Tokyo Marathon 2023

Time 3:56:32

This year on the 5th March I completed my 6th Tokyo Marathon, and 23rd marathon in total. Not my slowest Tokyo Marathon, as that honour still goes to my first one back in 2009, but my second slowest. Last year I was in much better shape, regularly running Park Run in under 20 minutes. But I failed to complete two marathons, DNFing in February and March.

I started my training block in October 2022 and things seemed to be going well. Then my wife and daughter got COVID in the first and second weeks of November and I had to quarantine at home. I was OK and managed a few rides on the trainer but nothing outside. By mid November I was free to rejoin society and started my haphazard training plan. I just getting back into training again when my other daughter caught the virus in the second week of December. Then I got it on the day before Christmas Eve. That wiped out my training for 2 weeks. I had intended to go to Nagano and run everyday but ended up spending 8 days in bed watching Netflix and eating. I wasn’t that sick.

So that is my excuse. I am sure that it is one shared by many. I restarted training on 3rd January 8 weeks before the start on the race with the goal of completing the Tokyo Marathon, regardless of the time. I ran 230km in January and 256km in February and managed five 30+km long runs. I also completed Shinjuku City Half Marathon in a time of 1:38 on the last Sunday in January. However, I did find the training tiring and never really managed more than 3 or 4 training runs a week where I would usually run 5 or 6.

I got to Shinjuku for the start of the race too early. There was lots of restrictions due to security and COVID and I spent a lot of time taking my temperature, updating an App, taking antigen tests and updating an App. At the end of the day I was a bit worried that there would be a delay entering the starting area and I got there about two hours before the start of the race. Of course there was no issues, despite the large number of people already there. I found myself a place on a low wall and listened to music for an hour and tried to stay warm. At 8:10, a full hour before the start of the race, I dropped off my bag and headed for Coral D, which was already quite full.

The weather was a little cold waiting for the race to start but because you had to bring your iPhone with you, I had music for the first time and the time passed quickly. Once we started I felt good. The first part of the race is all down hill but I tried to keep my pace to around 5:15 ~ 5:30 per km. I enjoyed running through Shinjuku and the crowds were out in force. At the 6km point there was a big crowd from my club Namban Rengo and their cheering gave me a great lift.

Spotting the Namban Rengo crew at the 6km point.

I was still trying to run within myself and not get carried away. It was a little difficult with all the runners who were flooding the streets. One thing that became immediately obvious was that there were a lot more foreign runners than in previous years and a lot of people running for their 6th Abbot Star. I saw lots of Irish flags among the spectators and afterwards noticed that 178 Irish had run the race.

More great support from Namban Rengo.

Throughout the race, Namban Rengo supporters were popping up all over the place and I got lots of photos to show for it. I was delighted to see them all and their shouts really kept me going. I was still on pace as I got through half way but after the 25km mark things started to go downhill. Fortunately, I knew that I was well into the second half of the race and that I could finish if I just held on. More and more people were passing me but I only needed to walk a couple of times in the last 10km.

Struggling in the final 10km.

Once we got into Marunouchi the crowds were deep and my friend Mike shouted to me. I was thrilled to see him. Suddenly I was in behind the 4 hour pacer and he was shouting to his crew that we were near the 4 hour barrier and we could make it if we could run the final few hundred metres in 2 minutes. I gritted my teeth and got in behind him and gave it my best shout and finished with a gross time of 3:59:57 and a net time of 3:56:32. It wasn’t a great time, but it was a great relief to finally finish my first marathon since November 2019. I felt that I had been through something and came out the other side intact. March 5th is also my late mother’s birthday so I was feeling rather emotional all round.

Pushing it in the final 1km in Marunouchi.

That afternoon Namban Rengo organized its annual post Tokyo Marathon party. It was wonderful to meet up with all the people who had run and those who had come out to support. We laughed, we cried, we drank beer …

With all the members of Namban Rengo at the post Tokyo Marathon party.

20th Shinjuku City Half Marathon – 29th Jan 2023

National Stadium at 7:45 AM on the last Sunday in January

Net time 1:38:07

After many years of not completing a major running event I managed to run the Shinjuku City Half Marathon this morning. This event has many happy memories for me as it was the first major event that I ever participated in back in 2006 (2:00:58). I was so sore after that run that I could barely walk to the station and although I made it into work the next day, Monday, I went home sick at lunchtime and took the Tuesday off as well. I ran it two more times, in 2008 (1:50:59) and in 2011 (1:36:47). After that the race’s popularity shot up and it became too difficult to get an entry spot and I switched my attention to the Chiba Marine Half Marathon from 2012 onwards.

So it was with no expectations that I applied for the race again last September when Satohi san from my club sent out a notification that it was open for entry. But I was delighted to get in. I just looked at it as part of my Tokyo Marathon training which started at the start of December and is due to conclude in Marunouchi on the 5th March. However, Covid set me back a bit and I missed 2 weeks of high quality training over Christmas. I did manage to get back on the horse at the start of January and I was able to run a couple of long runs in January and 3 track sessions.

Not enough training but I had sufficient confidence to start today’s race and know that I would give it my best shot. The race started in the National Stadium which was built for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Unnecessary Covid measures were put in place including downloading an app, pretending to take your temperature everyday and getting a PCR or Antigen test. These added to the anxiety of an early start but at the end of the day did not really have much of an impact and the pre-race routine was very smooth.

The race started on time and we were quickly running out of the stadium and through the streets of Shinjuku. Because I optimistically put my target time as 1:29:59 I was in group C and running with people who were at least as fast as me and there was not much congestion during the first 3km. There was a lot of twists and turns and inclines and at around 4km we headed into the Shinjuku underpass for the first time. That is always a lot of fun and I came out the other end at 5km with renewed purpose. I had hoped to be running at 4:30/km pace with a goal to finish around 1:35:00 but the GPS was all over the place due to the tunnel and high rise buildings. Sometimes my pace was 4:45 and sometimes it was 4:25. And once it went to 4:10 before rebounding to 5:03. Overall I felt that I ran at a fairly stable pace and although I had to push hard during the final 3km, I think that managed to do well and my overall final pace ended up at 4:38.

Finishing at the National Stadium

After the Half Marathon and the 10km we headed to a local Italian restaurant which had been reserved by Satohi san and had a lovely lunch while we looked at the results of our club mates that started to come in from Marathons and Half Marathons around Kanto. It really was great to back socialising normally after three years and I am looking forward to many more events like this.

Post race lunch at the Italian restaurant EMILIA

4th Watarase Reservoir Marathon Week 16/16

Friday Morning

I am not have a lot to report as I prepare to run the Watarase Reservoir Marathon on Wednesday. I took things easy this week. Partly to relax and recover before the race but also partly because I had to travel a little for work.

14th ~ 20th February 20 km of running.

Monday Rest Day

Tuesday Rest Day

Wednesday Rest Day

Thursday Rest Day

Friday 12.5 km Easy

Saturday Park Run Volunteer

Sunday 8 km Easy

I won’t bore you with what I did on my Rest Days, but on Friday I did manage to get up early and run down to Marukobashi and back before I started work. It was a glorious morning but my heavy legs felt tired. On Saturday I volunteered at Park Run in Futakotamagawa. My job is standing at a T-Junction and making sure that people go the right way while I am taking a few photos. I try to volunteer right before I have a race as it is a good opportunity to help out and it does not impact my training. Unfortunately, February is not a great month to be standing around for an hour as it is freezing.

Waiting for the action to begin
Park Run Start

Although it was cold, it was a good event and I enjoyed participating in it. The plan had been to get home and warm up and then go for a short run. However, after being back in bed for 2 hours I was no warmer and I decided that I would knock the run on the head and just relax for the rest of the day watching the Winter Olympics.

On Sunday I did get out for a run, but not particularly early. I got up before 8 AM and have my breakfast. However, I then messed around for a couple of hours and the final of the Olympic Curling competition began at 10 AM. As Japan was in the final against Team GB, I felt honour-bound to stay and support. Things did not go our way but I did get out for a run at 12:30 and completed 3 laps of the neighbourhood. After lunch I headed into Futakotamagawa to find gels for the race. I had tried to buy some in Mizonokuchi on Saturday night but none were to be had. Fortunately, Mont Bell carries a selection and I was able to find these which I had used before. I limited myself to just one caffeine infused gel which I plan to take in the last 10 km.

The gels

Finally, I took a look at the weather forecast for Watarase for Wednesday. Frankly, it is not great. I can take the temperature of 5 ~ 7 degrees temperature, but I am not thrilled about the wind. The race will take in 7 laps of the course so the wind will be with me as well as against me but I generally prefer no wind and not get tired out. There is a chance that it will die down in the next 60 hours. I will let you know.

4th Watarase Reservoir Marathon Week 15/16

Wednesday Morning

Week 15 of 16 completed means that I am just 10 days out from my marathon at Watarase Reservoir on Wednesday 23rd February. It sounds like a long journey but in reality it has flown by and I wonder if I could do better with a 20 week lead into a marathon to make sure that I have enough of a base. We will never know but the cancelling of Kochi and the last minute entry into Watarase has rather put me out and the training plan is coming to an end a little faster than I had anticipated. I did have a good week and I put in a few nice sessions so I think that I have a lot to look forward to.

7th ~ 13th February 68 km of running and 3,000 m of swimming.

Monday Rest Day

Tuesday 6 x 1,000 m intervals 14 km

Wednesday Easy Run 12.5 km

Thursday Rest Day

Friday Medium Run 16.3 km and 1,500 m swim

Saturday Park Run 20:08 and 1,500 m swim

Sunday Fast Finish Long Run 20 km

Monday was a rest day and I could not get out of bed on time on Tuesday to run in the morning, so it had to be after work. Fellow runner Peter Clarke recommended the book “Easy Interval Method” by a former elite Dutch runner Klaas Lok as he rightly sensed that I was in a bit of a rut. I tried to buy it on Kindle but it is only available in paperback at the moment. I am going to get it but I am waiting until I have read all the other paperbacks that are stacked beside my bed and not getting opened. However, the idea did encourage me to run some intervals. It wasn’t pretty. I struggled badly. My original plan was to run at around a 4:10 /km pace thinking that if I could run a sub 20 minute 5 km it would be no problem. As you can see below, I ran between 4:16 and 4:30 and never looked like getting close to 4:10. I am thinking that I may be a bit fatigued and will need to rest a bit more before the marathon.

6 x 1,000 m w/ 2 minute jog

Although I ran Tuesday evening, I was able to get up and run again on Wednesday morning. It was a glorious day and I felt rejuvenated although I ran nice and slow up and down the Tamagawa. Thursday was supposed to be a snow day. And by snow day, I mean that it was due to snow all day and all night. It didn’t. But the stupid weather forecast messed up my training plans. I decided not to get up in the morning, take an easy day and then run early on Friday. When I woke up on Thursday it was barely raining, never mind snowing. It was too late to get out for a run. We were still promised snow all day. As Friday was a National Holiday in Japan, I had planned to go for a Guinness with Chad on Thursday night. As the forecast was so bad, I thought I would have to cancel, but it had not started to snow by 6 PM so we said damn the torpedos and headed to Jiyugaoka.

Clann in Jiyugaoka – Waiting For Chad

As Friday was a holiday, I had no real incentive to get up early and finally headed out for my run around 11:15 AM. It was another beautiful day and I went further than I expected. I had Park Run on Saturday morning so my expectation was just to run the bare minimum of 12.4 km to keep me in contention for the Kitamikata to Marukobshi Strava segment, but I ended up running 16.3 km as I really could not stop. Once I got home and had a nap I was out again for an easy 1,500 m swim. I am getting back into swimming and hoping to increase the frequency after the Watarase marathon.

Friday lunchtime

I am really getting into Saturday morning Park Run. Park Run started in Japan in April 2019 but really suffered under COVID. It seems to be back full time now and I am trying to go as much as possible. I have completed 36 Park Runs at present and if I can get to 50, I can buy a T Shirt with that number on the back. That is one of my goals for the first half of this year. I had been doing well and completed my previous 7 Park Runs under 20 minutes. However, the record was about to be broken. I don’t know if it was the cold, the ice on the ground or general fatigue but I just could not keep the sub 4 minute pace after the third km. I made a bit of comeback for the final km but not enough to bring my time under 20 minutes. Next Saturday is very close to the marathon so I will not run Park Run but I will volunteer as a marshal and take photos instead. Hopefully I will get some good ones that will create some nice memories for someone like this photo I got on Saturday.

Park Run Finish – Saturday

Again I managed to go for a swim in the afternoon making this week my first double of the New Year.

Sunday is Long Run day and it was raining again. Raining so much that I did not want to stop and take photos of the Tamagawa in the rain. However, as I am just 10 days out from my race I still needed to run but reduce the distance and keep the intensity. The plan today was to run 20km with the last 10km at marathon pace. I went out at a fairly comfortable pace and ran the first 10 km in 52:27. After the turn around, I had hoped to increase the pace to somewhere between 4:40 and 4:50 to see if I was up for that in the actual race. As you can see below, it did not work out as planned. My left knee was sore, not sore enough to stop me running, and I was fairly fatigued. I gave it my best shot and managed to run the second 10 km in 49:08, or 4:54 pace. I might be tired from yesterday’s Park Run or from 4 months of training, but I think I need to take more of a rest over the next 10 days so I can give my best on race day.

4th Watarase Reservoir Marathon Week 14/16

Tuesday Morning

First of all, congratulations to everybody who spotted the new name of this mini-blog series. Second, thank you to my Namban Rengo running mate Nick Coyle for getting me registered for a replacement marathon at Watarase Reservoir on 23rd February. I was a bit weary about entering a race on a Wednesday but then I realized that it was a National Holiday to celebrate the emperor’s birthday so I was all in. Week 13 of my training was a bit of a wash out once I heard that my race was cancelled. I had some vague notions of doing a marathon by myself along the Tamagawa River, but it is hard to underestimate the true value of motivation. Once Nick had signed me up for Watarase I began to feel like I could run again and started making plans.

31st January ~ 6th February 68.6 km of running and 1,500 m of swimming.

Monday Rest Day

Tuesday 12.5 km Easy

Wednesday 12.6 km Easy

Thursday 16.0 km Easy

Friday Rest Day

Saturday 5 km Park Run in 19:48 and 1,500 m swim

Sunday 22.5 km Long Run

I couldn’t run on Sunday, January 30th. I don’t know what was wrong with me. I had gone out hard for the Park Run on the previous Saturday and ran the first 1 km in 3:43 before blowing up and taking it easy for the final 2 km. I did have a few Guinness on Saturday night but nothing that would stop me from running. Even still, I felt awful on the Sunday and didn’t get out of bed until around 11 AM. I decided to take a Rest Day and try to get back into it later in the week. Just after 3 PM, Nick messaged me to say that I was in a race in 3 weeks. Monday I was not working from home and I had to visit a couple of sites and a data centre before getting back for some late calls so I did not run. Tuesday I managed to get up and do a very easy 12.5 km down to Marukobashi and back to ease myself back into training with the hope that I might actually run a marathon as planned.

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning I was back out and running to Marukobashi and back. I was slightly faster than Tuesday but not a lot.

Thursday Morning

On Thursday I got up a little earlier and decided to increase the distance. I headed down to the Tamagawa and ran at a little faster pace than Tuesday and Wednesday put nothing approaching Tempo. I was still getting back into things and I was very happy to be out along the river by myself.

Friday night

Friday was another Rest Day and my daughter’s birthday. We had a lovely dinner and lots of cake with perhaps a little too much wine. However, I was still able to get up for Park Run on Saturday morning, even if I was a little worse for wear.

Park Run – Saturday Morning

I had been checking the weather forecast in advance and was expecting a balmy 5 degrees. Unfortunately, once I arrived just before 8 AM, it was just 2.5 degrees and I felt cold. I tried not to make the same mistake as I had made the previous weekend where I ran the first 1 km in 3:43 and then ran the 4th and 5th km in 4:03. I went out at a conservative 3:57, improved to 3:54 and then 3:52 before finishing up with 3:58 and 3:57. It was a lot more consistent than last week, and while I did not set a PB, I was much more pleased with my effort. After getting home and cleaning up I headed to the sports club for a 1,500 m swim and keeping a promise to myself that I would swim once a week.

Saturday Night

On Saturday night we went out to dinner to further celebrate my daughter’s birthday before coming home to watch Ireland beat Wales in a cracking opening game of the 6 Nations. As the game started at 11:15 PM and finished after 01:15 AM I was very late getting to bed and did not manage to get up too early.

Sunday is Long Run Day. I have said it before and I will say it again. I wasn’t great in the morning after being up late but I had already decided to reduce the mileage as I was just 17 days out from my race. 22 km seemed appropriate and I was wondering if I could run part of it at marathon goal pace. I couldn’t. I plodded down to Tamagawa Ohashi bridge and then plodded back up listening to the Irishman Abroad and Second Captains podcasts. I felt that I was just going through the motions but happy to get the run done. Hopefully, things will improve again next week.

Kochi Marathon 2022 Week 12/16

Tuesday Morning

This week went well and I completed a full week of training including one swim and six runs. I felt very sore and tired on Monday morning after Sunday’s half marathon effort but I was in good condition again on Tuesday. I was also blessed with the weather from Tuesday to Saturday with clear blue skies and bright sun. Sunday was overcast and cold but you can’t have everything. The major running news for me is that both Shonan and Kita Kyushu marathons which are planned for Feb 20th were cancelled on Thursday and Friday. Kochi Marathon is also scheduled to be held on the same day so I would say that there is some chance that it too will be called off. I am trying to look on the bright side in that I have had a good block of training, gotten myself into reasonable shape and had some success at the half marathon and Park Run. If it does not go ahead I will be disappointed but I still plan to go to Koichi and run a marathon distance on the morning of the race while my wife sleeps in.

17th ~ 23rd January 80 km of running and 1,000 m of swimming.

Monday 1,000 m swim

Tuesday 12.6 km Fartlek 1 minute on and 1 minute off

Wednesday 12.7 km Easy

Thursday 15.0 km Tempo Intervals 3 x 2 km w/ 400 m jog

Friday 13.0 km Easy

Saturday 5.0 km Park Run PB 19:34

Sunday 22.0 km Fast Finish Long Run with the last 10 km run at Marathon Goal Pace

Although I was tired on Monday, I managed to go to the pool after work and swim 1,000 metres. The original plan was to swim 1,500 metres but I was not ready to complete that and I feel that I still need to build up to it. 26:41 is not a great time either but it was not too bad considering the amount of swimming I have been doing recently. Tuesday I was back into my schedule with a Fartlek session. Fortunately, this time it was just 10 x 1 minute and not the 16 that I had been doing recently. It is hard doing this session at 7:00 AM but I managed to get though it in the end.

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday was an easy day and I made my way down to the Tamagawa River for my regular run down to Marukobashi and back. It was a gorgeous day and it felt great to be out. On the way home I realized that I had a meeting in the office in the afternoon and that I would need to find time to get in during my lunch break. The good news is that I was able to meet Paddy for a pint on the way home for the first time this year.

Footnik’s Osaki Wednesday With Paddy
Thursday Morning

Thursday was a hard day. I had to run 3 x 2 km Tempo Intervals with a 400 metre jog. 8 years ago my Tempo Interval pace was 4:15. Now it is all over the place. On the way out, I had the wind with me and I could run 4:20 ~ 4:25 but as soon as I turned around for the final interval I was running into the wind and having a much harder time of it, running the final 1 km in 4:38. Still, it was great to be out in the morning, running hard and filling my lungs with fresh air.

Tempo Intervals 3 x 2 km
Friday Morning

Friday was another easy day so I did my regular Marukobashi loop to ensure that I remain the Local Legend and came home.

Saturday Morning

Saturday is Park Run day. I got up early, made my preparations and left the house at just the right time to arrive 15 minutes before the start. On Friday, Japan reintroduced some quasi-emergency measures due to the rising number of new Covid cases and when I arrived everyone was standing well apart like a scene in the 1970’s BBC drama Children Of The Stones. I quickly changed, greeted my friends and headed up to the start. I had gotten to bed early on Friday night and I was feeling good as we headed out. I knew that there would be marshals after about 100 metres so I forced myself to the front in case they were taking photos like I was last week. They were not but they were cheering loudly and I felt energized. Leigh and Mike Trees soon passed me. Then I was passed by a Japanese runner, Kamiya san, who runs every week with a backpack. I was expecting to see a gang of runners pass me but it didn’t happen. Kamiya san did not increase his lead on me and I kept my distance ahead of Yamagata san in fifth. I got through the first 1 km in 3:46 and ploughed on. Nobody gained on me. There were only 55 runners and a lot of the fast people had not come so I managed to hold on to my fourth places till the end and then headed off for coffee with Mason.

Park Run PB Splits
Park Run PB FInish

I was planning to go for a few drinks with my friend Chris on Saturday night, but because of the new measures we had to meet at 4:30 PM. No problem for me as I quite enjoy afternoon drinking and it means I can still get 8 hours of sleep and be ready for the next day. We ended up in a new Craft Beer place in Shimokitazawa called TDM 1874 that was recommended by Glenn and was well worth the journey.

TDM 1874 with Chris

Of course, I could not get away from my long run on Sunday. The planned schedule was 19 km with the last 10 km at Marathon Goal Pace (MGP). But what is my MGP? At the start of this training block, I told myself that I would be very happy breaking 3:30 after many years, but after last week’s half marathon I started thinking that I could do better if tried. Maybe even running 4:40 pace and getting back to 3 hr 16 min finishing time. I cycled down to the Tamagawa as I wanted to finish as hard as I could and not have to contend with traffic lights and railway crossings in the final 3 km. I started running very easy for the first half of the run while listening to The Irishman Abroad podcast. This week’s episode was a great interview with Alan Corcoran who had run 35 marathons in 35 days and written a book about the experience. I really enjoyed Alan’s humble explanation of an extraordinary achievement and I have just ordered the book now for myself. Apparently, the paperback copy will arrive on Wednesday so I had better hurry up and finish the Willie Anderson autobiography that my brother gave me for Christmas.

Fast Finish Long Run

The second half of the run at MGP was the hard part, made more so because of the course I had chosen. It was 3 x 3.5 segments on the Tamagawa and 2 of them were run into the wind. It was hard going, especially as my legs were still sore from Saturday, and I never got to my desired 4:40 pace. I listened to Bonobo on Spotify as recommended by Emmanuel and it seemed to help a bit. I stuck to running as hard as I could over the 10 km and I was happy with the outcome.

Next week, I will continue to reduce the distance in anticipation the race in 4 weeks time. Hopefully, I will still go ahead.

Kochi Marathon 2022 Week 11/16

Futakotamagawa in the morning

This week was harder than expected. I was gearing up for Juergen’s Half Marathon along the Tamagawa on Sunday, but I was just not feeling it. I did not complete all my work outs and I felt lethargic and slow. However, somehow I managed to get myself to the start and run my best half in over 6 years. I am not sure how it worked out, but the running gods were definitely smiling on me at the end of the week.

10th ~ 16th January 51 km of running and 500 m of swimming

Monday Rest Day

Tuesday 12.4 km Fartlek

Wednesday Rest Day

Thursday Rest Day

Friday 12.4 km Easy

Saturday 5.3 km Easy and 500 m swim

Sunday 21.1 km Half Marathon in 1:32:41

Monday was a National Holiday in Japan for Coming Of Age Day. Normally, I would try to make the most of a holiday and go out and cycle or run. But I was beat after my long run on Sunday and needed to rest so I just stayed at home and sat on the sofa and watched to movies – Inside Llewyn Davies and Judy. They were both great and I thoroughly recommend them to all.

The plan for Tuesday was do Fartlek, 16 x 1 min with 1 min jog. I should have done it in the morning but I could not get up in time and ended up doing it after work. It was hard work and I ran the repetitions a lot slower than I had run them 2 weeks previous. There was not a lot to take from this session except that I managed to do them and get home safely.

Wednesday I had wanted to get up early and do an easy run before going into the office, but I couldn’t do it. I thought about running when I got home but I couldn’t do that either. On Thursday the plan was to run a slightly harder version of Fartlek, 8 x 2 minutes with 1 minute jog. I had to go to Inzai in the afternoon so the only time I had to do the session was before work. I couldn’t do it. Things were not looking good. Friday I did manage to get up and run before work. I had thought of doing the Fartlek session from Thursday but eventually I decided to keep it easy as I was still feeling crap and I had the half marathon on Sunday. I am not sure what was up with me but I was feeling tired and out of sorts.

Park Run

Saturday is Park Run Day. As I was running the race on Sunday, I decided to volunteer as a marshal on Saturday. As it worked out, I got a pretty good spot which was 100 m from the starting point, about 400 m from the end and had a great view of Mt. Fuji. I brought my Nikon camera with me and took lots of photos of all the runners. One of the joys of my Saturday afternoon is to scroll through the Park Run Facebook page and find photos of myself giving my all. I hope that someone got some pleasure from the photos that I took. After I got home, and warmed myself up with lots of coffee, I headed out the door and did an easy 5 km with my mind still on the half marathon. In the afternoon I went to the pool with the intention of swimming 1,500 m. Again I was not feeling it and only managed 500 m. I comforted myself with the fact that it was something and I had managed to swim 2 weeks in a row and keep my promise.

Mt. Fuji from Park Run

At 00:05 on Sunday my emergency notification alarm went off. The volcano in Tongo had caused a tsunami that was heading to Japan. It was predicted to be only 40 cm when it hit Kanagawa so I was not very worried. But then the alarm went off again, and again, and again …According to my daughter the emergency notification sounded 600 times in Kanagawa prefecture. As we say in Ireland, every time it went off, it put the heart across me. So I turned off my phone after an hour. I was then worried I would miss an important call from work so I got up in the middle of the night to check it. The alarm went off again. By the time 8 AM rolled around I was a nervous wreck. I had almost decided to not do the race and just spend the day recovering. Then I got a text from Sara in Namban Rengo asking if I thought the race would go ahead. To know that someone else from my club was committed to running the race was enough to get me motivated and I started to get ready.

I know the course of the Eco-Marathon better than any course in Japan. I am the Local Legend on Strava after-all. That means that I do not need to get there too early as it is only a 15 minute cycle from my house. On the way over I thought that it was a cold day and I might have to wear an undershirt, but when I arrived I realised that the course was very warm and I could get away with a singlet and the arm warmers that my brother Antoin had bought be for Christmas. After a few warm up exercises, the race started at 11 AM sharp and we were off. I found that I was running too fast to start and forced myself to slow down. Even still, I completed the first 1 km in 4:01 which was way ahead of my 4:15/km planned pace. 4:15 is a great pace as it means that you can complete the half in and around 1 hour 30 minutes. However, I could not keep the 4:15 pace, but I settled into a 4:25 pace and it did not fall too much after that. About 20 runners were doing the half and we saw each other at every turn around. I started out in 3rd position and finished in 5th, passing one runner and being passed by 3. I did not mind being passed as my pace was not dropping much except when running against the wind – 1 ~ 6 km and 11 ~ 16 Km. I was very pleased to finish in 1:32:41 which was my best result in over 6 years. I know that the VaporFly shoes had a big impact but I still feel that my effort was worthwhile, especially since I had just ran 41 km last Sunday. I now need to dial in my race pace for Kochi Marathon. I am thinking of 4:40 ~ 4:50 based on today’s effort.

Half Marathon Splits

Kochi Marathon 2022 Week 10/16

Back in Kawasaki on Monday evening

After a glorious week running and skiing in Nagano, we left for Kawasaki on Monday morning. Totally unlike our family, we managed to leave Nagano 30 minutes ahead of schedule, avoid all traffic and get home by 3 PM. Incredible! It was a good start to a week that saw me run 5 times and swim once and get my training back on track.

3rd ~ 9th January 95 km of running and 1,500 m of swimming

Monday 20 km which was meant to be easy but speeded up as it got dark

Tuesday Rest Day with a work trip to Kyoto

Wednesday 12.4 km Easy

Thursday 17.1 km with 11 km Tempo at 4:38 ~ 4:50 pace

Friday Rest Day

Saturday 5 km Park Run in 19:44

Sunday 41 km Long Run

After we unpacked all the bags I headed out for my Run. Monday is normally a rest day, but as I was heading to Kyoto for work on Tuesday and would not be able to run, I wanted to get my medium run in before I left. The plan called for a 90 ~ 105 minute run at no particular pace. The idea is just to get in some distance mid-week. I had not run on Sunday so I was feeling fresh as I left and when I turned at the 10 km point, I felt a new step in my stride and before I knew it, I went all the way back at 4:55 / km pace, which is almost Tempo for me. I think the fact that it was getting dark certainly helped.

Mt. Fuji from the shinkansen

One of the joys of traveling on the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto is seeing Mt. Fuji on a clear day. Fortunately, there were no clouds in the sky and I managed to get an E seat so I got a great view and took too many photos. I also got home after 11 PM so there was no running that day. On Wednesday, I was back in the office when I got the email that no Strava athlete wants to get.

I knew that this required a strong response. I live by the Tamagawa River and I created the “Kitamikata to Marukobashi” segment on Strava and I would be damned if I was going to let somebody take the Local Legend status away from me. As soon as I got home from work I changed and headed back to MY Tamagawa to retrieve MY status. Leaving nothing to chance, I decided that I would do my Tempo run on Thursday morning over the same segment. I got up early and was on the road by 6:30 AM. I went down to the Tamagawa at an easy pace with the idea to start the Tempo part of the run once I reached the 3 km point. The plan called for a 8 km ~ 11 km Tempo. Initially I thought that I would run 11 km, turning back when I got to the 8.5 km point. I have to admit that while I hit my plan of keeping my pace between 4:40 and 4:50, my right glute was sore and I was not sure if I could keep going past the 8 km point. I eventually added one km at a time until I got to 11 km and then ran home very easily. To add insult to mild injury, I had not retaken the Local Legend status of my segment as both Maeda san and myself were on 48 efforts.

11 km Tempo Run

I did think about going out again and running this segment on Friday morning but I had 2 issues. One was that my glute was still sore despite heavy application of the massage gun. The second was that there had been 10 cm of snow in Tokyo on Thursday night and the roads were slippery with ice. I also thought about running at lunch time, or in the evening, but I wanted to put in a good effort at Park Run the next day and I decided to rest.

Park Run 8th January 2022

The roads were still icy on Saturday morning so rather than cycling or running to the start of Park Run, I took the train. Over 200 people had been taken to Tokyo’s hospitals on Thursday night and Friday morning due to slipping on the ice and I did not want to add to that number. Fortunately the Park Run course was free of ice for the most part. Only the part in the photo about which we passed 3 times on the loop and the end had some ice. I headed off after Stan and found that I could keep up with him and even passed him 2 times. I think that was because he was taking it easy at the start and I seemed to be keeping a fairly good pace by my watch. Eventually Stan passed me at the 1.5 km point and I never saw him again, except at the turn-around, as he finished 41 seconds ahead of me. I was very pleased with my time as it was my 4th consecutive Park Run under 20 minutes. It might have been a bit faster if not for the ice at the end. It was not dangerous as it was over rough ground, but my pace did drop a bit. After I went home and had a nap, I headed to the pool for a slow 1,500 metres. Hopefully I can keep up going to the pool once a week for the rest of the year.

Park Run Splits

Sunday I had unfinished business with my Local Legend status. My plan called for a Long Run of 32 km ~ 38 km but I wanted to put the segment beyond reach, at least for now, so I decided to run it 5 times. It is hard work running the same loop over and over and I try not to do it but needs must. I headed down to the Tamagawa again and ran the loop until I had completed a total of 53 times in the last 90 days and put myself on top of the leaderboard. It was not pretty, and I took no photos, but I got the run done, as Richard says, and I treated myself to a Guinness or 2 when I got home.


The big plan for next week is to run Juergen’s Eco Marathon half marathon along the Tamagawa again. It would be nice to get under 1:35 and brilliant to get under 1:30. We will have to wait and see.

Kochi Marathon 2022 Week 9/16

This week started easy with a rest day on Monday. I had hoped that I might get a swim in as I was off work, but I ran out of time by the end of the day and got nothing done. The highlight was going to Nagano for the New Years celebration. Although the house is old, old and cramped it is great to get out under the big sky and breath the fresh air.

27th December ~ 2nd January 64 km of running, 1,500 m of swimming and one day skiing.

Monday Rest Day

Tuesday 14.3 km Fartlek and 1,500 m of swimming

Wednesday Rest Day

Thursday 14.2 km Yasso 800s

Friday 15.4 km Easy

Saturday 20.3 km Easy

Sunday Skiing

After my rest day on Monday, I was off work again on Tuesday and went out for my planned run just after 9:00 AM. It was the same run that I had done 2 weeks previous on 14th December, 16 x 1 minute on and 1 minute jog. I was very pleased that I was able to do this better than before, but a lot of that may have been due to the later start time. I run much better at 9:00 AM than I do at 6:30 AM. As can be seen below, I ran the Fartlek at 4:11, 4:19, 4:22, 4:21, 4:31, 4:28, 4:25, 4:26, 4:11, 4:31, 4:16, 4:22, 4:32, 4:25, 4:29 and 4:30 on 14th Dec. This time I ran it at 3:45, 3:43, 3:52, 3:46, 3:48, 3:51, 3:54, 3:58, 3:59, 4:08, 4:07, 4:08, 4:09, 4:06, 4:12 and 4:08.

I got home and took a rest and then went to the pool for my long overdue swim. I managed to complete a slow 1,500 m swim which was my longest swim since October. Next year I will need to get to the pool a bit more regularly to ward off injury.

As we were going up to Nagano for the holidays on Wednesday morning, I had hoped to get up a bit early and do a run before we left. It didn’t happen. However, we eventually left for Nagano at 10:45 AM which was only 45 minutes behind schedule. After picking up my mother-in-law in Kunitachi we were still on track to be in Ueda by 4:00 PM when there would still be enough light to go for a short run. Unfortunately, there was a 4 car accident on the motorway and we were diverted to the local roads and eventually arrived a little after 5 PM and a little stressed.

But I still had Thursday and nothing to do. I was tired when I woke and it was after 10:30 AM before I hit the road. The plan called for ten x Yasso 800s. One Yasso 800 is a hard effort for 800 meters followed by a 200 meter jog. I was not in great form and I struggled as I ran up and down the Chikumagawa river. My knees were fine but my right glute was sore and I could not really push it and I saw my times continuously slip. I started at a 4:15/km pace, managed to improved to 4:08 and then finished at 4:28. The only good thing I can take from it is that I managed to complete 10 efforts which is more than I did last time.

First 5 Yasso 800s
Second 5 Yasso 800s

On Friday, New Years Eve, I got up a bit earlier and aided by everyone else getting up late I had my breakfast in relative peace while listening to The Second Captains podcast. I did not have a hard workout on the plan so I just headed up the road and into the mountains for an easy run. It was very ice in the fresh air and the crispy snow and I held my feet well.

After I got home I showered and changed quickly and headed up to my favorite onsen near Sanada. It has a outside bath and it was a wonderful way to end the year, lying back in the hot water and watching the snowflakes fall from the sky.

Saturday was New Years Day. I had forced myself to stay awake until midnight so that I could ring in the New Year with everyone but headed off to bed shortly after. The others stayed up until after 2 AM so I had the place again to myself again in the morning and headed out before anybody was awake. More snow had fallen over night but it was a glorious day and the sun was out in force. I went up the road towards Sugadaira. I did not have a hard run in the plan but wanted to put in an effort as I hoped to go skiing on Sunday before we head home. I went out the road on the fresh snow, following the footprints of a local dog until I got to the 10 km point, turned around and headed home. It was a nice and easy run and I enjoyed having the path to myself.

Ueda City, Nagano
The Road To Sugadaira

After I got home we did Hatsumode, first visit to the local shrine, and then Hakamari, a visit to the family grave. It was a beautiful afternoon and we enjoyed the sun setting behind the Nagano mountains as my mother-in-law placed fresh flowers on the grave of her parents.

Nagano Sunset

Sunday was a gorgeous day. It was very cold but it had not snowed for 2 days and the roads and the sky were clear. Myself and my 2 daughters got up early and hit the road by 8 AM. There was little traffic and no chance of slipping and we were in Sugadaira by 9 AM. The carpark was relatively empty and I got a spot right away so all the stress of driving up the mountain was gone. After my daughters rented their snowboards and boots, I put on my skis and hit the slopes. The snow was good and there’s were not a lot of people around so there was very little waiting for ski-lifts. Although there was no running, it was a lovely stress free day. Tomorrow we go back to Tokyo and back to work on Tuesday. Hard to believe that the holidays are over and another year is about to start.