Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan, one way or another

It's a bittersweet sort of victory that comes after you've just been soundly defeated. The short version is that I'm going back to Japan for Pro Tour Nagoya to once again peddle my rulings on the biggest stage. Tasha will be joining me again, her second time being sponsored to a Pro Tour, second time at a Pro Tour in Japan, but also likely to be her last time for a few years.

You see, just a week ago Tasha was accepted to grad school at Virginia Tech. They tell me grad school is hard, and maybe that's why I never bothered to try it. If all goes well, she will get a part-time job as a TA, and between that and her own studies, taking off for a week of judging is not going to be feasible. When Philadelphia rolls around, her Pro Tour streak will end at three (and in an odd quirk, they have all been on foreign soil). I'm thrilled for her. There's absolutely nothing bittersweet about her getting into Tech. It's all sweet. We'll be moving to Blacksburg, meaning a 45-minute commute for me, but the town really provides the small town college atmosphere that's I've been missing since moving from Davis. Things get a little hectic on Game Day (capital letters not optional), but if we find a nice apartment near campus, it should really help me get back on track with my running. In my part of Roanoke, it just isn't an option to run outdoors. I've tried, but there's no consistent running route anywhere nearby, sometimes there isn't even a sidewalk and that makes for dangerous paths. There's a lack of trees too, and in the summer heat, that's a killer.

College campuses solve all of these problems. Traffic is generally low, or at least diverted to the outskirts, and there are plenty of shady trees. Water fountains will be plentiful too. My thinking is that restarting my training in the fall, I can get myself ready for an early 2012 marathon, possibly tuning up with a half around December.

But back to Japan. The day that Tasha got her acceptance letter to Tech was the same day that we were supposed to flying to Japan for Grand Prix Kobe. However, the tournament was canceled due to the after effects of the earthquake and tsunami. (Actually postponed until April.) With no GP, Tasha and I canceled our flights to Japan. Luckily most of the airlines (including United) had a waiver period in effect and they let us get a full refund for the tickets rather than have to scramble to find some alternate dates of travel. Waiting for Kobe to get rescheduled would not have worked because we still would be on the hook for the difference in price on the tickets, which would have been around $300-400 each. Yeah, we got a pretty good deal on the original Kobe tickets.

But now we have to find decent flights back to Japan in June. I'm always happy to be selected for a PT. And this one promises to be special in many new ways. (Scott Marshall Head Judging!) But the images from Japan still haunt me. I worry whether I will be able to squeeze in another side trip to see my grandfather on the west coast of Japan. Each time (PT Kyoto, Worlds Chiba) I see him, I think it will be for the last time, and promise to come back. Just when I was getting over some of the emotion turmoil I was going through, life thrusts Japan back into my face. Bittersweet.

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