Saipan pro triathlete Mieko Carey topped the women’s 30 to 34 age group of last Saturday’s Lixil Ironman 70.3 Centrair in Japan.
Carey completed the Half Ironman in 5:01:40, beating 18 other female finishers in her age group and four in the men’s. He placed No. 6 in the women’s (out of 134 finishers) and No. 145 overall among the more than 1,500 participants in the race held in Tokoname, located at the Chita District of the Aichi Prefecture.
The 34-year-old triathlete was first out of the water in her age group, completing the 1.9-kilometer (1.2-mile) swim leg in 24:49.
“Swimmers started in waves. The pros started at 7:30am and our wave began at 8:35am. Water temperature was 23.8 degrees Celsius. It was cold for me, as I am used to the warm water on Saipan. I was lucky that we swam with current,” Carey said.
Next up for Carey was the grueling 90-kilometer (56 miles) bike race, which according to her had so many 90-degree turns at the start and brought bikers to an old Japanese neighborhood. As if the many twirls in the first 18 miles (29 km) were not enough punishment, Carey had to go through up and downhill roads similar to the XTERRA Saipan course for the most parts of the remaining 61 km (38 miles).
“When two ladies went past me, I tried to keep up with them, but then I thought I still have to run 13 miles. I remember my coach telling me not to race against anyone, but against myself,” said Carey, who finished the bike leg in 2:51:00.
For the final phase of the race-the 21.1 km ( 13.1 miles) run-Carey relaxed a bit at the start and enjoyed the course that was up and downhill and near the ocean side. Carey and other runners also climbed up a few stairs and crossed a bridge. At the 9 km (6 miles) mark, Carey went on to pass the second runner in her age group, but then in the last three miles, fatigue took its toll in her, as he started to feel dizzy.
“After 16 km (10 miles), I just walked. Then I tried to jog and forget the pain. I kept on thinking about the finish line. Then in the last one mile (1.6 km), I stopped. My body was telling me to stop, but my brain was telling me otherwise. I just want to finish,” Carey said.
The Saipan triathlete went on to reach the finish line about five minutes ahead of runner-up Nicole Hart (5:06:39) of Australia. Japan’s Yoriko Masuda rounded out the Top 3 in the women’s 30 to 34 age group, timing in at 5:14:31.
Australia’s Chris McCormack, who won last year’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, was the No. 1 overall finisher in the Japan race, submitting 4:03:40 and beating compatriot Tim Berkel (4:03:42) in a down-to-the-wire race. Japan’s Keiko Tanaka was the first female finisher with her 4:37:33.
This year’s Half Ironman Japan was Carey’s first, but she had been to two Half Ironman races in Kansas.
“In Kansas, I had bad races due to injuries, but last weekend in Japan, I was not injured and I had a nice race. My goal was to finish under five hours and I missed it so I will come back next year and go for it,” Carey said.
By Roselyn Monroyo