Sunday, December 02, 2007

Japanese Guests

It was a busy couple of days, because the running club's Japanese guests were in town for the OUC Half Marathon. They arrived Wednesday, and we had dinner at Anthony's Pizza near Lake Eola. They looked very tired from the trip, which was understandable since they arrived just hours before. Two families brought their kids, who were nearly asleep by the end of the meal.

I'm not sure what they all did on Thursday, but on Friday I took the day off work to spend some time with them and help out. The day started early in the morning, when the Japanese runners and a few of us from the Orlando Club met up for an easy run around downtown. After that, the group vote was to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom (I suspect the kids had a major say!) so we carpooled over to the park.

It was overcast so many of the animals were out and visible - really good timing for a trip. Most of us rode Mt. Everest, a roller coaster that was under construction the last time I visited. This was a great coaster, with a few surprises along the ride! After that the club had our carb loading dinner at Buca Di Beppo's.

The OUC Half Marathon was Saturday morning, and I was happy with how I did. The visitors were scheduled for more sight-seeing in the afternoon so I had the time to myself, to zip home and run a few errands. That evening was the running club's Christmas party, where we had dinner, gift exchanges, musical entertainment, and so on.

On Sunday, the group wanted to visit Islands of Adventure, so I got to use my season pass. One of the Japanese, Hiroki Zaizen, arrived a bit early so we got to talking. I hadn't really spoken with him before because on Friday he went off on his own to Kennedy Space Center instead of Animal Kingdom. Well Hiroki showed up with an Ironman bag (those small black ones with the ropes, the ones they put your finishing goodies in) so we got to talking about triathlon. I showed him my CDA keychain and he wanted to hear all about the race... which was funny since this guy was the IM expert! It turns out he has done most of the Asia/Pacific ones (IM Japan, IM Korea, IM Malaysia, IM Austrialia) and qualified for Hawaii several times! I looked up his latest Hawaii result from 2006 and he finished 449th overall at 10:10:48. Absolutely mind-boggling!! He said his goal is to go 9:30 (!).

It was fascinating talking to him about the international scene, from how tricky it is to handle travel arrangements to the challenge of getting into an event. As annoying as it is having to sign up a year in advance, within one hour from when registration goes live before the event fills - all that applies to international triathletes as well. He said he tried and failed to get into several US Ironmans just because they fill so quick, including IM Florida 2008. I told him if he gets into IMFL 2009, he can come out early and stay with me. :)

We had a good time at Universal Studios as well, especially on the water rides.

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