I would like to recommend that you start saving your pennies for a trip to Rebun Island, just off the far northwestern corner of Hokkaido, Japan. Or, you could get a job with the JET Programme teaching English and try to get assigned to this area where you work at schools on the mainland and on islands on different days. That worked out well for me.
This weekend was the Rebun Flower Marathon. Races in Japan are often called marathons, whether or not a 26.2 mile race is included or not. For example, this one was a 3, 5, or 10K run. I'm still dealing with achilles tendinitis and not running, but when the English teacher I work with asked if I wanted to join her in the 3K, I couldn't say no.
I did approximately one training run.
In the past, I always had race strategies and long training plans, but for this one I just decided to run like something was chasing me.
During the race, I thought I was going to die, especially when we turned around and I realized that we had been running with the wind. But I didn't die, and I finished in 15:45, which was better than I hoped.
We hung around the finish line and cheered for people as they came in from the 5 and 10Ks. The last 10K runner (and he was last by a good bit) finished right at 1 hour. That seemed kind of fast for the final finisher to me!
After the race, the teachers had a barbecue. I love Japanese-style BBQ. Everyone sits around the grill and helps cook.
We had all kinds of meat and fish and vegetables.
The next day, I said goodbye and went for a walk before my ferry home. Rebun is a gorgeous place for walking. I was going to hike up into the hills that have spectacular sea views, but my hill muscles loudly protested. I stuck to level ground.
Come on over to Rebun! You probably won't regret it (unless the weather is bad).