Eleniloporto from “Cross Cultural Insights” outlined the differing hierarchy of needs between ExPat progeny and their parents during the time long after the moving boxes have been recycled and all can locate the drawer containing the silverware, provided the family is still using it. As the Offspring settle in to an unfamiliar location void of friends, parents, especially of teenagers, enjoy a temporary reprieve from pariah status and once again engage in familial group activities without a blunt object being held over them first. Running rarely makes the cut of “Top Ten” in most clans, however, the Clampitts require a high level of activity to reach an endorphin induced Zen state which is what allows us to coexist peacefully, therefore it has always been carved in to our lifestyle. Offspring #1 is preparing for a running event in August which includes several 10k’s as training. His first attempt at a 10k. Offspring #2 is taking the summer off and is instead documenting the events from behind the video lens.
The earth shook when he asked if I would like to join him in the 4, four, FOUR, events. Quite a touching invitation from my reclusive 14-year-old who uninvites me from all school events, begs me not to laugh out loud, and declares I’ve ruined his social life and my reputation as a cool, uninvolved parent when I confirm other parents will be present at parties ahead of time. Some memories of High School won’t die no matter how grey the hair.
“I’d LOVE TOO HONEY!!!” I cooed between gritted teeth. Are all parental bonding opportunities good? Where do I draw the line with this kid? I’ve already dropped over the sides of mountains.
The elation of being asked quickly turned to the deflation of facing the reality of the details.
I run to avoid smacking old ladies across the face because they walk too slow. Without getting my daily 40 minutes, I’m a threat to drop kick every Yorkie in Yoyogi Park. This daily investment keeps the neighborhood safe. However, I don’t cover very much distance. I had to call in Spouse for a consult.
Ouisar-san- ” I want to finish within the top 30% of my age group,” I might be slow but am a believer in establishing goals.
Spouse- “Easy- you have 3 weeks to get ready and you haven’t run longer than 3.5 miles- you don’t want to hurt yourself. Maybe your goal should be to run the whole time.”
A fly in the ointment. He’s always so sensible. And since he belonged to an Olympic feeder track team in college, knowledgeable in his sport.
Ouisar-san- “Ok- top 50%.”
******************************RACE DAY ******************************
The photographer couldn’t get enough of us. We were the only foreigners entered in the race. If I could just keep up with Offspring #1, maybe we’d get a catchy nickname- “Bremily, Bremis, Bro-ly, Bremily-san, Bremirichiro.” A smiling mother-son duo at the finish line. Even though Offspring #2 wasn’t running, the photographer seemed to take quite a few pictures of her. Until I gave him the, “You’re now treading on dangerous ground there, hombre,” look and spat through the space between my front teeth on the ground at his feet.
The course was a grueling up hill battle straight up the side of Mt Fuji:
A fervent group of runners, Japanese vans, cars, bikes and rickshaws dumped hundreds of participants at the starting line for a 3k, 5k, 10k or 20k. Spouse, Offspring #1 and I discussed strategy for starting in a crowded pack. I voted to elbow, bite and kick through the competition based on the looks of these gritty street fighters:
I never heard the official start but the crowd surged forward in a slow jog which I assumed to be the beginning. The last time my name was on a 10K roster, I was 23, smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and had stayed out until 3:00 AM the night before. This would be a fascinating experiment- which exerted a greater influence on a person’s demise- youthful indulgence or the revenge of age?
Can you spot me in the pack below?
Lance Armstrong announced my mileage, since runners aren’t famous enough to provide commentary, an English woman gave chirpy updates on my pace, and another woman snuck in motivational details on the distance to finish which more than once prevented me from flinging myself in the river. The music function on “shuffle” worked famously until it shuffled in my Japanese language lessons. Hearing “Language Lesson 19: At the grocery store,” was the 10K equivalent of running directly in to the path of a Super Bullet Train speeding along at 200 mph which then leaves you broken, twisted and bloody for the other runners to then run on, not over, toward their path to victory. I yanked the IPhone out of my arm band to get back to the music.
At that point, I was at the head of the pack. Only Lance Armstrong and a woman who cheated by turning before the marker were ahead of me. (Documentation provided by Spouse)
Sporty Spice announced my lightening pace, unknown woman said I had 1.5 miles left. My pace was well under my personal best. Wait- something wasn’t right- I looked down again. My arm band was open and MY ALIEN REGISTRATION CARD HAD FALLEN OUT! S**T. One’s Alien Registration card is supposed to be on said person at all times, to be produced without question to any requesting authority, at any time, no excuses. I had to get it. I had to—-turn around. Back track. CURSE the luck. Why didn’t I give it to Spouse when I handed him that wad of cash? Oh yea- it was in case I got separated from the 1000’s of runners all running on a straight path along a river- and back- I’d have ID.
Ahh, the agony of defeat, I careened down the path, my skis wheeling one over the other. Err, I ran back along the course, crouched along the ground looking for the card. I found it about 3/10ths of a mile back.
As I dreamed of new ways to entertain myself during the additional 6/10ths of a mile I gifted myself, the Fates sat on the bank of the river spinning yarn, laughing and making that sign which means “F U” in Italian. Nasty Bitches.
And then our eyes met. That devil.
We saw each other at the same time. I had him beat by 20 pounds of fast twitch muscle but the wind of evil propelling this demonic twister along his path ensured our closeness. A heated battle with this seasoned samurai warrior ensued. His repeated attempts to intimidate and weaken my resolve by running on my heels or shoulder only encouraged me to run faster. He didn’t care that I was female and I didn’t care that he was over 90 when I finally cut him off at the gate:
By the time I crossed the finish line, Offspring #1 had changed clothes, drank two bottles of water, eaten a snack and was waiting by the car. His time was around 36 minutes. Mine was just higher than that.
The test results show that smoking, drinking and staying out all night slowed me down more than age. Although it is possible I ran that race drunk which makes this test null and void.
Take aways for the next race:
1) Offspring #2- investigate camera angles that make my legs appear toned, lanky, and at least three inches longer. I’d like to be described in the future film adaptation as that “Tall drink of water,” vs that “shot of bad moonshine.”
2) Arm Band contents- keep the IPhone and lip stick, ditch the Alien Reg card.
3) Offspring #1- great job, next time please tie me to the back of your jersey. Our combined speed should still be respectable.
4) Note for Andretti-san- would he be willing to ride a bike and hit me with a bamboo stick when I lose focus?
Offspring #1 and I are running again next weekend. During the week, we’ll compare Nike notes on the IPhones, discuss what runs felt good, which ones didn’t, if carb loading is fact or fiction and whether to eat oatmeal or eggs for breakfast. Good times, good times.
When I consider the pros and cons of moving children overseas, I agree an addition to the pro side is the development of a stronger core family-primarily out of necessity for the children. Could there be in life, as in physics, an equal and opposing force to every action?
God I hope not.