Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wed 30th; night training

19 km at aerobic pace, sort of moderate upper heart rate most of the time.

Ran from work to the park, during which part my Polar watch did its old crap-itself routine. I should be grateful; its been months. Worse, the left knee (rear area) ache returned only a few km into the run. Well, I got my mojo back so I just ran through it and it never really got unbearable. Just a constant companion. Ran a few laps of Yoyogi with Gareth, then ran home with Carol, who lives in my neighborhood.

Probably too much after the hard race. When will I get back into a proper groove? Rested today and will ty a gentle run in the morning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dominated by DOMS*

I couldn't believe how stiff and sore my legs became as yesterday wore on. Especially my right quad and shin. I gave them a bit of a rub before bed and set the clock for 5:30 without much hope of achieving a decent run.

I managed to get up and fought off contra-thoughts like "let's just do 5 km now and maybe another 5k later" and headed off on my normal Tuesday route. Every step on my right leg brought pain, but it was bearable and my pace was close to normal. In the end I did a normal 14-km Tuesday run at only one minute slower than last week. My heart rate was a little bit high on the third lap of Komazawa, but basically it was OK. This was a good sign for my motivation. I think things are looking up if I can just get some more consistency now into my running. I definitely have to bring in a 5-8k recovery run on Thursday and no more missing Saturdays.

* DOMS = delayed onset muscle soreness and is regarded as being a result of micro-tears in muscles resulting from over-exertion.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fuji Yoshida Fire Festival Road Race, 20 km

The photos are from the fire festival the night before the race. I won't say much about that except that it was an interesting night that featured too much beer and wine at the BBQ at our cottage, expensive taxi rides to the fire festival, a distressing encounter for the folk who stayed at the cottage with an ornery and stubborn old git whose car was blocked by one of ours, and a damp walk/jog in the rain halfway back to the cottage due to a long taxi queue (we were finally rescued in a cab by Gary and Mika).

By comparison, the race was a fairly uneventful affair. The experience would have been helped for Colin and myself if we had drunk about half the amount of alcohol the night before, or had twice the amount of sleep. But we were mercifully helped by the unseasonally cool 19 degree temperatures that set in overnight.

The race started inside a stadium, wound its way out and around the stadium for the first 600 m or so, all fairly flat and pleasant enough. But then we turned left onto the road and started running uphill. This was not an Ohyama Tozan type hill, but a steady significant grade of about 10%, and it went on, unrelenting, for three kilometers, most of it over an unsurfaced but smooth forest trail. When we turned around, we then proceeded to run downhill over similar grade slopes for a good four km, maybe more. The lungs might have enjoyed the break, but the quads soon started to complain. Then we turned around and ran uphill again for a couple of km, then downhill for several km. Did I mention that the hills were long? Basically, this race was a flat short start, a flat short finish, and 19 km of long, long uphills or downhills in between. Colin and I started fairly conservatively and let Satohi, Mika, Carol and Motozo run ahead, thinking perhaps we should catch at least some of them a bit later. But we were soon working hard. Maybe not our very hardest, but pretty darn close. I pulled away from Colin early, but then he caught up to me around the 8 or 9 km mark, just as I was thinking of trying to work an uphill a bit harder. We had a bried exchange of grunts, part of which was Colin letting me now that he had just worked really hard to get to me and was buggered. So I put my head down and kept going.

It was to be 17 or 18 km later that I would finally reel in Satohi (on the final 4 km of ascent to the finish), and I only overtook Mika at 19.4 km, within sight of the finish (and had to work my very hardest to do that). I never saw Carol or Motozo as they were a good several minutes ahead. Carol came seventh out of the women and I think beat David (Motozo) in the process. If I had not been hung over and took the race 100% seriously from the outset, there is still no guarantee that I could have matched either of them on that course. They had great runs, really a breakthrough for Carol. Her 89 minutes (or thereabouts) would have probably been good for a sub 90 minute half marathon on a flat course. David, too, if he keeps up his present training consistency, may be on track to finally get the 90 minute monkey off his back.

As for me, I recorded a time of about 93 minutes. Not bad under the circumstances. I am not sure of the exact time as some bloke decided to try and outsprint me down the home straight; my competitive juices kicked in and I tried to hold him off, each of us pushing ever harder. It was a dead heat and I was a mess when I finishedand it was a little whle befre I clicked my watch. My heart rate monitor recorded a maximum heart rate several beats higher than my previous maximum, and I think that is when it would have been.

Shins and quads very sore today. I hereby resolve not to get drunk the night before long gruelling races ever again. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to die ('cos if I do that again I probably will!) Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006


Sometimes I provide just a little too much detail. Sorry Tesso. I'll be more circumspect in future.

Had a good run on Wednesday night. Fifteeen kilometers made up of an aerobic 7km in Yoyoyogi Park followed by 3 x 1600m repeats on the track at 88-90% of HRmax with 400 m active recovery, followed by another couple of km of aerobic stuff. Gareth and I offered this to the group as a stamina-workout alternative to the shorter, more intense ladder interval workout. We had a nice little group of about six of us doing it. I hope to gradually increase the number of reps to five, maybe even six, as the preparation for an autumn marathon progresses. For what its worth my reps were 6:11, 6:06, and 6:04. A sign of either lack of fitness or the heat, and certainly a sign that three repeats was enough, was a considerably higher average and maximum heart rate (as percent of max) on the third rep: 87/91; 87/95; 91/97.

I have been teaching a writing course this week (Wed and today) and it has taken a lot of preparation. I was in the office until 11:00 last night getting organized for today. I feel a bit washed out and ready for a break. Didn't run yesterday but will do 10 km later this afternoon. It is fortuitous that this weekend is the overnight trip to the foothills of Mount Fuji to enjoy the Fuji Yoshida Fire Festival and associated 20 km road race on Sunday. I don't think I will be exactly "racing" as it is likely to be hot, and I am not in particularly good shape. I'm treating it as basically just a chance to get away for the weekend with some mates. It should be fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mixed Success

Had an interesting run of mixed fortunes this morning. The temperature was down a touch--only 26 degrees instead of 29 (at 6 AM mind you). Anyway, that was enough that the body didn't try to shut down as soon as I broke out of a walk. I was able to do 14 km in 67:35 at anaaverage HR of 75% and the second half at 80%. There was certainly still cardiac drift such that the second 2.15 km lap of Komazawa at HR80% was 9:44 versus 9:29 for the first.  This was definitely a lot better than last week when it was really hard work to keep the heart rate down to 80% and the corresponding two laps took 9:59 and 10:21 (the humidity and heat of that run were insane!)

On the down side, I had a bit of tummy trouble and had to stop twice mid run, once to make a delivery at a convenience store, and again to blow out some blocked tubes after I got to the park. Then I had another sudden pain only one km from home which saw me only just make it to the thunderbox on time. Blech, that's the one thing I don't like about running in the mornings.

Oh, and the leg continues to behave itself (touch wood!)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nod to a fellow Namban-jin

Quite a few of the Japanese members of Namban have blogs. Only TRD and zihuatanejo consistently post in English, but I still subscribe to them all in Bloglines. I can sometimes read or get the gist of some of the Japanese ones, for example, Riedon always has something funny and quirky to say, like the fact that she has been losing a lot at mahjang and pachinko-slotto lately, but still manages to run up a storm as she faces down the Sapporo Marathon next Sunday.

The one blog I really enjoy, without reading a word (sorry, Shoji) is RunShimo. Owner Shoji is a professional photographer and is extremely effective in getting out into the Japanese countryside for his beloved trail and adventure runs. He admires wildflowers and he definitely admires a bit of good tucker. The result of this combination is that his posts are often populated with the most gorgeous and envy-evoking photographs such as those on offer in recent days, should you like to wander over there now. He usually asks all and sundry to join him on his adventures, but alas, family and work commitments seem to always keep me too closely bound to Tokyo. At least next week we will get down to the foothills of Mount Fuji for the Fire Festival and road race. That should be a lark.

Getting there

Despite it being a pretty tough week with all that fug and heat, and despite not running on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, I somehow managed to rack up 66 km. Nothing remarkable, mostly slow and at startlingly high heart rate for the pace, but it is at least a place to build from. If only weather, work, and weariness will allow.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Re: Tonight

[Edit: I'm going to CC this to my blog in lieu of a proper post]
Note to blog readers: what follows is a reply to my friend, Colin, who described a tough 22 km run last night. We had hoped to hook up, but it didn't work out.

That sounds like a really tough workout -- 22 km last night would have been gruelling. I'm also sorry I missed you. Just couldn't get away from work until about 7:30.

I got into the park at 8:20, having run smack bang into the bloody fireworks at Jingu. If I'd gone my normal route, I think I would have had rockets being fired up my backside! As it was I tried to skirt around and have a little bo-peep myself, but then I got completely stuck in a dead-end of jam-packed humanity. Pretty girls in yukata left, right and centre! People drinking beer and eating kakigori!  It was almost enough to make me abandon the run. Almost.

I was able to turn around and re-trace my steps until it cleared out enough to move, then had to run along 246 from Aoyama-itchome to Omote-sando. Still very crowded on the footpaths, so I ran quite a bit on the road facing the on-coming traffic. Up Omote-sando not much better, and I surged up the section from Meiji-dori to the footbridge (upon which there were yet more bloody people watching the fireworks!). I did 2-1/2 solid laps in the park at 84%HRmax, yet the pace was only about 4:55/km. Unbelievable. As you described, in that oppressive humidity and heat it felt like I was really putting in a fairly hard effort, but the pace didn't match.

I then slid by the outside bar whereupon I met Gareth. Fueled up with two Yona Yonas, I headed for home. The stretch to the park and the stretch from the bar to home both produced average heart rates of 77%, but the first was at an average pace of 5:15, while the latter was an average pace of 5:50!!! (A couple of gratuitous exclamation marks there for you.). Total distance covered was a bit over 16 km, which I think at those heart rates will have done some good -- or at least I hope so.

On a positive note, my long-time niggling left leg is not too bad at the moment. I mean, it is actually fairly good. Touch wood. I now just have to tread very cautiously as I try to start increasing mileage.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Time for an update

Life has been very hectic lately, and both running and blogging have had to take a back seat as a result. We have had Don, the co-ordinator of the Meguro-Moreno Valley (CA) middle school exchange program, staying with us since last Friday. This is the 18th year of the program. My son Tatsuya was involved 2 years ago. If you read the diary page, it will give an idea of what a wonderful and special program it is, and that is due, in no small part to the herculean efforts of Don. (Actually, Ike, a Nigerian name pronounced i-keh, who wrote the first entry in that diary link, was Tatsuya's home-stay exchange buddy two years ago!)

On top of being preoccupied with that, I have also been busy with work. Still, I have managed to fit in a couple of runs here and there:

Wed 2nd August: Just after the last blog entry. Hit Yoyogi Park for a Wednesday night 10 km workout. The knee showed no signs of problems, but my rear left thigh niggle was happy to have the limelight all to himself again.

Tue 8th August: Up at 5:00 am for 12 km to Komazawa Park. Crazy gaijin running shirtless in Tokyo. With a typhoon bearing down, it was sooo humid, but the temperature was at least a little milder (only 29 degrees) than preceding days (the 30+ temperatures were another reason I found it easy to give up running over the weekend). Even after almost a week off, the leg niggle was right there, loud and clear.

Wed 9th (last night): back into Yoyogi Park. Ran for an hour and 20 minutes. Didn't measure the distance, but probably about 15 km. Leg niggle, uh huh. Now facing a decision whether to just train through it and see what happens, or to quit running for weeks and weeks and pursue treatment. If you have got to know me even a little bit by now, I think you'll know what the decision will be.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Digital TV on the Mobile Phone

Speaking of technology, a digital television service for mobile phones was released in Japan fairly recently. Someone in our family (I won't say who, but it isn't me) got one of the compatible phones from Vodafone the other day. I have to say, the picture is razor sharp, and according to the boss, the service doesn't cost a yen. Pretty cool huh. When it was brought home Shrek was on TV. So we had it on both the main TV and the phone, and the only difference was the phone was about four seconds behind. Oh, I see from this article that the service is only free while they trial it. Oh well...I bet those phones are walking out of the shops, what with all the time people spend commuting and all.
Another blurb about it here.

No knee pain, a beetle, and a whinge about my old digital camera

I had a shorter than normal run yesterday morning. About 8 km. My nice longish upper aerobic run on Tuesdays is on hold for a little while until I feel more confident about the leg(s). But the good news was I had no trouble with the knee. My upper rear thigh still niggles and I plan to keep working at it with massage and stretching. I can't get back up into serious marathon training mileage if that is going to hang around. I took the opportunity of the shortened run (didn't even start my stopwatch) to so some core exercises.

When I got home I found a rhinocerous beetle, or kabutomushi, in our driveway. He was a beauty. Lovely big horn (no snickering). These things are very popular as pets among Japanese kids at this time of year, but this was a wild one. My boys seem to have outgrown them. One said he didn't really want to have it, the other said it would be OK to keep it as long as he didn't have to look after it (at least he was honest). My older son was staying at a friend's place. Worried about him being picked off by crows if I let him go, I took the shiny black-horned wonder to work and was going to let him go last night. But sadly, during the afternoon he curled up his toes and went to the great beetle cage in the sky. I feel a bit guilty now....

My PMP (MP3 player) has a USB connector so you don't need to frig about with a cable to upload and download files. We have misplaced the cable for our digital camera, and now have to get the memory card out, put it in a card reader, connect up the card reader, blah, blah, blah. Pain in the butt. Plus, I normally post to my blog from my work computer meaning the camera isn't with me. As a result, I keep missing out on the opportunity to post photos that are just sitting there on the this case the kabutomushi. My next digital camera is going to be small and light, be equipped with a USB direct connect, and go everywhere with me. I'll try to get a photo up in Mr Beetle's memory as soon as possible.