Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday 31st December: New Years Eve 2006

Summary of Distances (km)
Today: 6 (recovery at average pace of 5:29/km & HR of 129; easy, legs relatively good)
Week: 66
Month: 307
Year: 3580

Overview by Month
Jan 309k Shibuya ekiden; Namban Rengo placed 1st & 2nd (my team) in masters
Feb 210k PB'd half at Kanagawa; ran Ome 30k--a joyous race
Mar 340k Oyama mountain climb; very tough and unique 9 km race + Tamako ekiden
Apr 210k Ome Montrail 30k trail run; one word: hard! But fun! Plus Inagi ekiden; my team first masters
May 292k My company's ekiden; I had the 2nd fastest individual time: 5k in 18:12 Plus Arakawa Ekiden 10k leg in rain and mud
Jun 241k NOSH race in Sydney straight off a plane from Japan: A hard trail 15k in 1:12:58
Jul 223k summer drifting
Aug 234k Fujiyoshida Fire Festival. A funny old race, lots of uphill and lots of downhill. 20k in 1:33:20 -- shame about the hangover
Sep 431k Marathon training
Oct 481k Marathon training
Nov 303k Ohtawara marathon: 3:04:01
Dec 307k Recovery from Ohtawara & trying to start re-building for Tokyo

I have never approached my running by setting rigid plans or goals. I tend to just drift and enter races that come along or set bigger goals (like marathons) with a "just-in-time-delivery" approach. I set time goals based on what condition I'm in coming into a race, not by some kind of long-term absolute objectives (though another sub 18-min 5k would be nice!). At the start of this year I realised that this casual approach had led me to start doing the same races each year, and I decided that in 2006 I wanted to try a few different race experiences. I took on the Ome 30k road race at less than race effort (through lovely countryside and cheering crowds) , Oyama mountain climb, the Ome 30k Montrail trail run (a real eye opener), the Great NOSH in Sydney, and the Fujiyoshida fire festival. No flat, fast efforts these. Great settings and/or wonderful support and each with some unique defining character. So I consider the goal of acquiring some new experiences well and truly achieved.

The Ohtawara marathon was probably my main goal race of the year. It was the fourth time I'd run it and my fifth marathon overall. See the problem? This race is dominating my marathon record and I really want to start changing that. I have memorized all the aid stations and toilet stops and am starting to give nicknames to some of the potholes. It will take a lot to get me to do it next year, though the overnight trip to the Shiobara Onsen is very hard to beat. Perhaps I'll do the 10k and pick another fall marathon. Perhaps. The upcoming Tokyo Marathon Festa is going to make a contribution to balancing out the disproportionate representation of Ohtawara in my marathon record, and yet another different marathn later in the year would help a lot more.

After Tokyo I have no specific racing plans for 2007. Throughout 2006 I have, as this blog attests, struggled with minor niggling injuries to my left leg. A tender achilles, drifting, shooting pains in my rear thigh, and more recently, inflammation of some sort around my knee. I have, in the four and a half years since I started running, been a pretty low-maintenance sort of runner. No massages, except what I can do myself, no visits to the physio, no personal trainer or gym-based strengthening programs, no yoga. I don't have any particular pride about this; it is mainly a function of a lack of spare cash and time. In fact, it is really catching up with me and 2007 is the year to start addressing these niggling injuries.

But for now, my aims are to keep beating to windward, torn mainsail and all, and just get through Tokyo as best I can. I want to enjoy the race and the occasion, but also record a respectable time. Sub 3 hours is probably out of the question, but I will take the training one day, one week at a time and see what happens. After that, perhaps some time off or easing right back, some treatment for the legs and lower back, maybe have my biomechanics checked out, and just focus on recovery. If all comes good, I will probably have to go back to a period of base building, then, whether I do another marathon or not, I'm not prepared to say right now. Maybe I'll focus on reducing my 5k and 10k times.

So, that's 2006 in review and 2007 in preview to the extent that I am able. It is 15 minutes to midnight in Japan, so it would seem the only thing left to do is to say thanks to all who have stayed with the blog this year and lent their support, both in comments and through private email. May we all have successful years in 2007, and above all else, let's not forget why we run: because we can!


Saturday, December 30, 2006

A week of recovery

Last Sunday I fought the root and the root won, forcing me into a layoff from running on Monday and Tuesday. The thigh was very sore and I was limping on Monday and Tuesday, much less so on Wednesday. On Tuesday morning I went to the gym and divided an hour between the bike and X-trainer (perhaps aka an elliptical trainer). I much prefer the X-trainer to the bike. Getting the heart rate up to a respectable level on the bike causes a sort of burning in the butt. Not the most pleasant of sensations. However I will persist with it in measured doses to see if my butt becomes conditioned to the stress that biking places on it. The other painful thing was that I couldn't get the little personalized TV on the bike to work. Apparently the volume button is a poor substitute for the power button.

On Wednesday evening I went to the track to make my first attempt at running. It went alright. I kept my ambitions very low and just toddled around at whatever pace felt tolerable. I ended up chalking up 11 km, so it wasn't too bad. I think it was good for the leg too as I was much less sore on Thursday.

Thursday. Last day of work before a week's break for New Year holidays. I resolved to give the leg(s) another day of rest from running, but hit the gym again in the afternoon prior to our office break-up party (pizza, sushi, and beer; what more could you ask for? What's that? Yakitori you say? Yes, there was some of that too). The biggest achievement in the gym was that I worked out which button made the TV work. Yaay. But alas, if only there were something worth watching. I did 20 minutes on the bike, 25 minutes on the X-trainer, and about 12 minutes ( 2.3 km) on the treadmill. I know I said no running, but I couldn't help myself.

Friday. Home on holiday I started off by sleeping about 12 hours. Lounged around with the family for an hour or two and then finally headed out for a run. The program I had made up last Saturday night (the night before the fall) scheduled 14 km with 3 x 1600 m intervals. Now, this schedule was put together to try and give my knee a better chance of recovery by cutting some days of running, mainly the shorter runs, to have three key running workouts per week: a long run on Sunday, a longish upper aerobic (race pace) run on Wednesday night, and long intervals or a tempo run on Fridays. The other days would be spent in rest or at the gym. I don't know if it will work or not but it is worth a try. Anyway, I ran to my nearest park that has a running course and being not too hampered by the leg launched into the 3 x 1600s with 500 m jog recovery. It was a bit taxing running hard after such a break, but I kept the level of effort within reasonable limits and was pleased with the times of 6:07, 6:04, and 6:07.

Saturday (today). Well, after that reasonably hard run yesterday, it was always going to be tough heading out today for a long run. But head out for a long run I did. I left home at 7:15 am. It was a bright, fine morning, but very cool or cold, depending on your standards. I guess it  was about 2 or 3 degrees. I ran to Tamagawa (Tama river) and turned left until the pedometer registered 15 km, just short of Gas Bashi, for those that know it. It had been very comfortable and I'd been motoring along at a bit better that 5 minutes per km most of the time. As soon as I turned around I discovered why it had been so easy; I had a tailwind! Which is what I now had to run back into. A stiff, bitingly cold  headwind. The next 8 km back to where I could turn out of the wind were some of the hardest kilometers I've ever run. My legs were stiff and yapping with little and not so little pains.  I was struggling to keep a pace above 5:20/km.  It was hard work, but I slogged away and eventually turned right and had a reasonably straightforward, if somewhat fatigued, 7-km run home. Taking out a few stops (toilet, drink), I managed 30.75 km (according to the footpod) in 2 hours 39 min. 30 sec. It was a very tough run actually, being a slightly faster pace than a lot of my long runs and the longest I've run since the marathon five weeks ago. But with Tokyo only 49 days away, it was a run I had to do.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Rooted for Christmas

Last post saw me cursing about an overuse injury. As foreshadowed in that post, I gave it the royal treatment with rest, stretching, self massage and anti-inflammataries. I also had a session in a gym that gave me confidence that I could substitute some running with gym machines and swimming.

By Saturday night the leg was feeling pretty good and I felt confident that it would stand up to a trail run being organized by Jay from Namban. I had a quick chat with my supportive wife and she sent me off with her blessing (well, a kind of through-clenched-teeth blessing, but you take what you can get).

The photo shows that it was an absolutely beautiful, though crisp, day out in western Tokyo. By the way, that is still technically Tokyo that we are standing in despite the mountainous and forested surroundings. Note also the prominent snow-capped peak in the background. I'd tell you its name if only I could remember it! I wonder if you can help me...

Well, the trails were firm, the company was good. The christmas carols on the uphills not quite so good as nobody could remember enough words, though Mika was in pretty good voice on some of the downhill sections -- the tunes were familiar, but I could swear she was singing in Japanese. Who would have thought there was a Japanese version of "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer!" Well, I can now assure you there is.

In many parts of the trail, there were countless erosion-exposed roots of the surrounding sugi trees. Just as I was thinking what a sure-footed fellow I am, my foot caught one. I lurched, regained my balance, then came to a short sharp drop that threw me off balance again, but after a fight with gravity, eventually came back to a safe equilibrium with dignity mostly intact. Phew, close call. My running partners said it was an impressive performance over a good ten or fifteen metres; something to rival the Bolshoy (what was that about dignity?)

Well, we were then discussing our various past near misses and mishaps and how you always have falls just when you think how clever you are...and then bang, my foot caught another tree root and this time there was no chance to recover. Hit the ground like a sack of spuds. I rolled nicely and, again, my pals said it was quite a good visual display. I would have got out of it unscathed but for a vicious tree root to the thigh on initial impact. After a bit of a stop I was able to continue, but the damn thing was bloody sore, and for the rest of the run it was quite a challenge to keep up with people I would be normally galloping ahead of. Today I am sporting a classic corked thigh that is helping me relive some of the least pleasant moments of my rugby league playing days. It was quite a hobble to the train station this morning. So if anybody has tips on how to quickly recover from a corked thigh, I'm all ears. At least it has given me something to take my mind off the knee niggle.

When I got home I showered and applied ice to the injury and then joined the wife in completing preparations for our Christmas dinner. We had a friend and her daughter over for traditional roast chicken (my job was stuffing and roasting the birds) with a mix of traditional (peas, carrots, gravy) and not so traditional (chips, egg salad) accompaniments. Afterwards we did our presents (Xmas day here, today, is just business as usual) and there were some smiling faces with a Play Station Portable, a Creative Zen V Plus, Buffalo Air Station for the Nintendo DS...and I think there was even some stuff for the kids too ;-) I scored a nice looking backpack for running and my wife got an o-cha pot and cups decorated with images of Totoro, her favourite character.

Well fed and with a few drinks through the evening and a body weary from the 24 km of trails, I ran out of steam at 11:00, and, once asleep, enjoyed the sleep of a dead guy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Things not quite tickety boo

Well, I don't like to be a grizzle-guts, so I haven't said much lately. Things were kind of going along OK last week. I did an upper aerobic run in the park on the Wednesday night, then a rest on Thursday, partly enforced by a year-end party. Then I ran home on Friday night and had a couple of 5 km runs Saturday. So that was all going alright. Then on Sunday morning it was supposed to be the Magical Mystery Tour. Due to some sudden family issues I wasn't able to join that, but could squeeze in 18 km at a reasonable pace. During that run in particular, my old knee(?) niggle flared up. The one I'd moaned about prior to Ohtawara but managed to just keep under control. I had to run back to work on Monday morning (see above re: the previous Friday night) and it hurt during that run. So then I rested it Tuesday and tried to run again last night. But bugger me, it is still sore. I ran six km of warm-up and started the interval session but had to quit. It is such a bummer because apart from this I am running the faster stuff really well and things would be right on track to do a few more speed sessions before going back to strength and endurance.

Change of plans needed. It isn't a joint problem, so that is one thing in my favour. It is in the fleshy/tendony area at the rear and above my knee. So kind of below the hamstring and to the medial (inside) side. I think it is a tendon inflammation type of thing and it may even be related to my lower back issues. So I am thinking very seriously now, if I can get a release of funding, to visit a chiro-cum-acupuncture dude whose clinic is not far from where I work. At 6,000 yen (A$70) a pop it isn't cheap, but it is cheaper than the 12,000 yen (A$135) a pop for an Australian physiotherapist practising in this city (growing fat off the back of well-insured expatriates).

At the same time, my company has soome vouchers to a sports club near the train station I use, so I am thinking of seeing whether I can cut back to three runs per week and then spend a couple of sessions on the stationary bike, pool and weights. It might at least let me get through Tokyo. I am sure this puts paid to my hopes of raising the level of training to be able to run a really good time at Tokyo. But that's OK, it is more important to me to run it than to run a record time.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Falling behind...

I'm having trouble even keeping my running log up to date let alone my running blog...

Had a good hard aerobic run of 15 km on Wednesday night. Nothing on Thursday due to work commitments, which included a bit of a drink in the evening with a committee of engineers I have been doing an editing job for. Turned out the chairman of the committe had just run his first marathon (Honolulu of course), so we had a bit to chat about as the sake flowed...

Hung over on Friday morning but ran about 15 km in the evening including some fartleks. Then two 5-km runs today to and from my mate's place to so some beer bottling. Then Christmas shopping this afternoon ... oops there goes the bank balance.

Tomorrow we are doing a Magical Mystery Tour 30 km run around the streets of Tokyo. About ten or eleven people have signed up, but only Gareth and I know the course (and only Gareth really knows .. I just have a rough idea.)

I have recently discovered this guy, Mr Keb Mo... a modern day bluesman in the Robert Johnson mould. I hope you enjoy his music. I certainly do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Wisdom of Nic Bideau

Nic Bideau is an Australian athletics coach who used to coach "our" Cathy and currently coaches our Buster and our Benita.

Thanks to a heads-up from Ewen, I came across a nice overview article by Bideau called“Coaching Middle and Long Distance Runners" that was reproduced from Modern Athlete and Coach (with permission) on Speedy Geoff's blog. As Speedy Geoff published it in parts over several posts, and as with all blogs the most recent post appears at the top, it is a bit hard to follow, so I have decided to set out links here to each of the parts in the order that they should be read.

Here it is:
Regular long runs
Fast distance runs at around the anaerobic threshold
Intervals or repetition work (I found this the most useful)
Speed work
Recovery runs
Gym sessions

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Training for Tokyo has started

So, this morning I got up and did my first official Tokyo Marathon-oriented training run. I really should make a formal program I suppose, but the idea is to do several weeks in which there are are a couple of speed sessions per week before going back to three or four volume-oriented weeks that will include some longish marathon-pace runs and a half marathon (Shinjuku City, 28 January). If my body holds up.

This morning I ran 14 km all up, with six km in Komazawa Park being a speedwork session. I did seven times 400 m with a fairly long jog recovery, 1:30 to 3:00 minutes, between each one, so it was actually a little bit like a fartlek. The times for the 400-m efforts were a little uneven, but the course has some undulations and I have never done a string of 400s before, so probably OK. The times were: 84s, 80s, 80s, 80s, 75s, 81s, 76s. McMillan says I should be doing them in 79s to 84s (which I forgot to look up beforehand), so I guess it was about right.

A bit of running, the partner race, and our year-end party

It's time I updated. Life seems to be getting the better of me lately and the days between posts seem to mount.

I didn't do anything very exciting late last week. Just a steady 10-km on Thursday night to run home, similar return journey to work the next day. I regarded it as still a marathon recovery week, but getting towards the end of that.

On Saturday it was the Namban Rengo bonenkai (year-end party). I got the job of organising a pre-party race. The format was a partner race. Each person had to have a nominated time (not necessarily a flat-out time, anything would do) and attempt to run as close to that as possible, but without wearing a watch. The partner with the faster nominated time would start after the one with the slower time by an amount equal to the difference in their nominated times. So all the slower time runners started together and then the faster one started afterwards as the necessary time difference elapsed. In theory, if they ran to their nominated paces, the faster partner would catch the slower one just before the finish. And to make it interesting, the two partners had to finish together, so if one person screwed up their pace, it could affect both partners.

Anyway, on the day the weather was pretty bad. Very cold and light drizzly rain. We wavered between cancelling or not, but eventually went ahead despite losing a few wumps (that's "wimp" in Kiwi, eh Jason?). It really was cold, damp, and gloomy. This photo from Rie's blog would give you some idea (though Brett was the only one mad enough to wear shorts -- he is Canadian after all). Unbelievably there were some people doing a 24-hour race on the course we were running on! I was glad to be us and not them.

The winner of our little event was our club captain, Bob, and his partner (for the day) Ken. Actually they were the only pair to both have the same target time. Ideally that shouldn't happen, but it was so damn cold that when the random draw threw up that matchup, we weren't going to muck around trying to fix it. They nominated 5:00/km (for the 6.6 km distance) and finished within six seconds of their nominated time, that's a deviation of just 1 sec/km. Pretty darn good. I nominated 4 min/km (to provide a reasonable approximation of a tempo run) and my partner was 4:30. I caught him about half way through the last lap (it was five laps of a 1.33-km loop) and we ran the rest at about my pace. We ended up being 3 seconds per km out which put us in third place (out of eight teams). I'm not even sure if we were fast or slow, but I was happy enough with the result.

The party went very well. "A blast" would not be an unfair description. There were about 60 people and we held it in a large private apartment and ordered pizza, sushi and copious Yona Yona (beer) and wine etc...

Despite getting fairly happy at the party and home at about 1:15 am, I still managed to get out for a long run the next day, though not until 11:00, clocking up 23 km in just on 2 hours.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I like 1-km intervals

While I am still regarding this week as part of the reverse taper after Ohtawara, I wanted to do the Namban Rengo workout last night. The first Wednesday of the month is 1-km intervals (or 800-m should you so choose). This is my favourite interval workout for reasons I am not sure of. Maybe it is the simple maths, and ease of getting your head around the times, splits, and run versus rest cycle. Or maybe it is because this was the very first type of workout I did the first night I came to a Namban Rengo track workout. Anyway, I like 'em.

And last night I found myself as the most senior member of the group and had to lead the workout, which I certainly didn't mind doing. Juergen turned up later and helped with timing -- he had been detained for several hours of interrogation by the finest of Japan's police force for riding a bicycle not registered in his name (following a random check).

Anyway, I had a nice set of repeats last night: 3:35, 3:31, 3:28, 3:29, 3:25, and 3:30. I'm not sure what got into me on that second last one, but it felt nice to run that fast. I felt a little bit sore in the left lower calf after that and backed off on the last one, but was surprised that it still ended up at 3:30. I'd have to go back through my records, but I think that an average repeat of 3:30 would have to be close to the fastest I've ever done for this workout. It suggests that the fitness is there, but has been masked by fatigue from marathon training, and that perhaps the marathon itself was run with too much residual fatigue, OR that I am overcoming this digestion problem that I suspect had a little bit to do with me running out of steam in the marathon. Anyway, from next week I'll be doing more speedwork sessions as a part of my training strategy for Tokyo...

Monday, December 04, 2006

A brief update

The scare with my lower left leg has passed. I ran an easy 10 km with friends on Friday night and while the tenderness appeared, it wasn't very bad. Another 10 km on Saturday afternoon, some of it at around 4:30 to 4:40/km and again, no problems. Then Sunday I faced up to the ritual of the long run with the ambitious plan of perhaps racking up a mighty 15 km. I was happy to knock over a leisurely 20k in 1 hour 47 min and no sign of injuries (though my lower back was a bit stiff from a day of brewing on Saturday).

The pins are now feeling pretty good, but I will still not push the issue this week. Just try to get in some modest aerobic distance while joining the 6 x 1000s on Wednesday night. No ambitious mileage targets. We have our club bonnenkai (year-end party) on Saturday and I will be helping organise an "Inspire Your Partner" race to precede the party. More on that later.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I'm not happy with this new beta blogger. Google, are you listening? I'm not happy. It is obvious that the site feed is dodgy. After the initial changeover it seemed to cough and splutter a bit but then did care of the site feed and my posts were appearing in Bloglines. Sweet. Then it stopped. So I re-subscribed, and the only feed available was Feedburner. That's OK, it should only take one feed, as long as the bastard works. For the last couple of days, though, it seems to take forever for a new post to show up on Bloglines. And some people reported, for example, that they didn't receive my marathon reports on Bloglines until days later, and when they did, a swag of posts all came through at the same time. Bah...what a pain in the butt. At least I seem to be able to comment on (some) other people's blogs now, but it is still a little patchy. Be warned. And Google, if you are looking in, please fix this!!

You were right, I was wrong

That was a silly mistake to run the time trial last night. I pulled up fairly sore in the lower left leg between the calf and the ankle. I think I may be lucky and will get away with it as it isn't sore this morning, but it certainly shows my legs were not ready for that kind of running just yet. I should have just done another steady 8 to 10k. So do as I say, not as I do. Don't run hard in the first week or two after a marathon, no matter how recovered you think you are!!

Anyway, foolishness aside, it went alright. I decided to target 90 second laps for an 18:45 finish. The first one, predictably, was a bit fast at 85 seconds, but after that I fell into almost spot on 90 seconds every lap. One or two were a little better and one or two slipped off by a second or two and I finished in 18:39. Aerobically I felt fine. There was just that slight sense of fragility in the legs which was enough to make me not try to red-line it too early. I'm sure I had at least another 15 to 20 seconds in reserve if I'd been able to go all out. I'd really like to run an 85-second/lap 5k by the end of the winter.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Second recovery run

I got up at 5:30 this morning and after a minimum of vacillating headed out the door for my second recovery run. I have an 8-km loop from home that I do from time to time and decided that would be an appropriate distance. I had no particular thoughts about intensity other than to do it at a comfortable pace. Right from the start though I was moving quicker than I would have expected and my legs felt pretty good.  I ended up running the 8.2 km in 38:17, or 4:40/km. I divide the course into four splits and none of them was slower than 5:00/km and my average heart rate was 131. My legs started to fatigue somewhat in the last couple of km, but this is a really excellent rate of recovery from the marathon.

It is the 5-km time trial at the track tomorrow night. I haven't done one for absolutely ages, so maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that, and in keeping with the low-volume approach for the this week, not much more than that other than a km or two to warm up and cool down. I'm planning to put more emphasis on speedwork over the next few weeks anyway, so some kind of time trial, 3k or 5k, for benchmarking and monitoring progress would be a good idea. Given that nobody around these parts does 3k time trials, I guess it will have to be the 5k.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A few bits and pieces

A couple of readers have been confused by my reference to "No. 2 toilet stop", thinking I had more than one toilet break. Sorry, this is an English expression to mean my one toilet stop was of the type that is best not executed in a standing position.

For anybody who has me on Bloglines, it appears that the feed may have been broken since I switched to beta (grr), so you might have to re-subscribe.

Thanks again for all the encouraging comments. I am still quite content with the result. One thing I haven't mentioned yet, as I don't want to make excuses, is that I am not sure that I went into the race at 100% health. I don't know whether it is nutritional or a low-level virus or something, but somehow I just haven't felt quite 100% in the week or so leading into the race and still now. Toilet function was also not great and alternated between too much and too little, shall we say (as testified by the stoppage during the race). I have no idea if any of that contributed to my legs conking out, but it is possible.

My legs have had surprisingly little soreness since the race and I managed a slowish 6 km yesterday without much drama. My legs did mention towards the end that that was far enough.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ohtawara Wrap

Thanks for the well wishes on the last post.

The weather turned out to be very good, if a little cold at about 8 degrees with a light wind. It was touch and go whether to wear a long sleeved shirt but I stuck with a singlet and gloves. That was a good choice because I never wished I was wearing more and never wished I was not wearing the gloves. I wore my footpod but not my heart rate monitor, mainly, in the end, because I just didn't want the constriction on my chest and wanted to be as unencumbered as possible.

Basically, I decided to go out at a pace that would give myself a chance at a good time...around 2:57 pace, which I thought would give a couple of minutes in the bank to allow for any fade. While I thought my pacing was pretty well executed, the first 10 km was probably a little too fast, closer to 2:55 pace, and at the end of the day, I can only conclude that it was a bit over-ambitious given my condition. Nevertheless, I was feeling quite OK at the halfway mark, then had to have a No. 2 toilet break between half and 25k (48 seconds). From 25k to 30k I actually still felt OK, but my legs were starting to fatigue and I was getting ominous twinges in both calves. As that 5k split slipped to 4:15/km I was really not too worried because I didn't think I was tiring so much. Then, during 30-35k, bang, I just watched my pace slide. This section is slightly uphill, then 35-40 is even a little more uphill and it was a real struggle. My legs were heavy and threatening to cramp with every attempt to pick up my leg speed. I felt frustrated and helpless because I didn't feel that bad; my legs simply wouldn't do what I needed them too. I realized that my pace had slipped so far that my buffer was going to get eaten up very quickly. Going through the "5k to go" point I realized I'd have to run almost 4min/km flat to get under 3 hours, and my legs were clearly not up to that. So I knew it was gone and then it was a question of whether to back right off and just shuffle in to try and preserve my legs for a quicker post-race recovery, or whether to do all I could to still give my best time under the conditions. I went more for the latter and just ran it in as best I could without quite killing myself.

In the end, I was quite accepting of the result. I took a little bit of a gamble with the pacing and didn't do too much wrong on that basis. I think if I'd gone out at 4:15 pace neat, the splits would have been more even, but there still would have been some fade and the end time not much different. So ultimately I just wasn't quite in the shape I thought I was...perhaps. It gives me a lot of food for thought about how to prepare now for Tokyo, and then, how to run it.

Race breakdown
Section Distance Split Duration Pace
0-5k 5 0:20:47 0:20:47 0:04:09
5k-10k 5 0:41:28 0:20:41 0:04:08
10k-15k 5 1:02:33 0:21:04 0:04:13
15k-20k 5 1:23:49 0:21:16 0:04:15
20k-21.1k 1.1 1:28:15 0:04:26 0:04:02
21.1k-toilet 2.4 1:38:10 0:09:55 0:04:08
toilet break 0.1 1:38:58 0:00:48 0:08:00
toilet-25k 1.45 1:44:54 0:05:56 0:04:06
25k-30k 5 2:06:08 0:21:14 0:04:15
30k-35k 5 2:28:36 0:22:29 0:04:30
35k-40k 5 2:53:09 0:24:32 0:04:54
40k-42.2k 2.2 3:04:01 0:10:51 0:04:56

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ohtahwara result

Excellent pace through 25k, OK through 30, then ran into cramp bear and wall. Nothing I could do but watch the 3-hour slip away. Posting by mobile, so more detail tomorrow. But I made no big tactical errors, so it just wasnt meant to be today and I am OK with it.
Currently in party mode at the hot spring -yeehaa--. Sorry Clairie and Satohi, I was particularly trying to get there for you guys today, but the legs just didnt hold up.

I'm off...

Just a quick note as I sit here browsing the morning paper and checking email and eating some rice porridge (okayu) before heading off to meet Gareth and Colin at Shinjuku Station to drive to Ohtawara. The wind is making a bit of noise outside and it is forecast to be cloudy and cold (8 deg) with rain starting later.

My target times are: 2:55 (if I can manage to kick in the second half -- unlikely)
                              2:57 (ideal)
                              sub 3:00

Bye for now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Counting down now

There isn't much left for me to do now except eat, drink, and ...pack my bags for Ohtawara. The merry-making, though, will have to wait until after the race.

I just went out at lunch time to a lovely sunny 18 degrees. Ran gently over to Gosho and then once around the 3.3 km loop at a fairly brisk average pace of 4:12/km. It got my heart started I suppose, especially the hills, but not much more. I guess that's all that should happen at this stage. I'd love to slip onto a running track tonight and just do a bit more stretching out. But too much work to do. Maybe tomorrow evening. But if not, it doesn't really matter.

What a bugger we didn't have this weather on Sunday!! Interestingly we are forecast to have another day of this loveliness and then Thursday is forecast to be cold and "light rain late"...which is exactly what the forecast was for last Sunday a couple days out. It might be a week for cold, wet marathons.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


After foreshadowing her race, I think it is encumbent on me to give a quick update on Satohi's run in Tokyo Women's Marathon. The forecast for today was 14 degrees and cloudy. Perfect. Unfortunately it deteriorated and was lucky to have been 5 degrees and constant light rain. Miserable. Unfortunately Satohi was badly affected by the harsh weather and had to pull out at about 28 km. She was devastated afterwards, but bounced back and put on a brave face when a large group of us went out for churrasco (Brazilian BBQ) later. We did have a good night and I hope it helped her get over her disappointment and start looking towards her next goals.  If you have a word of encouragement for her, please give her a cheerio over at her place.

Our other three runners went well, and Mika T., she of the poor neglected blog, managed to shave over a minute off her PB. Congratulations Mika and also Yoshiko (3:14:xx) and Mika K. (3:34:xx). otsukaresamadeshita!

A little tempo run & not so long Sunday run

Ewen: the pedometer is one of those pod things that go on your shoe and talks to the Polar watch such that if the calibration is good you can get a fairly accurate read-out of pace on your watch. I agree with your comments on the difficulty of using the heart rate as a guide to pace, and really don't intend to do that. I'm leaning more and more towards leaving the HRM at home.

So running. Yesterday, Saturday, I got out the door reasonably early and just went for a little blat around the block. Two times 3.3 km loops from the front door. The first was at an average of 4:15/km and HRavg of 139. The second was 4:04/km and HRavg of 149. These numbers clearly spell out the truth in Ewen's comment. If I were to say that 149 is my "race" heart rate and follow that, I'd probably run a lot of the first half othe race at sub 4:08/km, and some of the downhill parts at sub 4:00/km -- and subsequently go to pieces late in the race, especially on the uphill pull from 35 to 41 km.

This morning I just ran to Yoyogi Park (5.2 km)  ran one 2.5 km loop with Colin, Gareth & Alexei, then ran home again for just on 13 km. Nothing too exciting in the heart rate or pace data.

I'm about to leave and go to the National Stadium to watch the start of the Tokyo Women's International Marathon. Four Namban ladies are running: Mika T, Mika K, Yoshiko, and Satohi. I have been coaching Satohi. After running 3:27 to qualify, she had set herself a rather ambitious target of 3:15, but we have settled on 3:17 as probably being the A goal.  She has trained very solidly, mainly doing aerobic endurance work. I am fairly confident she will go close to going under 3:20, but it is hard to say how she will stand up to the last 5 to 7 km. There is one reasonably nasty little hill at about 38 to 39 km, but she is strong and determined, so I think she will be fine. Go Satohi!! (And Mika and Mika and Yoshiko!)

Friday, November 17, 2006

12 km of indifference

Today was the first day of the week that I managed to wake up early for a run. Otherwise I ran on Tuesday at lunch and Wednesday night. Monday and Thursday off.

It was cooold today. I rugged up in long tights, T-shirt and my sexy little red Saucony long-sleeve number that I won at the Inagi Ekiden earlier this year. I also decided to wear gloves. And a cap. And...

I ran to the park at a reasonable clip, sub 5:00/km. Then had to make a short loo stop. I ran two laps of the park and gradually eased up towards marathon pace, but you know, I couldn't really hold it there and kept dropping back into the 4:20s/km, even though my heart rate was OK. I continued the run home at similar kind of upper aeobic pace, again trying to hit on marathon pace where I could. It led to my fatsest run between park and home for a while.

The knee was a bit uncomfortable at first, but sort of disappeared into the background as the run went on. So I think injury worries are behind me. I'm a little more concerned about the ever so slight malaise that I feel, and which might have been taking the edge off this morning. I think I have to really watch my diet and hydration from here on.

Thanks folks for thoughts on the pace strategy. I'm leaning towards an ever so slightly fast first half. Perhaps aim to go through 30k in 2:06, which would give me a pretty nice buffer to be able to come in under 3:00:00 without going overly fast.  If by some miracle I were able to hold that pace through tho the end, it would yield a around about a 2:57:00.  So that's the theory! Clairie's suggestion of breaking it down into minin-races or "milestones" is probably a good one, except that when i worked asa research scientist, I was always lousy at meeting project milestones :-/ (but I still always finished and wrote up my work! Eventually.)

I have another little quiz to occupy your minds: should I wear my pedometer and heart rate monitor? I wasn't going to, then I decided I would, and now I am not sure again. I think the pedometer would probably be a help, but the heart rate monitor has the potential to play with your head, give excuses to slow down...oh no...look at how high it is! I better slow down...but on the other hand, depending on the stage of the race and how I actually react to that data, that might be a good thing. But it is a race and really, the object is to put the body on the line. So there are few conflicting thoughts there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cold, wet & not much fun

The regular Wednesday night workout needed to be curtailed somewhat in deference to the taper. I was (am) feeling much more chipper with the hip and back having settled down, leaving only the knee as any source of discomfort, but then it is no different to what it has been for a thousand or so km of training, so I regard it as something that would be nice to iron out through the taper, but no threat if I don't.

While I'd toyed with the idea of a tempo run last night, I felt that would be just a bit too much given how shaky I had been feeling on Monday...even if there is still a week to go. "Time to cruise" was how I think 2P put it. What's more, it suddenly came in all cold and rainy just in time for our running. It proceeded to stay that way for the next hour and half and then cleared. Typical.

So, anyway, after 4-km warm-up with Gary I decided to re-try that Maffetone heart rate test on the 400-m track (running five miles at my "upper aerobic limit" of 143 beats per minute (77%) for 8 km). I actually only held the 143 for three miles (three times four laps) and then decided to do two miles at 149 (80% HRmax).

The data for the HR143 section are a bit different to last time. I was certainly a lot faster, as would be expected, but in contrast to last time there was actually some drift. I didn't actually quite average 149 for the second part, but the fact that the pace was up close to marathon pace was good. To be honest, I'd have liked to have seen it a bit faster, but I can't complain too much.

Mile Time Pace (min/km) AvgHR HR%max
1 0:06:56 0:04:20 144 78%
2 0:07:04 0:04:25 143 77%
3 0:07:12 0:04:30 142 76%
4 0:06:52 0:04:18 147 79%
5 0:06:55 0:04:19 148 80%

I am happy that I did this run because it wasn't stressful and has given me some valuable feedback on my aerobic state. I think the result is that I can expect to be able to run the first half to 30-km of the race at about 3-hour pace without getting uduly stressed. The really tricky part will be getting from 25 to 30 km without the heart rate getting too high, but if I manage that, then I could probably afford to start throwing caution to the wind and see how hard I can bring it home.

In my previous marathons I've gone out a little fast and then had a positive split on the second half. The best ones were where the fade was only slight. This time I am seriously considering keeping right on or marginally slower than pace for that first 30 km and then trying to bring home a negative split. It is risky though, because I can't help thinking that even if I run easy, I'll be too buggered after 30 km to pick up the pace -- hanging on is about as much as I can expect, and any slight fade would lead to a blown goal. By starting just ahead of pace gives some time in the bank, but then you have the risk of that over-pace segment causing a bad late fade? A negative split sure would be nice...

Such are the thoughts of one who is staring down his fifth marathon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Below par

I didn't run yesterday, Monday, because well, it is really time to start tapering. And my hip was sore. Somehow I managed to accidentally run more than 90 km last week. I am not that worried about that except for these issues in my left leg/hip and the general bit of run-down feeling that I have. Gareth told me on Sunday that it was a mistake running 30 km, and Tesso registered some surprise. Really though, I don't think that distance in itself is a worry 11 days from the marathon because I am normally pretty much recovered by the Wednesday after a Sunday long run, and that includes with a reasonably hard run on Tuesday mornings. So I think my judgement was OK under normal circumstances, but given the bit of fatigue and back/hip niggles, maybe it would have been better to back off a bit. I checked my log from last year after hearing these comments and discovered that I ran 25 km 10 days out last year, so it is about on par I suppose.

I chose sleep over running this morning but took my gear to work. I took a few doses of Ibuprofen yesterday and the hip did feeI better today, even though other niggles are still hanging around. What I really need is a masseur on staff. Anyway, I managed to get out at lunch time and run just under 10 km. About 4 km of it varied from very slow (along the streets of Kojimachi, crowded as they were with lolling freshly-sated pedestrians) to easy. The other 5 km, a lap of the imperial Palace, I tried to maintain marathon pace. In general I think my heart rate was a little high for the pace. So whether it is running induced fatigue or lurgy-fighting induced fatigue I'm not certain. I still finished feeling fairly fresh though, so it is not all doom and gloom. All I know is that I have to try to get more rest and keep the length of my runs down. So tomorrow night I'll probably just aim for 12 km with maybe 8 km at tempo pace, provided I feel spritely and pain free.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A weekend of beer and running

Luckily the beer reference was not all drinking. Saturday my brewing partner, Bryan, andd I brewed a wheat beer at our brewery, aka, his office. It is 5-km from my place to his, so I ran over in the morning and back again in the evening. Easy pace both times. My hips and lower back were feeling a little stiff and uncomfortable even before the running and brewing.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling not exactly on top of the world. There is no doubt that my immune system is a little run down. Cold symptoms are creepingly gettting worse and I have a sore cheek that doesn't seem to have any internal cause, i.e. an mouth ulcer. The only thing I can think is that it is a cyst or something. So far it is not too bad, but it is uncomfortable. I could also tell that I was getting that twinge in my lower back that pulls my torso slightly to one side -- when I looked in the mirror, sure enough, there was a crooked man... And the muscles of my left hip below the pelvis were tender. All this without any good reason because, honestly, I have been scaling back the running intensity and duration.

Still, I wanted to do one last decent length long run. There was an icy wind to torment us, but without that it was a glorious sunny day making the choice of attire a little difficult. I set off and was fine running at long-run pace, 5:20-5:30 min/km. I arrived at the park and met up with Gareth, Jayne and Motozo, and soon afterwards, Colin joined. I ran to about 22 km at easy pace, and that was fine. I then tried picking it up for the last 2-km lap of the park and the 6-km to home. I found it not at all difficult aerobically--I was running for periods at 4:15/km at a heart rate of 143 to 148--less than 80%HRmax, but a bit hard on the left leg/lower back. Finished up with 30 km in 2:37 and average heart rate of 129. Apart from the leg/hip tenderness felt pretty good afterwards. Later my hip was even more tender and continues so today. So it is Ibuprofen and rest for today. Hopefully it will settle down and allow one or two more half-decent workouts, but somehow I think I am now going to be concentrating on trying to straighten out the kinks so I can toe the line feeling strong ten days from now.

After lunch I attended a beer tasting at a friends's apartment. Good food, good beer and good fellow beer-geeky company. Best of all, I didn't get smashed at all. Arrived home feeling quite compus mentus and ended up watching the DVD Be Cool (John Travolta, Uma Thurman) with my two older sons.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogger Buggered to Buggery

Well, if you were thinking of switching to Beta Blogger, don't. Not yet anyway. Little did I know that after you migrate you cannot comment on non-beta blogs. It is "coming soon". What!!  So far I have found only one advantage of beta, that you can label your posts with a category. There are probably other benefits, like the blog layout editing function, but to use that you have to basically abandon your current template and start again. And I'll be stuffed if I want to lose my counters and my tables and my Hannah Banner ... so for now, Blogger can get stuffed.  I'm sorry I didn't check it out more thoroughly before being seduced by the little beckoning button. And I'm sorry friends, it appears I am unable to comment on your blogs for a while.

But it is good to see Go Girl back out there doing 18 km, great to see Ewen clawing his way back to fitness, 2P being mesmerised by carp (shame you didn't have a stick of jelly 2P) on Quarry Road, Clairie running strong on tired legs, Tesso coming within a whisker of her 3000 m goal, Hannah conquering the heat, Luckylegs outrunning the Ghosts of Fisher and breaking 1500 m records, plu riding out his GNW frustrations...

Hope to be able to comment properly gain soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A bit of a struggle (running and blogging both)

To anybody who has me on Bloglines, sorry for the flood yesterday. I migrated to Blogger beta. I'm not sure why I did or what benefits it might bring, but anyway, it's done now, and as a result all the old posts seemed to have been posted to Bloglines. (Edit: and what's worse, I sent this post by email early this morning but it hasn't showed up, so had to resurrect from my Sent folder. Another grrr..)

Worked at home most of the day and got out for an easy 7.5 km in the afternoon. Nothing much to say about it. Just plodded around and did a few core exercises.

Friday (this morning)
The last couple of Friday mornings I have done a tempo run in the middle of a run to work. For one reason and another it didn't suit to do it that way this week, so I had to wake up at 5:00 and get out the door. Despite a few hints of cold symptoms coming on, I did manage to get up. I knew that because of the distance to Komazawa Park, the total distance would be a bit more than is optimal at this point in a taper, but I wanted to do at least 8 km of tempo. So I decided to make sure I took it easy on the run to the park. Well, that turned out to be no problem as I did it at an average pace of 5:33 min/km. Slowest I've done it since the time I tried it with a massive hangover ;-)

So then I hooked into the tempo run, but I really wasn't warmed up enough and the first lap (2.15 km) was a real struggle to raise both heart rate and pace. The lap pace was 4:16 /km and average heart rate only 141 (76%). On the next lap I came up behind this Japanese guy running a similar pace, but as I approached, he surged. I was deliberately trying to lift my pace gradually, but didn't need someone surging and slowing in front of me. I expected to go past him soon, but each time I would draw close to him, the richard would surge forward again. It was really annoying. Just run your own pace, dude! Then after about 1.5 km he stopped, so must have been doing an interval or tempo or something. I was glad to see the end of him, but at least he had got me moving faster and the second lap was 4:01/km, HR avg: 154 (83%). Pushed on through the next lap for an identical pace, but HRavg up to 157 (84%). On the fourth (last) lap I managed to slip under 4:00 to 3:57/km, but it seemed like too hard work for that pace. HRavg was 160 (86%). I then had to make an urgent use of the facilities. After that I ran home, again at an easy pace that averaged 5:03/km.

Basically, I found it hard to really get properly into this run and couldn't hit the pace and heart rates I wanted. I think this is just a function of running so early in the morning, or could also be some residual fatigue from Wednesday night's workout, so I am not too unhappy. Hopefully it is not a sign of an encroaching lurgy. I have been cramming in the Vitamin C, and so far the cold symptoms are very mild indeed.

Basically, I found it hard to really get properly into this run and couldn't hit the pace and heart rates I wanted. I think this is just a function of running so early in the morning, or could also be some residual fatigue from Wednesday night's workout, so I am not too unhappy. Hopefully it is not a sign of an encroaching lurgy. I have been cramming in the Vitamin C, and so far the cold symptoms are very mild.

A bit of a struggle

For anybody who has me on Bloglines, sorry for the flood yesterday. I migrated to Blogger beta. I'm not sure why I did or what benefits it might bring, but anyway, it's done now, and as a result all the old posts seemed to get posted to Bloglines.

Worked at home most of the day and got out for an easy 7.5 km in the afternoon. Nothing much to say about it. Just plodded around and did a few core exercises.

Friday (this morning)
The last couple of Friday mornings I have done a tempo run in the middle of a run to work. For one reason and another it didn't suit to do it that way this week, so I had to wake up at 5:00 and get out the door. Despite a few hints of cold symptoms coming on, I did manage to get up. I knew that because of the distance to Komazawa Park, the total distance would be a bit more than is optimal at this point in a taper, but I wanted to do at least 8 km of tempo. So I decided to make sure I took it easy on the run to the park. Well, that turned out to be no problem as I did it at an average pace of 5:33 min/km. Slowest I've done it since the time I tried it with a massive hangover ;-)

So then I hooked into the tempo run, but I really wasn't warmed up enough and the first lap (2.15 km) was a real struggle to raise both heart rate and pace. The lap pace was 4:16 /km and average heart rate only 141 (76%).  On the next lap I came up behind this Japanese guy running a similar pace, but as I approached, he surged. I was deliberately trying to lift my pace gradually, but didn't need someone surging and slowing in front of me. I expected to go past him soon, but each time I would draw close to him, the richard would surge forward again. It was really annoying. Just run your own pace, dude! Then after about 1.5 km he stopped, so must have been doing an interval or tempo or something.  I was glad to see the end of him, but at least he had got me moving faster and the second lap was 4:01/km, HR avg: 154 (83%). Pushed on through the next lap for an identical pace, but HRavg up to 157 (84%). On the fourth (last) lap I managed to slip under 4:00 to 3:57/km, but it seemed like too hard work for that pace. HRavg was 160 (86%). I then had to make an urgent use of the facilities. After that I ran home, again at an easy pace that averaged 5:03/km.

Basically, I found it hard to really get properly into this run and couldn't hit the pace and heart rates I wanted. I think this is just a function of running so early in the morning, or could also be some residual fatigue from Wednesday night's workout, so I am not too unhappy. Hopefully it is not a sign of an encroaching lurgy. I have been cramming in the Vitamin C, and so far the cold symptoms are very mild indeed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Four times 2 km tempo intervals

There is a post that I sent to my blog by email earlier today, hours and hours ago, and it has not shown up yet. Bruddy Brogger. It wasn't about running though because that happened this evening. Anyway, just be warned that it may turn up some time completely out of chronological sequence.

So I ran from the sento to the park tonight and had a rather gentle 6-km warm-up with a few of the guys. We then seemed to gradually break off into our own little groups, my group, Gareth's group, and Satohi's group each consisted of a total of one member. I decided to run four repeats of a 2-km ( 1.94 km to be precise) loop with 2 minute recovery. The idea was to go faster than tempo pace but not as fast as 1600-m repeat pace. I think I succeeded on the first measure, but not so sure about the second. They went like this:

Rep  Pace  HRmax   HRavg     Comment
1      4:01    84%       80%     Just warming up
2      3:51    88%       84%     Pretty hard
3      3:49    89%       86%     Starting to hurt a bit - should I do another?
4      3:44    90%       88%     That was definitely enough

I enjoyed this session. It was hard, but fair. I feel tired in the quads, but not overy taxed.  The left knee hs come through it pretty well so far (touch wood). Tomorrow will be an easy day and then maybe another tempo run on Friday.

My leg feels good

I haven't run today yet, but I just feel like announcing that my left leg feels a lot better today (as far as just walking around and sitting is concerned). I will give it a thorough thrashing tonight though, because like Clairie, I believe that the body is evil and must be punished.

Tesso, those "builders" face masks you were talking about are actually very commonly used in Japan, often by people who have a lurgy, but also by people who don't want to catch one, and also to protect against kahunshoo (hayfever). The recommended way to wear them is like this. ;-)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Another easy day

Headed out the door a bit later than usual and ran a shade under 10 km in 48:02 (average pace 4:54, average HR 131). The left knee etc were not too bad, but I still felt enough general fatigue and stiffness to not try anything silly. Just take it easy and let the recovery take its course and maybe have a harder session tomorrow.

One worry is all the disease and pestilance around at the moment. My wife had the flu over a week ago, then my youngest son has had a few headaches, probably cold related, and then last night the oldest came down with a high fever and some up-chucking. I'm lucky I only work in a very small office, but the train ride to work every day is like Russian roulette. Maybe I should start getting around like this.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Easy recovery

I worked at home today so took the opportunity to slip out in the afternoon for an easy 5k in 27:16 (5:27/km) at an average heart rate of 121 (65%). It was a bit clunky getting going, but my legs thanked me for it later.

Rest assured, Clairie, the taper has started. Actually, it started last week as I only ran 94 km. It's just a lot higher proportion of them were at a hard pace than in previous weeks.

This week the plan is for the hard days to be hard and the easy days to be easy. But all in all, it will add up to the first real week of taper.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

30 km at 4:13/km (avg)

Today is two weeks until Tokyo Womens International Marathon in which Satohi, the lady I coach, is entered. And it is two weeks and four days until my Ohtawara Marathon. I had originally scheduled a regular 30 km long run at increasing pace. But after some careful consideration, I decided that another long race-pace run would be best. The two important points leading to this decision were that a) We have both recovered quite well from the same kind of run two weeks ago, and b) We have (at least I know I have) gained a strong fitness stimulus from that run. So I figured that we have enough time to recover fully from today, and enough time for the training stimulus to come through and help out on race day.

Again, we chose the Imperial Palace with its 5-km loop (4.96 to be precise) for this run, which would give a good basis to compare with two weeks ago. In contrast to two weeks ago, we went for a minimal warm-up of only half a kilometer. Satohi was sorted out with the paces she had to run and also had the experience of the previous run under her belt, so didn't really need me to ride shotgun for a lap. So without much ado we started.

That dull achy sort of pain at the back of my left knee was present right from the outset, but not intefering too much. With target laps of 21:15 per lap (or a little better because of the short 50 m), I was perhaps moving a bit quicker than I should have.  I was fine through the first two laps, with heart rate on the flat staying under 155. Up the hill (and this is the challenging part of this course) it was staying under 160, but that would not last for many laps.  I was able to stay under 4:15/km pace for all but the sixth lap, though during that sixth lap my heart rate was getting pretty high and my left leg was sore in the rear thigh as well as the knee. Interestingly, though, I didn't get any of the quad pain that I have experienced in my previous two sub 3-hr marathons (it seems to start around 25 km). Also, I didn't take any water throughout, though the temperature was about 19 to 20 degrees. I took a gel before the end of lap 5, just for the practice, but don't think it made any difference to the sixth lap. Anyway, basically the data tell the story:

Lap time    Pace    Hrmax    Hravg    
0:20:39   0:04:10     84%    78%
   0:20:50   0:04:12     85%    81%
   0:20:55   0:04:13     87%    82%
   0:20:55   0:04:13     87%    83%
   0:21:05   0:04:15     88%    84%
   0:21:15   0:04:17     89%    85%
Total time: 2:05:40, distance: 29.76 km; average pace 0:4:13 min/km

I would be lying if I said I was unhappy with this result, but I would have preferred slightly more even pace rather than the fast start and gradual slide. Who knows how much worse that would become over the ensuing 12 km...and without a lot of buffer.

Still I think with this run under the belt, and the order of difficulty presented by the Palace hill (and bloody crowds), the three-hour target is now looking clearly possible, and it will be all up to getting this dicky knee sorted out through the taper and then good old fashioned execution.

Satohi had a good run too, generally maintaining slightly better than her target race pace of 4:40/km for 25 km. And at least she doesn't have any injury problems!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Steady as she goes...

I took a little rest yesterday, which was good for the knee.  More by good luck than good management though. I had all my gear at work and was going to run home, but 3/4 of the way through getting changed I discovered that my "shorts" were in fact a singlet! Doh! It was only going to be a gentle run anyway...

So it is a holiday in Japan today! I had the luxury of sleeping in a bit and then getting up and heading out for my tempo run. I ran to Komazawa Park, knee feeling quite alright, and then as soon as I turned into the park put the foot down and reeled off four laps ( 8.6 km total) at tempo pace that looked something like this: 
   Lap time    Pace    Hrmax    Hravg    
   0:08:32   0:03:58     84%        81%    
   0:08:21   0:03:53     87%        84%    
   0:08:14   0:03:50     89%        87%    
   0:08:19   0:03:52     90%        88%

That's pretty much how a tempo run should look, with the rising heart rate starting to push into anaerobic territory in the latter half. And I finished it feeling comfortably fatigued and just had a reasonably relaxed run home. I wore my light shoes (Adidas Adizer CS) purchased the other day that I intend to wear in the marathon; they went well. So, everything is looking pretty good. Just have to be careful not to completely stuff up this knee while getting in the last little top-up of heavy work over the next few days, then start backing off the quantity and dealing with the head games that are the taper.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tracking fitness with the heart rate monitor

A while back I mentioned that I have this test where I run to Komazawa Park (3.8k), run one lap (2.15k) at continuing warm up pace, run the next lap accelerating to a heart rate of 149 (80% of HRmax) then run the third lap at as close to 149 as possible all the way. I've been doing this and accumulating the data, both in the raw pace for the third lap(red line) and as a kind of index (blue line). The index is something like "how many seconds of pace better than 5:00/km do I get for each heart beat greater than 130." It just allows some standardisation if I actually run a slightly different average heart rate, and it gives an increasing trend line instead of decreasing. Anway, both lines show that things have been going in the right direction of late. What is interesting is the big jump in September-- that is very largely weather related as our season changed from summer to autumn. But the improvements over the past couple of measures are unmistakable. Note that the pace for last Tuesday was 4:12/km -- doesn't mean I can run at that for a whole marathon, but gee, it is encouraging to be up in that ballpark again.

Nov 1st - Intervals

Yesterday, Wednesday 111, 22 days to the marathon, my left knee felt tender during the day, and of more concern than anything was that I felt discomfort in the front of the knee below the kneecap. I hesitate to call it pain, but it was definitely enough to instill doubt about the most appropriate course of action for the evening running.

I headed to the sento and found it deserted. Got changed, hung around a bit, still nobody showed up. So I set off for some easy running in the park to see how the leg felt. Met up with Stuart and Kibe-san and we jogged around at 5:10/km for 7 km or so.

Being the first Wednesday of the month the club interval session would be six by 1000 m, and I thought that at this stage of the marathon preparation that might be as good a workout as any if the knee was up to it. So we headed to the track. It was a very large group of Nambanners gathered for the session, and being the first time I'd jumped in with the communal workout in ages, it was nice to catch up with some people. I got a few comments that I am fading away, which I was surprised to hear because every time I jump on the scales there is no change. Later in the sento the scales did suggest I've lost a kilo in the last week or two.

I could still feel the knee during the easier running, but it was not really painful and not getting any worse, so I thought I would give the intervals a go. Interestingly, in the first few the knee actually became completely pain free while running at 1000-m pace. It started to hurt on number four, moreso on number five, and although I started number six I decided after 300 m or so to back off to something less intense, and that worked out OK.

During the first interval I was following behind Teruyuki (Terry) and was using him as my cue to stop. But when we came to where I thought we should stop, he kept going. So I thought, hey?, did I miscount the laps? And kept following him for another lap. It turned out he had simply decided to do an extra lap, the bugger. So my first 1000 m rep was actually 1400 m.

Anyway, the times were: 5:14 (3:44/km), 3:38, 3:33, 3:37, 3:35, 4:09 -- not as even as I'd like, but the knee and size of the group had something to do with it. Plus after reps three and four I ran at about 4:50/km for most of the recovery period. I'm not sure why, but I just felt that standing around chin wagging for almost three minutes was not a particularly constructive use of training time :-).

It was interesting running with the large group. There was one particular pack of guys that included Motozo & Paddy and a couple of others whose names I'm not sure of. They would always leap out of the blocks ahead of me and for the first 100 m I would be running behind them and feel as though we were all on about the same pace. But then suddenly it would be like, oops, watch out guys, and I would be nearly tripping over them and have to sneak around or through or whatever. I talked to Motozo about it later and mentioned that I didn't think I was speeding up, and he confirmed that he definitely, but not consciously, slows down. So I don't know if it is my superior aerobic base or their superior fast twitch muscle ratio or what, but whatever it is, it really seems to suggest some fundamental difference in physiological composition.

I iced my knee front and back when I got home and slept with a medicated plaster on it. Seemed a bit better this morning, but I took a couple of Ibuprofen anyway. You can never be too careful.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brief Catchup

The weekend was quite busy, so no time to blog, but at least the running went ahead as it should.

Saturday 28th -- mainly aerobic with structured fartlek
14 km in 1:04:20 (4:36/km)
Average HR: 136
Included three laps of Komazawa Park in which I ran the uphill kilometer hard and then back to regular aerobic pace for the downhill. The three uphills were 3:45 (AHR151), 3:45 (AHR 156), and 3:50 (AHR156). I was thinking of doing four, but my left leg started twinging on the third one, and the time fell away a bit, so I decided that was enough.

Sunday 29th -- long
39 km in 3:21:47 (5:10/km)
Average HR: 133
I didn't actually set out to run that long, but we were running rather long combination loops in Yoyogi Park. I mis-calculated slightly and by the time I was ready to turn for the final 6 km to home I had already clocked up 33 km. The combo loops were 5.6 km. I ran the last one and a half at under 5:00/km pace, but back on the streets cruised home at about 5:10/km. I was pretty weary by the end of it, but have pulled up OK apart from a few tender spots in the old left leg.

Tuesday 30th (Today) -- upper aerobic
16.2 km in 1:15:48 (4:41/km)
Average HR: 137
Just the standard Tuesday morning run with the third lap at Komazawa being at a heart rate of 149 as a kind of fitness test. I will compile the results of these tests that I've done over the past couple of months and post them as a graph in the next day or so. I was a little bit flat this morning with carry-over fatigue from Sunday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dexys Midnight Runners

I could almost join them. Yesterday we had this deadline to meet at work. It was a big translation and we had outsourced most of the translation, but still had a lot of work to check through it all and put it together and, frustratingly, incorporate the client's changes that kept coming through. We (my boss and I were working on it) were given a final deadline of 3:00. That's AM. The client had to have it for a meeting later in the morning, and they still had work to do putting our translated labels on figures and so on.

Well, we finally got finished at 2:15. That's AM. With no trains running by that time, I had three choices: sleep in the office, take a cab, or run home. I suppose a sane person would take a cab, but I had my running gear with me so opted for the last option. I guess I am not entirely sane. It was quite slow, and I thought of it as a recovery run from the tempo run earlier on Thursday morning. I got home, had a can of beer and went to bed a little before 4:00. That's AM. Blech.

I ran back to work this morning after sleeping until late in the morning. Didn't push the pace on the way to the Gaien picture gallery, averaging 5:14/km, then ran five laps at a target upper aerobic pace. I was looking at a heart rate of 149 (80%), but somehow as I got into it, I felt more comfortable at about 152. This produced a pace per lap of 4:14, 4:17, 4:14, 4:14, 4:16 for an average of 4:15/km and average heart rate (excluding the first lap) of 152.

OK, I revise the assessment of last Sunday from "just not quite there" to "hmmm, just about could be there". I am sure though, that the secret is going to be some more of this work pushing the my upper aerobic envelope up into the mid 150s and some more threshold runs to cope with any periods of over-enthusiasm and the late-race lactate flood.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another tempo run

One thing I forgot to mention in the last post was that I felt really good last night. I was just ready and itching to run. [sigh]. But the good news is that my wife seems to be on the mend today from her bad 'flu. Still a bit weak, but I think she'll pull through.

So I woke up this morning after a good sleep and hit the road running, wearing my brand new 2110s for the first time, and to be sure my legs were feeling as good as they have for a while. Funny what a little bit of rest will do.

I tossed up about what to do, but with Ewen's words ringing in my ears that I should be doing my tempo workouts at sub 4:00/km pace, it was inevitable that I would submit to the whispering voices. After 6 km of warming up, which included a short stop to rest my elbows on my knees and read the graffiti (there is not really any graffiti in Japan), I got stuck into a harder pace. I am pleased to report that it went pretty well. Only the first km was over 4:00 (by three seconds), then the rest, even the uphills, were around 3:55 to 3:56/km (one dipped to 3:51). I did three and a half laps of tempo, or 7.5 km. The first three km my heart rate was not really getting out of aerobic territory, around 82% of HRmax. Kilometer-four saw it go to 84%, then successive one-km stretches were 85%, then 87%, then finally 88%. So I think that is a reasonable threshold run. A few more of these, with distance increasing to 10 km, will be helpful to the cause.

Total distance for the run was 18 km, so now 32 for the week, and a bit of quality thrown in, not quite as depressing.

Lost Days of Running

Wednesday is the highlight of my week. To be precise, Wednesday nights are the highlight of my week. This is when I meet with fellow Nambanners at the sento, trundle off into the evening to run some kind of quality workout, either long, hard aerobic or some kind of intervals, then soothe the body in the hot waters of the communal bath, followed by beers at the outside "bar" (a low sign outside a convenience store). Such are the simple pleasures of life.

I have had a long period of not missing a Wednesday night run. But yesterday a looming deadline at work and a sick wife conspired to ensure tha tthere was no way in the world I could scarper off from work at 6:00 and join my friends. I felt bad about that. My instinctive reaction was resentment, perhaps a little anger. But luckily I had recently completed a quiz entitled "Are you addicted to the gym?" in which one of the questions was "Do you feel angry if you have to miss as session at the gym?" (I used "run" instead of gym). At first I thought, no, not realy, but then I realized, well, it depends. If it is a key run, yes, actually, I suppose I do. And another was if you had ever quarrelled with your spouse or boss about running too much. I had to check that one. So I realized that my attitude to running, given my other responsibilities in life, is just that little bit dysfunctional.

Of course, last night, with this fresh in my mind, I went home a little early and made soothing noises. My wife's mother had been there through the day and had made a one-pot dinner, and the boys, the youngest of whom is 12, were fine. But you have to be seen to be doing the right thing, you see.

And so it was, that on Thursday morningfour days into my running week, I woke up with only 14 km in the log book. How depressing is that? I think I need clinical help.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cheers guys

Wow, thanks for all those encouraging comments on the race-pace training run. Wasn't Clairie's pep talk a beauty! It had me all fired up and ready to run out he door, but I couldn't find my crutches ;-)  Thanks matie!

I suppose the most important thing to say is that I have not given up on anything, and I am not at all down-in-the-dumps over that assessment of not yet feeling quite in sub- 3-hr shape. I was trying to gauge where things feel at this time. And to a large extent to think about what is needed to try and get that extra bit of oomph. And some very constructive comments from one and all. Yes, fatigue would have taken and edge off Sunday's run (I was a bit silly with Saturday's run, but oh well), and yes, some tempo runs will give a boost, and yes, the taper will also count for a lot. So let's just keep rattlin' along this course and see how we go over the next couple of weeks.  But just one last thing, I'm not even going to be overly upset if I don't get under 3 hours because I have already done it twice, and will not beat last year's time at Ohtawara unless I give up my job, or get divorced, or both!  Sub 3 is just a nice number to aim for because I know I can be up there or abouts.

For the time being though, I am still recovering from Sunday. Took yesterday off running and definitely the legs felt a bit beat up. Had a shocker of a restless night last night but managed to get up at ten past five and head out into the squalls (another typhoon -- in the Japan Sea this time). There was not much rain, but it was chilly and windy. I aimed not to set any records, and that is exactly how it went. What was most interesting is how low my heart rate was despite relatively high perceived effort: average pace of 4:54/km and average heart rate of 130 (for 14 km). Those numbers are fine, great in fact, but as I said, it just felt harder than it should have! So I was being told all along that I still have a bit of recovery to do from the weekend's exertions, and that was fine because it was what I expected and planned for.  So for the next two days I think I'll keep the runs at lower aerobic, maybe a bit of upper aerobic if I feel better, and then perhaps a solid tempo session on Friday (like last week).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Well, at least it wasn't a disaster

But as I foreshadowed in the last post, the race-pace run didn't go as
well as it might. Or put another way, as well as the comparative run
during last year's preparation.

I ran a warm up lap (5k) with Satohi in 27 minutes. Then we did the
next lap at her marathon pace of around 4:40/km. Actually, we were 10
seconds fast for the lap, so pretty good. She went on to complete her
five laps and only went a little slower than target for the last two
laps, otherwise she was pretty much on the dot. So her preparation is
looking on-track.

However I was supposed to speed up to 4:15 and really, just never got
there. The lap average paces for the four laps were: 4:20, 4:18, 4:22,
and 4:20. Apart from the bit of leg fatigue, my tummy was also a
little out of sorts as I think I ate a tad too much last night in my
carbo-loading attempts. But that actually settled down, and I think if
I can blame anything (other than lack of condition that is) it would
have to be the lack of fresh legs. And not only was I off the pace,
but the run took its toll. It was a hard run and I was glad to get to
the end of it. And that was only 20 km of race pace.

So, at this point, I'd have to say that sub 3 is now looking a little
out of reach. But that's OK. I don't have anything to prove. And hey,
there are still a couple of weeks of training left!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Might have overdone it...

Just to prove that one is never immune from the age-old scourge of runners everywhere, over-doing it, I ran 18 km today at an average heart rate of 142 and average pace of 4:40. In and of itself it was a great run to be honest. Solid pace, nice distance, left me a bit fatigued and worked over, but not totally shagged. The problem is that tomorrow I am planning to run a fairly substantial distance with a fair whack, maybe 20 km, at 4:15 pace (=3-hr marathon pace). And my right quad feels a bit sore from today's run.

Well, tomorrow is another day, so let's see how it goes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A tempo run

Ha!! A tempo run!  Honest to FSM, I actually did a non-aerobic workout this morning!

I ran from home to the Gaien Picture Gallery in pretty much normal aerobic pace, though I did push hard up the hill through Aoyama Cemetary ... that was just to get me in the mood for something a bit serious. I stashed by backpack behind my favourite vending machine and then set off to do four of the 1.325 km loops at lactic threshold pace. I wasn't sure what pace to do, but 4:00/km plus or minus a couple of seconds is about what I regard as my threshold pace. The times for the four laps were, get this, 5:19.7, 5:20.1 , 5:20.2, 5:20.5 -- which basically works out to a very even 4:02/km throughout. The effort and heart rate were a different story. Average heart rate: 149, 159, 162, 163. The first two laps felt reasonably aerobic and manageable, but by the third lap I was breathing hard and it never got any easier. To be honest, I was very happy to see the end of the fourth lap and found it hard to imagine that I should be able to run a 10-k race 10 seconds or so per km faster than that. Yikes! I think I'm too chicken to put it to the test.

I also had a good session on Wednesday night. Mika and friends were attempting to run 12 km on the track at 4:10/km pace. I wasn't going to join them, but there were "roadworks" going on in Yoyogi Park, so I did start out with them. But actually they were setting a cracking pace and I refused to stay with them. I ran my own pace and it turned out to be around 4:15/km for the first couple of km, then a couple at about 4:07, then I settled on 4:13/km for the rest. Average heart rate climbed to about 157, but it wasn't getting out of control, so I guess I was staying pretty much aerobic at this pace. When considered in light of this morning's tempo run, this is all fairly encouraging. The aerobic base is high and will allow me to hold 4:15 for much of the race. I just need a few more threshold workouts now to help me hold onto that pace when lactate starts to accumulate and heart rate creeps up late in the race.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A geeky post about GPS products for runners

The Nikkei Weekly this week carried a small story that Casio has released a GPS-enabled watch for runners/cyclists.

   That's good.

It is the world's smallest GPS-enabled watch and looks kind of stylish

   That's pretty good.

It doesn't seem to do much except tell you how far you've gone and your pace (unless you think that calendar and world time functions are important).

   That's bad. Even my $200 Polar HRM pedometer thing does that effectively

It has a battery life of 2 hr or 4.5 hr on low-power mode.

   That's terrible to the point of absurd! (It wouldn't have even completed the Tour de Yamanote on low power mode)

It doesn't have any computer interface capability so far as I can tell.

   That's almost unacceptable (considering the price)

It has a backlight.

   C'mon, I'm struggling to find some more good things

It stores a whopping 50 laps of data.

   Who hoo, break out the party balloons!

It costs 54,000 yen (US$470)


Compare this to the Garmin 305

Admittedly the Garmin weighs 13 g (yes, a whole 13 g) more, but offers a heart rate monitor, 10 hrs battery life, ability to download (and upload?) run routes to a computer for display on maps and data analysis, a bunch of user/training functions, 1000 lap memory...and it costs about 25% to almost 50% less (though is NOT available over the counter in Japan).

So, if the Garmin is the standard in the international market place for GPS-enabled watches for runners, what on earth is Casio thinking?  Surely they will not sell a single unit of this over-priced under-specced watch to any remotely international-minded runner! Do they simply consider that the Japanese market is totally isolated from the international market? (Probably yes, and I guess true to a very large extent).

But why are Japanese electronics makers dragging the chain so badly in this kind of product considering the potential size of the market? Even heart rate monitors are very thin on the ground, with Casio being the only serious player that I know of, and even then, that is a relatively recent arrival on the heart rate monitor scene.

And why is Garmin so sluggish in getting its much-coveted products into international markets? (The fact is, most people in other countries, e.g., Australia, are buying the Garmins over the Internet directly from America and thus risking the loss of after-sales service). The 301, the predecesssor to the 305, has been released for about three years, but only recently appears to have become available in Japan (and at an extremely inflated price, if you don't mind).

I wonder what all this means, if anything...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Yamanote run visuals

Paddy got some photos all around the line and put together a brilliant little video of the event. Check it out here (my tip is go straight for the video!):

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tour de Yamanote

Almost exactly one year ago, seven hardy souls headed off into a cool and drizzly morning to run the Yamanote-sen, the train line that circumscribes what is considered Tokyo proper. Keren, Colin, and I, finished.

Today was the second running of the Yamanote Mawari, or as Gareth has re-badged it, the Tour de Yamanote. This time we had what was almost a cast of thousands. . Let's see if I can remember them all: Boys: me, Gareth, Aleksey, Phil, Keren, Paddy, Marc, Adam B, Adam Y, Motozo, Anthony... Girls: Mary, Jaynie, Satohi, Ma, Anna, Yuka,... So, if I haven't forgotten anybody, that is 17 starters!

The weather was fine and cool with a light cloud cover keeping the burny rays at bay. Couldn't get a better day if you could dial it up on the Weather-O-Matic.

What was most impressive was that we got going only five minutes after our scheduled start of 7:00, even allowing for the obligatory photos. Keeping a large group like this together was a challenge with all the road crossings. But the early progress through Shibuya, Ebisu and Meguro was pretty steady (a funny thing was that a drunk guy holding a beer mug started running with us at Shibuya and actually held on all the way to Meguro! About 3.5-4 km! Mad as a cut snake he was). After Meguro we started to spread out a little through Gotanda and Osaki and then realized we would need to take care to not drop our slower members off the back.

The haul from Shinagawa through the next few stations was a bit of a boring grind, but everybody was still fresh. With Gareth leading through his neck of the woods we wound our way around and about the streets hugging the Yamanote tracks. Anna had planned to run to Yurakucho, but pressed on to Tokyo, then to Kanda, and finally she finished up at Akihabara.

We had been joined at Yurakucho by Yukari on her motorbike (well, scooter) with a reporter/photographer from the Japan Times aboard. They tailed/buzzed/badgered/pestered us for the next few stations, but it was fun giving the "V" for the camera time and again. We also picked up Simon at this point. So then we made our way past Akihabara "electric town", taking care not to step in the otaku, and through "Ameyoko" shopping street--with the pungeant smell of dried squid boring deep into our craniums--to Ueno, whereupon we collected Bob and promptly had a five (or was it ten?) minute drink and toilet break. I think Adam Y jumped off our little train at Ueno, or somewhere thereabouts, and maybe Anthony too. (Sorry Anthony, I missed your departure.) (Edit: According to Gareth it was Kanda for both Anthony and Adam.)

One of the guys, Marc, had never run further than 21 km before. So by now we were up into unchartered territory for him. Several other runners had also not run this far in a long, long time, if at all (Yuka certainly hadn't, and Phil had been preparing on a diet of 25 km a week spread over five runs). We pressed on and were promptly met by the mysterious Thumping Great Ueno Cemetary -- whatever it is called, it is a bugger to get around. After several false paths and twists and turns and one leap down a seven foot retaining wall to get out of the cemetary, our weary group was soon through that maze and picking our way past Uguisuidani, Nippori, Tabata and so on up to Otsuka. Keren got off our choo-choo in this section. We were at about 30 km by this time and Marc was flagging. Yuka and Mary were also weary and a few others looking very grim faced. Aleksey, on his first ever run with Namban (will he ever come back?) was starting to falter. But still we held our group together and pressed on.

Next Ikebukuro was ticked off as we threaded our way through the now heavy Sunday morning crowds, receiving more than the occasional gawp as we sweated along. Aleksey went past Ikebukuro, and then promptly declared, no, that was it. He would have to bail at that point. A few confusing turns after Ikebukuro probably added several hundred meters to our journey, but with the superb navigational skills of fearless leader Gareth, we regained the Yamanote line at Mejiro (for my Australian readers, mejiro means "white eye" and is named after that little drab olive-green bird with the white ring around its eye, and which we call a silvereye. It migrates the 11,000 km between Japan and Australia! Some of us probably thought we were migrating 11,000 km too!)

Next it was through the university precinct of Takadanababa, and finally the skyscrapers of Shinjuku, beyond which lay our goal, were in our sights. But it was a real struggle to hold the group together now. Marc was definitely fading fast and Yuka was moving foward by sheer willpower. Mary was simply willing it all to end. The heavy pedestrian traffic and road crossings gave opportunities to re-group. Somehow, though, we lost Phil. I feel terrible about this, because we were really determined to get everybody in together. Whether he bailed of his own volition or was a casualty of the cracking pace that Yuka and Marc were setting for us, I don't know. Anyway, sorry Phil that you didn't make those last 5 km or so.

So we elbowed our way through the madding crowds of Shinjuku Station (whose idea was it to go on the north side?!) and then it was psychologically, if not actually, all downhill from there. Flash, we went past Yoyogi at a crawl, and then zoom, we trundled up the hill to Harajuku. Only 200 m from our goal we had a short break in front of Harajuku Station as several delerious members tried to run back the other way, and as we allowed Yukari's photographer to get into position on the overhead footbridge for some aerial shots. And then, finally, like a shot out of a gun, we shuffled the final leg into the park raising our Vs for the photographer for the penultimate time. Gareth and Satohi took off for a final dash to the finish. I took up the challenge, but they had a fair jump on me and I could only just get to them as we hit the finish line running hard. A nice way to finish.

And so, the final finishers out of those who started were: Boys: me, Gareth, Paddy, Marc, Adam B, Motozo... Girls: Mary, Jaynie, Satohi, Ma, Yuka. (And there were also Simon and Bob, who ran solid portions of the course, but sorry guys, no Golden Banana)

An interesting statistic is that the dropout rate among the men was 45% (5/11) and 17% (1/6) among the ladies. What does that mean? Some might argue that the guys who dropped out simply had more common sense than the rest of us, but that would be unfair. It has to be said though, that Satohi, Jaynie, and Ma were an inspiration, running strongly all day and looking as fresh when we finished as when we started. (Edit: Gareth points out that everyone who dropped out intended to from the outset, in much the same way as we joined part way by Simon and Bob, so I suppose the statistics are meaningless and the real story is that everyone who intended to go the whole way did, and some that didn't know if they could make it, also did -- yay team!)

And now, just for a moment, I must put modesty aside and mention that with Colin's injury and Keren's pathetic, nay pansy, typical Queenslander effort, I am now the only one to have completed the full loop of both runnings of this now great Namban tradition. I suppose that is fitting giving I was the one to suggest and kick it off last year. But it sort of puts the pressure on for next year huh! (Edit: Keren disputes that he was being a pansy, but preserving himself for a race next week. See previous edit. It's OK mate, when the Cane Toads win State of Origin and the Broncos win the grand final, you can't blame me for lashing out every now and then)

All up, I'm calling it 40 km (the footpod said 41, but I think it was overmeasuring a little). It took exactly 4 hours running time and 5 hours on the clock. It gives me 120 km for the week. -- oh yeah, and my knee was HEAPS better this morning after a couple of doses of Ibuprofen yesterday. So, now, just not to upset it again.