Sunday, February 28, 2010

Things Unique to Okinawa

Alrighty, I was looking through my last couple weeks of pictures and noticed I had some things that are pretty unique to Okinawa. Let's start out with:

I know Starbucks isn't unique, but I'm pretty sure the flavor I got is at least unique to Japan. I got a Sakura Steamer. Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom and while the blooms won't start on the mainland until about April, they've already come and gone here on Oki. The drink has a very unique, slightly sweet cherry flavor. I think it's delicious and hope to get it at least once more before its season runs out.
I went to Jusco (huge department store) to check out their produce and saw these:

I've seen kids wearing these backpacks, but had no idea how pricey they were. The cheapest one I saw was 23,000 yen (about $240) and they went up to 45,000 yen. Yowzers, just give me a Trapper Keeper! Apparently they are supposed to last the kids from when they start school through middle school. Here's to hoping they don't outgrow it.
Last week Patti and I drove north up 58 (the main highway) and stopped at cute stores and found a little resort that served lunch. I wasn't that impressed with my curry, but I was intrigued with Puffy Snow.

The lady kind of shaved the ice cream off this big block (it was still creamy, definitely not shaved ice). It came off very light and fluffy. Mine then had caramel and chocolate added. It was delicious, but not as good as real ice cream.
And lastly, there is a drink I've been wanting to try for a while now. The kids at the Youth Center like it and I've been a little scared to bite the bullet. Why, you ask? Because the drink has little chunks in it. I know, sounds a little icky.

But it was really good. It's aloe and grape, but tastes like a good grape juice. The chunks aren't too firm. They're kind of like mini grapes without the skins. I probably won't have it again because I don't like to waste calories on drinks, but I'm glad I tried it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MaryBrown

So, who is MaryBrown and why do I call her MaryBrown? Well, MaryBrown is my best friend ever and I call her MaryBrown because that's her name. Duh! No really, it just all seems to go together. When I talk about her she's MaryBrown and when I talk to her it's just Mary - or a nickname that she'd beat me up for if I posted it in cyber space! Anyway, why am I writing about MaryBrown? Because she was awesome enough to come visit me on the opposite side of the world. She booked her ticket about a week and a half before coming, made arrangements with work and her hubby, and then braved the 30 hour travel day to come see me. That's why she's my best friend, along with her being the smartest and funniest person I know. Mary hates having her picture taken. My sister Monica said to post a picture because she hadn't seen Mary in a while. Here's the picture Mary posed for:

She's so funny! However, I still snuck a few photos when she wasn't looking. We did all the normal Okinawa things while she was here, even though the sun didn't shine a single day of her trip! I felt bad, but I haven't learned how to control the weather yet. On her first day we went and got some sushi. It was dericious!

Chris was lucky enough to get a few days off and got to accompany us on most outings. We took her to our favorite northern beach.

A friend of the family was having heart surgery so we sent her a get well message:
After the beach we headed north to Hedo Point. I'm not sure what the big chicken statue was about, but Chris is always funny.

And I liked the message we were given:
After a long day of hiking someone was sleepy:

(Oh yeah, Mary's also my best friend because the first thing she said when meeting Rana was "pictures don't do you justice".)
We made it to Sam's by the Sea and ate the most perfect dish in the world. They have an appetizer that has shrimp, avocado, cheese, and is all baked up in wonton wrapper pie crust. It is heaven!

We also took time to love on some stray puppies. Don't worry, they both have homes now. The yellow one looks a lot like my old dog when she was a baby.

And yes, Chris is the reason why I am not already the crazy dog lady beacuse I would have taken these sweeties home in an instant. However, his rationalness is a good thing.
We made it over to Pineapple Park where we ate our weight in Pineapple Wine Cake. Oh so yummy!

Chris took us for a tour of the island and I'm happy to say I didn't need my motion sickness bags. YAY!
This was the day I was really wishing we had more sun because a cloudy day just doesn't do justice to how beautiful the water is.

We took advantage of a dry morning and made a quick run to Forest Adventures. It is so much fun and a pretty good workout too!

After playing Tarzan and Jane we stopped for lunch at a Hawaiian restaurant that had a blue jean wearing dog.
After the long President's Day weekend Chris had to go back to work so Mary and I were on our own for Okinawa World. Mary was convinced that this Japanese man looked like her dad so I took a picture:

You might remember our first trip to Okinawa World with Chris' Mom and friend, Sharon. On that outing the seasnake won the race with the mongoose. Let's see if the results were any different this time:
video
On Mary's final day we went to the aquarium. It might be my favorite thing on the island. It is a great facility and I could watch the whale sharks swim for hours. Plus, they've added some new topiaries and statues onto the beautifully landscaped grounds. I think the puffer was my favorite.

I guess that rounds up MaryBrown's trip to Okinawa. It was great seeing her and I missed her before I even got home from the airport after dropping her off. Thanks for visiting Mary! Come back any time or just move in with us!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nago 1/2 Marathon


On Valentine's Day I headed north with Tiffany to run the Nago 1/2 Marathon. After training I knew that I'd complete the race, but I wasn't exactly brimming with confidence. I had intentionally made some rookie mistakes that someone with my experience shouldn't be making at this point.
My biggest mistake was training too far too quickly. After being knocked out of workouts with bronchitis I had 5 weeks to get ready for the half. I'm pretty sure that the rapid build up of miles is what has my left glam (gluteus + hamstring) unhappy. But, really, what could I do? I swear that the coughing started 2 days after I had committed to the race.
My other intentional mistake was wearing unbroken in shoes for the race. The shoes I had been wearing on long runs gave me a massive (maybe 2"x1") blister just under the ball of my right foot on our last training run. I figured the newer shoes couldn't be any worse. This might have actually been a good call. While my outside toes went a little numb I didn't really develop any major blisters.
Anyway, enough complaining. On to the race. Here's me and Tiffany before the race:

I love that at every sporting event there are taiko drummers! It really gets your blood pumping!

This was a pretty big race - probably about 1000 people.

The course was great and I felt pretty good (minus the glam) the whole way. There were 4 decent hills with the last one being about mile 10. The rest is pretty flat and there is some downhill that led us to the east coast. It rained for about half the race, but nothing as bad as our last training runs. I'll probably sign up for this race again just so I can see the coast when the sun is hitting it. I love the Okinawa water.

I felt like I was going along pretty steady besides the congested start for the first mile or so. I did stop for about 15-20 seconds on the mile 10 hill to stretch my glam. Other than that and walking through the water stations I ran the whole time. I was pretty happy with that. What I was unhappy with was my time. According to my watch I was right at 2:15. This is my second slowest half ever - and in my slowest I was physically sick on the course for the last 7 miles. I think I did as much as I could on the day, but I'm not sure where my speed has gone. I should be able to hit about 2:05 and on a good day 2 hours. Admittedly, I haven't done speed work in forever.
So, my goals are to rehab my glam, find some shoes that love my feet, add a little speed work into my routine, and give myself longer to train for an event. I do love running in Japan though because even with my slow performance I was in the top half. If I put up a 2:15 in England there's a good chance I would have been last. Brits take their running pretty serious. Here's a picture of me after the run at the track where the race began and ended:

In happier news, my running partner Tiffany ran a personal best 1:57!! She was flying. I am so proud of her.
Also, my Mom ran a half on the same day in Florida and clocked a 2:03!! Yowzers! She knocked 4 minutes off her time for the same race last year and she won 1st place in her age group! Plus, my sister who paces my mom (and me when I'm in Gainesville), had to pull out of the race because she was sick. So, my Mom was on her own and kicked some major booty! Woohoo! I know I've got some speed in me. Apparently it's in the genes!