On April 22nd 2011 I undertook the longest Art of Running challenge that I have attempted to date: a 50km heart around the city that I love. Inside of the heart I then drew a the character ‘心’ which means mind/heart/spirit/inner strength.
Whilst I usually do these runs alone (constant stopping and starting, taking sharp turns or doubling back doesn’t appeal to a lot of runners!), this time I had company, in the form of Erin Beresini, who was an LA-based writer at Competitor Magazine. She’d come across some of my other pieces and contacted me about coming over to Japan to write a feature on them – part of her research would be to join me on the road as we created a new work of art. (We also visited the head of the Tokyo Marathon as part of the research – he was unaware that the article would be about me and assumed that I was the interpreter, until I gave him my card. He was somewhat surprised to learn that I was that guy who’d live streamed the marathon…)
The 7 page article was published this month (read it here)
As it happened, I made a bit of mistake during this run by miscalculating our average speed over the first 10km. As a result of that, I speeded up to an unsustainable pace without really being aware of it. This, combined with the fact that I hadn’t really run in two months (since the Tokyo Marathon) meant that my body wasn’t too happy – and sure enough, at about the 15km mark I was beginning to wince with the pain in my left knee. I would later find out that I had given myself Iliotibial band syndrome, and wouldn’t be able to run for 5 weeks afterwards!
Anyhow, the first 25km had taken a lot longer than expected, and coupled with the pain in my leg we decided to split it over two days. That didn’t really help much though, so the second 25km were the most painful I’ve ever been through, but nonetheless, we did it!
I was happy to have a good friend cooltiger join us for the second day – she was a great support. She has an interesting running project, whereby she combines running with stops at bakeries, samples their nicest breads and interviews the staff. You can find her bilingual site here.
Cooltiger also took a bunch of photos along the way – check them out here.
This route was partially inspired by a ‘natural’ feature of Tokyo – the Yamanote loop train line (in green in the image to the right) that is, in a way, the heartbeat of the city, connecting all of the major stations. However, it needed a few refinements, thus we extended the course a fair but to the West, and also dipped further down at the top.
This run was actually a fair but further than 50km – I’m not sure of the exact distance but the untracked sections between the kanji strokes and the outer heart certainly added up – plus we got a bit lost at the start!
I was wondering – would this be visible from space?!