Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I signed up for a half-marathon a few months ago (okay, maybe it was May). Being a true American, meters and kilometers didn`t sound very intimidating to me. I don`t even really know how far a kilometer is. I somehow decided that a half-marathon is 13 kilometers, which is only 8 miles.

It turns out that a half-marathon is about 13 miles, not kilometers. A very subtle but important difference. That`s about 21 kilometers. That I have to run. In less than 3 weeks.

I signed up in May. I started training in August when we got back from Bali. I can now run over 30 minutes at a time. I have no idea how far that is. All I know is that it will take more than 2 hours to run 13 miles. A lot more than 2 hours.

I`ve always wanted to be the kind of person who exercises. After years of P.E.-induced trauma, I viewed physical activity as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Who really enjoys getting sweaty and sore? According to the people in my P.E. classes growing up, I am mildly retarded and have no coordination. Why would I run when I am clearly the most awkward person on the planet? I walked laps around the gym while the other kids were running or playing basketball. In college, I couldn`t make myself use the exercise machines at the gym because I didn`t want people to watch me.

Signing up for the Suwako Marathon was one attempt at conquering my fear of exercise. I`m glad I did. I`ve reached a point where it is actually enjoyable to go running (sometimes). No one laughs. No one really even notices. My clothes are mysteriously looser and my skin is clearer. My brain doesn`t feel so clouded with stress and anxiety most days.

Some fellow gaijin and I are going to run around Lake Suwa this weekend. That`s 16 kilometers. I don`t even try to think in miles any more. I think about the way my feet are hitting the ground. About the sound my breath makes. About pushing myself to make it to that next lamppost. I think about how good it feels to look behind me and see how far I`ve come.

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