Sunday, July 1, 2012

The cherry race: 10km that I simultaneously remember and forget

Five months ago if anyone had asked me if I liked running, my answer would have probably been -

"Mmmm...not really. I mean I go running, *sometimes*, but I don't particularly enjoy it."

This is still the case, sometimes. But now, sometimes, I actually do like it.
It's not really something I expected to get into in a big way while in Japan - or ever, in fact. I think the main thing is, after a long run, the endorphins or whatever kick in and make me feel pretty good and manage to convince me that I truly enjoyed what I just did. Somehow all the discomfort of the run itself is forgotten.  It's all a mental thing, convincing myself to keep going, to forget about the hot pounding of my feet on pavement, that uncomfortable spot in my shoes, the shortness of breath, that point halfway through where I just want to stop and maybe never run again.

No, all of that is replaced by a sense of power and accomplishment and even elation at being able to cover a lengthy distance purely on my own strength. Everything I thought I hated about running is immediately erased from memory when the pavement-pounding ceases and I realize I've reached my daily goal.

Thanks to Kathie and Shirley, I've discovered that, while I'm still hesitant to say I LOVE running...I kinda like it. I had imagined myself one day in my life *maybe* trying a 5k race; instead, Kathie somehow convinced me that it was a good idea to sign up for a 10.
The race was in Higashine, Yamagata. A huge crowd showed up; whole classes of elementary students and families and babies and grandparents lined the streets to cheer and hold painted signs and high-five us as we ran by. Many people were costumed. Not the onlookers; the runners, especially the half-marathon participants. I even saw two guys going that distance in business suits; full-on business suits.

There was another guy who was just finishing his 21k as we passed on the way back to the car - he was wearing a long cape with the Japanese flag on it, some crazy gold hat, and carrying a giant golden ball. "Ganbare, ganbare! (good luck, fight, keep trying, etc.)". He stopped running, all smiles, and tossed us the ball, which appeared to be made of styrofoam. Not sure how he ran that distance carrying that thing, but he seemed to be having fun.
Cute babies! everywhere.

I was going a bit faster than I usually did in training - which I suppose is good, except I felt just about ready to pass out in the home stretch as I sped up to cross the finish line. And as usual, though I thought I hated my life for several kilometres and swore I would never put myself through this again, shortly after finishing I was already thinking about when I might try to do a race again and how it "really wasn't so bad". I'm not sure which side of myself I should believe.
Race swag.
It probably helped that we got cherries and onigiri for finishing the race. Yay Japan!

1 comment:

  1. this is so great katie! ive been getting more into running lately too!! i feel like were in it together!! i love it! so proud of you for doing a 10k! i just started but i never EVER thought id experience a runners high. but it does exist! and we live to tell about it. haha i love you! x x x