I feel that I got things back on track this week with my training. I took 2 consecutive days off, Sunday and Monday, as I was feeling a bit tired, and went to Nagano for a couple of days where the nights and mornings are noticeably cooler than Tokyo. That seemed to have done the trick and although I was not setting any records, I was running well again and got another 5 runs and a 90km week as a return.
We drove up to Nagano on Sunday night to help my mother-in-law pick blueberries for her jam-making business. We had to leave early on Monday morning as we wanted to start picking before the sun was high in the sky. This was rather difficult as daughter #1 was travelling to Ireland and transferring in Amsterdam and we had asked her to call us to let her know of her progress. Hence I did not get more than a couple of hours sleep before being woken by Skype at 1am, 3am and again at 5am.
We eventually got on the road at 8:30 and arrived at the blueberry farm at around 9:30. The great thing about picking blueberries at an organic farm is that you can eat as much as you like while picking and not worry about pesticides. After an hour we had picked 14kg and were ready for a coffee break before heading home over the Asama Sun Line from Saku to Ueda. This is a wonderful route through the Nagano countryside, only to be rivalled by the Venus Line.
21.4km Run in the hills around Ueda
The original plan was to get up a 5am, then it was 5:30, the it was 6am. Finally I dragged myself out of the futon at 6:33 and made it out the door at 7:15. The morning was cool and fresh. Almost like no other morning I had ever known. After weeks of suffering in the Tokyo furnace it was such a relief to be able to run down the road and not be covered in sweat within 2 minutes. I took my usual route up to the hills and then back around by the rice fields and market gardens. As it was a Tuesday, there was plenty of cars on the road and I had to take extra care every now and then. When I got back to the house I had run 15km which was far more than I had run in Tokyo in the previous 10 days so I kept going on the Ueda Bypass and then ran along Route 18 to bring the distance up to 21km.
As I have stated many times, the two great pleasures of Nagano are craft beer and vegetables and I indulged in both. While I was taking a well earned rest in the afternoon my wife and her mother went down to the nearest farmer’s market and stocked up with boxes of great
vegetables to be taken home with us that evening.
We left just after 7pm and were making great speed back to Tokyo when I made the mistake of stopping at a Service Area for ice cream. The unwritten rule is to never stop unless you have to. This rash decision came back to haunt me and we ended up sitting in a 90 minutes traffic jam due to roadworks on the Kanpacchi just before Seta. I am convinced that the roadworks started at 10pm and if I had not of stopped I would have missed them altogether.
Although I woke up with my HRV in the 80s, I decided to give the Namban intervals a miss as I did not get to bed until 2am the night before and I needed my sleep. It was tough staying a wake all day but i somehow managed it and hit the hay early.
3 x 2000m intervals
Thursday was another hot day with temperatures 33 degrees C when I went out and attempted my tempo intervals. The idea had been to run five intervals between 4:06 and 4:12 pace. However, I quickly came undone and only manages 3 intervals at an average pace of 4:11, 4:18 and 4:26. I was pretty sure that if I tired another one I would have ended up walking. I did have one good take way and that was that I ran 14km which is always a good distance on a school night.
1 hour MAF Run
Friday was the hottest days this summer and the final day of an 8 day hot streak. Temperatures reached 38 degrees C in Kawasaki and were still at 30 C when I went out to do my run at 8:30pm. As I had run 2 quality runs already this week I took things easy and did my standard 10km MAF run. It felt much easier than the last one I had run on the previous Saturday.
Saturday saw a former Namban Rengo runner return to Japan and come out for a run with us. We met at Sakurada Mon at the Imperial Palace and proceeded to run a few laps of the 5km course. Immediately it was noticeable that the weather was so much more pleasant than previous days. The temperature was a mere 27 degrees at 9am and the humidity felt a lot less as well. Also, the cool breeze blowing around the palace made for a great run. Although my HRV had dropped to 69, I was feeling good and had no trouble knocking out 3 laps.
Sunday, I finally had my first long run since the 12th July, 4 weeks previous. The heat had conspired against me and prevented me from doing any serious long distance running. I left my house at 5:40 and met Pat from Namban at 6:15 at Futakotamagawa station. We ran for half an hour before meeting 3 more Nambaners and heading up the river. The weather was even better than Saturday and I found the going easy, for a while. At 13km, I started to get thirsty and then consumed the best part of 2.5 litres over the next 14km. Still, it was a good day and I was happy to see my weekly total rise to 90km. The challenge now is to maintain this level over the next 3 weeks.