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!