Monday, April 26, 2010

It rained it snowed, but we made it to the end!

Firday 23rd 4:30AM

Woke up at the crack of dawn and a quick peek outside made me feel a little better seeing that it wasn't hard rain, but rather a light drizzle. I enjoyed my shower knowing that it'll be last one in the next 37hrs or so.
I doubled checked all my belongings; first aid kit, half of my closet full of long sleeve running wear, countless socks, gloves, hats, 2 pairs of hiking shoes, and much much more. Dragging everything outside and into a taxi was a challenge in itself. I was so relieved that Motozo was there to help me and it was comforting to know that he'll be there to support my team for the weekend.
Mary was our other support member and her and Motozo drove us all down to Odawara, a quick hour and half ride.

For some reason we got to Odawara a little late and barely made it to the registration at 8:30AM. We ran to the registration and disappointingly missed our Starbucks stop (except me as I refused to forgo my coffee). Another quick run back to the cars to put on our bib numbers and backpacks, double check what we had in our backpacks, get our hiking sticks and a dash back to start line where the gun went off at 9AM.

We were in pretty good spirits and the rain didn't seem to bother us very much. We especially enjoyed the mist that covered the forest and chatted with other teams.

The 100k course is broken up into sections with check points at the end of every section which provides food, toilets, and staff that cheerfully greeted us. The first section was only 9k and I had the bright idea of taking a photo at every checkpoint (CP) with our fingers showing which CP we were at. Of course, we only manged to get this one shot at the first CP. We soon forgot about taking photos and our only concern at the next CPs was bathroom, quick munch of something, a drink of water and we had to continue since it was too cold to linger around for long.

As we walked the weather seemed to drop every hour and I was so glad I choose to wear 4 layers. But by 1pm, I made a call to Motozo, who was waiting for us at CP 3, that our hands were freezing so if he could please buy us those hand warmers at the nearest combini. Mary and Motozo were excellent, they walked up to the trail to meet us and instantly tried their best to make us more comfortable. Mary lend me her waterproof cycling gloves and I wore Motozo's dry pair of running gloves underneath them and I finally was able to feel my fingers. We had a quick coffee, onigiri, and a few nuts and we were on our way.

CP 3-4 a 12k hike, was my favorite bit. We walked around Lake Ashinoko and the whole time I had warm memories of our wedding 6 months ago. We ran around this same lake and here we were walking the same course where we had our wedding ceremony. I was able to see the hotel where we stayed and since the course was flat it was also our fastest leg.
Unfortunately, no photo of the lake :(....but this is some photo I think Motozo took. You can see that the weather was always very gray and misty.

We arrived at CP 4 at 5:30pm and again was greeted by Motozo and Mary who cooked us a feast! Our main concern though was getting into dry clothes (it was raining all day!) and put on more layers as it was absolutely freezing! I felt so sorry for Motozo and Mary who stood outside in the cold to cook us a big dinner. I enjoyed a big bowl of brown rice, tofu and veggie stir-fry, pumpkin soup, and tea. They really went out of their way to make us so much! Even though I could tell Motozo was freezing he kept saying he was fine and made sure I was warm.

The next leg we knew was going to be tough. We put on our warm night gear, headlamps and torches and set off into the night. It started to rain hard at this point and even with 8 layers on I was freezing. The trail was so wet we immediately were in mud up to our knees and I was so thankfully I had Motozo's hiking stick as it helped me stay on my feet as it was SO slippery. Despite the stick though, I fell on my ass. But I'm proud to say only ONCE! This was the longest leg at 18k which took us 6hours. 6 hours on steep slippery terrain was no fun, but we made the best of it and just thought about putting one foot in front of the other. Unfortunately, I overlooked one important detail in my packing...I didn't replace my batteries in my lights, so in the 1st hour both my headlight and torch went out. Garth, the ultra hiking gadget king, lent me his awesome torch and I was so relived! Walking in the mountains at night with NO light is the scariest thing.
But we had a lot of other teams around us and the numbers made the night more comforting.
Long story short....we walked through the night. I got so tired that for about 4 LONG hours I struggled to keep my eyes open. I started hallucinated and second guessing my hearing. My team tried to make conversation with me, but I couldn't respond much and at one point Peter had to walk next to me so I wouldn't fall off the hill because I couldn't walk straight any more. But I got my 2nd wind and by 7AM, when it started getting brighter, my spirits lifted.

Sat 24th 8:30AM
We arrived at CP 7. 79.5k into our hike. Only 19.5k to go!
Again our lovely support team Mary and Motozo were stars! They cleaned our muddy shoes and dried them as we took a short nap. I only managed 30mins, but being in a warm room made all the difference in the world! David warmed up some stir fry and made sure I got my fresh apple (can't live without my apple for breakfast). I stretched out my legs and took an Advil as the soles of my feet started feeling a little sore. This is the 2nd day and I have to say....we don't look as bad as I thought we would.

Knowing that we only had 19.5k to go we trudged on. Our steps were slower, but we didn't stop. We met other teams, but instead of them passing us, we passed them and we were so proud that we were still a team of 4. Many teams lose a member who gets injured or decides its too tough and pulls out. This year the conditions were especially horrible, that we met many teams with only 3 or 2 members left.
Here is Jaynie and Peter at the marker for 10k left! Oh, how happy we were that it was almost over.

Motozo and Mary met us on the trail on the last 7k. Motozo was again a star who ran a head to find the route markers so we wouldn't get lost and kept telling us we were almost finished. Here we are at the top of the last peak! Did I mention that the last 19k is the HARDEST part of the course with hills that never seem to end?! Along with steep climbs the weather also didn't improve very much from Friday. We had some snow and on and off rain.

Our last down hill to the finish line! We walked down as fast as we could. Jaynie started getting knee problems, but she was so cheery despite her pain.

YAY, FINISH! We finished in 32hrs 3mins. 1 hour faster then 2 years ago when I did it. We came in at 5pm and it was the first time to finish in daylight. We toasted with champagne and beer, congratulating each other for a job well done.

I really am so thankfully to Motozo and Mary who took Friday off of work and woke up so early with us and showed endless energy even though they were tired themselves. They were hoping to get in a little bit if cycling and running, but were too busy taking care of us that the only exercise they got was the 14k hike they did with us at the end.
I'm so happy I had such a lovely team to hike with. I think our personalities complimented each other, we never got especially angry (maybe a little frustrated at times) at each other and managed to make the best out of our situation.
Jaynie an I are already talking about the next Oxfam we want to do....I think this time it'll have to be in a warm place though. So were thinking Australia or New Zealand.

Another thing to celebrate is that I have no injuries to speak of at the moment. Only tight and sore legs. I'm taking a few days off heavy exercise and treating my legs to a nice massage sometime this week.

Small fact: Japan Oxfam Trailwalker is the toughest course out of all the other Oxfam Trailwalkers around the globe.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The day before Oxfam.

The forecast for tomorrow is.......RAIN! This is what we all dreaded. We got a little taste of how our hike will be from last weeks hike. We walked through mud mud mud and I still have not been able to get the mud off of the shoes. At least the shoes dried up, but I'm going to have to accept that my feet will get wet in the first hour of the hike. My family can sympathize with me how nasty wet feet feels. I hate stepping on a wet floor or even walking around at the pool where the floor is all damp....ew!
I'm going to try out the old method of tying my feet in plastic bags before putting them into the shoes. Hopefully, I won't slip and slide too much inside the shoes as the next nasty thing would be blisters.

But I will survive! With wet feet, clothes, and cold weather...I will be survive!

Even if I get blisters, fall on my ass in the mud, get so cranky with lack of sleep and sick of eating nuts and onigiri's.....I will survive!

This will be the BEFORE shot. I'll see how genki I look at the end of this journey. Wish me luck!
Now to go pack my bags.

PS. Pay no attention to the underwear like clothing hanging on the door handle. Motozo and I always hang around our workout clothes on the door handles. That's Motozo's swimming trunks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

3 more days to Oxfam Trailwalker 100k HIke

For the pass 3 weeks, every Sunday I go hiking with my lovely Oxfam Trailwalker team.
Oxfam Trailwalker is a event to raise funds for countries where there is severe poverty. A team, which consists of 4 members, must raise a certain amount to participate in this event. Together as a team they must complete a total of 100kilometers. This isn't just a stroll in the park either, but rather through pretty tough terrain(steep steep steep) and sometime harsh weather.

Two years ago I did this and told myself I'd never to do it again because it was so tough! We walked for 2 days with only 40mins of sleep total and finished somewhere around 32 hours or so. It was a wonderful feeling to have finished, but I have to admit the second day was not fun at all.
Last year Motozo did it and I joined him for the last 20k or so and I was very happy that I didn't sign up for the full hike. I am again....

Honestly, I was VERY excited and enjoyed all the training hikes we did. Its so great to get out of the city, breath in fresh air and move my body for over 6 hours a day. But today my right foot feels very sore where my Tokyo Marathon injury was. My excitement has turned into....worry.
We start the hike on Friday and today is Monday. I guess the only thing I can do is to do only yoga since thats the least weight bearing exercise I do. So for the next 3 days or so I'll be stretching and working on my pull ups. I'll finish this with some beautiful shots of yesterdays hike. WISH ME LUCK!

SNOW AND SAKURA! How often do you see that eh?

A Bit of Spring Delight!

I'm modeling my teams walking sticks and my new camelbak. Camelbacs make drinking water SO easy (no need to unscrew any tops or reach behind for a bottle) I end up drinking lots and having to go to the bathroom way more often then my team likes. This will come in handy when I start running again. You can see that the guy eating his lunch behind me is very jealous of my gear!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pull Ups, Dips, Push ups...toned arms here we come!

A new exercise equipment requires a post! The beauty above is what we got. I want to give it a name, but haven't come up with a good one yet. Any ideas?
So this mental thing is for pull ups, dips, push ups and other things like hanging leg raises etc.
Recently, I've gotten really into body weight exercises and wanted a pull up bar. Unfortunately, our new place has rules on what we can and can't do. Of course, we aren't allowed to drill holes or even use tacks on the walls :(
Motozo actually has a proper pull up bar, but it needs to be screwed between a door frame and we'd have to pay a huge fine if we did that. Instead we went searching online for a substitute.
Good ol'Amazon never fails and we had our lovely tall metal sent to us in less then a week.
It hardly takes any space in the gym room as well and I think it makes us look more fit then we really are. Ma, korekara desune....
I'm so proud of myself for putting together the entire thing BY MYSELF! I had Motozo tighten all the screws and he assisted (carried) me on a few pull ups. My God, pull ups are HARD!
That's why I've put my little step ladder under so I can at least use one leg to push myself off.
I'm so excited and can't wait to do lots of different exercises with this thing!

Besides exercise, I've started school again and I'm enjoying the social aspect of it quite a bit. Of course, its only been 3 days so we'll see how I feel in a month or so when the homework increases and the lessons get harder.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday run


Today is my last weekday of no school. I'm going back to school on Monday, so I'm going to soak in the sun and enjoy this day! I think I'll go for a run.

I haven't ran in over a month. A little recap: My left foot got injured a few months before Tokyo Marathon. I took a lot of days off running and was worried I lost some valuable training so I didn't have any confidence during the race. But my foot felt better on the day and I actually really enjoyed the freezing run and got my PB (personable best) by 11mins! I finished in the total time of 3:39.38. I couldn't have expected anything better and didn't care that I was off my original goal by 9mins. Unfortunately though, I had to walk quite a bit at the end because my right foot started giving me some bad pain. I was limping a week after the marathon and a visit to the Physiotherapist showed that I strained my foot and was it very close to being a stress fracture. The physio ordered me off running until the pain had subsided. So that's what I've been doing. I've been too scared to run because I'm doing Oxfam Trailwalker this month (100k hike) and I REALLY want to do it so I don't want to take any chances of getting injured.
But today I really feel like running. I've been pain free for weeks and I'm starting to feel a little pudgy from lack of cardio. I've been doing a lot of strength training and I'm seing great results with my strength increasing. The bad thing is that I'm kind of bulking up....I want nice slim muscles and I think I need to do more cardio to get there.
OK, so I'm going for a short short run. I'm a little nervous about it....I'm imagining a red faced, huffing and puffing Meg. Oh, well....lets give this a shot.....

I am SOOOO happy! I'm sure you can guess why!
My planned 30min light jog turned out to be a 47min jog/run up as many hills as I could find. This is only my 2nd run after Tokyo Marathon since the end of Feb and my 1st run WITHOUT PAIN! I was also pleasantly surprised that I'm not as out of shape as I thought. Perhaps the short Tabata cardio sessions I've been doing recently as a substitute have something to do with it.
I wasn't as out of breath as I thought I'd be (although I got sweaty since its a warm day) and easily could have gone for an hour, but I shouldn't push it. Depending on how I feel next week I think I'll run a little longer 2-3 times. We'll see after the 36k hike planned this Sunday.
I think I enjoyed this run so much because I didn't have the pressure of absolutely having to run a certainly speed or distance. I just put on my shoes, carried my camera and was relived every time I landed on my right foot with no pain! YAY, this calls for a celebration!

Ran up and down these hills a couple of times. I figured I should so some hill training since Oxfam course is very hilly!

Finished the run with a run up these flight of stairs in our building. 13 floors x2! Nice burn in the legs.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring - Time for a new post

Alright, I've been so lazy. I thought about this blog, but deliberately ignored it!
Why? Because earlier this year, right after we came back from our honeymoon in the Maldives, I spent 2 days trying to post photos on this cheap cheap (free/crappy) blog and failed!
I attempted to put too many photos up and the blog started moving at snails pace.
So I gave up.
Motozo ended up posting the photos up on his blog and I put photos up on my facebook. So honeymoon is behind us (with lots of warm feelings still) and lots has happened since.

We moved into a new place which is bigger, new and absolutely wonderful. It took us awhile to settle in, but I think we finally unpacked all the boxes. I scrubbed the place spotless for our housewarming party last weekend and of course, with lots of guests, the place got a little messy photos until I clean everything again.

Last month I thought I'd post about my Japanese studying. But think its a little boring so I'll make it brief. I'm going to Japanese language school full time. That equals to about 4 hours of classroom time a day, 5 days a week and the rest of the day doing homework. It really does take me HOURS sometime to finish my homework. It used to stress me out, but I'm finally getting a little more used to being a student instead of working. I've made friends with fellow students and I feel very productive after a long day of studying. I finished my first 3 months and starting from Monday, I'm starting another 3 month course. I've had 3 weeks of spring holiday and loved every minute of it! I have 2 days left and I wanted to make the most of it so today I went out to admire whats left of the sakura.
Near by is Yoyogi-Park, our favorite place to run, so I went there today.

I tried uploading a video clip of the sakura, but it took over an hour so I gave up. I will try youtube method and try posting it again.

Still haven't figured out how I can post the video directly onto this site so here's a link. Nothing special, just my walk in the park.