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Friday, February 28, 2014

Best Actress Oscar Dresses - Who Wore What Best?

When I saw this awesome infographic by Mediarun Digital that detailed the Oscar dresses worn by the Best Actress winners since 1929, I learned two things:

1)  That Katherine Hepburn - to this day the reigning queen of the category with four wins - never once attended the awards ceremony; and
2)  Boy, those were some dowdy outfits from the mid-70's through the 80's - with the exception of 1988's winner Cher's fabulously wild Bob Mackie ensemble, of course.  I mean, what was Sally Field thinking?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

22nd Okinawa Marathon - 16 February 2014 - 10K

After the drizzly, damp experience of running the Cebu half marathon in January, and going through the drizzly, damp, cold and foggy climes of Hong Kong since then, Okinawa was literally a breath of fresh air.  Just a mere two-hour plane ride from Hong Kong (and oh btw, Okinawa opened a brand new international airport terminal on 17 February - the day of my departure from the island - how awesome is that?) it was a breeze getting there and back.

The first thing that struck me about Okinawa is how similar it looks and feels like Hawaii.  I guess I had imagined that the prefecture would be similar to those found on the Japanese mainland, but there is a decidedly more laidback vibe to the former.  Possibly most of that has to do with the geography (it's about 500+ kilometers from the southern most tip of mainland Japan, separated by the East China Sea) and the climate - on the weekend of the marathon, Tokyo was under siege from a snowstorm which tragically claimed several lives and injured thousands - whereas Okinawa had brilliantly sunny skies and, for the most part of the year, hardly ever falls below 20 degrees Celsius.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

We had booked rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa, a beautifully serene resort opened in 2012, situated within the Kise Country Club and flanked by an 18-hole championship golf course.  Getting there from Naha International Airport took about 90 minutes on the Gettou Airport Limousine Bus (1900 yen each way per person.) For the most part, it was a scenic route, winding through the city centre and later on, the coastal road along Manza Beach towards Nago Bay. 
Now the routes for the 10k and full marathon races, however, were located between the hotel and the city centre, which was about a speedy 40-minute car ride along the expressway.  My friends Evelyn and Eric had rented a car and we parked it in one of several designated spots about a few kilometers from the starting line.  Thinking we could hop onto one of the official shuttle buses plying the parking-lots-to-race-point route, we joined a very long queue only to be told by a non-English speaking official that we were too late and that no more buses would pick us up.  He meant not just us, but the 60 or so runners still in line as well.  Panicking slightly and sensing that there would soon be a mad rush for taxis, we quickly hailed one and even gave a ride to a fellow racer - a Japanese woman who'd be running the full marathon.  That proved to be a strategic (as well as a benevolent) move since our new pal could converse with the cab driver in Japanese regarding the exact spot he has to drop us off.

Anyway, it turned out that all our frazzled dashing about turned out all to be for naught, as we arrived super early ahead of our 9.30 a.m. gun time.  In fact, we got to hang around even way before the 9 a.m. start for the full marathon gang to cheer them on.

And they're off!  The full marathon runners, including the offspring of the Green Lantern and Ultraman.
Dawdling about and wondering if we should get in position for our race.
Checking out the pre-race entertainment. Not quite as hyper as Cebu's blasting of Rihanna and Nicky Minaj but still quite cheery.
There's always time for one more selfie.
The routes for both 10k and full marathon races.  Wasn't too crazy about the U-Turn of my 10K route - it's the one in blue and I hate backtracking - and it wasn't even that scenic throughout.
One more race in the bag...that's 2 for 2 so far in 2014, baby!

Now I have to say that the weather totally made up for the lack of postcard-type scenery along the route.  Running in the cool 20-degree weather was refreshing compared to the mugginess of my last two runs in tropical Penang and Cebu.  Also, for the first time, I didn't have to drag myself out of bed at half past two for a 4 a.m. start time (it's extra painful for me as non-morning person.)  Quite frankly, I do think these little favours are what made me shave off three minutes from my previous 10K time.  And like the other races, I thank God I didn't come in dead last and was at least ahead of a couple of grandmas (although plenty over-65ers crossed the finish line before me too - dammit.)

Now, next stop on the marathon trail: Sussex!
My pseudo Olympic moment with Eric and Eve, complete with the full medal biting.
Checking out the beverage bins in hopes of snagging some sake and finding the funky flavours of Fanta instead.
One of the best features of this marathon: pigging out at these cool food stalls at the finish line
Gotta love running in Japan - it's like the race version of Comic Con.
The finishers' walk with Eve: exhausted and exhilarated back at The Ritz-Carlton.
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