Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where is Dissertation Girl?!

Yes, I have been a very bad blogger girl. How did work get so busy so fast?! (I mean the semester literally just started and I am already way behind!). I do want to update this blog with some more Japan pictures (and I keep thinking that this is something I want to take my time doing, you know, when I actually can sit down for longer than five minutes!). And I even have some dissertation updates to share ...

But first -- I did another triathlon this past Sunday in Sunset Hills, MO. Two weeks ago I did one in Alligator Creek -- way out in O'Fallon, MO, and I made the rookie mistake of forgetting my bike helmet. Luckily, there was a Walmart nearby that was open at 6 AM so I was able to dash in and grab one before my start time (and, again, luckily my start time was not in the first 3o minutes!). That race only got worse (it was like forgetting my helmet was a bad sign!) since the race course was extremely hilly and -- along with the humidity -- I felt pretty "wasted" early on. But it was the first race that I got to use my new racing bike (see picture below!) and that part went well! I feel much faster on this bike than my clunky ol' mountain bike and I think I came in something like 4th on the bike in my age group.

When I finished I almost stumbled and fell at the finish line -- I had to sit down for about 30 minutes before I could do anything else. My energy levels were basically depleted. But I finished in just over two hours so I was feeling pretty great.

The race this past Sunday in Sunset Hills had even more hills. I mean Hills with a capital "H" -- I had to bike the same course 5 times so I got to know those hills well. I was feeling pretty good as I waited to jump in the outdoor pool -- I even imagined the water was going to be pretty cold (which it wasn't). I got through the 400 yards (not easily like usual for me in the water) and then jumped on my super cool bike. On the second lap around the course, I started to feel a bit dizzy and sick. This was the first time ever that I thought "I can't do this. I have to stop." But ... somehow I dug deep and kept going. And then I had to throw on my running shoes and somehow finish the 5K run (which was stressing me out as I finished my last lap or two of the bike -- how in the heck was I going to finish??). By this time, it was pretty hot and humid. I had to do some serious power walking in the first mile, but somehow -- once again -- I managed to dig deep and finish. My time was bad -- I was something like 12th out of 18 women in the 40-49 age group. But I had wanted to finish before 2 hours and 30 minutes and I did do that -- the final time was 2:18:47. Again, just like at Alligator Creek, I literally could not move for about 15 minutes after finishing. I was just pretty spent of all energy.

Jim said he would come along to the next triathlon so that makes me happy -- it would be cool to have folks cheering you on like I see with other participants. I know my sport is boring for an audience (Look! There she goes!) but it does help to have someone cheering you on! When Jim is there, I think I even try harder because I want him to be proud of me.

Anyway -- the next big triathlon (the last of the season for me) is on October 2. I also have a biathlon in September (Yeah! No swimming!) but everything else for the rest of 2011 will be foot races (including the upcoming Rock'n'Roll Marathon here in October).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Race Info Updated

I just updated my racing schedule so if you click "Upcoming Races" you should see all the information there. I don't know if anyone is reading this but it keeps me organized and perhaps it will be useful when I start to compare times for next year!

Bad Blogger Girl

I have to apologize for my lack of updating. We came back after almost a month in Japan and I was pretty exhausted! BUT -- we had a fabulous time which I will try and detail in the next few blog entries! We basically spent part of the first week visiting some friends and then met our great friends Greg and Martha in Tokyo and then we all traveled together for the next two weeks.

So, like I said, we spent most of the first week of our holiday in Chiba Prefecture, which is the area I lived in during the 1990's for about three years. As you can see from the map below, Chiba City (where I taught) is pretty close to Tokyo (about an hour and a half from the heart of Tokyo):

at one point, we even drove by my old school and apartment which was odd because I thought they I would never see those places again! (but I do have to say that I spent happy, happy years teaching in Chiba!) We stayed with my fabulous (and gorgeous) friend Katsuyo and her delightful sons, Kehiro and Atsuto (her husband, Nao, was in Thailand on a business trip). During one of the days of our village we went to the new bridge connecting Chiba Prefecture and the other side of Tokyo Bay (i.e. Yokohama) -- the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line. With an overall length of 14 km, it includes a 4.4 km bridge and 9.6 km tunnel underneath the bay—the fourth-longest underwater tunnel in the world. I didn't think a bridge could be all that exciting but it was pretty cool. Once you go over the bridge -- but before you go below in the tunnel -- there is an "oasis" island that sits in the middle of the Bay. Here is a picture of Katsuyo and I chilling on the windy "island"!

We also got to meet up with Katsuyo's wonderful parents who really helped me so much when I was living in Chiba (I remember one time when I had the flu and her mother sent over lots of soup and yummy food). We went to a restuarant that serves shabu-shabu, which is sort of like fondue. You cook your meat in a hot pot and then put it in a variety of dipping sauces. Let me just say that we both ate so much that we were feeling pretty full for days!

Staying with friends the first few days was such a great idea, I think. It gave Jim a chance to acclimate himself a little to the Japanese culture and I had the chance to catch up with my friend. Katsuyo took us to lots of cool places and here are just a few images from some of the shrines and temples we visited:

Anyway, now that school is about to start and I will get into a more regular schedule, I promise to continue the story of our journey over the next couple of days!