Just did a little over a half marathon through the hills close to where I live. Have been struggling with sleeping, started the “SoberOctober” challenge, and figured I better get my ass out of bed and bust it, or a regular sleep pattern may never come. In other words, there is no more option for a whisky highball to help calm the nerves before bed this month. Not that alcohol helps the quality of sleep. It almost always makes it worse.
So, after a short 3.5-hour half-dream haze of semi-sleep, I got up, got ready, and set out. It felt fucking bad. Legs tired, whole body fatigued, and mind weak. But, somehow I just kept going. Once I entered the little mountain range I had to cross, I ran out of water. Climbing and climbing, I thought: “I’m maybe gonna turn around.” I had hit the 5-mile mark (not a bad run), had some weird gas issue in my chest that got me paranoid about my heart, and was sweating a lot, as it was pretty hot outside. Saw a little mountain restaurant coming up and said to myself: If they have a vending machine, you are gonna get to the goal. If they don’t, let’s call it a day.
Well, lo and behold, there were two vending machines there. I got some water and continued powering up the hill. It’s not like the other road I know further up the range. This one isn’t just a short blast of two big hills and down. It’s a looooong, more gradual, but still tough, incline before the descent. It was painful. I stopped now and then. Caught my breath, and kept chug-a-lugging along up the mountain.
Finally across the range, after what seemed like an endless incline, and an interminable journey down, I popped out in the small town on the other side of the mountains, grabbed an energy drink from another vending machine by a pet store where the dogs were all losing their shit when they saw me, and turned off into where the valley begins, to head toward the spot I wanted to visit, tucked away in the middle. A garden park with a big, rolling hill where kids and beginners ski and sled in the winter. There are also old, decommissioned trains there, and a neat Bavarian-looking-lodge-type building, so I thought I’d check it out.
Walked on and off for a while after mile ten. Struggling. Sleep deprivation makes running twice as hard. Collected some chestnuts from the roadside on the way, and when I was under a mile out, started running again solid with no stops. Put on the Offspring’s “Smash” for some last-push adrenaline fuel, and made it. A satisfying feeling of accomplishment. I was able to chill out on the grass at the park, check out a really neat train that began running in 1924, and look out across the hills from the top of the ski park.
After that, I’d walk another six miles back into a nearby town for the train. It was a peaceful, scenic walk through Nanatani Valley in Niigata. I hope you enjoy the pics. 20 miles on foot in a day, and I still had a bit of a battle falling asleep, but the point is: I did sleep! And am very grateful! Went back to the same park with my family today by car and we really enjoyed ourselves.
Thanks for reading. Wishing you a beautiful autumn season.