"Running a race in Japan is like dating a foreigner - you may not understand all of the language, but you'll probably get hot and sweaty in the end."
Oh my god, I haven't felt this drained in months... what is wrong with me? I knew I should have done more hill workouts. Who am I kidding? I should have done one hill workout. Is it starting to rain? Ugh... I need energy. I can't let him beat me this time...
Welcome to the thoughts I had one kilometer into the race. I know, I know, it's pathetic. I've tackled Heartbreak Hill in Boston, my high school cross country coach put me through thirty minute hill drills every week, and I ran two half marathons which included sixty degree inclines. Still, I haven't had too many opportunities to do any hill workouts in Japan. The country may be the most mountainous in the world, but I still have trouble walking on anything other than flat surfaces in my typical day (not intentionally, of course).
The Hiroshima Seniors Running Club hosted the Miyajima Cross Country race on this day: November 26th, 2006. A day that will live in infamy. A day when your blogger, arrogant as he was, sought out to beat all his fellow foreigners in trial by speed. I did not succeed on this occasion, but wish me gambatte, and I will try again.
I'm being melodramatic, but it was a good race. The first hill was fairly draining, but the course went through the hills above the famous Torii shrine, and took us past many crowds on their way to pray Sunday morning. As you can see from the map, the first 4.7 kilometers were on the southern side of the island and fairly hilly - once we passed Miyajima Junior High School (starting point) for the second time, it was a long, smooth path to the finish. A little longer than anticipated: 10.7 kilometers.
The weather - overcast, average temperature, drizzling rain.
The people - about forty to fifty foreigners in sight, Japanese senior citizens
The outlook - Japan just keeps getting better
Our hosts really treated us well - a covered stretching area that could hold several hundred runners, people guiding you every step of the way, plastic covers to hold the finisher certificates, and ocha (green tea) and Miyajima's unique momiji manju (maple leaf cakes) at a special booth. Otsu kare sama, runners - you deserve it.
Runners by region
Remember your Japanese Running Words
クロスカントリー Cross Country
全国大会 Athletic Meet
ゴール Goal (Finish)
ナンバーカード Number Card
位 Place (ranking)