Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day 9: Celebrity status?

Woke up this morning, from the strangest dream.  I was in the biggest army the world had ever seen..... No.  Wait a moment.  That's the Hunters and Collectors. (Um...if you don't know, they were a band, and those are the lyrics of one of their songs...)  Seriously, though, I really did wake up this morning from the strangest dream.  Whether it had anything to do with the army or not, I don't recall.  I attribute it to nerves. Today I go to Otsu in preparation for the Lake Biwa Marathon tomorrow.

This morning was a wonderfully lazy morning.  I woke up when Mindy went out to run, then slept another hour or so in the back bedroom at Mike and Marcella's where we've been calling home the past few days. Finally getting out of bed around 8ish - it was another 9 hour night of sleep. (If only that was a regular occurrence!)  Top it off with a quick Skype call with my niece and nephew - very quick, as the internet reception was poor and the call kept dropping - that makes for a good start to a day of forced relaxation.

Mike and Marcella accompanied us to Otsu.  They are structuring their week-end around coming to watch the race and support me; what great people to call friends! (I mean, beside the fact that they let us stay at their place for two nights, and have opened the invitation for any time we want to return.) By the time we were on the train to Otsu, I'll admit I wasn't the best company.  Oh, nerves! These were reinforced when we got to the Otsu Prince Hotel where the race is putting me (and Mindy) up for the night.  What a nice hotel! Does that make for any expectations?

The "Athletes' Village" was in the hotel conference rooms.  I wasn't sure what to expect out of a race with ~400 participants. (Out of interest, I am the only Canadian, one of about 6 white guys, and probably the tallest guy in the race.) Talk about feeling like a rock star! I met with Yoko Nagase, the race representative with whom I have been in touch over email the past few months, who sat down with me and Mindy at a table and personally walked us through what I needed to know for the race.  Well done on the organizing, Lake Biwa Marathon!

Feeling like a rock star who is about to perform his first big event, my stomach was all jumpy as I watched the video of last year's race, where ~50 guys went through 5km in 15 minutes flat! Egad!  This is going to be a fast race.... (This year's race is doubling as the qualifying race for Japan's World Championship team, so I don't expect it will be any slower.) I've just got to stay ahead of the medical van, and I won't get pulled. They expect attrition, so the 15km cut-off is at 2:26 marathon pace! (That isn't exactly helping the butterflies in my stomach.) This race is a big enough deal in Japan that the entire race is televised commercial free.

A couple "small world" moments came out of the Athletes' Village, Marcella bumped into one of her colleagues who was playing emcee for the welcome reception this evening, and I met Tristan, another Skechers athlete who is here to race.

We had an hour from the check-in to the mandatory foreign athlete orientation, so Mindy and I went for a shake-out run along the lake path.  With snow-capped mountains in the background, and the waves lapping at the shore only a few feet away, this would make for a stunning long run, if I wasn't facing a marathon tomorrow.

The orientation was entertaining.  A lot of detail...that wasn't really much different from any other race.  However, that's where I learned I could set up my own special drink bottles, and where Tristan and I got our pre-race hero shot (our "Go Run" shot, as he termed it), and where I got my race kit.

Yoko arranged for Marcella and Mike to get passes into the reception this evening as well as the stadium tomorrow (the race starts and finishes with 600m around a track), so the four of us got ready for a free dinner and mingling.  What I didn't expect was A LOT of long speeches, and an interminable toast.  (In fairness, there probably weren't that many speeches, and they probably weren't that long, but they were in Japanese, and I was hangry, and the food was right there, waiting for the speeches to end so we could dig in...)

When we finally got to it, the food was a fun mix of Japanese and Western style.  I hope Andrea's sushi magic kicks in for me, because that was part of my meal.  In case the veg. sushi doesn't cut it, though, I also had spaghetti and Japanese-sauteed vegetables.  A bit of a random pre-race meal, but the race doesn't start until 12:30 tomorrow afternoon, so I can afford a bit of experimentation.

After dinner, the four of us took in the view from the 38th floor, and then Mike and Marcella left us for a quiet evening.

I think I'm as ready as I'm going to be for tomorrow...

If things go poorly....I've already told myself to follow the same advice a friend of mine gave me as I felt sorry for myself after Rotterdam.  I promise I will still enjoy the trip, and I will take the Biwa experience for what it is.  Wouldn't it be nice if things went well, though?

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