3 races in 3 months. I'm playing the race once a month game at the moment. April was Challenge Melbourne mixed with a bit of training. May was Ironman 70.3 Busselton and that was interesting to say the least. Fitness was high in April and May but took a dive after crashing in Busselton and running to finish the race (and eventually getting disqualified), so the 6 weeks between that and Ironman 70.3 Japan lacked in a lot of different areas. It's all part of the game though. If everything went perfectly 100% of the time, what fun would that be?!
I was absolutely convinced Japan was going to be a do not start situation based on recovery from the crash and a few other issues but a few days before the flight the decision was made to go. Usually I have my neat little piles organized over a week before a trip so this was already outside of the norm! There were really only two goals for the race: 1) Keep the tires on the ground and 2) kickstart the fitness build for the second half of 2018. Lucky for me I checked both of those boxes!
The race was relatively uneventful but that was great after Busselton ;-) The swim happened, the bike course was probably one of the most technically complicated courses on the Ironman circuit, and the run was crazy hilly and mixed in a few sets of stairs to keep things interesting. The bike course probably had 23 or more hairpin turns, even more 90 degree or sharper turns, and included biking on a sidewalk, a seawall, several narrow country roads, and just about any other place you could imagine! The amazing thing about the race: the volunteers. 1400 of them to be exact. The ENTIRE course was also lined with cones and giant arrows to help athletes navigate.
On top of all of that, it was a legit point-to-point race so the logistics to organize it and make everything happen had to be crazy. The race organizers put on a show. Everything ran smoothly, shuttles happened exactly as they said they would, bikes traveled to T1 in trucks with rows of bike racks, and trust me I could go on and on. It was an impressive operation! The race meetings, expo, and awards party also took place in an airport. Yup, you read that correctly!
But the best part of the trip, visiting Tokoname Junior High School. A group of pro athletes had the opportunity to race students in a triathlon-like event in the gymnasium as well as spend some time in classrooms over the lunch hour sharing experiences, answering questions, and participating in normal school gossip. I don't think any of us were prepared for the all out sprint efforts needed to race though! I'm pretty certain we all got completely crushed in 25 meter running races. While we were there to share our lives with the students, they also provided a reminder that the sport is more than just swim, bike, run, eat, sleep, train. It's about experiencing new cultures, seeing new places, inspiring others, and taking hold of each opportunity. I needed this reminder and it came at a perfect time. The second place finish was nice but was really just icing on the cake.
The one race each month trend isn't over yet. I'm headed to the mainland to race in July and August! For now, I'll be settling back into the training routine to allow the fitness build for the second half of 2018 to begin.
As always, a huge mahalo to all of the companies and people helping me make this happen. It can't be done alone!