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Paula and Heather with Japan Ironman athlete Yoko Hori

Paula - chowing down at Mos Burgers


Heather and Paula - Ironman Japan update

Japan Ironman Update – Heather and Paula arrive in Japan

It was only a short 5 weeks ago that we (Heather and Paula) decided that we would go back to the days of ol’ and travel to Japan for the Ironman race. I (Heather) had done the race a total of 3 times back in 1995-1997- but the race has since moved to it’s new location in Fukue. Paula had raced and won IM Japan numerous times including her most recent trip when she won the new version of the race in 2002. It was going to be something different for both of us – for me, it is a chance to do an Ironman without training for month’s and month’s and focusing solely on a specific race. For Paula it would be her only chance to squeeze in an Ironman race in her otherwise hectic work schedule. So, we are conducting what I consider a “racing experiment” – we have had a total of about 3-1/2 weeks of harder/longer training leading up to the race. Much less than I would normally do for an Ironman race – but something that will hopefully get us to the start line in good shape and definitely NOT overtrained!!!

So the training has been completed and the trip was upon us. We were flying solo on this one – the boys (Roch and Huddle) were holding down the fort at home. I am sure they were a little nervous sending their two girls out into the big world all by themselves!!!

The flight was awesome – Paula taught me how to make traveling business class seem like first class. Rule #1 – get the first row of seats so that you have LOTS of leg room. Rule #2 – steal as many pillows as you can so that you can prop your legs up on them. Having done this – we came through the flight without the normal “pigs feet” as I like to call them.

The first leg of our journey had us landing an over nighting in Osaka, Japan. We arrived at 4:30pm which would be around 12:30am our time. We were really going to try and stay awake and get on the time zone. So naturally, we decided to go for a little jog. We’ll this was pretty interesting since the Osaka airport is on an island – not a lot of options. We looked out our window and saw a path that ran along the water. After hoping over a few barriers and crossing a freeway, there we were – running along next to the water in amongst the radar towers etc. We never got kicked out – so I guess we were OK. The it was off to dinner and an early to bed – in bed by 8:30pm.

Our plan to stay on the time zone worked pretty well – we slept almost 7-1/2 hours – waking at 4am, which was pretty good we thought. Then it was time to start our travels to the Fukue. Two short 45 minute flights would get us to our final destination. We arrived in Fukue at around 11:30am – unfortunately our bikes did not make the trip. We were informed that the plane was too small and the bikes would have to be transported separately – and they would not arrive until Thursday. Normally I would be a little concerned with this, but staying with the theme of the race/ trip – we just went with the flow. We were greeted at the airport by the Ironman Japan staff and taken to our hotel – “the DOWNTOWN hotel”. This is a deluxe hotel as far as Japanese standards are concerned. Our rooms were a spacious 8’x8’ square with beds slightly larger than single beds. We were happy to get settled!!!

We made our way to the race office to check things out and then headed out for a short jog and a short swim. We opted for the pool as our wetsuits were in our bike cases and the ocean is a little too cold to swim without. As it turns out, the water in the pool was a balmy 90 degrees – made swimming too far very difficult – I guess this was an omen.
During our run and swim we met some of the local athletes. Yoko Hori – one of the top Japanese female athletes and a prior winner of Ironman Japan was at the race office – looking fit and ready to race. We also met some of the local Fukue athletes at the swim/bike transition. I didn’t realize it but Paula pointed out that they are hardcore athletes – lighting up a smoke after their swim – Sweet!!!

After the swim it was time for dinner. Off to Mos Burgers it was – for a cheeseburger, fries and a shake. We figured this was probably a safe bet – you can’t really go wrong. I guess Mos Burgers is a tradition here in Fukue- on Paula’s last visit here, they pretty much ate every meal there.

Now it is off to bed. Stay tuned for more updates as we lead up to the race.