Since I’ve arrived in Japan there hasn’t been much going on. I sleep a lot. I eat when I should. I train as much as I need to. The rest of the time I’ve just been sitting around, chatting with people, refreshing my inbox to see if the ITU has finally made their decision of whether or not to hold the Yokohama World Championship race in four weeks, or if USA Triathlon has decided yet if they’ll be sending me to the Monterrey World Cup in just three. It’s low stress to the extreme, which is a really nice change of pace from filling out insurance claims, maxing out credit cards, and the other chores of post-theft reestablishment of stuff.
My favorite part of being in Ishigaki is definitely the cycling. The people are quite friendly, and the traffic is light. The roads are pristine and the scenery is endlessly engrossing. My first ride on Wednesday reminded me that I had intended to stay an extra day this year so that I could be a tourist. I’ve been about a third of the way around the island, and I really want to see the rest of it, but I let my budget decide my return date so the tourism will have to wait until next year.
There has been a bit of translational humor, which can almost be expected in a place like Japan where the alphabet and language is so different from English. Like when Steve Sexton and I asked the front desk where we could find a simple meal for relatively little cash they handed us their “English” map of the town and pointed to a place called “Banira Deri”. I told Steve that it was probably a deli (with an ‘L’), which he laughed at and I expected to be true. Unfortunately, most of the landmarks on the English map did not have English signs, so it was hard to identify whether places like “Banana Café” we were supposed to pass were really there. When we did arrive to the street where the “Banira Deri” was supposed to be we found two restaurants – both looked appealing – but neither with the sign we were looking for. The first one had a sign in English, but since it didn’t match our map we assumed it was the second store. It was after browsing both menus that I looked up at the first sign and realized that “Banira Deri” was a double translation of “Vanilla Deli” (first to Japanese characters, then back to English). The food was great.
We swim in a 50m pool at the Ishigaki Sports complex, which also boasts a huge gym, a baseball field and a track and field center. The only thing missing is a velodrome. This is where I did all of my swimming the past few days and most of my running. I’m sure there are plenty of dirt paths on this island, but I haven’t found them, so I just lingered around the track to enjoy the grass and soft surface.
Aside from the food – which has been low protein, high-carb with a very un-western palate – and the training, I’ve been a pretty lame tourist. I figured out how to watch Netflix’s live stream by using a proxy server back home (it won’t stream to IPs outside the US), which has provided some entertainment. I haven’t figured out how to get USAT’s Normatec to work without the voltage converter (they bought a 220 volt Norma, so places like Japan and the United States require us to use a voltage converter to step it up from 110 volts) that was left at home thinking it wouldn’t be needed in Australia last week.
As far as the race goes, I’m excited. We came a long way for this, so I’m not leaving anything on the course. Besides, I have some pent up energy from my anticlimactic participatory experience last weekend at South Beach. I’ll take luck, but all I really need to do (in the crass words of Rory) is “not [mess] up.”
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