A half marathon is 21+ km, did you know that? I'm glad I didn't, I would have quit!
I'll preface this by saying that I had great intentions when I signed up for this (and the Nago half marathon 1/24/16). I started a training plan, I stuck to it for the first half, etc. somewhere along the way things fell off schedule. Then I had an unplanned trip to the US (and back to Japan) which resulted in severe jet lag. It also resulted in no running. Prior to leaving for the US I had been experiencing hip issues so I was not running, resting the hip. Flash forward to 1/4 when I returned to Japan. I ran 3.6 miles (my first run in almost a month) and it hurt. The following day I ran 3 again and was stifled by the hip pain. I took the rest of the days off until race day
Getting there was an adventure. A 3 train 45 minute adventure. Which on the way back home with baby deer legs would prove quite the challenge.
I was most certainly the only white person there; also likely the only person who couldn't read or speak Japanese. So when I was trying to figure out where to go for what, and what the route map was telling me, I was coming up with nothing. In hindsight I'm so glad that I couldn't properly read he route map because if I could it would have been a huge mental defeat to learn that the route was an out and back. Meaning I had to run way the hell out, only to turn around and run all that mess back. What makes that even more challenging is when you're at 3k and the leaders are already coming back from the loop, heading for the finish. Now that might be an exaggeration, but that is what it felt like. And those leaders are speedy. I can't even sprint a 100m at the speed they were running 13.1 miles.
Let's talk about those shorts. I have no doubt that they are aerodynamic. Something I don't have to worry about at the speed that I run. Honestly though, how do they keep their bits in there?! Yes these are the things I think about while running 13.1 miles. Well that and my escape route from the course.
At the start of the course they had kids doing taiko drumming, got me all pumped up...until I realized I hadn't even officially crossed the start yet, then I realized it was going to be a long ass run!
I surprised myself and ran the first 3 miles without stopping. I think it was the peer pressure of the runners around me, and my fear of creating an international incident by being the cause of a stamped should I stop running while in such a tight cluster of people. It felt a bit like the running of the bulls...very small Asian bulls. When the crowd finally dissipated a bit I allowed myself small moments to walk. I did try to keep the walking to brief clusters, enough to stretch my hip, take a drink, and gather my breath. Mile 5 was a big mind f*ck. This is when the leaders started whipping past on their way to the finish. I knew the turnaround wasn't anywhere close. I also had to pee. Really bad. I debated pissing my pants. If you've run you know there is nothing more disgusting than a race day port-o-potty; so you thought. Japanese ones are way more gross only because they are "squatties" so you literally have to get within inches of that nastiness rather than hovering feet above it in a western style. Also, if your legs/hip hurt, squatting below parallel (necessary so you don't piss down your leg or all over your shoe) isn't the easiest thing to do, add in the hydration pack, headphone wires, KT tape, other gear/accessories and you damn near have a Spartan Obstacle (shitty water and all!).
I finally gave in to the bathroom around mile 6. I should get a medal for that. I'll say no more. You all are lucky that I didn't take a picture of that thing and subject you to it too!
I ran I took short walk breaks. I tried to mentally pump myself up when I was feeling super weak and defeated. It rarely helped.
Mile 10 was a big roadblock for me. Mentally and physically. My body was done. My hip was killing me. My feet were starting to really hurt, especially my arches (chronic PF sufferer). Each step I could feel the pavement literally fighting back against my body. 3.1 miles to go might not seem like much but damn it seems impossible to me. I experienced this again when I hit mile 12. I couldn't see the finish and just the thought of running 10-11 mins more (heck I was probably going so slow it was probably closer to 15 minutes!) was almost unbearable. I decided to just mind F myself. I looked down. I didn't want to see anything. Any of the KM market signs. The finish line. Anything. I just kept telling myself that if I kept running and moving that I would finish this shit sooner than if I walked. "Just keep moving" I kept repeating it almost like a chant. It gave me something to focus on, because let's face it Lady Gaga wasn't even helping at this point!
When I looked up and saw the 900m sign (I honestly have no idea how far that shit is but I knew that I was going to push it and end this misery!) I accelerated. I was like horse heading to the barn for feed. A slow old dying horse maybe but you get the point. I found some speed and energy, I also damn near tripped on the gravel/uneven pavement.
I had written down a time the day before. A goal time. It was actually my first half marathon time, my slowest time, but a time I got after being fully trained for the race, so I knew that it was still lofty, but I wanted to keep it as a goal. When I crossed the finish line I didn't even feel the disappointment of not accomplishing my goal time. I was able to celebrate my success. I finished. I didn't quit. I ran that bitch untrained, alone, jet lagged, with the goal of qualifying for Half Fanatics (which I will when I run Nago on 1/24/16!)
Yes I'm aware that this is a super crappy picture, no I do not care. This is the best you get with shaky hands (connected to shaky body and super shaky legs) that were being corralled by super kind Japanese volunteers bowing at me and encouraging me along through the corral, to the exit, but not before giving me what at the time was nectar of the Unicorns, an ice cold Aquarius. I was so happy to have it that I lunged and wrapped my sweaty arms around the kind Japanese man who gave it to me, gomenasai kind sir, but thank you for being, well Japanese, and just playing along :)