Needless to say, a great time was had by all at our annual Nanban getaway in Tochigi ken, Ohtawara, near the famous Utsunomiya gyoza (not to be confused with Odawara, gateway to Hakone resort). This was my 4th trip back to the local 42k/10k race, but first time running the unofficial half marathon, which was quite pleasant. I think this race and trip gets funner and funner every year. I had a nice comfortable run of 1:35, which suited me fine since my goal was to get a decent training run under 1:40. I also paced Colin with Phil for the first 10k, and we chatted casually about the fortuitous sunny weather and memories of prior races. The race was a tale of 2 conditions, however, from sunny and pleasantly warm on the first 10k to windy and cold over the last 7-8k. I lost Colin and Phil, who were chasing Paddy, over the windy back course, but caught up to them at 20K. I was indeed happy to pull over at 21k and felt guilty/sorry for the guys that did the full marathon in that tough wind. The fact that several nanbanners ran PBs and placed in both races is a tribute to the depth of our squad. My 5k splits were:
Other funny tidbits:
-I wore no number and was not kicked off the course.
-There were 2 minor accidents/injuries incurred after the race. Gareth slipped on the floor of the onsen changing room (after a few drinks), and sprawled out naked on the wet floor like a helpless crab, a funny image. Luckily he was not injured and was able to continue partying into the wee hours. Apparently Yuka also slipped and fell in the women's onsen bath, and bruised her torso. She was also able to complete her drinking regime after the mishap.
-I managed to coerce several nanbanners to engage in group massage sessions at the 2jikai party, which featured Chika standing on top of sore marathoners' backs and legs (called level 1). Level 2 was Yuka/Rie. I hope this trend continues in future.
The ryokan was excellent; many thanks to Chiba san. It was slightly further away from Ohtawara than usual, but we did get to view the second longest suspension bridge in Japan on the way up there. It was a nice secluded spot and the snow on the ground created wintery fuzzy feelings, which were enhanced by the evenings' bubbly intoxicants, oishii cuisine, and steamy onsen. The onsen/rotemburo was perfect, 30 seconds from the rooms, and the decent meal featured free karaoke which we took full advantage of, much to the dismay of the neighboring tribes. The washoku meals were quite good, and they even served natto in the morning. It doesn't get better than this!