Friday, December 24, 2010
Tokyo Five Foot Runner :: Week 5 and 6
I ran my first organized race in Japan last weekend. The Christmas RUN at the Imperial Palace, my normal stomping ground. It was an incredibly trying day but yielded uplifting results. I signed up for the race a few months ago on runnet.com. It was a pretty simple process - make an account, find an open race for your age and gender, sign up and pay at the convenience store. If you have questions on how to do it, you can email me. With the help of Google Translate or Rikaichan, you'll be able to figure it out.
Then came race day. I didn't realize that this race was SO organized - running chips, race numbers and a write up in the newspaper. The description on runnet was "Let's have fun running together for Christmas! There will be prizes!" To which I responded with, "Yeah sure, ok - that sounds easy." I've seen races on the weekends before and they're always pretty casual affairs. Well, I showed up about 40 minutes before ready to get my run on but was greeted with a crowd of folks with runner's chips on their shoes and numbers pinned across their chests. Apparently, I was supposed to go to the sponsor's shop, High Tech Town, in the morning to pick up all my stuff. I tried to tell two volunteers that it was my first time running a race in Japan so I didn't know what to do, but I think they interpreted my sorry Japanese as "Today is my first day running. What do I do?" To this, they responded that it would be very difficult and that I couldn't join the race.
Already in a fragile state, I threw up my hands and gave up. Defeated, embarrassed and frustrated, I walked away with Blammo ready to go home. I may or may not have had tears in my eyes. Those tears may or may not have been streaming down my cheeks. Not embarrassing at all! Just as all hope was lost, one of the race organizers ran over with my number and chip and got me ready. (All the while, apologizing profusely even though it wasn't her fault at all) I guess since I was the only idiot that didn't pick up my stuff, they knew that it belonged to me. I spent the remaining 5 minutes until race time drying my eyes, though, in retrospect, I should have been stretching.
And then it was time to run. And I did. At first, very slowly and hesitantly. I eventually got into the groove and finished 6.2 miles faster than I've ever run before - shaving 7 minutes off my last time. I guess had I picked up my participant gear before the race, like I was supposed to, I would have learned that this Christmas RUN was a tuneup race for the half marathon I'm running in January. In any case, I'm glad I got my first race under my belt before the big day - I'm not sure I would have been able to survive all that drama AND 13.1 miles in one day.