The great run (and doing the "impossible")

Today I did something that I have been nervous about for quite some time, and I DID IT! Okay, I guess it'd be good to take this from the start (wherever the start is...).....
I will start by making a statement, a statement that has been made by countless Japan-exchangers before and will be made by countless future exchangers as well: Japanese high schools are TOUGH. And I'm not talking about the studying today, like the actual school work, I'm talking about what the school system puts the students through and how much is expected of them. In October my school had this event where all of the students walked over 33 km, and their next big school event, which we have been in preparation for for about a month, was a 10 kilometer run (which happened to take place today). Like, it's just expected of the students to take part is these things even though they are really physically challenging for most of them. I don't know, maybe it isn't as tough and strict as I find it to be, maybe I've just spent too much time in Sweden where we don't really have any expectations to do anything else than the actual school work. 
So I have P.E three times a week, and for about a month we have been running every lesson, taking time and counting distance and preparing for the great run that we all had to participate in. I do run with my dad sometimes back in Sweden but never more than two kilometers at a time, and I am not a runner, which made this new project a real challenge from day one. I did notice myself getting slightly better and being able to run faster, but running three kilometers at an OK time didn't exactly feel enough to get through the 10 kilometers I had to look forward to..... 
So, today was The Day. All of the first- and second year students gathered together at a nearby sports arena and while preparing (preparing = running around with my friends and learning commercial slogans and talking with people) I felt the nervousness from before somewhat disappear. I had been "mentally preparing" for this since yesterday, with my thoughts looking something like: okay, if I keep a relatively slow pace I think I can run five kilometers before I'll allow myself to walk for a bit. Or can I make it to six? and this isn't a competition with the other students Johanna, this is between you and you. Just be better than you were yesterday, focus on your own progress, and it really helped me before the starting shot went off. And then it did. And I ran. And I ran and I ran and even though my legs hurt and I'm not even gonna get into how my lungs felt my mind forbad me to stop and I didn't stop. I didn't stop and I finished it and even though I lost my breath when passing the finish line I couldn't stop smiling and laughing because I had just ran more than three times as far as ever before and I had done something that I didn't think I could. And I will live on that feeling for a long time. It's SO rewarding realizing you are capable of more than you think and despite this event being rather "small" and "inessential" it gave me something irreplacable and it is definitly one of the events of my exchange that I will be the most happy about when looking back on my year. I DID IT! YATTA!!
Something else that made my day amazing is something that has been going on for a little while and today more than ever... So, I might have written about this before but for a while now students at the school have started to approach me more, instead of just staring and whispering about me. I get a lot of daily "good morning!", "hello johanna!" and the like from students I have/might have/never have seen before and it is the sweetest thing ever. And so today, during the "preparation" before the start (which went on for like an hour), I talked with more new people than I think I have since I first came to Toryo. While walking around with some of my classmates some students, both whom I had talked with before and that I had never said a word to, came up to me and started talking, asked if I remembered their names and just said weird and funny things... And this one guy that is more or less known at my school for being a bit crazy came up to me and yelled "LOOK JOHANNA!" and then did a tumble on the ground and then looked up at me and smiled really big and then ran away. Like, what even? xD And then during the run I got a lot of "good luck! fightooo!" from several different students when we ran past each other and that definitly gave me more energy to keep going. All of this makes me feel appreciated and makes it easier for me to interact with the students more since it isn't easy always being the one to approach them, especially since I still sometimes feel insecure about my Japanese and it still can be hard to use it with new people. 
All in all this has been a day I definitly will remember and I thought it important do write down my thoughts and memories while still having them fresh in my mind. Right here and now I'm really happy and things are good!! Next up on my crazy-things-I-do-with-school-list is the annual sports festival where we will perform coreographed numbers and build human pyramides and stuff.... just the usual. Until then I will have to see what exciting adventures will come my way (I do have a few things planned).... I miss you guys and I hope that wherever in life you are and whatever you are doing you're all feeling good about it! Take care, don't drink and drive......
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