Life (and Training) in Tokyo

This week I am going to change up my regular Monday post a bit. Heavier on the photos, lighter on the verbage.  Well as light as I can make it as I am a pretty chatty person!

Last week saw the return of long haul work travel for me.  I travel a lot for my job – well, I *should* say that in the past I have travelled a lot for my job.  In the past 6 months or so I have been really lucky and have more or less been in London, at home, and able to focus on training and getting my fitness levels up and building strength.  But last week saw the return of work travel, with this trip – to Tokyo.

Once upon a time I lived in Japan.  It was a great period of my life.  I cycled everywhere.  I had great friends.  I lived in the countryside and soaked up everything I could about the country, language and people.  So I feel super comfortable there – this was my third trip to Japan in the last year and I can honestly say that it feels like a second home to me – even if I don’t know Tokyo at all.

So this trip I decided to remedy that little point – I decided that I would get to know Tokyo.

Normally all I ever see of a city is the view from my room…

The 49th floor at night, and the view from the gym on the 46th floor by day…

This trip I decided I would *finally* see Tokyo.  My friend from graduate school, Mio, happens to know a great woman named Yukiko who runs Tokyo Great Cycling Tours .  Mio knows that I like to cycle, so she suggested the tour to me.  I was finally able to book the tour, which I took on Saturday.

Now if you read my blog regularly you will know that Coach T and I have a new approach – well new for me anyway.  Commuting or touring like this doesn’t count for my training. Stop start is good for bike awareness and road skills, but not for racing prep.  So although doing the tour meant that I would be dropping a session, I was willing to do that since my whole training plans go out the window anyway when I travel… Training was sacrificed for the chance to finally see Tokyo while doing something I love!

OK, so my lax frame of mind made me stray a bit from my normal Friday night routines.  We were in Tokyo after all, so decided to head to the Park Hyatt and the New York Bar, the bar made famous by Lost in Translation.  And yes, I felt compelled to indulge…

I’ll have the watermelon martini please…

I guess you won’t be too surprised to hear that the alarm at 7am did not feel too great.  The martini and some severe time zone sleeping troubles had me feeling pretty worse for wear by Saturday morning.  But there was something about being outside in the sunshine and in a city on the water that perked me up in no time!

The Chuo-bashi (central bridge) and the bridge over the Sumida River…

One of our first stops was the Tsukiji Fish Market.  We got there in the late morning so we missed all the bidding, but it still was a great chance to see the world’s most famous fish market.  The market does over $2 million a day in business!  It is an institution for a country whose cuisine is so fish centric.

Tsukiji Fish Market – source of the ingredients for one of my favourite foods – sushi!

Yukiko and Masa, our tour guides, took us to one of the stalls.  I will spare you the photos of the giant tuna head, and instead give you one of me and the fish seller.  He was obsessed with Abercrombie and Fitch – sadly not my Punk Rock Racing top.  But I did my best to it introduce PRR to Japan!

Sadly my ever present peace sign is not shown in the photo…

After the fish market we cycled to Tsukuda-jima to the shinto shrine there, and then onwards to Odaiba to the beach for lunch.

And while we are chronologically at lunchtime and the topic of food, I feel obliged to add a vegetables only photo, to show you all that I am a true omnivore and do not discriminate.  As long as it is yummy I will eat it.  And boy oh boy, there is great food in Japan.  I am “homesick” already for the flavours!

Gingko nuts, Japanese green peppers, Shiitake mushrooms… Love the flavours!

Now, back to the tour.  We really did have an ideal day for a tour. Sunshine and blue skies.  And considering we were on the bike from 9 until 3 touring around, it was a perfect day and a perfect way to see Tokyo…

Tokyo Tower… Taller than the Eiffel Tower!

Staying the extra day to see Tokyo was a treat.  My favourite part of the tour was visiting the Atago-jinja, a Shinto Shrine located in central Tokyo.  Atago is probably most famous for its steps.  108 steps to reach the entry to the shrine, which legend has it if climbed all in one go will lead to success.  And then at the top there is a lovely koi (carp) pond – koi are a sign of fortune.

Any guess as to what success and fortune I was thinking about at Atago-jinja?

It is always tough to balance work and training, and with the wrinkle of travel thrown in it can be even tougher.  I find my training gets sacrificed on weeks like this – time shaved off sets, squeezing sets in whenever I have a moment, heart rate all over the place, fighting fatigue… 

When all was said and done last week, I managed to get two swims, two runs, and one cycle set into the mix last week – plus the cycle tour. 

And, I would HIGHLY recommend doing a tour like this of a city, if you get a chance when you are travelling.  It is an awesome way to spend a day!

One response to “Life (and Training) in Tokyo”

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