Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tokyo- where's Waldo Jeff and Christina style : )

I was bummed that when we made it to the fish market in Tokyo we found that it was closed for the day. We still aren't sure why. My highlight of the day was going to the busiest pedestrian intersection of the world and to the highest grossing starbucks in the world. We had a blast running out into the middle of the intersection when it was the all pedestrian time and having the other person take a picture. It was like where's Waldo Jeff and Christina style : ) (Can you find Jeff?? I put an arrow pointing down to his head : )
(no wonder it's the highest grossing Starbucks in the world- a tall coffee is 400 yen (about 4.50 US!) They only sell the Tall size because they don't want people to stick around too long)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1/2 Kyoto and 1/2 Tokyo

We spent the morning exploring some gardens and a shrine:
(arch after arch after arch each getting smaller- so cool!)
We then took the bullet train to Tokyo...Jeff was making fun of me for how much food I consumed on the train. I had bought some interesting snacks- including teriyaki flavored popcorn and I had gotten free beer at the race (although we realized later it was non-alcoholic beer!! LOL! )
The bullet train was sweet. We could see Mt. Juji. We then checked in at our Capsule Hotel- yep- this was our "room"!
That evening we went out for Ramen:
And then finished the night off with a drink at a bar in Shinjuku. Shinjuku has an area with all these tiny bars that seat 6-25 people. They all have sitting charges and you maybe asked to leave if you aren't adding to the's essentially renting restate for the evening! Fortunately, we were on the early side of things so we didn't worry about being voted out : )

Monday, November 26, 2012


took the train to Kyoto. Checked in at our guest house...and started exploring the land of shrines and temples...a picture says a thousand words (you can click on pics to make them bigger)
(getting dry in the common room in the guest house before heading out)
(feeling very tall as I waited for the bus)
(beautiful fall colors)
(loved walking these cute streets and sampling street food)
We spurged on a fancy dinner. About 10 beautiful little dishes in a peaceful room with a garden. Shoes off in the restaurant and when we left the waitresses in their beautiful traditional Japanese attire opened the gate and bowed in unison. We were given large bamboo shoe horns to put our shoes back is one picture of a dish

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Osaka Marathon- 2:44, fourth overall

I had my usual breakfast (oats with honey and peanut butter) and coffee (1/2 of a Starbucks via- I’ve learned that I like coffee the morning before but not a lot) at 6AM. We left for the race at 6:45. Dropped bottles off and went to this waiting area (it was in someone’s historical house- very cool). At 8 I had my stinger waffle. The whole time I sipped on roctane (liquid calories are the way to go before a marathon- top off your fuel without worrying about digestion). My warm up got strewed up because I ran for 10 minutes in a little area and then was called in for roll call and then escorted to another building where we stood waiting to be called to the line. I’m not sure what the building was but it was an old historical building- really neat. However, when we were called to the line we were told to stay on our spots so instead of strides or anything I was stuck standing on a dot. Oh well. They made announcements to the crowds. When they called your name you were supposed to wave and bow. I listened very closely and thought I hear CU-RA-FO-DO (how they said Crawford)..there was a long silence and then I realized it was me so I waved and bowed and everyone cheered. I felt like I was in a movie and on a different planet. It was such a cool experience. The first 5k of the race was weird- I was trying to find my pace- everyone was flying past me but my watch said 6:08 when I looked down so I didn’t want to speed up. I missed my first water bottle at the 5k. My eyes were scanning the table but I just missed it. The guy by me saw me miss it and offered his bottle. I took a sip and it was pineapple juice- ick. That was super nice of him though. I continued on this time with the only focus of getting my bottle at the next 10k. I successfully snagged my second bottle. I took a sip and then the guy that gave me a sip of his juice said something in Japanese and put his hand out for my bottle. OH NO! I didn’t want to share because I had only put 6 oz in each bottle. I handed it to him at which point he drank some and handed it behind him to another guy. I turned around to see my bottle thrown to the side: (. I also noticed I was leading a pack of 8 Asian men. I determined that the next bottle stop I would try to explain that I needed all the drink. I also realized I was running into a head wind. However, whenever I tucked behind someone I felt like we slowed down and my stride was being stifled. At the next water station when the guys asked for it I pointed to how little there was in the bottle. They didn’t look happy and I felt mean but I drank my whole bottle. As I write this I realize that this is silly but I really felt bad and my thoughts were so preoccupied with this bottle dilemma! I soon got a little distance from the guys and I started to relax and enjoy the sites and cheering. I felt good. I started to get excited. None of my splits had been over 6:18 so I think I’m going to PR. I come to a clock and realize that it’s the half- wow already the half? I see 1:22:30 something- what? How can that be? I’m alittle disappointed because based on my splits it should have been faster. I speed up alittle trying to not surge and just go alittle faster. I feel fantastic- even better and more relaxed at the faster pace! Wow- this is weird. I get to the 20 miles. Only a 10k left. I debate if I should speed up or not. I determine no because I could still bonk. At Chicago I felt great until 4 to go and then died and same w at the trials. At 4 to go I do speed up. Then they start to mark 5k, 4k, 3k 2k, 1k to go. There is a massive hill at 5k to go- it wasn’t bad though but going down the hill without putting on the breaks was tough. When I get to the 3k the k’s seem to take longer than before. When I see the finish I know it’s a PR and I’m pumped! I am met with cheers and excitement. I feel euphoric for about 5 minutes. Then as I’m watching people finish around me with stiff wobbling legs it hits me that I could have gone faster and that reality gives me a sick feeling inside. You never want to waste an opportunity and maybe I won’t have a good day like this ever again. I put it aside though and live in the moment. This was awesome. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to travel across the world to do what I love so much- RUN! I hope that I was a good ambassador of Chicago and the US in our sister city Osaka so far away. No matter the distance, one thing is for sure. As I watch people finish, we have something in common. We all share that feeling of crossing a finish line.
(the results page- in Japanese like everything)
(an example of a gift I got- the wrapping and presentation was so beautiful)
(what was given to me to eat when I finished...I opted to save it for later : )
(feeling like a celebrity- so many people wanted their picture with me...everyone was into doing the peace sign as well)
That evening Jeff and I went out to try to find a treat. We went to this little tea and desserts shop. We aren't sure what we got- green tea ice cream with lots of jelly like things and sweet bean (In Japan- desserts usually consist of sweet beans : )

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pre Race Day

Surprisingly Jeff and I didn’t wake up until 8:30AM wowser- that was a good night of sleep. J and I ran in the park in the morning- 4 miles +8 by 30 second pick ups. I’m getting nervous- I feel so out of breath on my strides and I also had a sore throat. Have my normal breakfast in the hotel and then head to meet our ride for packet pick up at 11AM. Go to packet pick up then straight to course preview on the bus. The bus ride was torcher- 3 hours of information overload being translated from Japanese to English by a translator telling me which side of the street to run on and all these little details. I am also freaking out a bit because I’m super hungry and it’s 3PM and I haven’t had lunch. Got back from the race preview at 5PM and got dressed up and ready for pick up for the welcome banquet 5:30- quick turn around. The banquet was sweet but it was standing tables and a lot of meet and greet. There was a lot of food but every time I took a bite I was getting pulled away to meet the major or director or some famous person I didn’t know and when I came back my plate would be gone…however I did get 6 rolls because those were not taken away : ). I got back to the hotel feeling a bit defeated. That was an awesome night and opportunity but I had done everything wrong from a marathon preparation point of view. I gathered my things together and went to bed. I had no problem falling asleep but then woke up at 2AM at which point I could not fall asleep. I wasn’t super nervous- I just couldn’t sleep.
(everything is in Japanese but I know this is talking about me : )
(the expo was quite an experience- everyone was lining up to have these people give them some kind of blessing)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Osaka day 1

My first day in Japan I went to the Aquarium. It seemed like a good thing to do to test out my skills with getting around and yet not do anything too risky before the marathon. I walked over to the subway to be faced with this machine!
....I tried to ask for help but people didn't speak English. Everyone recruited everyone until I had a group of 20 people trying to figure out where I wanted to go - lol. They figured it out and I was on my way. The aquarium was written as the best in the world. I must admit, it was pretty sweet! Most people seemed to be most impressed with the sharks. However, I just LOVED the jelly fish. I watched them for such a long time. Here are a few pictures...
There was a cool food court right next to the aquarium. It was written in my book that it had alot of traditional Japanese are some pics of the food court..I had a tasty sesame black tea soy ice cream cone at the dessert shop...but I stuck with subway for lunch- I know lame but I didn't want to risk upsetting my stomach.
After that I went to an out door fish market / concert / I don't know what to call it. Jeff got in that evening and we went to Dotonbori- an area known for night life. We had okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes). It was fun to watch them cook in front of us. It was really yummy as well.

First night in Japan

Endo my contact for the marathon picked me up from the airport and took me out to eat sushi on a conveyor belt!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Japan flight

Check out my dinner and breakfast (yes Breakfast!) on my flight to Japan...the trip really does start as soon as you board the Asian airlines.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Made myself an eye mask for the flight...the store ones seemed to let light in under my cheek bones (guess it was my dutch nose : ). Jeff says he will pretend he doesn't know me when I wear my mask but hey- it's super dark and I like my sleep! : )

You know you're getting ready for a marathon when...

Recently I have realized that the thoughts that go through my head are very unique to a marathoner : ) For example, today I cut my finger at work and the first thing that came to my head was "oh no! I'm losing blood- this is the opposite of doping! That can't be good!." Then the other night I woke up to in the night having to go to the bathroom and thought "this is great! I'm hydrated!." Anyway...I guess I'm ready for this marathon : )

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The delimma of being sooo blessed!

I head to Osaka Japan in a couple days. Packing my suitcase has gotten me super excited!
As I was packing it also made me realize how blessed I am (I know I say that alot- but it's true!). Here is why- I have this dilemma as I pack. I have my Chicago team (Fleet Feet) racing things. I have my alma mater Calvin College racing things. I have my current Portland team racing things. All these groups support me and encourage me but I can't take three suitcases and wear three uniforms! Fleet Feet sent me some Nike's for my race, Calvin College emailed me saying they wanted to do a write up about my race, and Portland Running Company is my current running community who are all great. So many hats of love that I can draw upon! I'm so lucky to be in this pickle! Based on the fact that it is the Chicago Marathon that is paying for me to go to Osaka, I will try to represent Chicago with as much Chicago apparel as I can...but I will take my Calvin Grey, Portland Running Company shirt, and Fleet Feet shirt with me for pictures along the way!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cross Country

I ran a cross country race today! I hadn’t run cross for almost a year. I LOVE cross country : ) Unfortunately I had a workout 2 by 25 minutes…no problem- I just jumped into the men’s race for a second repeat. I was sixth in the women’s race and our team was 4th. It was a competitive race. You also had to hurdle over hay bales and run up some VERY steep hills…as you can see I am not so good at hurdles : ) At the pic at the start I'm the gal with the orange spikes.