Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pigs Might Flu

Today was my first experience being in a triathlon. I have been on support teams in the past for my stepfather's races, but never been on the competitor side of the event. I may have caught a bug - it was AWESOME.

A couple months ago Dustin and I began training for the 25th Annual Japanese and American Goodwill MCAS Iwakuni Modified Triathlon. Say that three times fast, it's a doozy. It consists of a 1k swim (in open water), 4k run, 28k bike, and another 4k run. After a few weeks a friend asked if I would be the bicycle portion of a three-person team. What? Still get to participate, but don't have to swim in the Seto Inland Sea? Alright! So I decided to take a baby step into the world of multi-event races.

Ready! Biker, Runner, and Swimmer

Scared faces, Swimmer is totally confident!
The event was held on base and started/stopped at our gym. We visited the registration tent and picked up our packet. Inside were tons of goodies - GNC water bottles, participant T-shirts, meal tickets, and coupons to off base outfitters. Our team name is Pigs Might Fly, but somewhere there was a typo.

The swimmer and runner were transported to the start. During that time Dustin and I waited in the transition area for the switch off.

Prepped and Ready!

Getting nervous while waiting!
Then it happened! Our runner came around the bend, gave me the high five and I took off to the transition area to change shoes and jump on my bike! Only 17.4 miles to go!

Lap 1 of 3
Three laps around the course and I made the switch off to our runner for the last leg of our relay. I'm not super fast, but my glorifying moments were blazing past other competitors on the course. Beep beep! I;m flying! Get out of the way!

Rocking my helmet hair!
Our official final time was 2 hours 15 minutes... which gives me a benchmark to beat next year by myself!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Dave Ramsey Vacation

I have talked about how expensive living in Japan can be in past posts. Being in the military means we receive a cost of living adjustment, but it doesn't offset enough not to feel a little tightening in our budget. Which leads me to today's post... a Dave Ramsey-approved vacation!

A few of my Iwakuni readers have asked how Dustin and I afford to go on our mini-vacations on the horrible dollar to yen exchange rate. (Today's rate was 76 yen to $1.00). The conversations always start with some comment like "Oh, you work in a bank. That's how you can do all these things." To which I must reply:

I work in a bank, I don't make bank. Especially working for a government bank.

So how do we do it? Well, we are graduates of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Google it. For those that know of the baby steps - we're on 6! This means we have learned the ways to be cheap thrifty. For example, our most recent trip to Tokyo and Mt. Fuji cost a whopping... wait for it...


Yep, read that again. $222.00 for two adults for a Saturday - Wednesday vacation. Hotel, plane, train, and food - including dinner at Chili's Bar & Grill on the Air Force Base.

So, friends in Iwakuni, you have no excuse for not enjoying this wonderful and beautiful country!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Nothing new to report here in the Iwakuni area except... Dustin FINISHED a book! For those that have noticed and those of you who haven't, Dustin has been reading Rothfuss's second book for almost the entire year.

It is done.

We are now awaiting the third and final book in the series. Which I am sure will take him another 238 days to read.

Happy Short Week!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Miyajima Crafts

Welcome to September! We have been sweating through the humid summer heat here in Iwakuni. I went back through our adventure entries from last summer and can't believe we were out in this heat! Walking around at that! While reliving last year's adventures I loved the entries regarding Miyajima. (see: Miyajima Island, Animals, or Aquarium). With no big plans for the Labor Day holiday we decided to go back to the island (and take some friends who had never been). But repeat adventures always need a little spice, so we added in some new craft experiences.

First on the schedule was a class on making momiji manju. I've written about these tasty cakes before. They are maple leaf shaped pancakes with a soft center. The traditional inside is bean paste, but can also be found with chocolate, cream, cheese, jellies, green tea paste, or just about anything.

For a small fee we got plastic aprons and a lesson on how to make the cakes. We made two sets - one with bean paste and one with chocolate. After enjoying our cakes with some cold wheat tea, we thanked our sensei and went up another floor to learn how to make traditional wooden rice scoops.

There were five different types of wood to choose from. Dustin selected a dark cherry and I picked a light maple. First we got a lesson on how to sand the rough edges and curved surfaces.

Next we got lessons on how to use the stamps and then were set free to decorate our wooden rice scoops.

The stamps were hot so we burned the images into our spoons. Reminds me of getting our stamps on our trek up Mt. Fuji. The stamps had different designs so we could pick and choose our decorating pattern. Dustin and I had a great time learning how to make momiji manju and rice scoops.

Afterwards we walked around the stores and booths. For lunch Dustin had cold soba noodles with a dipping sauce. I had oyako-donburi, which is one of my favorite dishes in Japan. It is warm rice, egg, onion, and chicken with just a tad bit of broth. With miso soup, I was stuffed. It was great to spend the day in the sun on this beautiful island!