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Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu - TriathlonOlympic

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The Fukushima Minyu Newspaper (JTU sanctioned)
76F / 24C
Total Time = 3h 00m 11s
Overall Rank = 292/397
Age Group = 50-59
Age Group Rank = 39/55
Pre-race routine:

We arrived at the course area at 3pm on Saturday. I registered and picked up my bag (race number, swim cap, a few goodies including a bottle of local sake). I then attended a "first-time" triathlon seminar. My wife also sat through in case I missed any points (it was done in Japanese). After the seminar, I took a short spin on my bike to make sure all was in order and then checked it into T1. I could have waited until the following morning to do that, but I would say 70% of the racers did it Sat.

That night we stayed in a small hotel about 5 minutes drive from the start. The stay included dinner and that was a mistake as there was just too much food and it was heavy on protein (fish). We both had trouble sleeping and finally got up around 5 am. I had two cups of coffee and 1.5 rice balls (Japanese equivalent of a bagel?). We got to the start point about 6:20 and I was able to get through all the pre-race stuff quickly (pick up race chip, body marking, finish setting up T1, drop off my bag for T2). We had to move down to the beach by 8:30 for the opening speeches, etc. Race start was at 9:10.

One side note: during my final equipment check on Sat night I realized that the socks I wanted to wear were sitting on the counter in the bathroom at home - all loaded up with baby powder. Luckily I had two other kinds of socks with me and I opted to use a thinner pair that I like for running, but had not tried on the bike. The other pair was a thicker pair of cycling socks.
Event warmup:

There was a group aerobics session on the beach about 10 minutes before the start. Yep, 400 people in wetsuits doing aerobics. Actually, it was pretty low key stuff and good to loosen up and take my mind off worrying.

About 20 minutes before the start, I took one powergel and a few sips of water. I was sipping on a bottle of water most of the morning.

I had planned to get into the water and do a warm-up, but decided not to bother because I did not want to stand around for 30-40 minutes wet (they had about 30 minutes opening speeches, aerobics and then 10 minutes for everyone to get assembled for the gun). In retrospect, that was my biggest mistake of the day. I should have spent 20-30 minutes swimming.
  • 34m 22s
  • 1500 meters
  • 02m 17s / 100 meters

It was cloudy and the water was nice and calm about 30 minutes before the race. Just after we started (per my wife), the wind picked up and with that the water got a little rough (not as bad as my worst training experience, but still choppy).

I started towards the back and way off to the right. This was the right place to start. Shortly after I started swimming, I slowly started merging back in towards the buoy line. That was a mistake as it quickly got crowded. I kept popping my head up to see what/who was in front of me and the more I did that, the more my breathe rate accelerated. I tried multiple times to put my face in the water, but felt like I was getting even more winded when I tried that. As we approached the big turn buoy at 350 meters, I was really struggling and it was really crowded. By the time I got to the next big buoy (400 meter point), I realized I was in serious trouble and switched to alternating sidestroke and backstroke. I also just slowed my stroke down and made a conscious effort to relax my arms and breathing. It took me a good 10 minutes, but my breathe rate came back under control (kind of). For the last 25 meters or so near the shore, it becomes possible to walk and I took advantage of that. The 25 meters to the start buoy and the next 25 meters going back out probably saved me. For the second lap, I was able to maintain a slow stroke with my face out of the water. I was always too winded to get my face into the water (or so I felt every time I tried).

I again walked the last 25 meters and it was another 25 meters to the beach after that. I took my wet suit top off while walking in, slipped my goggles, cap into the sleeve, looped the arms around my neck and tied them. When I hit the beach, I quickly stripped off the bottom - like 5 seconds and started jogging toward T1. As I was jogging I heard my name announced and thought that was nice. Then they repeated it again and about 10 seconds later a guy (another racer) tapped me on the shoulder and handed me my race number. It had gotten yanked from the race belt when I pulled off the wetsuit bottom. I thanked the guy quickly and continued trudging towards T1.
What would you do differently?:

Work a lot more on my swim. Warm-up in the water. Take the powergel earlier or just go with a drink. Stay outside and away from the crowd. Stay relaxed and swim right (face down).

Put the race belt on at T1 or pin the number to the belt.
Transition 1
  • 07m 30s

T1 time estimated. T1 included about 300 meters of jogging from the timing station and then another 50 meters from the bike rack to the mount point. About 5 meters in front of T1, they had two small kiddie pools that you could walk/run through to get the sand off your feet. That helped. I really took my time in T1 because I was beat. I stuffed my wetsuit into the numbered bag they provided (later transported to T2) and then looked down at my racing belt. The two snap covers that held the number on were gone, but there was one spare near the buckle. I secured the race number with the single cap and then got on with transition. I washed the rest of the sand off my feet, put on my socks and shoes, helmet and sunglasses. I really took my time while doing all this. I then started playing around with the race belt, i.e., trying to tuck the other side of the number into my waist band. About that time a race marshall I met earlier (very nice woman who knew I was a first timer and very helpful during T1 set up) happened by and asked me how I was doing. I explained about the caps coming off. She immediately pulled out a safety pin and pinned the number to my shorts (I didn't realize it was my shorts until I tried to move the belt around at T2). I finally unracked my bike and walked it the 50 meters or so to the mount line.... and I was off.
What would you do differently?:

Put the race belt on at T1. Move more quickly all the way through and run with my bike (I walked).
  • 1h 18m 50s
  • 40 kms
  • 30.44 km/hr

We had a nice headwind for at least the first half of the course. It was especially noticeable at the beginning when the course was mostly flat and I was still wet. I took things kind of easy for the first 30 minutes - still recovering from the swim. After that I picked things up, did some passing and was more aggressive overall. The downhills were a ball and there are places where you can't help but smile because you accelerate so quickly (even into the wind).

I took two hits of power-gel from my gel bottle and drank about half of my water. The gel hits were small and I really should have gotten more water in.
What would you do differently?:

I was pretty satisfied with how I handled the bike course. Overall and considering the swim, there is not a lot I would change. I know that more riding work will bring my average speed up and that is on my to-do list already. More hill riding and more cornering will also raise my confidence levels.

Two notes:

- the thinner running socks worked out great on the bike ride
- while I was sorting out how to attach my number in T1, I completely forgot to put on my gloves. No problems and I don't think I will wear gloves for this distance in the future.
Transition 2
  • 02m 30s

T2 time estimated. While I was coasting towards the dismount line, I reached down and opened the top strap on each shoe (my shoes are road shoes and have 3 straps). I walked my bike to the rack and racked it. A nearby marshal told me that I had it on backwards and I had to take it off and re-rack it. He also suggested that I just clip my helmet onto the handlebars which I did. I then moved to the racks where they had stored our run bags, grabbed my bag and moved to the tarp they had laid out. I slipped off my bike shoes (easy with the top strap loose) and got my running shoes on. I then took the time to put on more sunscreen. The temperature was by now up to 88 or so and the sun was sometimes peaking through the clouds. My memory says that the timing station was another 50 meters or so outside of transition.
What would you do differently?:

Move more quickly. Rack the bike properly. I probably could have put the sunscreen on while I was running.
  • 56m 59s
  • 10 kms
  • 05m 42s  min/km

I slipped into my normal long run pace and believe that I pretty much held it for the duration (never looked at my watch to see how I was doing). The sponges were great. I tried to take in water and usually got about a mouthful at each station.
What would you do differently?:

Figure out how to spend more time acclimating to heat. Drink more water even if I have to stop to do it or consider carrying a small bottle so I can sip while running.
Post race
Warm down:

After stopping, I felt completely wiped out and nauseous. My wife found a place in the shade where I could sit down and I rested for about 30 minutes. I had a couple glasses of water and a big piece of watermelon. We then went and got my bike and walked it to where our car was parked - at least 15 minutes. I felt okay while doing all that.

We drove the car back to the lot closer to the finish line and went in to the building where the post-race party/awards were happening. They did a great job with food and drinks, but I ate very little. There were two times where I started sweating and felt like I was going to pass out. I ended up sitting on the floor and waiting for it to pass (and it did).

I am not sure whether I bonked or overheated or a little of both. The swim certainly burned up more energy than I had planned on using and I was struggling to get water down during the run. I also felt slightly nauseous whenever I tried to take a really deep breath. That lasted for almost two days.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Need to improve a lot on swim abilities. Same goes for the bike and run. I know I will improve with more training. The other limiter is heat acclimation.

Event comments:

This is a great race and I will be back next year. The volunteers are literally everywhere and do a fantastic job. No negatives come to mind.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-08-20 12:00 AM
00:34:22 | 1500 meters | 02m 17s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/55
Overall: 282/397
Performance: Bad
Suit: De Soto
Course: Triangle shaped course: 350 meters out, 50 meters across, 350 meters back. Repeat a second time. Once you hit the beach, it is about 50 meters to the timing station. From the timing station, it is another 300 meters or so to T1.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Bad Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 07:30
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
01:18:50 | 40 kms | 30.44 km/hr
Age Group: 0/55
Overall: 295/397
Performance: Average
Wind: Headwind
Course: This is a great course for a beginner. There is a little climbing and there are some great downhill stretches (300 meters drop in elevation between the start and T2). The course includes some narrow back roads (imagine 1.5 cars wide - something you can see in European cities, but not in the US) and quite a few tight corners. There were also two railroad crossings where you have to get off your bike and walk across the tracks. They had a dismount line and remount line for these. There was a 1 minute penalty for failure to dismount. All turns and the tracks were well marked with signs to slow down and volunteers giving hand signals and calling out warnings.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 90
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 02:30
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Below average
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
00:56:59 | 10 kms | 05m 42s  min/km
Age Group: 0/55
Overall: 275/397
Performance: Average
Course: Three laps around the Aizu University. Although the course is advertised as flat, it contains some long gentle slopes which are similar to those around my house. This area is always a few degrees hotter than the lake where we did the swim. Since you're looping around the same course three times, they have a system for making sure everybody does the three laps. After the first lap around, they slip a yellow band around your wrist. After the second lap around, they slip a red band around your wrist. Last time around, they send you off on a separate branch towards the finish line. They had water, sports drink and sponges every 1.5 kilometers.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-08-30 1:16 AM

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Sendai, Japan
Subject: Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu

2009-08-30 7:50 PM
in reply to: #2378531

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Shalimar, FL
Subject: RE: Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu

I loved reading your race report.  Super job!!!  You must be happy with the results, and you did it!!  First, I never wear gloves while I'm racing (and I practice riding without them too, sometimes).  They take too long to take off, in my opinion!  And second, I think your swim was fabulous!  What do you possibly think you did wrong, except maybe push too hard?  But it didn't seem to affect your other activities. 

And I've gotta know what you think about the Japanese elections.

2009-08-30 7:56 PM
in reply to: #2378531

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Olney, MD
Subject: RE: Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu
Great race and great race report. Congrats, you are a Triathlete!
2009-08-31 8:27 AM
in reply to: #2378531

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Extreme Veteran
Spring TX
Subject: RE: Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu

Great race report and great job on your race ... congratulations!

2009-08-31 9:21 PM
in reply to: #2379941

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British Columbia
Subject: RE: Utsukushima Triathlon in Aizu

Enjoyed reading your race report.  Congratulations!

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