TELL Runathon

TELL Runathon
After the race, with Rika Wakasugi, part of the Mattress cast. Rika ran the 5-k course. (Photo by Arlene Dinglasan, another Mattress cast member and volunteer timer)

Jon Reimer, my director in Once Upon A Mattress, works at TELL, the Tokyo English Life Line, an NPO that provides counseling services for foreigners in Japan. With their long history in Tokyo, TELL quickly became a liaison service for foreign NPOs and NGOs hoping to offer assistance after the Tohoku Earthquake.


On Saturday, TELL had their annual runathon at Chidori-gafuchi Park, the 5-km moat path around the Tokyo Imperial Palace. I originally hadn’t intended to participate—I still had a million things on my to-do list that hadn’t been done, and I was already going to do set construction for Once Upon A Mattress at 2:00 that afternoon. But as I found more and more of the cast participating either as runners or volunteers, and realized that I could, in fact, start running at 10:25 and make it to setcon even if I hobbled, I found myself out of excuses.


So it came down to whether I could wake up early enough on Saturday morning. Getting home at 10:00 Friday night to find two editing jobs from AAR waiting in my inbox didn’t help. Getting lost coming out of the station the next morning helped even less.


Although early registration would have saved me some cash, and group registration would have saved me even more, I was happy to pay the ¥4,500 same-day fee for the run. I figure if I’m going to give, I might as well give a little more. In general, however, I’ve stopped giving money to charity—after giving ¥16,000 (about $160) to disaster relief over five days in Hiroshima, plus spending another ¥10,000 on donations for Second Harvest, I decided that I had to draw the line somewhere. But supporting a friend is different.


There was a 5-k run and a 10-k run. Given that I run about once every six months, and haven’t jogged anything more than a few kilometers at a time since I was 16, I naturally signed up for the 10-k run. Anything less and I’d feel like I was copping out.


I chatted with a friend and took the first lap easy, learning to enjoy the coolness of the rain that had begun to fall around 9:30. Then I handed off my jacket and went full-tilt for the second lap. I felt good about myself for the first 3 km or so as I passed sixty-year-olds and stocky guys built like judo masters. Then half of them blew past me when I ran out of steam in the last 2 km—it seems they’d been pacing themselves, too. I finished in about 59 minutes; the winner did it in 33. Then they had to delay the distribution of the prizes because, after finishing the race, one of the winners had gone off for a jog.


After that it was off to Our Space, TIP’s rehearsal/set construction zone, to move flats around like giant Tetris pieces while trying to avoid getting paint all over me, which was also how I’d spent most of Golden Week. I get the impression that the set crew neglected to ask the rest of the cast to come out and help. Even though we have a cast of thirty, every time I show up I’m one of three to five people, of whom no more than two are ever actually in the show.


When our rehearsal ended at 10:00 on Saturday, I was confused when many people stayed around for drinks after. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me. I still had setcon the next day, and a dozen things to sort out in my few hours of unscheduled time this week. I spent Sunday morning finishing up a brochure for my friend Jacob and his Future Global Leaders Program, which sends university students on a two-week educational trip to San Diego, then hurried off to setcon and rehearsal again.


I actually had a day off last Wednesday, when setcon was unexpectedly cancelled. I spent the time doing an illustration for the Tokyo Theater for Children’s production of The Little Mermaid, but I finished around 4:00 in the afternoon, after which I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just didn’t feel like starting the next project, so my brain shut off and I played hearts on Windows until I stumbled out a few hours later to watch Gantz: Perfect Answer (Don’t bother: It’s mostly just a series of really, really bad things happening to people so they can be set right at the end).


Today, however, I was highly gratified to see one of the musicians from the orchestra come out to setcon, as well as a cast member who had been lured out by the promise of painting dragons. Sadly, we only painted stones onto castle walls, but they claimed to have enjoyed themselves nonetheless.


Then I broke my rule and gave ¥2,000 to a friend who’s doing the OXFAM 100-km hike next week.


Tomorrow I have to buy tickets for Austria. My parents are visiting my grandfather’s last remaining brother in June, and if I don’t buy tickets tomorrow, I won’t have time until Saturday.


TTFC's The Little Mermaid
TTFC's The Little Mermaid

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