29 September 2007

UCXC: Loyola Invitational 2007

Not the best day for the UCXC men: we were hoping to place around seventh or eighth at the Loyola Invitational, the gold division of which is packed with DI and DII teams, but no one ran particularly well, and we wound up in thirteenth.

In the final steps of the race, I was hit by the problem of overheating I occasionally get when I race - suddenly, all strength goes out of my limbs, moving a single step becomes a major effort, my body has begun to burn muscle instead of calories/fat, and I feel as though I might black out. After the race, I was barely conscious and could not open my eyes more than a fraction, my feet and legs were racked with cramps, and my head burned with a dehydration headache. It is an extraordinarily unpleasant experience, but things ended up fine.

13. University of Chicago (359 points)

44. Ryan McCarl (Sr.) (26:00)
57. Jon Ascolese (Jr.) (26:12)
92. Arthur Baptist (Fr.) (26:41)
101. Greg Rizzolo (Sr.) (26:56)
107. Alex Garbier (So.) (27:00)
122. Adam Kaye (So.) (27:00)
123. Nick Nunez (Fr.) (27:12)
127. Chris Peverada (Jr.) (27:15)

20 September 2007

Back in the States!

I had a great time in Tokyo, and now I am home - in Muskegon overnight and driving to Chicago first thing tomorrow morning. I'll post a few of the best pictures from the trip over the weekend.

A few of the things I did in Japan:

-Reconnected with the Japanese people with whom I am closest - Ai (a former exchange student in Muskegon) and my former host family. Had many memorable outings with friends of Ai and became close with one in particular, a guitar-playing writer/actor named Okada who, at age 23, has already published two books of poetry in Japan.
-Took a scenic train that ran along the seacoast to Kamakura, a beautiful, tree-filled former capital of Japan that is filled with temples and shrines.
-Had dinner at a yakitori restaurant and drinks at an bar with Morimoto Reo (Leo), an actor famous in Japan. We discussed politics, literature, translation, and all sorts of other things. He said that he had never expected to be able to have a real conversation with an American, so we went out and talked from six at night to 1:30 in the morning.
-Went to a members-only bar in Shinjuku run by another famous actor.
-Went to Tokyo Disneyland with my former host family. Heard the Enchanted Tiki Birds and the Country Bears sing in Japanese.
-Observed my first typhoon, Typhoon No. 10 (of the year), which hit Tokyo a few hours after I arrived.
-Ate at "Freshness Burger," a Japanese burger chain. Not good.
-Toured various places in Tokyo: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asagaya (where I lived), Koenji, Kichijoji, Odaiba, Jinbocho, Nakano, Urayasu.
-Discovered that in the four years since I was last in Tokyo, at least one Starbucks has prominently appeared in every district.
-Saw a Disney-style line formed in front of Tokyo's one Krispy Kreme, near Shinjuku Station. A white-gloved employee guided people into the line and managed a sign that said: 30 minutes.
-Learned that when the first Burger King opened in Tokyo recently, some people waited (and still wait) several hours to eat there.
-Was robbed by the exchange rate and fees to the tune of 8 cents per dollar I exchanged.
-Wrote over 100 pages in a travel journal and took almost 500 photographs.
-Watched a Japanese friend get written up by a policeman in Asagaya after ignoring a command to stop our guitar-playing and singing in a park at 1 a.m.
-Read Tolstoy's Hadji Murad, Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, Northrop Frye's The Educated Imagination (a book about the importance of literature), Walker's Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan, and about half of McCormack's The Emptiness of Japanese Affluence and Virgil's Aeneid.
-Discovered new Japanese music and brought home seven CDs.
-Visited a used English-language bookstore in Jinbocho; the bookstore had some incredibly rare books, including a complete set of the Criterion, the journal T.S. Eliot edited, and many first-edition books by John Steinbeck, my favorite American author.
-Bought Japanese books: the collected early poems of Tanigawa Shuntaro (some of which I am going to translate this year), a book on homes in Tokyo, and others. Also bought several used books in English.

The trip was a complete success. I was glad to be in Japan, and now I am glad to be back. Everything starts on Monday: classes in the M.A. program at Chicago, cross-country practice, editorial meetings at the Maroon, and another year of work at D'Angelo Law Library.

04 September 2007

Two weeks in Tokyo

Thursday at 1 p.m., I will be on a plane bound for Minneapolis, and then I'll fly direct from Minneapolis to Tokyo-Narita. It's a 12-hour flight and a 13-hour difference from eastern time, so I'll arrive in Tokyo around 4 pm on Thursday. Then, I'll figure out how to ride the bus from Narita to Shinjuku, the district in the photo, and at Shinjuku I'll meet up with my friend Ai.

I became friends with Ai when she was an exchange student in my hometown of Muskegon, MI, during my senior year of high school; although I haven't seen her in over three years, we've kept in touch through letters and emails. I'll be staying with Ai and making the most of Tokyo for two weeks, seeing as much as I can and improving my Japanese as much as possible in the process.

On Sunday, I'll also spend the day with the Takada family, the wonderful host parents and sisters I stayed with for six weeks as an exchange student near Tokyo in the summer before my senior year of high school.

Naturally, I don't want to spend any of this precious time typing in English and surfing the Internet. So the blog is on hiatus until September 20th or so. Thank you, as always, for reading, and feel free to browse the archives.

As always, I will take hundreds of photos and keep a detailed travel journal these next two weeks, and I will post some of that on this blog when I return. Until then: Ja, ne.

01 September 2007

Personal update: Elmhurst Invitational 2007

The cross-country season got off to a great start for the UCXC men and women - the men placed our top 5 in the top 11 spots of the meet. What's more, we did it by starting very conservatively and gradually moving up, a tactic that allowed us to run comfortably in a pack of 7-10 runners for the first 2 1/2 miles of the 4 mile race. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a race so much. Full results are here. The UCXC women took 2nd, placing 4 in the top 11.

I'll write more later, as I'm driving to Ann Arbor in six hours for a Michigan football game. But here are the team results:

(Overall place, name, year, time)

2. Ryan McCarl (Sr) - 17:57
5. Jon Ascolese (Jr) - 18:11
8. Chris Peverada (Jr) - 18:14
10. Arthur Baptist (Fr) - 18:19
11. Nick Nunez (Fr) - 18:27
15. David Yu (Jr) - 18:50 - (David ran unattached; he's spending the year in Great Britain)
18. Harry Backlund (Fr) - 18:57
22. Greg Rizzolo (Sr) - 19:06
24. Dan Gardner (Jr) - 19:07
30. Adam Kaye (So) - 19:16