Before nighty-night time, Vin & I both opted to partake in pre-race お風呂 (ofuro), which is a wicked awesome Japanese style hot bath—OK, stop the snickering, the baths were at separate times—and that really went a long way to loosen the muscles, and just in general relax the mind the night before the big race. Though, I should comment on the two completely different attitudes that were taking place the night before: 1) Vin: yea, there's this thing we're doing tomorrow, maybe you heard of it, it's a marathon. No big deal. 2) Joe: Am I insane for even thinking about trying to attempt to take down this beast? Will I live only long enough to regret ever having tangoed with such a gigantic monster? Good-sweet-sweat-beaded-Christ beard, I'm doomed. And so, with those thoughts akin to visions of sugar plumbs dancing through our heads, we sought sleep.
5am, Vin wakes me up and we start "carb intaking", I want to be careful in the wording here since the night before we literally loaded our bellies with so much pasta & bread it was hard to move; cautious of how full we felt the night before, we didn't want to stuff ourselves past a humanly decent satiated threshold. Our departing time was 7am, so we had 2 hours to kill with nothing much beyond being awake that we needed to do. I think these 2 hours were very crucial to the mental state we left his apartment with. We played Minor Threat songs, joked around, debated the weather predictions from 5 different sources, and sipped on green tea. We basically did the same things we always do when we're together and get pumped up about doing something awesome: in an escalating fashion, we feed off of each others excitement until we're roaring juggernauts of kinetic energy. Perfect for a race day.
7am, we head for the station, which is conveniently on the backside of the apartment. Along the way other marathoners can be seen with their running shoes and clear plastic clothes bags that are sanctioned by the race officials to put your stuff in before the race starts. We picked up a friend along the way who followed us up until the Starbucks where we met people from Vin's running club, Namban Rengyo. We had a good hour or so to kill there, and the baggage despot was in sight across the street, so other than being crazy crowded with runners and an overflowing abundance of consternation from the usual patrons who just wanted latte, but instead were met with a packed parlor of people in various states of dress & undress, it was a perfect location to bide our time. I photo-bombed a few snapshots just for fun and sipped on a small cup of black coffee with faint images of Dale Cooper boasting "damn fine" in the back of my mind.
Twin Peaks Love
Minutes skipped by like Daniel Faraday's description of time travel physics by way of a needle playing on a scratched record, and the loudspeakers were threatening people that if they weren't on their starting blocks in 15 minutes they would be escorted to the end area behind all the runners. I still had to check my baggage, so this was the point I lost Vinnie. He was starting in block B and I was back in block E. We had a loose plan of staying on the left side, I would run fast and he would run slow, and at some point we would meet. It was a madhouse of people slowly shuffling to their starting positions. Though it was morning and cold, the good news was, with so many people around the bodies not only blocked the chilly breeze, but provided an adequate amount of heat. The bad news was, that black coffee I had back at Starbucks was ready to leave me. I followed an arrow that pointed in the general direction of sections C through K. When I got to the top of the ramp, the Freddy Krueger nightmare image of a person holding a sign designating the area I had spent so long shuffling towards as K slapped me in the face like razor fingers. I caught sight of another guy with an E on his number tag that was pushing up the sidelines, and immediately followed behind him. I know it seems like a lot to risk, putting my faith in the fact he knew where he was going, but I also had an ace up my sleeve in the chance he was wrong: since arriving in Japan I have had the good fortune of getting my way in various situations simply because I am gaijin. If, say, we ended up in the wrong block, I was just going to simply say, "I don't understand" repeatedly, and sooner or later they would either let me be, or escort me to the front of the line, which are consistently the only two outcomes that seem to happen in those scenarios: win-win!