Me versus Tsuyu.


Daily Wisdom Card: Taking it one step at a time.

An abstract from
In early summer, most parts of Japan get visited by a rainy season, the so called tsuyu (or baiyu), literally meaning “plum rain”, because it coincides with the season of plums ripening.The rainy season is caused by the collision of cold northerly and warm southerly air masses, which results in a relatively stable bad weather front over the Japanese archipelago for several weeks.In most of Japan, the rainy season lasts from the beginning of June to mid July, while it affects the islands of Okinawa about one month earlier. Only Japan’s northern most main island of Hokkaido gets barely affected by the rainy season.

The following table shows the average starting and ending dates of the rainy season for selected regions of Japan, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency:

May 8-June 23

Southern Kyushu
May 29- July 13

June 4- July 17

Kinki (incl. Osaka, Kyoto)
June 6- July 19

Kanto (incl. Tokyo)
June 8- July 20

Northern Tohoku
June 12- July 27

During the rainy season it does not rain every day. In fact, Tokyo registers only an average of 12 rainy days in June, while 120 hours of sunshine are recorded. As for the amount of rainfall, it varies from days with intensive downpours to other days with occasional sprinkles.Nevertheless, the rainy season is not the most suitable season for visiting Japan.

Ok, Here it is. I despise Tsuyu. The thought of bacteria growing within moist conditions just freak me out a little. The rainy season in Japan took me off guard the first time I lived here for it feels nothing like the rain back home in BC. I am used to the coldness of the rain on my skin, soaking me right through to the bone wrapped in gortex. No. Here. The rain is hot and sticky. It is the kind of rain that makes you want to take a shower over and over again, cleansing yourself from the god-knows-what radiation has melted into its liquid center. The rainy season here always brings this caution:

Oh god. mold. I hate it. I remember the first time I discovered mold when experiencing my first rainy season in Okinawa. I lifted my futon that I accidently left on my tatami floor for a day to discover a colony of green specks covering the entire surface. I literally threw that futon off my balcony to my disgust. Ok. Maybe not that dramatic. I learned my lesson from then. I will not be beaten by bacteria.

Check 1: Always open the windows and doors to get circulation going whenever possible.
Check 2: never leave your futon on the floor. Always shake it out to allow it to breathe. (Can futons breathe?)
Check3: Never hang laundry indoors. ( Actually I do…no wonder I am smelling something fishy in my tatami room.)
Check 4: Place these little filters everywhere in the apartment that sucks up the dampness of the air. Miracle workers but can get costly.
Check 5: Be prepared. Never let your back down or those green suckers will get you.

Obsessive? Possibility. Just wait. Once the rain has lifted, then the unbearable UV filtered humidity and heat of Japanese summers will loom in. Get ready for the mosquitos, cicadas and mukades. Gotta love it all.

” I survived! I am alive” 25km Marathon challenge.


IMG_1295Success! Finite! Viva Nancy! I ran and survived. I cannot tell you how proud of myself I am. Let me relate the previous day’s event for your reading pleasure.

Friday June 14th.  After a long and hectic day of formal observations at my Elementary school, I came home feeling relieved and satisfied with myself for doing a job well done. Oh wait, I have this marathon to run tomorrow. Oh lord. Feeling too nervous to cook, I drive to the nearest convenience store to pick up some pasta and meat sauce. My habit two years ago when I was running marathons regularly was to eat pasta the day before to get my carbohydrate kick. It always worked so why question it, right. Looking at the clock. 18:40ish.  Well, time to go to bed.  

My mind: Go to sleep, Nancy.  Your running coworker M. is going to pick u up at 2am so you guys can drive to Fukushima to make the 6am registration cutoff. You need to sleep.         
My body: It’s 7pm. What the F@#@ are you doing?

1:30am I jot right out of bed as soon as my alarm on my cell phone goes off. It is all a blur but I make it down the apartment stairs right when M. drives up the lane. We chat, I make conversation to keep him awake, and try to figure out where we are going on the gps system. Dear god, I am tired. But can’t pass out.

5am We made some good time and arrived at the registration earlier than expected. M. signed up for the Full 42km marathon which starts at 8am. The bus to his starting place wasn”t until 6:30 so we relaxed before he had to go. Relax….? How can I? My bus doesn”t leave until 8:30am and my race starts at 10am. 4 hours to go.

As soon as M. is off I try to sleep for a bit. Turning to the left in my car seat. Nope. Turn to the right… nope.  Get up, lock the car and decide to try to sleep in the main registration area. The building is actually an hot spring in which after the marathon, everyone who has participated gets a free ticket to soak in the hot waters. There are lots of comfy benches everywhere so I am sure I will find a quiet place. I do right by a big clock.

I close my eyes…i wonder what time it is? it is 8:30 yet? Nope 7:12.  sleep….is it time yet?

8:35am Hop on the bus and sit beside a nervous looking woman. She and I start to make small talk just as the bus starts to move towards our starting point destination. 30 minutes til the starting point. Man, is she ever nervous. I tell her to keep faith and just have fun. Actually I was telling myself that.

IMG_12999-9:45 am The other 81 runners and myself have been shipped off onto a mountain in the middle of Fukushima. Beautiful countryside. Wait a minute. Where is the starting line? Everyone wanders up and down the roads searching for some official tape but atlast…there is none. Someone calls the registration. oh the starter is coming.IMG_1301
He arrives and tells us that it”s around there. Everyone has a laugh at how casual this all is. Some of the runners starts to make a pretend starting lines out of grass and weed just as a joke. So unlike Japanese events. No official red tape. Just wherever. Love the locality of it all. IMG_1300

10:00am Here we go. I am running faster than expected. Boy, is my pace ever awesome. I am keeping pace with some experienced marathon runners down the countryside mountain road. I feel great, no pain, just smooth running. Wow. I feel better than expected. IMG_1308

11:00am Wow! I just ran 10km in less than one hour. That is a first for me. I follow a strategy that I discovered while running half marathons and full marathons in Okinawa. Focus on a person’s feet running in front of you. I think I may look stalkerish to them cuz I keep staring at their legs. Whatever. It works for me. I stalk this one guy closely behind for quite awhile until I realize that I can run faster than him. Wow. I am making good time now. Maybe I can break my 2 hours 30 minutes goal time after all. IMG_1302

Not sure what time it is…around 16 km. That is when it hits me. I have been training for a long time these past few weeks. Yet the longest I have ever run so far was 16 km. My mind and body is used to that. The minute 16 km flies by, my body says ( or is it my mind) that I am done for the day. The pain in my feet creeps in. The lack of sleep hits me. Oh dear god. It is ever getting hot and humid now. Don”t let me fail now, body.

17-19km I am going strong but the tiredness is really hitting me hard. Just keep going. Don”t stop, Nancy.

20-22km Ok…I need to walk. Dear god, the pain is getting worse. My legs are starting to feel like jello but I keep pushing on. Even if it is a slow shuffle, I keep trekking on. Boy, is this ever getting hard.

22-25km Well I atleast have to finish strong. I unfortunately had to walk 4 km because the tiredness was getting a bit unbearable. I tell myself that as long as I run the last 2 or 1 km to the finish line then it is all good. That”s what I do.

GOAL! 2 hours 50 mins. I finished a lot slower than expected but victory is still sweet. I felt so happy that I didn”t give up. This was my first half marathon in two years. I told myself before that I couldn”t run long distances anymore and pretty much believed it to. Victory is sure sweet.

So, when is the next marathon to train for?

IMG_1310 (Just relating my looks of pain to my man. Of course he takes my picture.)

OMG, last week til half marathon!


Cheesy video but so true. I can”t wait to stop that moment in time.

Last week I really stepped up my running a full notch. 
Mon Ran 8 km
Tues Ran 8 km
Wed rest and a bit of yoga.
Thurs. Ran a slow and hard 15.71 km. My feet have been hurting which is worrying me. It was a bit of a struggle to keep going. Gambare Nancy. You caN do it.
Fri Did a 45 mins Weight training DVD to shake things up. I can’t wait to start training again after this marathon.
Sat Ran a short 6.71 km before going to Tokyo.
Sun Work/ Seminar time in Tokyo. My muscles were shaking all day. I think they were craving a run.

This week so far:
Monday Ran 8km Not bad. Steady but feeling good. I listened to the new Daft Punk album which got my heart pumpin. I definately recommend it.
Tues Rest. I figured that I should take it easy.
Wed Ran a easy going 7km in the rain this morning. I love running in the misty rain. It cools me down and motivates me to “get out of it” as soon as I can.
Thur Ran 5km on the treadmill. Slow and sweaty!
Fri Big Formal observation day at my Elementary school. Trainers from Tokyo, the BOE and my school came to watch two of my classes. The entire day was a huge success and I was buzzing when I go home at 5pm. Ate a big plate of pasta (carbohydrate energy) and got ready for bed at 7pm. Why do you ask…? Stay tune to the post.

LAST WEEK TO GO. Unfortunately it is a busy work week so it will be a challenge to keep training.I am going to take it a bit easy this week. I figure that I can save all my energy for the actual run on Sat morning. Man, am I ever nervous/ scared. What to do when you are nervous about running a longer distance? Visual, meditate, do some more yoga. It is hard to calm the nerves down so all we can do is to keep positive. Positive thoughts, breathe.

“Still running” half marathon training challenge Week 3


Week Three. Wow. Time is sure flying by. I pushed myself hard this week out of complete fear. I am borderline waving if I should just throw in the towel or just run the bloody 25km. One part of me doesn”t want to give up on myself while the other says “seriously, listen to your body and be realistic.” It has been awhile since I ran such a distance. Am i setting myself up for pain and torture?

Sun Work event so couldn”t run. But I walked with my man for an hour afterwards. It was nice to walk and make jokes at each other”s expense.

Mon Run 5.61km 36 mins. short and fast run in the early morning light. The best time of the day.

Tues Too lazy and not motivated to do anything.

Wed Run 5.41km yet another short and fast morning run. Tried out the new Spartacus weight training dvd I got from my man after work. Felt so great that I did another 45 mins of ashtanga yoga on my own.

Thurs Treadmill Run 6km with my coworker at the local gym after work. Quite hard because I was working on hill intervals. I despise hills.

Fri Yoga with my friends for an hour. Lovely way to celebrate Fridays.

Sat Woke up at 5:30 am motivated to push myself to see what I can do. I was out the door by 6 am with my new running shoes. Ended up running 15 km in 1 hour and 40 mins. Wow. It has been so long since i ran such a distance that I just didn”t think I could do it. no pain, not tired. steady easy going run. Felt so great that I went to a outdoor yoga session with my friends in the park afterwards. Then salsa dancing practice at night. What a great saturday.

Moral of this week: perhaps this challenge is doable after all. Two more weeks to go.

Dancing banned in Japan? Wow.


Anti dancing in Japan?

Here is an interesting aspect of Japan. Under Japanese law, dancing throughout the night in popular night clubs and other musical events is actually against the law. I had a very heated conversation with my sista salsa members about this law while on our way to a salsa event in Tsukuba last weekend. “How ridiculous it is for old politicians to create a law that bans its citizens to express their creativity in certain artistic ways.” It is necessary for people of all ages to be allowed to show their creativity and individuality through dancing. Any thought on this issue?