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Half marathon walk

I did a half marathon walk over the weekend. A walk, not a run.
It was part of one of the Tokyo Walk events. There were three different distances and I signed up for the longest one – 21km.
I figured it would be good training for the half marathon run that I have entered. I know, I should have learnt my lesson the first time around. Not only did I convince myself to do another half marathon run, but I’ve also managed to convince a friend to do it with me too. It will be her first half marathon.

A solid 21km walk in the stinky Tokyo humidity and heat was probably what I needed after eating my way through Seoul. I did the walk on my own. It was not a timed event. You could start whenever you like provided you made the checkpoints by certain time.

The starting point for the Tokyo Walk day:

From Half marathon walk
From Half marathon walk

The walk was completely flat. Yay. And most of it was shaded too. The first 8km was a river walk and the remaining portion was through streets and then along a cyclepath.
It was a very easy walk, albeit very long.

From Half marathon walk
From Half marathon walk

Found these awesome berry shrub:

From Half marathon walk

As it was not a timed event, I timed and mapped the distance on my iPhone:
A total of 21.68km in 4 hours and 13 minutes. That included a toilet stop at a conbini and lots of stopping at traffic lights through residential streets as well.

From Half marathon walk

Got a lot more training to do!
I can walk a half marathon distance. Now I just gotta run it!

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Matsuzaki-Iwachi beach OWS

Another week, another swim.
After last’s week double race in one day, less than a week later I was off doing another swim. Unfortunately, it was my worst. swim. ever.
The day, however, was still awesome nevertheless.
Awesome location, stunning weather and fun company.

I’ve finally found a group of ocean swimming friends in Tokyo. Happy days! It was quite the gaijin brigade. There was about 15 of us who swam on the day.
We even rented a van for the day to make the 4-hr trip down to Iwachi beach (Matsuzaki in Izu). We had to meet at a ridiculously early time, but yay for road trips and meeting new people. Beats taking the train down on your own. You might recall I did the same race last year.

Last year, I did the 3km race in 45minutes. I think the course was quite short. This time around, I did the 3km in nearly double the time. I was over an hour out there. I think I barely scraped through the time limit of 90 minutes. Results aren’t out yet but I was at least 75 minutes, I reckon. I felt every minute of it. I was slow-going out there. Two laps of a 1.5km course – I was beat after the first lap. And still had another lap to do. My elbows were getting sore and tired and I definitely felt the slow swim. So much for a goal time of 60 minutes. I have not actually worked up the distance this swimming season. I don’t swim much more than 1.5km per swim session. I haven’t done a 3km swim since last year, so I struggled doing the 3km this time. Definitely need to train more! Me thinks I’m getting old.
Still had fun though. The water was beautiful.

Ready to swim:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Off we go:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Approx. 75 minutes later, I emerge from the water. You can call off the search party!

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

59th place out of the water (about 116 registered), so about middle of the pack:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Looking pretty freaking happy after that 3km ordeal. Slowest time ever. Pretty embarassing.

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Location was stunning:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

After the 3km swim was the 1.5km race. Got to take some action shots:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

LIfesaver pow wow:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013
From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Later in the day, I also swam in the relay. We had 4 teams entered from the gaijin brigade. It was a 3km relay with the first person swimming 500m, the second person swimming 1km, and the third person swimming 1.5km. I did the 500m leg. Another slow swim from me. My poor teammates had to work hard to make up for lost time. The boys did well and were superfast. We ended up getting 5th place (no thanks, to me!).

Relay team:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

The day was topped off with the obligatory group photo:

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

And there’s nothing like bonding than getting in the tub together (onsen boat by the water):

From Matsuzaki Iwachi OWS 2013

Medals, prizes and a PB: Iwai Aquathlon

Summer is here! And you know what that means — the open water swimming season is open.

First race for the year was a sprint aquathlon – the Minami Boso Iwai beach aquathlon. I participated in this race last year and was back again this year.

I left home with a towel and goggles, and came back wit medals, prizes and a PB.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning is no fun. It was a 2.5 hour journey but at least I got to enjoy the scenery.

Crossing the Sumida River, with the Sky Tree in the background:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Crossing the Edogawa river:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Chiba countryside:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Finally, the coastline in view:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The beach was deserted apart from us swimmers.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Race course is set-up; yeah, this is not what I call a surf beach.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Water temp was a fresh 20 degrees. Swam without a wetsuit as per usual. But I did wear my tri-suit. The locals like to wear wetsuits though. Granted, I probably have more natural insulation than most people!

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

The cloudy morning gave way to a nice sunny day complete with blue skies:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Where’s David Hasselhoff when you need him?

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Warming up:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

So first up, I did the sprint aquathlon. A 500m swim followed by a 5km run.
I am quite proud of myself. I came second out of all the females! I was actually leading the WHOLE race (out of the females), and was pipped at the post in the last 30 seconds. My swim gave me a really good lead in the run leg. Damn my shoddy running. I was so far ahead of all the other ladies. Got out of the water quickly and had a super fast transition. Whilst EVERYONE was struggling to get wetsuits off, I just took off on the run.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I held the lead in the run, and was overtaken right near the end.
Don’t have the swim and run splits yet, but my overall time earnt me second place female, and also second place in my age group. (Will update split times later when they become available).
My time was also a PB for the run which I did in about sub-30 which although is not fast by any standard, was good for me.
Total race time was: 40min, 41 seconds.
My time for the same race last year was: 47min, 45 seconds. I definitely was a lot faster and stronger in the run this time around.

2nd overall female:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

In addition to the aquathlon, I also decided to sign up on the day for the 1.5km open water swim as well. I needed the practice, because I’ve got 2 more 3km swims this month. My need to go fast in the run was partly motivated by the fact that I had signed up for the additional swim. The aquathlon started at 12:00pm and the swim started at 1pm. The faster I ran, the more break time I would have between the next race starting. I would only have about 15 minutes to spare.

After guzzling as much water as I could after the first race, I then braced for myself for a 1.5km swim. Man, I was so hot and thirsty.

The moved the buoys out further for the 1.5km swim and we had to do two laps of the course. Was definitely a lot slower on this swim having gone all out on the aquathlon.

I got second place female for the 1.5km swim.

Come the award ceremony, I got 2 medals and 2 prizes.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I still haven’t actually opened up my prize bag yet. I think it’s something like a year’s supply of acai power drink. Seriously, lots of acai products. They were the sponsor.

I am a STARfish:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Also took home a ridiculously bright orange race shirt (included in entry fee):

From Iwai aquathlon 2013

All paths lead to water:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Iwai beach is a really nice beach…probably one of my favourites. I love swimming out there. I’ve done about three races there now.

The day turned out to be really warm, I even spent the day there chilling out and went for another dip in the water. Practically had the place to myself.

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

I need to explore more of the Minami Boso region – they’ve got the ocean to the right, and the mountains to the left:

From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013
From Iwai aquathlon 2013

Stay tuned for more swimming reports this summer. Although don’t expect any more medals or prizes. That’ll be the last placing this season me thinks.

Progress

Getting faster, slowly.

From Progress

Not running as often as I’d like.

And to think that I ran a half marathon this time last last year (in Feb 2012). Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I struggle to run 5km these days, let alone 21km!

“Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going.”

Tokyo Marathon 2013

I attended the Tokyo Marathon yet again as a spectator. I missed out on the lottery to actually run it. I swear, I am not going to leave Japan until I get to run/walk/crawl the Tokyo Marathon, goddamn it! Instead, it’s now tradition to go out and watch it, mostly to check out all the crazy costumes that people wear.

This time we staked out a spot at Asakusabashi and walked alongside the route all the way to Ginza (about 5km).

The goal this year was to just take photos of all the interesting costumes, because you know, running a marathon in 5 degrees celcius is not hard enough!

I present the fancy dress parade that is the Tokyo Marathon:

Super Mario:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Salaryman (man in suit):

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Short Panda:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Tall Panda:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Someone from The Flintstones??:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Don’t know what this dude is meant to be:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Where’s Wally! (Super cool. And he wasn’t the only Wally. I saw a few people dressed as Wally). I am impressed they wore jeans as well! Must be some serious chafing.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Eggplant:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Tiger suit (and a spectator giving out chocolates. I happened to be standing next to the woman, so lots of runners were swooping in):

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Another costume:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Beer head:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A banana:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Santa Claus:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

And the perennial favourite: Jesus Christ!
Even more hardcore than ever. This year he was half naked!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Carrying a cross:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

And he was BARE FOOTED! For the whole marathon. And carrying a cross. And wearing nothing but a nappy (in 5 degrees celcius!)

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Jesus, on the way back:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Jesus has run in the marathon for the last few years. I’m not sure if it’s the same dude.
Here is Jesus back in 2011. A lot less hardcore back then. Fully clothed and had shoes.

From Tokyo Marathon 2011

This Gladiator dude gave JC a run for his money in the costume department:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

That can’t be comfortable:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Saw Gladiator again about 6km later. Bet he’s regretting the costume now.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

I mean, wearing a costume is one thing, but having a prop is another – a cross, a shield etc.

A toy dog on a leash, say what?!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A handbag:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

More costumes:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

For the love of god, how you can run 42km in a frog costume:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A deflated Michael Jackson. That ain’t no moonwalk!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Love the couple/pair costumes! Ketchup and mustard!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A freaky clown:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A different Where’s Wally dude. Again, in jeans! It made me wonder if a whole group of Where’s Wally all started together at the start line, but then all went off at their own pace once the race started.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

I saw one Japanese dude who had a sign on him that said “konkatsu-chuu”. It means looking for a girlfriend/wife! Can’t remember if the sign had his number on it or not. But a great way to tell the world you’re single AND available!

Saw sooo many more costumes! But hard to capture them all. I’ve decided that if I have the pleasure (or pain) of getting in, I am totally going to wear a costume. And boy, do I have a doozy of a costume planned!!!

Some more pics of Tokyo Marathon 2013:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Spectators line the streets:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Runners in action:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Drink station:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Towards Sky Tree:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Running back into Ginza:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

The sweeper bus:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Pounding the pavement:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Congrats to everyone who finished, especially those who wore costumes! You provide great entertainment and inspiration to us spectators.

Sydney Pool Crawl: ABC Pool

After walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I then walked around Circular Quay and past the Opera House and through the outskirts of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Aussies in their natural habitat, bumming around:

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair:

From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Wolloomoolloo (did I spell that right?):

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Destination: Pool number 2 – the Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool.

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From ABC pool

Another glorious outdoor 50m pool (part chlorinated/part salt water), mostly dedicated to lap swimmers, too!

From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool

That was a solid workout of a day.
1km swim, 5km walk, another 1km swim and more walking. I had another pool on my pool crawl, but alas, I a had plans that afternoon so had to end the day short. Only 2 pools, so not much of a pool crawl. Will need do the other two pools when I’m next in Sydney (September — probably not the best swimming weather though – it will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere).

A Sydney pool crawl is definitely a cool way to see the main sights of Sydney and get in a bit of fitness. Learn from my mistakes – don’t spend the day walking around in thongs (flip flops). Joggers are a better option. As are shorts (and not a summer dress). And rinse off all the salt after each swim to avoid chafing.

Taxirobics

Move over Zumba, Taxirobics is in. I was walking around the streets of Ginza yesterday armed with my camera (as I was on my way to an afternoon tea), and lo and behold, I saw a taxi driver who was obviously taking a break and thought he’d get in a bit of aerobics. He was doing a variety of aerobics moves – side kicks, jogging on the spot etc. He was pretty intense about it. Totally oblivious to everything around him, I managed to capture a few discreet shots. I would have loved to have watched him for longer and taken more photos, but instead of him being the weird one, I started looking like the crazy person taking photos of him! I love that he’s wearing his taxi driver uniform complete with vest and everything. Although, I see he did take off his white driving gloves.

From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics

He’s in pretty good shape, so it’s definitely working for him. Taxirobics – the next big thing. You heard it here first!

Murakami tri

What would 14,000yen get you? (That’s about 175AUD.) – my grocery bill for a month (maybe even longer than a month)! – My water, electricity and gas bill combined for a month – 4 high teas – a Michelin star meal or two (well, lunch anyway) – Over 130 items from the 100yen store – half an iPad OR It can buy you a few hours of pure torture. Mmmmm sounds tempting. There’s nothing like paying 14,000yen and hauling arse to Niigata for some public humiliation on a long weekend at that! I made the rookie mistake of making my FIRST EVER triathlon race an Olympic Distance one! Most people start off with a short, sprint distance. Me thinks, I’m not like most people. What’s with that?! Instead, I plunged headfirst into an OD tri (which I did 2 weeks ago). A 1.5km swim. Check. Can do. A 40km cycle. Can do. Albeit only once! A 10km run. Can do. Barely. But try doing them all in one go. 51.5km. An Olympic Distance (OD) triathlon. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner over a day. We know we can get through each meal. But try eating breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one sitting, consecutively, without a break. That’s what a triathlon is like. Except only one of the legs involves sitting on your arse. So whilst I knew I could get through each leg individually… ..collectively was going to be a struggle. I only gave myself 7 and a half weeks to train for an OD triathlon! Not the best idea…but it was all I had to work with. Argh sheer panic! On the upside, I lost 3kg whilst training for this. Ok, to tell you the truth, the hardest part of a tri (or at least IN Japan) is signing up for it. Now, I’m not trying to be deep and all Confucious on you with all that stuff about mentally taking that first step, the committment, the being brave, the opening up the purse strings to enter in your credit card details and actually register for a triathlon. I mean that it was ridiculously hard to sign up for this particular triathlon because the online registration process was all in Japanese and was so convoluted! They did not make it easy at all navigating through the registration process. I reckon getting into NASA would have been easier! So after 5 attempts I finally registered and still had yet to pay for it. Again another process that required more Japanese and walking into a conbini and using a different payment machine. With very little training (but a lot by my standards), I rocked up to the Murakami triathlon in Niigata. I chose this particular triathlon for a couple of reasons. One, it’s called MURAKAMI! How could I not enter this one?! You should know by now I’m a massive Haruki Murakami fan. Also, Haruki Murakami himself has actually entered and completed this particular triathlon. Murakami at Murakami. He competed in this back in 2010. I totally stalked the Internet and found out his time. He finished in a time of 3hr and 21 minutes at the then age of 61! And he totally put me to shame! I have actually driven through Murakami before on a road trip a few years back, so was a little familiar with the area. Also, this particular triathlon draws a big gaijin triathlete crowd (mind you, they are all hardcore and seasoned triathletes and ironmen/women). I actually felt like an imposter at the starting line. I’m hardly a triathlete by any definition of the word. More like a try-hard. Furthermore, I had heard the bike and cycle course were relatively easy as far as triathlon courses go (easy my foot!). It’s a predominantly flat course (no hills. Yay! So I’d heard…). Let me make it clear — I swim. I don’t cycle. I don’t run. Run and cycle are two verbs that don’t appear in my repertoire. Getting to the race venue was a feat in itself, that I’d be lucky if I even made it to the start line. The race was on a Sunday of a long weekend, and required staying overnight in the area the night before. I spent the whole Saturday getting myself to Murakami. The bullet train from Tokyo to Niigata, another express train from Niigata to Murakami, arriving at Murakami and registering, and then because a lot of accommodation was booked out, I had to take another 20min train up north to a further up town where I would stay the night. It felt like quite the epic journey. I did meet some fellow gaijin triathletes on the train journey up. Everyone was so hardcore. Carrying my road bike and all my gear on three trains was a huge pain in the arse! Lugging that thing was no fun. Poor, sore shoulders. If I never have to lug my bike halfway across Japan on a handful of trains, I will be one happy girl! Niigata scenery:

From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012

Lugging the bike on trains all day:

From Murakami tri 2012

I spent the night in Kuwagawa at a small minshuku. Was pretty buggered after a super long day of travel and hauling gear. Right on the west coast of Japan, got to see a pretty sunset…

From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012

Sunday morning: Race day A train back down to Murakami and then a taxi to Senami Onsen beach where the swim start was. The start and finish line for this race were are two different points. This race was pretty big. Over 800 participants in just the age-groupers. There was an elite category with some international triathletes too (even from Australia). This race is part of the JTU series as well as the Asia Cup triathlon. A pretty big deal. I set up my transition area and prepared for the race. What the hell had I gotten myself in for? Transition area:

From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012

Setting up my gear:

From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012

The day was really hot. A sunny 33 degree day, with 80% humidity, and water temps of 26 degrees. It was going to be a race in tough hot humid conditions. Swim course: And because I’m too tight to pay to for the photos…here are the screenshots….

From Murakami tri 2012

Swim – 1.5km The swim was a floating start out in the water. Wetsuits were compulsory, despite the super warm temperature. There were 5 start waves, with the women’s wave being the last…which was to be to my detriment. The course was 750m horizontal swim across the beach and then back again. The water quality was poor. Very murky and quite dirty. I felt pretty decent in the swim. Despite what felt like a strong swim, I was disappointed with my time of 33minutes. I was however, in the top group of females out of the water though which would be a nice lead in the bike leg. T1 Transition was decent enough. Peeled off the wetsuit and already had my tri suit on, so no need to faff about with clothes, except for socks and shoes. Helmet on, and away with the bike. Bike leg This is where it all went downhill. Thanks to the swim lead, I got a decent getaway on the bike. It was a bit hardgoing on the bike, trying to make the legs pedal as fast as I could. I was expecting a pancake flat course…but there were a few smallish hills, which I still struggled on. It was a 20km course out along the coast of Japan by the Japan sea. The headwind going out was intense! And ultimately my downfall. I was pedaling as fast as my legs could, but really could not get any speed up. Literally, hundreds of people passed me. I could not overtake a single person on the bike. I felt as though I was riding a mamachari, whilst everyone else sped past me. It was very disheartening seeing people that were 20min behind me on the swim, pass me on the bikes. I was out on that bike course for a ridiculously long time. Embarrassingly so. It took me well over an hour to reach the halfway point (20km). Headwind was too strong for me. Coming back was a lot easier, and did the last 20km in under an hour. It killed me that I couldn’t even maintain an average speed of 20km/hr. Oh the shame! The training I did would not have suggested that I would be that slow. Just goes to show the importance of aerodynamics in triathlon and cycling in general. It took me over 2 hours to cycle those slow 40km. I had totally gone into the race thinking that I would do it comfortably in under 2 hours. Clearly, I’m not in the most aerodynamic position…

From Murakami tri 2012
From Murakami tri 2012

My cycling makes my running look good! My cycling skills are pretty lame. Non-existent aerodynamic positioning. Also, I had only just learnt the couple of weeks prior to drink (water) and cycle at the same time! Retrieving the drink bottle from the holder is one thing…but getting it back in is another! Also I was limited to hydrating from my own drink bottle because I cycle lefthanded and drink with the right hand, but the drinks on the course were passed out and had to be retrieved with the left hand…and I can’t cycle one-handed with my right hand. Yes, I am that unco!!! I was also mega sore on the bike… sore arse, cramping leg. A whole world of pain. Spent way too much time on that bike on that course! Finally got back to T2, and was about to start the run leg. When I approached the run start, I was stopped by a race marshall and a barricade. I was not allowed to start the run leg. I had been too slow on the bike and would be stopped from completing the race! Oh, the disappointment! This triathlon had a time limit of 4 hours. At this point, I still had 1 hr and 15minutes to get to the finish line and complete within 4 hours. However, in addition to there being a total 4 hour time limit, there were cut off times foe each leg! So because I had been too slow on the bike, I couldn’t make up for that on the run leg! All competitors had to have started the run course by 1:05pm (regardless of whether you were the first swim wave or the 5th swim wave – there being a 20min difference between the first and last swim wave). I had missed it by about 5min!!!! I was not allowed to finish the race much to my disappointment. Had the women’s wave not been the last wave (20min after the first wave), I would have made it to the run start by 1:05pm! At the end of the day though, I was just too slow on the bike…but it’s a shame that in this triathlon race, you couldn’t make up for a weaker leg in a stronger leg. Every leg had cut off restrictions. It shouldn’t really matter how long a particular leg takes, so long as you can complete the whole race within the time limit! So, anyway, found myself stuck at T2, and considering the finish line was in the centre of the town, I ended having to ride my bike to the finish line (where they had transported all our gear). The official result will forever show a DNF (Did Not Finish). More like WNATF (Was Not Allowed To Finish). Oh the shame! And I had actually put effort into training for this! I mean just two weeks earlier I had done a 1.5km swim and 10km aquathlon race in 1hr 39min. I had not anticipated taking over 2 hours on the bike course. The headwind bit me in the arse big time! What was more disappointing, was that when the results were released, I didn’t even get a time recorded for the bike leg…despite completing it. I only got a swim time recorded. Man, it was a friggin achievement I even completed the 40km cycle, so I had hoped I would get a time for it. Most disappointing. I guess, I will just have to make Murakami my bitch next year!…if I can ever get over the devastation of this race. Will know to improve my cycling. And yeah, they should totally not make the women start 20minutes behind the first swim wave! Had the women’s swim wave been the third or fourth wave, I would have made it to the finish line. Lesson learned: Need to get more tits (time in the saddle)!

My first half-marathon

Have just crawled my way through a half marathon race. Show me the chocolate! Stat! And a new pair of legs while you’re at it. I eat. I swim. I walk. I travel. I drink. I work. I poop. I sleep. But ‘run’ is not a verb in my repertoire. So it may surprise you to know that I ran – actually ‘attended’ or ‘participated’ in would be a more accurate description – in my first half marathon. Might be my last as well. Don’t plan on doing that again any time soon.

Don’t know why they call these things “fun runs”. Traumatising, is what it was. Fun is a theme park. Fun is a holiday. A run is not fun. 21.097494 kilometres. 13.1094 miles. A half marathon. The first 21km were fine. It’s those last .097494 kilometres that got to me! Because I didn’t get lucky in the Tokyo Marathon lottery this year (which I think may be a blessing, in light of today’s efforts), I decided last year to do a half marathon in the same month instead.

I can officially say I have completed my first half marathon today – the Tokyo-Akabane half marathon. That’s 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life I will never get back. So yes, a PB! Should be pretty easy to beat, coz I doubt I could ever run this slow again. My form was neither fast nor pretty but I did make it across the finish line in one piece…barely. That wise guy Confucius said: “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop”. Yeah, I bet Confucius never ran a half marathon in his damn life! Talk to the hand, brother. I mean, what kind of name is Confucius anyway.

It was a race which almost didn’t happen. I made it to the race in the nick of time. For some reason I thought it started at 11:30am, so I figured I should get there around 11am. Fark me. It started at 11:10am! I had to run from the train station to the start point. I arrived with barely five minutes to spare, and was at the back of the pack coz I had arrived so late. It was a brisk 8 degrees but at least the sun was out. No rain. No snow. But there was plenty of wind and chill factor. And then the torture began. First 10km was bearable. By no means enjoyable. It was a hairpin course along the Arakawa River which meant that we ran the 10.5 something k’s and then looped back around the exact way we came.

I had my runkeeper app going to keep track of my pace whilst listening to my half marathon music playlist. And then at the 17km mark my iPhone battery died. And with it my music and my spirits. At least I know that ‘I’ can last a half marathon. Sadly, the iPhone can not. I had anticipated that this would happen. I had done a 20km practice run two weeks prior, and the battery didn’t last then either. The last 4 kilometres therefore were music-less. A fate worse than death. 15km in, and things started to go downhill. Body system shutdown. My legs were starting to cave. There’s a fine line between a ridiculously slow jog and a fast walk. At what point does a walk become a jog and vice versa?

The second part of the course was also super windy as we were running right into it for the last 10km. Also had girly stomach cramps. And feeling cold. No fun at all. The run/walk turned into a crawl. Was feeling really drained and slightly nauseous. Kept thinking that I would need to puke like those people on Biggest Loser at the slightest physical exertion. Thankfully, that never happened. Just counting down the k’s to end this misery. For the last 5km’s, the only thing that consumed my thoughts was ‘sugar’. Wanted sugar. Needed sugar. Stat. I hadn’t eaten enough before the race because I was running so late. Two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast were the only things I had consumed pre-race and are what got me to the finish line. I had packed bananas and had planned on eating them prior to the race but with barely enough time to get to the start line to begin with there was no time for bananas before the starting gun. I desperately wanted some sports drink during the race course, but they were only offering water. “Sugar. Chocolate. Sports drink.” Anything. Needed energy.

I don’t recommend running a half marathon on very little training. Do not try this at home, kiddies. Should’ve trained more. Should have trained. Full stop. Made it to the finish line just within the 3-hour race limit. Official time was an officially embarrassing 2 hours, 45 minutes and 6 seconds. Safe to say, I ain’t a runner. I really should stick to swimming. By some sheer miracle I did not come last. That title went to some other poor soul (with poor soles).

Here is a breakdown of my pace/km splits up until the 17km mark when my iPhone battery died. Times are indicative only. The start time I pressed on my iPhone may differ from the official time on my run chip.

From Half marathon
From Half marathon

After the 10km mark, my times got slower…

From Half marathon

and slower…

From Half marathon

From the 18km to the finish line, I think I was doing 11-12min plus/km as I was half walking, half jogging, praying that my legs wouldn’t break off. I almost thought about getting on all fours, except damn pride stopped me. Crossed the finish mat and was ready to keel over. They finally offered us that sugary sports drink that I had been yearning for. They made us run 21km to earn it. Was really cold at the end of the race. Sat on the grass to rest my weary legs and wrapped myself up in my trackpants, jacket and scarf. Wolfed down two chocolate bars and a banana. A banana has never tasted so freaking delicious. That was a 3 Michelin star banana, to be sure. It was that amazing. All I needed now was a drip to intravenously inject sugar into my bloodstream. Race done and dusted.

Next hurdle…to walk/limp all the way back to the train station. The walk back was somewhat worthwhile. There’s a Mister Donut right next to Akabane station. Just the man I wanted to see. And there was a donut sale (100yen donuts). I bought two. I had earnt them! As if to add insult to injury, I had to stand up on the trains all the way back home. As if running a half marathon wasn’t tiring enough for my feet. Those train courtesy seats should not only be extended to pregnant women and handicapable peoples, but to those who have also run 21km.

Home, a bath and a cup of tea never felt so good. I am now going to have be surgically removed from my bed. I am exhausted. I feel like a broken woman. My knees are shattered. Some minor toe blisters as well. And to think that a full marathon is double that!!! The thought of doing that all over again is enough to make me run walk crawl for the hills. The first of my sporting goals for 2012 is done. Another three to go! For details of my training or lack thereof, you can check out the running blog I’ve been keeping for a while, over here.

And finally, now I ain’t no Confucius, but some sage words of wisdom would be: “One who is foolish enough to enter a half-marathon must be willing to punish themselves, and get their training on!”

Tokyo Yamathon 2011: I survived…barely.

I survived. Woo hoo. I live to tell the story. (And a long one it is, for your reading pleasure). I thought I was on Heaven’s doorstop last night and was worried about whether I would have full use of my limbs again or not. Much to my relief, I can walk. I can walk. Barely. I am a crazy person. Let that be a warning to you. What on earth possessed me to think a 50km walk would be fun. I need my head read. Let me sum up yesterday for you: 50km. 29 train stations. 12 hours and 35 minutes. One hell of a day. Otherwise known as the Ultimate Urban Adventure, or officially as the Tokyo Yamathon. It promised to be such a day of fun, endurance and adventure. What didn’t come with that was the promise of relentless torrential downpour for over 16 hours! I like to engage in a little hyperbole from time to time, but I’m not exaggerating when I say it was like a mini typhoon. Relentless rain all goddamn day topped off with some strong wind. On very little sleep (only 3.5 hours), I woke up early on the Saturday morning just before 5:30am. Got myself to Yoyogi Park at 6:30am for the start of the Tokyo Yamathon. The Tokyo Yamathon is an Urban Adventure Endurance Race. “Yamathon” is a portmanteau of the “Yamanote line” and “Marathon”. The Yamanote line is a train line (the green one) in Tokyo – one of the biggest and most central train lines to Tokyo life. It runs as a circular loop covering all the main stops in Tokyo. In a visit to Tokyo, you can get around to pretty much anywhere you need to go just by taking the Yamanote line alone. For a long time, it was the only train line I would catch. I would just follow the green train line. The Tokyo rail system is a bit of a dog’s breakfast and can be super daunting.

Tokyo Rail Network

The Tokyo Yamathon is a 50km-plus adventure whereby teams of 3-4 people are required to visit every single train station on the Yamanote line – of which there are 29 train stations – and the entire race is to be completed on foot. Sounds awesome, right. It is designed as a walking marathon, but teams can run it if they choose to (no use of trains, taxis, buses, bikes or any kind of wheels). On top of that, is the fact that it’s a navigational challenge – you need to figure out how to get from train station to train station. Totally Tokyo Marathon meets The Amazing Race, right! I swear to god, I would kick arse in The Amazing Race. Kick Arse, I tell you. Maps are provided as a guide, but you’re free to take as many shortcuts or routes as you like. The event is a charity event with proceeds going to Oxfam, so it’s also for a great cause. By following the train line for most of the course covers a distance of approx 52km. With a few shortcuts you can get around to 48-50km. I believe the fastest possible route is about 44km. At any rate, all further than any official marathon race. I tried to Google Map it, but I learnt the hard way after punching in a whole bunch of train stations, that Google Maps only lets you punch in up to 24 stops at a time. 5 short of what I needed! After 24 stations, it told me that it was a distance of just under 36km. Still another 5 stations to go. The aim set by the organizers is to complete it in 12 hours. Teams in the past have taken up to about 16 hours. I believe the fastest time was about 6 something hours (teams who ran the whole way). To ride a complete loop on the train takes approximately an hour. Walking it, considerably longer. There are no road closures, no traffic control, so you have to contend with traffic and the other 20million people that live in Tokyo as you take to the streets. It’s a little bit like a marathon scavenger hunt, except the only thing you’re searching for are all 29 Yamanote train stations. I forgot to mention, you also had to take a team photo at each and every station with the station name in the photo as proof that you visited every train station! The Yamanote line:

The Yamanote line (the green circular loop)

How much fun does that sound?! So imagine my sheer excitement when I was asked to join a team. I was super excited. More than I should have been for a 50km walk. It was only decided less than 7 days ago that I would enter in this race. One of my friends, Ange (Angela) from Hokkaido, wanted to enter, and was looking for a teammate – one that would be genki and reliable (i.e. not cancel on the day of). Hence, Aleisha to the rescue. Hell yeah, I love this kind of stuff! So on Sunday I committed myself to joining Ange’s team. Six days later (with absolutely no training at all), on a Saturday morning, I was at Yoyogi Park. Our team of four was: Ange, Hana (whom I had met once before), Marina (who I met for the first time) and myself (A). Our team name was the “Super HAAMstars”! (HAAM being the first initials of each of our names). Pre-race: We look pretty excited and genki.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Marina and I, coincidentally, had identical running shoes! (Mine, of course, are the dirtier pair.)

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Funnily enough, just to get the start point required riding the Yamanote line.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Over half a day later I would have walked to every one of these stations. As luck would have it, it poured friggin rain all friggin day.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Official departure time. 7:28am At 7:28am, our team officially set off. The Yamanote line being a circular loop – you can choose to do it clockwise or anticlockwise. As part of our strategy, we decided to do the race anti-clockwise. What follows is a photo essay of the Tokyo Yamathon. I’ve listed the approximate arrival time at each station that we reached (I had been taking a memo of the times) and our group photo pose. One of the things we did to occupy ourselves on the walk was to think of a group pose to do once we reached the station. Station 1: Start Point to Shibuya Station. Arrive 7:51am Headed to Shibuya station via a combini stop to pick up breakfast.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

First conbini stop was a Daily Yamazaki.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Because a marathon-plus distance race in the rain was not enough of a challenge, just for fun, we also decided that each combini stop we made would have to be at different chain combini store.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose:” Look at me/Yay, we made it the first station” Station 2: Ebisu. Arrive 8:14am. Pose: With the Yebisu (beer) statue. Take 1: Crap, the station name wasn’t quite in the photo!

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Take 2:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Before I go on, I have to say, that probably the most difficult part of the challenge was finding people at each train station who were willing and able to take a photo for us. We wasted a few minutes at each station trying to approach people to take photos of us, and then having to check the photo to make sure the train station name was included. Given the fact that it was raining, people were wrestling with umbrellas and didn’t have free hands to take a photo or weren’t prepared to stand in the rain to take a photo for us. It got worse throughout the day as the rain progressively got harder. Station 3: Meguro. 8:44am Pose: Normal (no pose).

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 4: Gotanda. 9am Pose: Hands up in the air.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

We were feeling good and doing well at this point. Station 5: Osaki. 9:12am

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: Headshot group photo taken one-handed (self group portrait). Fail.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Take 2: Try and get the station sign in it this time.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Started to pour rain again. We made another conbini stop for snacks, drinks, and toilets. Conbini No. 2 – A Family Mart.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Ange was dressed in a bright yellow rainsuit. No chance of losing her in a crowd. She looked like a human banana. Here is the human banana eating a banana:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 6: Shinagawa. 9:55am By this time we had walked for about 2.5 hours now. Took some nice scenic en-route photos.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Clearly, we were taking this race very seriously!

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: ABBA (or at least trying to).

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Check out the number of train lines at Shinagawa station! One of those is the Yamanote…we hope.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Time to soldier on. 6 down. Only another 23 to go!

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 7: Tamachi. 10:29am Pose: Charlie’s Angel/007.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Hana wanted a donut.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

And Marina takes a quick stretch:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 8: Hamamatsucho. 10:49am At some point around here we saw the Tokyo Tower. Another photo moment.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: Angelic

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 9: Shinbashi. 11:10am Pose: Wrestling/Boxing.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 10: Yurakucho. 11:30 We had now been walking for 4 hours. Spirits still high apart from the fact that we were all wet and soggy. Pose: Head Tower.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 11: Tokyo. Time unknown. Tokyo is a massive station. And a lot of it is under construction/renovation. We were hardpressed to find a sign that actually said “Tokyo” on it. Pose: Abbey Road a la The Beatles style.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 12: Kanda. 12:09. Lunch stop. Arrived at Kanda. Pose: YMCA.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Time for a lunch stop. We were wet and hungry. We wanted something cheap, hot and fast. We were not going to allow ourselves to get too comfy at a nice warm cafe or restaurant otherwise we’d never want to leave, so we settled for Yoshinoya where we sat a counter and had gyudon – a hot bowl of rice with meat and some miso soup, for a carb and protein fix. 30min max here and then we were outta there.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

We didn’t want our legs to get too stiff. We also didn’t want to get much colder sitting around in our wet clothes. I changed into a new pair of socks here (had packed a couple of pairs)…not that it did much good. They were soaked again in about 10 minutes. Our map was looking rather dismal and rainsoaked at this point.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

We were about halfway or so, having done Shibuya to Kanda (anticlockwise direction). Did another conbini stop for snacks on the go. We crossed Lawson off our list.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Left Kanda about 1pm and set off on the second half of our journey. From here on out, this so-called “walk” turned into a “swim” as we waded through puddles and heavy rain. Station 13: Akihabara. 1:17pm Pose: Otaku (a signature Japanese nerd/cheesy pose).

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 14: Okachimachi. Time unknown. Pose: “Let’s make use of the pedestrian stripes. It’s a shame we couldn’t use the Abbey Road pose here.”

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 15: Ueno. 1:47pm Pose: “Let’s lift up Hana” (Let’s add some weights to this cardio mix).

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

It was pouring rain and we struggled to get someone who was able to take a photo for us here. We were super wet despite all our rain gear. We had all wet squishy feet as well. Took a toilet break at some public toilets near Ueno Zoo and a mini kit kat break.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 16: Uguisudani. 2:11pm Uguisudani station is a station I’ve never been to before. It’s a tiny station and apparently is an area known for it’s love hotel, hence our pose: Pose: “Hearts” (but it turned out more like a ‘kiss/mouth’ and a ‘heart’)

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 17: Nippori. 2:37pm. Had to set the camera on timer here and we did our own group photo. Pose: Head upside.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 18: Nishi Nippori. 2:52pm Road block: train crossing.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: “Walk like an Egyptian…except nobody told me that we weren’t supposed to look at the camera!”

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 19: Tabata. 3:07pm Pose: A Chorus line – can can dance.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 20: Komagome. 3:44pm. I was starting to die at this point. I was probably starting to die a few stations back, but my legs were getting sore and we were less mentally genki. My patience was waning at this point. We had been walking in pouring rain for over 7 hours now! We got lost around here as we were getting tired and we slacked off on the navigating. Walking additional extra distances = unhappiness. Discomfort was setting in. This neighbourhood was also really boring and residential. Was not happy to be here/there at that point. Stupid neighbourhood. Stupid rain. Stupid walk. Tabata, Komagome and Sugamo were all kind of a blur…. we got a little lost as well as fatigue and confusion and generally not giving a rat’s arse kicked in, so I have probably messed up this recount a little. Was getting tired. We also stopped at a supermarket for a drink stop.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Feeling a bit deflated when we finally got to Komagome. Pose: Deflated grimace.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 21: Sugamo. 4:01pm. Sugamo is an area known as the “Old people’s Harajuku”. Pose: Old people. We didn’t have to act. I was hunched over and limping as it was. Aching back, aching legs. We had walk over 35km at this point, in the rain no less.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Between here and the next station, we needed another conbini stop for toilet etc. Crossed a Sunkus off the list.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Even though it was just on 4pm, it was also dark by now. Gets dark really early now that we’re going into winter.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 22: Otsuka. 4:29pm I was beyond death at this point. Legs were getting cold and stiff. We had been walking for 9 hours now in sopping wet clothes. It was dark, wet and cold. Pose: Bodybuilder. Yeah, we’re strong.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 23: Ikebukuro. 5:12pm. It was a long walk between the previous station and this one. Slowly but surely dying. Ikebukuro means ‘swamp bag”, which is exactly how I was feeling. Ikebukuro was so freaking crowded! We looked like drowned rats as we made our way through the mosh pit that is Ikebukuro. What were all these people doing out and about on a rainy Saturday night?! Go home! Death is ugly, folks.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

We finally got to Ikebukuro at long last! Pose: Ange wanted to do an 80’s lunge pose. WTF. My legs can barely hold me up, let alone do a lunge. I do a half-arsed lunge.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

At Ikebukuro I had officially hit The Wall:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

And that Wall ain’t pretty:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

I was wet through to the bone. Wet socks. Wet shoes. Wet hair. Wet face. Wet undies. Wet leggings. Wet shorts. I could have foregone toilets and just peed as I walked – I was that wet. Hell, peeing on myself would have at least made me feel a little warmer. My legs were sore. Feet were sore. I was in a world of pain. The neverending Wall:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Alas, we soldiered on in the dark and the rain and the wind. The rain and wind got so much by this stage that we forwent the umbrellas which were rendered useless in this crappy weather:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 24: Mejiro. 5:35pm. Only five more stations left after this one! Mejiro: Eye pose.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 25: Takadanobaba. 5:56pm By this point, I really don’t know what I was thinking. I just wanted this ordeal to be over. The faster we walked, the faster this would all be over. Trouble was, my legs could barely move. Body slowly breaking down. Nothing to do but one foot in front of the other. No matter how slowly. No matter how painful. Are these not the eyes of a crazy person?! Oh, and someone needs to invent windscreen wipers for glasses. Isn’t there an app for that? There should be.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: Astro Boy.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 26: Shin Okubo. 6:36pm. Every step was becoming even more and more painful. I was definitely limping. Another toilet and conbini stop along the way. At least we got to cross a 7-11 conbini stop off the list. I was also getting ravenous by this point. It had been about 6 hours since lunch, a hell of a lot of walking, and not enough eating. A quick snack of some chocolate and crackers.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

This would also be our last break stop for the day before reaching the finish. I caved and had to put a couple of bandaids on my blister that were covering my feet and toes. So much pain. As night was setting in, the streets got more crowded and we had to contend with more pedestrian traffic as people went about their social Saturday nights. I was looking forward to nothing more than a hot bath and bed.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: A kind of korean pose (according to two Japanese girls, there’s a particular korean stance so that’s what we did. Shin Okubo is Little Korea in Tokyo. Great place to eat korean food!)

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Station 27: Shinjuku. 7pm. People central. Shinjuku on a Saturday night. A sea of umbrellas.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: Backs turned. Don’t face the camera.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Only two more stations to go! Station 28: Yoyogi. 7:18pm. Waiting at another train crossing:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

And the Yamanote line train passes us by, as if to add insult to injury:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Pose: Crawling out of Yoyogi Station. No pretending there. I was practically crawling by this time.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Only ONE station to go. Point of no return! Station 29: Harajuku. 7:55pm Woo hoo. Harajuku station in sight!

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Last station checked off! Finale Pose: Too buggered to make a human pyramid so here is our STAR pose.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Yay the Super HAAMstars! We walked all 29 stations of the Yamanote line AND in pouring rain and wind. How goddamn happy do we look now that that ordeal was over.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

We still had a little ways to walk yet. We had to check back in to the start point and officially time out. Check in Point. 8:03pm. Official time 12 hours and 35 minutes. About 50 or so kilometres walked. All 29 Yamanote train stations completed. Hundreds of calories burned. As for our conbini checklist: Daily Yamazaki. Check. Family Mart. Check. Lawson. Check. Sunkus. Check. 7-11. Check. We then dragged ourselves to the bar where the afterparty was being held. Had me a well-deserved half pint of beer:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

And a hotdog (coz, let’s face it, the dogs were barking):

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

And then we passed out!

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Somehow I managed to get home sometime around 10pm. 50km later and I’ve aged about 50 years! Knees and legs are shattered. And in dire need of a wheelchair. Got home and peeled off all my wet clothes. WARNING: Some super gross photos coming up. Look away now. And I hope you’re not eating or about to eat. After over 12 hours walking around in wet socks, wet shoes (despite changing socks twice on the walk), my feet were all blistered and pruny. They were white, wrinkled and just plain disgusting. Blisters to boot. Check out my feet. I honestly don’t know how they made it to the finish line in that condition.

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Here’s the other foot:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011

Sweet Jesus, Bless my soles for they were in need of some major heeling. (Couldn’t let ya go without a pun thrown in.) Had a nice long hot bath to soak and sooth my aching muscles. I tell you, it was a struggel climbing in and out of the bathtub. That was a feat in itself. There was no water hot enough in the world to soak my muscles. I could have fallen asleep in the bathtub. I very well nearly did, except for the fact that my feet were already sooo wrinkly and pruny. The soles of my feet, legs and in particular, the backs of my knees (strangely enough) were in extreme pain. Body had totally started to stiffen up and get tight. Also had aching and bruised shoulder after carrying a backpack all day in the rain. Powdered my feet and lathered my legs in Dencorub. Crawled into bed with a hot water bottle to soothe my feet and legs. I could not walk last night. Extreme pain. I had buggered up my knee as well. Woke up today after a 12-hour slumber. Legs and knees in particular are sore. Sore back as well, actually more my hips but the back of my hips are sore. Legs are still super tight but I can walk….albeit very slowly and painfully. Thought I would feel a lot worse today given that I was in so much pain last night. I was really scared that I would wake up paralysed this morning. I was in that much pain last night. Just lying down in bed hurt my legs. Mostly sore muscles today that should be fine in a week. Apart from that, no major injury. Nothing that a nice massage wouldn’t fix…if I could actually get myself to the front door to leave my aparto. I’ve actually starved most of today because I can’t get out of bed and walk myself to the kitchen. That would require use of my legs. Have to say it was a hell of a lot of fun though. Don’t let all that pain put you off. It was just a shame that it rained all frickin day. Would have been so much more pleasant and bearable were it not for the rain. I don’t mind being tired from all that walking, but being wet on top of that was just nasty. And of course, today was a perfectly dry and sunny day! It was a great way to explore Tokyo and all for a great cause. The Tokyo Yamathon is held twice a year – in April and November. Info here. They have prizes and stuff as well for fastest team, best costume etc. If you don’t have a team but still want to join, they can hook you up with other people and you can join a team. Teams of 3-4 people. Team entry is 6000yen, split between each member is very reasonable as well. Plus 1000yen insurance fee per team. Donations and sponsorship also welcome, as all proceeds go to Oxfam. It was a fun day out. Some teams did it in 6 hours. Other teams will take up to 16 hours. You pass a lot of teams along the way which is great. Exchange words of encouragement, and “we’ll take a photo of you guys if you take one for us” kind of thing. Quite a few teams did it in costume as well! Hard core. A lot of people did it in regular clothes – jeans, street shoes etc. A team of girls were even wearing ugg boots. Respect! Thanks to all the random people we met along the way who were nice to enough to take a photo of us at each station. So I may not have been accepted into the Tokyo Marathon, but this was the next best thing. I may not have ran a marathon, but I know I can walk a marathon, and then some, in rain and wind! Although I don’t know exactly how many kilometres we walked, I guesstimate it around 45-50km. The Yamanote train line by rail tracks is about 39km alone. Obviously we can’t follow the train tracks the whole route around as we are often diverted along buildings, no-through roads, paths, traffic and roads etc, factor in some wrong turns, and your own navigational skills, and it’s closer to 50km. The map given provides a basic route which is 54km, but we reckon we did it in a little less than that. iPhones are allowed so that came in handy too as we Google-mapped our way through most of it. Our team probably took in more pit stops than I would have liked, but still it’s a team effort and that was what got us to the end. We kept ourselves amused with conversation, taking in the sights of Tokyo, and sustained ourselves with encouragement to make the finish line. Our team did awesome! Super proud. The other girls were such troopers! I am sure I was the weakest link. Ange was talking about doing it again in the Spring! Is she crazy?! I might suddenly be otherwise occupied on that day. I’ve always wanted to visit every train station on the Yamanote line and now I have…on foot. I will never look at the Yamanote train line the same again. And how cool is this: I actually saw this on the walk. So apt. It was like it was a sign…literally:

From Tokyo Yamathon 2011
From Tokyo Yamathon 2011