A gust to fill my 2024 sails

The wind was at my back. The road ahead was all downhill. A glance at my Fitbit and I see I’m on pace for my best 5k.

Up ahead is the Toho Cinemas lot where you can find a statue of Godzilla nestled in amongst the studio warehouses. It marks 5k along the Sengawa river from where I started and the perfect spot to head back and wrap up my yearly 10k run on New Years day.

As I near the turnaround bridge, a gust gives me a nudge. Go for it. Push.

A time for new beginnings and I plod on.

Nearing Tamagawa for the first time, I come up on the river’s massive levees. Reaching the crest, Tamagawa spreads out before me and my eye immediately land on a crystal white Fuji-san soaking up the sun. The sight takes my breath away while filling me with a second wind for the final 2k.

I come down from the levee into the river valley, passing morning strollers enjoying the blue skies and crisp air. “ナイスラン、ファイト!” (Nice run, fight!) snaps me out of my running haze and brings a smile to my face. Lights a fire within me. I gave a small thumbs up and a nod to my mystery supporter.

The path along Sengawa that had been winding its way through the suburbs of Tokyo has straightened out like an arrow and the goal is plainly in sight. No surprises around the next bend or divots in path to pay attention to, just my own will to focus on.

A lacrosse player is tossing a ball against a concrete bridge support that marks the finish line. Is this her tradition to come out each New Years day? Her throws are confident and she’s light on her feet. My feet are aching, calves burning, and can feel the sweat on my brow despite the winter temperatures. I slow my pace and come to a stop just on the other side of the bridge. A personal best in the 10k. A smile wider than Tamagawa is wide.

Throw, bounce, catch. The lacrosse player keeps up her practice. I’m 10k from home now. I’ve hit my goal. The songs of the sirens come floating on the wind from Futago Tamagawa station. Grab a train. Take the easy way home. Throw, bounce, catch. I give my watch a glance. “End” glows orange and bright, a simple tap and I can wrap for today. Throw. What if? Bounce. I go for it? Catch. I turnaround, my wrist dropping to my side, and soles of my shoes crunching the gravel, dirt mix.

One hour later I’ve finished retracing my steps and I’m just about to hit the 20k mark. It has been a battle uphill, against the wind and a fatigue I haven’t experienced. My first time running over 13k and my 2024 goal of running a half marathon tantalizing close. My mind races between calling it at 20k and going for it. One more push. The wind, the inspiring vistas, the supporter, and the lacrosse athlete give me one more boost and I push on. Minutes that feel like hours later the watch reads 21.3km. I think that’s enough for a half marathon? I pray that it is. I’m just meters from home now.

I hit “End” and glow at a fantastic start to new beginnings in 2024.