tokyo marathon 2014

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In February (yes, I know it’s April) I ran my second marathon. My friend Caroline came over from New York and we ran it together. If she hadn’t have been coming, I don’t think there’s any way on this earth I would have run. Prior to January, the only training I’d done was the half marathon I ran in Burma/Myanmar…for which I was also incredibly undertrained.

With five weeks to go before the race, I did the best I could to prepare…starting with a 16-miler. Go big or go home, right? My friends, Anne (with whom I’ll be running a marathon this summer in South Africa) and CoyLou joined me for some of my long runs, making them much more enjoyable. And somehow, even with the little training I’d done, I got to the marathon feeling like I was going to survive. And knowing that I’d finish before the cutoff (7 hours from the start time).

It’s an amazing thing to know that your body will be able to complete 26.2 miles, even when you’ve only trained for five weeks. I know I talked about this in my post about running in Burma, but every time I do a long race, I am in awe of what my body can do.

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While Caroline had come over to run the marathon with me, we weren’t exactly going to be running together. She’s much faster than I am (she’s a triathlon-ing nut) so we weren’t even starting in the same gates. I’ve never run in such a large race that there were gates, but with approximately 36,000 people running, gates there were. Seriously. 36,000!!!

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Caroline and I said goodbye to each other and headed off to our respective gates. The beauty of the Tokyo Marathon is that you have two out and back legs, so there was a chance I’d get to at least say hi to Caroline along the way.

This was the first race I was going to be running with my new toy: a Garmin Forerunner XT. I’d just started to do heart rate training and was excited to try this marathon with a focus not on pace, but on heart rate. Unfortunately, I never got my heart rate monitor working (I was so annoyed…the monitor left me both literally and figuratively chaffed!). Fortunately, I’d done enough HR training that I knew roughly the pace I should be running at the beginning.

I did a pretty good job (I thought) keeping my pacing down so I would burn out. As it turns out, though, while my heart was pretty content, my body was not so much by the end. But the happy news is I had my fastest half split I’ve had in over seven years. And my second fastest ever. I was pretty happy about that, even if the second half was pretty pathetic in terms of pacing.

It was an amazing experience. And what really helped me in those last miles was thinking about how lucky I was, as I saw many, many runners along the way at medical aid stations or stopped along the course nursing calves/shines/ankles/feet, just to be able to finish without having to stop and get medical attention.

The other major help was my darling friend Anne (pictured in the collage below)! When I ran the St. George Marathon almost seven years ago, I was doing it with another darling Anne. She was actually running with me, which was a huge boon! But on top of that, her awesome family had traveled down to St. George to cheer her and, by extension, me on.

If you’ve never run a distance race before, it’s hard to explain the support that comes from those cheering you on…the spectators in Tokyo were awesome, but having Anne there along the way made a HUGE difference! She trekked all over the course and I got to see her four times along the way. Every time was like receiving a little shot of energy! (Unfortunately, I busted my phone in Singapore a few weeks ago and in the transition to a new phone, I lost all of my pictures with Anne. Sad face. )

The last three miles were complete torture. While the marathon course in Tokyo is relatively flat for the most part, the last three miles consist of a series of bridges…bridges that are engineered for strength, and therefore are bowed…which means “hills” for a runner. To add insult to injury (or injury to insult, as it were), somewhere along the way I’d developed what I could tell was a ginormous blister on my right big toe in addition to a shooting pain at the base of my second toe due to the chip being too tightly attached. If I walked, I was okay. If I ran, every step hurt. So, there was a lot of walking.

IMG_1517The last miles of a marathon are also mentally challenging for me because I want so badly to be done that I do my best to force myself to go as fast as I can…but I just can’t go that fast. And it’s so difficult to not just give up. But, somehow I pushed through and the it was over. My goal was to finish under six hours (chip time), which is not fast at all…but was going to be a good finish for me given my lack of training and that I weighed about 20 lbs more than when I ran my last marathon. I came in at 5:58:20.

IMG_1513Of course, with a half split that would have put me in at around 5:30 had I maintained it, I was slightly disappointed, but then I remembered that I had set my goal based on reality and managed to feel pretty awesome about it when I thought, yet again, at how amazing it was that my body could do what it did.

Post marathon, I went through the finishers area and met up with Caroline for the most amazing foot soak ever (I wish every marathon had this!) and then met up with Anne, who was patiently waiting to congratulate me. Because of where the finish is, she wasn’t able to be at the finish line, but it was awesome that she had come all the way out to the end!

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Soaking my feet…this might be how my blister got infected and why I had to see a doctor for antibiotics, but at the time, it was worth it.

And that was that. Marathon #2 on continent #2 completed. And now I’ve begun training for marathon #3 on continent #3 which will happen on June 21st. Not sure what I was thinking signing up for two marathon’s in one year, but now the bug has bitten and the goal is to run a marathon on every continent, culminating in Antarctica in 2017! I’m both terrified and super excited!

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Elevator selfie with our medals after dinner and a movie.

dear mom

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Dear Mom,

While I’ve written several blog posts about you, I felt like it was time to write something to  you. Last Saturday marked 18 years since you died, making this the year that (sometime in April) I will have been alive longer without you than I was with you. Justin hit this a couple of years ago and it made me so sad for him. And this year it’s my turn. And it makes me sad for me. I definitely feel like I got screwed out of a mom a little bit. There are so many things I wish I could ask you now. Some important. Some not so important. And there are still moments almost every day when I think, “I wish I could talk to Mom about this!” But that’s not why I’m writing you this letter. I know if you could still be here with us, you would be. And that is probably the greatest gift that you’ve given me. Your unconditional, selfless love. And that is probably what I miss the most.

I’m writing this to you to tell you about my life, how I’m doing, and how much a part of my life you remain. I don’t want to try and recap the past 18 years in one letter. That would be too much, as I discovered in the attempt I made earlier this week. So, let me just cover the important stuff.

First of all, I am really happy. Life is hard, don’t get me wrong. But it is also amazing, and unpredictable, and full of beauty, and love, and joy, and laughter. I often find myself looking around at the world and thinking, “How did I get so lucky?!” I’ve realized that this is a gift you’ve given me. I see the world the way you taught me to see it. You taught me to view it with faith when you told me over and over again that “it always works out.” You taught me to live in the moment when you reminded me constantly not to “borrow trouble”. You taught me to be kind, even in the face of pests (a lesson that maybe took me a while to learn) whenever you reminded me that I could catch more flies with honey than I could with vinegar. You taught me to take risks when you let me go to Belgium as an exchange student when I was only 14 and then told me to try out for cheerleading…again, even though I hadn’t made it after I got back from Belgium when you told me, “If you don’t try, you definitely won’t make it”. You taught me to keep learning through your example as you developed new talents throughout your short life. You taught me the value of hard work can solve a lot of problems when I would complain about being cold or bored and you’d tell me to go clean the bathroom. 🙂 And you taught me to be generous with my time and talents, as you were with yours. And all of those lessons have led me to where I am today. And it’s pretty great. I know you’d approve 150% (and you would have definitely visited me here at least five times already…if not just moved to Japan with me).

Second, I really like who I am. It’s been a long time in the making, but the foundation has been there since long before you died. Don’t get me wrong. There’s still room for improvement, for sure. And there are some days when I really disappoint myself. But most days I think, “Mom would be proud.” Although I know you love me even on my worst days. I didn’t realize at the time, that all of those things you were teaching me weren’t just to help me become a good person, but to help me become a person I really like.

Third, on the days when my actions wouldn’t make you proud, my collection of shoes definitely would. As would my mastery of makeup application while driving a car or riding a crowded subway. (I can’t say the same for the butane curling iron, but I haven’t tried.)

Fourth, while no one is you, I have been unfairly blessed in the “family and friends” department. And while the sum of their parts can’t make up for not having you here today, they do a pretty incredible job filling in.

And finally, and maybe most importantly, you have some pretty awesome grandkids. I know you know that, but seriously, they are just so great! There is a part of you in each one of them. And I do my best to make up for the fact that none of them will get to know you in this life. I’m not perfect at being you, but I send gifts and try to see them as often as I can and there’s this amazing technology now that let’s me talk to them face-to-face even though I’m 6,000 miles away. I have taken time off work to help with the new babies. I make them Swedish pancakes. I jump on the trampoline with them. I teach them how to do knee dives and flips and back floats, and I make sure they don’t twist when they jump into the pool. I take them on trips and try to show them how exciting the world is just like you did for me. But more than anything, I try to help them feel the unconditional, selfless love that they would have unquestioningly felt from you.

I still miss you every day, but thank you for giving me everything I needed to become the person I am and showing me how to live a truly joyful life.

I love you always!

Love,

Chloe (your favorite youngest daughter)

P.S. Sorry about all of the change I never returned to you…and the occasional $20 bill that went missing from your purse. That was totally me. I promise, I don’t do things like that anymore.

P.S. #2 And sorry I was such a brat the last day I saw you alive. Don’t worry. I’m not dwelling on it or anything. I know you forgave me that very day and that you understood I was a moody, selfish teenager, but still. I think it’s important for you to know that if I could go back and do things differently on that day, I totally would have.

P.S. #3 If there’s any chance your pizza sauce recipe exists somewhere in the universe, it would be great if you could somehow let us know.

three days in taiwan

Yeah. Totally abandoned the gratitude posts. Just know that I’m grateful for everything I post about. 🙂

Japan has a number of three day weekends throughout the fall (between 3 and 4 depending on the year) and it is fantastic. Last year I went to Korea and Okinawa. This year, Taiwan and Burma (although I added a couple of days for Burma).

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have ever been inclined to go to Taiwan if I wasn’t living so close to it, but as it’s just a short flight across the sea (and I have a dear friend whose husband is Taiwanese and talks about how great it is), I thought, “Why not?”

Such a good decision!

Since my friend, Sungti, talks about how amazing Taiwanese food is, I decided I really wanted to take a cooking class, so that was the only thing I had actually planned. Thankfully, Brittany had done some research, so we were not without any plans. And the trip ended up being completely amazing. I think with whom you travel is as important in many ways as to where you travel, and I had awesome travel buddies. So fun. So easy going. And so easily entertained. My favorite kinds of people.

On Brittany’s list was the hot springs, a few temples, and a restaurant. Through facebook, I got a couple of recommendations, as well. So, with very loose plans, we were off.

Highlights of the trip:

  1. Cooking class
  2. Purchasing a Hello Kitty speedo because I forgot a bathing suit
  3. Taipei 101 (third tallest building in the world)
  4. karaoke cab
  5. Ice Monster (most amazing shaved ice ever!)
  6. Modern Toilet
  7. Temples (both Korean and the LDS one)
  8. Night markets

And here are the photos (I still need to upload my iphone photos, so these are just the ones from my real camera)–not necessarily in order because, as you can see from my sporadic posting, I have no time to worry about such things.

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gratitude

So, it’s been a while. Like, a long, long while. I can’t believe I haven’t written anything in almost four months. Well, I have written a lot. Just not here. I’ve been writing letters to my nephew which, combined with instagram, basically took the place of blogging. But it’s time I get back to it.

Part of the reason I stopped was also because I had a post I wanted to write, but just wasn’t sure how. After Thailand, Maria and I went to Cambodia and, to be honest, while amazing, it was little traumatizing for me. I’ve never seen poverty like I saw there. And I know there are a lot of places where it is much, much worse. Trying to reconcile my feelings was just a little more than I could deal with.

And then I just got more, and more, and more behind and it just became overwhelming.

Well, I decided tonight it’s time. And I decided to play catch up, I would go ahead and do it in the form of gratitude posts.

So, while it isn’t yet November, and typically November is the month of gratitude, I’m going to start tonight. One post a day through the end of the month. And all of these gratitude posts will be focused on last May through now. There are a lot of things for which I am very grateful. And with that…I’ll begin. But I’ll do it in a separate post.

diving from a live-aboard (aka the best way to dive if you are not prone to motion sickness)

As some of you who visit here regularly know, I have just recently gotten back into diving. And if you don’t follow regularly and are interested, you can read about it here. Anyway, I have wanted to go on a live-aboard for as long as I have been diving. My dream is actually to go to the Galapagos Islands and live on a boat for a week and dive and dive and dive. But this was a good start.

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As excited as I was to be going on a live-aboard for a couple of days, I was also nervous. I was going by myself and didn’t know anyone and while I’ve been diving more recently, it had still been since October.

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I spent a lot of the trip out on the speedboat (you take a speedboat out to the live-aboard that just stays in the islands for the duration of diving season) just people watching and trying to figure out how I was going to talk to people. I mean, I know how to talk, but I am not a huge fan of meeting new people. I like knowing new people, but meeting them sometimes scares the crap out of me. Welcome to my insecurities.

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Well, somehow I managed, once we are on the boat. And once the first dive was done and we all had this shared experience to talk about, it was like we were old friends. I’ve decided that the best way to vacation by oneself is to do some kind of activity that will give you that shared experience, because it’s like instant friends…at least on that level.

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There were moments that weren’t so great as I was dealing with my imperfect breathing and buoyancy. I don’t like feeling like I’m struggling. Anyway, I got over that (and got better with each dive). So, all in all, the trip was awesome and I had so much fun and I could happily live on a boat for days and days as long as diving was involved. Plus, I met a couple who lives about 10 minutes from me in Tokyo. He’s French and she’s Japanese (who is more comfortable speaking French than English) which is seriously so random, but totally cool. Now we just have to get our schedules to work so we can hang out here.

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