Monday, June 9, 2014

Kabe Renzan Trail 22km

Sunday June 1st, 2014
This race was the last race in Hiroshima (aside from the Kurahashi Aquathon July 20th) and it’s pretty crazy to think about how fast time has flown here.

The Kabe Renzan race is a 22km race similar to the Setouchi Trail run in Kamagari. Believe it is hosted by the same person (Shunsuke Okonomiya-Mtn hardware/Garmin/Montrail athlete). He also ran UTMF. 
The race was on a Sunday and the Saturday before, Masaya K. and I drove from Kurahashi to participate in cleaning up Hiroshima Peace Park with Danny and a bunch of other runners. It was fun to hang out with many other runners and after we had a BBQ in Central Park. Got in a bit of running before the event with Masaya and then later with Danny and Masaya.

Danny and I said goodbye to Masaya and headed back to his apartment in Asakita arriving at about 8p.m. We watched a few trail running videos on YouTube including the 2014 recap of UTMF which was awesome to be reminded of those trails again.  Danny’s friend Naoyuki came over and hung out with us for a bit and then later we went to bed around 11pm.

Woke up at 5:30AM and Naoki and I scootered to Kabe station while Danny biked and took the local train there.

At Kabe station we met up with Danny’s girlfriend Natsumi, Daichi and later Sasaki-san picked us up and we drove to the Kabe course.

Arriving at the race was cool because after parking we had to hike up a trail to get to the race venue.
Checked in and got our race bibs and luckily was able to get Erin’s bib for Akane to run the 16km.

It was a sunny and warm morning and we were hanging out in the gym with a bunch of familiar faces from previous races.
 It was pretty cool because the majority of people that do these events in Hiroshima are the same people so we get to keep running into each other.
Was going to wear just spandex and no t-shirt but after pinning the race bib on my spandex, a staff member came up and asked me to put it on a t-shirt. L Ended up wearing a pair of Danny’s recently bought panties from Asics which were to say the least, revealing. Since it was the last race, thought it would be fun to go out w/ a bang (no pun intended). Put on a pair of shorts over the panties.

We went outside and did some of the warm-up stretches led by Okonomiya-san. Waited until a few minutes before the race start to take of the shorts and expose the quite revealing panties. Already had some people pointing and laughing.
A bit embarrassing but worth the memories..

Started near the front and within the first couple minutes there was probably 8 people or so ahead of me (including Okonomiya-san and Higashi-san, the two pro runners supporting the event) and the GPS said 5:30s prior to reaching the point where the road started to incline. Wearing the panties, the legs felt jiggly compared to when the compression spandex I usually wear. They also didn’t feel too comfortable on the boys or on the butt. Passed a few runners on the road climb and was feeling pretty good. Really want to hone in on a short race one of these days!

Started the first trail climb and slowly caught up with two other guys. One of them was hiking the tough sections while the one in front was literally running everything. Made my legs tired just to watch that. Felt pretty controlled and was trying to conserve the energy in the legs for the entire climb and the rest of the course.
Another thing that sucked about wearing the panties was when putting the hands on the knees when hiking steep sections, the hands would keep slipping on my sweaty legs. Kept on climbing and climbing and after reaching the top started to descend.

For one of the first times I felt comfortable running downhill and actually was making some ground on the next guy in front of me (usually I get passed on downhills). It’s was fun bouncing down the trail with relatively fresh legs and was cruising. Leveled out into some rollers and was moving pretty quick. Was trying to adjust pace and anticipate how realistic it was to keep up this pace for the rest of the race. Zoned out a bit and all of a sudden my right ankle slipped on something and rolled outwards. Heard a pop from my ankle and I very audibly dropped the F-bomb, with the belief there was no one around me. 

My mind was racing as I was trying to figure out how bad the situation. Was reduced to a limping walk and my intial thoughts were that I was done-zo. Frick, the last trail race in Hiroshima and only about 8km(?) into it rolled my ankle and had to drop out.., were my thoughts. Hobbled up to the top of the climb to see 3 older volunteers watching me gimp. They might have thought I was just tired from the climb and encouraged me that next was the downhill. Told them I was finished and skip/hopped down the hill and was pretty disappointed in myself for letting this happen. Was moving pretty slow and tried to test the ankle and move quicker. Had no stability in my right foot and had to put a lot of weight balance on the left foot.

It seemed the more I was using the ankle the more the pain started to fade and tried to keep picking up the pace. Was moving much slower now and even though the leg muscles were ready to roll, didn’t have the stability to go very fast anymore. Was surpised how long it took someone to catch me and we arrived at the first aid-station not to far apart.

Grabbed a couple cups of water and Pocari Sweat and headed out of the aid-station. Surpised myself for not dropping out even though how bad the ankle was hurting.  However, it would have been a good idea to do so. Was still gingerly running and could only slightly pick up the pace on the rare flat spots of the trail.

The day was hot and I was sweating a lot. Woulda liked to stop and drink some hops w/ sum cops but dat’ ankle be popped.  ??

It was starting to be difficult to distinguish the pain between my ankle and the fatigue from both legs from the accumulating mountain kilometers and having to run with a goofy gate.

At the second aid station had a bunch of fluids and for some reason grabbed a cucumber. After this was a long section of a stony/rocky road. This section was very difficult to run and required a slow pace to get through it. Got passed by another 2 runners and had no idea how he was running so quick through this section. Kept hoping for this section to run and get on some paved road. When we finally reached the paved road section, was not able to run as I expected. The ankle was still holding me up and the legs were tired. Headed into the last aid station and to my surprise I saw someone just leaving as I came in.

Poured some water over my head and drank a few cups of water.  Headed out of the last aid-station and felt alright.  The road started to slightly incline and I caught the runner who was running pretty slow. He began to walk and so did I. Started running again and passed him. Was trying to run quickly down the mtn road and then saw another runner ahead of me. Passed him tried to keep increasing the pace. It was hard to turn the legs over with a gimpy ankle and tired legs. Ticked off a mile or so and started to hear the announcements from the finsher’s park.

During the last short road climb up to the park the legs were starting to cramp in strange places. Ran down the finisher’s shoot and for some reason decided to do handstand flip through the hanging banners. Can’t even do this without an injured ankle so don’t know why I decided to do it then. Crossed the finish and had to pick off thorns on the hands and legs from landing on the ground.
Would have liked to see what time I could have got had I not rolled my ankle, but that's neither here nor there. 

Hobbled to the gym and changed out of the uncomfortable panties and bought some udon and hobbled back to the finish to watch others. Danny was already finished and it turned out that he finished in 9th place,  only two places behind me. Was bummed to not watch him finish and am amazed at his progress in trail running within the last few months. Hiroshima trail runners watch out!

Ate the hot udon in the hot sun and was sweating like crazy. Went back and bought Takoyaki and ate it w/ some older women who were working the udon area.

Drank a liter of the water Iwashiro-san and went back again to watch others finish. Was cool to watch many familiar faces finish and was trying to soak up the environment of this being the last trail race in Hiroshima.

After watching everyone finish, went to the gym and hung out for a bit out of the sun. Took a picture with a guy who we raced together at Miyajima Cross Country and Setouchi. Said goodbye to him and told him to come run a race in Minnesota.
Said goodbye to Yuki, Masaki and the rest of their group. Was sad to say goodbye to them. It's been fun meeting them at races around Hiroshima and they are a super fun group.

Then we headed out and went to a make-your-own Okomoniyaki shop which was delicious.
After Okkon we went to an onsen and bathed for 45min and then hung out in the hang out area for a bit.

Said goodbye to everyone and Iwashiro-san and I drove back to Uwagi. The phone quickly died in the car and was nice to experience real life for a bit. Will not be using a smart phone when going back to the states. Too much clutter and can’t limit myself with all the social prostitution.

Getting out of the car in Kure’s grocery store neamed Every, the pain in the ankle was starting to settle in along with the inflammation. Used a cart as a walker and followed Iwashiro-san around the store. We drove back to Uwagi and again getting out of the car was painful.  Did the usual routine of dumping everything out from the weekend on the floor and laid down on the futon.

The next day was painful waking up and trying to walk to the bathroom. Looks like I will be taking a few weeks off of running but will be able to swim/bike to survive in the meantime. Despite it not being to big of a problem (I hope) this is the first running injury I’ve had (although you could technically say I was “injured” after Kettle100 and UTMF105). Will be trying to do some strengthen exercises for the rest of the body along with finding things to do outside of running.
 ^A bit neurotic but..Have a lot of extra energy now that can't run after school. This experience in Japan sure would of been different had I not been active. All of the friends, memorable experiences came through physical activity and without it, would be a pretty dull life!

Gosh I’m going to miss the mountains out here. Will be nice to return home and reunite with friends and family after such a long time. One thing I don’t like is the disconnect between friends and family I’ve created from my style of moving around everywhere. It’s nice to keep meeting people at different summer jobs, people from different countries but I feel a bit incomplete without being able to interact with the same people consistently.

For me, it’s so satisfying being with someone and knowing that you share many memories and experiences together. Living in Japan for a year has really helped me appreciate family and friends back home and am very excited to spend time with those I love upon returning. 

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