Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ho Ho Ho ...

Well, someone certainly got a great Christmas present. Congratulations Scott!

As for me, it is just steady as she goes. Battling the ravages of time, trying to shake off niggles, which I am beginning to think at my age are a permanent companion to be tolerated, not an unwelcome guest who is at least eventually going to leave.

Been getting in a few nice runs lately and today did 17.5 km in 1h 21min at a heart rate of 142 average, which is not too bad, really. Especially as I pulled up feeling reasonably fresh and without any major new injury.

Another big bit of news is that I got a Garmin 405cx. Nice bit of kit! I love the ANT+ auto upload and being freed from having to take splits and worry about measuring the length of the course I run. Having a reliable heart rate monitor again is nice. It is helping with my motivation, which is definitely a Good Thing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ohtawara Result: 3:06:58

Full splits at my log.

My first marathon was 3:06:06, on this course, so that is one of the benchmarks I would very much like to have beaten. But I didn't. The very most I dared hope for was sub-3:05, but I didn't really think it was achievable, and it turned out I was certainly right about that. The disappointment--satisfaction mark was 3:10, and I was comfortably under that. No PW this time. So I am happy.

I ran pretty strong right throughout and only had a 1-minute fade in the second half. Finished with legs screaming and breathing through the roof, so I cannot say I left anything out on the course. I suppose the best way to sum it up was as a no-fuss, business-like performance.

And now I just discovered that I made it into the Tokyo Marathon on the second draw of the lottery. I am chuffed about that because, to be honest, I really couldn't see myself training on without something like that to aim for.

Cheers for the good wishes!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Re: Ohtawara

On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 10:05 PM, Joachim Dirks <xxx@xxx> wrote:

> Hi Steve,
> wish I could join you this weekend in Ohtawara.
> Your Mileage over the last weeks is impressing.
> What are you up to...? sub-3 is in reach?
> Wish you all the best for a great run!
> Have fun and please keep me posted!
> cheers
> Joachim and Christiane
>Hi Joachim,

Thank you so much for that email. I have been wanting to write to you
all this week just to let you know my situation, but have been
constantly pressed for time. So, yes, I am in OK shape. Definitely not
sub-3 this time. I know it. I had a fairly good October, but really
the mileage was what I needed in September, and October should have
had another 100 or 200 km, but too many setbacks with injury and a
heavy cold that hung around for weeks and weeks, just when I was ready
to ramp up the mileage. Still, I have trained as much as I could
without killing myself.

On 1 November I ran Phil's half marathon at Arakawa and 4:15 pace was
a bit too stiff for me. I faded each 5 km from 10 km to the end,
finishing at about 4:30 pace yet working hard. So even though I did
take tired legs into that run, still, it would be impossible to hold
4:15 through to 42. Just impossible. Then last Sunday I ran 22 km at
marathon pace of about 4:25/km, to simulate how I would feel at half
way. The answer is, well, not so great. I wasn't fading badly or in
pain, but it was not easy either. So if I go out at that pace on
Monday, it is going to be real hard work for the second half, but
there is a chance I can hold on and bring it home for a sub 3:10.
That's my aim anyway, and if I can by some miracle get under 3:05 I
would consider it a great run. Definitely I hope to run in such a way
as to give myself a chance at a negative split. If I achieve that, I
will be happy.

Thanks again for your email. I will miss not having you or Paddy in
the race with me. Instead I must target to beat Terry Minegishi :-).
Hope you're running well!



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick update

I have to apologize to Scott in particular for not updating sooner re intentions for Ohtawara. Well, I have entered, and my full intention is to run it, though I will be threatening for a PW I think. It has been a very up and down preparation. The best way to catch up is by browsing my RunningAhead Log, but in a nutshell, after finally getting some consistency together after coming out of the period of work helldom, and starting to inch my long runs up towards 30 km, and starting to get some relief from the summer heat and humidity, what should happen but I get a leg injury. The old biceps femoris again. First it was just a niggle, but then I tripped and tore it. That was about three weeks ago. I had five days off, then tentatively started coming back. After a week of that I brewed beer and got a really crook back from carrying heavy pots of water and wort, and that caused other problems when I tried to run through it. I battled on and now things have come back to an even keel and I am trying to get consistent again. I actually ran 33 km last Sunday at reasonable pace, so I'm feeling a bit more confident about the marathon again, provided I can have a good October, with 4 or 5 good long runs and a few race pace runs, and hill workouts. I aim to do at least one and maybe two hill workouts a week.

So that's it. Scott, have you entered and are you interested in Ohtawara? Sorry if I've given you a bum steer by being quiet for so long. It has just been so hard to know which way things were headed.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Crappity crap crap

Well, the first half of June was going along pretty well. I was keeping the steady mileage going and had a couple of longer, faster runs. Ripped out a few very strong aerobic runs of under 4:20 pace. And then, WHAM!! I got hit by the work-goes-ballistic bus. My job is working on proposals for engineering consulting projects, and every now and then it just goes mad. And it has, and I had a whole string of days where I was working from 9 to 10:30 or 11, and by the time you get to bed after that, it makes waking up at 5:30 for a run an impossibility. So the past two weeks have been about 30 km each. I have to admit that a couple of weekend hangovers made the situation even worse. And the arrival of the steamy rainy season has taken some of the pleasure out of running. So that is where we are at. I am hoping to try and get back on track from Monday, but have 2 days in Singapore for work coming up this week, so that probably won't help...I'll report back in a couple of weeks. I should also mention that lthough work has been manic, it has also been satisfying and rewarding in its own way, so that is a bit of a paradox.

Friday, June 05, 2009


In this steady spring (merging into summer) build-up I have been meaning to keep a little bit of speedwork in the mix. I didn't do a very good of that in May. The closest I got was a fartlek consisting of a couple of 1.6 km intervals in 6:00 min on the 2nd, the 3-km time trial on the 6th, and the 3-km time trial on the 28th (see last post). Most of my runs were "lower aerobic" with a couple of "upper aerobics", an "easy" or two and one or two barely qualifying as longs. I suppose that is why the improvement in my 3-km time trials was not especially dramatic.

So to try to redress this lack of speed-work, on Wednesday night, two days ago now, I attended the club's 6 x 1000 m interval workout. Oh, the first one felt horrible! I'm glad Joachim was there to drag me around. Somehow I ran faster than 3:50, but I wasn't sure how. Then, miraculously the second one was a totally different kettle of flathead. I went off feeling fast and the breathing much easier. 3:37! That took a bit out of me, but basically I think the cobwebs were blown away and I then ran 3:39, 3:41, and 3:40 before calling it a day (yes, that's only five for those who were counting). But I did run from work to the track and then home from the track for a 15-km day. Almost Hosakesque. But crikey! Nothing like this man, who seems to be training the house down!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Results of the latest (2nd) 3 km time trial are in. times are the 1-km splits for those that need the decipherin'. I think they know who they are.

May 6: 3:52, 3:52, 3:54
May 28: 3:48, 3:52, 3:52

Actually, I thought it had been a month since I did the first one. A bit silly. I better wait a full month now until the next one.

Anyway, not much progress to be seen. The weeks since then (including the May 6 week) have been 69, 46, 91, 85 (if I do the expected 25 tomorrow). That awful 46 km week happened because I had a weekend that was beset by work and weather and brewing that conspired to stop me running on either the Saturday or Sunday. A very rare event. That resulted in me going into the next week rather fresh and racking up the 90 km. I can't really expect much progress on the back of those numbers, but the regular aerobic runs of 15 km have had a bit of quality about them and are setting me up to handle increased frequency and distance (like he 17.8 km at 4:27/km I did today). After that the results should start to come through.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Beer!!

I think I mentioned last July that I got a best of show in a home brewing competition. The main prize was that the organizers brew a commercial batch of the recipe, the Yokozuna beer, at a micro brewery in Chiba (Loco Beer). I helped out on the brew day in late December.

Now, five months later, lookie, lookie, that there beer is now on sale over the Interwebs. It isn't cheap, but if you are in Japan, go at it and try some of the best beer ever made in the 5000 plus years of the history of brewing. Oh!! You think that's a bold claim do you? Well, it is a bold claim. And there is only one way you will find out if it is true ;-)

There is a page with an English explanation here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Where I is at

Running. I've been running. I took a full six days off after the 30k trail race, but then came out and ran pretty easy the next week, reaching a tad over 70 km. I certainly wasn't fully recovered the first few runs, but by last weekend, after two weeks of recovery, felt pretty good and ended up on Sunday running around the trails of Kamakura with Satohi before a BBQ at friends'. I really enjoyed the Kamakura hills because there was not so much walking. Not like the western Tokyo trails, where the hills are up, up, up, and down, down, down. But when the hills are relatively short and technical (read complicated by roots, rocks and erosion), such as at Kamakura, you can attack and use momentum to pick out interesting ways of navigating the terrain. I like that.

This week is Golden Week--three consecutive national holidays from Mon-Wed--and with added rest I've felt my speed coming back naturally, and steady aerobic runs are dipping down under 4:30/km. In fact yesterday I spent 4 km of a 13 km run at below 4:20/km and averaged 4:28/km...not bad.

I'm also throwing in a little bit of speed work here and there. Last Saturday I did two 1.6 km intervals midway through a 14-km run. The first was right on 6:00 min, but it felt forced and labored. The second I tried relaxing into it and ended up running a couple of seconds slower, but it felt more like the right pace.

Today I was going to run in the park in the afternoon with Colin, but the rain set in for several hours, and Colin couldn't make it anyway. I was very frustrated as I really wanted to run, but just couldn't bring myself to head out into what was pretty heavy rain. I waited and waited and was about to give up and pour a beer around 5:45 when I noticed the rain had eased right off. So I made sure dinner was under control and squared things up with the good woman before heading out. I ran up to Oda field (5.5 km) at 4:45/km. There I decided to do the first of what will be a series of monthly 3-km time trials. Did that at a pretty hard effort with rather pedestrian (but not surprising) splits of 3:52, 3:52, and 3:54 ... I was pushing that last km too, so the loss of 2 s really shows I was near the limit. Good. This will stand as a good benchmark of where I am at here at the beginning of May.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Plate Chiller

I recently acquired a plate chiller for my home brewery. Here it is in action.
Edit: For those not sure what is going on here (Bob), beer production involves boiling up malt and hops. At the end of the boil, you want to chill the wort (what it's called before it's fermented) to a suitable temperature for pitching yeast. That's what this device is for. It could also be called a heat exchanger. Hot wort and cold water go in through separate flow paths, make contact along the surfaces of 30 brazed plates, and cold wort and hot water come out. Now I can pitch the yeast and get fermentation underway. I could just let it cool down naturally, but it will take a day or two to reach pitching temperature and increases the risk of a wild yeast or bacteria infection. Happy?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Trail Races

A few interesting, "I don't get trail races" comments on my last post.

Well, that being only my second trail race, I can't pretend to be some kind of transcended being who has found enlightenment and will now deign to preach the good gospel of The Trail to you poor philistines still wandering in the dark.

No. I am probably closer to that infant state of consciousness of Scott and Jon. And even Bob, who at least admits to enjoying a non-event trail run. But I guess I have some insights and I can feel strange stirrings within.

All I can do is try to offer a couple of thoughts that have occurred to me in the past couple of days. The thing that distinguishes a "race" from a casual training run is that it is an event. On top of that, it is physically very, very demanding, and therefore not likely to be something you will attempt without the surrounding hoop-la of the event. So the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing something very, very demanding, and in often beautiful surroundings, is really unlikely without the event to push/pull you through it.

Like parenthood, these things are also something that you will never, ever be truly able to explain to anybody. You can only understand it by participating. Even to fellow runners who only ever do hard-top races. So there is a real sense of camaraderie and shared experience with your fellow trail hounds (I don't really call myself that, by the way). And this is why events like Six Foot Track and Hasetsune 72 km (this was the first time the 30 km version was has been run) take on such legendary status among those who keep coming back to take on the challenge they offer. I mean look at the profile of Six Foot:

That's pretty awesome. Yet, to me, after running this considerably shorter Hasetsune, I look at that profile and think, Ha! look at those long easy sections: the bottom of Nellies Glen to Cox's River is all clear running, then from the top of Pluviometer it all looks eminently runnable, though the descent to Cave's House would be truly agonizing, as many a race report attests. In Hasetsune you were always either really going up, or really going down. I think in general that the grades were probably steeper than what they would be at Six Foot, yet it is really impossible to compare. Those elevation gains and falls at Six Foot are undeniably big: 250 m at Cox's to 1200 m at caves Road ... this is alluring. Why wouldn't you want to take something like that on? And why would you take it on without the pull of the event?

Hasetsune 72 km literally scares me. And maybe that reason alone is enough to give it a try.

So those are me thoughts on this matter.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hasetsune 30k

Crikey, that was hard!

30 km in 4:38 ... that's hours and minutes. Just go back and refresh your memory with that nasty little course profile.

The 4:38 is gross time. There was a 1 km traffic jam from the registration area to the start line and we lost 7 minutes for that. Then 13 minutes into the race we came to a dead stop for another traffic jam, which turned out to be because of a tight scramble around a few rocks in a creek bed. That held us up for an incredible 20 minutes or so. Something for the organizers to think about for next year.

Once we got away from the traffic jam, we were moving pretty freely. But before long, any kind of forward motion was acceptable as we scaled that bloody mountain side in the profile. Talk about steep. And narrow. Just one foot after the other, single file, no great hurry, and eventually it was over. The first 5 km took 1 whole hour!

The next stage though was almost 5 km of fairly steep descent on a narrow asphalt road. We could go fast, but it was hard on the quads. From this point on right until the end of the race we were constantly passing people with only the very occasional pair of guys (it was always two for some reason!) passing us.

We were turned off the asphalt at abut the 12.5 km mark and it was then trail all the way to the end of the race. The climb was tough to about 19 km, with some real nasty little uphill stretches of long steep fire trail, but soon enough the trend turned towards lots of smaller ups and downs, and we could push on a bit and past more people. But always going up, or down.

The final 3 km involved some very steep down hill sections that were pure agony. The cramp bears were nipping at the calves before finally changing strategy and getting me fair smack in the right hamstring less than 500 m from the finish line. I had to stop and a few people went past before I shook the bastards off and got going again to finish.

Had a nice wash-up in the river after the race and enjoyed some beers and a nice big plate of soba afterwards in downtown Musashi-itsukaichi :-) then snored my head off on the train on the way back to Shinjuku. Tired but happy as they say.

The photo shows my main sustenance for the race. A tube of condensed milk: 337 kcal from 65 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein and 8 g of fat. And absolutely delicious. Much better than a gel I reckon, which only offers about 180 kcal and no fat or protein. I highly recommend this to anybody engaging in endurance events. You know, like people who might be about to run 112km.

Tuesday night as I finally post this, and my quads are still killing me. Ewen's prediction of 3 days before I'll be able to run is starting to look a bit optimistic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ハセツネ30K Course Profile

I can see by the rush of responses to my last post that I have really grabbed your imaginations with this trail race. That's good. Let me feed the fury. Here is the course profile. OMG, just look at that sucker! I hate climbing steps...why oh why am I doing this???

Monday, April 13, 2009


A few months ago I somehow managed to let Satohi talk me into entering a trail race, The 1st Hasegawa Tsuneo 30 km. (Photos here from the traditional 72 km version). It seemed far enough away not to have to think about it too much. But all the weekends lying between the time of that fateful decision and the race have now passed. The Final Countdown to next Sunday, April 19. I wasn't all that concerned about it until I got the race literature in the mail last week. The course profile looks something like a dragon's back. I know it is not as long as SFT, but I am not a trail specialist like some. I think I'll be taking it pretty easy. Within the first 4.5 km there is a section that rises over 500 m within about 1.5 km of horizontal distance. Oh man, what have I got myself in for?

To quickly answer a couple of questions in comments:

(1) Hi Tesso, yeah, I recovered pretty quickly from Tokyo, but I have been so busy with work and stuff that it was easy to have a slow come back. In the three weeks since I've logged 28 km, 51 km, and 63 km ... how's that for a reverse taper? I started doing some hills in anticipation of the upcoming trail race, but the only thing I've done is give myself a sore left knee ;-(

(2) Scott, I reckon that marathon will probably be Ohtawara (see my entries for November 23 from ever since I started this blog). It's a great little road trip. Flat, cool, course. Usually beset by fine weather. The worst conditions we ever got was strong winds in 2007. Great venue for the race. We spend the night after the race at a ryokan in the mountains near Nikko -- party and rotanburo. Anyway, give it some thought, we'd love to host you up here for the day you set your lifetime PB.

There's no snow around anymore ... spring has sprung with a vengeance and even the cherry blossoms are all gone ... but on my run yesterday I borrowed the kid's Cowon MP3 player, and at one point I was listening to Snow by RHCP, well cranked up, and, crikey, it stopped me in my tracks. I just had to stop and listen to it before I could keep running. I thought music was supposed to help you run, not make you stop. Pop on the headphones and have a listen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tokyo Marathon 2009

I ran Tokyo Marathon on Sunday 22nd March as a pacer/supporter for Satohi (in front of me in the photo). Her previous PB was 3:19:54 and we felt she was in significantly better shape than that effort. She had been training well and finding 4:30/km pace fairly easy in training. We did a 25 km pace-run three weeks ago at a target of 4:30/km, but many splits were in the 4:20s and she felt capable of carrying on. So we had every reason to be optimistic and set a strategy of starting a little conservatively, around 4:40/km, gradually increasing to 4:35/km, then if everything was going well, moving up to 4:30/km from around 20k.

The day dawned cool but with a blustery wind. This wasn't too much of a factor until the turn from Ginza (around 34 km) out towards the finish at Odaiba, after which we were often running into a strong head wind and also having to contend with the several nasty little rises at flyovers.

The first half went perfectly to plan and we hit the half only a few seconds outside the target. The planned inrease in pace just didn't feel like the right thing to do. More patience was necessary I believed, knowing that even if we kept 4:35 to the end it would still be a strong result for her. The 10k from half to 31k was also fine, but fatigue was obviously setting in and suddently I felt she was struggling to hold pace. Sure enough, the 31-32 split was 4:42, followed by 4:44, 4:52, and 4:54. The next 6 km were very tough going as she had hit the wall and was struggling with the wind, the rain that had started to fall, and those dreaded flyovers. But the supporters were really vocal through this desolute section and she dug deep and did not give in to grind out a new PB of exactly 1 minute, only one of a very small handful to be had by our group under these tough conditions.

The splits:

5km 0:23:49
10km 0:22:57
15km 0:22:51
20km 0:22:46
(Half - 1:37:29 vs target 1:37:17)
25km 0:22:55
30km 0:22:57 (2:18:15 vs target: 2:17:20)
35km 0:23:40
40km 0:25:57
Finish 0:11:02 (3:18:54)

For me personally, I could have kept going at the target pace, at least for some period longer. And once Satohi conked I was always having to contain my pace, which was a new and slightly strange experience. I was hurting of course, but could have run faster and had to resist the temptation to put in as hard as I could to take the pain to another level over those last few km -- you know, the way the end of a marathon is supposed to feel. As a result it was a relatively relaxed marathon for me and actually I really got to enjoy the atmosphere and crowd like never before. Running over the final 5 km brought back vivid memories of last year when I was hurting but maintaining a good pace over this section, racing the clock to sneak in under 3 hours.

Going into the run I was not sure how I was going to handle the distance given I hadn't done any runs over 25 km until February 8. I was even a bit worried that if Satohi went really well that she would have to leave me behind in the final 10 km. But I handled it well and I think if anything it has re-kindled my desire to keep up the training and build strength and endurance through he summer for maybe another crack at sub-three in November.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Six-week update

I really have to re-organize my life so that I can find time to post updates more frequently.

Well, the main points are that I never did run Ome, but I will be running Tokyo Marathon on March 22.

Ome had to go by the wayside because of a clash with a beer festival at which a beer made commercially to my recipe was served. I was able to attend as a brewer rather than one of the great unwashed. This is the second time I have had that honor and it was not quite as exciting second time around, but fun and rewarding nonetheless.

Tokyo M is on the cards courtesy of a friend whose banking job has gone ballistic with the global financial meltdown; he just couldn't face the added stress of the training and his heart was not in running the marathon, so he offered me his place. I really didn't have the mileage base to take on a proper marathon attempt, but I will run it for the experience and to try to help out with pacing for Satohi, whose training program I have written for this marathon. She is targeting a time within the vicinity of 3:15, which, with my minimal training base, I am going to find a tough pace to hold all the way.

I've ramped up the mileage over the past few weeks. The Achilles has been great. It got a bit sore on some long runs, but recovered within a day or two and is generally being very cooperative. Prior to taking this on I was going along really comfortably, just running when as far as I felt like it and my body was feeling great. The first couple of weeks of ramping up the mileage also went OK, but the past 10 days or so have been tougher, especially with some lower back and abdominal issues. Well, that is to be expected with such a sudden increase, but I have now got four runs of 30+ km under the belt and should be able to be of some use and yet finish the race without it being a near-death experience.

Apart from that, life has just been really, really, really busy. I do some freelance scientific editing work on top of my day job, plus with running and brewing activities...and trying to put in some time with the family...keeps me pretty much with no time to read or write blogs. Hence the scarceness of posts and commenting from me. But I am alive and reasonably well. So salutations one and all, I'll try not to leave it so long until the next post.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beer Mile -- Mixed Success

Yesterday Gareth and Joachim staged the second beer mile in Japan. The last one was nearly 3 years ago on an evening with five competitors (I didn't run that time due to a bout of back spasms, a fate which, fate would have it, Gareth suffered this time). Yesterday there were some 14 competitors and we ran it in two shifts. I was in the second shift. In the photo below you can see me throwing down my can and setting off on the run after being the first to finish my beer. But the guy inverting his beer on his head, Chad, was obviously right behind me, and thus the stage for a hard-fought race was set.

I think I led Chad into the second beer station, but he got away first this time. We had a great battle through the race and were always within a few seconds of each other, though he pulled away from me a bit on the last leg as I struggled a little more with my last beer, and then had to slow my running pace a bit to stop my tummy from ejecting ballast. Chaddo finished in a superb 7:42 and I came in with a respectable 8:06. I was really hoping to break 8:00. At least my race didn't end in ignomony, and in fact 8:06 is good enough for 55th in the world in my age group...for now. A mark to be improved at the next installment I hope, though top ranking in the world in my age group would require some extremely fast drinking and my flat-out running pace! not very likely, yet I am sure I have some improvement in me. Ganbarimasu!

All results are here. Satohi was astounding with her sub 9:00 performance. Third fastest overall
and 35th fastest woman in the whole wide world! Yeeayy! Champions everywhere!

Big ups to Gareth, Joachim and Christiane for superb organizing!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

So long 2008, Hello 2009!

As Ewen says, I was an absent blogger in 2008. There are many and varied reasons for this. To sum it up, it was a year of change for me that made it more difficult to blog, both practically and motivationally (is that a word?). I changed jobs in January, entering duty the day after returning from a 3-week visit back to Australia with the family. We celebrated my parents' 60th wedding anniversary on Jan 10, then poignantly said goodbye with a feeling of foreboding about my dad's health. Within a few days of arriving back in Japan it was confirmed that he had cancer of the liver; he had refused chemotherapy. He passed away aged 86 on the 3rd of March and I was suddenly back in Australia for a brief visit under the worst possible circumstances. Of course I wrote about this at length on this blog at the time, so there is not much point going into details other than to say that this event has been a shadow for me over the entire year of 2008.

My running, which is ostensibly the reason for this blog, experienced highs and lows. I managed to run a sub 3-hour at Tokyo marathon in February despite suffering constant pain from a chronic Achilles injury. Following Tokyo I resolved to do whatever was required to get the Achilles right, even if it meant giving up running forever. It was mentally so hard to cut back from the level of fitness I had to adopt the almost sedentary lifestyle required to get the Achilles right. I went to the gym, I swam, and eventually I did very little before taking up walking a few mornings a week. Soon the walks turned into walk-jogs, as the Achilles allowed, and by late August it seemed the Achilles was improving under this regime of light bipedal exercise. So from there I have ever so gradually increased the workload, always conscious of not over-stressing the Achilles. The Achilles was soon behaving itself nicely and I got back to fairly regular aerobic training runs in September and built into October, eventually running a hard 40:00 10k at Ohtawara in November. Since then I have built the mileage a little more and just kept at it as the Achilles continues to remain pain free, even though I still feel a slight nodule in the middle of it. The next race is Ome 30 k on February 15. Maybe that will be my next post :)

Work was interesting. The new job was shaky until our company, which was mostly domestic, miraculously absorbed Japan's largest international engineering consulting firm. This propelled me from a position of floundering for a role to suddenly having more things to do than I could handle. I honestly can't imagine how the year would have turned out if this merger hadn't taken place. It is almost as though it was destined to be. Still, economic times have been tough and we face challenges into the new year, so don't expect the blogging to start back too frequently.

I was fortunate to have been able to help guide the launch of a new web site for my running club. Later in the year we launched a forum and that has also gone well, though I'd like to see our 100+ members make more use of it.

It was also a good year in brewing for me. I used to keep my equipment at a friend's place and brew with him, but for one reason and another we abandoned that arrangement and I brought my pots and pans back home early in 2008. I have progressively added a lot of new equipment through the year and have been brewing more and more regularly and enjoying communing with a bunch of like-minded gaijin and Japanese home brewers in the Tokyo area. I was fortunate to win the best-of-show prize at the main (only?) home brewing comp in Japan with a Belgian Tripel (similar to this beer) and that led to commercial-sized brewing of the recipe on December 23rd. The beer is still fermenting as I write this post. It will be released to the Tokyo beer-consuming public in a couple of months.

Of course 2008 brought other events of note for me and my family, but I think that sums up the main things.

I will close by saying a happy new year to one and all who happen to stumble upon and read this post to this point. If you actually do, for some perverse reason, happen to have an interest in the doings of my life, I am sorry for the infrequency of posts of late. I will try to be a little more consistent in 2009, though no promises!!

Take care all!