World Champs 2007 Diary-The Night Before

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It is less than seven hours before the start of the Men's Marathon. I arrived about 12 hours ago, and the first day in Osaka has been a whirlwind. Media go through the credentialling center, which required a 90 minute bus ride from the Osaka airport, climbing up three flights of stairs with all of my bags (3) and then pulling the bags,
which, after all of my travel, were having an identity crisis and be a bit recalcitrant, to the subway station, where I decided that, the better part of valor would require a taxi drive to the Super Hotel...and this is where my story begins...

The goal was to reach the Super Hotel: http://www.superhotel.co.jp/en/s_hotels/higobashi.html. A clean, modern businessmen's hotel, with the right price-about $60 a night before breakfast ( add$10).

The problem was, my taxi driver was having a heck of a time finding the hotel. After ten minutes of looking on a map, the newcomer suggested that Mr Nagoyama call the hotel for directions. After what seemed hours later, we arrived.

The hotel was clean, but small. A small bathroom up a step, a small closet, and then one room with bed, tv, wi fi and a desk. I was quite tired when I hit my bed at 5:30 pm local time, planning to get up at 6:45. I woke up at a bit past 9 pm. Tired, a bit paranoid, and no friends around.

So, I did what any enterprising journalist would do: I asked the concierge for a local hangout for traditional Japanese food. I wanted a Japanese version of my watering holes, the Black Hawk or perhaps our new one, the Velvet Lips (seriously). I found this in Kidoniya, about three blocks down from the Super Hotel.

I walked in about ten pm and found the only open seat, at the bar. The restaurant had four traditional tables where the diners sat with friends as in a tea room, then four regular diner tables.

It was friendly and nice. The waiter, who spoke no English, understood my request for sashimi and a Kirin, and it was delivered promptly. In a soup mood, I requested nada, a traditional Japanese soup, which combines chicken, octopus, fish balls, with vegtables in a fish stock and cook it at your table.

I felt surprisingly at home. On one side of me were two businessmen, early thirties, having dinner a beer, chatting about work. Next to them were two twenty something young women, planning their evenings on their blackberries as they munched on a fish salad. On the other side of me was the traditional first date couple, except this one seemed to be quite promising-the women was laughing at all of the guys jokes ( if you have ever seen Sleepless in Seattle and remember the girlfriend of Tom Hanks who laughed a little too much>).

I my splendor, writing notes in my book, asking the head chef, about six feet tall, 250 lbs, in my best combo of English and broken Japanese (fractured Japanese) what he ws cooking, I felt comfortable.

On the way home, I spied a familiar site, a Seven Eleven! I grabbed a bottle of Pocari Sweat-like Gatorade, and a few things I had forgotten to pack before the trip.

As I write this, I have the Japanese all sports channel on and am watching soccer results. It is five hours before I must wake up for the marathon, so au revoir from
Osaka!

In less than seven hours, the real story begins. Nine days of huge surprises, little successes and little tragedies, the opera of sport. Mark my word tomorrow in the Men's marathon, there will be no favorites. The race will come down to one smart
Spaniard, and two surprises. More on that tommorow morning. Speak to you again soon!

For more on the world championships, please check : http://www.american-trackandfield.com

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