MY TRIP TO JAPAN! PART 14: Sponichi Yamanakako Road Race (Half Marathon)

I traveled to Japan for the third time (in less than 3 years!) to Yamanakako to run in the Sponichi Yamanakako Road Race Half Marathon on May 26, 2019

I’ve been dreaming of participating in a Japanese half marathon for some time now, and this could not have been a more perfect race.

About 13,000 participants ran in the race, and it was memorable in many ways.

For starters, Mount Fuji. The first photo I took from my hotel room window – can you believe that view?! Mount Fuji is magical, and having it in clear view during the race was something I’ll cherish forever.

Second, running through Yamanakako, around Lake Yamanaka, and small village towns was beautiful. Not only that, the locals stand outside cheering for you in Japanese, even giving you high fives. That was super motivating.

Third, race day was hot, and I mean very hot. No one expected it as it was a record high for the season. Running in the heat can really mess with your mental game, and there were moments in the race where my mind went haywire. So much so that on mile 11 I wanted to call it quits ! I was so close to the finish line but the heat was getting the best of me. Thankfully my family was texting me during the race to keep me motivated.

Lastly, there was no one in the finish line waiting for me as I traveled alone to run this race. Not only that but there was no finishers medal, no awards, just me, myself, and I. There was something special about just having the sense of satisfaction that I had just completed this difficult thing.

I would certainly run this race again. It’s certainly a highlight of my life and travels thus far.

*If you’re planning on running this race and would like more details, I’ve put some pointers at the end of the post !

*Make sure you sign up for the correct race, there’s a 13K (which is 1 lap around Lake Yamanaka) and the Half-Marathon which is 13 miles (21K).
*There really aren’t many announcements leading up to the race. I received 1 email confirming I signed up and paid, and another email a couple weeks leading up to the race with my bib number and details on how to get to the venues. That was it.
*Wake up early (5:30/6am), eat breakfast, and head to the venue. I never eat before a race, but the race doesn’t begin until 9:15am. You’ll be happy you had food in your belly.
*Head to the venue early, Yamanakako is a very small mountain village and all the roads close for this event. You can schedule a taxi with your hotel to pick you up race day.
*I recently started running with compression sleeves and highly recommend it for this hilly, elevated race. I recovered quickly after this race because of the sleeves.
*Try to stay at a hotel that includes breakfast and dinner. Yamanakako is a small village and finding breakfast places can be tricky. I stayed at the Sun Plaza Hotel Fuji, and am happy I did.
*You can pick up your bib and packet race day. I picked everything up the day before, but there was no need. Everything is so organized that you’ll have no problem picking up your materials day of. There’s a special, small tent with International Runner’s packets.
*There are no signs or announcements in English. Everything, and I mean everything, is in Japanese. Don’t worry though, it’s all self-explanatory.
*Carry some cash (100-500 yen coins). There are vending machines along the path in case you need to purchase water. There are water stations, but with the intense heat the day I ran, I’m grateful I had cash on me for a bottle of water.
*The race ends at the middle school, which is uphill. Save some mental energy for that final push !
*Note that you will not receiving a finisher’s medal. You do receive a t-shirt when you pick up your packet though.
*Traffic is horrendous after the race, so I just walked to lunch and then to my hotel which was about 1.5 miles from the venue.
*Lastly, have fun. Take photos. Enjoy the views. This race is beyond memorable, and you’ll be happy you made the journey to Yamanakako, Japan.

Running Towards Something

Doesn’t it feel good to have clarity about a goal? I truly feel that there’s an unusual power that overcomes us when we are specific with what we’re seeking.

More specifically, I’ve had a dream of running in a Disney race for about 5 years now. I’m not sure how it came about, but when the idea came, I knew I wanted to do it. Last year, I signed up for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. It’s one of their largest races with over 40,000 (!!) mostly women participating.

Well, so it’s happening next month! It’s always seemed like a daunting task but, like anything, it just requires daily and/or weekly progress. To be honest, it isn’t the running that seems most overwhelming to me, it’s bracing the crowds, getting my bib the day before, and making sure I wake up at 3:00am the day of.

I noticed that having a specific goal allows me to understand what actions I need to take. For example, in preparation, I purchased a pair of Brooks sneakers (Levitate 2). (This isn’t an ad, but if Brooks Running company would like to sponsor me — holla at ya girl.) I’ve only gotten a mild jog in them, but so far they are the lightest, most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever experienced.

This post isn’t really about running or shoes.

Lately I’ve felt a little lost, well let me be honest and say very lost, but don’t we all sometimes? I noticed that it’s so easy to make ourselves feel like we’re the only ones going through something. This isolates us and makes the whole thing worse.

Preparing for this half-marathon has led me to wonder, am I being specific with my other life goals? What I realized is that I’ve had a lack of clarity, and this has led to a feeling that I’ll never make it, without knowing what that “it” even is. I’ve been running towards something without even knowing what “that” is.

As I continue to unravel the path I’m on, I invite you to explore who you are and also do the same.

Because as Tony Robbins says, Clarity=Power.

Being Honest With Yourself, Even If It Hurts

In more recent months I’ve been challenging, and facing, the fear that creeps up when I think of what others may think of me.

Growing up, my very philosophical parents used to try and soothe the very angsty teen version of me by saying, “don’t worry, when you get older, you’ll care less of what others think of you.”

It’s got me thinking that as we get older, we may care less of what others think, but what I really believe happens is that we begin to care more about what we ourselves think.

By caring more about what we deem important we light up in the world, we begin to take action on what really matters to us, and we begin to take steps towards the business, creative practice, or career that has been calling us.

But most importantly, by caring more about what we think of our own lives, we begin to find fulfillment in simply being ourselves.

This is a friendly reminder from someone who has been actively practicing radical honesty in her daily life — in creative practice, relationships, and career.

It will be uncomfortable, and it may even hurt, but you’re doing it for you.

Be honest with yourself.

Be honest about the life you crave.

Be honest about who you’re becoming.

At the end of the day, the approval you’re seeking is your own.

 

 

Seeing Failure As Part of the Process

I’ve realized that deep feelings of satisfaction come from our ability to stick with something long term to see the fruits of our labor. Although, to be honest, I want to instantly feel like an expert at whatever I’m working on, and completely bypass the failure part.

My fitness coach recently told me, “everything  important in our lives is going to require effort — and most likely, lots of it.” This of course happened when I was wobbling on the ground trying to hold a plank position.

Our ability, or inability, to stick it out with something is really the determining factor in our ability to get better at it. This means everything from work, fitness, business, writing, to relationships. This means it’s going to suck, look messy, and frustrate us.

I’m working on admitting to myself when I’ve felt like I’ve failed. And instead of giving up, or hiding, or ghosting from it, like my usual M.O, I’ve been getting back to it. Whether it’s being embarrassed about writing a piece that got no reactions/likes, or having a workout where I didn’t give my all, or whether it’s having an uncomfortable conversation in my work or relationship, I’m getting back to it.

I realize that the contrast of feeling wrong, or feeling like I failed, is also part of the process. And the sooner I get back to it, the better I feel.

What about you? How do you handle failure in your life, art, and business?

*Roots of the Sun* An Interview with Destini and Jake, Owners & Herbal Apothecaries

It’s not everyday that you encounter such a charming herbal apothecary shop. Upon arriving at Roots of the Sun, I was welcomed by Destini and Jake with some of their handmade tea (so lovely!). While sipping it we discussed their love of humans, love of St. Petersburg, and love of wellness. I learned SO much. They’re well educated in their craft and will guide you through whatever you may need.

Be sure to check them out!

Ladies and gents, Destini and Jake…

tell us about Roots of the Sun.

Roots of the Sun is an herbal apothecary that creates, sells, and distributes sustainably-harvested loose leaf herbs and wellness products. We specialize in Magic-Infused herbal tea blends, tinctures, extracts, and salves using biodynamic practices. We also have a space for community co-creation and herbalism outreach, where we host classes, workshops, ceremonies, and other events.

when did your passion for herbal healing start?

Destini’s passion for herbalism started when she first discovered the benefits and connection the plants have to offer, which occurred about 10 years ago.

what would you say is your big vision for Roots of the Sun?

Roots of the Sun’s vision is to offer and spread natural wellness through herbalism and herbal products, to create a space for community to come together with the intentions of healing, and to support local herbalists in their ventures of discovering and applying this ancient wisdom.

tell us about how you came up with the name Roots of the Sun?

The name Roots of the Sun came by happenstance as collaboration with another herbalist. Once the name was spoken, we were struck by the symbolism of the need to be grounded in our roots in order to let our light shine. To be the spark in the dark.

what made you decide to start Roots of the Sun?

Destini struggled with various health issues in childhood, and was only exposed to traditional allopathic medicine. This provided little to no remedy, and she decided to begin doing her own research and experimenting with various alternatives. She soon discovered the healing power of plants combined with our connection to the cycles of nature. Through herbalism, she regained her health and vitality, and decided to become an herbalist herself. She started Roots of the Sun with the intention of creating a foundation of natural wellness and spreading this knowledge.

what is your big “why”? why do you do what you do?

We do what we do because we care about people, we care about the Earth. We want to connect with people, to help people connect with the Earth.

what are your personal favorite books?

The Celestine Prophecy as it illustrates the spiritual side of life in a simple and applicable way. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is a wonderful resource for discovering and applying the magical uses of plants.

what feelings do you want your customers to walk away with?

We would describe our shop as a portal to another dimension, like stepping out of the 3rd dimensional world into a whimsical forest. We hope our customers walk away with a sense of wonder and connection to a higher frequency of existence.

if you could drop everything and do ONE thing, what would you do?

Go on a weed walk because we love getting our feet dirty and connecting with nature.

if you had to chose one person in your whole life that has inspired you, who would that be and why?

I know this may sound cliché, but under careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that the person we are most inspired by is each other, because we both have endured tremendous adversity and have chosen to follow our purpose and passion with relentless love and determination.

favorite quote.

“When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the World will Know Peace” -Jimi Hendrix

what made you decide to open Roots of the Sun here in St. Petersburg?

The very first day we looked in the St. Petersburg area, this location became available. Plus we discovered there was an available apartment above the shop! We boldly jumped on the opportunity and couldn’t be happier to be a part of this amazing community!

describe St. Petersburg in a few words.

The best place on Earth.

as a business owner what are some of your personal self care practices? what are some you recommend?

Daily yoga, meditation, grounding, energy work, spending time in nature, healthy organic food, and lots and lots of herbs!

what are some non negotiable daily practices you have?

Self-respect, self-love, kindness and compassion for others.

when do you feel the most creative?

Usually during the full moon and the new moon our creative energy seems to be more palpable.

what do you think is the most important thing to focus on when running your business?

Setting pure intentions based on love, respect, and care for ourselves, for others, and for the Earth.

what is the best place you’ve traveled to?

Waterfalls in the Appalachian mountains.

when do you feel your best?

When we are being impeccable to ourselves, our purpose, and our truth in a way that serves others.

what would you say is the best thing about running your own business?

Freedom and the ability to connect with people in a way that serves the community.

any words of advice would you give to our readers wanting to start a business?

Success starts with passion and it requires relentless determination to bring into reality. When your passion is in service to both yourself and the world the universe will conspire to assist you! However, success does not always happen the way we expect, so we must be flexible and patient.

what inspires you?

We are inspired by nature, by the universe, by the unfathomable connection between all things. We are inspired by people for choosing to be here on this Planet. We are especially inspired by those who care about themselves, care about each other, and care about the Earth.

what kinds of social media can we follow you on? how can our readers contact you?

You can find us on Instagram & Facebook. Our online store will be available in the next month to order from. You can reach us at rootsofthesun.com, 850-443-2523, and rootsofthesun4.4.4 [at] gmail [dot] com. We hope to see you there!

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// interview + photography by Olivia //