Japan – the Best and Worst

It’s been about two weeks since I left Japan to make a new home in Australia.  Now that I’m unemployed, again, I have plenty of time to reflect on my five years in Yokohama.  Here is a quick list of things I’m already missing and things that I’m definitely not missing!

Japan – The Best

  1. Skiing
    It is amazing.  Great quality snow, a plethora of beautiful locations to explore, all easy to get to and cheap!  It is by far the best place for skiing I’ve experienced.  What it lacks in the ‘après ski’ atmosphere that the European resorts have, it makes up for in actual snow.  This is also how Japan thrashes the resorts in Australia and New Zealand that I’ve tried.

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    A different type of atmosphere on the mountain in Japan!

  2. Food
    Sushi, ramen, tempura, sushi, okonomiyaki, sushi, yakisoba, gyoza etc etc.  Did I mention the sushi?

    Shirako

    Shirako (cod sperm) excepted!

  3. Onsen
    Bathing naked in front of other people was not something I thought I would end up ever enjoying.  My first experience of it included a terrible faux pas where I didn’t realise you were supposed to get your own stool.  Instead I sat on one that was already in front of a shower which of course turned out to belong to one of the girls in the bath that began giggling at the clueless gaijin.  In addition, I never worked out how you were supposed to really clean your nether regions whilst sitting on them.
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    However, there is truly nothing better after a long run or a days skiing, then coming back to a hot, relaxing onsen.  It’s incredible!

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    An outdoor onsen in winter – magic!

  4. Toilets
    I’m warming to my theme!  A toilet that washes, dries, warms your buttocks in winter, cools them in summer, disguises your ‘noises’ with modesty music and does your taxes.  Well, may be not the last bit but my washlet toilet did everything else.  So lovely!

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    My beloved washlet has gone to a good home!

  5. Convenience
    Japan has it sorted.  Whether it is the massively efficient and comfortable public transport system or the ridiculously fast internet speeds or the same day delivery or the convenience stores that are everywhere and do everything, there is very little you can’t get done at great convenience to yourself.
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  6. Honesty of the People
    I lost my house key once and found it a few hours later perched on top of a drink fountain near where I must have dropped it.  I left my passport on a plane to Okinawa and had someone present it to me moments before I left the airport.  I left my phone in a restaurant and went back later that night to find it had been handed in.  Other people have left phones and wallets in trains or restaurants and all got them back.

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Japan – The Worst

  1. Banking System
    This actually broke me.  Japan’s banking system is frustrating, slow and outdated which is surprising since everything else seems to work so well.
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  2. Communication Problems
    The last two weeks in Australia, I haven’t shut up once!  I’m talking to everyone!  People in the queue at the shops, Geoff the Telstra guy, the chick at the chinese takeaway and countless randoms I’ve just bumped in to have all copped it.  I was able to get mum’s printer fixed by asking questions at the store!  I love google translate but it is so much easier when I don’t need it!
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  3. Shoe Removal
    Mum still makes me do this because apparently I track a lot of dirt into the house and that is fine.  But having to take extra shoes to the gym was a pain.
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  4. Street Racing
    This did my head in!  The summer months had either motorbikes or hoon cars doing burnouts right across the water from my flat.  Their peak hours of operation were 1am to 4am in the morning.  It would be so loud, it was like they were revving their engines on my balcony.  Now I have a much more tranquil environment.
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    Check out the birdsong in the evening in mum’s backyard.

 

 

Sayonara Japan!  I loved my time with you.  Australia, you have a lot to live up to!

Moving in with Mum

Home again #stayathomedaughterIt is every parent’s fantasy to have their unemployed, unmarried, middle-aged child living with them and my mum is now lucky enough to be living that very dream.

Today, ten days after I arrived back in Western Australia, mum and I finally made it home to Lake Clifton.  I’ve unpacked my suitcases and moved into the spare room with the jig-saw puzzles, games and soft toys of my childhood.  But there is still plenty of room left, for when the bulk of my clothes arrive in August.  For now, I’m happy with a pair of tracky-dacks, QANTAS pjs and some running gear!  I also picked up some socks at Target last week so my feet are snuggly warm too.

Mum has acclimatised to having me around surprising quickly.  Not long after we got home, she settled down in to her chair.  Almost immediately she had me running around to collect items for her so she didn’t have to get up again.  I was unpacking my cases in my room when I discovered that she had found her bell and wasn’t afraid to use it.

Mum finds her bell

Mum finds her bell

We’ll see how long it is before she loses it!

Making the Marathon

Winner!

Finally I am an ex-marathon runner!

The Result

On the 19th February in Okinawa, I finally reached my goal after running for 4 hours and 49 minutes on a beautiful sunny 19º C day.

Marathon Details

Phew! I’m in!

I didn’t realise how nervous I was going to be.  I was really worried that I wasn’t going to be able to finish after banging on about this attempt to anyone who would listen since I’d decided to do this back in July of 2016.  I was especially concerned that I wouldn’t finish, not because I was unprepared for it physically, but because I’d overlooked some key step in the organisation and would therefore look like a total twat.  For example, I wasn’t even sure I had successfully entered the race I’d been telling everyone I was running until just a few days before I left for Okinawa when my race package finally arrived in the mail.

Taxi ride in

A nervous taxi ride in but we made it in plenty of time as planned.

The morning of the race, I noticed loads of people (well, two couples) leave the hotel at about 6 am for the race.  I’d organised the taxi for 7:30 am thinking this was going to get me there in plenty of time.  Why were they leaving so early?  What did they know that I didn’t?  This made me worry.

Another concern was the weather.  It was 10 ºC warmer in Okinawa than what I had been training in for the last few months in Yokohama.  My support crew (Okinawa) had canvassed my chief running advisor and he had told her to make sure I drank three bottles of water the day before.  It’s a good thing I’m a bit of a camel because I stored all that liquid up nicely and in the end, I was well hydrated for the race but I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with the extra sweat and salt loss.

Lastly, I woke up that morning to discover that my period had started.  How’s that for timing!  I only had one super soaker tampon with me, I got another from my support crew (Okinawa) but I was worried with all the bouncing up and down, that might not be enough.  I took two paracetamol with a codeine kicker before the race to combat the oncoming period pain and carried another two with me to take around the 10 km mark when my sciatica typically started to flare up in training.  This was not a good sign and all added up to increase my anxiety.

Support Crew Package

Package carried by my support crew (Okinawa). Everything I could possibly need at the finish line!

In the end, it turned out I needn’t have worried so much.  I was able to finish the race which was the goal I told everyone and I did it in under 5 hours which was my real goal that I kept private.  Not only did I finish under my real goal time, but I did so without vomiting from heat exhaustion or needing to change my pants at the end of the race.  That is success!  And just to prove it, my boss handed me my clean, unused, safety pants, framed, and in front of the staff, as a momento of my achievement on my return to work!

Memorable milestones in training

As the training runs got longer and longer, I started getting more and more bored of running around Yokohama.  This is when I started to run to somewhere.

First milestone was running to Kamakura!  This involved running up a big hill with no room for pedestrians.  I got honked at a bit, but the traffic was moving so slowly, I was never in danger.  And it meant that the run finished with a long down hill to help with  my time!

I ran to Shibuya and I did this by following the directions from Google maps without question.  This did take me across the Yokohama Bay Bridge which has no pedestrian access but that was the way Google told me to go and who am I to argue!  The policeman who stopped me on the other side of the bridge wasn’t happy with me but by that time I was already across and what a view I got!

For my final long training run, I went the opposite direction.  I caught the train to the end of the Keikyu line and then ran back home!

Pitfalls along the way

Fujiyoshida half marathon

It would have been less painful to walk home from Mt Fuji!

It wasn’t all smiles and smooth sailing though.  After completing my first half-marathon since Miura in 2014, I developed a very uncomfortable case of sciatica.  The car trip back from the race was agony.  Sitting down for longer than 10 minutes became a problem but I did my usual trick of assuming the problem would go away by itself.  Five months later, I went to Tokyo Physio in desperation.  Sciatica was diagnosed and the great team there gave me exercises and stretches and a torturous weekly massage that got me on the road to recovery.

For a while I had difficulty making it past the 25 km mark.  On my first attempt to do 30 km I failed miserably.  I was already tired by the time I had run 24 km but it then started pelting down with rain.  By 26 km, I was drenched to the skin and my iPhone had drowned.  At the 26.5 km mark, I gave up completely and began walking.  I even considered not finishing and just heading for the train but I knew my chief running advisor was waiting for me at the finish line with all my  money.

My first attempt at running to Kamakura was also a total failure.  I got lost, my sciatica caused me to give up around Ofuna station but worst of all, I had a bit of an accident in my pants.  It was after this that I started to take the paracetamol with the codeine kicker before a long run.  It was dual action as both an analgesic and (thanks to the codeine) a bottom blocker!

My second attempt to run to Kamakura was ultimately successful however it did start to rain about half way into the run.  It was just a light drizzle so I thought it would be ok.  Typically, I hadn’t bothered to check the weather before leaving my home, and as it turned out the rain set in and once again, I was drenched to the skin by the end of the run.  This time however, I ducked into a convenience store and got a plastic bag for my iPhone (which ultimately saved me another ¥30 000+ repair) and I was extremely lucky that I have good friends in Kamakura who were willing to come to my rescue with a clean, dry tracksuit for the trip home.

Post Marathon Goal

People keep asking me now what my next goal is.  It is simple.  I need to shift my marathon muffin top.

I think I’m the only person to actually gain weight whilst training for a marathon.  Despite clocking up 60+ km a week running, I managed to gain 5 kg since last July.  I’m living proof that you can easily overeat your exercise.  My mindset at the time was that I could eat anything I wanted.  I stopped my 2 day a week fasting routine and you had to be bloody quick to beat me to the free cake in the staff room.

Now I’m back on my 5-2 fasting routine, I’ve cut the alcohol right down again, I’m allowing other people to eat the snacks in the staff room (although last week I was spotted licking the crumbs off the table) and I’m still trying to run three times a week to keep up my fitness.

Lessons Learnt

  1.  Surround yourself with supporting people who have a sense of humour!

  1. Always use sunscreen!

Credits

Finally I have a lot of people to thank who helped me along the way.  I really couldn’t have done this without you!  In no particular order they are:

Chief running advisor

Simon Lorimer

Running advisors

Jim Roberts
Ed O’Loughlin

Support team (Okinawa)

Leah Edwards

Support team (The rest of the world)

Elaine Yandeau
All my colleagues @ YIS
Amanda Roberts
Mum
And everyone who commented and encouraged me on the FaceBook, the RunKeeper, this blog or talked to me in person.  You know who you are!

Health and Fitness Support

Don Mackay @ Tokyo Physio
Reneé @ Falcon Anytime Fitness

Reality Check

I’ve been in Japan for four years now and when I arrived, I avoided the onsen

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The onsen at our hotel in Shigakogen which I enjoyed with Alyson!

and public bathing culture to the point of preferring to go unwashed for several days if I couldn’t get a private shower.  However, Japanese culture has a way of getting under your skin and now I really enjoy getting starkers and sharing bath water with a bunch of other people.  I’ve even done it with people I know!  This doesn’t sound like much to most, but it is huge for me!

Today I had a bit of a set back.  I was alone and getting ready to take a shower at the gym when two other people walked in.  I was immediately embarrassed and took the remainder of my clothes off with a towel around me for modesty.  Not a big deal though, right?  I went and showered thinking that for sure they would have left by the time I got out.  Wrong!

I got so flustered by this that I’m now sitting at home writing this up wearing TWO bras!  I put my old bra back on and then put my clean bra on over top without realising it.  After I finished, I looked down and saw what I had done which made me even more self conscious.  So I pretended like that was what I meant to do, quickly pulled my t-shirt on over top and got the hell out of there.

I’m feeling very supported right now!

Time to Get Serious

I have registered for my first (possibly also last) marathon.  It will take place in Okinawa on the 19th of February next year.  I’m super excited and super terrified all at the same time.  I had hoped to get into the Tokyo marathon to be my first 42 km race but unfortunately, my number did not come up in the lottery.  My second choice was Osaka and again, I failed to win that lottery too.

So I found the Okinawa Marathon which must be a lot less popular because there was no lottery involved!  I registered for the race at home and the very next day, applied for my personal day from work for Monday 20th February as I’m pretty sure, I’m not going to be able to stand up.

30 km

Reminded of my denial for Tokyo!

Yesterday I had my first big test.  A 30 km training race in Tokyo.  Jim (one of my marathon trainers) tells me that 30 km is the half way mark of a marathon!  My 30 km was a mixture of success and defeat.  Success because I managed to run further than ever before.  I ran for the best part of 25 km with just a bit of walking at the aid stops to eat my gels.  I felt better than I had during a long run for a month!  At the 22 km mark, I really thought I was going to make it the whole way.  I had a smile on my face almost the whole way.  At the 23 km mark, I started to feel the beginning of some cramping in my legs which slowed me down but was still manageable.  I still thought I was going all the way.

Defeat because at 24 km it started to bucket down.  I hoped it would be just a brief shower and then I could dry off but it kept on raining.  By 25 km I was soaked through and my iPhone had given up the ghost.  Here I started to alternate walking with running.  By 27 km I was wet, cold and miserable.  The smile had gone.  I gave up.  I was worried that Simon might be waiting for me in the rain at the finishing line but not worried enough to compel me to keep running.  So I walked the last 3 km.  Sorry Simon!  I had toyed with the idea of running the last 1 km but after trying a few steps, I realised that I would be faster if I kept walking!

Defeat because once reaching the finishing line (where Simon was indeed waiting for me), I had to collect my bag in the mud which contained nothing to help me.  No towel, no change of clothes or shoes.  Luckily I got a race shirt that I was able to change into but I was still soaked from the waist down.

30 km

I’m so glad he waited for me!

Simon and I were both starving but because of my inability to prepare for the conditions, I had to insist that we choose a restaurant for lunch that had vinyl seats.  Luckily they are more common than not in Japan!  I also had to borrow his towel for the train ride lest I leave an unfortunate sign of my wet pants on the cushioned seat.

Getting Serious

Most of the reason for my failure though has been due to a lack of motivation and an overall slackness on my part.  I’ve counted 16 weeks back from the race which means I need to start getting really serious from the last week of October onwards.  This week I will run a bit for recovery, next week I’m on the grade 7 expedition which will mean little opportunity to run but then, it is going to be all out for 16 weeks.

I will…

  1. Stick as best as I can to my training plan.  It will be my priority.  Above work (where possible) and social life.
  2. Back to no drinking.  This has crept back into my lifestyle but it will be out again come the end of Oktoberfest … I mean October.  I did six months last year so 16 weeks will be a piece of cake.
  3. Stick to a healthy diet.  Basically this means avoiding the staff room at break time.  This will also help with #1 as I will need to work through breaks if I’m going to devote my after school time to training.
  4. Get to the gym a minimum of twice a week.  I’ve found it really hard to do this now that work has started but with the 20 minute workouts I got from Renee during the summer, there really isn’t any excuse.

A Call Out

I’m going to need someone to come with me to Okinawa.  I’m a bit worried about finishing the marathon without having someone there at the end to pour me into a taxi to get back to the hotel.  I’m not sure I’ll have enough where-with-all about me to even remember that I am staying at a hotel.  All the job entails is following my dot on the RunKeeper and turning up at the finish line about 5 hours after I start.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll have dry pants so you’ll probably have to bring a towel.  But that’s about it.  Let me know if you’re interested!

 

21 km Done and Dusted

I’ve had a week to recover and I finally have enough energy to sit down and bash out the story of last weekend and a really fun run!  Here are the highlights!

Road trip!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Shotgun!

Simon drove me and Ange in his zippy, Japanese-sized car.  It was great to be able to go somewhere with the convenience of a car for a change and I was able to bags the front seat too!

As chief navigator, I relied on google maps to get us up and back.  We questioned google’s advice on the way up and got stuck in a traffic jam so on the way back we decided to just do whatever she said.  There was one point where Simon was still a bit suspicious of the instructions though.  Google told us to continue straight ahead into what appeared to be someone’s gravel driveway.  It did in fact turn out to be a bit of a driveway but google was right and it did connect us to an actual road again and back on the expressway.  And we got to wave at residents as they came out to see who was coming along their alleyway.  We didn’t question google again!

Winter in summer

IMG_1919Since returning to Japan at the beginning of August, I had found running to be quite challenging in the heat and I was worried about doing a half marathon in the summer.  It was hot and humid when we left Yokohama but by the time we got up the mountain, it was raining heavily and absolutely freezing.  Despite all of us being seasoned travellers, none of us had had the forethought to pack anything but short sleeves.  During our visits to the caves and other tourist spots, I kept my eyes peeled for a jumper shop but no luck.

The upside of this though was that the race day on Sunday was also cool with just a light mist of rain – perfect for running up a big hill!

Carb loading

On the rainy Saturday, we had to find indoor activities to amuse us and Mami booked us in for a cooking lesson for lunch.  So all six of us landed at what turned out to be someone’s house to cook ‘hoto’ noodles.  The noodle is made from just flour and water and I volunteered to do the mixing.  Our finished noodles did not look that pretty but they sure tasted great!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Fujiyoshida half marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fujiyoshida half marathonFujiyoshida half marathon

 

Fujiyoshida half marathon
For dessert we decided to stop by an ice-cream stand despite the fact we were all freezing!  There were a lot of flavours to choose from and some were quite unfamiliar to my Australian experience.  Here are some of the flavours that were unusual to me:Fujiyoshida half marathon

  • cheese and biscuit
  • sweet potato (purple)
  • sweet potato (orange)
  • soba (buckwheat noodle)
  • wasabi
  • macha (green tea)
  • black sesame
  • azuki (red beans)

I settled on giving the wasabi a go but when I tried to order it, everyone around me including the ice-cream lady herself, gasped with shock!  Quite a lively commotion ensued with everyone getting involved in trying to dissuade me.  The ice-cream lady said it would be too hot for me and flatly refused to sell it to me!  I finally convinced everyone that I could handle it but the ice-cream lady felt that she couldn’t charge me full price for what she clearly thought was an insane choice of flavour and gave me a ¥50 discount!

The race

Finally we made it to the race venue and we were all excited and ready to go!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Next we did a warm-up with all the other participants.

Fujiyoshida half marathon

And about two and a half hours later we were all finished with just enough energy to do one big jump.

Fujiyoshida half marathon

I was really happy with my time considering I did a 500+ m climb over the course of the race!  Here is a snapshot of my results both official (right) and unofficial (left)!

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 3.28.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-03 at 3.47.16 PM

 

Thank you

A BIG thank you to our support crew of one – Angela!  She had many duties over the weekend including covering my back in bandaids so that my sports bra didn’t rub all my skin off and being my modesty curtain when I was trying on a top at one of the race stalls.  You’re the best Ange!  She was also the official photographer for the weekend and took most of the shots I’ve used in this post.

Finally it was time for a well earned drink – not the grass we were drinking in this photo below though – and to head back to Yokohama.  Simon’s small Japanese car proved to be a prison of pain for me after about half an hour into the trip but we pushed on to get home as quickly as possible so I could finally stretch my legs out again.

Next challenge – 30km run in October!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Running is Harder in Japan

Today is my fasting day and I’ve just returned from the gym where I did an upper body and core workout designed by my fabulous personal trainer Renee at Falcon Anytime Fitness.  It was a great workout but when combined with the fatigue I’m still experiencing from yesterday’s long run, I’m finding it difficult to keep my arms in position to type.  Lifting up my water bottle is a challenge.

That aside, this post is about yesterday’s long run.  It was my first 10+ km run now that I’m back in summer weather.  In Lake Clifton, I knocked off a couple of 21 km runs and did them in a good time and fairly comfortably.  Yesterday’s run was quite different.

I had put three energy gels into the freezer after my last run and the unpleasant ‘hot salty banana juice’ experience of midway through the previous training session.  I had a bunch of podcasts lined up on my phone to listen to and I was really looking forward to going out and hitting the pavement for a couple of hours of running.

Due to the heat, I’ve been running in the evenings.  As I planned to run 22 kms, I knew it would take me a couple of hours so I didn’t want to wait too long but I also wanted to watch the West Coast Eagles game as I suspected it might be the last one we would win this season.  The game was planned to finish about 6pm so I was going to be out the door by then and back by 8:30pm which wasn’t too late.  In the end, I didn’t leave until after 6:30pm as mum rang to discuss the game.  She expressed her concern about me running at night but clearly wasn’t anxious enough to get off the phone so I could get going and get back at a reasonable hour!

The run started off great.  It was still light when I started so I ran down to the park behind Sankeien Gardens then back up Honmoku dori.  At about the 7km mark, I took the first of my energy gels and it was still cool and almost pleasant to taste.  It gave me a boost and I ran up Hospital Hill to the bluff.  By now it was dark but there were a lot of people out and about enjoying the warm summer evening so I was never in trouble.

By this time I was very sweaty and I could feel that my brand new sports bra that hadn’t caused me any problems whilst running in the winter climate the week before, was starting to slide around a bit.  Still it wasn’t hurting me and I kept going.

After about 10km I need to take a pit stop.  I don’t think this was because of the gel but merely because I hadn’t gone earlier in the day.  Luckily I was running by the Red Brick Warehouse and the quite excellent public facilities that are located there.  I used the disabled toilet because although I wasn’t that tired yet, I was still grateful for something to hang on to on the way down.

At the 14 km mark, I was ready to take my next energy gel and I was starting to look forward to a good long sit down.  Although starting to feel pretty tired, I was still confident that I would complete the run.  My RunKeeper app reminded me to begin running at a faster pace for the next 6 kms but I decided to ignore it.  My aim for this run was just to finish and I was already feeling it despite running slower than in previous weeks.

With just a handful of kilometres to go, I took my last energy gel at Yamashita Park.   A few minutes later, I really started to struggle as the stomach cramps began.  These were the type of cramps I was familiar with from my time in Ghana where I had leant the hard way never to trust a fart.  Despite my best efforts though, fart I did but mercifully that is all I did!

By now I’m more waddling than running.  I feel a bit nauseous and any left over energy is being channelled into keeping my butt cheeks clenched.  With my apartment building in sight, my RunKeeper app speaks the two most beautiful words in the English language – ‘workout completed’.

It had just past 9:30 pm.  I was exhausted.  When I g0t home, I took off my running gear to assess the damage.  I have four chafe spots on my chest and two on my back from my sports bra that made showering a very painful exercise.  My feet have begun to look pretty gnarly with old and new blisters, callouses and peeling skin.

Although I’ve run this distance before, this is the longest it has taken me to do so.  In three weeks, I’m running the same distance in a race on a mountain.  If the race was in wintery Lake Clifton, I think I could have a crack at doing it in 120 minutes but running is harder now that I’m back in Japan!

Longest run

The final waddle took its toll on my average pace!

 

My Pokemon Go Adventure

When this was released I had to give it a go.  I justify this by the fact that in a few weeks, I’m going to be back teaching a bunch of twelve year olds and it is important that I can relate to them about topics they are interested in.  I’m basically just doing my job!  Being in education is a great way to get away with doing stuff that no self-respecting 42 year old should admit to be doing!

But seriously, where do the coins go?

So whilst I was down in Australia at mum’s place in Lake Clifton, I downloaded the app.  This took a while because mum’s internet connection is not exactly up to Japanese standards.  She lives one hour from the largest city in the state and has no mobile phone coverage unless you stand out the back by the bins and no reliable tv reception without the use of a satellite dish.  Strangely enough though, she gets perfect reception for the community based channels but the no signal error frequently pops up on the big commercial and government channels.  If all she wanted to do was watch Russian state news and informercials about the Wonder Wallet, she’d be set!  (By the way, I don’t see what’s so wonderful about this wallet – where do you keep your coins?)

Anyway, I digress…

My first experience of searching for Pokemon down in LC was very disappointing.  I wandered around mum’s house with the limited internet connection I had and couldn’t find any.  LC is a Pokemon desert.

I tried again the next time I went up to Perth.  In Perth, I could see a bunch of Pokestops on my phone but still no Pokemon appeared for me to catch.  This was a bit weird because my sister then tried on her phone and she was spotting Pokemon everywhere.  I put it down to the fact that I was using the free shopping centre wifi and she was using the real stuff you pay for.  Who knows if that really is the reason but that is the story I’m selling.

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Lake Clifton -the middle of nowhere!

Meanwhile I got my revenge as I turned my nephew into a Pokemon nut.  As my phone wasn’t cooperating, he could only play with his mother!  Ha!  In the end, when I returned home to Japan, she told him that I had caught all the Pokemon in Australia and had taken them with me.  It worries me a little that he swallowed this story so easily, even though he is only five.

Harrison Go!

Harrison Go!

I returned to Yokohama on Wednesday and the game has just been released here.  On Thursday, I went for what was supposed to be a 12 km run that ended up being just 9 km as the shock from running in 15ºC and low humidity weather to 28ºC and high humidity, was just too much for me.  I started walking about 3 km from home in the middle of Minato Mirai – the most beautiful and tourist dense part of Yokohama.  As it turns out, it is also full of Pokemon!

Pokemon Go Adventures

68 Pokemon and counting

By the time I got home, I had caught a lot of Pokemon and visited a number of Pokestops along the way.  My favourite being a child’s playground in my apartment complex which comes up in English as being ‘object of ship’.  But frankly, after the initial thrill of catching your first few magikarp and so on, having to stop every five minutes when more Pokemon appear to catch, really ruins a beautiful summer evening’s walk.  But for the first five levels, you can’t do anything else.  It wasn’t until I had reached my apartment complex that I finally made it to level six and the opportunity to put my collected Pokemon into battle at a Pokegym.  Unfortunately, I had also reached the limit of my phone’s battery life and my will to continue with the game.

Pokemon Go Adventures

My closest Pokestop!

Although I had reached a point where I was already a bit bored with Pokemon Go, I decided last night to try to do battle at a Pokegym to see if this next level could reignite my interest.  Luckily, there is a Pokegym very close by my apartment at my local Homes store, so I walked over there on the pretence of picking up a new outdoor light for my balcony.  Once my shopping was completed, I walked over to the canal where the Pokegym was.

I tried to battle one of my Pokemon but couldn’t really work out what I was supposed to do.  In the end I selected run away which then really confused me because I was told I had won the battle!  Not sure how I did that and after three minutes of trying to work it out, I was over it.

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t the only person playing at this Pokegym.  There was one other player – a bloke about my age dressed in a suit.  Considering this was a Friday night, I realised that we may be the two saddest individuals in Yokohama and possibly the whole of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area!  I gathered up my shopping, tucked my phone into my pocket and walked home.

So that now completes my Pokemon Go adventure.  I’m not quite ready to delete the app from my phone yet, but I doubt it will be long.  What I am excited about, is what must now already be in development for new location based games for my phone.  Someone somewhere is developing something that is fun, interesting and suitable for sad 42 year olds!

The Chaser

Some slightly less terrifying chasers.

There are few things as terrifying as feeling the hot breath of an unknown creature on the back of your calf as you are running at dusk in rural Australia.

As it was, my heart was already pumping pretty hard because I was running a fast interval, but it went up an extra notch due to the sheer terror I was feeling.  With great trepidation, I slowly turned my head to look behind me to find out just what was pursuing me.  Hot on my heels was an enormous sheep, barrelling its way down the hill right behind me.

I calmed down a little bit, but sheep still have an impressive set of gnashers so I kept running as hard as I could.  My training paid off because I was able to outrun the sheep which eventually gave up the pursuit and went back to nibbling grass on the side of the road.  Phew!

In unrelated news, I’m really enjoying working with my personal trainer Renee at Anytime Fitness in Falcon.  She is helping me put together a strength a program that I can carry on with at my local gym back in Japan.  She is also a long distance runner so she knows what needs to be done.  So far we have been working on 30 minute sessions that are a mixture of super sets and intensity workouts to target different muscle groups.  She has given me sets of exercises using just basic gear because the Naka Ward gym doesn’t have a lot of fancy machines but is well stocked on general lifting gear.  By the time I go back to Japan, I should be set!

Running in the Rain with Chafe

Running in the rain for my last run in Japan until August!

Soaked but still smiling!

I am not in great shape!  I have chafing on my left arm where my armband for my iPhone goes.  I alternate using the armband with a bumbag and that has given me stomach chafe.  I’m still using the same sports bras I bought 18 months ago on my last visit to Australia and now that I’ve lost a bunch of weight, they move around a lot whilst I’m running so to top it all off, my chest is covered in bandaids!

It is time to upgrade some gear!  New sports bras, new stick of body glide, new shoes, may be even some new running pants too.  It is a good thing the yen is doing well against the Aussie dollar!

6 x 800m fast with 30 s of walking in between

6 x 800m fast with 30 s of walking in between

Today was my last run in Japan until August.  It has not stopped raining since I got up at 5:30am and the forecast is for rain all day.  So, I ran in the rain!  With the half marathon looming at the end of August, I don’t feel I can miss a single training run.  I did an interval run today and I was happy with my splits as I was aiming to keep the 800m intervals under a 5:30 pace and I did.

My next run will be an easy 5 km run in Perth tomorrow evening.  Hopefully, despite being winter, it won’t be so wet!