Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tokyo Marathon

Next month I will be running the Tokyo Marathon. Yes, it is a full marathon and yes I have been training. If you haven't noticed yet there is a link on the right side of this blog which links you to a running journal that I have been keeping.
Tokyo Marathon is a relatively young marathon. The first Tokyo Marathon was held on 18th March 2007. However, years prior to 2007, Tokyo Marathon actually consisted of two marathons - the Tokyo International Marathon which took place on even years, and Tokyo - New York Friendship International Marathon which took place on odd years. There are so many people that apply that a lottery must take place to determine who gets to run. This year about 275,000 people applied. Only 30,000 got in. I was one of them.
This will be my first marathon, so I am not sure what to expect, but judging from the photos it will be crazy packed with people. When I first signed up in July I thought that my goal, should I win the lottery, would be to just complete the race. That has evolved at bit from completing the race, to finishing under 5 hours, finishing under 4.5 hours and now finishing under 4 hours. 4 hours is an unofficial marker for a good time for a marathon. If you can get less than 4 you are fairly swift. Right now my 15k times (avg 1hr 15min, including two short walking breaks and a short drinking/eating break) are telling me that I could do it in less than 4, that is if I can keep that pace. The longest run I have had so far has been 23k, which I am hoping to top this weekend. Even at 23k my pace held, so I am hoping it will hold for the entire 42.195k However recently I have had some injuries and had to cut back training, so my goal is back to being under 4.5 Right now, my main hope is that I remain injury free to race day just so I can race at all.

As race day approaches I think more and more about timing, but really it doesnt matter a lick. Its my first marathon and so any time will be my best time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year

Kyoto on New Years was fun. We stayed with our friends who conveniently live right next to Aya’s aunt and uncle. Most of the time we lounged around, but on one day we went to Nara to check out the Great Buddha. It is roughly 16 meters, or about 50 feet tall and was built in the 8th century. Of course very little of the original remains, but it was still very cool. We were also there on the last day before the city’s 1300th birthday. 1300! Wow, very cool. Nara was nice, a peaceful place. I recommend, however, going in another season because winter is very cold. Also, be careful with the deer. There are tame deer all around that you can feed, but they are not 100% friendly. One deer head butted my friend and another deer stole a map out of his pocket when he wasn’t looking and ran away with it. He was very unfortunate. Here is the site where Brian posts his videos. You can go here to see footage of us bowing to the deer at Nara. http://www.youtube.com/user/brianadler#p/a/u/0/1IKlvmbjys4

Far and away, but not really

This winter break Aya and I did not travel to some distant land, but stayed right here in Japan, which can seem distant enough given the right locations. Now that is not to say that we didn’t do anything. We had decided a few months ago that we would like to do some volunteer work and searched for a suitable place. We found an organization called Woof and signed up with them. Once signed up we could see the profiles of many people that had signed up to host people. We saw many farms and hotels, ski resorts and other businesses looking for people to come volunteer with them, but we chose a small farm in Shizuoka. Why did we choose it? Because they said they brewed beer. Now essentially we wanted to volunteer somewhere where people needed us to help them, but as we left Aizu we realized that that was not what we were doing and somewhere along the way our good intentions had been replaced by something much safer and closer to home, which happens a lot when you are in Japan. Despite this we went on.
When we arrived the season converged at an unproductive time and we really didn’t do much of anything. We sowed some seeds, sorted mikans, and made some New Years decorations to earn our room and meals, but it was not hard work and we only put in 4 or 5 hours a day. The rest of the time was spent lounging about or eating dinner with the family. Oh, and did I mention they had two ostrich, a huge German shephard and two cats both named Tama?
They were extremely friendly. When on the first night we asked why they had signed up to host woofers the son said that he wanted contact with foreign people. This struck me as odd. Most males in Japan either don’t have interest in foreigners or are afraid to admit they do. I don’t know why this is, but it is something that I have observed. So over the next few days I tried to talk with Yoshitsugu, the son, as much as I could although he was busy actually working while Aya and I were “working”
At the end of our three days they packed us up nicely with mikans and sho-chu and sent us on our way. I promised Yoshitsugu that I would keep in contact and we may even join up to watch some sumo at the end of January.