Sunday, March 26, 2006

Its all beer & kettles!

Wed pm: 14 kilometers of aerobic running and intervals
Fri am: 15.6 kilometers of hard aerobic running
Sat pm: 25.3 kilometers of slowish long run
Sun am: 21 liters of steam beer brewed
Week: 71 km & 21 L
Month: 301 km & 21 L
Year: 820 km & 66 L

Well, gee, life has been really busy and it has been hard to find the time, energy, and motivation to keep the blog up to date. I have, however, been doing a reasonable job of keeping up the kilometers, though I took Thursday off and ran a long, hard aerobic run Friday morning before work (as opposed to running home from work Thursday night and back again Friday as I've been doing in recent weeks).

Because Sunday was scheduled for home brewing, I decided to do the long run Saturday, but again, the general busy-ness of life meant I had to wait until 6:00 pm before I could get started. Finishing 25 km of graft at 8:30 at night is NOT a familiar feeling, and I'm not sure I liked it. Ne'er the less, I got it done and feel I've done about as much as life and niggles have allowed in preparation for the Ome 30 km trail run next week. Getting the run out of the way meant I could get stuck into the brewing at my friend Bryan's today without any guilt--well a 5-km recovery would have been nice , but just couldn't be squeezed in. Stiff.

A brewing related horn-toot is in order. I had been hunting around for a large stock pot for boiling...around 35 or 36 liters capacity (because to make batches of 22 L you have to allow for evaporation during the boil, and some free-board to stave off boil-overs is handy too). Stainless steel is a much nicer and more durable material than aluminium, but is significantly more expensive. A new aluminium pot would be 12,000 yen and a new stainless steel one, 18,000 to 20,000. I had been watching the Yahoo (Japan) Auctions without much luck, but suddenly on Thursday night I scored a second hand stainless steel pot for 9,000 (about A$100)! It has volume graduations marked on the side (very helpful). And the guy managed to get it delivered last night, and today it was pressed into action to make its first brew, a nice California steam beer with plenty of Northern Brewer, Amarillo, and Cascade hops. It was a bugger riding my bicycle the 5 km to Bryan's with it balanced on the front shopping basket :-). Just for the hell of it, and because I'm such a proud new daddy, I've included a photo of the pot. That nasty looking dark spot rubbed right off, by the way!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New walnut table & chairs

The other exciting event of the day was that about six weeks after ordering it our new dining table and matching (but bought in a different shop) chairs was finally delivered. Mrs Steve and I are very excited, though the boys, who did not join in our scouring of the furniture shops of Tokyo, were not overly effusive in their endorsement. Us: "So, what do you think?" Them: "Oh yeah, it's alright. Pretty nice I suppose."

Tamako Ekiden

Today, Tuesday, was a national holiday in Japan. On this day every year a low-key ekiden is held near a reservoir called Lake Tama, or Tama-ko if you prefer. We scraped together a couple of mens teams and a couple of womens teams. The better of the two women's eams was pretty good actually, since it took second place! Congratulations Mika, Yoshiko, Rie (two days after a savage trail run in Hong Kong), and Satohi.

I had a reasonable run, covering the 5.75 (or thereabouts) km in
22:34. Teruyuki (aka terry) was the only one to go under that time on the day, so I am not unhappy with it even though the pace seeemed a little slower than the effort felt on some km splits. But to be honest, it was not a race that meant anything much to me except a good day out with the Namban gang.

In the afternoon I got out for a 9-km run at lower aerobic pace.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Saturday Upper Aerobic; Sunday Long

Yesterday, Saturday, I decided to try out the new RS200sd in programmed exercise mode. That is, running in set heart rate zones for programmed lengths of time. Or in this case, as made possible by the footpod, prorammed distances. It all went very well at first with the watch keeping me in Zone 2 (71-77% of HRmax) for the first 3.5 km, just before I hit Komazawa Park. It then beeped and told me to lively up myself to do the 7 km in Zone 3 (78-86% of HRmax, which is upper aerobic). So I put the foot down a little as I hit the running course in the park. About 5 km into that component, though, I looked down at the wrist unit and was aghast to see every conceivable number and symbol lit up. Basically it had had a seizure. I re-set it and it came back to life, but all the data from that run, the time and date setting, and a few other bits and pieces of data were gone. However my user settings and previous runs and some other settings were retained. I set it back to Free mode and finished the run, mostly at upper aerobic, but right at the end I slowed right down for the last kilometre as a cool down. Because of the interruption with the watch I tagged on another lap to get to 16 km all up for the run in 1hr15 min (about).

Today I was little bit stiff and sore in the left leg and lower back, but was determined to get in a slightly longer run than I have been doing. So I rode to Yoyogi Park in the drizzle and got there at 8:30 to run two laps before the rest of the crowd joined at 9:00. Wasn't really a crowd though with myself, Colin, Vinnie, Maki (a new member) and Gary. The drizzle stopped and the little aches and pains settled down after the first lap and basically the run went fairly uneventfully. No more glitches with the HRM. Body held up pretty well but was looking forward to the finish from 20k on. I got to 25-km and was happy to call it quits there. A hilly 30-km trail run in two weeks huh...that will be interesting.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A new PB!

Oh, one funny little thing. I counted up that there are exactly 17 significant road crossings between work and home where you can be potentially stopped. Plus a few smaller ones that you can usually get through, but occasionally they will get you. Sometimes it feels like I get them all red. But this morning I only had to stop, get this, twice!  It was pretty amazing. Once was at Nishi Azabu crossing, which is understandable. The other was at that stupid little road that runs through Aoyama Cemetery. I had to sprint to catch a  couple of greens and confess I jay-ran a couple of reds on smaller streets. Anyway, I think it is a PB that will take a lot of beating.

Two I wasn't expecting

Well, two posts ago, I said I would have to miss my Thursday run and maybe also Friday. It was 10:30 PM, I was still at my desk, I was feeling frazzled, and it was pissing rain outside. I did have my gear to run home, but I gave it up as a bad joke. Too late, too tired, too wet. Then I headed outdoors with a flimsy little fold-up umbrella. The wind was quite strong making the umbrella next to useless, and the temperature was quite mild. So I did a quick re-think and went back inside, changed and ran out into the squalls. It was a pretty wild and woolly run, but definitely cleaned out the cobwebs. Having done that meant I was in a position to run back to work this morning. It was nearly one o'clock before I got to bed, so it took a little bit longer than normal to get going. Still, I was at my desk by 9:30, and with coffee, email and blogging duties out of the way, I can now start work at 10:00. And bugger it, there really is still a lot to do before that evening deadline...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

tokyo running days: A full report on Nagoya.

I have to share my good friend Mika's triumphant and amazing story from Nagoya Women's marathon last weekend:
tokyo running days: A full report on Nagoya.

15 odd km of aerobic and interval bling

I dunno what it means, but I keep seeing this word "bling" everywhere lately, so I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon. I think it means happiness or joy or summit. Am I right?

Anyway, last night was good old Wednesday at Namban. The Oda Field 400-m track was re-opened after a month of down time. With Ohyama behind us, or still in the legs of some of us, we could afford to eschew a hill workout. For sheer novelty value then, after six km of warmup, the usual Yoyogi Park runners joined the interval workout of a ladder of 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, and then a hard 400. I ran pretty reasonable times at hard but not all-out intensity. A 5:54 for the 1600 compared to a 5:35 or so if I went all out is indicative of the entire workout. My left thigh sat up and took notice of this, so I wouldn't want to have pushed much harder. Instead of running the hard 400 I grabbed hold of Satohi and helped her run two hard 400s back-to-back so she could determine her maximum heart rate on her new Polar RS200sd. That makes three of us with one now (the other being Mr. Try Hard). She registered a 190 max on the second rep, which was about right I thought. She is now armed with all she needs to do the training she needs to keep her date with a sub 3:30 marathon in Hokkaido in May.

Today I am stuck working late yet again (had a 14-hour day on Tuesday, not counting commuting, today will eb similar) and will miss my run. It may even be hard to fit one in tomorrow with fatigue and still staring down the barrel of a tough deadline. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to it...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bloomin' 'eck, bloomin' sakura

While those interested in air pressure will examine isobars, and those interested in rainfall might peruse isohyets, here in Japan we get to study isoblooms. This map shows the forecast of cherry blossom progression through Japan for this year.

So, between the 20th and 25th of March for us here in Tokyo huh? Funny, that is only a week away, yet I swear it was only 5 degrees when I was coming home tonight. Oh look, it was only five degrees!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pleasant Tuesday for a Change

I had some really nice quad DOMS set in late yesterday which put me in fear of yet another painful Tuesday morning run. The pattern has been establishing that if I run easy on Tuesday, even if it hurts, it seems to clear the gunk or something and set me up for better runs for the rest of the week. But this morning I actually woke up fairly easily, got out the door and and ran a steady 14 km at probably about 4:40 to 4:50 pace (have not looked too closely at the data yet). Anyway, average heart rate was 72% for the whole run. So basically just right for a lower aerobic/recovery run. And it felt pretty comfortable without much grief from the leg/groin.

The Polar is going well. I will dedicate a post to it it after I have used some more of the functions. One thing that has occupied me has been getting the foot-pod calibrated. It wasn't right on Sunday. So I re-calibrated this morning over 2 km and subsequently got 0.99 km, 1.01 km and 0.98 km for three consecutive measured one-kilometer sections of path in Komazawa Park. That is a lot better than I'd been getting and about the level of accuracy I was hoping for, i.e,. plus or minus 2%.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ohyama Tozan

Ohyama is a mountain. Today we ran up it. That's not strictly true. We ran as far as we could run, then we shuffled, and finally we heaved one aching foot after another up step after step in what no fair-minded person could call a run. The damn thing, it started flat enough, but the road had an ever so slight uphill grade right from the start. I ran the first couple of km in sub 4:00 time, working the pace pretty hard. And then the road gradually started getting steeper. And steeper. And steeper. And then there were some stairs, and then more stairs then incline, and soon no incline and all stairs. All the while my pace kept slowing and my heart rate just kept way up in the 90s (percent of max). And just when you wanted it to end, breath heaving, legs aching, God, please let it stop, now, there was a sign that said "just 658 more steps to the finish".

In the end I finished 35th out of about 450 in my age group (men 40-50), which is not too bad I suppose. The finish area was fun with hot soup and a beer and great comradeship and bon homie before running back with a group to the start point for more beer and lunch. I think I enjoyed everything about the Ohyama Tozan Mountain Climb marathon except the actual Ohyama Tozan Mountain Climb marathon.

Here are some splits:
Distance Split Lap pace
5k 0:21:32 0:04:18
7k 0:32:35 0:05:32
9k 0:53:19 0:10:22

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gareth messes with the space-time continuum...

Wednesday 8th, Yoyogi Park. The Ohyama Tozan group, who had been doing hill repeats the last few weeks (core of Gareth, Keren and moi ) decided that we would enforce a taper upon ourselves and just run an easy aerobic hour or so. We were also joined by Carol, Masako, and Akira.

Started off normally, running the conventional direction of our conventional 1.95-km loop. All very safe and familiar and comfortable. But somewhere soon after the start, Gareth, yes he of Beer Mile fame, decided we would take a turn down a side path. That was a bit game, but OK, let's go with it. Soon after he took a turn down another path. Very soon he was leading us through a series of random and spontaneous twists and turns, one of which took us out of the park altogether, up and over the footbridge over Inokashira Dori down by the Koban (police box), back up the hill past the track, then a doubling back and around past NHK and down Koen Dori and into the top of Shibuya, then back to the park via the unnamed road beside the Yamanote line. Back into the park and a further series of twists and turns and running over paths which we had never before trod.

For a bunch of anal retentives used to running very set routes over accurately measured pathways, constantly checking pace and distance, this was really rather a radical exercise. I feared all sorts of dire consequences, possibly involving a shift in planetary alignment, but fortunately we were able to complete a little over an hour of running. We conferred for a while over how far we went and decided that 12 km sounded like a good number to put in our log books. It was actually a fun way of spicing up what would have otherwise been a fairly dull old run (apart from the excellent company, of course).

Injury note: it was all pretty good last night. Very strange condition. It is surely some form of inflammation that flares up and calms down at its own whim. Easy runs certainly seem to see it settle down the next day.

I took delivery of the RS200sd and got to use it, but only in basic heart rate mode. I plan to calibrate the footpod tonight and will post more on it after that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A bit of a chore

Well, I seem to have cursed myself by mentioning the other day that the leg wasn't too bad.When I left work last night it didn't feel great. I didn't have quite enough sleep last night and then found it very difficult to rise to the 5:15 alarm. After a bit of an internal battle I got out the door at 5:30 and upon starting to run felt very ordinary. The leg was really tender, especially right up in the upper inner thigh, almost the groin, but it is not quite like a groin pull. I still think it is some kind of sciatica. Then my stomach wasn't too good either, and as soon as I got to the park I had to back the Mack into a porcelain unloading dock and make a delivery. The leg warmed up enough to not feel real painful, but still tight and restricting my pace to a best of around 4:45/km. All up I ran just a tad under 12 km at an average of 5:04/km. It's not a particularly attractive set of numbers, but if I treat this easy Tuesday run as something of a recovery and loosneer for the week, then it is not too bad. Sitting here at after 11:00 tonight though, the leg still isn't too good. Maybe I need to back right off for a couple of months...

On the other hand...I take delivery of the Polar RS200sd tomorrow night. たのしみです!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Three Weekend Runs

Sat: 11.5; Today: 20;  Week: 80; Month: 61; YTD: 579

I'm not sure if I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I brewed with my friend Bryan, at his place (his office actually). I think it was the day before the Ome marathon. A nice dark amber lager that would have been a German Alt if we had the right yeast (German ale yeast), but had to make it into a lager 'cos that was the yeast we had on hand.  Anyway, yesterday I had to go over there to rack (transfer) the beer to a keg. I wanted to run first, but ultimately ran out of time so decided to run over. That was about 5 km, and I was there for a couple of hours. Unfortunately we ended up with a liter of the beer that wouldn't fit into the keg, so not wanting to waste it we had to drink it, didn't we. Pretty nice too, if still a little sweet. Then I ran back. Nice and loose run that was. I also detoured via my favourite hill and did a few repeats.

Today was a beautiful clear sunny day. Still quite chilly, but not uncomfortably so. There was a reasonably small turn out with myself, gareth, Rob, Vinnie, Taeko and, after the start, Chiba-san. We set off and basically just ran a fairly easy evenly paced 20 km (5:22/k).

So that got me to 80 km for the week. Definitely better than last week and a few good runs in the mix. The left leg/hip/lower back are not giving me too much grief. I guess my back is the most annoying, while the leg is improving little by little. Need to keep the distances up over the next few weeks in preparation for the 30-km Ome mountain run on the 2nd April (entered that a couple of days ago).

Friday, March 03, 2006

Morning 14 k and weird 4 k tonight

Woke up and got out for a really good upper aerobic workout this morning. Just on 14 km in 1 hour and 3 minutes. I then had the day off work to attend to a few things.

In the evening I was kicking back with a beer and a few peanuts before dinner. The younger two boys were out at work in the salt mine and number one (Tatsuya) was at the gym. Then the door bell rang and it was this 14 y.o. refugee kid from Congo who we have helped out a little bit to get into Tatsuya's after-school school. Turns out he has arranged to go to the gym with Tatsuya, but this kid has turned up an hour late. The gym is located a couple of km away and is a bit awkward to get to by public transport, and he's never been there anyway. So in the end, feeling sorry for him, I said he can rid my bike and I'd run. Good plan until we find that one of the kids has got my bike. I should have said bad luck at that stage, but asked him if he was alright to run. He said he was, so off we went. Turned out we missed Tatsuya and his friend's by a few minutes...grrrr...had to turn around and run back again. I really didn't mind the run except the kid was, well, a kid, and not much of a runner either. So it was a little slow and the further we went the more it became stop-start. "Come on kid, run!" I was saying to myself. I'm not much of a gentle, nurturing empathetic type. Anyway, it adds a another 5 km or so to the weekly repository.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Statistically challenged run

Friends have been extolling the virtues of running watchless [shudder] every now and then. Well, last night in the park I did wear my heart rate monitor, not the new one just yet, tap..tap..tap, but the oldie. And I did use it, but stuffed up the data recording late in teh run. So this is a report of approximates. Approximately 10 km in approximately an hour.

But, it was not approximately raining, it was puhssing down. The Namban throng set off from the sento 14 strong. A 14-strong throng you might say. The ratio of men to women on this cold wet night was precisely 14:0 - that's zero, zip, nada women!  However, the hardy and dependable (just always late) Mika, did rip out the IV tubes, sign herself out of hospital, and came and ran a lonely 4:30/km pace run by herself.

I joined the hill group again. I pulled up a little sore after the hill w/out last week, so that told me two things. One, it has been a while since I did hills, so I should do them again, and two, that I shouldn't run the uphills quite so hard. So this week I ran up the hill in about 45-46 seconds compared to 42-43 seconds last week. Felt like  better workout too.

We also topped and tailed with some aerobic distance, but erk, with the rain we cut the tail off fairly short. The hot bath and cold Yona Yona were good.

And my eldest son passed his high school entrance exam... YEEAAAHHHH!! Big cheers all around in our house and the dark cloud has shifted.