Friday, January 23, 2009

Bringing Back the Classic: Fukushi in Osaka

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner



It's been a year since 3000 m, 5000 m and half-marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi's marathon debut in Osaka, a run which will be remembered as the classic marathon cautionary tale. The video above shows Fukushi's final 500 m. Below is a two-part mini-documentary on her marathon with footage of the earlier stages of the race, alternate footage of her last kilometer not included in the original broadcast, and an interview with Fukushi recorded three weeks after the race. A transcript of Fukushi's comments is included below the two video segments.


Part one of the documentary.


Part two of the documentary.

Transcript of Fukushi's Commentary
I was like Bambi. Everything was new, dehydration and whatnot. I think it was a good experience for me. Maybe it was a curse or something, but I got three DVDs of the TV coverage from friends and they all cut off at the 30 km point! I couldn't see anything that happened after that. Kind of a strange thing.

Everyone was saying, "Beijing! Beijing!" when I did the marathon. What's so important about Beijing? I honestly don't understand why people put so much weight on Beijing. 'Beijing' only reminds me of a Chinese restaurant I know in Hiroshima. When I hear 'Beijing' that's the only thing I can think of. It's a great restaurant, though, so you should really check it out next time you're in Hiroshima. The Olympics? It only makes me think of five rings and spectacular opening ceremonies. That's all. I don't really care about being in the Olympics.

When I was warming up in Osaka I thought, "Oh, this is just the same as a regular track race, nothing special," so I did my usual fifteen-minute warmup. When I started, I thought, "Whoa, am I alone in a marathon?" In track races I'm always in the lead by myself and running alone all the way, but here it was again in the marathon too! I was kind of lonely. I had the idea that in a marathon everyone runs in a pack, so I was thinking, "Huh? Where is everybody? Well, OK then, let's go!" I thought they would catch me sooner or later, but instead of worrying about the people behind me it seemed like for my own sake I'd better focus on finishing as quickly as possible. I just kept going.

I kind of knew I'd be slowing down after 30 km. When I got there I felt it and thought, "OK, here it comes, this must be The Marathon," but I didn't expect to slow down that much. I really respect marathoners. I don't know how they can move their legs that fast. While I was running I was watching them go by and thinking that they all had unbelievably strong legs. "They're so fast! How come you marathoners can still move your legs like that?" I was thinking all these compliments.

I have a vague memory that some people from my company were running at the roadside just ahead of me and I was kind of following them. It would've been such a waste if I'd stopped after 20 km or 30 km and not gotten a finishing record. It would've turned out to be zero. I didn't care if it took 3 hours or whatever, I wanted to finish. I wanted a finisher's towel. They give out these huge bath towels, and I wanted one! I wouldn't get one if I didn't finish.

At the end I was laughing because I felt the gap between my mind and body, like I didn't want to fall but knew I was going to. It was funny, so I started laughing. I wasn't unconscious or disoriented, I was totally lucid and just laughing. I don't regret anything. I would have regretted it if I'd stopped. If I had stopped I might be training for Nagoya now!

What's my goal? It would probably sound better if I said I wanted to try to get a medal in the Olympics, but my desire is not really for that kind of thing. Maybe I'm aiming more for records, like my PB or something. That makes more sense to me and I like it better. Maybe I don't really care where I run as long as I'm setting PBs. Maybe the Olympics are somewhere there beyond that, but maybe not. I hope I can set more PBs, and I'll try.

The marathon was a big experience. It was OK. I'm happy I could finish.

2 comments:

Dusty said...

Thanks for taking the time to translate and write the transcript! She seems really funny and able to laugh at herself. I imagine after so much success at the shorter distances, she just figured the other women were slower (and they were for 30km!).

Thanks for the great blog and unique insight into Japan's running culture.

Eryn said...

Thanks Brett for the translation and the link. I saw the race live and I remember it lively. Still 2:40 is very impressive result (to me at least). Daniel