Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Run to the park run three laps and run back home again

Despite a slightly late night last night (11:30) I got up at 5:30 and hit the tarmac. It ended up being a "hard aerobic, bordering sometimes on lactic threshold" run. You know the type? The 4k to the park was just steady aerobic, but then for the laps I tried to crank it up. This is where it is hard to choose a perceived effort for the half because I felt like I was really putting in hard with my legs, and going fast, but a) my breathing was still in control, and b) The pace was actually not fast at all...I mean 4:10/k or so with heart rate below 160. So I'm not sure if that is just an early morning, not warmed up enough thing or what. Into the second lap I definitely got the pace down closer to 4:00/k AND definitely saw my breathing take off. So that seems to suggest I am playing around on the lactic threshold at around 4:05/km. That is equal to about an 86-minute half. So, I'll stick to my original prediction of 87+/- 1; I think 2P will lose his chocolate frog. Kind though his prediction was.

I liked GoGirls countdown timer...except for the advertising. So I went off in search of one for myself. It's a bit plain, and the time base is screwed up so you have to set the target date a day later than it actually is (and it will probably still be wrong for a few hours every day).

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sunday's run

Hmm, a not terribly eventful or interesting run to record for yesterday. Arrived at Yoyogi in the nick of time for a 9:00 start (invoking the 5-minute leeway rule). Starters other than me were Gareth, Taeko, and Ma. Then we were joined by Adam, then Richard and, in time, Chiba-san materialized, as did Mami. The latter two running together and separate to the rest of us (all entirely innocent I am sure!) Ma and Taeko also dropped off to run by themselves in the latter stages.

The lap times (2.5-km) were a little up and down. Started very slowly with a 14:30 lap/5:48/km, then progressively faster through several laps: 14:09/5:40, 13:34/5:26, 13:18/5:19, 11:52/4:45 (I was catching up after an unscheduled stop), then back to 13:03/5:13, 12:46/5:06, and then finished with a quick Fulton loop (1.95 km) in 8:04/4:08. Total distance 19.5 km.

Finished feeling reasonably fresh apart from a bit of hip and leg soreness. I think I am ready to have at least a semi-decent half next week. I'm starting to feel like a time of 86 minutes might be possible, but anything better would be a surprise and anything below 88 should not be a disappointment. So there is my prediction: between 86 and 88 minutes.

Watched the Osaka Women' International marathon on TV yesterday when I got home. A couple of our ladies were running. Catherine Ndereba ran strongly to gradually move through the field from 6th place to 1st over the 25km to 32 km section, finally winning by 40 seconds. And wouldn't you know it, Mika and Satohi managed to get themselves snapped with the grand lady herself, see the photo here.

Rest day today, Monday 30th.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Another lashing of lactate

This morning I had to do some work on the computer and then got out the door for a run at about 11:00. I was thinking that, in keeping with the run hard theme, I would do some repeats of a 3-km loop around the roads from our place. But I realised I'd left it too late and that there would now be too many pedestrians and stoppages at road crossings. So I opted to go over to Rinshi no Mori Park. This is a park that used to be a forestry research center and it has a wide range of different trees, even a couple of eucalypts.  It has a tight little 1.7 km course, part paved, part packed dirt and with quite a few twists and turns and even a couple of little hills, up and down, including one staircase to bound up.

So after jogging down there slowly, 1.1 km at a bit better than 6:00 min pace, I decided I would run three times two laps (i.e. 3 x 3.4 km intervals) with a five minute recovery. The first lap of the first 3.4 km was a little bit slow at 4:16/k pace. I didn't actually know that though at the time because of the odd distances and lack of any other markers. The second lap was quite a bit faster and that worked out to be 4:02 pace. Quite knocked up at the end of that and took a six minute recovery. The next two-lap repeat was at a more even 4:04 pace. After another six minute shuffle-jog recovery the last set was at 4:02/km for both laps. Was really shagged at the end of this repeat, but I felt that the pace had been pretty good and was satisfied. Even happier when I entered the data later to see that I had been so close to 4:00 pace. That is actually pretty hard to run in that gnarley little course. So, things are looking up. The hip/leg is still a factor, but worrying me less. Maybe I'm just learning to ignore it.

Huge positive vibes going out tonight to Mika and Yoshiko (full) and Satohi (half) for the Osaka Interational Womens Marathon tomorrow. Go you Good Namban Girls!!

Oh yeah...somebody else has written something about Namban Rengo

Friday, January 27, 2006

Two on the trot

The Thursday-night run-home-from-work-Friday-morning-run-to-work pattern has been upheld.

With coach 2P's words ringing in my ears, I kicked up the tempo of the run home last night as much as I could within the constraints of running fast on busy Tokyo footpaths. It was weird. Felt like I was flying at times. Felt like I was flying recklessly at times. I ran out on the road through much of the section from Nishi-Azabu to Hiroo. It was a choice between dodging pedestrians or letting cars dodge me. And as hard as I ran, I didn't seem to get knocked up -- it was like I could run forever. A really nice feeling. And then there were stops for road crossings and slow downs when the pedestrians got too thick on the ground, so it was more like a fartlek run than anything else. Overall I clocked up the 8.4 km (or so) in an average of 4:34, so with the slower sections and pedestrian overpass thrown in, I must have been going at well under 4:20 pace at times. yippee-ai-oh-kay-ay... a lot of fun and I hope to do that again some day soon.

So then it was time to back up this morning with the run to work. I didn't feel anywhere near as energized as last night, understandably. So I ran along at a steady old pace, probably around 5:00/km or a little slower. I ran to Gaien with thoughts of some kind of speedwork in mind. Part of me wanted to run some intervals, but basically I didn't feel up for it. But I took a breather at the start line for a minute or so and then took off. The first 400 came up in 1:36, similar to the Wednesday night time trial, but felt harder, the 1k came up in 3:58, but felt really hard. So, I was going somewhat slower than 1k or 1200-m interval pace, but it was feeling hard, I decided to hold the pace and run through the entire lap (1325 m) and see what happened. Held the 3:58 pace for that lap, but then the second lap I wilted a bit and ran it in an average of 4:03/k. This was the toughest part -- only a bit over 2-km and fading? Should I give it away? I started to get tummy pains here too, so it was really tempting to stop, but I kept going into the third lap thinking that if the fade continued I would call it quits. Luckily it didn't and I even started feeling a bit better (though the tummy pains were not going away). Knocked that over in 4:02/km pace, so in for a penny in for a pound I kept going. The knowledge that this was definitely the last lap meant I could dig a bit deeper and I then ran that fourth lap in exactly the same time as the first. Nice.  It was then a slow jog the rest of the way to work with a pit stop along the way at the first public convenience, which I found none too soon I can tell you.

All up I am very happy with these two runs. Even though I am a ways off where I wanted to be, it feels better than where I was even a few days ago. The leg isn't exactly right, but it seems to be troubling me a bit less. Let's hope that trend continues.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

5k time trial

Last night it was the monthly 5-k time trial. I had absolutely no intention of running it, despite 2P's probably very sound advice to try and run fast but shorter over the next week. No, I was going to be beligerent and run 4:30/km pace in the park with Gareth. Not because I disagreed with the advice, but because I just didn't think running fast was going to help my leg/hip (thing -- whatever it is).

But bloody Gareth announces part way into the warm-up run in Yoyogi Park that we should go do the time trial. The paths were still a bit icy in patches, so I said alright, but I have no intention of actually time trialling it.

Standing around at the track it was absolutely brass monkey weather. Two degrees if were lucky. Eventually we got started and I ran at a hard steady, but still a bit conservative pace. Starting at just under 4:00/km pace I was gradually able to increase the pace to low 3:50s, generally feeling like I was running hard, but not feeling under any great stress. With five laps to go I noticed Subash had opened about a 50 m gap, so I made it a goal to reel him in, thus providing some incentive to run the last part harder. At first I didn't seem to be making any ground, but he might have faded a bit because suddenly with 2.5 laps to go, the gap was down to about 20 m. I still had to work hard to close the gap and finally caught him about 250 m to go and finished maybe 2 seconds ahead. That made it kind of interesting, and I really did have to run hard. In the end, I think it was a pretty good workout and my leg doesn't feel any worse for it. So, thanks for the advice 2P. I might try a bit more of that. Oh, and thanks Subash for being my hare!  Here are the lap times:

Distance Split Lap Pace
0.4 0:01:35 0:01:35 0:03:58
0.8 0:03:11 0:01:36 0:04:00
1.2 0:04:45 0:01:34 0:03:55
1.6 0:06:20 0:01:35 0:03:58
2.0 0:07:55 0:01:35 0:03:58
2.4 0:09:30 0:01:35 0:03:58
2.8 0:11:04 0:01:34 0:03:55
3.2 0:12:38 0:01:34 0:03:55
3.6 0:14:11 0:01:33 0:03:53
4.0 0:15:43 0:01:32 0:03:50
4.4 0:17:14 0:01:31 0:03:47
4.8 0:18:41 0:01:27 0:03:38
5.0 0:19:25 0:00:44 0:03:40

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Daytime Palace Run

A combination of getting to bed late, leg worries, and cold weather conspired to make me easily choose not to get up for an early run. But I got myself moving and into work earlier, running gear packed. I worked through the regular lunch hour adn then set out at around 2:00 to catch the warmest part of the day -- if you call 7 degrees warm.

It is an 800 m warm-up jog from my office to the Hanzomon gate of the Imperial Palace course. It is a 5-k loop and I set off at a steady pace and was quickly at a heart rate of 140. As  I warmed up more and got into the run this soon reached into the low 150s and high 150s on the uphill. The first lap was 21:54 (4:23/km) and the average heart rate was 148. I just kept up the same rhythm into the second lap and that was right on 22 minutes, or 4:24/km and average heart rate of 155.  This clearly tells me, as I have been saying, that I am way off the desired 4:00/km pace that I'd like to run a half marathon at.

The leg was not too bad before I set off, but was a constant presence through the run. I don't think it really interfered much at that pace, but I think it does hamper me from going much faster. Or is that just the lack of fitness?

Anyway, 11.56 km all up at an overall average pace of 4:37/km, though the warm up and cool down drag that down a lot.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tagged by Kit

Rats, just got tagged by Kit. You can't tag that many people in return can you Kit? Well, I suppose you just did.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was midway through my 10 years at State Forests of NSW Research Division. I was doing research into soil erosion on logging tracks. How much washes off and where it goes (Answer: a lot, but it doesn't go far). I think it was about this time that I also had some acting management responsibilities for the native forests research group. I was also experiencing the joys of having a young family in Sydney and struggling making do on a single public servant income -- the boys would have been aged 5, 3, and 1!!  That was a struggle we never really won (hence we are now in Japan). I was not running.

2. Five snacks I enjoy?
Almost any kind of nuts, potato or corn chips (especially if guacomale is involved), peanut butter and golden syrup sandwich, cheesecake! (OK, and sometimes I like fruit, but it has a hard job competing with those, you have to admit)

3. Five songs I know all the words to?
Hotel California (it was a long time ago), Glomph Went the Little Green Frog, Octopuses Garden  (high school review), Advance Australia Fair (but not the second chorus), Waltzing Matilda

4. Five things I would do if I was a millionaire?
Maintain a house both in Australia and Japan. That's it. There would be no cash left after that -- and it would still require a couple of mortgages!  Well, assuming we are just talking about an overly ample unspecified sum of money such as you never have to work again, then of course I'd make sure my parents and my wife's parents were set up, plus help out the siblings and the kids' educations. Let's call that one thing: look after the family. For the others, if we are just talking about me, me, me things, I'd definitely want a home in the country furnished with beautiful wooden furniture,  I'd probably keep some animals (preferably of the scaled or feathered kind, but maybe also a big old dog), I'd do some adventure trips, and finally I would want to do something philanthropic like promoting environmentally sustainable technologies or helping with income self-sufficiency projects in disadvantaged communities/countries.

5. Five things I like doing?
Running and blogging about running, brewing and drinking craft beer (and sake, and...), learning about wood and quality wood furniture (a recent obsession), cooking, spending time with close friends (preferably over a nice meal or in a rotenburo/outdoor hotspring)

6. Five toys?
Polar 410 Heart Rate Monitor (thanks Pete), Creative MuVo MP3 player, Fuji FinePix Camera, My Mama Chari, er, er...not much else, my son's chess set...(he finally beat me again last night after my long winning streak).

I don't tag anybody because Kit tagged enough for all of us. Well, OK, maybe I would tag Mika_t if she is looking in.

Sunday long run in the snow

That snow I reported on Saturday morning, well it just kept right on snowing all day until about 8:00 in the evening. I think we got something like 20 cm of snow over the day. I had to venture out in it to attend a seminar in the afternoon. It wasn't exactly fun, but good to experience it organically rather than just from the living room window.

Sunday morning was yet another opportunity to interact organically with the snow. The day broke fine and clear...and cold. I knew there would still be snow on the ground in Yoyogi Park, but felt obliged to go check out whether a run was posible. (Some Namban friends were organising a run at the Imperial Palace later in the day, but just too late for old fogies like me and Gareth).

I took the train to the park arriving right on 9:00. It was carpeted, blanketed, covered, you name it, it was white and snowy. The clear blue sky and sunshine made it stark and pretty. Despite the fine weather, there was still snow cascading down from above as the trees began to awaken and shake their canopies free of this icky cold stuff.

The paths still had a continuous layer of mostly trampled down, icy snow. I stood at the start line, alone, cold, contemplating whether it was runnable, and whether Gareth would be joining me or sensibly staying curled up warm in bed.  Then I looked down the path and off in the distance coming towards me was a figure clad in white, almost like a snow hare, only much bigger. And not quite as fast. And not as cute. (I just put that to see if he reads the blog!)  Aftter many minutes of watching this forlorn figure painstakingly making his way closer, I eventually came to realise that it was indeed my friend and destined companion for this frosty sojourn. As we stood discussing the conditions, a familiar face came loping towards us. Motozo!! What are you doing here? You are normally not out of bed at this time even on a 20 degree day -- it couldn't be! It wasn't! It was Philip, a nissei Japanese-American who happened to look exactly like Motozo until he took off his beanie, scarf, and goggles (OK, the goggles and scarf are an exaggeration). Motozo's reputation remains safely intact.

With no further ado, we then commenced our run. And despite it being a little uneven underfoot, with less than perfect traction, we were still able to move along at a reasonable 5:30/km or so. It was so pretty around the park, and our feet actually stayed dry doing 3.18-km combo loops. So in the end, it was actually a really nice run. We were joined by Chiba-san for a while and then Rebecca, who after a couple of laps tagged her husband Richard to exchange child-minding duties. (Said children were intent on ambushing us with snowballs on each lap, making it a sort of a cross between a long run and Skirmish.)

All up I ran 23km at about 5:30/km. With the slower pace, the leg pretty much behaved itself. And somehow, despite not running Saturday, I managed to end up with over 70 km for the week. So all up, a fairly successful and pleasant outing. I'm not sure how much it will contribute to my Kanagawa half campaign, but I am not stressing about that and will just try to get to the start line without pain and enjoy the run and see what happens.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

yuki futeru

One point Japanese lesson: yuki means "snow". futeru means "is falling" (as in rain snow, hail).

So when we woke up this morning, that was what was happening. We usually only get snow once or twice a year in Tokyo, so it is always a novelty. Anyway it is a good excuse to rest the leg and other ailments. So, no run today.

I just realized the unintentional pun in the title of my last post. Whoa should have been woe, but the misspelling suggested I was giving a command to stop. And that also matched pretty well the contents of the post.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Whoa is me...

Today: 10.8
Week: 52.2
Month/Year: 193.8

So this morning was the return leg to work. Oh, that word, leg!! I wish I hadn't mentioned that. Theories about lower back problems and a sciatica type condition proposed in comments to yesterday's post seemed to hold plenty of water this morning. I've always had "issues" with my left lower back and hip, but don't grumble about it much because it hasn't ever really affected my running. But this morning there was a lot of stiffness and creakiness through that region coupled with the on-going rear thigh pain. I could run OK, but it is a constant case of "Are we having fun yet..." 

I got out the door later than I would have liked, so that left me without enough time to do my planned interval session at the 1325-m loop at Gaien. So I thought, OK, I'll try and do a couple of continuous loops at 4:00/km pace (slower than my half-marathon PB pace). So I hit the start line and clicked my watch and put the foot down. The first 500 m came up in 2:07 (hmmm...in a bit of trouble here, try and squeeze out some more pace). The complete circuit in 5:35 or 4:13 pace. And you know what? I was working my guts out at 90% of HRmax. And yet way off the pace. I can't say that I felt like crap; I just couldn't really run any faster. To make things worse I started getting serious ructions from down below, so I just bailed at the end of the lap and went in search of a toilet. Found one in the nick of time, though to my displeasure somebody before me had not been so fortunate. "Missed by that much." Sort of matched my crappy mood. I just trotted the rest of the way to work after that. Brewed a strong coffee ate some ghastly pastry, and tried to forget about it. (Which is not helped by having to blog about it later!)

On a positive note, I really enjoy seeing other runners come on and have tremendous breakthroughs in performance and/or confidence. So since I am such a grumblebum at the moment, I'll try and make a habit of deflecting attention towards someone more deserving. This week's star performer is none other than fellow Cool Running Team J  traveller KIT in Sydney. Have a read and admire what Kit has been achieving lately. (I hasten to add that all my Team J mates are on fire at the moment...must be the steamy weather down there...but for this week, the spotlight is on Kit).

Run home

Today: 8.8
Week: 41.4
Month: 183
Year: 183

Ran home from work. The leg was hurting at first, but gradually faded to an annoying presence. Had to stop for traffic lights at Nishi Azabu Crossing and when I took off, lo and behold there was another little fella with a backpack and running togs. The worst of it was we were running at about the same pace and it quite narrow through there. He was actually a tiny bit faster and eventually, somewhere around Cicada ( a restaurant), he ran out on the road for a while and got ahead. I let him go of course; I was in no mood for racing (but he never got too far ahead!)

It was a plurry cold and at times strong wind that was blowing. Coming up the hill towards home I pushed hard into the wind. Back the other way tomorrow.

We have sat up and set up the wireless adapter thingamy on our Yahoo BB service tonight. It seemed to go alright. Now we have (ostensibly) a 54 Mbps wireless home network. It remains to be seen what actual speeds we get and how stable it is. So far it doesn't seem particularly fast. I guess part of the proof of the pudding will be if this email actually makes it to my blog, so here we go...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Running as physiotherapy?

My left rear thigh was still very tender yesterday. I could feel it when I walked, I could even feel it while I was sitting at my desk. But something told me it was a level of pain I'd be able to run with. And to be honest, the really sad thing is that the extent of my addiction and boredom with work is such that not running, or at least not trying, was just not an option.

So I met Gareth at the sento and we picked up Shiba-san and headed to the park. Satohi joined us a little later. After a warm-up of a few kilometers Shiba-san peeled off and went to the track workout. The leg was giving me some discomfort, but wasn't screaming at me. So we then started our 4:30/km pace run. I was assigned pacing duties and unfortunately, as is always the case no matter who is in charge, went out a bit too fast. I managed to get it back to the point where the first lap ( a bit over 3km) was only 8 s fast. Poor Gareth has been having some stomach problems since Sunday (when he hurled after his run in the Shibuya Ekiden) and had to pull out after the first lap. I paced Satohi through the second lap in perfect 4:30/km pace (kudos me!), and then she stopped because the pain in her knee was troubling her. So I continued for a third lap and pushed a bit harder, knocking that over in 4:19/km pace. I still felt that the heart rates were too high for the pace, whatever the pace it happened to be, but there is no point worrying about that too much. I cooled down with a jog around the small loop and also over to the track for some socializing before heading back to the sento and a nice hot tub. All up a bit over 16 km.

The very interesting thing is that my leg feels greatly improved this morning! Oh, I can still feel the sore spot alright, but it is much less acute and hardly worries me at all to walk. Makes me wonder what kind of injury it is that can be brought on by one run and eased by another!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

He weakens and does a tempo run...

With Kanagawa half only a couple of weeks away, or is it three, impatience finally got the better of me and this morning I decided it was time to give the old ticker a bit of a workover. No more of this namby pamby, aerobic pussy-footing around, time for some trial-by-lactic. It wasn't very pretty. I ran to Komazawa Park a bit slower than normal and then, nice timing, was able to off-load some ballast before starting what I was hoping would be four laps (8.45 km) at 4:00 min/km. Putting in what I thought was a pretty strong effort the first (slightly uphill) km came up in 4:19 -- erk!. The next, with a fair downhill was better at 4:04. Uphill again produced 4:10. The interesting thing was that my heart rate seemed lower, comparative to this pace, then it has been on recent runs. It was only 159 for that uphill and only got up to the higher 160s on the last uphill. This actually seems about right, so I think the monitor in recent runs has been dodgy (overall, not terribly likely) OR my heart rate at lower paces has been unnaturally elevated, almost as if there was some sort of residual effect from the flu (quite possible). It is hard to say. Anyway, that pace pattern continued for most laps, with about 4:07 for the uphills and 4:03 or 4:04 for the downhills. Only once, on the final downhill to complete the tempo run, did I record a 4:00 flat. And I was working very hard. So much so that this run has brought on that left leg inner thigh niggle that was giving me grief before the marathon, so that reinforces the fact that I have been doing the right thing taking it easy. And gives cause to ponder what to do now. Well, there is a race coming up, and this run will have helped the fitness I suppose, so it is just a case of pushing on I think.

I'd also like to welcome fellow Namban A teammate Jay to the world of bloggin'. He is chronicling his buildup towards New Zealand Ironman. He also gives a good account of our Shibuya Ekiden and puts another perspective on his tussle with Michael.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Shibuya ekiden with the runner from Kingscliff

First up I'll just mention in passing that I had a couple of fairly unremarkable commuting runs to a seminar yesterday, about 8.5 km each. It was raining pretty hard during the return run, and cold. Miles in the bank?

But today was a real highlight with the visit by Michael, a Coolrunner from Kingscliff (I think his CR handle is "Runner from Kingscliff") on the Tweed coast, my place of origin. The visit fitted in nicely with the Shibuya Ekiden. Being only for citizens and company workers from Shibuya Ward, it is not a huge ekiden on the Japanese calendar, but still, it is a race, and we are eligible to enter as we are registered in Shibuya Ward. The legs are around 3 km each, so it is a bit of a sprint. Namban Rengo's masters teams have won the event a lot in the past, but two years ago (last year was a washout) the police or firies and some companies put in stronge teams and we did not make our single strongest team, so as a result I think our best result was fourth.

In the first event of the day, our men's open team of Jason, Brett, Zach, and Taro romped to victory, so that was a good sign. Then we were able to field two strong masters’ teams and one not so fast team. Michael was the first runner in Team B up against Jay in Team A; Jay is probably our best master’s runner over 5k to half marathon. Michael said he thought he should be able to run around 10 minutes, so it was going to be interesting. So it proved as they took off with Jay in the lead but Michael not far behind. A lap around the athletic track and then off around the streets of Shibuya. When they came back into the track Michael was in second place overall (Team 713 was in the lead) and leading Jay by about 5 seconds. A superb run from them both.

Michael handed off to Watanabe-san and I took the sash from Jay. Watanabe-san has not run with us much in recent years so I didn’t know enough about him to know whether I was a chance to catch him or not. I knew my form would not be in PB territory, but 3k is not a long distance to put the foot down. The knot in the sash had come undone when I got it and I think I lost another 5 seconds getting that sorted out. Then I put my head down but wasn't making much of an impression. At about half-way we came to an uphill incline and I realized the gap had closed somewhat. So I thought, here we go, he's fading. But he must have just been taking a breather because as hard as I worked, the gap only seemed to widen after that. He handed off to Bob and I handed off to Subash a good 20 seconds or so in arrears. Bob is a good bit faster than Subash, so that was it for our chance at first place. But the overall race was not over, and during that third leg Bob hauled in the runner from team 713. So Leg four started with Namban B (Michael's team) in first place, team 713 in second place, and Namban A in third place. Bob gave Juergen a lead that could not be breached, but Subash had a pretty good run and handed off to Bryan about 30 seconds in arrears of Team 713. Well, good old Bryan had a fantastic run and managed to overtake team 713 about 1 km from the finish, and while the guy came back at him and was just about popping a foo-foo valve down the home straight, Bryan held him off by about 5-10 seconds. So it was Namban one, two, with Team B upsetting Team A!! And Namban D came 6th!

Here is a photo of me and Michael holding the winner's flag (and Bob trying to get in on the act as well!):

And here is one of the Namban girls, just because they are lovely -- oh, and they managed to come 2nd and 6th in the women's. So it was a pretty darn good day out for the club. And it was terrific to meet Michael, and later his lovely wife and daughters at a big celebratory lunch at Pizza Express.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Oh my God, Stephen, Where are Your Pants!?

I was going to run home from work last night and then do the return journey this morning. I went into the bathroom and started changing quickly. Work strides off and hung up, tie and business shirt off and hung up, heart rate band on, long sleeve shirt on, T-shirt over the longie, cap, now, where are my pants?  Bloody Hell...somehow they didn't make their way into the bag. I could almost see myself putting them in, but no, they definitely were not there. So reverse the process, strides back on, shirt, tie, etc etc, and sulked off to the train. My boss tried to suggest I should have run in the nude, but he obviously hasn't heard of brass monkeys...

So I had to wake up early this morning and ran up to Komazawa. Gee, it was almost identical to Tuesday, last Saturday and last Wednesday. Three laps, 14 km all up. The heart rates were a bit better than Tuesday and the overall pace marginally the fastest of all these comparable runs. So slowly, slowly catchee (brass) monkey.

I had a fairly short sleep, largely because I was up getting the ADSL set up. The computer stuff was easy as, but it took a bit of time sorting out where everything was going to go. Gee, I hate all those cables. It does come with a wireless optin from the modem, so I'll get that installed soon. And then the good wife wanted to sit up in bed catching up on her email. Understandable as she has been totally without since the 20th of December. At least I've had access at work.

My foot has improved a bit more and I completely re-laced my new shoes, so I think, fingers crossed, the worst is over.

Coming up Sunday is the Shibuya Ekiden. The exciting part will be that CoolRunner Michael from Kingscliff, in Japan on holiday with his family, will be joining one of our masters teams. We are looking for a Namban clean sweep of the masters podium, and with his help we might actually give it a nudge. Especially if no other teams turn up!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Yona Yona means "every night"

Tesso asked in response to my last post if Yona Yona is a beer. Indeed it is. It is a Japanese microbrew that has reasonable availability in cans. It is in the American pale ale style, which means it has a distinctive sweetly grapefruity flavour from Cascade hops balanced by bold maltiness and assertive bitterness. It is the Namban beer of choice. Here you can see a few of us enjoying a can or three at our recent end-of-year party (bonnenkai)

rats...that photo is not the right one. I tried to swipe it from a friends on-line photo gallery, but it would not grab the right photo. Heer is anothe one I find with Google Image search:

Wednesday Night in the Park

Last night was the first Wednesday night run of the year with the regular sento/park crowd: Gareth, Mika, Colin, Satohi, and Stuart.

The G-man wanted to run a warm-up lap plus a couple of 3.14-km loops at his marathon pace of 4:30/km. The pace sounded good to me, though I wanted a bit more distance. Mika went off to the speedwork session at the track after our warm up lap and away we went. My heart rate told me we were going faster than target pace, then Colin found us and was not quite as warmed up. I was happy to run and chat with him at the real 4:30 pace (a bit slower in fact on the second lap) while the other three slowly pulled ahead. So much for Gareth's announcement that he was so unfit that he may not be able to maintain 4:30 pace. We did another slower lap to finish for, I suppose, about 14 km all up and total time of 1:12:18.

After the sento we slipped easily into our ritual of having a couple of Yona Yonas at the "bar" (a flat-topped sign outside a convenince store near our sento) and then set off to an Indian restaurant.  I only stayed for one quick beer and then headed home. Unfortunately it wasn't quick enough to save me from a minor dressing down. The modem and stuff arrived for the broadband connection yesterday and somebody was anxious to get it installed I think. Oh well, you win some, you lose some...hopefully we will get it set up tonight.

Edit: the foot was a lot better than the day before. I ran in loosely laced old shoes, and that helped. I'll continue with that strategy for a while.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Catching up...

Oh, the lack of an Internet connection at home is such a PITA! Yesterday was a holiday here too, so no chance to post from work. Well, actually, I have discovered that my home-based work notebook has a wireless card and it can "see" a number of open networks, just while sitting in our living room. Since Internet plans here in Japan are all just flat monthly fees, I have ventured on-line via this route a couple of times, but the connection is very iffy and we are a little uncomfortable about the ethics of it. What do others think? Starbucks are alleged to have WAPs at all their coffee shops, but we went to one last night and lo, it was one that didn't have it, the dirty, rotten scoundrels. Anyway, onto some running news, but first, anyone I owe an email to, please accept my apology, as it is just a bit too hard to keep on top of things at he moment.

Saturday the 7th
Ran to Komazawa park at 10:00 in the morning, plus a few laps for a total of 14 km. Nice run. Cool and crisp at about 2 degrees or whatever it was. Heart rate and pace slightly better than the equivalent run a few days before.Bad thing was that the top of my left foot has become sore. This is the same bloody injury that I have had the last two years in a row, at exactly this time of year! First year it was the left foot, last year it was the right foot, and now it is the left foot again. The other times I put it down to coming back from the marathon too hard, but that is definitely not the case thsi time. Maybe I need shoes with a taller build.

Sunday the 8th
Ran 20 km at an average of around 5:20min/km in Yoyogi park. Fairly slow, but consistent pace throughout. Bought a padded band-aid thing for the foot and I think it helped slightly, but the darn thing was still a constant nagging pain. Great lunch with Colin afterwards in La Verde. It has been a while since I enjoyed a few red wines on a Sunday.

Tuesday the 10th
Ma and Pa's anniversary today, so gave them a call before coming to work -- about 58 years I think they have chalked up now. But before even that, I arose at the ungodly time of 5:30 and hit the road. This was the first early morning start since moving to the apartment. A little bit of night-before preparation needed, but otherwise it is a better set-up as far as not disturbing SWMBO is concerned.

It was dark and cold, but at 2 degrees, noticeably not the biting cold that I experienced running to work last week (that was around minus two I think). The run was again to and from Komazawa with three laps (14k). It was a little disappointing in that the heart rate/pace data were not only worse than Saturday's run, but also worse than the run last Wednesday. I was allowing peceived effort to dictate the pace rather than the watch, and while it felt the same as the other day, the run was a couple of minutes slower and the heart rate almost as high as last week. Maybe the body needs to readjust to being asked to function that early again. The foot was still sore, but tolerable for the time being.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Work to home, home to work

Yesterday was the first day back at work after the New Year break (taken by the whole country, including garbage collectors). As is tradition, though I'd forgotten about it, our office had a bit of a party in the afternoon with sushi, pizza, beer and various other 'health' foods. I had brought my running gear and planned to run home, and nothing was going to stop me. So with a belly full of food and three cans of beer under the belt, I set off for the run home. I took it easy, and apart from a stitch early on and quite a few gaseous eruptions, made it home in just a bit slower than normal time. While I'd rather run on an empty stomach, I think it is good to know that the body is resilient enough to handle something like that. Maybe I could do ultras with that kind of constitution?

So with work gear left at work, I turned around and ran back to work this morning. Stopped at Gaien (a 1325-m loop basically uninterrrupted by roads) and stashed my bag and stripped off a layer of clothes to run some 1200-m intervals with 2-min recovery. Well, it really was cold...probably around zero degrees. Even though I had gloves on, my hands were stinging after the first rep. I was pleased with the fact that I stuck it out for four reps in total, but the times were not so pleasing: 4:41, 4:37, 4:41, and 4:42. In fact they kind of suck ass, as Eric Cartman would say. Well, at least they were reasonably even I suppose, but a good 10 to 15 seconds slower than where I was at about a month ago. Never mind. Have to start somewhere and this is certainly not starting at the bottom. I just wonder if I can get near half-marathon PB shape by the start of February?  The encouraging thing was that this is not a bad running option in that it offers some quality within a run to work...and does not require a 5:00 am start. The logistics of towels, undies, socks, etc etc is a bit of a pain though. There is really no substitute for just getting up and getting out the door and getting the run over with before the day even starts. So, roll on spring...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

First Update for the New Year (and a quick one at that)

The long and the short is that there has still not been any return to regular running. The rough throat I mentioned in the last post turned into a pretty nasty cold for about a week. Japan shuts down for a number of days over new year, so I mostly spent it resting at home in the traditional manner with my family. I had one decent run on the 3rd of January to Komazawa park -- 14 km mostly at 150+ heart rate. The disconcerting thing was that 4:20 pace was returning a heart rate of 154 to 159, whereas before my marathon I was running 4:09 pace at a heart rate of 152. So I have certainly lost some condition over this period of rest. But that's OK, my body needed it. Most of the niggles have settled right down now, so I can ease back into some bigger mileage again I suppose. I am about to run home tonight and will return the journey in the morning.

Still no email at home, so apologies for my tardy corresponding.