Domo Arigato Mr. Robato, and hello Slowtwitchers!
Since my last post a couple weeks back I have been to New Zealand and if you could not tell from my title, I have also been to Japan to race in two more World Cups. The first one taking place in the relatively small town of New Plymouth on the north island in New Zealand and the second one in the small fishing community of Ishigaki located on a small island not far from Taiwan. Both places are incredibly scenic with New Plymouths views of Mount Taranaki and the amazing coastline, and Ishigaki with its beautiful turquoise colored water and palm trees. It is the second time that I have been to Ishigaki and although they have many years experience putting on this World Cup event, I was equally surprised again at the organization and professionalism put into the race. I would have probably never visited these small communities if it were not for these races and I am lucky and glad that I got the chance to visit.
My trip to Ishigaki was pretty much a last minute decision. Coach Joel Filliol emailed me a couple days before New Plymouth and said that he thought it would be a good idea for me to go to Ishigaki to race. I just basically do whatever Coach Joel tells me to do so my tickets were booked and after New Plymouth I was on another plane on my way to Ishigaki. The only bad thing was that it took three days of travel to get to that little island in the middle of nowhere. A flight from New Plymouth to Auckland, overnight in Auckland, another flight to Tokyo, overnight in Tokyo, and finally a flight to Ishigaki. I know that it may sound crazy, but honestly you get used to all the travel that we do on the circuit. With the shorter racing we can recover pretty quickly from the races and be able to race 2-3 weeks in a row. The ITU likes to schedule up to three races in a row at times so racing, then recovering as fast as possible and flying for a couple days to your next destination are not at all uncommon. Usually we cross many times zones so you have to be a professional at adjusting to the time zone you have landed in. Each athlete has their own strategy at doing this, but I think that I have it down to a science and never really have trouble adjusting at all. I almost always get a full night sleep as soon as I get their which is really important. Then you just do a little training, a lot of resting watching some really bad Japanese TV, and food scouting to try to find something that resembles pasta and chicken.
Finding healthy foods that resemble your diet back home is one of the hardest challenges that I come across when I travel. We race all over the world and as you know, most countries diets are extremely different from the North American diet (the healthy North American diet, not the McDonald's diet! That you can find anywhere in the world!). If you start eating the local dishes and change what you normally eat back home then you can be in for a big surprise leading up to and including the race. Your body is just not used to processing all that different food and it can lead to a big back-up (no fiber like the diet in Japan) or the complete opposite where you are throwing up out of your ass and end up on the porto-potty in the last 5km of the run! You can also just feel not "on" come race day from not getting what your body needs and is used to. I almost always bring some food from home when I travel, it is mostly breakfast foods (cereal, peanut butter, almond milk, oatmeal), some vitamins (7systems is awesome for traveling) and lots of bars and gels. This has come in really handy when I have been traveling overseas.
Now I know what most of you are thinking because I hear it all the time from my family and friends. Whenever someone brings up going on vacation or taking a trip I say "I would love to go on Vacation sometime". "WHAT! You are constantly on vacation traveling all around the world! You are so lucky!" I know I am very fortunate to be able to visit many different countries and experience a variety of cultures, but this sport has made me hate traveling! A vacation to me is not having to pack your bike, food, and clothes for months on end, then get on 5 different flights with screaming babies, kids that kick the back of your seat and that annoying person that is laughing at the top of their lungs at some comedy show on their TV while everyone else is trying to get some sleep. Going through security dozens of times, picking up your luggage only to put it on another belt 2 feet away. Not showering for a couple days and then trying not to pass out from the heat while being in the back of a bus, rocketing down some narrow, windy, bumpy road taking you to some town in the middle of nowhere just praying that you make it in one piece. Oh yea, and you get there with no luggage or bike because the airline has said that they have disappeared off the face of the earth. Perfect.
When we get to our destination their is no lounging on the beach or sightseeing. The most sightseeing that I get to do is inside my hotel room and the race course. Then the Monday after the race we are on another plane to our next destination or back home. No time for the sights. Resting and recovering is much more important! Sightseeing is something I can do after I retire from the sport!
I know that I have done a lot of complaining in this post but I am extremely fortunate to be able to do what I do. Traveling is part of the job description and I would not change any of it! Plus I forgot to mention the fact that I am an Elite member of Star Alliance which gives us access to all the lounges and upgrades once in a while. I guess it is not all that bad!
Until next time!
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