Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm a Marathoner!!! Osaka Marathon 2014, Japan, how it all came about.

Photo from https://www.osaka-marathon.com/index_en.html

That's right, I did it, I'm officially a Marathoner! I cannot believe that I actually did it! I'll tell you all about it, hope you enjoy my journey to Osaka and back.

Why Japan? Why Osaka? You might ask. Let me tell you. If you have read my previous blogs, about a year ago I wrote a blog post about what will be next for me and running. I wrote that I wanted to run a marathon, but not any marathon, I wanted my first to be special ;)


Honestly the only race I had planned to run in 2014 was the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver, Canada. We had planned a family vacation to Japan, we had been there in 2009 when my son was one and we loved it so much that we decided to go back and go to some new places as well as re-visit Tokyo. One day my husband asks why I haven't been running and I told him that I didn't have any races coming up in the near future and it was too early to start training for SeaWheeze. He immediately gets on his iPad and says to me, if he finds a race in Japan, would I run it and immediately I said, in a heart beat. Sure enough he pulls up the major Marathons in Japan, there was going to be one on October 26, 2014, the day before we were going to be flying back to the US. We could definitely make it work so we can get to the race and still on time back to Tokyo for the next day to come home. So it was all planned out. Until...


The registration for the race opened in April, however due to an overwhelming popularity of races in Japan, it was a lottery. I didn't know if I was even able to get in, so I got a little discouraged and didn't start training, what's the point, my chances of getting in were pretty slim. They had reached their maximum capacity of 28,000 entires within the first 24 hours. Then I read somewhere that the first year that this race took place in 2011, there were 154,000 entries and for the Tokyo Marathon there were over 320,000 entries, well you do the math for the odds. There was a separate registration process for international racers and the entry fee was more, 12,000 yen VS 10,000 for Japanese. But that was fine with me, I really didn't care, I just wanted to get in.

In the beginning of June I received an e-mail from the Osaka Marathon, but it was all in Japanese, I couldn't believe it, I copied and pasted the whole e-mail into Google translate, but man, I could not understand a sentence! Thankfully about 10 minutes later I received an e-mail with the following:

Mr./Ms. Keili Silverman
Check-in No: OM2014-0023721
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Thank you for your recent application to enter the 4th Osaka Marathon.

Over the application period April 3 to May 8, 2014, substantially more responses were received than the number of places available. A strictly neutral drawing was therefore conducted and you were selected in that drawing.

Accordingly, you are invited to access the following payment URL and pay your entry fee and charges. Please note that if the payment procedure is not completed by the deadline below, your selection will be withdrawn.


OMG!!! YES! I got in, I could not believe it, now it was really crunch time, I needed to find a training plan and get started!

So that's my story of how it came about and there was no backing down now, I was not about to give up a very much coveted spot at this race.

Check out my other postings about the race review and Japan in general! Hope you enjoy.

Keep on running...

Keili

"The Expo", Osaka Marathon 2014


If you're interested in finding out about how this race came about, you can check out my previous blog post. This one will be about the Expo.


We arrived in Osaka from Fukuoka the morning of the last day of the expo, it was a Saturday, October 25th, 2014. We made it to our hotel around 11:00AM and unfortunately not able to check into our room yet. We left our luggage with the hotel and we decided to split up, I had planned to about 4 hours total for the expo, it was about a 30 minute train ride away from where we were staying. I wanted my husband and my son to enjoy the city and I also didn't want to be rushed through the expo, as it was my first race in Japan and I didn't know what to expect.


I talked to the concierge to find out exactly what train to take, where to switch trains and how to walk to the INTEX building. I love the subway system in Japan, it is the fastest and easiest way to get around, so that part was easy, but I was concerned about how to get from the train station to the INTEX building. The concierge told me to just follow the sea of people, I was going there the last day in the afternoon, I figured that most had already picked up their packets by the time I got there, so I was still skeptical.


Boy was she right and I wrong, it was literally a sea of people, the trains stop was the very last one of this train line, it was out in the boonies, in the same area as Universal Studios. Needless to say, it was no problem fining the place, and the very first thing I saw when I was approaching the building was the FINISH LINE! That was it, tomorrow at about the same time I was going to cross it no matter what.

The expo started out with picking up your bib and your race shirt, I had ordered a special charity t-shirt as well. For international racers we were required to bring a passport or two pieces of ID, they were very specific about that kind of ID's were needed. After I picked those up along with the race bag and the english version of the Osaka Marathon Guide, I headed to the next room where they only had a couple of vendors, that I picked up some freebies and that seemed to be it. Then I saw the arrows that pointed to outside and as I was trying to find my way back to leave, the arrows took me to another room, but this time it was three times as big as the first and filled with vendors, including their biggest sponsor Mizuno (big fan, by the way).






















I picked up a bunch of stuff from here, I had a huge bag filled up. Seemed that the big thing to do there was to have professional photographers take your picture, that you can then retrieve by Facebook or their website. They were nice enough to have english translations of the marketing that shows you how to do that. I took advantage of most of those, I especially liked the Seiko one, where you gave them your estimated finish time and they took a photo with that. I didn't even come close to mine, but that's fine with me.




















At the Mizuno area, they had us try on their shoes, this year they didn't have a limited edition Osaka Marathon shoe, which I was really disappointed by, however if you bought a pair of shoes there, they monogrammed it for you, which was really cool. After trying on shoes they gave away nice fabric bracelets and a hand wrap that you can slide your estimated finish time into and it has all the break downs for pacing yourself, I thought that was really cool.


What I realized though is, that they love to give out freebies, but they make you work for it. One station was where they had us follow and exercise routine, the other was filling out paperwork (they skipped me since I didn't have a permanent address in Japan), then we had to try one running shoes and run a circle in them. Asahi was there, they were giving out non alcoholic beer, it was really good and it tasted just like the real thing.


I picked up a few things at the Mizuno store there, I got a little hand towel, pre/post race rain cover and very cool bib clips, I'll share them on a YouTube video, click on the link below to see how cool these things really are. They did have an official Osaka Marathon Store there, however by the time I got there, there were slip pickings, I picked up a button just for a memento.



















Once I was done with the expo, they had a very nicely marked course to exit, but before you exit, there was a huge hall filled with food vendors, I mean HUGE. It smelled so good, but I was getting close to my four limit there and I didn't have much cash left over, the only place that took credit cards was the Mizuno store, cash only at the other booths.


And so I made my way back to the train station and off to Takashimaya I went to meet up with my family.

I had a great time and well worth all that time spent there.

Happy running...

Keili


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"The Race" Osaka Marathon 2014






Its was finally race day! I was so nervous, the nice thing was that the race didn't start until 9:00AM, there was no reason to wake up super early as I'm used with all my other races. The races started at the Osaka Castle, we stayed very close, its was still a train stop away, but nothing like going to the Expo.


























I got to the Castle with an hour to spare, the weather was perfect for short sleeves. I figured, I had plenty of time to use the restroom and make my way to my corral. The line didn't seem too long for the restroom, but it took forever and when time is ticking, it seems like an eternity. I made with just about 15 minutes before the race was starting and I didn't know how far I had to go to get to corral "M", which is were I was supposed to be. I ran as fast as I could and followed the signs to my corral. I had just enough time to snap some selfies with the Castle and then I noticed that they had already closed the street where I was supposed to turn to get to my corral. I didn't speak the language, so I couldn't ask anybody, but I did see others with bibs that were after mine, so I wasn't too concerned. There were a bunch of runners now waiting, I saw corral E was in front of us as the starting gun went off.


Finally we saw racers moving and when they got to corral K, they let everybody who was waiting join in, so I actually got to enter the race before I was supposed to, I guess things work out well after all. Good things come to those who wait, right?


Picture from OsakaMarathon.en.com
I like this guys shirt :)





















There were so many runners there, it was literally a sea of people, you could not run your own pace, that's for sure, you just had to go with the flow. Thankfully they are not slow runners there, so I could go at a pace that was reasonable for me. I had memorized the course and knew at what point to expect what, the highlight for me was the Dotonbori, we got to run right by it, of course I had to take a few pictures. I took lots of pictures along the way, I couldn't resist, it was my first marathon after all.


I have to say that the spectators were amazing, the best I had seen in all the races I've ran. There were so nice, they all wanted a high five and kept yelling encouraging words ( I think so anyway ;)) They offered candy, there was a little boy holding a tray of candy and I couldn't resist, I picked a strawberry KitKat! They had tons of photographers on the course with assistants holding huge camera signs, so we all knew to smile. 

























Even though the rules of the race stated "no fancy dress", which I took that as no costumes, There were tons and tons of people dressed up. I saw the Power Rangers, Pikatchu, three guys in a full black suits and fedoras, Samurai, Panda and Onigiri, I even saw this guy who had made this huge head, that he had to hold it up the entire race. It was crazy, but crazy amazing! 




















They also had a food station at the 33 kilometer mark, unfortunately by the time I made it there much of it was gone, but I still got a few good samples of things. I had sweet bean filled pancakes (not my favorite, but that only because I'm not a fan of sweet bean anything), something that tasted and resembled of chicken nuggets, cream filled cookies, bananas and rice balls, I think. I can't even think of everything they had there, but it was pretty good. For drinks at each water station they of course had water and and energy drink called Aquarius. They did run our of drinks at some of the water stations, not even a drop of water. I actually saw runners run into 7-Eleven stores and bought their own and get drinks from vending machines. I actually saw a guy wearing his marathon bib standing in front of 7-Eleven holding an energy drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I couldn't believe it.

The best was that towards the end where everybody was so tired, you can tell by just looking around, but the spectators just kept encouraging us, it felt so good. There was a lady holding a tray of Takoyaki, which I love so much, I couldn't resist I had to take the last one left, I heard her say "Samui Desu" which means hot in Japanese, but as it was almost falling off the toothpick that it was on, I took a bite and it was extremely hot, then I dropped it in my hand and it was so hot, I didn't know what to do, but I just had to eat it, it was so good! Funny the things you do. I love that the spectators do that there and runners have no fear of taking their food.

Good citizens of Osaka were also there to help with spraying cold spray on peoples achy knees and legs, that was the sweetest thing I've seen at a race. I'm telling you, I would move to Japan in a heart beat. This just confirmed to me what a great country and society it is.


I've never been happier to see the finish line! 6 hours and 11 minutes after I crossed the starting line. Best feeling in the whole world and I told myself I would never ever do this again. Writing this now a  month later, I actually take that back, I would run another marathon again.


After the race all the racers moved through the expo center again, they put the medal around my neck, they actually punched a hole through my bib to confirm I got the medal and then they put the finishers towel around my neck and I got a bottle of Aquarius. Next they did finishers pictures, where they put a fake olive leave wreath on my head and posed me just right and took a few pictures. Then I headed out to go back to the subway station. On the way out they handed everybody a newspaper form October 26th, 2014 with a huge two page story on the Osaka Marathon from that morning, I couldn't believe it, that was so cool!





















Getting out of there was an adventure on its own, after I ran the Marathon, the last thing I wanted to do was walk a ton to the subway and stand up all the way back to the hotel. That's exactly what happened. The streets were closed for the race, there was no straight way to the subway, they made us walk another mile out of the way to get there and then I had to stand up the whole 30 minute subway ride back, because everybody was trying to get out of there.

I would recommend this race to anybody, it was so much fun!!!

Keep on running...

Keili





My race day OOTD, I love my Mizuno running shirt that has the kanji for "Run" on it with cherry blossoms!












Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seattle Seahawks Kids Christmas Party 2013

The Seattle Seahawks have a Kids Club that you can sign you kids up each season. I have been doing this since 2012, check out my blog post from 2012 here! It costs $20 a season, but it comes with a really cool goodie bag. I definitely think its worth it. In addition to the goodie bag, you get invited to special events all throughout the year, they have kids movie nights, pumpkin patch and a Christmas party. I've never had a chance to be able to attend any other events, but the Christmas Party is one that we've gone to since 2012. Here is a short recap of things that they have there so you can see for  yourself if its something you would be interested in.


It usually takes place mid December. I got an e-mail stating the date and time it was going to take place, so we can reserve space. The kids club member is always free, but anybody else who is accompanying the child has to pay $10. Parking is always free for these events at the Centurylink Field.

Its easy to get to and parking is a breeze, you are greeted by friendly employees who show you where to wait if you are early, make sure you dress in layers. If you get there early, you might have to wait in the parking garage which is really cold, but then once inside it gets really hot.

When we got inside we were greeted by a couple of Seagals, of course we couldn't say no to this photo opportunity. If you bring a unwrapped toy with you, they give you a prize ticket, where later in the night they pick winners for various Seahawks items.



Then we went to the very back of the hallway where they had various games set up. Chase really enjoyed "The Blaster". It was a giant blowup run through course with obstacles inside. We had tons of fun racing each other side by side. Then we enjoyed some miniature golf, decorated with miniature Seahawks helmets. We must have gone though the course at least 10 or more times.


Then it was time to see Santa, but Chase didn't want to wait in line for it, so we decided to skip Santa this time around, there is always next year, right?

Instead we went to see Blitz!!! We love Blitz, he is so fun and spends so much time with each of the kids. Chase had a great time goofing around with him.


Next we headed to the craft area, we were told that a couple of players will be making an appearance, which made me super happy. They had fun crafts, they had blank Seahawks cards that you can write a note on or draw a picture and leave it for the players. There were also foam cutouts and pipe cleaner to make ornaments out of and tons of decorations for them, like stickers and jewels to glue on.


Finally the players were out, make sure that you don't wait too long to get in line, because they are only there for a limited time and you might miss the opportunity. Unlike the first year we were there both players did not stay to hang out with the crowd. Luke Willson (#82), was so nice and friendly, but unfortunately did not stay. He did the photo ops and then autograph signings, they wouldn't let him sign autographs while taking photos, they had him to a separate signing after the photos. Which sucked for us, because now we had to wait in too lines, but Chase can get away with anything with his cute little face and because he had his autograph book out with the marker, Luke signed it for him at the photo area!!! Yeah for us, one less line to wait at!

Now, this is going to sound bad, but I don't know who the second player is, honestly, most people didn't know him, but apparently he had been out for a while with an injury. If any of you can recognize the player in the first picture, please let me know. The green background is actually a green screen that they put the Seattle skyline on. The pictures were taken by a professional photographer and they printed them out then and there for you to keep, for FREE!


So there you have it! We always have a great time, hope you'll be able to join us there next year!

Keep on loving our Seahawks!!!

SEA...HAWKS!