Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lord of Tengan 5k

Last Saturday was the Lord of Tengan races on Camp Courtney.  Last year we did the 10k, but I've been fighting shin splints for the last few weeks so we only did the 5k this year.

This year wasn't too different from last year.  The weather was warm and sunny, the course has a good amount of hills (I'd say on the extreme end of "rolling"), and the race is a cozy but energetic size.  (The Stroller Warriors were definitely out in force too.  And they're always so supportive!)

Even with the fun race, I've kinda been in a funk lately.  I'm finally feeling like my head is back in the game and I've been making amazing improvements, but now my body is failing me by being injured.  I am finally, finally, finally back into pre-pregnancy jeans (yes, they're my old "fat" jeans, but after 4 years I'm out of effs to give).  Although I knew that I was definitely risking injured by not properly building my mileage before the Nago Half, I'm still extremely frustrated by the setback.  Shin splints aren't the end of the world (and I already had planned about 6 weeks of rest after the Ayahashi Half), but I'm disappointed and I don't want to slow down right when I'm starting to see some progress.

Anyways, I'm still going to do Ayahashi Half (I've done fulls with screaming shins and raging ITBs before, an 8k mud run the day after I totaled my car, and swam in the Willamette River with staples in my head.  Shin splints? Baby, that don't phase me). Just have to remember that my body is telling me to go in a different direction for a little bit and I'll come out stronger in a few months.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tsunami signs

Tsunami warning sign

I've noticed some new signs around Okinawa (the one pictured above is at the Tengan post office near Camp Courtney).

Although Okinawa barely felt the effects, the signs were prompted by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.  Red signs are for water levels 5m and below, yellow are 6 to 19m, and blue are for 20m and above (approximately 16ft, 20ft to 62ft, and 66ft respectively.

To give a little perspective, waves were measured at 10m (~33ft) at the Sendai Airport and the highest were almost 38m (~125ft) at Miyako.  Water went up to 6 miles inland.  While the Tohoku earthquake was an unprecedented magnitude, the following tsunami was not the largest in Japanese history.  In fact, Japan averages one tsunami every 7 years.  Being aware of your surroundings and knowing what to do in a tsunami definitely can't hurt (here's a guide from Kadena).

I believe housing agencies are required to tell tenants if they're living in a tsunami zone, but just in case you're not sure what zone you're in, this guide has detailed maps of the island (pages 8-18).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Little differences: Daylight Saving Time

Enjoying a full night of sleep

No springing forward or falling back for us!

Japan doesn't use Daylight Saving Time.  I definitely don't miss changing the clocks, feeling jet lagged, losing an hour of sleep, or getting kiddos on a new schedule.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What's that smell?

Sometime back in November or December we noticed a funky smell in our house.  The smell went away after a couple of days, so we didn't think anything of it.

Well, a couple weeks ago the smell was back.  Big time.  I decided it was time do a little investigating.  I emptied out the yuki-shita (the below floor storage in our kitchen), pulled the plastic tub up, prayed that the chick from The Grudge wasn't down there, and climbed in.

The empty yuki-shita

And discovered at least 2" of standing, skanky water. (Thankfully there's a little wooden platform I could crouch on and I didn't get wet.)  Looking around I spotted a little drain in the wall that was clogged.  Apparently the drain molded over, trapping water in the crawl space and creating a swamp below our feet.  Wonderful.

Foundation vent and drain

See that tiny drain in the picture above?  Yeah, who knew you had to check on that.

At first, I thought the foundation vents had let rainwater in.  Which probably makes you wonder, why would homes have such vents in the first place?  Traditional homes need air flow to keep the house safe and comfortable.  Back in the day, families would build a fire to cook and warm the living space.  A fire means smoke, definitely not something you want building up in your house.  So the vents are designed to draw air up from the crawlspace to keep smoke from accumulating.  Now people use kerosene heaters that can also create fumes.  Plus, Japanese homes usually don't have any insulation or central heating. The vent's second purpose is to help keep the temperature comfortable.  Instead of relying on a/c in the summer, cold air from the crawl space helps to cool the rest of the house.

Later the work crew discovered our bathroom sink had a leak.  The leak must have been slow enough to let mold grow (not a difficult task around here).  Then maybe a combination of rain from the typhoons and water from the sink backed up.

Our foundation/crawl space

The crawlspace is maybe 3 feet at the tallest.  Definitely felt bad for the crew who had to fix the leak and clean the swamp up.  But now our house doesn't smell like an old aquarium, so I'm happy.  And I'm definitely checking that drain from now on!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Baba Urban Green Space

On our way to Kadena or Camp Foster, we've driven past this park hundreds of times.  But we're usually busy and aren't able to stop.  I finally decided to make the trip just to check it out. 

Park sign on the 329
With a name like Baba Urban Green Space*, I wasn't sure what to expect.  But right next to the parking lot was a nice little playground and a picnic area.  The boys loved the swing and the drop slide.

After playing for a bit, we decided to explore some of the trails.  (Although the parking lot was full, we only saw one other person while walking around.)


Owen running down the path

We didn't get to explore too far because the boys found a roller slide.

This is my favorite roller slide yet!  Although I think the one at Yaeshima Park is longer, this slide was much smoother (no cardboard booty protection required).

Unfortunately, the boys loved the slide so much we weren't able to explore the rest of the trails.  Hopefully we can make another trip soon.

Baba park is right off the 329 (across the street from Hotto Motto and near KFC).  Here's a map

* Baba Urban Green Space is clunky but I wasn't able to find a smoother translation of the park's name, 馬場都市緑地 - Baba Toshi Ryokuchi.  And one of my dictionaries translated 馬場 as hippodrome or race track, but we didn't see any horses or stables so I'm just leaving 馬場 as Baba.