Last week was my birthday. Strange how fast a quarter of a century can go by!
And yet it feels like so long ago that I walked into my first Japanese class, excited and vaguely terrified that I might not be able to learn the language. Who knew I would end up here, and how those six months I spent as an exchange student would change me.
Throughout college I was on my university's varsity fencing team, as well as being on the cross-country team for a year, but somehow within my six months as a ryugakusei I really discovered the joys of running, walking and generally exploring.
On exclusively my cross-country training, I ran/climbed my first marathon along with my host-mother and her running friends. Admittedly it took me over 6 hours to finish, but something in my mind clicked: 'If you can do this, you can do anything'. Of course, this does not mean that I did not spend the next two days hobbling about like a three-legged tortoise (moral of the story: training, people, training!). I also took off for two weeks of wandering across Shikoku and Shimane (with still limited Japanese) to discover the Japanese countryside, climbing and swimming in some of the most beautiful spots I had ever seen.
For my birthday that year, a couple friends and I climbed Mt.Fuji from the very bottom, starting at Sengen shrine. I was somewhat stunned when I realized it had taken me less than 10 hours to get to the top. While climbing back down was not in the plans, due to misinformation, we ended up doing that too. And it was so much better than hitting up the clubs and drinking (although we did that as well...ah, the foolishness of youth *cough,cough*)
And now it is inconceivable for me to not run, walk, climb. Good running and warm-up gear are my obsession (along with Brooks Adrenaline GTSs, which merit a post of their own), something very obvious in the birthday presents above. There is nothing like the feeling, after a long training session, of lycra and layers of technical fabrics, keeping you warm as you chat with friends or slowly stretch and luxuriate in the endorphines.
So what better way to spend my birthday than on a long Shinjuku run with the Hash? It follows tradition, and will be followed by more fun on the weekend (plus, it gave another Hasher the chance to gift me with a series of bath salts with the most outrageously innuendo-filled names!).