Tokyo Marathon 2009

This year more than 250,000 people wanted to run Tokyo Marathon. Unfortunately only 7% of those potential applicants will actually get to run. It looks like I'm going to be one of them! I got my confirmation e-mail last week, so now all I have to do is pay.

Well, I guess that's not all I have to do. I do actually have to run the 42 kilometers (26 miles) in March.

It's going to be so awesome. I'm totally pumped.

Unfortunately I'm currently slightly injured. Thanks to the Karasugawa Road Race my foot has been hurting for the past week. It's totally lame because I've run 15k plenty of times. I don't know what it was.. maybe just the extremeness of the downhill portion? Or maybe the bizarre wear pattern on my shoes. I think going down Mt. Fuji in them might not have been the best plan. I think I'm going to have to grab some new shoes at some point in the near future.

The other great part is that a bunch of other JETs also got accepted. We're already talking about training plans and awesomeness. It's going to be so much fun!

no pride, no shame

This Monday was 'Culture Day' (文化の日) which meant for Kurabuchi it was time for the annual Karasugawa Road Race. There is a nice onsen/hotel place up past my house where the valley Kurabuchi lies in narrows. The starting point was there, and the full course was a 15k. I can hear you now: "15k, that's nothing!". I'd tend to agree with you. 15k isn't too long of a race. This 15k is special though. There is a 500m change in elevation over 7.5k.

The way it works out is the first 7.5k are a breeze - they're all downhill. The way back up, however, is quite challenging.

But it's the most beautiful and inspiring course. The trees are all in their full autumnal colors, and the number of deciduous trees in that area is quite a bit higher. There are beautiful views at every step - from bridges down to mountain streams, up to the loveliness that is the Kurabuchi valley viewed from an elevation.

It was made all the more special by the fact that it was a community event, which mean EVERYONE was there. Most of my students, plus soooo many members of the community. I think half the day was spent greeting and talking to people. During the beginning of the race one of the participants, as they were passing me, said "ああ!先生が人気者ですね?" (Ah, teacher - you're quite a popular guy aren't you?) because people kept calling out. It was really encouraging.

I was running with my friend Eka, with who I am quite impressed. We've been running once a week (or two) for a couple of months, but beyond that he'd done little to no training. We ran together the whole race, and the goal was simply to not be last. We totally did it by coming in ahead of 2 people. I had warned him about the difficulty of the course, and it was about 3k from the end when he admitted "this is much more difficult than I thought". I laughed because I had been using descriptive terms like "deadly", "horrible" and "I ran up this hill with Mindy and almost killed her with it".

750m or so before the finish line a large group of my students was waiting. They cheered and clapped. There was a high-five line and they ran with Eka and me. Eka was not as inspired as I was, so I directed them to clap and cheer for him. We doubled our pace as I pushed him up the hill for an awesome photo finish. It was spectacular.

It was a really fun day, and topped off with a great dinner with my neighbors at my house.

The concept of 'debut' seems to play an important role in the anime and manga (at least in the ones without giant robots). I hope that Monday was my burst onto the scene of Kurabuchi. This past year I've played a somewhat passive role - especially in my relationships with my (Junior High) students . I've really been making an effort since we've come back from Summer vacation, and I feel like it's starting to pay off.

The next day one of the teachers commented on the students waiting for me - "They love you!". I said that I didn't think that was true yet, but I hope by the time I leave it is.