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, .. 

    hat - sugegasa straw farmer’s, . .  . . t-shirt - Happy 80th Birthday Bob
    temp - 60 degrees/cloudy
    previous training run - Super Jock’n’Jill Half Mary (9/7/09)

    the well-dressed marathoner in Japan : sugegasa straw hat

    and Japan 100-Marathon Joyful Running Club happy coat

    sugegasa . . . Osaka Castle sugegasa

    to say nothing of waraji straw monk sandals 

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

    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 of my third trip of the year in October, I’d run seven Takebashi’s, including one as a virtual substitute for the Seattle Rock’n’Roll on Saturday 6/27/09. 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 (and pink Joyful cap) at Takebashi Plaza

     (Imperial Palace 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+marathons), President Sato (500+), Takebashi RD Nakamura (700+), Sakota-goddessan (800+) and Nihon-Ichi (#1) Kojima-san (1,172).  All'd been 3-hour, even sub-three runners thirty years ago but love the camaraderie and fitness benefits of marathons so much that, when they founded their 100-Marathon Club in 1987, they made sure it wasn't just for running.


    In fact, some of their marathons are called maranics for "marathon picnic" with a optional lunch stop for runners not that much interested in their times for the day, e.g. one otherwise 3:30 runner took 6.5 hours in one of 'em.  Other marathons are selected for their short out-and-backs to see/greet/encourage each other as much as possible, e.g. Osaka Castle's 1K out/1K back or the 1mi - 5K laps at Hiratsuka and the Imperial Palace/Akaho Marathons, respectively.   


    Nevertheless, in the absence of any training runs 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.  Further, it'd be my first run in 47 days 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 go for 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 emphasized sufficient salt intake

    on each of the eight-plus 5k laps

    to avoid bonking.

    "no problem," I assured him. 

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/onsenki/4242912671/ .  . Japan salty chocolate cookies

    At 74 yo with more than 700 marathons to his credit (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 with him too.

    Bob was an inspiration too.  A year before I met him in person 12 years ago 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 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. ps (pdr/pdr) - there's now more than 85 marathons and ultras in the Seattle area per year.
    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. 




    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 . sup/ct goddesses. ... .barefoot boyns



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

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

    Italian restaurant near Embassy . . . . . . Embassy of Paraguay across street (2nd build)


    Also helping in maintaining the necessary pace around the 5K Palace perimeter

    were mosaiced prefectural flowers (plus local ward and Royal Family) every 0.1km.

     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... http://www.flickr.com/photos/onsenki/4234975449/


    In the “small-world” category, spotting my “Happy Birthday Bob” t-shirt, another overseas runner from the U.S. lapping 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.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . http://www.flickr.com/photos/onsenki/4242958011/ .

    700+ mararthon and Takebashi biweekly Imperial Palace Marathon RD Nakamura-san

    at Takebashi mini-plaza staging/start-finish (across street from Mainichi News Building)



    II.  Seattle Marathon - 5:44:48 (11/29/09)
    Intrepid Summary
    target time - 6:00:00. . . . actual time - 5:44:48
    footwear - barefoot . . . . . . cap - MM

    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 since we met in 1977, our running chronologies are starting to merge.

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

     ..  . . . barefoot groupies too. l . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .2009 Seattle Marathon Finisher's Medal

    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


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

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