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.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tokyo Marathon Festa 2007

I got entry!!

Woo hoo! Very excited to get the chance to run in the inaugural event of what should eventually become one of the great marathons of the international calendar. Apparently there were 95,000 aplications for the 25,000 openings. Do you think there was any latent demand for a public marathon in Tokyo?

It is going to be awesome!

Many of my Namban team mates also got entry. Commiserations to the minority who missed out (backroom dealings already launched!)

Any comments on the course? I'm not all that happy about such a big net downhill in the profile, and it is a shame the start and finish are in totally different locations. I wonder if these two facts affect its ability to be eligible for official IAAF records? If it is eligible, and if it attracts the super elites, I think you will see some very fast times, probably some new world records, on this course. It has a big downhill early, then flat, and the weather should be a perfect cool and dry.

Regarding eligibility, a bit of scratching around with Google reveals this:

The major elements of the guidelines cover net drop in elevation and potential wind assistance on point-to-point courses. Drop is limited to an average of one metre a kilometre, while the start and finish cannot be separated by more than half the race distance.

Thus, the finish cannot be more than 42.195 metres lower than the start, nor further than 21.0975 kilometres away.

The Tokyo course looks to have a net drop of about 34 m, so it passes on that count, despite the fact that there is a 40 m drop in the first 5 km!

The distance from the start to the finish looks a bit tight at first, but if they mean in a straight line then it qualifies comfortably at only a bit under 12 km .

So there you go, you read it here first that marathon world records are likely to be broken in Tokyo next February 18. In the open divisions, Paula's is probably safe, but sub-2:04 for men is inevitable at some point--so why not here? And if not in the open divisions, then maybe in some of the age divisions because of the depth of running in Japan. You will probably see some 60 year old Japanese retiree come out and run a sub 2:30 or something (the WR for a 60 year old is currently 2:38, apparently).

Anyway, this is certainly something new on the international marathon scene and I'm delighted that I will be a part of it.

The Overtraining Bus

I think I just got run over by it.

I ran home last night and after Wedneday's hard workout was primed for an easy recovery run. As soon as I got going I was quickly informed by my communicative body that nothing else was possible. So that was 10 km in 55 minutes. I have to confess that the 1600s sent my left knee from a strange ticking noise to a full on shuddering vibration. Well, maybe it'll come good if we just keep driving...

Got up to run back to work this morning and felt fairly tired. In recent weeks on the same run I was good for an upper aerobic workout -- up to 15 km last week. But I don't know if it was just that my backpack was a little bit heavy, or genuine fatigue (or a combination of teh two more likely), but I really never felt like getting out of second gear today. The knee was pretty good at first but flared up about 8 km into the run. Ended up with 12.2 km in 1 hr 3 minutes. So, definitely not quite the tickety-boo week I was having last week. Makes you re-think the value of those 1600s. I was doing alright on a strictly aerobic pace diet. So, my reaction is just to back off the intensity and distance but hopefully not take any days off just yet. Some anti-inflams for the knee (I think it is tendon related) and massage.

Or maybe it is my body having a reaction to the lack of beer...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bang in a quick blog...

Very busy at work at the moment but I don't want to get too far behind in my bloggin' so I'll just make this a quickie. I had the pleasure of attending a cocktail party on the HMS Westminster on Tuesday night. It is a class 23 Frigate on a tour of Asia. It was another superb autumn evening and we had great views back over the Tokyo skyline. I got chatting to the bloke who is in charge of shooting enemy submarines. I must have sounded interested in the business side of things because he gave me a tour of the upper deck. Fascinating to see all the pointy hardware -- batteries of missile launchers, the big gun, torpedo hatches, and so on. All a bit sobering in the light of Kim Jong Il's recent antics.

As a result of the cocktail party (well, the cocktails to be precise -- strictly a few quiet G&Ts) I didn't get up for a run on Wednesday morning. But a couple of people had been asking me about doing the 1600 m repeats again. So, for my Wednesday evening run, that's what we did -- four by 1600 with a 400 steady pace recovery. I was pretty happy with the results because I tried to stay comfortable and not push too hard, yet all four repeats were under six minutes: 5:57, 5:58, 6:00, 5:55. Actually, I did push a bit hard on that last one. I was contemplating a fifth but instead just ran three kilometers on the track in 4:07, 4:13, 4:16. As this is about target marathon pace, it is interesting to look at what the average heart rate was for these after having done the four 1600 m reps at a lactate accumulation intensity -- they were 156, 163, 163. The first one is a bit low because I'd had a short break. The other two suggest that I was certainly not recovering at that pace.

With some aerobic distance before the workout I was touching on 20 km for the evening.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Charting rocky waters

Hey, I was there too!  Yes, Rie-chan, it was a delicious cake and Mami was a gorgeous bride. Gary even scrubbed up alright for an old scouser.

So Monday was a public holiday in Japan and Gary and Mami chose to hold their Japanese wedding ceremony that day. It was an absolutely rip-roaringly, ball-tearingly beautiful Tokyo autumn day. The sun was shining, the air was mild, the buildings and greenery glittered in their post-typhoon cleanliness. And the wedding itself was flawlessly superb in every respect.

I somehow navigated the wedding and second party without getting too written off. Arrived home feeling really calm and at one with the world after such a lovely day. Maybe all those G&Ts at the second party had something to do with that feeling as well. Anyway, I was a little bit tired and emotional and after pottering about for a bit crashed at 9:30 wondering whether I would be in any state to run this morning. I woke up at 2 am with a sort of dry horrors. Guzzled some water and then could not go back to sleep. But I dozed and eventually slept a little. I woke again with the alarm at 5:10 and eventually made it out the door into what was another glorious morning. Surprisingly I didn't have anything I would call a hangover and managed to have a pretty normal run of 16 km at upper aerobic pace.

There was a surreal moment just before I started the run. For some reason there was not a single car on Meguro Dori, which is otherwise a major thoroughfare. There was one lady sitting on her bicycle nearby waiting for the lights to change but no other soul around, there was not a bird chirping, nor a bee humming and not a breath of wind. In short, it was deathly quiet, still, and the cool morning air caressed the senses. This moment must have only lasted about 10 or 20 seconds and then I clicked my little red button and set off for my run, whereupon a wave of cars released from a red light came thundering along the road and past me shattering the mood. It was an interesting little moment while it lasted though.

Now I just have to get through a cocktail party tonight and then it will be Teetotal Steve until after the marathon <gulp>

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A beautiful day for a run

Indeed, it was a lovely autumn day today. The big bad weather moved away on Friday night and left us with two gloriously clear sunny but mild days, albeit a little windy.

I ran to Yoyogi park from home and ran a reverse lap until I met Satohi. We did a lap and half together before coming back to the start at 9:00. We met Gareth on his bike as we were coming back to the meeting place. Gareth looked up and said, "Either there is a very big new guy up there talking to Vinnie or that's Pete." I then remembered that Pete was indeed due back in town this weekend visiting from Portland, Maine. After a short but happy reunion Pete got us started once again and we continued on our merry way.

I ran reasonably relaxed 5:30 to 5:50 pace, 'cos that's what you do on long runs, up until 21 km. The next 5 km I stepped up to 5:15 pace and was soon running alone, then 7.5 km at 5:00 pace, and a final 2 km at 4:40. I felt fairly rooted at the end and it was definitely good to finish. While I was happy to finish the run as strongly as that, it still felt a long way from runnning 25 seconds faster for a whole marathon.

Colin of the broken collar bone came for a social visit. It was a happy convergence of circumstances because he didn't know Pete would be here. So then we (Pete, his wife Laura, Colin, Satohi, Rie and li'l ol' me) went for lunch. It was like old times. Great food, delicious red wine, great company!

Even though I ate a heap (we went to a buffet!), I was on food duty tonight for myself and eldest son Tatsuya, so almost as soon as I got home I started to work on making something I have intended to do for a while: gnocchi. That was a bit of a long drawn out experience, but it went pretty well in the end.

Well, that will do for reporting on my Sunday. Congratulations to my good friend Nicola, who ran Melbourne Marathon today. Email just in as I was typing this and she recorded a 3:28 . Her third best time and definitely a strong performance on that course. Well done Nic!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sixteen Saturday

I had a slight sleep-in this morning and finally got out the door at about 8:15. I decided to do much the same session as I had set for Satohi for today: about 6 km at target marathon pace and 14 or 15 km all up. I felt fairly reasonable to be honest when I started and was soon into a bit of a rhythm. I ran to Komazawa Park at a comfortable 5:00 min/km at a heart rate of 133. As soon as I hit the park I acclerated up to around the 4:15/km mark.  Over the next three 2-km laps I managed to average 4:17 min/km, which is not too bad. Actually the pedometer was over-estimating distance and that meant I thought I was going too fast in the early laps until I realized what was going on. Towards the end my heart rate was up around 85% of HRmax.

This suggest if I was to head out for a marathon tomorrow I would probably not target a pace any faster than 4:20/km ... in other words, a few minutes slower than 3-hour pace. So it is going to be interesting to see what these next couple of big weeks of training can do. More to the point, it makes me wonder whether I should do any lactate threshold workouts or just stick with this steady staple diet of as many aerobic km as I can. So far my body is handling this regime pretty well, so part of me is tempted to just stick with it and let the speed freaks have their tempo runs and VO2 intervals ... it is a bit vexing though.

Anywy, that's 85 km in the bank with the long run tomorrow...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hurricane Running

Well, not quite that dramatic. There is an intense low pressure cell out in the Japan Sea directing bucket loads of rain over us at the moment. In Australia we call them cyclones, in Japan they are typhoons, and in America, as we all know, they are called hurricanes. Since we don't have much wind to speak of, it is not really a major problem for running, but one of my non-English-speaking office-mates accused me this morning of "Hurricane Running". It was nice of him to try and adopt the non-Japanese term, even though it sounded a couple of orders of magnitude more dramatic than it really was.

I've missed logging a few runs, so here they are

Wednesday 4th
6 km easy in the morning with some core exercises thrown in.
20.5 km in the evening in 1:39:12. Average pace 4:48, average heart rate 139. About 11 km was at upper aerobic kind of pace and I cranked out 2 km at 4:14/km for a heart rate of 155. Not bad, but not super great. When I am running 4:10/km at HR 150, and holding it there, then I'll be happy ;-)

Thursday 5th
Ran home from the office in the rain: 10.7 km at an easy old average of 5:25/km. Some was much slower and parts were strong and steady, but I never really exerted myself and felt as fresh as a daisy once I was out of the shower. Slept well though.

Friday 6th (today)
Ran to work plus 5 laps of the Gaien picture gallery loop (1.325 km). Mostly I ran easy/steady on the commute sections, lower to mid 130s heart rate. But I chucked in a couple of short pickups along Higashi Gaien Dori and up the hill in Aoyama Cemetary. At the picture gallery I stashed my backpack and ran at a target heart rate of 148-150. Pretty much the same as last week. Let's compare the numbers:
Last week: 5:38, 5:48, 5:51, 5:57, nil
This week: 5:54, 5:50, 5:48, 5:48, 5:53

I took a bit longer to get wound up this morning, so the first lap doesn't mean anything (average heart rate was only 137). After that though, the numbers are comparable as my average heart rate today ranged from 146 (third lap) to 150 (fourth lap). So while I didn't control the heart rate quite as carefully as last week, there are signs of improvement. Certainly faster towards the end and at, if anything, a slightly lower heart rate. So, little by little I think the improvement is coming.

I think that gets to me about 69 km for the week thus far. The body seems to be holding up alright, so the forecast would have to be for about 115 km by lunchtime on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Two days off

Always one to rest on my laurels, after posting that nice weekly total of 109 km last week I promptly took two complete days off. On Sunday I had to actively resist the urge to run. But I spent the afternoon at a beer tasting followed by dinner with my wife to celebrate our 17th anniversary. On Monday morning I got up with the alarm, but realised my head was not the best and I felt really tired. It wouldn't have been much of a run anyway, so I figured another hour of sleep might, on balance, be better training.

So I managed to sleep early enough last night and got up this morning. I decided today was the day for Tuesdays to move up from 14 km to 16 km. I spent the middle part of the run at a heart rate of 148 and much of the late part not far below that. Average pace was 4:41 and average heart rate 140. Basically everything seems to be functioning OK. No complaints on the injury front, though there are still a couple of little creaks and groans hanging around.

I'm thinking another week of this kind of longer, harder aerobic business, and then next week I will bring in a couple of sessions with a speedwork component. Probably a lactic threshold run.