Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Running

Fort2Base – Sole Adventures 

When we lived in Great Lakes, Dave and I would participate in the Fort2Base 10NM (11.5 miles) race. The race starts at the historic Fort Sheridan and ends at Naval Station Great Lakes. 2017 marked the 7th annual Fort2Base race. The race director, Beth, is a friend of ours and we were thrilled the virtual race option was available for 2017. Dave and I registered and were excited to participate even though we are so far away! 

We received our amazing finishers medal in the mail along with our race numbers and sling bag. Just one thing left to do – run our race! 

Which we did, this morning. 

My legs were pretty sore after my Mt. Fuji hike on Saturday so we decided to run the race very early in Monday morning. Also, we thought running before sunrise would help save us from too much heat and humidity. 

Here are the snapshots of Dave’s Fitbit and my Garmin. We went the distance! 

It was fun to have medals to celebrate our strong work. Tell me those medals aren’t the coolest!?! 

It was fun to have a shorter distance on our running calendars. It took a while after all the training miles for Tokyo Marathon to want to run another race. The Fort2Base run was perfect to keep us motivated during the summer months. Thanks, Beth for making the virtual race possible! We are already looking forward next year!! 

Paso Robles Wine Camp

The third part of my American Adventure was uniting with my friends from Virginia Beach. Friday, 7/21, I linked up with Mark and Roxanne at the San Francisco airport. After enduring a bit of rental car drama, the three of us drove south along 101 to Paso Robles. The traffic was awful. When finally made it to our airb&b rental we were beyond relieved and excited! Here we rendezvoused with the rest of our VB friends. Sue, Jeff and their daughter, Allison, had spent the week in San Diego visiting our friend, Sara and her family. They were driving north to Paso Robles. 

The reunion was magnificent! And definitely better than our selfie stick pictures. Somehow we couldn’t quite get all seven of us in one picture! Or smiling. Or looking at the camera. 

After our snack, we decided to charge our glasses and take a walk around the grounds of the airb&b. 

The owner’s dog acted as an escort. 

As the sunset, we seized the opportunity for a few modeling shots. 

This one makes me laugh. Mark and his paparazzi’s shadows.

Allison and her paparazzi! 

After dinner, Roxanne began the first lesson of Wine Camp. She used her socks to school us on her expectations. 

Saturday morning, before our day of Wine Camp, Sara and I enjoyed a run through the J. Lohr vineyards. 

Our first appointment for wine tasting was at 10:30 at the J.Lohr vineyard. Off we go! 

Another friend in VB helped to arrange a personal tasting experience with Elisa. Despite having an appointment and being told not to be late, Elisa seemed to have no clue who we were or why we asked for her. None the less, she provided us with a VIP experience. 

Perhaps you notice the cat ears? I brought them with me from Japan for us to wear. We spent the day explaining the purpose. They are “kawaii”, Allison (our driver for the day) was the cat herder, we wanted to be able to find each other, we wanted to fit in with the numerous bachelorette parties, and well, because Japan. We never quite perfected the story. Personally, I think cat herder was most appropriate. 

Our second winery of the day was at Eberle winery. This winery was our favorite for several reasons. 1. The staff was super friendly. Even when we broke a glass! 

2. The wines were delicious. 

3. The tour of the winery caves was interesting and our tour guide was super animated. 

4. Free pizza.  

After a stop for lunch, we continued to our third winery, Sculpterra.  

The wines were delicious and the sculptures throughout the gardens were really impressive and unique. 

Our fourth and final winery was San Marcos Creek Vineyard. It was a quiet winery with delicious wines. It was the perfect quiet ending to a lively and exciting day. Kanpie! To dear friends! 

Our five souvenir bottles from the day! 

I want to give a special shoutout to our driver, Allison. She drove us around all day and patiently waited for us at each winery. She earned the highly esteemed honor of Cat Herder. Thank you, Allison, for enduring the day and keeping us safe! 

Humid Rain – Sole Adventures 

I anticipated during the rainy season, there would inevitably be an early morning run or five in the rain. What I didn’t expect was how humid it would be even when it was raining! Between the rain drops and my profuse amount of sweat, by the end of my run I look like a drowned rat. It’s definitely not pretty. Simultaneously, I feel so sluggish because my clothes are soaked and my breathing is more labored because of the humidity. I was starting to wane on motivation. 

Recently, I read an article in POPSUGAR about how incorporating intervals into your run can help to burn more calories and gain speed. The article encourages runners to alternate between periods of pushing hard and periods of recovery. I don’t really care about speed and who doesn’t want to burn more calories! Plus, I needed something different to help me stay motivated. I decided to try running intervals on my run today. I would run “fast” until I saw a pretty flower! Then I would stop and take a picture. I made it through my normal route without getting too bored! I was constantly looking for the next flower so I could stop. 

And look at the flowers I captured in the humid soggy rain! 

The highlight of my mushy run was seeing and actually being able to pet a boxer puppy on the beach. Normally, the Japanese don’t like you to pet their dogs. But, this sweet girl came up to me and let me pet her! I think she knew I loved the nugget. I used one of my recovery periods to pet the puppy. The way she frolicked as she walked along the beach reminded me of Hannah and was a ray of sunshine on a gloomy and steamy day. I took this picture as they walked away. I caught her just as she turned around to say goodbye. You gotta love the boxer smile! 


I realized something while Dave and I were running this morning. Our route has become so familiar I am able to anticipate scents and odors along our way. 

It is similar to America when you go out for a walk or run and you smell someone doing laundry. It’s like that except we smell things like someone’s shower soap when running down this alley. 

Or that we have learned to breathe out when passing the house with the blue roof on the left because it smells like liver and cigarettes. 

Our two favorites right now are the roses and honeysuckle. 

We also know when to expect trash day. Today was a cardboard recycling day. I find the meticulous care with which the Japanese bundle their garbage intriguing. Simultaneously, the potted flowers beautify the neat bundles. 

We also have our “regulars” who we typically see most mornings. They are always quick to exchange an “ohayōgozaimasu” or sometimes an actual “good morning”. 

It feels good to smell familiar scents, see familiar faces, and exchange morning pleasantries. It helps us to feel connected. 

Thank you for that. Subject change. 

I need a favor from my flower loving friends. Please help me to identify this plant. I took several pictures. It looks like a impatient but, it grows on a trunk. I have seen it growing in several places and can’t identify it. Any assistance would be appreciated! Do you know? 

One more thing before you go- tomorrow, Sunday, Dave and I are taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. I’m so excited! We have 2 days to explore Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. I look forward to sharing it all with you! 

Sole Adventures-Tokyo Marathon 

Tokyo Marathon 2017 set the bar high with respect to race amenities and organization. 

Before I get into how amazing it was, let’s start with a picture of Dave and me in our corral G waiting for the start. 

We had about an hour to kill, so we took a couple other pictures. A selfie of us and one of Hello Kitty. 

I couldn’t pass up a picture of Hello Kitty with Mt. Fuji. Kawaii! 

Now onto the details of the race. Going through security was painless. We could see the start line from our hotel room and also Mt. Fuji if you look closely into the haze. 

Security opened at 7am. There were approximately 36,000 runners and I knew it would be best to be ahead of the crowds. We left our room at 7:15. I expected it would take us about an hour to get out of the hotel (slow elevators from the 28th floor), walk to our Gate, pass through security, use the restroom and then finally make our way to our start corral. Actually it only took us about 45 minutes. Being early and ahead of the crowd helped. 

The race started promptly at 9:10. We were passing the start line about 8 minutes later. Again, I expected 9:20ish. 

After we started, I put my phone away. Sorry, no more pictures. I took off the case and was worried I would drop it and there were so many people I was worried I would trip fooling around with it. 

Here are some highlights. Being dressed at Hello Kitty made the race a blast. Running on the outside, near the spectators, drew lots of “kawaii” and “Hello Kitty” comments. I would wave and smile. I felt like a celebrity. Simultaneously, by mile six, I was getting tired of waving. Haha. I made Dave move us over to the middle! 

The amount of spectators was unreal. They were literally lining the streets the entire way! They were cheering and had a variety of different noise makers. Surprisingly, we never heard any cowbell! 

The aid stations were every 2-3km. Yes, the entire race was measured in kilometers. Pathetically, we enjoyed doing the math to convert the kilometers to miles to help pass the time. ? Every aid station had water and every other station had Pocari Sweat, the Japanese equivalent to Gatorade. After the halfway point, certain aid stations had bananas, tangerines, tomatoes, and a bread with something in it. I thought it was bean paste. Dave tried the bread and said no, it was chocolate! He also enjoyed several free candies and chocolates from spectators. I stuck with my three honey stingers and a half of tangerine around 32km or mile 20. The last thing I thought my intestines would tolerate was chocolate. I was a little bit disappointed there were no rice balls. I had heard through the grapevine that rice balls were offered. Nope. Let me just squelch that rumor! 

That pretty much covers everything. As I mentioned, the experience was wonderful. So wonderful in fact, we both agreed that was our LAST full marathon. We don’t need to do another. Ever. Half marathons from here on out. As we were enjoying our Sushi celebration dinner I asked Dave if he would rather climb Mt. Fuji or run another marathon. His response, “I’ve done both in 6 months, I’m good.” Simultaneously, he said, he was ready to run Key West Half Marathon anytime!! I couldn’t agree more! 

Thank you for all of the FB cheers, messages, and blog comments. Your support and love was felt by us both halfway around the world. 

To finish lines! Kanpie! 

Sole Adventures – The LSD 17 Mile March

I didn’t march on Saturday – my Sunday. I’m so grateful for my family and friends who did march throughout the United States. Washington, New York, Asheville, and Chicago. Each woman I spoke with about their reason for marching was different and yet the same. They were marching for their sister and for our country. I have never been more proud to know so many strong women. Women who are willing to travel miles to support important causes – women’s rights, education equality, climate, human equality, and above all – hope. Hope that the forward progress America has experienced is what makes it great.

Unfortunately, no. I didn’t march. I found out about a march in Tokyo after it happened. Instead, I ran 17 miles step-by-step Sunday morning with my husband. A man who supports me and respects me. A man who encourages me to be strong and outspoken. A man who is more than “ok” to be married to a confident, successful and independent woman. A man who is the first to say, “Team Dwyer for the win” at every achievement or milestone in our life.

As we train for the Tokyo Marathon, I’m running every step with my supporting husband and for my sisters around the world. Together and united we are strong and our voice will be heard. I heard you half way around the world today. Again, I couldn’t be more proud of you all.

This is us, 7.5 miles into our run on a chilly cold morning, supporting each other to run long… yes, I’m trying to smile. Mt. Fuji is in between us.

Our morning wasn’t completely clear, but we could still see Mt. Fuji beyond the haze. The small island in the front is Enoshima Island. The white dot on the island is the Sea Candle.

I also snapped a couple pictures of my favorite view on our long runs.

Living in Japan for the past 6 months has given me a new perspective. I have a much better understanding of what feels like to be different. I don’t blend in – I stick out. With that being said, from the start, the Japanese have accepted my difference. Sure, they might stare a little longer or not sit next to me on the train, but, eventually, they smile and someone will sit down. On several occasions, they have offered to help me understand the train schedule or menu item. The Japanese are kind, polite and helpful. I continue to strive to be all of these things. Every day.

I will leave you with a quote that speaks to me about why America has always been great.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Emma Lazarus

Sole Adventure: Hop, Skip & a Trip

Happy Friday!  This morning started of with a run and a view of a beautiful sunrise over Tokyo Bay.  As we were running we commented about how this was the clearest sunrise we have observed since arriving on the island.

As we continued running, our conversation continued about the weather.  We noted that yesterday was the first day since our arrival that it didn’t rain.  Next up in conversation was what were our plans for the weekend.  Today, I intended to run a couple errands on base with the help of my new friend and her car.

  1. Pick up dry cleaning
  2. Set up cable and Internet for our future home

We also discussed weekend plans which include attending the annual Yokosuka Base Friendship Day.  On Saturday, the base is open to the community and many locals come in and enjoy fellowship and friendship.  Also, there are numerous vendors, arts & crafts and 3 different stages for live music.  Sunday, we are planning a little exploration of a beach town near where we will eventually live.  The name of the town is Zushi.  Seriously!

At this point in my run, I thought to myself, “With a boring admin day ahead of me, what will I blog about?”  Immediately, I thought of discussing the variety of food I have tried.  Let’s go back to the egg salad I bought yesterday.  It actually was pretty good.  I think Japanese “uncrustables” might be a new favorite of mine.

Shortly after having this thought, I “stumbled” upon the actual topic.  We were running up a hill on base approximately half way through our run.  There were two large birds ahead of us and Dave crossed the street to avoid them.  I observed a car at the stop sign at the top of the hill and thought I would just stay on course.  That is when it happened.  I tripped and fell.  HARD.  I scraped my right knee and shin, my left palm, the back of my right shoulder and dislocated my right pinky.  I sat for a minute and assessed my injuries.  Noting what hurt and where there was blood.  After looking at the blood on my hand and knees, I realized an intense pain coming from my right pinky.  Closer inspection almost caused me to pass out.  It still brings up feels of nausea when I think about it.

A trip to the hospital was needed. Now, where is the hospital again? Keep in mind it maybe 5:20 am at this point. We started off in one direction and quickly crossed paths with a fellow sailor who pointed us in the correct direction. Off we went. A good 5-10 minute walk later, we arrived at the ER.  Seriously. 96 hours after being on the island and I need a trip to the ER. Dave hadn’t even had a chance to officially “check me in” and register me in the Yokosuka Hospital database. Consider that completed at this point.

The other annoying part – we didn’t have our military IDs on us. After checking me in, Dave ran back to our room to pick them up. During this time, the ER doctor numbed my finger and scheduled X-rays to be taken.

By the time Dave returned, the X-rays showed the finger was only dislocated and the ER doctor was easily able to snap or pop it back into place. It was as gross as it sounds. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the X-ray. It was disgusting as well.

Once my finger was re-set and splinted, the doctor sent me on my way. She gave me extra gauze, tape, and Neosporin. I was juggling quite a few things at this point and asked her if she had a bag. No bag. 

But, she did have a rubber glove. Keeping with the theme of my fall, she packed the extra supplies into the glove for me to carry home. Hilarious.

We walked back to the lodge and I snapped a quick shot of the road rash on my shoulder. I still don’t understand how that happened. On my back?

Lessons Learned:

  1. Carry your military ID with you ALWAYS
  2. Never wonder about a blog post topic
  3. Try more Japanese Uncrustables!

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