Running the Palace

I have been a pretty dedicated runner for the past 26 years and my time in Texas only strengthened the obsession. The loop around Town Lake was a second home to me in Austin. Not surprisingly, one of the first missions B and I tackled upon moving to Tokyo involved finding a scenic running route. That quest turned out to be significantly more challenging than expected and to be honest, we weren't very successful. I currently run on the treadmill in the T-Cube most days and then B and I hit the 3-mile trail around the Imperial Palace a few times each month. The Palace trail is paved, so I'll never come close to loving it like I do Town Lake, but it has proven a suitable little lap and a nice diversion from the treadmill. Then again, I would find a brain aneurysm a nice diversion from the treadmill, so that's not really saying much.

The Palace trail is CRAZY, INSANELY popular with our Japanese countrymen and is absolutely packed with runners every weekend. It's actually difficult to do any sort of speedwork as the constant weaving around other runners caps the pace at 8 min/mile MAX (which is still a great pace, don't get me wrong...I'm just saying you can't really sprint.)

...running in the morning.

...running in the evening.

We cap all of our runs with a little crossfit session in neighboring Hibiya Park. We are almost always accompanied by a large group of middle-aged locals working on their running form. This group of dedicated die-hards is typically sporting enough neon high-tech gear to support an ultramarathon or two. Boz and I have enjoyed hours of entertainment watching these guys perform their calisthenics and then set off at a slow-to-barely-moving pace while wearing water bottle belts, compression socks, visors and neon tank/short sets. Someday I will  get to the bottom of this mysterious, yet epic, level of over-preparedness. I mean, there are a lot of runners in Austin that hit the 3-mile trail without even wearing shoes. (Perhaps we're all overcompensating?? Yikes.)

Disclaimer: Although B and I do find the runner spectacle highly entertaining, we also dig the determination and commitment. These folks are clearly in love with running. If I ever strike up a conversation, I will start it with a high five for dedication. (And then maybe I'll inform them that some pretentious prick is making jokes about their gear on the internet. But probably not.)

This is a little stand on the border of the park where I buy an iced coffee after our workouts. It also sells beer, so I can easily justify rehydrating with coffee as the 'healthy choice'.

B and I won't be hittin' the Palace this weekend as we are now 1 month out from our Sea-to-Summit climb. We have a 28-miler waiting for us at 8am tomorrow. If you ever feel like you enjoy Saturday mornings too much and you need advice on how to make them suck a little, give me a call. I have a fool-proof recommendation. 

The summit of Fuji better be covered in high heels and chocolate.

ps. There are actually a lot of really great things about spending the weekends hiking all over Tokyo. I just won't be able to recognize any of them until after we've completed the Fuji climb and I've stopped living in a perpetual state of soreness.