There is always a tingle of anticipation when I go running in a completely new place. I look for parks or other interesting places to go. I study maps on Google and Strava almost obsessively, as if memorizing layout of the unfamiliar streets and tracks of other runners will show me what it will be like to run there. It never does.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s a bad idea to go running alone in a foreign country, but I try not let fear get the better of me. At least as long as I am travelling in relatively docile countries! Taking to the streets on ones own in the early morning is incredibly liberating.
Osaka, Japan is one of the most urban places I have been. I still managed to identify paths carving along the river not to far from our hotel, and got out to explore. I wasn’t alone along the river. There were people playing golf on the primitive course that followed the path. There were people walking their dogs, tiny elderly japanese women walking briskly in track suits, and the occasional hobo. Across the river were an extensive row of tall buildings, but right here, at the river, there was only the quiet morning.
Sunrise on the river. I’m pretty pleased that this came out, considering it was taken on my phone camera!
One day we went to Kyoto University to meet a research group who has similar interests to my own. We decided that I will come stay in Kyoto for three months, to do research for my PhD. I will repeat that, to allow the reality to sink in: this fall, I'm moving to Japan for three months. So excited!
Afterward, we walked around the Gion district of old Kyoto. In this area there are lots of tourists and tourists shops and it should be a terrible, touristy place to be, but actually it is beautiful and tranquil and you half expect a geisha to come gliding around the every street corner.
I want a tree in my house too!
We let the shades of the past chase us up the muted streets to the beautiful Kiyomizu-dera temple at sunset.
This isn’t the temple, just one of the entrance gates. But look at that sun!
It was magnificent.
After visiting another research group at Osaka University, we took the Shinkansen to Tokyo and spent a day there before flying back to Norway. We spent most of the day in Ueno Park, and went to the final exam exhibition of the art students at Tokyo University. There was a lot to sculpture/art installation-type pieces, and the coolest thing was that the artists were hanging around so you could talk with them! This guy, for example, had carved a representation of Kasumigaura bay, including topography:
A man and his sculpture. Wouldn’t fit in my living room, but what a cool piece!
We also went to the Tokyo Zoo, and saw so. many. animals. Anyway, on to the training log:
Monday: AM strength training session in the hotel room before spending the day in Kyoto.
Tuesday: First run along the Yodo river in Osaka. I wasn’t sure how much running I would have time for this week what with all the travelling, so I decided to do some intervals for extra training effect. I did 2x10 minutes at 5:00-5:10 min/km (moderate intensity), and then did 5x1min at a touch under 4 min/km. The fast repeats at the end came about because I started to think about how hard it would be run 10K in under 40 minutes, and I wanted to see what the pace felt like. I definitely can’t hold that pace for 10K - yet!
Sunrise along the river.
Wednesday: Second run along the Yodo river in Osaka. Shorter this time, just a quick spin before we took the train to Tokyo and spent the afternoon wandering around in Ueno park.
Thursday: I squeezed in a 30 minute run in Ueno Park before we left Japan. Definitely good to shake out your legs before a 12 hour flight! The flight was awful, I couldn’t sleep and spent the whole time getting more and more bored of trying to watch movies. I have to practice sleeping on planes...
Friday: After a fabulous nights sleep (there are some perks to not sleeping on planes), I did a quick strength session before riding my bike to work. I hoped that the fresh air would help with my jetlag, and I think it did. On the way to work my legs felt really heavy, but I actually rode a surprisingly fast time given that I was on my heavy winter bike with studded tires. My sister Zoe flew down from northern Norway to visit me this weekend, and we had a nice evening yoga session to keep me awake until bedtime (in this time zone!).
Saturday: I dragged Audun up early to get in some morning intervals. We ran a 3K warm-up and then did 4x4minutes at 10K effort uphill on the road towards Grefsenkollen. I’m avoiding the trails now because a thaw and freezing cycle while I was in Asia has turned a lot of Oslo to ice. There was a little ice on the road up Grefsenkollen, but it was fine without microspikes. I feel like I could have done another interval, especially since we didn’t reach to top of the climb, but probably it was good to hold back a little with so much stress on the body due to jetlag.
Zoe and I walked all over the city on Saturday, and I had serious sightseeing legs by the end of the day.
Sunday: After an AM yoga session, I ran through the city to Bygdøy, and Zoe took the bus and met me there. She’s a blooming photographer, and we walked around the forested park near the fjord and had a photoshoot. Basically I got to practice sprinting for the camera, because sprinting is the only way to look good in a running photo! We had some gorgeous light though, and Zoe got a bunch of real cool shots. Here’s my favorite:
I’m just going to pretend I always look this good running.
- Running: 47K, 476 vertical, 4h51min
- Yoga/Strength training: 2h45min
- Biking: 32.4K, 342 vertical, 1h50min
It feels good to be back home, and I hope this week I’ll get in some skiing. I can’t spend all winter running!
- The Wild Bazilchuk