There were a lot of unknowns going into this race in Japan. I was a little unsure how I would do with such a long flight and a 12 hour time change. I’ve never traveled that far. My coach suggested I go a week prior to the race to try to adjust and get used to the time change. I was very glad I did because the first couple days were rough!
A week before this trip I wasn’t feeling 100%. I felt a little run down and was unable to complete a couple of key workouts. I was really worried about starting this trip off sick so I slept in a few mornings, and took a day off completely and rested as much as I could. A few years ago I would have pushed myself to get all my training done and pry would have ended up sick but I have been trying to listen to my body a little more and know when it’s time to push through or rest.
I flew to CA first and spent a day there. My uncle Frank lives in LA and I was able to join him for a bike ride while I was in town. I also fit in a couple of runs in the amazing CA weather before leaving for Japan.
After a 11 hour flight we arrived in Tokyo at 2pm. I was planning on doing some kind of workout/shake out run or swim when I got there but was so exhausted ended up going to bed at 3:30 pm and slept until 1am! It took me a couple days to stay up until at least 6:30pm and sleep in til 4am.
Tokyo was amazing! Everyone was very nice, even though it was hard to communicate at times. Most restaurants had English and Japanese menus and they have pictures of everything so it’s pretty easy to pick out your food! Lots of interesting things about Japan.
We went to the fish market which was pretty cool, I tried some foods I've never had before. Most of it was good!
We also visited some Buddhist temples, the Zojoji Temple was one of my favorites. The architecture was beautiful! A lot of history
We also went to TeamLab Borderless Art, I found that to be really interesting as well!
We spent 4 days in Tokyo before flying to Tokoname where the race was taking place. I was starting to get on a better schedule by that time but was always tired in the afternoons!
The day before the race there was a lot to get done. This race has two transitions but we were only allowed at T1 because T2 was at a school and we weren’t allowed there until the race. We had to take a shuttle to drop off our bikes and T2 transition bags at T1 on Saturday. They loaded our bikes up in a truck then shuttled us there in a bus. It took about 30-40 min to get the race start/T1. They inspected our bikes & helmets before we racked them. In Japan it seems like they trust everyone. There wasn’t even a fence around transition. I was like, ''ahhhh I’m leaving my bike here overnight with no fence??!'' It was still there in the morning so I guess they know what they are doing! :)
I knew this was a very technical bike course but you get all kinds of courses and I knew this one would be interesting. I heard it was going to rain on race day, I like the rain, cools everything down but it wasn’t the best bike course to tackle in the rain.
Race morning I caught an early shuttle to race start. I was confused about where the bag drops and pick ups were in transition. Nothing was allowed to be in transition but your bike so after the swim you had to get your bag, put on your helmet and race belt, put your goggle and wetsuit in that bag then drop it off on your way to your bike. It was already a 1/2 mile transition but it was all very organized and it all worked out pretty well. There were so many helpful volunteers!
By the start of the race it was raining. By the time we got on our bikes it was raining pretty hard but honestly, I like the rain so I wasn't mad about it. Each loop had 10 turns, you did 4 loops before turning on a tile sidewalk over a bridge, (the turn is easy to miss!) over some wooden boards that were covering some stairs along the seawall, to start the last 16 miles of the ride which had lots of hills and U-turns.
I came out of the water in 4th place, not far behind the 3 girls in front. My first lap on the bike was learning where all the turns were, how far ahead the girls were and where I could go fast. By the 2nd loop I moved into 2nd place, my goal was to catch up to the girl in 1st by the end of the bike. Since this was a loop course, for a while you could see where you were at in the race. On the 4th loop I realized I wasn’t quite sure where the turn was to start the last 16 miles, I slowed down and found the sign pointing us to turn after 4 laps. As I made the turn onto the sidewalk my front tire hit one of the rubber lines they have in their sidewalks and as I turned my front wheel to get it out I slide out on the tile sidewalk and ended up hitting a plastic barrier and went down pretty hard on my head. I just remember the back of my helmet hitting the sidewalk. I heard a couple girls ask if I was ok as they passed. I was a little confused at first. I was slow to get up. Someone had come over to me and picked up my bike. I realized I was ok, just a little blood on my knee and a bit dazed. I started looking over my bike. The chain was off and my brakes were rubbing but other than that it looked fine. I was just really confused and it seemed like it took me a while to even put my chain on. Another girl came around the corner and slide out and hit the ground. It was slick! She got up and rode off and I was still not back on my bike. I kept slipping every time I went to get back on my bike. I almost went down again! Very slowly, I got through the rest of that tile sidewalk. (Out of the 10 years they have had this race, this was the first year it rained!) I was very disappointed with the loss of time. It was going so good and I was feeling great. I thought maybe I could make up some time once I got going on the bike again. I caught up to the other girl who had fallen but still felt dazed. The course had a lot of u-turns and I took them pretty slow because it was still raining and I didn't want to fall again.
The run started off with some long uphills, hill after hill. I was like how many more hills are there?! A few miles in there was a really steep hill, it was a lonely run. I passed one girl within the first 5k and one during the last 5k. There were also stairs along this run, with the rain they were slick as well. Lots of turns along the way but there were so many volunteers directing us where to go you couldn’t get lost. They were all so nice, cheering and standing out in the rain all day! We ran through the school grounds as well and lots of kids at that aid station lining up for high 5’s! The most spirited place on the course! :)
Coming across the finish line I was disappointed. Not because I got 4th place but because I knew I was capable of more and had expected to finish better. I was also hopeful I could qualify for the World Championship at this race but it must not have been meant to be... I am thankful I was able to finish 4th and for the great experience it was racing in Japan! I know the fitness is there so I am looking forward to the rest of the season!
The awards dinner was a good time! Great meeting athletes from around the world. I really had a good time in Japan.
The next day they invited the pros who were able to make it, to visit a local school, meet the kids and participate in some activities and have lunch with them. The kids were so well behaved and respectful ! It was great to meet them and learn a little more about their culture.
Thanks so much to my husband for going to Japan with me and being such a great supporter! I couldn't ask for more, I am very lucky!
Thanks to my sponsors, Epix Gear, Rudy Project, ROKA, First Endurance, Flying Fish Bikes and thanks to my coach Michael Lovato, who continues to push me to be better!
My next race will be Santa Rosa 70.3 at the end of July!