Sunday, October 30, 2005

Another two...including 30k M-pace run)

It is getting harder to keep up with the posts lately. Yesterday was the bunkasai (culture day, a bit like an eisteddford) at the older boys' school. I got to hear singing and saw some dancing and plays, and even saw son No. 1 practice his speech for his upcoming Meguro-wide English speech contest. I was almost carried away by the excitement a few times, but luckily managed to contain myself. Late in the afternoon I got out for an easy 10.3 km in 51:42 in light drizzly rain. It was pleasant enough.

Photo: Son No. 1's class doing their thing. He is second from right at the back. Son No. 2 was blowing the alto sax in the brass band, but was completely obscured by the conductor, so I didn't bother with a photo.

So, the big news item to add is the 30-km marathon pace run I did today at the Imperial Palace. Mika-san had organised the outing and she was doing marathon pace with a couple of similar paced friends, Yoshiko-san and Shouji-san. I decided that a change is as good as a holiday and so joined them, riding over on the old trusty shopping bike. We were also joined by Ma, Dayan, Keren, Anthony, Shiba-san, and Martin. We ran one warm-up lap at a little slower than 5:00/km pace. I had a wee stop and than we were all off at our respective paces. I was lucky in that Martin had come out of hibernation and joined us, so he fell in with me for the first two laps. The first was definitely too fast, my old problem, at less than 20 minutes. The second was better at 20:20 (4:07; using 4.94km for a lap) . The next four were 20:21, 20:34 (refueling), 20:28 and 20:27. It was getting very tough by that last one. Leg fatigue was setting in and a few aches and pains. Most telling was that while average heart rate was 154 or 155 for the first four laps, with a max up near 160 on the hill, it was 158 for the last two with a max of 172 and 171 (90% of HRmax). So I have to question whether the average pace of 4:07/km for the run was not a little too quick, and would see me fade badly over the last 7 km or so of the marathon. I guess there is only one way to find out...

Later, the seven of us who remained had a nice lunch at the cafe in Hibiya park. I then rode back for a ways with Mika, she on her flash new racing bike. She was probably a bit embarassed about not being able to keep up with the shopping bike, but never mind :) Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Two in one

Squeezed in a run home from work last night -- 8.2 km. A bit stop start and heart rate at about 130, pace around 5:00/km. It was more recovery and a few km in the log book than anything else.

Up this morning at 5:10 and out the door for 18.4 km of a targeted upper aerbic workout. It is getting to the point where it is almost too much hard work on the legs to get the heart rate up to 150. I had a few laps up in that range and the pace was around 4:00-4:04/km for the downhills and 4:06-4:10/km for the uphills. Average heart rate for the whole run was 142 and average pace 4:26/km. Whatever the averages mean! It was a very brisk 14 degrees on the thermometer too. Quite a contrast to two months ago.

Work and life have been hectic and making it hard to fit in runs and blog entries. Correspondence is well behind, so apologies to anyone I owe a reply to.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

17:53 -- A new 5K PB!

Ha haaa...after many months of just toiling away building a base, now the rewards are coming. Second big PB in a week -- 5 days in fact.

Tonight was the monthly 5k time trial at the track. I've been skipping these and the regular VO2 max workouts in favour of running heart rate runs in the park, and in the last five weeks skipping evenings altogether and running only in the morning. But with the half PB the other day, and the comfort I felt running the 3:55 pace, I felt that it was time to really put this heart rate training to the test: how had it helped me with top end speed?

Until four or five weeks ago I did no speed work (during this preparation). I did do hill runs on Saturdays, but otherwise it was just training at 65% (recovery), 70% (long runs), 75% (easy aerobic), or 80% (upper aerobic) of maximum heart rate. In the last five weeks I have done maybe three or four tempo runs and three 1600m cruise interval type sessions. That's it.

I knew that I needed to run 86 s/lap to be under 18 minutes. I knew that is pushing very hard for me, and is something I have been able to do for a few laps, but then I fade. Well tonight, after a steady 30 minute warm-up, I jumped into the time trial and somehow held that pace. There were a couple of 88 second laps a little past halfway, but there were also a few 83 second laps, and I actually finished with an 83-second lap. From a previous best of an estimated 18:10 on a short course, or 18:19 on a proper course, that is a pretty good step up.

And with almost no speedwork.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tuesday Lower Aerobic (again)

Run type: Lower aerobic
Distance: 18.35 km (to and from Komazawa Park and five laps)
Average pace: 4:30/km
Average heart rate: 139
Weather: Fine & 16 C
Sleep: 5 hours

Back to the old friend. I like this run because it is not a slow bludge, but it is never particularly difficult and you can just get into a nice rythm. I guess most of this today, after the initial 20 minute warm up, was above 135 and in the low to mid 140s. Mostly around 4:20/km to 4:30/km pace. A few twinges in the left leg, but I do suspect this is partly nerve related due to misalignment in the hips/lower back. So I think I'll just take it with care but push on with the final couple of weeks.

This was the first run in a new pair of Asics 2100s. No problems there. Some more sleep would have been nice, but work is quite demanding this week and I had to work at home until midnight.

The worst thing today was the early battle with the Polar S410. I love it (in case you are reading, Pete), but it has got some hang-up about working in Exercise Set mode. The same thing happened when I tried to use an exercise set for the long run on Sunday. I set the timers and upper and lower limits. Get a heart rate, good, everything is working, now press start and away we go. But once we get going, the displayed heart rate collapses to 11 or 12. Poor electrodes contact? Maybe. Adjust, fiddle, spittle, ptooey, etc. OK, working good, take off, pip pip pip, heart rate of 11 again. Crap. As soon as I stop the timer, the heart rate reverts to the correct reading. I go back to Basic Use mode. Fine and dandy with no further problems. The saga of the HRM, to be continued...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sunday Loooong!

Run type: Long
Distance: 40 km
Average pace: 5:04/km
Heart rate: 133
Weather: Fine and cool

I didn't set out to run that long, but it just kind of happened. I did set out to run up to 35 or 36k as the last really long run before the marathon. I also intended to try and run the latter third at higher pace/heart rate than the first two-thirds. As it turned out, running as a group in Yoyogi, we gradually increased the pace over 10 laps from 5:30 or so up to 4:50. Then on my leg home I ran at about 4:40 pace (and heart rate of 140). When I got home I just didn't feel wasted enough. I reckoned that for a good training stimulus I needed to feel really knackered. So I kept running and did a further 3.3 km around the post office loop at what turned out to be 4:30 pace (HR 152). I was pretty much done after that.

I had spent some time the night before working out how to use the heart rate monitor with training sets. I set one up for the long run, but alas, when I used it the monitor kept giving strange readings. When i gave up and went back to the Basic Use mode it was fine. So that is a mystery to be further explored.

Friday, October 21, 2005


That's the time in which I ran my half marathon time trial this morning.

The leg was feeling much better yesterday and last night, so I decided to at least approach this morning with the option of running a half time trial. I was always prepared to back out if my leg wasn't right or body, or whatever...

Set the alarm for 4:30. Got up and changed quickly, had a strongly mixed sports drink, put on the new heart rate monitor (a Polar S410 passed on by my good friend, Pete) and got out the door. I ran fairly conservatively to Komazawa in about 5:30 pace. Had a slight tummy pain so released some ballast, but not terribly satisfying, so I thought that might be a possible source of sabotage. Ran up to the top of the course and then 380 m past the start line to correct for the 380 m longer than a half marathon that 10 laps gives (it is 2.148 km/lap).

From there on it went something like this:
(Edit: my goal was to go sub 84 minutes.)
Split Distance Average pace HR at split
0:07:13 1.768 0:04:05 151
0:08:35 2.148 0:04:00 167
0:08:32 2.148 0:03:58 157
0:08:27 2.148 0:03:56 171
0:08:32 2.148 0:03:58 155
0:08:52 2.148 0:04:08 157
0:08:39 2.148 0:04:02 160
0:08:36 2.148 0:04:00 160
0:08:28 2.148 0:03:56 164
0:08:05 2.148 0:03:46 171


The last lap was pretty amazing. I knew it was a big ask to get under 84 minutes. But I ran it hard anyway. I always thought I was going to end up at 84:05 or so, no matter how hard I tried, but I pushed really hard up the hill, and then where it levels out with 150 m to go I just pushed really, really hard, and then as I hit the 50 m to go line I saw I had 10 seconds left, so I got my little legs turning over as fast as they were able. I reckon I might have looked a bit like the road runner. Beep beep! And I gave a little whoop when I saw that :59! That slower sixth lap was because of a 12 second water break, so I am prepared to take this as a new PB.


Had a few twinges in the leg, but not too bad. I think I know how to manage it now.

Edit: I wrote the above pretty quickly to make the "morning edition", as it were. But there are a few other details I wanted to add. I've largely copied and pasted it, with a few edits, from an email I sent to Colin.

1) Perceived effort was relatively constant. I experienced some leg tiredness in the later stages, but I don't think I ever really went lactic. It never became a struggle to hold on to the pace. But after the fifth lap, I did feel a bit tired and took that short drink on the sixth and deliberately decided to ease off just slightly for a little more recovery. Only a few leg niggles gave me any thoughts of pulling up, but I thought, oh fuck it, I'm on track for this...

2) After the rest on lap 6 I was well and truly over the hump and just held pace for laps 7 and 8, cranked it up a bit for 9 and then put the foot down for 10. As I checked the split at the end of lap 9, I knew I needed about an 8-minute lap to get under 84 minutes and didn't really think it was possible. It was such a buzz to squeek in.

3) It was a really beautiful morning, and on the seventh lap, the one after I'd had a "rest", the sun was pouring golden through cottonwool clouds to the east. This view was just for that one lap and only in the 300-m section right at the top of the course near the swimming pool. But it was beautiful, and I knew I was on track for a big PB, and at that one moment all of space and time dissolved and nothing else mattered -- it was just magnificent!

4) After I finished there was no time to hang around and celebrate or reflect. I just broke into a jog and kept running all the way home. Slowly.

5) It feels weird to have done this all alone. No witnesses apart from some joggers and dog walkers and old folk walking in the running lane. Did it really happen? Was it a dream? For the time being, there are splits on my watch and a dull fatigue throughout my legs that say it was no dream. And that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Twiddling of thumbs

No run today.

It is amazing how easy it can be to talk yourself out of a run when there is no particular race goal or training objective. But when you are in full-on final stages of marathon training and running pretty well, the reverse is true and it is so difficult to convince yourself to take a day off. So I feel quite anxious and niggly about not running today, but just have to accept that it is for the best.

I am resting to give the left leg a chance to do some more healing. I know that it won't be cured in a day, but it might get back to where it was a week or so ago when it didn't feel like such a threat. My hope would be that I can come back by doing a sequence of fairly hard, long runs every two days or so interspersed with rest and easy days. So the aim tomorrow will be a half marathon at 4:00 pace!! Leg willing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Run type: Lower aerobic
Distance: 16.2 km (to and from Komazawa Park and four laps)
Average pace: 4:33/km
Heart rate: dunno!
Weather: Raining & 17C
Sleep: 6-1/2 hours

Well, the niggle in my rear left thigh is finally starting to really worry me. I ran unimpeded, but the soreness was there the whole time, and it sort of spreads to the inner thigh/groin area and hip after I've been running a while. It seems too deep and spreading to be a muscle tear, so it makes me suspect inflammation of some type -- tendons or muscle sheath or something like that. Anyway, an RSI. It even felt kind of hot after I finished running tday, which is something it has not done before. So now I have the dilemma of whether to press on and hope that it will come good during the taper, or to back off and hit the anti-inflammatories for four or five days. The worry with the second approach is that even after four or five days, it might feel OK, but as soon as I throw another 20 km run at it I'll be back to where I am now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Yamanote Mawari

Run type: Long
Distance: 38 km
Average pace: 5:30/km
Heart rate: --
Weather: Raining and 18 degrees

Today was the day we set down some six or eight weeks ago to run the Yamanote Line as our long run. As the instigator of the event I was coordinating things and had used the g-map pedometer to map out the route and, most importantly, measure the distances. I had also set the departure time for 7:00 a.m. to ensure we had plenty of time to get done by lunch time, even allowing for contingencies; there was also the need to slip through some areas before the crowds built up too much.

Unfortunately some rain closed in late yesterday and we had quite a good soaking overnight. Forecasts were for "light showers". Indeed the rain was not heavy when I got up at 5:45. I'd packed my bag the night before and had little to do to get out the door by 6:15. I arrived at the park at 6:45, the first one there, and had a 14-minute-59-second wait until suddenly everyone arrived at once. Well, amost everyone. After waiting for Colin in the cold and rain for what seemed like an eternity, we eventually got away at 7:12 a.m. (according to Gareth's trusty Garmin). So seven hardy souls set off from Yoyogi Park: me, Colin, Gareth, Paolo, Keren, and our only Japanese and female members, Rie and Satohi.

The first ten km of the route was familiar to Gareth, so we were able to keep pretty close to the tracks and make good progress at the same time. We kept the group together and moved along at about 5:30/km pace (stopping the watch for lights and conferences and so on). In this way we passed by Harajuku, Yoyogi, Shinjuku, Shin-Okubo, Takadanobaba, Mejiro, and Ikebukuro before arriving at Otsuka, the 10 km mark, at 8:00. Here we met Luke. We were expecting to lose Gareth as he has been coming back from a foot injury. But instead we lost Paolo to a foot injury, and Gareth decided to press on. So then we were in Keren's backyard and he guided us ably past Sugamo, Komagome, Tabata, Nishi-Nippori, Nippori, and Uguisuidani, from where we had a minor directional challenge, but not for long or very seriously. We soon made it to Ueno, the 17 km mark. This meant we were through the "Bermuda Triangle" section of the Yamanote line, the section that most foreigners in Tokyo have almost no knowledge of. The voice of many a foreigner required to recite the stations of the Yamanote line, even long-term Tokyo residents, trails off to an embarrassed murmer after Ikebukuro. So for the record, one more time, the lost stations are: Otsuka, Sugamo, Komagome, Tabata, Nishi-Nippori, Nippori, and Uguisuidani! remember them (but please don't expect me to).

After Ueno we had a fairly straightforward run close to the tracks. Through an amazingly sparse Ameyoko Dori (street) to Okachimachi; then Akihabara, Kanda, and Tokyo were quickly dispatched. We arrived at Tokyo's South Marunouchi Exit, the 23 km mark, at 9:45. Gareth was still with us 13 km after his expected Otsuka end point, and was running strong. We thought we might pick up Motozo here, but either our timing was off or he was a no-show. We waited a couple of minutes and moved on.

Legs were beginning to tire now and the light rain that had been keeping us company all the way showed no sign of going anywhere soon. We pressed on. After Tokyo we put to the sword Yurakucho, Shimbashi, Hamamatsucho and Tamachi. Alas at Tamachi, Gareth finally found his Otsuka, some 26.5 km into the run and 16.5 km further than he'd expected. A truly sterling effort.

After Tamachi we were running along a major road (Route 15), the scenery large bleak office blocks and the rain our constant companion, and the legs and bodies were becoming weary. The consensus was that the stopping and starting was taking its toll on our legs, but I thought it rather had more to do with what we were doing between the stoppages. Next station was Shinagawa, and we were now in familiar territory for me so I took over piloting duties. This only really involved one little jink over a hill where the line takes a sharp curve between Shinagawa and Osaki. At Osaki, the 32 km mark, Luke and the two girls, Satohi and Rie, bid us farewell as they took the train back to our start at Harajuku. And then we were three. Three leg-weary but determined Aussies to slug out the last six km. Keren was also thinking of bailing out at Osaki, but a well-directed pejorative soon got him going again.

So from there we set off along the lovely (not) Meguro River (drain would be more apt) to Gotanda, past the shoe shop for big men's sizes, and up the hill to Meguro (my station). After that we were on the home stretch, the last leg, but poor Keren was almost literally on his last legs. But we grit our teeth and ignored the pain and went past Ebisu and aimed ourselves at the 29th and last station we would pass, Shibuya. A few short painful minutes later we were shouldering our way through the building crowds of young hipsters and their forest of umbrellas. Across Hachiko Crossing, then along the-road-with-no-name past Tower Records, up the hill beside the Yamanote Line for the last little stretch, Keren almost down to a walk, six aching legs, up and over our last pedestrian overpass, at the bottom of which we re-grouped and entered the park and ran the last 100 m together to cross the start/finish line from which we had departed four and a half hours earlier.

Tired but satisfied, we changed into dry clothes and six of us (the three complete loopers plus the Osaki departees) refueled on a much welcomed lunch at Soho. The Yamanote Mawari (mawari means "around" in Japanese) is a classic Tokyo exerience. A litte like climbing Mt. Fuji, something everyone should do once, but which only fools would attempt a second time. (Truth be known, I actually enjoyed every step and would gladly do it again if the planets are favourably aligned).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Shinagawa reccie

Run type: Easy
Distance: 14.05 km (to and from Shinagawa + three hill reps plus two Kohta loops)
Average pace: 5:06/km
Heart rate: --
Weather: Mild & a little humid (20 degrees)
Sleep: eight hours

Finally had some sleep last night. Got out for the run at 8:20. With our planned circumnavigation of the Yamanote line tomorrow, I decided to check the section between Meguro and Shinagawa. The route turned out to be not difficult, though I did have to sort out one tricky little jink. It was a pretty easy run in both pace and distance. On the way back I did a few hill reps up a moderately inclined hill of 370 m. When I got home I ran two Kohta loops (just over 2 km total) at an estimated marathon pace. The first turned out to be 4:10/km and the second 4:14/km, so not far off the mark. The importance of this is that it is now important to start practicing pace judgement at differing levels of fatigue. Only five weeks to go to the marathon.

Oh yeah, the big blog news is that I changed my template to try to better match the new banner. I like the layout, but I am open to suggestions on the colours. The colours of the banner are! Which is good, but I can't work out what template colours would match :/

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fuzzy Friday

Run type: Intervals
Distance: 16.5 km (to and from Komazawa Park and five laps)
Average pace: 4:41/km
Heart rate: dunno!
Weather: Fine and cool (17)
Sleep: five hours

Not enough sleep, cumulative tiredness from the week, and pressed up hard against a big decision in my personal life made me want to just stay in bed this morning. I was tired; my head was spinning from the decision that has to be made; I was also going to be having a phone interview with someone in Australia at 8:00...what to do?

I stumbled out and got on the road at 5:30. But really there is not much to say except that it was a very slow run apart from three 1600-m intervals in the park, which were, by contrast, quite fast at 5:59, 5:53, and 5:51. The effort was very hard, and is basically the first time I've run that hard or that fast in many months. I quite deliberately decided to go for it like that and cut down the number of reps.

So when I put the foot down, the body responded, but at easier pace, I couldn't really get much beyond a jog. So I just accepted it for what it was, not a great run, not a nothing run -- I suppose you would have to call it a something run. The interview went OK, but not well enough to save me from making the big decision to whether to buy an apartment here or not...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday Easy

Run type: Lower aerobic
Distance: 18.35 km (to and from Komazawa Park and five laps)
Average pace: 4:30/km
Heart rate: dunno!
Weather: Fine and cool (16)
Sleep: six hours

The word "easy" in the post title is a bit tongue in cheek. It was supposed to be an easy run following from yesterday's tempo. But to be honest, apart from tiredness from inadequate sleep, I felt pretty good. I fully intended to go slow (but went for 4:30/k or better for most of the run) and intended to run a bit shorter (but ran into Horst and ran an extra lap with him). Running into Horst was helpful because it slowed me down from running 4:20/k to 4:25-4:30/k.

There is this maxim about going very hard on the hard days and very easy on the easy days. But somehow I wonder if that applies with this cardiac approach. It seems that this aproach results in running easy days harder and hard days easier!? Or am I not going hard (or long) enough on the hard days?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The man on the brochure

I have been meaning for some time to get this uploaded.

Last year I ran the Ohtawara Marathon in Tochigi, finally achieving my goal of breaking 3 hours. This is also going to be my next marathon. Through a stroke of luck, this year's brochure included a photo taken near the start of the race that included my ugly head. I just got around to getting it scanned. I plan to get loyal colleague Kitagawa-san to take a slice of it and help me make a banner for the blog.

See if you can make me out in the top photo. The added arrows should make it easier. The blue and yellow of the Cool Running cap might also help some of my readers.

Check out the guy in the chicken suit at lower left. He ran not much slower than 3 hours and I was having a time passing him at one stage. He turns up dressed like that at quite a few races apparently.

Wednesday Early Morning Tempo

Run type: Tempo (lactate threshold)
Total distance: 18.35 km; Tempo distance: 10.75 km
Average pace: 4:23/km; Tempo average pace: 3:55/km
Weather: 17 degrees and clear
Last night sleep: 5:45, sound

Well, this was a funny old run. Fumbled around at home for a while. Not really enough sleep (which I have decided to start recording--got the idea from Vat_Man's and Mister G's blogs). Bowels were somewhat disoriented from yesterday's barium meal (what a stupid name...sort of evokes silver trays and gravy boats!!) and I sat on the throne for a few minutes with no action.

I had a bit of honey and finally got out the door at 5:30. Then running felt pretty ordinary. Some of those leg niggles are persisting and I almost felt unbalanced. If I was a car I'd say I needed a wheel alignment. But I had set my mind on doing a tempo run and so resolved to run pretty slowly to and from the park. That was almost out of my control anyway for the first part as I stumbled in at just a tad faster than 5:20/km pace.

But by the time I'd gotten there I'd warmed up and was feeling better. Stopped and stretched for a little and then just bit the bullet, clicked the watch and took off. The first km, up the hill, was at 4:06/km pace, but from then on I didn't have a split slower than 4:00/km. I was probably going a bit lactic up the hill, especially after the first one, as my breathing became fairly laboured. But everywhere else it was a hard but manageable pace, and if I went a bit lactic up the hill, I recovered somewhat on the downhill section, even when running at 3:52/km.

The really tantalising thing was that I really settled into the pace, and when I finished, I felt I could have easily kept going at that pace. I think it would have been a job to hold it right through for a half-marathon, but that's what I was thinking about and I think I could have managed it without too much of a fade. That means I would have been a strong chance to break 84 minutes, and if I didn't fade at all, then even 83 minutes. So, I don't know if you can count self-managed time trials, but I am really tempted to have a crack at a half at that pace at the end of next week.

The run home felt like a jog, but was actually 4:44/km. So, a little bit of a mixed bag, but a lot more positives than negatives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday Lower Aerobic

Run type: Lower aerobic
Distance: 18.35 km
Average pace: 4:40/km
Heart rate: dunno!
Weather: Cloudy, cool (17), and humid.

After only a short recovery run on Sunday and complete rest yesterday (except for standing around at the Yumemai Marathon), I headed out for a solid lower aerobic run. With the heart rate watch having left this mortal coil, I had to judge pace by perceived effort. As with last Thursday's hard effort I was generally successful. I wanted to get close to 4:30/km pace for as long as possible. The pace from home to the park was about 5:00/km, then once in the park upped to low 4:20s downhill and high 4:20s uphill. Much the same as when I was running with the HRM at HR140.

I was scheduled for a full medical later in the morning and was not allowed to eat until after the checkup, so I decided to try and err on the side of slower rather than faster. I felt some minor twinges in that upper left hamstring area again later in the run, but they felt slightly different to last week. I have a sense that the point of aggravation has healed a lot and this was just some residual tenderness. The danger now is not re-aggravating it as I try to get in a few quality runs over the next week or two.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday Yumemai Marathon

Today a bunch of us from Namban Rengo helped man an aid station at the Tokyo Yumemai marathon. This is a non-competitive, unofficial marathon through the city streets, running on footpaths, stopping at all the "no-walk" signals.

The marathon began a couple of years ago as a response by Tokyo's running community to protest the lack of a mass participation marathon in this city. New York has one, London has one, Paris has one, even Seoul has one, but Tokyo only has two very small and tightly controlled elite marathons, one for men (2:30 qualifying time) and one for women (3:15 qualifying time). Somehow the will has never developed within City Hall to add a major event such as a large international marathon to showcase the city. This is very strange given the enormous popularity of running in this country and also given the general policy push toward increasing inbound tourism. Perhaps the sport's popularity is its own downfall: the marathon could easily be enormous and would therefore almost certainly require entry by ballot; a large enough space for the start finish is also not easy to imagine.

The Yumemai Marathon route has been planned to take in a maximum of the city's major sites. We were stationed near perhaps the biggest foreigner magnet of all, the Kaminarimon Gate to the Asakusa Kannon Temple (Sensoji) at Asakusa. Well, we are mainly foreigners after all!

The course in our section ran up one street to the Kaminarimon, crossed the road, and then back down the other side of the road past our aid station and then off towards Tokyo Dome and ultimately the finish at Hibiya Park. So there were quite a few points in our area at which we had to intercept and direct runners in the right direction. It was overcast and cool and there were scads of rain around, but generally we were spared a thorough drenching. Our position was at about 28 km into the run and we had to play a waiting game before the first runners showed up, but once they started coming through it was fairly constant and good fun. Generally everyone was jovial and friendly and into the mass participation spirit of the run. They were out for a good day and to support their sport. It was also very humbling to have so many of the runners, exhausted as they were, thanking the volunteers. There was a great sense of oneness of purpose and it was quite uplifting to be a part of it, regardless of how small a part it was.

There is a rumour going around, even ahead of this running of the Yumemai, that Tokyo's governor, Ishihara, has agreed to allow a full mass participation marathon in the near future, if not 2006, then at least 2007. So that is something to really look forward to. Japanese runners travel the world to participate in big international marathons such as Honolulu, Boston, New York, Gold Coast. I believe there is nothing they would love more than to reciprocate the hospitality and experiences they have received to the runners of the world. The first one, whenever it happens, will be a truly sensational event to be a part of, whether as competitor or volunteer. Either way, I can hardly wait.

Beer Trip to Numazu

On Sunday the 9th I went to Numazu, 130 km south west of Tokyo in the armpit of the Izu Peninsular. Numazu is a fishing port, and the fish markets are a great place to wander around on a Sunday checking out the various fresh and sun dried sea creatures and sampling some choice and well priced sushi.

But I was not there for seafood. No, not on this occasion. I had been invited to a beer party at a mad keen home brewers place. Due to the not exactly legal status of home brewing in Japan, let's call our host Brewer X.

Brewer X had on tap a wonderful selection of his absolutely hop powered brews. The list of things he had on tap included, Summer Pale Ale, Wheaty Brown Porter (possibly my pick), an IPA, BakaYaro! IPA and a "randalized" Double Imperial India Pale Ale (12.8% abv!!). While all beers were strongly hop driven, nothing could come close to the randalized I3PA. A "randall" is basically a big water filter that has, instead of a filter medium cartridge, a media of hop flowers. The beer is forced into the hop bed and allowed to sit for a while before being poured. What an experience that beer was. My tongue thought it was being raped.
It also sent a few of the guests a bit silly. Look here they are all about to expose their bellies. I won't show you the other photos as it got pretty ugly. I have blacked out the eyes to save them from being recognized and humiliated throughout the land, or being thrown into leg irons for partaking of bootleg beer.

Well, it was a really nice party--great food, great beer, great company-- but eventually the sun went down and we all had to wend our ways back to from whence we came.

Numazu at dusk from Brewer X's apartment.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday Long Run

Run type: Long
Distance 36 km
Average pace: 5:07/km
Heart rate: ?? (watch battery flat)
Weather: 22 degrees & very humid(4:30 am)

With the plan to go away tomorrow, I didn't want to be spending half of Saturday doing my long run. Need to get a haircut and just be around for kids and so on. I managed to get to bed around 9:30 and set the alarm for 4:00. There was a hell of a storm and drain through the night, which resulted in a disrupted sleep. Miraculousy when I woke up it was not raining. Took me 15 minutes to get out of bed, but then got ready fairly quickly and started the watch at 4:31!

For something different I headed to Tamagawa and upstream. Legs felt a little tender but once warmed up worked alright. I went at 5:20/km pace until I hit the Odakyu line (13.4 km), then closer to 5:00/km up tothe Keio line (17.45 km), where I turned around. Had a short break and some sports drink. All the way back in just above or just under 5:00/km pace. When I got home I felt it was a km or so short of what I needed, so I ran around Kohta's 1.1 km loop. The G-map measurer thing tells me I did exactly 36 km in 5:07/km average. Good to be finished the long run at 8:00 am on a Saturday morning! Treated myself with a Coke at the finish.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thurs Evening Long Hard & Aerobic; Fri AM recovery

Run type: Hard aerobic
Distance 22 km
Average pace: 4:22/km
Heart rate: ?? (probably 155)
Weather: 22 degrees & humid(18:00 am)

I had a feeling this week was going to be different and it is turning out to be so. The new(ish) salesman at work wanted to go for a drink on Wednesday night so we could get to know each other a bit better (!?). While it was not a late night nor particularly boozy, combined with the general tiredness I've been feeling it was enough to convince me to skip the Thursday morning run. But since I had to pack up my desk for a move to a new office, I figured I might be done early enough to fit in a run in the evening from the office to the Imperial Palace.

I managed to get changed and out the door at 6:00 pm. Ran from the office to Hanzomon (1 km) in 5 minutes, then began the first circumnavigation. I did not have a clear plan of what kind of run to do, but was feeling OK and thinking about the disrupted weekend that is coming up. For one thing, I am going to miss the Komazawa half marathon time trial because of the craftbeer party in Numazu that I'm going to. So that was on my mind. And I also got to thinking that I have been doing these 18k runs once or twice a week with maybe 60 minutes at HR150. I felt that I have become relatively comfortable with these and yet my legs could use some extra stimulus to harden up for running 42.2 km. It is only six weeks to go to the race, after all.

So I got it into my head that if I felt I could keep up something like 4:15/km pace for 3 or 4 laps, it would be a good step up from what I've been doing. The first lap came up in 21:45 (4:23/km). So about 30 seconds slow because I'd started out without much plan but formed it halfway around and had picked up the pace. For the second lap I held the same pace in which I finished the first lap to produce a 20:58 (4:10/km), which was 42:43 for the neat 10 km -- 13 seconds slower than target pace. (For those that know the Imperial Palace, I ran the first and fourth laps through the Sakuradamon gate, and the second and third laps around the outer course.)

The next lap was a 21:05 (4:11/km). Starting to get a bit tired, especially in the legs, and especially in the hamstrings. This makes me wonder if I do need to do a bit more peed work just to strengthen my hammies. Anyway, I gritted my teeth and got into the last one knowing I did not have to push too hard as I had made up the lost 30 seconds of the first lap. All I had to do was run this one in at 4:15. So I just eased off the slightest bit, which still meant working hard up the hill from Takebashi, and finished in 20:55 (4:13/km). That gave 1:24:43 for the four laps (20km), which could be safely extrapolated out to an 89:30 half marathon had I ran another 1.1 km.

An encouraging thing was that I did each lap on perceived effort only. I only checked my watch at the end of the lap, and was never far out from where I wanted to be. A discouraging thing was how tired this run left me, especially the fatigue in my legs. I need to be able to do a run like this and still feel pretty fresh if I am to do it for double the distance. I suppose the hill on the Palace course should not be discounted, and I probably crept into lactic territory to maintain the pace through that section, so that might go some way to explaining the leg fatigue.

This morning, because of the office move, I don't have to go to work until later, so I went out for a 7.5 km very slow recovery this morning. My hamstrings hurt quite a bit at first, and also my right achilles, which is a new problem altogether. Hope it is temporary. I did eventually warm up and I think it was an important run to do if I am to do a long run tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tough Easy Wednesday

20 degrees
14.05 km
Average pace 4:40/km

Bit of a bluurrghh run. Not the run so much as my general feeling. Had a hard day at work yesterday, ate late, then a fairly poor sleep. Waking up was really hard. Finally got on the road at 5:30 but decided right away to cut back the distance. I knew yesterday that I am getting a bit run down. So the question now is how to best recharge. Take a bit of a break this week, maybe run a long hard run on the weekend, then come back for another build and peak over the next three weeks prior to th taper? Seems like a reasonable plan to me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tue Upper Aerobic

20 degrees
18.35 km
Average pace 4:25/km

Difficult to get out of bed with it now being dead of night at 5:00. I also just felt a little more weary than last week. Something tells me I should take a step back this week. But once I got going, well, I was going. So I managed to get the heart rate up to 150 territory after about 5 km and then held it through until the end of the run. The stretch from the park to home I concentrated to keep a heart rate of 150 and that was about the fastest I have done that leg. Overall I was 5 seconds per km slower than the same run last week, but I think I kept my heart rate under control more today. Never really above 153, whereas last week up the hills I'm sure it peaked up over 155 several times.
Leg Distance Pace
Home-Komazawa 3.8 0:05:01
1st Uphill 1 0:04:33
1st 2100-start 0.05 0:05:20
1st downhill 1 0:04:22
2nd uphill 1 0:04:08
2nd 2000-start 0.15 0:04:13
2nd downhill 1 0:04:06
3rd uphill 1 0:04:11
3rd 2000-start 0.15 0:04:13
3rd downhill 1 0:04:06
4th uphill 1 0:04:15
4th 2000-start 0.15 0:04:13
4th downhill 1 0:04:06
5th uphill 1 0:04:19
5th 2000-start 0.15 0:04:20
5th downhill 1 0:04:09
5th 1000-1100 0.1 0:04:30
Komazawa-Home 3.8 0:04:19

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday Long in Yoyogi

Run type: Long
Distance: 35 km
Time: 3:03:56
Average pace: 5:15 min/km
Weekly total: 118 km

While nearly everybody in Namban was out at the East Japan Ekiden (relay) , Colin and I found ourselves fronting up for a long slog in the park. Gareth and David Motozo unexpectedly turned up around 9:00 and joined us for a few laps. The weather has relapsed into a reprise of summer-- up to 29 today. Fortunately we probably only had to deal with up to 25 or so, but still, it was hotter than recent days.

It was a fairly uneventful run. fourteen laps at a pace overall a bit slower than last week. I think my tired legs from yesterday's hill workout came into play in the last 10 km as it was a struggle at times. Doing these long runs on no breakfast and only water during the run really adds to the fatigue as well.

On the 11th lap I had a reasonably heavy fall. Snagged my foot on a wee vestigial stump that we have run over and around a brazilian times in the past. I was completely spaced out when it happened and it really threw me -- I sort of sprawled forward plus rolled onto my right shoulder fairly heavily. I nearly ended up tangled up in Colin's legs. Anyway, no great harm done, but I picked up half a ton of soil all over me. We kicked the shit out of the stump and finally got rid of it, mainly thanks to Colin's size 13 demolition balls. From then it was just slogging out the rest of the run.

We enjoyed a cool drink at the kiosk before heading our separate ways. There was an Indian festival over at NHK park. I had a mutton curry and nan for 500 yen plus a Ginga Kogen nama beer. Very nice and took the edge off the hunger 'til I could get home.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday Hills

Its been a couple of weeks since I was up and down the hills, so this morning it was back along Meguro River and to the Aobadai hill circuit. I did eight, one more than the previous maximum. Each loop is 700 m and the uphill takes 79 to 80 seconds. It is is a bit of a brute too. But the temperature, at 20 degrees, was much cooler than all the other times.

On the aerobic sections my pace was slower running at 135 to 140 HR today. It might have been because the course is a little stop-start, or it might have been because of the later start (metabolism). Running after the hill workout from the Aobadai to Meguro Bridge came out at 4:40/km, but heart rate was mostly around or a little over 140. So that is a slight contrast to me "easy" run of 4:30/km at the same heart rate a few days ago.