The land of the rising sun


Sorry it's been so long! I'm on a week long business trip in Tokyo.

It's my first time in Japan. It's beautiful!! Tokyo is a bustling, energetic city. At first it's a little overwhelming (26 million people), but after a while it grows on you -- it's more like an organized chaos than anything else. Everyone is so kind & accomodating. It's also a very safe place to travel - very little crime. The Japanese are very respectful, honest, etc. Wish the US was more like that.

Everything is clean (despite the fact there are so many people), and everyone takes such good care of themselves, their clothing, their appearance. They pride themselves on wearing good quality, expensive items (which is why we can sell so many Red Wing shoes there!!). Quite amazing actually. Jeans sell for $300-400, a more casual flannel or plaid shirt $150-200... wow.

One of the coolest things: the portion sizes are PERFECT! Not a heaping pile like in the US. For example, someone ordered roast pork with mashed potatoes for lunch one day. What came was a piece of meat a little smaller than the size of your fist, and less than an ice cream scoop of potatoes. No wonder there aren't any (seriously) obese people here! Not to mention, everything is super healthy. I LOVE it! Lots of rice, with a little healthy meat or vegetables. Nothing heavy. Even their desserts are light-tasting. Not like in the US where they're dense, calorie filled, and all around heavy. Gosh, I wish I could take home their cuisine and portion sizes to the US.

Ok, on to running: My training has actually gone better than expected during the trip. At first, I wasn't planning to be able to get in many miles at all. But, then I found that the hotel had a gym (only free from 5-6:30am, otherwise an outrageous fee), so hit that up the first two days. It was pretty much awful. First, I am NOT a morning person. Perhaps the fact that 5am in Tokyo is really 2pm MN time helps. Second, it's warm, without any fans. Third, I forgot my ipod. They have 3 TVs in the room, but there's no sound (and even if there was, I couldn't understand any of it). So day #1, I stared off into space, thinking about nothing at all, for 10 whole miles. I guess I did get to occupy my mind a little bit by converting miles to kilometers...

Day #2: Back to the gym again. 3 mile warm up, and then I tried to pick it up. I did 20 minutes hard (I think 6:10 to 6:00 pace, but it felt harder than that). Then I started on a cool down. 1 mile into it, I suddenly felt really tired & sick. It was a weird sickness feeling... hard to describe. I decided to shut it down for the day. Even though 6:00 pace shouldn't be hard, maybe that's what triggered that feeling?

Day #3: The team in Japan drew out 3 different courses in Tokyo for me. YEAH!! The first was Yoyogi park. I woke up and hit up the gym to get a strength session in, and then hit the streets, map in hand. It was a 2km jog over to the park. It was BEAUTIFUL inside. Sort of a santuary inside the bustling, stressful city. About 20 minutes into the run, a Japanese runner passes me pretty quickly. I decided to chase after him & asked if I could run with him. Wish I would have worn my Garmin -- I have no idea how fast we went, but it was really quick. I don't think I could have gone much quicker. So much fun to run hard with someone!! I don't know if that was his normal pace or not (could be, he looked very smooth/fit and said he was a 2:33 marathoner), or if he kept picking it up because he had a young American girl running along side him :) He stopped after about 20 minutes. I continued on, at an easier pace, to finish a 1:30 run. Not bad!

Day #4: Tomorrow. Going to venture to the price's palace. I have to take the subway to get there... should be interesting.

I LOVE the fact that I'm a distance runner and can explore so much more of a city than those that don't run!!

So, all in all, not a bad week (I think it'll be 60-65 miles)! Not bad for a week I was expecting 10 or less!

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

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