Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 8: Young Minds of the Future

There's one problem with fitting a race in the middle of a vacation.  The way I like to travel is tiring, and that's not exactly the best preparation for a race!  Mike and Marcella, friends of Mindy's (I suppose I can now say friends of mine) who live in Japan and have opened their home to us for a couple of days, are helping to solve that problem.  I slept 9 hours last night - minus a minor interruption when Mindy and Marcella went out to run at 5am - and have very little on my agenda today.  No run for me; trying to be as rested as possible for Sunday, and appreciating that some minor foot pain is fading away as the week of non-running progresses.

The one thing I have on my agenda today is pretty neat; a rather unusual tourist experience.  Marcella and Mike both teach at the Osaka International School - an English-language middle school largely catering to ex-pats in Osaka.  Every Friday, the school dedicates ~20 minutes for a presentation, sometimes from invited guests, and sometimes led by one of the classes at the school.  It's unstructured and open-ended, providing new and different learning opportunities each week.  Today, I am that invited guest.

It was originally supposed to be both Mindy and me speaking about running in our respective lives, including my path to the Lake Biwa Marathon. Mindy pointed out that with such a short time for our talk, and this whole trip largely inspired by the Lake Biwa Marathon, it would make sense to focus exclusively on me and my running.  I'm ok with that, I don't mind being the centre of attention!

Marcella introduced me to the student audience, but first asked: "Who here knows how far a marathon is?" Several hands shot up, and the one boy who was called upon responded: "42.195km" Well done! Two things to note about this: 1) that same boy had just been presented an award for a perfect score on a school-wide academic competition the previous week, and 2) that boy's father is a runner, an excellent runner, as Marcella told us, who organizes a running club out of the school.  At this last point, Mindy's ears perked up.  Yes, she had run 10km with Marcella that morning, but could she join the run club for another 10km with this esteemed runner?

My talk went well, if I may say so, myself.  At least, the kids seemed to be paying attention, and the staff who were in the audience seemed pleased.  The principal of Osaka International School (OIS) is also a runner, and so we chatted briefly afterward.

The OIS cafeteria serves pretty decent Japanese food, but we just sat with Mike and Marcella while they ate.  We were looking forward to a return to the Indian restaurant where we ate last night.  Besides, I have been eating pretty light this week, and want some hearty meals today - best served at the Indian place.

When we returned to the school for Mindy's afternoon run, I was prepared to be in awe of this fabulous Japanese runner /teacher.  When he learned that I am taking part in the Lake Biwa Marathon this week-end, he was the one who was impressed.  As Mindy ran with the teacher (he seemed excited to have quick company, and they were continuously dropping the students who were rounding out the group of runners), she learned that his 10km PB is 36 minutes, and his marathon best is 3:17.  Those are respectable times, but I guess I kind of was the impressive one!

With Biwa just a day and a half away, and my nerves starting to gnaw away at me, Mindy declined Mike and Marcella's invitation to join them for a night of drinking and karaoke, and joined me for a quiet evening in.  I took advantage of a kitchen at my disposal, sorted through labels at the grocery store as best I could, and made my own version of Japanese stir-fry with udon noodles. Pretty tasty! Another hearty meal to fuel myself for Sunday, and another early night to bed.

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