Wednesday, May 29, 2013

cool runnings

Except it was freezing.

That weekend's run in Oshima (an island off the coast of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures) was definitely an experience. Oshima was one of the areas hit most directly by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami--a part of the island was actually isolated during the tsunami, and many people died. I was happy to hear that America sent over helicopters to fly people off of the island during that time.

Even after two years, they are still rebuilding. This marathon was held in part to help revitalize the area and boost the declining tourism industry in Oshima. Cold as it was, locals lined the marathon course to help cheer on the runners.

We arrived the day before and stayed at a minshuku (like a ryokan/Japanese-style inn, but more home-y and smaller). We had dinner there and it was amazing.

We also had a small, but nutritious breakfast before we set out for the run!

We were pretty pumped up until we realized it was snowing. And raining. At the same time. I think it's called sleet in English (but I had to look it up, because I'm from California, so I never encounter cold weather!). To my surprise, the marathon wasn't cancelled. All 2000 of us ran through the freezing sleet without a word of complaint. It's quite admirable, the way Japanese people can endure and not complain, but at the time, I was flabbergasted. I didn't have a choice about whether or not to run though, I was hopelessly outnumbered. It's a shame thing; that's another thing Japanese people are good at.

No matter, after a grueling, 40-minute run, it was all over (for me at least. I was in awe of the people who did 10km and the half-marathon!). We then set out for our reward--seafood lunch!

Even though it was a huge challenge, I'm glad we went. It was eye opening to see some of the damage still left by the tsunami and humbling to hear the thanks from the locals, even though we barely did anything. I'll never forget this run, that's for sure! In fact, I'm going on another run in a month. Am I a sucker for torture? You betcha!

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