800 Mile Club


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MM#209 / JapanJoyful#803

    SUMMARY: After missing Mega-Bob’s 26.2 mile moving 80th birthday party and 452nd marathon at Portland this year (10/04/09), I made up for it with a virtual marathon in Japan on 10/24/09 and then running for real with Bob in the Seattle Marathon on 11/29/09.

    I.  113th IMPERIAL PALACE MARATHON - 6:06:06 (Saturday, October 24, 2009)
    Intrepid Summary
    target time - 6:12:13 (Bob's finish time)
    actual time - 6:06:06
    footwear - waraji straw monk’s sandals, .. I mean running sandals
    t-shirt - Happy 80th Birthday Bob 
    hat - sugegasa straw farmer’s, . . I mean runner's hat      
    temp - 60 degrees/cloudy
    previous training run - Super Jock’n’Jill Half Mary (9/7/09)

    waraji straw monk sandals 

    waraji Imperial Palace Marathon (10/24/09) Japanese waraji straw sandals marathon Mt. Fuji

    the well-dressed marathoner in Japan : sugegasa straw hat

    and Japan 100-Marathon Jo yful Running Club happy coat

    sugegasa . . . Osaka Castle sugegasa Tongueath o:connecttype="rect" gradientshapeok="t" o:extrusionok="f">Tongueath>DOCUME~1\user\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_image001.emz">

    The now almost weekly Takebashi Imperial Palace Marathons evolved from the Global Running Association’s monthly 5 and 10K runs around the 5K perimeter of the Imperial Palace in downtown Tokyo ever since the seventies.  I’d do ‘em every once in a while when not skiing or something else <<<(onsen/onsen)>>> during five years over there in the eighties. 

    However, by the time I got a chance for some weekend time on my own after that in Tokyo earlier this year, they’d long since switched to biweekly marathons under the auspices of the Japan 100-Marathon Joyful Running Club.  In fact, by the time my third trip of the year came up in October, I’d run seven Takebashi’s, including one  as a virtual substitute for the Seattle Rock’n’Roll on Saturday 6/29/09. This time though, I was wearin' Bob's Happy 80th Birthday t-shirt and the 113th Takebashi Imperial Palace Marathon on October 24 would be Bob’s birthday run in virtual for me.

    bob's birthday t-shirt at Takebashi Plaza (Imperial Palace in Tokyo).

    ..........................................................  Takebashi Plaza on Tokyo Imperial Palace circuit (8+ times)

    With Bob and DW Mega-volunteer Lenore being the founders and co-directors of the North American 100-Marathon Club, the Imperial Palace Marathon was the ideal virtual marathon for Bob.  In particular, there’d be an abundance of mega-Joyfuls to celebrate with, including Joyful Club Manager Yoshino (300+), President Sato (500+), Takebashi RD Nakamura (700+), super goddess Sakota-san (800+) and Nihon-Ichi (#1) Kojima-san (1,172).  All'd been 3-hour, even sub-three runners in thirty years ago but love the camaraderie and fitness benefits of marathons that, when they founded their 100-Marathon Club in 1987, they made sure it wasn't just for running.

    In the absence of any training running this year in deference to a nagging knee ache, I was wondering if it would be possible to be anywhere close to Bob’s 80th birthday time of  6:12:13 in Portland, faster than all of my previous seven Palace runs this year.  In particular, it'd be my first run since the Labor Day Half Mary in Seattle.

    Fortunately, Imperial Palace Marathon RD Nakamura said “Shimpai shinai de hadashi jon, ganbarimashou” (“don’t worry oh honorable jon, let’s just do it!) and said he’d pace me same as I’d stuck with him on the brutal 10 mile ascent up Hakone Pass on our ways to mutual marathon reverse PR’s of more than eight hours on a hot (90 degrees) and humid day in July. Little did he know that I was so lost at the time that I had no choice.

    As we started off, he reminded me to be sure to sufficient salt intake on each of the eight-plus 5k laps.

    Japan salty chocolate cookies

    At 74 yo with more than 700 marathons to his creditIn (the last several years on a bum knee too), he's such an inspiration that, if I still lived over there, I'd probably be doing 50-60 marathons a year too.

    Bob was an inspiration too.  A year before I met him in person at the 1997 Capital City Marathon in Olympia, Washington, the March 1996 issue of area running rag had featured Bob’s non-training regime of just keeping in shape by running in as many weekend events as possible and as convenient. It was all the confirmation I needed about my ski group’s annual summer marathons with little, if any, training to see if winter skiing was enough to run 26.2 miles without stopping. 

    Bob Dolphin NWRunner - 1996 . "I do it for the sense of self-satisfaction running gives me," Bob Dolphin (80) said of why he competes in marathons.

    March 1996 Northwest Runner. . . . . . . . . .  80th birthday finish at 10/04/09 Portland Marathon*

    The Elder Statesman of the Marathon . . . . .

    originally posted by divechief. Thanks dave.

    . . http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2010365123_marathon27.html

    Only trouble is, when I met Bob in person during some early miles the next year in the 1997 Capital City Marathon in Olympia, Washington,, I found out that, compared to my one or two marathons a year, some 20-25 of his events were marathons.  When he asked me "why do you only run one marathon a year?" I realized that, even though 14 years my senior, he was in such good shape that maybe it would be good for me too.  I thereafter upped my ante from one or two to two to four too for the sake of better fitness too.

    MM note <<<(pdr/pdr)>>>: with local area marathons proliferating in the early oughts, 8-10 marathons a year were becoming locally convenient and now it’s possible to find one or more almost ever weekend. Thus, after at first feeling sorry for their overzealous fixation on marathons when hearing about the Marathon Maniacs at the 2003 Seattle Marathon, after doing the Seattle M/Ghost double on a whim two years later, aamos pronounced me guilty of being a Maniac too.
    Thanks to Bob, I’ve never met a marathon or more that I didn’t like or that wasn’t good for me in some way or the other.  Never met a runner I didn’t like either.

    In fact, after nearly 100 circuits of the Palace this year, I don’t think anyone who’s run a hundred or marathons either would think that it was a little fez to be enjoying the friendship of the barefoot cadres still positioned as back in those days, including barefoot flute goddess, peach girl and her two nearby sisters next to the Chidorigafuji Moat, the Hanzomon barefoot boys and the Supreme Court ladies.


    barefoot statue flute girl at 2km of Imperial Palace jogging running course..barefoot statue momo-chan (peach girl) at Tokyo Chidorigafuji Park..barefoot statue washing feet at Tokyo Chidorigafuji Park.barefoot statue hairdo at Tokyo Chidorigafuji Park.  Imperial Palace barefoot statue goddesses.. . .  . barefoot boys statue and feathered friends

    flute goddess . . peach girl . . . pedicuring. . . . hairdresser . supct goddesses. ..barefoot boys


    I'd also be reminded every lap of the local goddesses I was missing too

    Chidorigafuji Italiano restaurant . . . . . across street from Paraguay Embassy

    Italian Cultural Center and Pasta Shop . . . . . .Embassy of Paraguay across street

    In the “small-world” category, spotting my “Happy Birthday Bob” t-shirt, another overseas runner from the U.S. lapped me while doing his own virtual world running day 10k said he’d actually just run with Bob in the Portland Marathon I’d missed. Running together a while in mutual admiration of Bob’s accomplishments helped make the eight-plus laps as much real as virtual.

    arigatou Nakamura-san and tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu Bob-san.

    II.  Seattle Marathon - 5:44:48 (11/29/09)
    Intrepid Summary
    target time - 6:00:00
    actual time - 5:44:48
    footwear - barefoot
    t-shirt - Happy Birthday Bob
    temp - 50 degrees/overcast
    prior training run - Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon (Carkeek 12 hour - 26.2 miles) - 10/31/09

    I put Bob’s birthday t-shirt back on for real at the November 29 Seattle Marathon but, with it being my first run of the month, and with Bob having recorded a 5:22 at the 10/11 Royal Victoria Marathon, I had serious doubts about keeping up for real.  Worse yet for me, he had been given a well-deserved seed up front with the honored elites.  Fortunately, however, he was getting so many greetings and well-wishes when i finally caught up at mile 11 of the Seward Park out-and-back along Lake Washington, that I was able to keep along side for a little over five miles when I lost track. 

    bob and ginger. seattle marathon - bob and gene . .

    While many were telling Bob how they hoped to be able run like him at his age, I was just happy finally to be running like Bob at his age at my age. He may be chronologically older but, finally, after 12 years, his running chronology is finally starting to merge with mine.

     barefoot runner welcome Seattle Marathon 2009 . . . Seattle Marathon 2009 finisher medal

     ..  . . . barefoot groupies too. l

    Happy Birthday Bob.  Thanks for the thousand or so extra miles of running and friendship you’ve given to me and so many of your friends, fellow Maniacs and 100-clubbers..

    Postscript - on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at the Akaho, Japan hotsprings resort, I had the honor being Bob’s proxy for his induction in the Japan 100-Marathon Joyful Running Club as member number 806 and the twelfth overseas member.

    johyful banquet .  podium light



    B.  Two Saturday morning virtual marathons in memoriam for almost 1,000 Marathon Distance Paul Piplani

    SUMMARY - Ultra-Paul and I’d joked about the possibility of running a marathon in Japan and then, flying across the international date line, doing another one on the same day in Seattle. After Paul died on August 23, 2009, his RD friend named the Chino Marathon for him and provided a virtual division for those who couldn’t get to Chino in person.  It allowed my Paul Piplani Memorial Marathons to be 42.195 km in the 114th Imperial Palace Marathon on Saturday morning, October 31 in Tokyo and another 26.2 miles the same day in Seattle in the Carkeek 12 Hour Run.

    Intrepid Summary - Paul Piplani Memorial Marathons (26.2 + 26.2 = 52.4 miles) - 10/31/09
     ( www.charleyalewineracing.com/paulpiplani )

    Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon shirt medal

    A. Running with Paul Piplani.

    It was in a Sunday May 2007 City Marathon in Olympia, Washington, ten years after I’d met MegaBob there too, that I met Paul Piplani, quietly running up one of the early hills. When he said it was his 850th or something, I bragged that I'd just run a 5-mile trail run at Cougar Mountain on Saturday, . . . only to find out he'd done been doing his own trail run of 52.4 miles in the Redmond Watershed 12 hour run.  I'd heard of it but had about much belief in my ability to run for 12 hours as in ever being a fast runner.  However, under Paul's spell, I was there the next year chalking up 42 miles of my own. It was fascinating to lear about his personal mission of self-discovery to run 26.2 miles a thousand times in marathons and in multiple marathon distance ultras, e.g. six marathon distances for Marathon des Sables+ (that MM's would count as one ultra or, if not, DNF). 

    When I saw Paul again three weeks later at the June 9, '07 Lake Youngs 28.8 mile mini-ultra, he didn’t care that I’d done a double (Seattle Ghost/Seattle) and had no intention of doing any more, especially after an ultra, albeit somewhat mini).  However, sure enough, there I was the next day running my best marathon time in several years with him at a last-minute North Olympic Discovery Marathon.

    In July, we were driving across state for 14 miles up Mt. Spokane, that is,

    after a preliminary 20 run to the base of the mountain.

    Butterfly wings joined us after her relay leg was finished too.

    July 10, 2007 -  mile 22. - nice thongs butterfly wings!

    I loved running with Paul and his non-stop bantering with any spectators and his chatting about blessings of life to say nothing of his own experiences (to the extent it was possible to get him to talk about himself). However, in December 2008, I went to the slopes when heavy snow cancelled the Christmas Marathon and Paul talked the RD of the still-snow-packed Pigtails Marathon to let him run up-and-down the Cedar River course at Ravensville, WA not just the one time many of us were avoiding but two times to make up for the missed Christmas. It generated some late night cell phone calls of concern between the RD and me but, as expected, somehow he ended up with 52.4 miles and got to the airport in time for the redeye back to Phoenix. 

    Having encountered different kinds of weather challenges myself in running and otherwise, I admired Paul’s dogged dedication as he ground out the marathon distance after marathon, weekend-after-weekend without respite and withour regard to the weather.   

    In addition, as somewhat of a minimalist runner myself, <<<(cheapskate/cheapskate)>>>  Paul won me over with such a shoestring budget without outside support or fanfare that the soles of his favorite shoes were often almost as bare as my shodless feet.

    Though was famed for joking with spectators along the way (e.g. "do you have an extra cigarette, ma'am?") but mainly dispensed appreciative blessings for encouragement and urged other runners to follow their dreams as, as he was proving, a firm will provides a sure way.

    He’d overnight in rental cars at event sites or parking garages, with friends or on certain office floors, ate very sparingly (mostly black bean concoctions), and ran like a silent ninja quietly breathing through his nose.  

    When he was in town to drive across the Cascades for the 2009 Yakima River Canyon Marathon and found out that I might be developing knee arthritis, he said  it didn’t matter as he’d pace me to a hundred miler this fall just as he'd promised and as he’d mentored other runners to their own Big Ones.

    "jon," he ordered, “if the mind is committed, the legs will follow.”

    Sadly, after running 100 miles and 52.4 miles in a 12 hour run the previous two weekends, Paul collapsed after the 2009 Rock’n’Roll Marathon in San Diego and passed away this summer August from a previously undetected cancer some 50 marathon distances from his 1,000 marathon goal.

    It was typical Paul that his last marathon steps ever were dedicated to helping another runner

    achieve her marathon goal for the first time.  I wonder if she knows?

    . .

    B.  My Paul Piplani Memorial Marathons.

    When California Race Director Charley Alewine, who ran a number of 100-milers and other events with Paul, dedicated his annual Chino Marathon on November 1, 2009 to Paul and opened a virtual option for that weekend so Paul’s friends could run too, I signed up right away, got an Ultra-Paul t-shirt and started planning where to do my Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon.

    Then, a gorgeous notion struck as I recalled how leaving the morning sun in August 2008 for a two miles into the darkness of the Snoqualmie Tunnel before emerging to a new day on the other side had triggered our idea of a morning marathon in Tokyo, then another one in Seattle the same day (with the help of a ten hour flight across the international dateline).

    with Paul and the ultra-goddesses at Light-at-the-end-of-the-Tunnel Marathon (8/17/0Cool

    Light at End of the Tunnel Marathon Paul Piplani . francesca dove

    Accordingly, I set my goal at two marathons each on Saturday morning, October 31, 2009 :

    Light at End of the Tunnel Marathon Paul Piplani . francesca dove

    1 -  114th Imperial Palace Marathon in Tokyo and

    2 -  Frightfest Halloween Marathon starting at 10:00 am on the same morning

    in Rochester south of Tacoma. 

    On pedestrian paths and rural farming roads respectively, they would be routine and rote by Paul standards but, in the absence of much, if any training, and more than a year hiatus in ultras, I’d need ‘em to be as easy as possible.   

    1.  Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon #1 (10/31/09) - Tokyo.

    114th Imperial Palace Marathon    . .  Carkeek 12 hour course - 26.2 miles 
    target time - 6:00:00
    actual time - 5:59:10

    shoes - waraji straw sandals
    t-shirt - Paul Piplani Memorial
    hat - straw sugegasa
    temp - 60 degrees/cloudy


    As he’d done for the previous week’s six hour Happy 80th Birthday Bob 113th Imperial Palace Marathon, 700-marathon Takebashi RD Nakamura paced me to a 5:59:15 sub-six marathon finale for October’s trip to Japan.

    I owned him a lot more too as his running 70-80 marathons a year since 2005 with a bad knee bound and secured with multiple knee braces was all the proof I needed this year to keep on running too. <<<(slowly/slowly)>>> 

    Takebashi Imperial Palace Marathon RD Nakamura (74yo).

    note knee brace (and Joyful pink caps) 

    4 Imperial Palace Marathon finishers

    4 Imperial Palace Marathon finishers

    2.  Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon #2 (10/31/09) - Seattle.

    114th Imperial Palace Marathon    . .  Carkeek 12 hour course - 26.2 miles 
    target time - 6:00:00
    actual time - 9:15:00
    shoes - waraji straw sandals
    sirt - Paul Piplani Memorial
    hat - straw sugegasa
    temp - 60 degrees/cloudy

    Unfortunately, flight delays resulted in a Seatac arrival too late for Frightfest logistics to work out.  Fortunately, a 12 hour run was scheduled through 6:00 pm at Carkeek Park to the north and I was able to get up there just before noon for the first of 14 planned loops needed for a marathon distance around the 1.93 mile circuit of the park.  

    Both had an associated Halloween costume division but my Japanese straw conical hat and straw sandals were disqualified as they were really my regular running wear over there.

    After permission from the RD for a late, very late, start (thank you very much Sam), it was a short jog across the parking lot down to a 100 yard path at the Puget Sound end of a gassy playfield.  There, the grassy flield immediately rose up in the first of three ascents so steep that wooden steps had to be built into the side of woodland hills. 

    There was no encouragement from a runner on her tenth lap (20 miles) saying that the meadow was the only flat section of the entire circuit.  “Oh” she remembered, “there’s also two metal-grating foot bridges that are flat too.” 

    Carkeek Park by Swiss Chica. . Dog Bridge by The Kozy Shack

    Carkeek Park by Swiss Chica. . Dog Bridge by The Kozy Shack

    There was little doubt but that the second leg of the Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon was not going to be rote and routine at all but way on the other side of Paul’s marathon distances.   

    In fact, the RD indicated that 430 feet elevation/descent per 1.93 mile lap made Carkeek the “hardest 12-hour run in the country.  Thus, it was no surprise when the planned second six hours planned for marathon #2 turned out to be but a 19.3 mile run too at the 6:00 pm cutoff time. 

    However, I was also running on the kind of official course required for the virtual part of the Paul Piplani Memorial Marathon (and had paid the PPMM entry fee of $35) so just needed to go around four more times for an the second marathon to count. www.CharleyAlewineRacing.com

    My brain was strained and legs in pain but, as Paul had done hundreds of times all over the country and world, I stayed on-and-on and around-and-around all by myself, drowsing in-and-out of consciousness in the night, step-after-never-ending-step into the narrow beam of the headlamp borrowed from an official finisher who’d started in the 6:00 am darkness when I was still some 1,000 miles out over the Pacific Ocean.

    The trail was bad and, especially being so tired, it was much too dangerous to run much at all in the darkness anymore.  I would not give in though and frequently stamped my feet while cursing loudly to keep awake "Paul, Paul, you old SOB!” 

    It was a strange mix of being mad at him and sad for him, overhearing his voice from the adjacent woods, and even others from my current and past, shocking me out of increasing sleep-walking, at least twice preventing a serious fall of the edge.  

    But all things come to an end at last and my poor and tired dim eyes finally beheld the dark and empty parking lot and picnic tables below for the last time. They’d earlier been overflowing with salted potatoes, fruits, cookies, chicken soup, energy bars and drinks along animated encouragement and smiles from tireless volunteers. 

    Knowing of my PPMM mission, RD Sam, of 50/50/50 fame, left plenty extra as needed for me to make it around the last four laps saying he'd been there to in his 50 marathon mission for Hurricane Katrina victims and many monster ultras over the years.   http://www.50in50in50.com

    jon (in waraji) & 50-state Sam (RD) Tongue>Tongue

    Now that it’s over, it doesn’t seem fair that Paul’s 1,000 marathon distance goal had failed so close to fruition, especially as he never gave up even when his bad days in weather and in trails and personal condition made my bad ones look good. 

    Then, it dawned on me that, just as putting his best effort into an ultra that might have ended up over some predetermined cutoff time was still a success to Paul and the 26.2 miles he needed in his personal quest  to run1,000 marathon distances, then running as many marathon distances as he could in his allotted time and condition was the correct standard of success for his final mission too, not whether the final total was 1,000 or only 950.

    Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ve got 50 or so marathon distances left in me that someone, somewhere can count for Paul too.

    Henry the Great: "I'm going to keep running as long as I can."  Me too, I hope.

    T. Igarashi (top of Mt. Fuji at age 100 in 1987): "Enjoy yourself. Your younger days never come again."