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Journey towards Tokyo Marathon 2018

Today I officially got accepted into the Tokyo Marathon! A bucket list item about to come true (if I make it to the finish line)!

I saw people on Facebook getting their rejection emails, so I checked my email and nothing yet. Hopefully no news is good news. I then finally got an email and was amazed to see that I had been accepted! I had previously applied 5 times and been rejected. So about time, I say.

Wow. Can’t believe I’m one of the lucky ones who get to participate.

Shit. This means I’m going to actually have to run and train! I don’t remember the last time I went for a jog and I’m at my heaviest weight ever!

So now I gotta train for a full marathon. I can’t believe my first ever marathon is going to be the Tokyo Marathon in 2018. I think the hardest part is over though – the actually getting accepting into it. I suppose running is the easy part but perhaps not for me. This is going to be a huge wake up call for the body.

First thing on my list is to buy a pair of running shoes. My current running shoes are so old and ruined that they are no longer wearable. I’m going to have to do something about.

And I’m going to have to find a lot of motivation to train for this. But it’s such a rare opportunity that I don’t want to squander it, so I really want to finish within the time limit of 7 hours.

I’m going to make an effort to jog, train and blog about my journey to Tokyo Marathon 2018! Bring. It. On.

 

Oiso 10km swim race – the motion video

You’re in for a treat. So normally, I would write a swim race report, but this time I have a real video for your viewing pleasure.

Last Saturday, I did a 10km swim race. In a pool. 20 laps of a 500m pool. Same race that I did 2 years. You might recall the <a href=”http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2014/07/01/my-first-10km-swim-race-oiso-10km-swim-race/”>race report.</a>

The only difference since is that I’ve gotten older and slower. I managed a time that was about 40min slower than last time. Ugh.

The housemate finished before me so was able to get some footage of me. Mind you, the footage was taken at around the 8km and 9km mark, so I was literally ready to die. Body really struggled and it wasn’t pretty. But don’t take my word for it.

You can view it for yourself:

Ishigaki 5km OWS swim race

First open water swim race for the summer and the year was a 5k-er. The destination – idyllic. Water temp – too hot.

I had wanted to do an open water swim race in Okinawa for a while now – Japan’s answer to paradise. Ishigakijima did not disappoint. A really beautiful island for water lovers. Even managed to round a few friends to join not only the trip, but also the swim.

Headed down on the first flight on Thursday and spent Thursday and Friday sightseeing. Saturday May 30 was race day. It was a scorcher. In the mid-30 degrees, but felt closer to 40. And the water was like a bath. Ugh. Much too hot and uncomfortable for my liking.

The race was held at a beach off the ANA resort hotel.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

This waterpark was probably going to be a lot more fun than a 5km swim:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The water was so clean and clear, but oh so warm.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The course was 1.5km and required three laps and a bit to make up the 5km.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Three of us had signed up for the 5km swim.

Aquaholics Anonymous:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The boys were gonna be fast. Was also going to test out my brand new Garmin in my first open water swim race for the year. My goal time was to do it comfortably under 2 hours, anything around 1hour 45 I would be happy with. The last 5km swim race I did back in November without training, took me just over 2 hours to do. But since then I’ve gotten back into the training.

Ready and genki:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

And we’re off:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The view from the water:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Scored some action pictures from the race organiser:

Me at the top in the pink cap:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Me again – check out the high kick:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

This is cool action shot:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Much of the swim was pretty shallow over reefs.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Coming into the finish:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Yay. Finished!

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Pleased to say I swam a time of 1 hour 40min which was on par with my expectations. Not overly fast but not bad for the first race of the season. Got to leave more fuel in the tank this year, as I have decided to do a 10km marathon open water swim.

I got first place in my age group for females, so not bad. Snared me a gold medal. It’s always nice to not go home empty handed. The boys also kicked arse. They took 2nd and 3rd place in the male age group with way faster times than me, both beating me by over 20 minutes.

Well done all round:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

As for the swim race itself – water was way too warm. Wetsuits definitely not required. It was also quite a shallow swim, as we swum over reefs. Got to see a few fish. Also a bit of a current, but all in all a decent swim. Course was a little tricky though with many overswimming the course. It was a 2.5km course, requiring 2 laps.
And much to my disappointment, something happened to my Garmin. Must have hit a button as a swum. Timing was pretty spot on, but it didn’t register the whole distance.

It was a fun swim to kick off the season:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Niijima Open water swim (ows) again

Another belated swim race report from last year.
Race date: July 2015
Venue: Niijima island

You might recall that I did this race back in 2011. Back then it was the longest distance open water swim race I had done before. Since then I’ve done a few 5km, an 8km and a 10km race. I’ve pretty much gotten to a point where I usually don’t like to enter in swim races less than 4km. Am trying to do more endurance swims, but I’m still pretty slow.

Last year, we got a small posse to come to Niijima island for the swim race again. In addition, a small group of Aussies from the Brighton Icebergs also came to Japan to do this swim and I got to meet up with some them.

The Niijima swim once again involved getting an early jetboat ride from Tokyo to the island. Perhaps too early for some.
Here is everyone passed out or perhaps they are just conserving their energy.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Here we are wide awake!

From Niijima OWS 2015

We had rented a van for the six of us to make the most of weekend.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Again we were blessed with another beautiful hot sunny day. And the water conditions were good.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A beautiful day for a swim. And the water so clean and blue.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I like this particular race. It’s always well organised and entry fee includes refreshments and a free towel for every finisher.
The bananas this year even had messages of motivation which was a really cute touch.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Gaijin swimmers represent!

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

The race has a great atmosphere.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

And yes, this is why we swim:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A cool close up of a grasshopper:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I did the 4.5km distance and my time was super slow. 1 hour, 49minutes. The last time I did this swim, I did it 1hr, 36min. I was 13 minutes slower.
Last year was not a great swimming year for me. In 2014, I ramped up my training to do some endurance swim races so last year I significantly cut back on swimming. This year, I am trying to ramp up again with my eyes on a couple of marathon races.

I’ve signed up for 4.5km swim race again this year on Niijima island and I’m hoping to improve on last year’s time. But I feel I’m getting slower as I get older.

Japan open water swimming race calendar 2016

Out of the goodness of my heart, I have compiled a translated list of open water swim races in Japan for 2016. This is mostly for the benefit of the foreigner community in Japan, who can’t navigate through Japanese. Also, there does not appear to be a consolidated list of open water swim races in Japan (even in Japanese), and I have scoured the Internet to compile this list of races all around Japan. Mind you, I’ve already done quite a fair chunk of the swims on the list over the last 5 years, so I kinda knew what was out there, plus found a bunch more as well. There are about 50 swim races to date around Japan with probably a few more to be released. Not all dates are confirmed yet as it still early in the season.

The list can be found on a Google docs I’ve created here. Please note that this is a working document and I will try to update it regularly as and when race dates become available.

I’ve compiled and translated all the necessary info for free as a community service. Please do not republish or rip off this list. Instead, please link to my blog. This will ensure good karma!

I’m more than happy to help people out if you’re interested in the open water swimming scene in Japan.

Cheers!

The Official Color Run Japan

I did the Power Color Run last month, but last weekend I did the official Color Run. This was the real deal and it was heaps of fun. These themed runs are fun to do. I did the Warrior Dash last year, and I’ve done two Color Runs this year.

The Color Run was well organised, great turnout, and beautiful weather.

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

The run was a little bit of a pain to get too. So far. Took about 2.5-3 hours to get there. That means getting up way too early for my liking on a Saturday morning. The run was at Pleasure Forest aka Sagamiko resort in Kanagawa prefecture. From Sagamiko it was then a 30min bus. Luckily they had frequent buses running from outside the station.

From The Color Run 2014

The run was 5km course through a forest, more like a BMX track, hilly and dirty.

From The Color Run 2014

Time to get Colorful!

From The Color Run 2014

The Color Run is a run inspired by the Indian Hindu Holi festival to welcome in spring known as the “Festival of Colours”.

Team Akabeko representing:

From The Color Run 2014

Got some cool loot in the goodie bag which consisted of a t-shirt, wrist band, sweatband, washable tatoo stickers, bottle of water and a can of red bull.

From The Color Run 2014

Awesome weather and the cherryblossoms were still out:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

There were about 8 wave starts throughout the day, with people coming and going throughout the day.

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Time to run, or in our case, mostly walk. It was surprisingly a super hilly course on a dirt track.
Couldn’t believe this guy wearing thongs!

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

It wasn’t really much of a run. More of a walk. And a hell of a lot of high-fiving and “touchy”.

From The Color Run 2014

At each km we were bombarded with colour powder:

Yellow:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Blue:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Green – the volunteers here were the most genki-est:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

PINK:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

And then the Finish line:

From The Color Run 2014

Yay us:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Check out my arm:

From The Color Run 2014

Covered in Colour:

From The Color Run 2014

They had these really air blowers to blow the powder off your clothes and hair:

From The Color Run 2014

And then Finish Line Colour Toss, just in case you weren’t covered in enough colour:

From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014
From The Color Run 2014

Random but cool photo of this remote controlled flying camera device so it could capture aerial shots of the powder toss.

Fun day out. Well organised and big props to the volunteers who were all so genki. Just wish these race venues weren’t so far away.

My running training recently has been rather lacklustre. Spending most of my time in the pool these days. I am rather excited about the Electric Run coming to Japan though. Date has been set for July 11. It’s gonna be awesome.

Bucketlist swim: Coogee Wedding Cake Island Swim Challenge 2013

One needs to work off all these high teas, so I timed one of my trips back home last year with an open water swim race back in Sydney – a mecca for open water swimming, or as we call it “ocean swimming”. It’s pretty big in Ostraya.

Sydney is where I did my first open water swim race back when I was a wee uni student. I went along to a beach race on my own having decided to enter it without ever having done an open water swim ever. I’m not really sure what possessed to try open water swimming given that I didn’t really grow up near the beach.

My first ows race was the Cole Classic – a then-2km swim from North Bondi beach to South Bondi beach (and back?). They have since moved the Cole Classic to a different beach. I’m glad I got to swim the original Cole Classic swim at the iconic Bondi Beach before they changed venues.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to when I come home (on a permanent basis), is all the open water swim races available in Australia. We have quite the ocean swimming scene, and a lot of beaches and races I’d love to swim. So I’ve got that to look forward to.

One of my bucketlist swims has been the Coogee Island Swim Challenge aka the Wedding Cake Island Swim, and I got to tick this off last November. This particular swim is pretty popular. They actually hold it twice – once in November (beginning of Oz summer – the cold water challenge) and again in April (end of Oz summer – the cool water challenge). The difference is degrees.

The last Sunday in November last year was a beautiful sunny clear day. Water temps about 19 degrees, but air temp was in the low 30 degrees.

The race was at Coogee Beach and it’s a 2.4km swim from the beach out and around Wedding Cake Island and back inland. Wedding Cake Island is a rocky reef. The crashing white waves over the top of it makes it look as though it’s icing…hence Wedding Cake Island….I think. It is a challenging swim. Conditions can be tough. And in some previous years, they’ve had to change the course bypassing the Island loop….which kinda defeats the challenge of this swim.

Picturesque Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This is a typical Sunday in Sydney:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

From the beach out to Wedding Cake Island, around the island and then back in.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

A big turn out for this race. About 800 people or so, with wave starts – mixed gender by age group.
Ocean swims in Oz are very different to those in Japan. In Oz, you have to deal with waves and the surf. Most swims in Japan are very flat and tame.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

2.4km course map (there was also a 1km option as well):

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Aerial view:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Here are some pics from the previous wave starts:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And now for some action:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s a battlefield out there:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

It’s nearly my turn to swim.
Swim essential: Check.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

I was a little disappointed that the race-issued cap didn’t come with a race-feature logo. They often make a nice memory-sake. I keep all my swim caps from races.

Preparing to swim:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And my purple wave starts. I’m somewhere in the pack:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Now, I thought sharks would be my biggest worry because the swim involves going out further past the shark nets. And I have actually done a training swim here and seen a wobbegong shark here at the beach before. I saw this “thing” at the bottom of the water, and it wasn’t until afterwards I was told that “thing” was a shark. Argh freak out. Ignorance is bliss. Kinda glad I didn’t know it was a shark whilst swimming over the top of it.

Turns out on race day, my biggest problem was the gazillions of jellyfish I would be swimming through. Never have I seen so many jellyfish. Gah, my worst nightmare. I was nearly going to pull out of the race because I was not coping. They weren’t the stinging kind, but every hand stroke through the water, you felt them. They gave me the heebie jeebies. They were kinda going in my cosies. And made very sure to keep my mouth closed in the water. There were so many jellyfish that it got to a point where I refused to put my face in the water and basically was swimming freestyle with my head above water.
The majority of the course was jellyfish infested. Just making it to the finish line was going to be an achievement. I was so close to pulling myself out the race. Just mentally was not coping with the smacks upon smacks of jellyfish. (Did you know the collective noun for jellyfish is “smacks”?)

You don’t really ever see the island at any point even though you swim around it. I had been told that one should take a look at the reef island as you swim around, but even then it’s hard to catch a glimpse of. I was too preoccupied with jellyfish.

I felt only a sense of relief, not a sense of accomplishment when I finished this race.

That finish line could not come soon enough. Was so glad to be out of the water:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

About to cross the finish line…hooray:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Swam terribly slow.
A time of a flat 51 minutes for the 2.4 km swim. So so slow. But glad to have just finished considering this is a race that I was prepared to pull out of. I should add, that my dad also entered this swim. His longest open swim distance race and was only a few minutes behind me time-wise. I need to lift my game! (I came 523rd out of 822 people. Was 134 out of 248 females. And 33rd in age group. Not great stats). Although I am glad to have finished, I can’t even say it was an enjoyable swim really. The jellyfish really bothered, even though no one else there seemed bothered by it all. It was a beautiful day though. The sun was shining, and I survived the swim. So win-win.

It was nice to enjoy the scenery. Bucketlist swim complete. Got a few more up my sleeve though.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

The best part about finishing is eating.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And I have to say, a good ol’ Aussie meat pie beats a Japanese onigiri as a post-race snack anyday!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

This pie sums up how I felt:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

And a mini sausage roll as well:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Ahh, beautiful Coogee Beach:

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Look how clean and clear the water is. You can see Wedding Cake Island to the right of the photo. And to think I swam out there and back!

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

Coogee Island Challenge – complete! Got a heap of merchandise – the hoodie and the towel to commemorate.

From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim
From Coogee Wedding Cake island swim

My second half marathon

Why do I run?
Because it feels soooo good when I stop!
To say I do not enjoy running is an understatement.

Last weekend, I ran my second ever half marathon. Much easier the second time round. (You can read about the first time here).
Managed to even convince a few friends to sign up.

Truthfully, I was supposed to run a half marathon a month ago. It rained on the day so I didn’t even bother turning up. A half marathon is not fun on a nice day, let alone being wet, cold and miserable.
So I signed up for another one this month instead.

The run was at Odaiba bay (a man-made artificial island somewhere off Tokyo Bay). It was the most unorganised running event ever. If I had of rocked up on my own, I actually would have left and just gone home. But there was a bunch of us, which motivated me to stay.
They were severely disorganised and understaffed. It took over an hour to register upon arrival and they had to postpone all the races by about nearly an hour.
I do not recommend partaking in this half marathon event (The International (Embassy) Friendly Run).

The ridiculously long line to register, least of all no race/event t-shirt.

From Half marathon 2013

Ready to run:

From Half marathon 2013

It was a 7km course, which we had to complete 3 laps of. The course was absolutely flat as a pancake. As far as half marathon courses go, it was an easy course.

I didn’t train a lot for this. On average 2-3 runs a week between 6-10km. And in the last 4 months I only did a 15km run 2 or 3 times.
Was pretty proud of my time though.
2 hours 12 minutes. A huge improvement on last year’s first half marathon event which I did in 2 hours and 45minutes. A 30min shaving off of previous time.
Maybe a sub-2 hour half marathon next year if I decide to actually proper train.

A well-deserved beer and bowl of ramen. Any calories burnt after running 21km were just all put back on.

From Half marathon 2013

Post-race festivities was a trip to the Oedo Onsen Land in Odaiba. 4 hours of onsen, massage and exfoliation (think Turkish hamam Japanese-style called “akasuri”) is just what the doctor ordered. The absolute bomb. The next day I felt as though I didn’t even run a half marathon. Felt like a new woman apart from my flat feet giving me grief. I think I have something like plantar fascititis or something. Ouch. It’s been a week and still hurting.

Might have to hang up the running shoes for a while and SUIT up. Swim SUIT up, that is. I am planning on doing a marathon swim next year (in the swimming world, (only) 10km is considered a marathon).

Lake Biwa: Cycling

Got up early on Saturday morning to travel from Tokyo all the way to Shiga prefecture.
Had planned on taking the overnight bus but the buses were booked out way in advance due to Obon and summer holidays. The shinkansen it was then.
From Tokyo to Maibara, it took about 2.5 hours on the shinkansen and then a short 9min local train to Nagahama station where I would stay overnight.
Upon exiting Nagahama station I headed straight for the west exit and to the rentacycle shop. There, I rented a bike for 2 days (for the Saturday and Sunday – only 2000yen for 2day rental plus a 500yen refundable deposit). I was going to be swimming a race in Lake Biwa on the Sunday and had to stay overnight the night before. I figured I would make the most of the weekend in Shiga ken.

The guys are the bike rental shop were super lovely and friendly. In fact, everyone I met in Shiga prefecture was super friendly. They only had electric bikes, so I made do with that. The guys were really concerned about the battery not lasting much more than 60km (I had told them I would be riding 60-70km on the Saturday alone). I would need to come back on Sunday morning to replace the battery.

Armed with my electric mamachari complete with basket, my plan was to ride to Notogawa about 30-35km away. I had found a place there where I could rent SUP boards. I sent off from Nagahama at about 11:40am. It was about 34-35 degrees. It was gonna take me a couple of hours to cycle there.

Lake Biwa is Japan’s largest lake (freshwater). It has a circumference of approx. 235km. At its maximum length it’s about 63.5 km and maximum width of about 23km.

This is Lake Biwa:

From Saturday Biwa cycling

This is how much of it I cycled in 2 hours:

From Saturday Biwa cycling

The most painful 30km ever. Cycling is not at all a comfortable sport. It was hot, I was carrying my overnight backpack, and my arse was killing me. Cyling is just nasty.

You can cycle all around Lake Biwa. There is, for the most part, an awesome cycle path that follows around Lake Biwa along the main traffic road. It is also pancake flat (or at least the portion that I cycled).
It’s a pretty easy cycling route, minus the bike discomfort factor.

Cycling around Lake Biwa in photos:

Follow the path:

From Saturday Biwa cycling

Alongside Lake Biwa:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

The lake stretches on for a really really long time:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

There are cycling road signs around Lake Biwa so you shouldn’t get too lost. I did have to detour a couple of times though.

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

There’s a tiny tiny island out in the middle of Biwako:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

Every now and then, you’ll have to veer through off the main road and away from the lake.

From Saturday Biwa cycling

There’ll be more than a handful of bridges to cross as well, as lots of little rivers run off the lake.

From Saturday Biwa cycling

Whilst I was pedaling away, this guy was just chillin’:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

Whilst the lake dominates the view on one side, you’re surrounded by rice paddies on the other.

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

After a couple of hours of cycling, and weaving in out of some rice paddies, I finally stumbled upon my destination:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

This was the SUP rental place. They went all kinds of water sporting gear here.

From Saturday Biwa cycling

Such a cool little place. You can even stay overnight there.

From Saturday Biwa cycling

It was about 2pm ish by now. Just enough time to get in a couple of hours of SUP. I’ll tell ya what though, my arse from cycling was killing me. I was not looking forward to cycling back. The guys at this shop were super super friendly. They gave me a free ice cream which was a welcome treat after that cycle. They drove me to a nice flat section of the lake where all the other SUPers were. Away I went. Doing anything but cycling, was pure bliss. Good conditions to SUP on – Lake Biwa is really flat, although the wind picked up later which made paddling a bit tough.

From Saturday Biwa cycling

The water temp of Lake Biwa was disgusting warm. About 30 degrees.
I enjoyed my time out on the water – very zen. SUP is so relaxing. For me, just being out on/in/near the water is very relaxing and recharging. The other SUPers out there were all super friendly. They were all crazy fast SUPers and compete in races. One of the guys was fast enough to win himself a Hawaii flight prize at one his races. Impressive. I also met an American guy who is the owner of a surf and SUP board store back in Chiba. Got his details, so will probably check out his shop/surf school and check out the beaches in Chiba to keep practising.

At about 5pm I had to think about heading back. Ugh. I had to cycle another 2 hours back. I’m sure my backside was wincing at the thought.

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

I ploughed back to Nagahama on the bike. Did get to see a lovely sunset over Lake Biwa though:

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

Even at 6pm it was still 32 degrees!

From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling
From Saturday Biwa cycling

It was dark by the time I got back to my hotel.
60km cycling around Lake Biwa. And Stand Up Paddleboarding on Lake Biwa.
My arse will thank me if I never have to get back on a bike again.
In fact, I’m actually tempted to sell my 1-year-old roadbike and get a SUP board instead.

Mud, sweat and beers: Where’s Wally Warriors

Got a fun post for you today. Two weekends ago, a bunch of us entered in the Warrior Dash.
The Warrior Dash is a 5km run in fancy dress costume through a bunch of obstacles. Think Survivor-style obstacles in a festival-type atmosphere with music and beer.
Sounds like fun, ay. Try doing it in 30-degree heat, ridiculous humidity, and in a Where’s Wally outfit!

Riding the train at 7am in a Where’s Wally outfit. Mind you, I felt sexy!

We travelled all the way to Chiba to a place called Deutsche Mura – a German village theme park. Very random.

From Warrior Dash 2013

The turf here was ridiculously green and well manicured.

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Here I am decked out in my outfit, in pursuit of Wally (or Waldo, for you American readers):

From Warrior Dash 2013

Our team of Where’s Wallies:

From Warrior Dash 2013

Everyone was decked out in costumes which was great to see:

Mario and Luigi:

From Warrior Dash 2013

The toga team:

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Let the race begin! Contestants set out in wave starts every half hour.
We took it quite leisurely and helped each other out through all the obstacles, stopping for lots of photos along the way. The 5km distance alone was a struggle…I’m pretty sure we walked most of it.

There was probably at least 10 obstacles throughout the course.

Obstacle 1:

From Warrior Dash 2013

Obstacle 2:

From Warrior Dash 2013

There was fire jumping (somehow managed not to burn myself ;-):

From Warrior Dash 2013

The Spider trap (Obstacle 4):

From Warrior Dash 2013

Horizontal rock climbing:

From Warrior Dash 2013

Barrel jumping:

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

More climbing:

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

A much needed water break. It was so goddamn hot, we could barely breathe:

From Warrior Dash 2013

Wearing knee-high socks and a beanie probably didn’t help the situation.

More obstacles to get through, not even half way through yet!

Spiderman doing his thang!

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Goddamn, more climbing. Someone kill me now says the girl with no.upper.body.strength. I should add that with a few of the obstacles, there was also an easier version (often shorter, smaller obstacle version). So you don’t actually need to be a superhero to compete in this event.

From Warrior Dash 2013

Will this climbing never end?!

From Warrior Dash 2013

Run, Wally, Run!

From Warrior Dash 2013

Pace slows to a walk:

From Warrior Dash 2013

We sweated our way through the course which was hilly, gravelly, up and down hills – a flat course, it is not.

Relief came at the water obstacle. It was a breath of fresh air. It was just what we needed on this 30-degree plus heat day. Never have I been so eager to crawl through tunnels submerged in water.
Yep shoes and socks, fully clothed into the pool.

Wet Wallies:

From Warrior Dash 2013

Time for an impromptu water fight!

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

And then back to the race (clearly, we were not going for the fastest time):

From Warrior Dash 2013

Where’s Wally now? Drowning, apparently (and yes, this is me):

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

We were sopping wet, and we still had another 4 obstacles to get through to get to the finish line.

More climbing!

From Warrior Dash 2013

And crawling:

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Are you tired just reading this? You try running this course!

And because there wasn’t enough climbing obstacles, for a bit of variety, there was more climbing!

From Warrior Dash 2013

(I opted for the easier version)

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Nearly at the finish line:

From Warrior Dash 2013

But not before doing the Mud Pit!

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Fully clothed, with shoes and socks, glasses and beanie, we crawled through the muddy water:

From Warrior Dash 2013

We finished and survived! Hell yeah. Go the Where’s Wally Warriors!

From Warrior Dash 2013

Hooray for the finish line. It took us over 90 minutes to finish. Mind you, there was a lot of stopping and cheering and supporting everyone and photo taking etc.

Time for our medals:

From Warrior Dash 2013
From Warrior Dash 2013

Mind you, the laundry aftermath was a bitch! I had to put everything through the wash twice and had to actually dispose of my socks which were unsalvageable.

The Before and After shot: Evidence of a great day.

From Warrior Dash 2013

A super crazy fun day!
Mud, sweat and beers all round.