Archive for October, 2011

October 14, 2011

Hirosaki Apple Marathon


I think it was back in August that we all began talking about running in the Hirosaki Apple Marathon. Myself, Tori, Kimberly, and Ayu were sitting around and Ayu brought up the idea. I said that I had always wanted to run in a marathon, but never got up the guts to do it. I know, I know… I lived in Austin, Texas and they have marathon events literally all the time… But I had never done it. So I thought to myself,

“Hey Stacy! You’re in Japan! Let’s try new crazy things! How about running a 10k?”

I had no real perception of what it would be like to run a 10k, but why the heck not?

Ayu signed us all up on the website. A 10k (6.2 mi) is about the furthest you can run without truly going insane and pulling a half-marathon (13 mi/21 km) or a full-marathon (26 mi/42 km). And the 3k and 5k just seemed way too easy. I wanted a challenge! Maybe it was that former competitive athlete in me talking…

After the four of us signed up, I learned that our other ALT friends Mike and Claire were going to run with us too. We had a team! Tori came up with the idea to design a shirt and have it professionally printed by some friends. It was totally Tori’s design (creative people are awesome!) and the color was awesome because we had no trouble picking ourselves out in the crowds of runners.

I imagined that I should do some sort of training to get ready for the longest run I’d ever attempted in my life. Tori was totally hard-core about getting an actual training regimen and Kimberly was already a devoted runner, so… I just thought I would get in the habit of running as much as I could to build up some running muscles. This sounded like a reasonable goal to me.

This however was thwarted when I fell deathly ill with the worst cold ever only two weeks before the race. Spent the first week basically in bed and the next week still recovering. I think I made it out to run about twice in those two weeks before the race. Whoops… I wondered how I would feel on race day, with my cough lingering and my nose still running. It was a little hard to breathe sometimes with the cough and I got winded easily. I didn’t have very high expectations for myself, so I was just there to do the best I could.

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October 14, 2011

Grip Strength Contest

A few weeks ago, I was just sitting at my desk and enjoying my lunch when this lady came in. Sometimes we have solicitors come in and try to sell us stuff or inform us about stuff during the lunch hour (12pm-1pm). Not too often, but it has happened a couple times since I have been here. Maybe they have official permission from the government to do that. For the first lady, I apologized, pretending that I couldn’t speak very good Japanese. I told her I didn’t really understand. Most of my co-workers told her they were “busy” or said something to the effect of “Oh, I was just leaving…” (And then went to the bathroom for a couple minutes until she was gone again.)

This time was a little different. I noticed that my co-workers were actually talking to her, so I talked to her too when she came around to me. She showed me this little device that you had to grip with one hand and squeeze as hard as you can. It turned out that the entire Hirosaki joint government office building was having a grip strength contest.

Not sure how quite to translate this…

Grip (Strength) Pride?

When you squeezed the device, it measured how strong your grip was in kilograms. You did this for your left and your right hand and whichever was the highest was entered in the contest.


I bet I have lost a lot of muscle since leaving Austin because I have not been weight training like I used to. So there’s that. Either way, my right was 34.8 kg (76 lb) and my left was 33.5 kg (74 lb).

How did I measure up against everyone else in the joint government office building?

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October 7, 2011

My 24th Birthday in Tokyo

The Ticket Saga

First, I had intended to go via Shinkansen and pony up the money to pay to “travel in style.” But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to pay 3-4 times more than the cost of the nightbus. For the nightbus, you leave around 9pm and arrive at your destination sometime in the early morning. I have taken the nightbus previously on two separate occasions with my friends when we were traveling across Japan back in 2008. Both experiences were… rough. Very rough. So I wanted to avoid it again on my birthday weekend. But the price was very attractive.

I waited too long to go to the bus ticket center and low and behold, they were sold out. 満席|まんせき is the word for full house or no seats available. I thought to myself: drat, maybe I won’t go after all and just spend the weekend at home. I resigned myself to that fact for a day, until my dad emailed me, saying that I should just get the shinkansen tickets because I needed to do something fun for my birthday. My dad is usually right about these things.

So on Thursday the 15th, my supervisor kindly took me to his travel agency in town and helped me book the tickets. Tokyo via shinkansen, here I come! I thought I was done dealing with tickets. I was set to leave my city at 5:39pm on Friday after work (arriving in Tokyo around 10:32pm), because I had thought we had a teaching demo/conference until 4:30pm.

But then on Friday morning, it was made known to me that not everyone had to stay at the teaching demo beyond 2:30pm. My other co-workers were giving me a ride back to the office soon afterwards. That meant I would be able to make the 4:43pm train, arriving in Tokyo at 9:08pm! Much better than 10:30pm. And, the travel agency had told me that I could change my tickets once for free. So then my dear supervisor called the travel agency back, changed the tickets, and picked them up for me before the teaching demo. I was finally set to go.

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