S is for…

September was CMT Awareness Month. I decided to use my blog to raise a bit of CMT Awareness by doing an “alphabet challenge” – blogging a letter / key word of the things I face with CMT and as an athlete with CMT.  I didn’t make it through the full alphabet in September so I am continuing my challenge through October. Today is brought to you by the letter S. I hope my blogging will help you to learn more about CMT – the most common but least well known hereditary nerve disorder – and me. And I hope this will also help to raise funds for the Charcot Marie Tooth Association to support its efforts to find a treatment for CMT. You can join me in learning more about CMT by clicking onto www.cmtausa.org and of course a donation would be wonderful too!

So last post (over 10 days ago) I left you with thoughts of running and Japan, and I was just about to head to Shiraishi Island on the Japan inland sea to visit Amy Chavez, author of “Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage.”


So… Rural Japan. I lived in Japan “way back when” for two years, in a fairly rural part of the country. I feel absolutely at ease in the Japanese countryside. So although this was my first visit to Shiraishi, I was not worried in the slightest. Not even when I jumped on a boat with a man I didn’t know to take me to an island I hadn’t been to before to meet an author I had only chatted with on Facebook. Because, well, it is Japan. And none of this seems remotely concerning when you are in Japan!

Shiraishi was a small beautiful island. We were only there for less than a day, but we tried to fit as much in as possible.

And Amy was the most amazing host. She greeted us upon arrival, we all had dinner together, and the next morning we set about walking part of the 88 shrine Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage on the island.

Hiking with CMT can be tough – and increasingly I am convinced that I need walking poles for stability. I had to ask Amy for her arm a few times as we went downhill and I am not so stable on my feet these days. Even with ankle braces on. Without hesitation Amy let me lean on her. Now that is what I call hospitality!

We walked to see a few shrines, walked up to see the stunning views in the sunshine, managed to take in an art exhibit, and even had enough time for a sea kayak and spot of sashimi on the beachfront.

I often say that my last request meal would be a plate of Japanese quality sashimi. The one above is from our dinner on Friday night on Shiraishi. So fresh. So perfect. One of my favourite foods in the world!


We had to peel ourselves away from Shiraishi to go to Kyoto for a work thing.

Kyoto is a gorgeous city, and we were there on a perfect Indian summer’s day, about 28C and sunny. Like summer – but the end of September.

As we wandered around I started to feel rather under the weather. There are few things worse than getting sick while away on a business trip. I still managed to do my best to enjoy Japan, though – although I was pretty miserable on Monday afternoon…

I took myself to a clinic for antibiotics and within 48 hours felt almost perfect – except for the jetlag. Sickness sucks, and as a consequence I’ve missed a lot of training. Thankfully we are in the off season. So I am just building fitness and strength at the moment. But it really was no fun to be sick while away from home (not that it is ever fun to be sick…)


One of the things they do really well in Japan is appreciate the change of seasons.

Although we enjoyed perfect Indian summer weather – the type of weather that fools you into thinking that summer will hang around all year long – the country was in full swing of autumn appreciation. This includes celebrating the arrival of mushroom season.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a matsutake mushroom meal (well, two courses featuring these forest perfumed beauties) on Monday evening. Just delicious.

I am kind of ready to welcome autumn now. To enjoy the cooler nights, and comfort food like this! And I think autumn arrived in London on Sunday.

Now… where did I put my Ugg boots?!


I also managed to take a few Japanese style baths while away. There is something quite healing about soaking in water that is up to your neck, heating away any aches and pains. Especially the aches and pains that can arise from CMT.

I took advantage of the hot baths to stretch out my super tight hips. Tight hips are a consequence of having a bad “push” function or reduced calf muscles from CMT. They are also part of the aches I get from long haul travel.

The hardest part of Japanese baths? By far it has to be wearing slippers to walk to and from the public bathing area. My feet just can’t grip onto slippers any more. This makes me sad – I used to live in flip flops (what we in Hawaii call “rubber slippers”) when I was younger. But now I just can’t keep them on. Same with indoor slippers, like the ones you get at a hotel, or that you give to you mom for Christmas. My feet just fall out. Another thing to adapt to, I guess.

Time for Crocs?


When I returned to London last week I had to head away to a work seminar almost right away. But I have been taking things really easy since being back – not wanting to have this sickness hang around.

I managed to sleep at least 9 hours a night over the weekend. I am optimistic that I have seen the back end of this lurgy. Fingers crossed!

As I blog my way through the alphabet to raise awareness of CMT, today’s post was brought to you by the letter “S” – Shiraishi, Sashimi, Seasons, Sickness and Slippers. You can learn more about CMT and donate to support the search for a treatment for this (at present) incurable progressive degenerative nerve disease at www.cmtausa.org — Thank you!

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