October 18, 2002
Runner's Web Special Report
Natasha Filliol, who was profiled on the Runner's Web in February of this year, provided this report of her trips to Japan and Portugal
Race Reports for Makuhari Japan, and Funchal Portugal ITU World Cups
Oct 6 and 14 2002.
Two weeks after coming from Rio de Janeiro Brazil, I was on the road again (or in the air, I guess), this time to Tokyo, Japan. My training had been going very well leading up to this race. I had some great workouts in the two weeks since Rio, and broke into some new territory with my swim and run. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens on the bleeding edge of fitness, I came down with a cold the weekend before Tokyo. I ended up spending my taper week doing everything possible to recovery as fast as possible and spent much of the week horizontal in bed. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to race, but I seemed to be getting better later in the week, so I went for it.
The actual trip to Japan was smooth- the flying, airports etc. On arrival, the usual efficient Japanese organiser picked us up at the airport and shuttled us off to the race hotel, the Green Tower. It was typical of a Tokyo hotel, with a very small room, but fortunately, the hotel owner was a big supporter of the race and didn’t charge regular Tokyo prices!
The day before the race I got a chance to see the course, which was quite a complicated affair, with a bit of everything, current in the swim, steep ramps and stairs, hills and lots of corners on the bike and run. The swim was two loops in the ocean and was non-wetsuit. I thought it was going to be a wetsuit swim, and I wish it had been, if only for the less than clean looking water in the bay. It was a brown colour, and had lots of UFOs (unidentified floating objects).
Right from the start it was a rough race. I got dunked a few times too many in the first 300m and spent more energy fighting back than actually swimming. Coming out of the water I knew that I had a sub-par swim, but that I still had a job to do: get to the run in one piece, and hopefully not lose too much time to the first pack on the bike.
I didn’t feel the best on the bike, but I managed to catch the next group ahead, which was the group I probably would have swam with, had I had an OK swim. Unfortunately our pack still lost time to the front group, and we came off the bike about 4 mins down. I knew it would be tough to catch anyone on the run, but I set off to at least see how well I could go on my own. I moved ahead of the rest of my pack and felt OK. I ran well, and caught two of the 14 up front. I ended up with the 4th fastest split overall of 35.52, which even included going a few seconds off course in the first part of the run. In the end I finished in 12th place, which wasn’t too bad considering everything.
I left Tokyo on Monday afternoon, and actually arrived by in Victoria before I left! It sure didn’t feel like it, and after 14 hours of travelling or so I was ready to hit the sack. I was glad to be able to spend two nights in my own bed before heading off to my next race, in Funchal, Madeira. On Wednesday morning I was back at the airport for another long plane ride. This time I brought along a travel mate, my husband Joel for the trip. From Victoria, to Vancouver, to London, and then finally to Madeira, a Portuguese island 90 mins by plane from Lisbon, I arrived 24 hours later, again ready to hit the sack. I’ve done more sleeping these last two weeks…
12 hours later I awoke and set about exploring the city. I went for a run and checked out the course. Funchal is a volcanic island and is quite hilly. The race did have some hills on the bike, but it wasn’t too bad. If the organiser’s wanted too, they could make the race really tough, but given the multiple lap format of ITU races, we stuck to the flatter waterfront.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this race was to check out the course, since this race will be the 2004 World Championships, which will be the last race to qualify for the Athens Olympics. This will be an important race for me, so I figured the experience of racing on the course in advance would help.
After lots more sleeping, race day came, fortunately with a 12 noon start, which meant I could sleep in and take advantage of the great buffet breakfast the hotel had (hot oatmeal, and fruit) plus my usual PowerBar and a bottle of GPush G2. I woke around 8 and did a short swim in the hotel pool, a ride on my bike and a short run before heading down to the start.
I felt nervous but confident that I could have a good performance. I knew that this race could go very well for me if I had a good swim. I had a good spot on the pontoon, and when the horn went I blasted off into the warm water. I was in great position for about 200m when disaster struck. My goggles got knocked off my face, and given that I wear contacts when I race I had to stop and fix them or risk losing a contact in the water and not being able to see anything once I got out onto my bike, if I could even find my bike in the transition! I rolled onto my back and fixed my goggles only to get run over by a whole group of swimmers – ouch. I pulled myself together and got on with it. I was moving OK in the water and leading the second pack, but we were about 1 minute down after the swim. I knew that we would have our work cut out for us, but that it was possible to catch the front group.
I felt strong on the bike in the beginning and we chased hard. After we caught a small group ahead after 3 laps our group lost momentum and got complacent. The gap between our group of 15 and the front group of 18 then grew from about 1 min 30 to 2 mins 30 by the end of the 8 laps. This race was a bit different than Japan, and there were quite a few really good runners in my pack. Despite having a slow transition due to crashing into some other athletes on the dismount I took off onto the 4-lap course and went to the front. I ran the first lap hard, and went with Burgos of Spain, who ended up having the fast run split of sub-35 mins. After 3km I started to slow. I felt flat and lost focus for a bit. It was a tough pace and I faded back and ran with a Russian and Italian. By the end of the run I was feeling better and moved past 3 athletes in the last 1km, into 15th place. I had the 7th fastest run, but I knew that I could have done better on the run and overall. I know that I can be on the podium in these races, and I will keep at it, working on the little things and keeping positive, learning from each race.
My next race is the World Championships in Cancun Mexico. Although I am the U23 National Champion in Canada, I will race in the Elite category, as I want to race against the best in the World in my quest to get to the Olympics. Besides, in Cancun I have had some great luck in the past, and if I have a little bit more luck on Nov 10 I know I could have a breakthrough performance and surprise a lot of people.
Thanks for all your support,
Supported by Subaru, New Balance, PowerBar, GPush, Aquila, Bolle, Aquaman, Marco Travel Paris, Millard, Rouse and Rosebrugh Accounting Brantford
Visit Natasha's web site at : www.natashafilliol.com
Read the Runner's Web interview with Natasha from February of this year from the Runner's Web