Since January, the first and second years had been training for the school marathon. The boys run 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and the girls run 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). They ran their distances during each of their gym class periods and kept track of their times. Yesterday, the teachers started asking me if I would run.
Very few of the teachers know about my leg. They don’t know that it took 3 months of physical therapy for me to be able to walk almost normally. It wasn’t until I’d been in Japan for a month or two that I realized I could once again run normally, but only for short distances. Of course, when you go so long without exerting yourself, it’s not so much that you don’t have the muscle power anymore, it’s that you don’t have the lung capacity for it. In other words, you run out of breath quickly.
For the past two weeks, I’d been running one minute bursts on my way home, or on the way to the train stations on the few ocassions that I wasn’t going by bike, to slowly build my stamina back up. But two weeks of one-minute bursts don’t help much for a 4K run.
Anyway, despite the bad shape I’m in, I didn’t want to act like a stereotypical fat American and not go out at all. Plus, the masochistic (or maybe just macho, lol) side of me wanted to see how much I could take before dying in the street. So I found out who the teacher bringing up the rear would be, since I’d been told the Art Course girls were notoriously slow and always last (^_^;) I figured I could keep pace with them at the back of the pack. An older teacher found it amusing (I guess?) to run with me, so we got in line together.
Oh yeah, first I should explain that boys and girls don’t run at the same time. The boys run first, and once they’re back at the school, the girls set out. I think they do it because they actually take every single student’s time, and since boys and girls run different distances, they keep them separate. Our kouchou-sensei ran with the boys, but he went for another round of running with the girls! He’s not old, but he’s not young either. He’s hardcore!
Anyway, at the start, we ran a lap around the school before going down the hill onto the marathon route. I went very slowly as I knew I had to save my energy, and even though the older teacher was likewise running slowly, she got a good 12 feet ahead of me pretty early on. As we ran around the school and down the hill, the boys lined up along the path were cheering, and my participation struck them as particularly amusing, so they started yelling my name and saying 「がんばれ！最後までファイト！」(“Do your best! Fight until the end!). It was pretty funny. I’d be lying if I said their cheers, even if they were just screwing around, didn’t make me want to try harder.
Turned out I was way too slow for the main pack, but faster than the stragglers, so after a while I found myself alone on the street. I hadn’t looked at the route, I thought I’d stick to the slowest ones, but once I got to downhill parts it was hard not to run so I way outstripped them. There were teachers lined up along the route with flags, so I couldn’t get lost. But instead, what happened was I suddenly turned a curve and found myself at the foot of the school’s hill. The teachers waving their little flags seemed to be waving them towards the school, but I saw some girls coming from the opposite direction. I was confused, but the hill was too tempting. Without asking if there was more to the route or not, I ran up the hill and hoped I’d done it all. I thought I was the last one back.
Now, by this point I had been walking, running, walking, running. When I got midway up the hill I was running, and some boys were surprised and said 「速い！」(“she’s fast!”), so I started getting suspicious. But I was tired, and started walking, so I had this exchange with the next group of boys:
Boys: がんばれ！(Do your best!)
Me: がんばります！ (I’ll do my best!)
Boys: がんばります？！走れ！(You’ll do your best?! RUN!)
Me: 後で走りますよ！(Hey, I’ll run later!)
LOL So as I’m coming up to the finish line, I start running again, giving it my all in a final sprint. The girl in front of me was number 44, so I knew I must’ve missed part of the route. No way I’d done it all that quickly walking half the way! I asked a second year girl what the route should be; between her English and my Japanese she understood what I was asking and said to me, “yeah, you pass the school and run down to the kindergarten then come back, that’s the last kilometer.”
>_< Crap. I didn’t go past the kindergarten. I had only run 3 kilometers. FAIL
Every teacher that asked me if I ran though, I told the truth to. But I felt a bit bad when the students passed me and said お疲れさまでした (Thank you for your hard work) because they probably don’t know that I didn’t run the whole thing. I’m living a lie! T_T
Next year, I’ll run the whole thing!
After the marathon, there was a “zenzai taikai” (Sweet bean soup meet, lol). In five huuuuge pots (about 3 feet in diameter!) set up outdoors, the cafeteria staff made zenzai (which I take is the same thing as oshiruko, a soup made with adzuki beans and mochi) and butajiro, pork miso soup, for the whole school! Well, minus the third years, who are pretty much done with school so they weren’t here except for a few hanging out. There was also onigiri and tea. I really liked the butajiro! I used to really like adzuki bean stuff, but lately…I’ve lost my enthusiasm for them.
After that, we had the closing ceremony, where the top 30 fastest runners among the boys and girls were announced, and the top 3 from each got medals and a certificate.
Well, that’s pretty much it, and in any case, like a genius I forgot to bring my computer’s power cord with me, so this will be it for this post. Ah, the only other thing, is that for some reason, my nose became super runny once I was back at the school. I guess running acted like an expectorant, forcing out the last remnants of the cold I had last week from my body.
Tomorrow, I will need one of my chubby Vicodin. ^O^;;;