Friday, 28 December 2012

Summary of 2012

"... and such beauty was given mankind."

Memories
2012, as quickly as it started it has come to an end. Fortunately I was given the opportunity to do a few races, 55 in the number to be exact (last years number was 52). Looking back, here are what races I remember the most, in very positive ways:
Råskinnet for its mud.
Sandefjordløpet for its heat.
St. Hansgaloppen for its magic.
Mont-Blanc 10km for its mountains.
The onetwothree island races for its joy.
Mærraølen for its beers.
Sommerstevne for its nervousness.
Skjennungstua Opp for its beauty.
Furumomila for its track.
Hytteplanmila for its fastness.
SRM #345 for its pace.
Vinterkarusellen #3 for its end to a season filled with beautiful memories.



Overview
Here is the complete overview of the 2012 race season:
I participated 27 times at Sognsvann Rundt Medsols, and next to this I did another 28 races (26 of them being presented below, in descending order):
Vinterkarusellen 3
Vinterkarusellen 2
Vinterkarusellen 1
Hytteplanmila
Furumomila
Nøklevann Rundt
Skjennungstua Opp
Oslos Brateste
Oslo Maraton - 10km
NorwayCross
Skiløpet
Gressholmen Rund
Sommerstevne III (100 & 200m)
Langøyene Rundt
Sommerstevne II (400m)
Mærraølen
Hovedøya Rundt
Mont-Blanc 10km
St. Hansgaloppen
Karlstad Stadslopp
Grefsenkollen Opp
Sandefjordløpet
GöteborgsVarvet
Råskinnet
Sentrumsløpet



2013
What 2013 brings no one can know. However, if I'm able to run, and is located in Oslo, I've got some races I would love to do...



"A day filled with joy will live with you forever."


J-notes #1

Personal notes, based on subjective observations, from Tokyo, Japan. Presented in random order.

Tokyo by night.

Mobile data / Prepaid
Getting a prepaid card is not as easy as one would think. I ended up buying a 1GB in 30 days Prepaid Data SIM Card (USIM) from econnectjapan.com. I'm using this with my Google Nexus S, and have had no problems. The price was ¥4,890 including shipping (currently about 325 kr). Seems to be the best option if all you need is data.

iPhone
iPhone seems to be the most popular phone among commuters on the train, but some are even stuck with their old Blackberries. Flip-phones are still frequently in use as well. The Note II, which "everyone" in Singapore had, has not been spotted here very often.

Red lights
People don't jaywalk. When the lights are red you wait, even if there are no cars around as far as your eyes can see.

Bikes
Everyone has got a bike. Many cycle a lot. Most people seem to have the same type of bike, with a huge basket in front. People do not stress when they cycle. You don't have to be worried about anyone stealing your bike. You can place it anywhere, and only use a tiny fragile lock, without locking it to a fence or what have you got. People are very polite, and seems to have high moral. What is not yours you do not take. Period.

Uniqlo
Uniqlo is a popular brand / shop. The clothes are cheap but the quality seems good. Heattech is Uniqlo's own material to fight the cold. Extremely comfortable to wear, however I reckon good old sheep wool is a lot warmer.

Insulation
Despite it's getting cold here (below zero) in winter the houses are very poorly insulated. That means it gets bloody cold inside unless you sit in front of a good heater. Toilet seats are heated though, so even if the room is cold it's nice and warm to sit down to take a dump.

Futon
Futon beds are wonderful.

English
You won't come very far just with just English. However people are very helpful and will normally do their best to understand. Body language and a smile will take you far. Not to forget mentioning Google Translate.

Trains
The public transport and train system is hard to get a grip of. It's difficult to know how much to pay for the rides. Pasmo is the solution to that. It can be hard to find the right train. It can be easy to get lost. Trains are not cheap. There are many trains so you will always end up somewhere.

Splitting notes
When a huge note is split, and you get several smaller notes back, you are (at many places) given these in a wonderful way. The shop assistant will count, holding the notes towards you, so that you can see that you get the correct amount back.

Tray
Money are normally not given directly to the shopping assistant, but put in a tray.

Packing bags
In grocery stores your goods are put into a new shopping basket after you've paid. You take this basket to a standalone table where you get plenty of time to back your goods into plastic bags. A smooth system for avoiding stress, queues and overstraining of shopping assistants.

Girls
The average Japanese girl is very cute.

Cash
Cash is frequently used, and you can not expect to get far if all you have is a credit card. For a foreigner it's not as easy to withdraw cash as one might think. Post offices and Citibank are so far the only places where I've been able to use my MasterCard or Visa for withdrawing.

Music
Ryuichi Sakamoto's World Citizen is still a very nice song.Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius seems to be doing well in 2012 as well. When it comes to J-pop the girls in Perfume is not outdated. Despite being from South Korea Girls Generation is also frequently played.

Drunk
People do drink, and people get drunk. Despite this, taking the last train home on the weekend is not a problem in terms of disturbances. The trains are so cramped it can be hard to breath. Nevertheless, no one makes much sounds. No one fights, no one screams, it is all quiet. Being drunk, people are still polite. In the taxi queues no one are fighting. No one jumps the queue.

Pickpockets
Pickpockets doesn't seem to be a problem, not in the city and not on a cramped train.

Safe
No matter where you are in Tokyo, no matter what time of day, it seems very safe. This despite it being the largest metropolitan area on this planet with more than 13 million people in inner Tokyo and close to 40 million in the entire metropolitan area.

Foreigners
There are not that many foreigners in Japan. Especially not outside of the city centre. Despite this no one stares at you, even though you're standing out from the crowd. Staring is rude, hence you should not stare back either. Adjust to the culture, and respect the culture. Do not expect the Japanese to adjust their world view to fit with yours, despite such an awkward and backward practice might being what you're used to from your own country.

Food
Japanese food is fantastic, and mainly healthy. It's not even that expensive eating out. Abu-ramen has become my favourite. Just in Tokyo there are around 20.000 ramen restaurants and around 80.000 restaurants in total (2008 numbers).

Home
In Japan people normally do not invite people over to their homes. In stead they go out and meet at a café or a restaurant. This would also be one reason for the very high number of restaurants.

Politeness
Did I mention that the Japanese are very polite? Well, they truly are.

Suicides
Leaping out in front of trains is unfortunately quite common, and it didn't take long before this happened to a train I was on. In two weeks I've experience this a couple of times. Japan is know for it's high suicide rate.

Toilets
Toilets in Japan are bloody high-tech, and comes with a lot of functions. You even get toilets that can be controlled with your smartphone and tracks when you poo. Check out this video for a nice introduction.

Sweets
Japanese sweets (not the girls, but the food) tastes not only well, it's also not that unhealthy.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Tokyo time trial

src: www.namban.org

Information about Namban Rengo:
We are an informal organization of mostly serious runners. Most of our membership comes from abroad but we have many Japanese members, and anyone is welcome to run with us. We are serious runners in that almost all of us train to run in races (including Japanese ekiden, or relay races); however, this is not a requirement. If you want to run in races, we have information about upcoming events. There is no fee to run or race with us.

Yesterday I joined Namban Rengo, Tokyo's International Running Club, for a 5km time trial at Oda Field. Think I did my slowest ever 5 km, in 21:09. That aside, it was a great evening. Despite the very cold weather (2-3 degrees) Bob Poulsen and the members of his club gave me a warm welcome. An including, helpful and nice group of people. I will come back with more photos and text at a later stage. More news about running in Japan can also be found here, and here. More info about the club can be found here.

So if you are in Tokyo, are interested in running, and want company from nice people, namban.org is the site to check out.

The southern barbarians.

The club does a 5km time trial every last Wednesday of the month.

Links
| garmin connect |


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merīkurisumasu

Art Sports.

I read about a good shop for running gear in Tokyo, namely Art Sports near Shibuya station (check the map here), thanks to Bob Poulson, a well known American that has lived here for more than 30 40 years and loves running.



So, yesterday, in stead of training I headed off to the city centre to get myself some Christmas gifts. I ended up buying four par of runners and one Onitsua Tiger tee. Well needed as my old collection definitively was getting worn out. I did not go for the lightest racing shoes, as I'm not that concerned about a few extra grams on my feet. That aside, a couple of the pairs are very light compared to what I'm used to. By the way, the service at Art Sports was remarkable good.

Merīkurisumasu!

Four pairs of runners, from Mr Mastercard to Mr Me.






Nike x Undercover GYAKUSOU Lunarspeed Lite+
"Gyaku" means reverse, or in the other direction and "Sou" means running. Hence Gyakusou (pronounced "gijakuså" for us Norwegians) means to run the other way around. I did buy a Nike GYAKUSOU hoodie the other day, which I really love. Great quality and nice and warm. One feature I liked about the GYAKUSOU Lunarspeed Lite+ is the letter F in the sole (for Fashion and Frode?). I'm only going to use these shoes for walking. The designer behind this brand, Jun Takahashi, is a fashion icon from Japan, and is the also man behind Undercover.

Price: ¥ 13.440 (890 NOK at the time of writing).






adizero Tempo 5 wide
Needed a pair for longer training sessions, with some support and cushioning. Ended up with the Tempo 5 from adidas, wide edition. The price for these shoes was brilliant.

Price:  ¥ 5.382 (356 NOK at the time of writing).






adizero Takumi Ren Wide
I reckon the adizero Takumi Ren (wide edition) will be great for faster runs. With it's 200g they should not be the reason for me running slow. The shoes are developed in collaboration with Hitoshi Mimura, a well-known Japanese marathon runner. There is also an Takumi Sen model, that is 50g lighter. Takumi means artisan. "Ren" can be translated with practice while "sen" can be translated with competition.

Price: ¥ 9.828 (about 650 NOK at the time of writing).






Asics Tarther®Japan
With it's 202g I do believe the Asics Tarther Japan runners will be fast as well. Compared to the Takumi Ren the sole is more flexible, and the shoe itself is also slightly wider than the Takumi Ren Wide model.

Price: ¥ 12.758 (845 NOK at the time of writing).



Now it's time to get my shorts on and get out to for some 1000 meter intervals. Merīkurisumasu!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Yoi jinsei

Rondo Fitness Club

Yesterday I went to a gym here in Tokyo, Rondo Sports / Fitness Club, and it was not bad at all. The gym itself was like a normal gym. However, better than the average gym back home. They even had two locations where it was possible to do muscle ups. What was interesting were the regulations and signup procedure.

You better have that blood pressure of yours sorted.

First of all, I was unable to visit the gym all alone. I needed to be accompanied by a regular member of the gym. Hence Mr Yasu had to sign up (he just needed a gentle push, as he had been considering this for a log time). The drop-in price was 2500 yen (converted to NOK), so slightly expensive I would say. However there was a special price on at the moment, so I only paid 1000 yen.

Signup papers.

The signup-process was comprehensive (took approximately one hour). First of all you needed a proper ID (passport) and two passport photos. There were also several questions you needed to answer. If you for example have any tattoos at all you are not allowed to enter the gym. The reason for this you can read here. Your blood pressure was also measured, and if any subnormal values were found you simply had to return back home.

Your signature in a box.

Another thing I did learn is that you don't do signatures over here. In stead you bring your own personal stamp that you sign contracts with.

Shoes off, shoes on...

When you've entered the gym it is pretty much like in Norway. One difference was that at all machines there were mounted a small hook were there hang a small cloth. When you finished using any apparatus you would use this cloth to wipe off any sweat. By the way, if you do wonder there are some guys over here that are really big and strong as well.

Nice treat.

The showers were also slightly different, as everyone had their own private showers. In an area outside the locker room there were standing several massage chairs, that you freely could use. Really nice after a workout and a hot shower.

Good times!

When I got back home I got completely wasted after drinking two huge cans of beers. Yoi jinsei!


G+ to identi.ca

Google Plus.

I've finally found a system that works for automatically posting (cross-posting / forwarding) information from my Google Plus account to my identi.ca account. Here is how I did it.



Step One : RSS
My challenge with Google Plus is that there is no simple way to export your posts as RSS. The reason for this I'm struggling to see. However, luckily there are services that does this. Below I'm listing two of the services that I've found as seems to be working well.

plusfeed.frosas.net - example feed: http://plusfeed.frosas.net/113086318601424874094
Yahoo Pipes

This step is optional, and I'm only doing this as I prefer to control all my feeds in one place, which to me is Yahoo Pipes. I've also added more sources for G+ RSS, so if one service goes down it should not affect my RSS feed. You can completely skip this and use one of the RSS' from step one in dlvr.it.



Step three : dlvr.it
dlvr.it

I'm using dlvr.it for pushing content from my RSS feed to StatusNet / identi.ca.

Feed Details.

Note: I did not manage to use identi.ca's mirroring directly, as I got "Internal Server Error : Could not subscribe to feed." whenever trying to mirror the Google Plus RSS feed.

Another service worth checking out is postolog.com, however this one has got no support for StatusNet.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End of the World

src: rubescartoons.com / comicsecomics.blogspot.com

The sun is still shining
21st of December 2012. The end of the world? I don't think so. Since I'm located in Japan, and several hours a head of you guys in Europe and US, I can report back that 21/12 2012 (or 12/21/12 if you prefer) is a beautiful and sunny day. There are no deep cracks in the ground and no lava flowing in the streets. To bad for you guys who bought those $1000 tickets to the end of the world party that you still have to pay your bills and go to work when Monday comes.

This is as bright as it gets, according to my optimistic view of the future (photo from Tokyo, Japan).

Our bright future is very dark
When it comes to the future I'm not too optimistic though. I don't see what there is to be that optimistic about. We make progress on several fields. As well, in my own little bubble life is all good. I do what I love, and (at least some of the time) follow my own dreams. When looking at the bigger picture it's a lot darker. Those in power only do whatever needed to keep their positions and gaining more power. Those with a more idealistic view will never be given, nor will they take, the power needed to control those parts of the future that are controllable. The human race is destroying the planet they are living on. There will be no bright future, it will all just become a lot darker.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Totoro no mori

Totoro (src: dragoart.com).

On my third run in Japan I did find Totoro's forest (Totoro no mori). Totoro himself though was nowhere to see, nor was Catbus aka. Nekobasu.

Angry Japanese Santa?

Let's start with some shopping news though. So far I have not been to more than one sports shop, but that might change soon as I would like to get some new running shoes. They had no surf shorts (not very surprising) and not that many running shoes (more surprising). CW-X seems to be hot and Takahshi of Undercover (which is a popular brand over here) has also got his Nike Gyakusou collection in store.

Gyakusou - I bought one of their hoodies.

Disappointing collection of running shoes for being in quite a large sports shop.

Not sure, but the Asics Tartherzeal seems to be a model limited to Japan. 13650 Yen equals around 900 kr.

OK, enough about shopping. Back to my Totoro run.

The weather was good for running with around 10 degrees in the sun. Finally I saw more runners as well, despite it was at times quite lonely where I ran. Maybe not that strange since it after all was a normal workday, and the average person over here seems to work long hours.

View my run on Google Maps. And view the run on Garmin Connect.

The 27.29 km run in scenic surroundings, around the Sayama and Tama lakes.



In my pocket I kept a card with Mr Yasu's contact details, just in case I got completely lost. However as long as my Garmin works I don't have to worry. Map mode on the 910XT is great.


This is where I live and start my runs. A typical Japanese house in one of Tokyo's suburbs.


On my way I found this cute police station. As taken straight out of a Miyazaki movie.


Another jogger outside of Tokyo's busy streets.


Quite scenic. In the background you can spot the white dome of a huge baseball arena.


The area seems to be very popular for recreation, and a 21.9 km track is marked, with signs every 500 100 meters (or was it every 100m?).


Great for running and cycling.


A perfect track for exercising. I saw more cyclists than runners along this road. Nice not having to worry about any cars.


The wild forest next to the lakes.


Protected area.


High fences with barbered wire along the lakes made sure no one would enter the wildlife area.


I even ran past Sayama Ski, an indoor ski resort. Please note that skiers are happy, while baseball players are grumpy.


The name of the lake, maybe?


You can spot the mountains in the background. It would be nice to explore some of them one day as well.


And here it is, Totoro no mori. Many nice creatures hides in this forest.


Not easy to understand the signs, but I assume something was either OK or not OK in between 9:30 am and 4 pm.


The lakes were better protected than expected, even with security cameras. Easy to believe there was more than wildlife hiding behind these gates.


Nice track, with a nice name.


Suddenly this spooky looking house showed up. A perfect location for a horror movie like Ringu.


I also ran into a school's gym class where all the kids were out running. The kids obviously found it very fascinating that a foreigner was out running in the forest, and welcomed me saying "Kon'nichiwa" (good afternoon). Some of them also started racing me, while they were laughing and smiling. A refreshing element on the trip.


Shinto, I believe.


All bridges I crossed had beautiful signs like this one.


After about 22 km I needed something sweet to drink. Luckily the vending machines on the streets over here has got it all. Running is a awesome way of seeing new places. This run ended up being a bit longer than 27 km.

Now I will do some research to see if there are any races coming up, in the Tokyo area. I have already found one track race that seems very interesting:



By the way, everything here in Tokyo is "Go Go Go", just like:



The above clips are from a 2004 movie I reckon is absolutely brilliant, namely Survive Style 5+. It's one of the very few movies I have seen more than once.