Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Adventures in Osaka

I'm writing from the Hotel Nikko in Osaka, Japan. Well technically speaking I am on an island in the middle of the bay as the airport here sits on a man made island.

Jarrod and I arrived yesterday afternoon, which was about 11pm L.A. time, after a long day of travel. I have no complaints though as the trip went just about as smoothly as it could have. For once, I was not stressed over packing and was quite relaxed the night before departure. I got to LAX in plenty of time, more than usual due to the diligence and concern of my California family.

As I was sitting, waiting, for the first leg of my flight to San Fran, where I would meet Jarrod, I put in a call to Seth Bovio at Ultima Replenisher. He tried to get me a system wide upgrade for the flight which would have allowed me to ride business class for the trip. Anyone who has flown any kind of real distance understands the massive benefits of that. Unfortunately, since I had already checked in on the first leg of the flight, it couldn't be done. I'll have to think ahead a bit more next time!! (But am soooo thankful that he would try to do that for me!!! I have the best sponsors!)

My first flight was about 60% full, which shocked me as I have not been on a plane with empty seats for a very long time. I had an exit row, right at the front of the plane and was a happy camper. The flight attendant was awesome and not only filled up one of my waterbottles but also gave me an entire bottle of water to take with me. Hydration on such a long trip is critical so I was really appreciative.

Once in SFO I had to move quickly to get to the International gate for the long leg to Japan. Most of the passengers were already on board so I was not sure how full this flight was going to be. I was so happy when I walked on and headed to my seat, which was supposed to be an exit row seat again, and realized that there were rows of seats without passengers in them. So, what did I do?? I claimed an entire row, by throwing down things across all 5 seats, and crossed my fingers that no one came. They didn't! So for the first part of the flight I was completely stretched out, lying down, and loving life. I didn't need the business class upgrade after all. Jarrod hooked me up with some extra snacks from business class, well actually, the really nice flight attendant up there did, and again they were more than happy to keep refilling my water bottle for me. I watched Enchanted, tried to read my book (still failing) and made myself stay awake for all but the first 4 hours of the flight.

11 hours and a few minutes later... we were on the ground in Osaka. Honestly, the trip did not feel that long at all. There is something about flights that are so long that actually make them easier in my mind than a 6 hour cross country flight.

By the time we cleared customs, which was a piece of cake (even with finger printing and picture taking) our bags were already off the belt. It was probably the fastest luggage retrieval I have ever had. Thankfully too because by this time, as I mentioned, though it was only about 4pm Osaka time, it was just shy of midnight back in L.A. and I was starting to feel the fatigue.

We checked into the hotel and changed our clothes to go for our easy run. Since there really isn't anywhere to go, we are on an island, we ran around a parking lot for a while and then back and forth along the parking garage for a bit more. As Jarrod would say, it was about 9 x parking lot and 3 x short path. My body definitely felt a bit off and I felt like I was going to topple over a few times, but that is to be expected after a long 16+ hour day of travel.

Dinner, was an adventure. We headed upstairs to the two restaurants on the 11th floor of the hotel. We should have known by the swanky table dress and lighting that it would be pricey, but we sat down looking at the menu. Jarrod turns to me and goes "this meal costs the same as our hotel room for the night". We both laughed and ran out of the restaurant as fast as we could. The lobster looked amazing... but please, we are on triathlete "salaries" here. We settled for some pizza and pasta at the same restaurant where I ate by myself when I came here 2 years ago. Hey, why mess with what works?!

So, with that, I'm going to try to go back to bed as we have another leg of flying to do in a few hours to get us to Ishigaki. From there we will unpack and do a bit of training. I'm so excited to get there and to start settling in and preparing for the race. Definitely check online as to the start times of the races. I think it will be 9 or 10pm PST for my race, but I'm not entirely sure. We are 16 hours ahead of the west coast here.

How many bag tags does one bike need?

That's all from Japan for now. I will try my best to take lots of photos and write updates, but no guarantees that I'll have internet there.


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