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.

Untitled

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!