It was a great day outside – temperature above fifteen degrees Celsius and the sun was shining – so I set out to run a 10k. Instead of taking the turn to HAT Kobe however I just plowed (Safari underlined ploughed) on towards Sannomiya (三宮). I continued along my usual half marathon path: running through under the covered shopping streets of Center-gai (センター街) and Motomachi (元町) then passing by the landmark constructions of the Port Tower (ポート・タワー) and the Maritime Museum (神戸海洋博物館). I took the Route 2 (２号線) that connects Kobe and Osaka for a little while then made the circle around the seaside residential blocks of HAT Kobe (ハット神戸). I stopped three times at playgrounds to rehydrate a bit from the taps installed there. I always left the clock running. The whole run was 21.52 kilometers long and took 2:24″ to complete. Considerably slower than my very first half marathon which I couldn’t surpass ever since.
I’m happy about the fact that even though I feel a lot slower and less fit lately I am still capable of running a decent enough distance. It is debated by my family but I think I’d be better off losing about 5 kg of surplus around the abdominal region as well. Still – the way I see it – running any distance is about simply not stopping. There is a lot of truth to the just do it Nike slogan.
For the first part of the run I was listening to HINOIチーム, a truly silly J-pop group. They play high-powered eurobeat covers, taken from the italo-disco / eurodance style you might know from Vengaboys. They are extremely funny to listen to, and their songs provide for a good adrenaline rush. The only drawback is it’s absolutely impossible to keep up with the speed of their songs during a longer run.
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The oldest member is 18 and the tallest of them is barely 162. Absolutely frivolous.
With this run I also took the time to map the route with the Nike+ built-in mapping tool. I found it really easy to use: I just had to click point-by-point on a Google map and the software did the distance calculations. Apparently the Nike+ device really is accurate as well since the map ended up to reach the 21.5k point almost right where I remembered I stopped.
There is one big drawback with using Nike’s tool: the window they let you do the mapping in is extremely small. It’s OK during the drawing phase when I’d want to see as much street detail as I can. However when I’d like to see the whole run I have to zoom out so much almost all the detail disappears. While I understand that this way the mapping tool is in harmony with the rest of Nike+ site a pop out or full screen feature would help a lot with being able to view the routes properly.
For today I embarked upon a new project: I looked for interesting routes in Kobe crafted by other Nike+ users to run. Luckily for me the city seems abundant in runners in the immediate vicinity and the Japanese are apparently keen on playing with the Nike+ site’s extra features.
For today I chose a simple 5k circle around Oji Koen mapped by ドラ. I printed the screen from the website to guide my lightweight orienteering. I started at the Oji Koen train station (王子公園) and the run really did surprise me with the exceptionally steep uphill climb right after. The rest of the run turned out to be pretty casual with a gradual slope down to Shin-Kobe Station* (新神戸) and then with the occasional climb back to the zoo.
At least this way I’m not running the same routes all the time and I might even occasionally bump into some other runners as well.
* Fun trivia: Shin-Kobe Station got its name from the fact that the Shinkansen stops there. Usually the Shinkansen makes a stop at the main station named after the city, with Tokyo Station as a prime example. However with the position of Kobe Station there was just not enough space to lay the Shinkansen tracks there so the Japanese had to build a whole new station for it. The same is true for Osaka: there is a Shin-Osaka Station.