This past weekend I ran in my second 5k ever. This one was thankfully much closer than my previous one. Chris picked me up from my apartment around 7:30. From there, we drove down to the city he works in, Tsuno. Chris is the only Hyuga ALT who doesn’t actually have a school in Hyuga. One of his predecessors, who knows how long ago, realized that living in Tsuno meant having almost no social life and very little access to a lot of things. As a result, the past few Tsuno ALTs have lived in Hyuga. Though Chris was not running in the Tsuno Marathon, he did want to support his students and co-workers who were running and volunteering.
One of the biggest benefits of riding with Chris (besides the whole not having to figure out my own transportation thing) was that we got to park in the volunteer parking lot. The parking lot that was right next to the registration tents and starting line. When I went to check in, Chris went off to find his co-workers and see if he could do anything to help. This meant I was on my own for the two-ish hours until my race started. Thankfully, after chilling on a stone bench for a while and reading, Tam ran into me. Together we decided to go check out the Michi-No-Eki nearby.
Michi-no-eki literally translates to road station. It’s a rest area that has all the things you’d find in an American truck stop: toilets (except super clean, because Japan), vending machines (except almost entirely drink vending machines, not food ones, because Japan), and sometimes a cafe. Michi-no-ekis often also have local products and produce, which means that for some people the michi-no-ekis are actually their destination.
By that point it was time for Tam to start (she was running the 10k, so she started before me), so we headed back to the start line. Once more, I was alone. I slowly drifted towards the starting line, waiting for my turn to queue up. There I finally found Chris again, as well as another friend Colette, and her co-workers. We chatted for a while until it was time for the 5k runners to line up. Colette wanted me to come further up in the pack with her, but I decided it was probably smarter for me to start in the middle/back of the group. I know I’m not fast and it would be better for me to start back and work my way forward than to start at the front and have to see dozens of people passing me. Not good for my morale.
As much as I hate the lead up to a race (the training, the forcing yourself to move when you just want to stay in bed for another hour, etc), I’m really proud of how I did. I pushed myself much harder than I did for my last race. I wanted to walk pretty early on, but the whole time I kept making deals with myself. “Ok, once you get to that light post, you can walk.” Then, five minutes later; “You made it to the light! Why would you start walking now? Wait until that turn up there. There won’t be as many people standing on the side of the road cheering then.” And after that; “You can see the turnaround point. You’re so close to running your longest distance yet.”
Finally, after I reached the halfway point, I walked briefly. And even though I wasn’t able to run the whole way (that’s my goal for next month’s), the times I did walk were fewer and further between. With the goal line finally in sight, I decided to sprint the last few meters.
This was a mistake. But a fun mistake. I am asthmatic and I was running in 43 degree weather and I decided to sprint. But even as I started swaying slightly and gasping for air once I finally crossed the line, I was grinning. It only took a few moments for me to get my breathing under control and by that time I was waiting in line for my completion certificate.
After the race, I wandered around with Andy for a bit, eating food and recovering. Tam had already gone home and Chris still needed to stay with his co-workers. Eventually, Andy left too, so I returned to my spot on the bench from before and went back to reading. (Occasionally sending messages to Chris because I was absolutely freezing and I think my legs were starting to lock into place.)
From there, we were back on the road. Over the course of the 45 minute drive back to Hyuga, Chris made the executive decision to drive us to the gym. I probably could have argued, but I didn’t try too hard. Our trainer seemed surprised when I walked in. His first question was, “Did you run today….?” As in, ‘why are you here when you should be falling asleep in the bathtub.’ I agreed with the sentiment, but knew that I would be getting absolutely zero exercise the next day, so I decided to push through.
When we were done with training, Chris dropped me at home and I took what was possibly the greatest bath of my life. I was honestly so excited to get into the warm water that I nearly skipped the normal pre-bath shower.
After the bath I had just enough time to do a little cleaning and read for a little while before Chris picked me up again to take me to burrito night at Cameron’s. For one of his Christmas presents (I think) one of Cameron’s family members sent him a box full of taco/burrito supplies. I even made a few more tortillas the night before so that we would have plenty to go around. 10-ish of us crammed into Cameron’s apartment and ate/ hung out. It was a fun time, but I was falling asleep almost as soon as we got there.
It was a struggle, but I managed to stay awake for two hours before I felt I had spent the necessary time there to constitute socializing. I’m friends with everyone there, so I was having fun, but I was also really excited to go to sleep.
All in all, a jam-packed and productive day.