I'm sure many people are probably familiar with the story of the marathon and how it came to be. For those who aren't, basically the bastardized version is there was this cool messenger guy (I'm assuming he was cool. He could have been a jerk) named Pheidippides who ran from the town of Marathon (aaaayyy) in Greece to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians at the battle of Marathon. The distance was approximately 26 miles. I'm sure there was much celebrating over this surprise victory and drinking of ouzo (or whatever the Greeks drank then). Pheidippides then promptly DIED from EXHAUSTION. And that is why we have a marathon. People saw this display and thought 'Huh, that looks like fun, let's turn that into a sport so people can repeat this over and over again. Thanks P-Diddy'. WHAT. Although, I actually recently learned the real story of this from a friend and it turns out the 26 miles wasn't what killed him but the 280- mile course he ran the days before the battle. He was sent to ask for help in the battle and ran a rugged, mountainous 140 mile course in about 36 hours-- then ran back. Okay, so as long as your don't do a super-ultra-crazy person-marathon the day before, you should be fine. According to this article, there are approx. 0.5–2 deaths out of every 100,000 marathon runners. I'm okay with those odds.
All this to say, I'm training for my first marathon. I plan to run the Tsubaki Marathon right here in Goto on February 26th, 2017-- approx. 12 weeks away. But Mireille, have you ever run anything close to a marathon before? Of course not! Well I ran a half marathon with very minimal training back in May of this year and that went okay. It's only DOUBLE the distance... but I have learned that 2X as long does not equal 2X as difficult. I would estimate maybe 4X as difficult. Sometimes it feels like 100X. The course for the Tsubaki Marathon is also quite difficult, as the terrain on Goto is mostly mountains with a few hills thrown in for good measure. It will be difficult, but given my current training schedule I feel 75-80% confident that I won't be in that 0.5-2 statistic.
Training has been going well, although I find the most difficult part to be properly hydrating. I reach a point in long runs where every house I pass I think 'They have a garden hose and no one looks home..' or 'what if I just knocked on the door and asked for water? How do I do that in Japanese?' or better yet 'that stream looks clean enough....'. I am looking into various options of carrying hydration with me. Some sources recommend stashing water at designated points along the way, and while I like the treasure hunt-esque feel to this, I don't think I could commit to driving out to a point and driving back, then running back out there. In my last post I mentioned briefly at the end my love for Pocari Sweat. I'm convinced this sports drink is 90% sugar and 10% crack cocaine. When the weather was unbearably hot in the summer, I would guzzle this by the litre. When I eventually leave Japan I will have to find a black market importer to get the goods, because otherwise I will experience some serious withdrawal.
A lot of people have asked me a seemingly easy question: why are you running a marathon?? What motivates you to want to complete this in your life? Seemingly easy, but I feel like I have yet to come up with a good answer for this. I have a few reasons, in no particular order.
- 1) I enjoy running and it's the easiest and cheapest thing to do on Goto to workout as the gym is kind of expensive. I listen to podcasts while running and find it a genuinely enjoyable experience (usually). Roman Mars luling me up those hills and Jesse Brown pushing me down them.
- I think it feels like the logical next step in a progression-- a smattering of 10k runs, a half marathon, a triathlon, it makes sense to keep moving up. Try a bunch of things and see what you like the best, that's always been my strategy when it comes to hobbies and sports.
- Just to see if I can. This doesn't seem like that greatest of reasons to spend hours and months of effort training for something and yet it definitely is a motivating factor. Every time I run a longer run, it's something I couldn't do before-- and that's a pretty cool feeling.
- Time. A well known fact about the JET Programme is the abundance of free time you find yourself with. While I enjoy my work greatly, it isn't necessarily the most stressful job and, for the most part, when I leave at 4:00 my work is done. This leaves evenings and weekends to fill however you please. For me that is karate, studying Japanese, and running. I can't imagine a more opportune time to try and do a marathon simply because I have the time needed to train for it properly.
One fun thing about running a lot around Goto is that I often see students or coworkers out and about and they are excited to say hi. It also gives us something to talk about at school the next day. The best is when I don't see someone and they see me. Students often tell me the next day 'I saw you running yesterday! And last week!' which leads me to believe they're just creeping in the bushes along my route because I did not see them.
Okay! So that's my marathon post about my my marathon training. Turned out longer than I anticipated, but I feel like that says something about my marathon to come. Stay tuned to see how this saga turns out.