Saturday, September 22, 2012

Horonobe Marathon Taikai

In Japan, many races are called marathons, even if they are less than 26.2 miles. Today was the Horonobe Marathon Taikai, and I entered the 5K race. I found out about it and registered at the last minute! I was happy to find out about the race in time.

I arrived at the sports park a little after 8:30 and just after the junior high school students arrived. Then, buses of elementary students arrived. They were surprised to see me. Most of them seemed excited. Lol. It was so much fun to walk around and chat with the students. The elementary students were so cute in their regulation red and white PE hats.

I didn't see many adults, so when the opening ceremony started and we sorted into our respective groups, I was glad to see that there were at least a few!

The first race was elementary school students running two or three kilometers (1st to 4th grade, I think). Everyone else waited and cheered as they ran out and as they came back to finish. I was glad to be able to cheer for the students.

Everyone else ran in the 2nd race - 4-8K, including the parent/preschooler pairs. I got stuck behind a few of them at the start. Pretty cute, though.

I ran with the students for a while and cheered. But most of them were running 4K, so eventually the crowd was pretty much gone.

It was beautiful weather. A little hot, but so pretty. On the way back, there were some nice views of Rishiri. I also caught and passed some of the 4K students. Sorry, guys. USA!

Coming into the finish was so much fun! As in the first race, the students who weren't running were on the sidelines. As I came in, I heard them start yelling "Elizabeth-sensei!" They cheered really loudly as I came down the last stretch. Yup, my heart melted. So I put on a burst of speed (and a little ham - I can't help it).

In the closing ceremony, they announced the top three finishers in each division, and everybody applauded. When they announced the women's 5K, they announced 2nd place, and it was me!

The students audibly oohed. It was too funny.

(I started pleading, "Pleeeeze let there be a third place finisher. My pleas were heard and there was! Pshew.)

Then we all said bye. It was so much fun to be able to meet the students like that outside of school. Three of my schools were represented, which was just awesome.

The first pic me with one of the other 5K runners. She got 1st place and is the mom of a student! And we matched! The second pic is the course after the 5K turn. Third is just a cool cover. We ran across the 45 degree latitude mark, but the last pic isn't from running. I can't post pix of students, unfortunately.

Even though there wasn't any race swag (there was no entry fee either), I think this was my favorite race so far!

It's fall!

Get up and dance, y'all!
It's fall!
Let's have a ball!
Break down a wall!
Love, a Hall

Friday, September 21, 2012

What a day!

The day started out with hotel breakfast. There's nothing quite like a sea slug thing greeting you from your breakfast plate. Ugh.

But the weather was lovely, and I had a great view from my hotel. This evening, there were also beautiful views from the terminal and from the ferry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random thoughts and an upcoming race

The lush weeds are beginning to yellow. In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday that they were springing up out of the snow.

But today is warmer than yesterday, so late summer marches on. In about a week and a half, I will run my first half marathon. It's in Asahikawa, about 3.5 hours away by train. For my own running sake, I'm hoping for a fresh fall morning for running. It would be so lovely to run my 13.1 miles in cool, crisp air rather than damp, languid air. But I will run, no matter what! My only goal is to finish in the time limit. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to run at all after my knee injury, but it seems to be cooperating pretty well.

I've really been looking forward to this race for quite some time! I think it's going to be a good course and an exciting experience. It's kind of fun to push yourself to the limit and find out what you are capable of doing. Am I capable of running 13.1 miles in race conditions? Stay tuned, and we will all find out together!

Here's a pretty view of Rishiri I saw while I was running the other day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A delightful day

Really, this whole weekend has been lovely. I've been able to talk with family and friends, some in person and some through the miracle that is the Internet. And I got so much encouragement from family, friends, books, and church. I needed all of it!

Today, I went to the aquarium and science museum with some people from church. It was so much fun! I think I had more fun at the science museum than most kids would have. There was an interesting booth that would flash, and leave your shadow behind like a picture for several seconds. There were also neat contraptions that would make music when you walked through them or on them. Oh, and a laser that you could use to shoot a distant machine on the ceiling. Anyway, I had a great time.

The aquarium was fun, too. There were some fish that would nibble on your hand when you put it in the tank. I thought that was sort of gross. But there were many fish in so many colors. It was kind of cool to think about God creating so much diversity for an underwater world.

We also got to see a brief seal show. Squee! It was SO cute! So cute! The seals were so excited for fish that one tried to do a trick totally out of turn, and one kept pawing at the trainer's pants.

Anyway, it was a good day, and I'm looking forward to going back to school tomorrow. Between seminars and long weekends, it's been a long time since I set foot in a classroom.

I hope you all have joy-filled weeks!