Mieko Carey's willpower was put to a test anew last Sunday as she refused to quit in the lung-busting 32nd All Japan Kaike Triathlon.
Carey, who battled dehydration and still finished second in the women's division of last year's race in Yonago City in Tottori Prefecture, this time survived stomachaches to place fifth in the grueling race with a total time of 10:00:27.
She had to complete the race no matter what as her parents-Yoshihiro and Sumiko Motoyoshi-flew in from Saitama and were waiting for her at the finish line.
“I didn't care what place and how many people past me. Even if I am the last person to complete the race, I will go to the finish line with my parents,” said Carey, who lost precious time in the 42.195-kilometer full marathon leg, as she was hit repeatedly by a stomachaches.
Before the dreaded marathon, Carey faced an early punishment when the 3-km swim leg in the Japan Sea, offshore of the Kaike Hot Spring Coast (from the Hino river mouth to Yonago indoor swimming pool) was cancelled due to high surf. Carey is a good swimmer and in her first four Kaike races, she managed to post impressive times to get momentum for the tough 145-km bike leg.
With the swim race out, Carey was forced to do the 5-mile run first.
“I was nervous the night before the race because this means we will run a total of 31 miles. I decided to take it easy for the first run. I was 239th when we finished the first run,” said Carey, who timed in at 36:43.
Next was her favorite part of the race-the bike ride, which she finished in 4:48:04, the 60th best time out of more than 700 bikers.
“The bike course was beautiful and had nice hills. I just tried to not push hard as we still have 26 miles to run. It was a hard ride because of the wind, which sometimes pushed me to the side. I was the second women to go to bike-run transition area,” the 34-year-old Saipan pro added.
However, Carey dropped to fifth place in the women's division in the end due to stomach problems.
“We started the run at around 1pm. It was very hot and Kaike had the second worst temperature in Japan, between 95 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit. I stopped at every aid station. I could tell my body was tired from this weather and from the first 5-mile run. Then came the stomach pains,” Carey said.
The Saipan bet then admitted her body repeatedly told her to stop and quit. However, seeing other athletes along the course in pain, walking, cramping, laying on the ground, and stopping at aid station, and thinking of her parents waiting at the finish line, her mind pushed her to soldier on.
“I want to stop, but my mom and dad were at the finish line. I turned my back and saw other athletes struggling, too. Then I started running again, I am halfway, I can still make it,” Carey said.
She went on to finish the race ranked No. 99 (among more than 600 finishers) and just less than a minute behind the fourth placer (9:59:37) in the women's division and about 10 minutes slower than her 2009 time (9:50:49). A Chinese triathlete ruled the women's division with a time of 9:02:07.
“It was not a good time for me, but the race made me stronger,” said Carey, who thanked IT&E, Brabu, Bike Pro, Mariana Resort, and Taga, Inc. for helping her compete in Kaike.