A friend commented to me by email yesterday that my blog, heavens forbid, is a week out of date. Holy Schamoley, so it is! I'll give you one guess why...yes, Mac came back! It has been an eventful week. This post is, as a result, long. But if you want to know what i've been up to, you'll just have to persevere. If not, I don't mind, that's what theBack button is for.
Where to start? Well, first, to set the context, last week there were three national holidays in a row from Wednesday to Friday. This string of holidays is called Golden Week, for somewhat obvious reasons. The last post was my race report about the Inagi Ekiden (I wrote it for our club email list and just copied it to the blog). So lets take things from there:
Monday 1st: Went to work equipped with running gear in case an opportunity for a run arose. Luck was on my side as my Monday night teaching appointment was cancelled due to Golden Week. So I headed out about 5 pm and ran to the Imperial Guest House (a 3.3 km loop with two stiff little up-downs). It was a warmish humid afternoon and turned out to be a tough little run with a nice illustration of cardiac drift:
Lap Time HRmax HRavg
1 15:05 90% 80%
2 15:27 93% 83%
3 15:38 95% 85%
Tuesday 2nd: Took the day off work and kept an appointment to brew beer with my friend Bryan. We made a very hoppy darkish ale with lots of Northern Brewer and Amarillo hops. I would have liked to include some more crystal malt in the recipe, which we didn't have, so the body might be a little thin. We shall see. Before going to Bryan's I ran around the block a few times and re-calibrated the footpod. Nothing too spectacular, but 10k all up. In the early evening Mac returned from his travels to Hokkaido. We had a few quiet beers at home, then a couple of quiet beers up at a local pub, but back home by 11:00 and in reasonable shape.
Wednesday 3rd: Spent the morning mainly at home except for a walk around the neighbourhood sights with Mac, including a visit to the riveting Meguro Parasitological Museum, a popular date destination for young couples for some strange reason. See here for a charming little virtual tour of this museum, which I actually walk past every day on my way to and from work.
In the afternoon I had an appointment to run a half kilometer time trial with Satohi, a young woman I am helping to train for her upcoming marathon. We planned to run it on the approximately 2-km loops of Yoyogi Park, and a handful of others were planning to join in. But alas, with the holiday the paths were just too crowded. For Satohi, this was her only chance to run this time trial. The coming weekend wouldn't be good because it would be just two weeks from the marathon and a more regulation 25 km would be more important for her. Any time after that would be too close to the marathon. So I suggested we run it on the 400-m running track. You might well imagine that there was strong resistance to this idea, but I had the strength of my conviction to insist. Three or four people suddenly remembered root canal appointments, but Satohi, Rie, Matthias and I braved the monotony and launched our assault on a new PB for Satohi. With the change of plans I got the pace calculation a little bit wrong so was aiming for around 1 minute 50 per lap instead of 1 minute 48 (aiming for a 95 minute finish). Her previous PB was 99 minutes and 42 seconds, so the miscalculation was still going to bring us in with a PB. As it turned out she ran a good constant pace, but started to fall off the 1:50 a little bit in the middle section. I was terrified of forgetting to push a lap split -- bloody 52 of them I had to push, and then run 300 m after the fifty-second lap! Luckily I kept on the ball and we finally finished in 97:18, a 2 minute 20 second PB for Satohi, though she was quite disappointed she missed out on the 95 minutes. The girl is certainly hard to please, but it is great that she has such ambition. I had to explain that the half marathion is not the main game at this stage, and while a sub 95 minute would have well been possible, it would be more danger than it was worth to push that hard. She soon came round. Rie stuck with us all the way too, for a great run. I think she has a PB closer to p1 or 92 minutes. Matthias decided to count every two and half laps for one-km splits. Somewhere early on he pushed on ahead, but guess what? He lost count! I would never have predicted it (he says sarcastically). In the end he just kept running until we were done, so he should be able to interpolate his half time. It was the first time he'd run one! So well done to him for his PB as well (Interesting guy actually; a professor of linguistics specialising in hunter-gatherer languages from southern Africa).
We went out to dinner in Shibuya with the whole running club afterwards and had more red wine than Pavrotti. After dinner it was still early, so someone suggested karaoke. So karaoke it was. And after karaoke, most people dispersed, but Mac and I, well, we found a bar with pulsating music and more Africans in the one place than I have seen since Nairobi Airport, August 1987. (For the initiated, the bar was Gaspanic -- and yes, that was the first time I'd stepped foot inside one.) After that we had some yakitori. I think we arrived home at 4:00 in the morning.
Thursday 4th: A write off for running. Fairly well hung over, Mac and I went to Akihabara looking for camera and electronic gear for him. Had sushi for lunch and as the afternoon wore on my stomach became more and more uncomfortable. Eventually I lost the whole load in a less than dignified location. I don't even want to say where, but Mac thought it was pretty funny. Almost as funny as the handbag of a woman we had seen earlier on the train, the sides of which were made of a row of upright life-like embroidered carrots -- green tops and all -- what an amazing thing that was. Anyway, I managed to get home and crawl into bed. I was up and down dry reching most of the night. Finally stopped in the wee hours of Friday and slept for a few uninterrupted hours. I don't know if it was food poisoning from the sushi (or a parasite?!) or just a reaction on top of the alcohol abuse. Anyway, it happened.
Friday the 5th: Very weak. Eventually good enough to go out with Mac again looking for electronics. He bought a set of speakers that his iPod could dock with. Damn thing weighed a ton. Later, he treated our whole family to a yakiniku dinner, which was very kind and much appreciated. We had a few beers after dinner at the Black Lion, but I was in no condition to go beer-for-beer with him and I finished the evening in pretty good shape. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Saturday the 6th: The day of the annual Great Japan Beer Festival in Tokyo. I have been to this almost every year since I have lived in Japan. I thought it would be fun to go with Mac. It was. We had a nice peaceful time at home with the family in the morning, then he and I went off to the festival at Ebisu (only a 25 minute walk from my place!) His flight out of Japan was at 11:30 the next day. OMG! I was determined to keep things under control and get home in the early evening. This resolve was probably what managed to enable us to get home shortly after midnight! We firstly kicked on after the festival with some of my beer friends that we met there. Then, Mac was absolutely determined to eat fugu before he left Japan. His other ambition, to see Hokkaido bears in the wild, had been dashed by the minor matter of it being about two months too early. But fugu was more attainable. All it needed was to walk into the restaurant and say, "Setto A wo kudasai!" So we did. The fish we would eat were swimming around in an aquarium facing the street. When the food arrived, the fresh chunks of fish to be put in the nabe (pot of broth boiled on the table) were still twitching. The fugu was very nice. A very clean, neutral tasting fish to be honest. After fugu, we had a few beers in the Black Lion. We didn't really need them, but it was a good evening. Until the night before, I hadn't been in there for a long time despite being a regular in my pre-running days. I caught up with a few guys and even had a game of cribbage. The guys told Mac he had to visit more often so that I'd come to the pub more...hmm!
Sunday the 7th: Set the alarm for 6:00 and we got up and duly got out the door and up to the railway station. I escorted Mac to Nippori and made sure he damn well got on that Skyliner for the airport! It had been a fantastic week, but totally exhausting. I spent the rest of the day nursing a bit of a hangover and working on a report that had been hanging over my head. I was in deep deficit on the family side of the ledger, so in the evening I cooked up the kangaroo fillets that Mac had brought us from Australia. Absolutely lovely meat. If you ever get a chance to eat it (and you are so inclined), take it. I cut them into medallions and marinated for a short time in olive oil and seasoning and then a short fry (maybe two minutes or three minutes total, turning a couple of times) in a hot frypan.
Monday the 8th: Back to work. Feeling washed out, dull, and lifeless. Annoying residual cough from my cold still annoying. Is life worth living?
Tuesday the 9th (now): Set the alarm for 5:30. Miraculaously hauled my carcass out of bed and ran an even-paced 12 km in 60 minutes at an average heart rate of 71%.
Normal service resumes. As long as this post was, it really only provides the bare bones of what was an eventful week with lots of laughter, fun, and "incidents". In fact, it was so much fun I hope I don't have another week like it for a long time! But at the same time, it sure is good to cacth up with old friends and re-cement those bonds. Speaking of which, Tatsuya (eldest son) and I will be heading to Australia for a week in early June for my mother's 80th birthday party and to check out school (years 11 and 12) for him for next year.