female) for the 1.5km swim race.

The Official Color Run Japan

I did the Power Color Run last month, but last weekend I did the official Color Run. This was the real deal and it was heaps of fun. These themed runs are fun to do. I did the Warrior Dash last year, and I’ve done two Color Runs this year.

The Color Run was well organised, great turnout, and beautiful weather.

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

The run was a little bit of a pain to get too. So far. Took about 2.5-3 hours to get there. That means getting up way too early for my liking on a Saturday morning. The run was at Pleasure Forest aka Sagamiko resort in Kanagawa prefecture. From Sagamiko it was then a 30min bus. Luckily they had frequent buses running from outside the station.

From The Color Run 2014

The run was 5km course through a forest, more like a BMX track, hilly and dirty.

From The Color Run 2014

Time to get Colorful!

From The Color Run 2014

The Color Run is a run inspired by the Indian Hindu Holi festival to welcome in spring known as the “Festival of Colours”.

Team Akabeko representing:

From The Color Run 2014

Got some cool loot in the goodie bag which consisted of a t-shirt, wrist band, sweatband, washable tatoo stickers, bottle of water and a can of red bull.

From The Color Run 2014

Awesome weather and the cherryblossoms were still out:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

There were about 8 wave starts throughout the day, with people coming and going throughout the day.

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Time to run, or in our case, mostly walk. It was surprisingly a super hilly course on a dirt track.
Couldn’t believe this guy wearing thongs!

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

It wasn’t really much of a run. More of a walk. And a hell of a lot of high-fiving and “touchy”.

From The Color Run 2014

At each km we were bombarded with colour powder:

Yellow:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Blue:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Green – the volunteers here were the most genki-est:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

PINK:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

And then the Finish line:

From The Color Run 2014

Yay us:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Check out my arm:

From The Color Run 2014

Covered in Colour:

From The Color Run 2014

They had these really air blowers to blow the powder off your clothes and hair:

From The Color Run 2014

And then Finish Line Colour Toss, just in case you weren’t covered in enough colour:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Random but cool photo of this remote controlled flying camera device so it could capture aerial shots of the powder toss.

Fun day out. Well organised and big props to the volunteers who were all so genki. Just wish these race venues weren’t so far away.

My running training recently has been rather lacklustre. Spending most of my time in the pool these days. I am rather excited about the Electric Run coming to Japan though. Date has been set for July 11. It’s gonna be awesome.

Bucketlist swim: Coogee Wedding Cake Island Swim Challenge 2013

One needs to work off all these high teas, so I timed one of my trips back home last year with an open water swim race back in Sydney – a mecca for open water swimming, or as we call it “ocean swimming”. It’s pretty big in Ostraya.

Sydney is where I did my first open water swim race back when I was a wee uni student. I went along to a beach race on my own having decided to enter it without ever having done an open water swim ever. I’m not really sure what possessed to try open water swimming given that I didn’t really grow up near the beach.

My first ows race was the Cole Classic – a then-2km swim from North Bondi beach to South Bondi beach (and back?). They have since moved the Cole Classic to a different beach. I’m glad I got to swim the original Cole Classic swim at the iconic Bondi Beach before they changed venues.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to when I come home (on a permanent basis), is all the open water swim races available in Australia. We have quite the ocean swimming scene, and a lot of beaches and races I’d love to swim. So I’ve got that to look forward to.

One of my bucketlist swims has been the Coogee Island Swim Challenge aka the Wedding Cake Island Swim, and I got to tick this off last November. This particular swim is pretty popular. They actually hold it twice – once in November (beginning of Oz summer – the cold water challenge) and again in April (end of Oz summer – the cool water challenge). The difference is degrees.

The last Sunday in November last year was a beautiful sunny clear day. Water temps about 19 degrees, but air temp was in the low 30 degrees.

The race was at Coogee Beach and it’s a 2.4km swim from the beach out and around Wedding Cake Island and back inland. Wedding Cake Island is a rocky reef. The crashing white waves over the top of it makes it look as though it’s icing…hence Wedding Cake Island….I think. It is a challenging swim. Conditions can be tough. And in some previous years, they’ve had to change the course bypassing the Island loop….which kinda defeats the challenge of this swim.

Picturesque Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This is a typical Sunday in Sydney:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

From the beach out to Wedding Cake Island, around the island and then back in.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

A big turn out for this race. About 800 people or so, with wave starts – mixed gender by age group.
Ocean swims in Oz are very different to those in Japan. In Oz, you have to deal with waves and the surf. Most swims in Japan are very flat and tame.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

2.4km course map (there was also a 1km option as well):

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Aerial view:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Here are some pics from the previous wave starts:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And now for some action:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s a battlefield out there:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s nearly my turn to swim.
Swim essential: Check.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

I was a little disappointed that the race-issued cap didn’t come with a race-feature logo. They often make a nice memory-sake. I keep all my swim caps from races.

Preparing to swim:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And my purple wave starts. I’m somewhere in the pack:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Now, I thought sharks would be my biggest worry because the swim involves going out further past the shark nets. And I have actually done a training swim here and seen a wobbegong shark here at the beach before. I saw this “thing” at the bottom of the water, and it wasn’t until afterwards I was told that “thing” was a shark. Argh freak out. Ignorance is bliss. Kinda glad I didn’t know it was a shark whilst swimming over the top of it.

Turns out on race day, my biggest problem was the gazillions of jellyfish I would be swimming through. Never have I seen so many jellyfish. Gah, my worst nightmare. I was nearly going to pull out of the race because I was not coping. They weren’t the stinging kind, but every hand stroke through the water, you felt them. They gave me the heebie jeebies. They were kinda going in my cosies. And made very sure to keep my mouth closed in the water. There were so many jellyfish that it got to a point where I refused to put my face in the water and basically was swimming freestyle with my head above water.
The majority of the course was jellyfish infested. Just making it to the finish line was going to be an achievement. I was so close to pulling myself out the race. Just mentally was not coping with the smacks upon smacks of jellyfish. (Did you know the collective noun for jellyfish is “smacks”?)

You don’t really ever see the island at any point even though you swim around it. I had been told that one should take a look at the reef island as you swim around, but even then it’s hard to catch a glimpse of. I was too preoccupied with jellyfish.

I felt only a sense of relief, not a sense of accomplishment when I finished this race.

That finish line could not come soon enough. Was so glad to be out of the water:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

About to cross the finish line…hooray:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Swam terribly slow.
A time of a flat 51 minutes for the 2.4 km swim. So so slow. But glad to have just finished considering this is a race that I was prepared to pull out of. I should add, that my dad also entered this swim. His longest open swim distance race and was only a few minutes behind me time-wise. I need to lift my game! (I came 523rd out of 822 people. Was 134 out of 248 females. And 33rd in age group. Not great stats). Although I am glad to have finished, I can’t even say it was an enjoyable swim really. The jellyfish really bothered, even though no one else there seemed bothered by it all. It was a beautiful day though. The sun was shining, and I survived the swim. So win-win.

It was nice to enjoy the scenery. Bucketlist swim complete. Got a few more up my sleeve though.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

The best part about finishing is eating.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And I have to say, a good ol’ Aussie meat pie beats a Japanese onigiri as a post-race snack anyday!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This pie sums up how I felt:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And a mini sausage roll as well:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Ahh, beautiful Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Look how clean and clear the water is. You can see Wedding Cake Island to the right of the photo. And to think I swam out there and back!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Coogee Island Challenge – complete! Got a heap of merchandise – the hoodie and the towel to commemorate.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

My second half marathon

Why do I run?
Because it feels soooo good when I stop!
To say I do not enjoy running is an understatement.

Last weekend, I ran my second ever half marathon. Much easier the second time round. (You can read about the first time here).
Managed to even convince a few friends to sign up.

Truthfully, I was supposed to run a half marathon a month ago. It rained on the day so I didn’t even bother turning up. A half marathon is not fun on a nice day, let alone being wet, cold and miserable.
So I signed up for another one this month instead.

The run was at Odaiba bay (a man-made artificial island somewhere off Tokyo Bay). It was the most unorganised running event ever. If I had of rocked up on my own, I actually would have left and just gone home. But there was a bunch of us, which motivated me to stay.
They were severely disorganised and understaffed. It took over an hour to register upon arrival and they had to postpone all the races by about nearly an hour.
I do not recommend partaking in this half marathon event (The International (Embassy) Friendly Run).

The ridiculously long line to register, least of all no race/event t-shirt.

From Half marathon 2013

Ready to run:

From Half marathon 2013

It was a 7km course, which we had to complete 3 laps of. The course was absolutely flat as a pancake. As far as half marathon courses go, it was an easy course.

I didn’t train a lot for this. On average 2-3 runs a week between 6-10km. And in the last 4 months I only did a 15km run 2 or 3 times.
Was pretty proud of my time though.
2 hours 12 minutes. A huge improvement on last year’s first half marathon event which I did in 2 hours and 45minutes. A 30min shaving off of previous time.
Maybe a sub-2 hour half marathon next year if I decide to actually proper train.

A well-deserved beer and bowl of ramen. Any calories burnt after running 21km were just all put back on.

From Half marathon 2013

Post-race festivities was a trip to the Oedo Onsen Land in Odaiba. 4 hours of onsen, massage and exfoliation (think Turkish hamam Japanese-style called “akasuri”) is just what the doctor ordered. The absolute bomb. The next day I felt as though I didn’t even run a half marathon. Felt like a new woman apart from my flat feet giving me grief. I think I have something like plantar fascititis or something. Ouch. It’s been a week and still hurting.

Might have to hang up the running shoes for a while and SUIT up. Swim SUIT up, that is. I am planning on doing a marathon swim next year (in the swimming world, (only) 10km is considered a marathon).

Lake Biwa OWS

Having already cycled part of Lake Biwa, and SUPed on Lake Biwa, on Sunday it was time to swim Lake Biwa.

From Biwako OWS

The Lake Biwa open water swim race is annual race, and has been on my bucketlist for a while now.
It’s Japan’s largest lake, and it was also an excuse to cross off another prefecture to my tally, bringing it to 35 prefectures (out of 47). I’ve got another 12 prefectures to go!

On the Sunday morning, I was not looking forward to getting back on a bike saddle. That damn mamachari. A 60km cycle and a couple of hours of stand up paddleboarding was probably not the best thing to before a swim race.
It was thankfully only about 20min cycle to the race venue.

I got to see the local Nagahama castle along the way:

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

Again I cycled along the bike path around the lake this time in the opposite direction (north, anti-clockwise):

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

To my left was the lake:

From Sunday Biwa cycling

And to my right were rice fields and mountains:

From Sunday Biwa cycling
From Sunday Biwa cycling

How very Sound of Music of me to be cycling through the countryside.

From Sunday Biwa cycling

The Lake Biwa open water swim race was held at Minamihama swimming spot. I cycled there from Nagahama. The previous day I had cycled from Nagahama to Shiga and back.

From Biwako OWS

I got to the race venue and parked the bike in the shade and settled in for a long hot day.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

I usually do beach swims, but a freshwater lake swim was going to be a nice change. None of that saltiness.
The most surprising thing about this swim was how disgustingly warm the water was. It was 30.5 degrees. It was in truth, a little dangerous. Especially when you’re going flat out, air temps were about 35 degrees, and you gotta swim 3.2km!

The lake though is pretty flat so conditions were pretty good for swimming, apart from the heat factor.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

I was entered in the 3.2km race which didn’t start until about midday.
It was 600m straight out, 700m across, and then 300m back in, times 2 laps of that course.

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Race number 514:

From Biwako OWS

It was a super hot day. Most people had brought along tent shades to camp out for the day:

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Here are some action shots from the 500m race:

From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS
From Biwako OWS

Eventually it was my time to race. There was about 200 people in the 3.2km swim.
I swam pretty fast and overtook a lot of people. The water was dangerously warm though. Not good. Not good at all.

Ended up with a time of 58minutes for a 3.2km swim which I was super happy with. I barely ever break the hour for a 3km swim. I felt dizzy and lightheaded afterwards though….a bit of heatstroke I think. I came 19the female overall (out of 35), and I think I got between 4-6th place in my age group. No prizes but I did walk away with a PB.

From Biwako OWS

Swim Lake Biwa. Check.

From Biwako OWS

Watch this space. There is talk of a Lake Biwa swim crossing next year which a friend or two and I are tossing around. There is an annual Lake Biwa crossing swim race – 16km, but it’s a relay event. We are thinking about solo crossings….whether this will actually happen or not, I’m not sure….

Only one more swim race of the Japan summer season to go….but there will be an Aussie swim race to report back on later in the year . I’m excited about that one!