Sagishima Triathlon Trip and Race Report

Tags: triathlon, sagishima, race

I was looking forward racing again after my 'come-back' to triathlon competition in June. I missed the limit date to register for Kurashiki triathlon in Okayama in July that was stupid… Actually I miss often this time limit, something I can't get used to. In Japan you have to plan your races months before even just for local races, it kinds of drive me nuts as in France I could always applied 2 weeks before the race… Well, this is my fault I just need to adapt to this.
At least I did not miss the registration for Sagishima Triathlon. It was the 23rd edition, organized on the small island. A course known to be tough with 42km (4 loops around the island) of bikes with ups and downs and the same loop for the run. And yes in mid-August so very very hot if you know Japan. I knew it and tried to prepare mentally and physically to that. I ran in the heat at training to experience it before the race and knew it will be difficult. As a Frenchy from Le Havre, Normandy, despite being in Japan for years, this weather is not something easy even for normal life so for a triathlon it's a bit extreme.
Anyway, besides the race I was also looking forward for the little trip. We crossed Japan from the Sea of Japan to the prefecture of Hiroshima, that was a very pleasant trip in the mountains.

I want to thank already the members of the Ishikawa Dojo Triathlon Club for their assistance. They drove me and my wife and our bikes, that was much appreciated. (It made me want to buy a huge van someday to travel around but that's an other story…).

After the mountains until the city of Mihara we took a ferry to reach the island of Sagi on Saturday afternoon.

(With Ishikawa Triathlon Dojo Team members)

This is Sagishima.

We had a reservation at a camp where a simple room was waiting for us. Then we just had a rest and rode one loop of the island very slowly in the evening. The 2 climbs of the course were easier than I thought but I will have to climb them 4 times on bike and one time on the run the next day. That's a lot in the end.

Front aero set-up : going for cheap and DIY :D

(Pre race day preparation, making sure all things ready)

Morning of the race! Hello little guy.

My not-usual breakfast, but that's not a usal day either.

(Part of the swim course)

Race day :
I took my race kit at about 8:30AM. It was containing the usual stuff, a chip to record my times, sticker numbers to put on my helmet, bike and the traditional race T-shirt.

(Officials speeches)

Then I prepared all my things in the bike park where more than 400 others athletes were doing the same.

Me and Yataka San from Ishikawa Dojo Team. A strong triathlete with a very good result this year at the tuff Kaike Triathlon (ironman format).

At 9:45AM I wore my wetsuit and did a short warm-up in the sea. I was actually already sweating…

(+1 if you can spot me :-)

Swim : 
Line of the start was a bit uncertain, everyone was kind of wondering. They made us wait on the beach then 5' before start invite us to get close to the line and then when we were about there, suddenly that was the start… This time I did not do the same mistake as in Yurihama. I chose from the start to go on the extreme right of the group to avoid the usual swim "battle". That worked quite well and had a fairly smooth swim.

The 2 laps felt a bit long especially the end. I got out in about 29 minutes and 66th position out of 400. Not too bad considering my training, even a bit better than what I had planned when checking last year everyone times. So far so good.

T1 :Transition to the bike course : 2'52". I chose to wear a white cycling jersey on top of my triathlon wear because my skin really does not like this sun and I did not want to finish like a cooked lobster… So I lost a bit of time their but nothing important.

(One of the first athlete finishing his 1st lap when some are just starting)

(Same for me here)

Bike Part : 

That's definitely my favorite one and the one where I am more at ease also. I was well trained and confident. I planned to ride the 42k in 1h16 and did it exactly without pushing hard. I really wanted to keep as much as energy possible for the run.My bike time turned out to be the 32th one out of 400, so I am quite pleased with that. My only mistake : my bottle set-up did not turned to be very efficient. After the 1st bump on the road I lost my bottle which was not tight enough in the cage. Fortunately we were provided enough water and drinks on the course. Volunteers did a great job at that. So that was no problem.

Bike map and elevation : 8 (short, about 1.5km each) climbs!

They are about 800 people living on the island and some of them were out in the sun to support us, that was very nice of them. Also as we were using the only large road of the island no cars were allowed so that was perfect.

(Removed the shoes just before T2)

Transition 2 :

At the end of the bike, my wife counted I was about 35-40th/400 which was kind of great. I chose to wear socks for the run, lost a bit of seconds there also but that's more comfortable. Well as long as you stay dry… Transition time was just 2 minutes.

Let's go for 10k in the sun, yoohoo!

Run : 
As opposed to Yurihama Triathlon where I felt after a couple of kilometers my energy going quickly down, I was not feeling that bad. Of course the heat was terrible [absolutely no shade] but I was prepared mentally. I noticed I was passed by other athletes. I took my time to hydrate and shower at different aid booth but I thought I did not lose too much.

In fact I did…

I could finish, kind of a victory :-)

(Well deserved cold shower! Rhaaaa! :-) Thank you Sir!

So my final rank is 27th/96 in my age category [35-45] and 73rd/389 over all [there was few athletes who "Did Not Finish" from the 400, not surprising at all].
I lost about 30 places just on the run again, a bit depressing. 

Full results  : Sagishima Triathlon.

So yep a bit far from my goal again but this day I could not do better on the run. I almost miss the triathlons under the Normandy rain, well, not really ;-)

(waiting for the ferry to go back to Honshu - main island)

(with the team, みんなさん、お疲れ様でした!)

I was the only one from our city to participate to the race, the 3 members of the Ishikawa club were there to act as "marshall" during the race this time. That was also a hard task as they had to stay under the sun for hours… 

Technical lessons from races : 

- I need some sport glasses. I can't see $#!T in the water it's hard to orient well, I need special goggles. During the bike my usual glasses are quite uncomfortable also. Unfortunately lenses are not an option for my eyes. I need to spend some yens here…

- Running shoes. My Nikes were too old and too heavy for triathlon's races and as I was wearing socks, once I got drenched by water used to cool down my body the shoes/socks acted like sponges and felt very heavy to run with. Not good. I need more minimal stuff here.

- Bike : The Trek Madonne is a great bike especially in the mountains but my position is not optimal for triathlons. A real triathlon bike that would gave me a more "compact" position would be nice, I could produce power more efficiently. Well a different bike is kind of luxury at my level we all agree but triathletes of all levels love nice bikes :-)

From now on :

Now I would have liked to race again this year but that seems compromised, one of my idea was to go to Taiwan for the 70,3 (half-ironman) in November but I most probably won't make it. There is also Murakami Triathlon but that's very far from home. Instead I guess I am going to prepare for some running races [10k and half marathon] and also the Daisen climb by bike in October to check my yearly progress.So the plan for autumn and winter is to work on my run, I have to find the speed and resistance again on that part.

PS :
Two triathlons only this year is way less than expected. In France it is easy to race about 10 triathlons in a season but here it is a different story : 
- less races
- they are far for most of them [cost of trip and stay]
- they cost quite some money to register

That is a bit frustrating as I am training quite hard and like competition. Well, this is also a life style that I like and I can participate to different endurance sports I guess. Now I am already scheduling 2013 season not to miss anything like I did this year. More challenges to come!

Special thanks to my lovely wife for the cool pictures and support!


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