Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rainy Half Marathons and Such


On November 11th, I ran my first half marathon in Japan. It was a birthday present to myself. Strange? I think so too, but that is what I asked for, so that is what I got. I got some great gifts not the least was an acorn from one of my students (I am pretty sure he was just carrying it around in his pocket and when he heard it was my birthday, seized the opportunity for brownie points). Anywho, I rode to the race with three friends and to two people I had just met. As I toed the line, I looked around at all the people around me and I felt a surge of adrenaline that I haven’t felt since my last race about a year ago. I have missed that feeling. About 5 minutes before the start, it began to rain. As the gun went off we charged into a sheet of rain that succeeded in dampening our clothing but failed to dampen our spirits. That task was left to a distance of 21.1 kilometers (13.1 miles). At each turn I surprised people with my pale skin and curly hair. I heard muttering as I ran past. I succeeded in accomplishing my goal for the race. I had hoped to break 1:20 and I finished in 1:17.48. I was surprised. The last 5k was a struggle and I felt like I was teetering on the brink of cramping the last 2k. As I strode into the final 150m I realized that we were to finish on a track. The track happened to be a dirt track that had licked up the moisture from an hour earlier and had turned to a soupy mess. Sliding around the curve heading into the finish line I decided that next year I would bring a canoe for this portion of the race. As I crossed the finish line I was exhausted. It has been said that, “It is better to have run than to run”. In most cases I will agree with this statement. There is nothing like being challenged by a distance and the triumph of covering that distance pouring out your strength and soul in the process. The hazy contentment that follows a taxing effort is definitely well worth the effort. It is almost a week after the race and my body still protests to stairs and chasing children around the playground but I am slowly regaining mobility and losing the pain that has doggedly chased me the past few days. I had better recover fully because I am running a relay race on next Friday.

After many days of praying and thinking I have decided to remain in Japan for another year (until April 2009). It was a tough decision but God has given me peace about it and I feel like God led me to right decision. It is tough to miss out on so many things in America, but God has carried me this far and he will continue to do so.

My newest project (as if running, teaching, studying the Japanese language and Kanji and my many other responsibilities weren’t enough) is creating a chess set. I love to carve and make things out of wood. I have found it to be very relaxing. The results are pictured above. So far I have completed 8 pawns (1 has a chip in his head so it should only count as 7, but you don’t know that, except for I just told you.). My plan is to use some bamboo to make the board. Wish me luck. I have been at it about a month so if I stay on pace I might be finished in the next year. I really enjoy carving in my room. There is something strangely satisfying about making a huge mess and knowing that you don’t have to clean it up at that moment. I guess that is one of the perks of bachelorhood. I don’t know many women who would let me whittle away for hours on their hardwood floors, leave it for 10 or so days and then sweep it up at my leisure. If you know of any let me know.